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Wisdom & Future Shock From The Old Man

August 5, 2010

So I’ve been kicking myself for slacking in the blogger department lately. I have several posts in “draft” mode but not one ready to publish. Then Dad sends an email and I realize, this would make a great guest post!

My dad knew his purpose early on; he was wired to be a mechanical engineer. He had a great career with John Deere and for many years after retiring he and Mom traveled the world, including 3-month volunteer stints in which Dad helped manufacturers in India and Russia develop quality control systems. They have slowed down quite a bit recently, but that’s okay. Otherwise Dad wouldn’t have time to pass along the wisdom he has acquired over 80+ years. (Which is, by the way, another means of redeeming his purpose.)

If you’d like more history on Mom & Dad, click here. In the meantime, here is the unintentional guest post. Thanks for bailing me out (again), Dad!

Hi everyone,

Grandpa showing grand- daughter Xandra how to use a slide rule. "Calculators? We don't need no stinking calculators!"

I’ve been reading a book called “Future Shock” written in 1970 and there were these “Pearls of Wisdom” in it I thought I should share. I started to send it to the grandkids; then I decided we all should be exposed. Here they are:

Lord James, vice chancellor of the University of York (England), says “I took my first degree in Chemistry at Oxford in 1931. Looking at the questions asked in the chemistry exams today…I realize that not only can I not do them, but that I never could have done them, since at least two-thirds of the questions involve knowledge that simply did not exist when I graduated”.

Dr. Robert Hilliard…US Federal Communications Commission, presses the point further: “At the rate at which knowledge is growing, by the time a child born today graduates from college, the amount of knowledge in the world will be four times as great. By the time that same child is fifty years old, it will be thirty-two times as great, and 97 percent of everything known in the world will have been learned since the time he was born!”

When we lived in San Diego [mid-1950s], one day our neighbor (who was a physicist) and I discussed whether physicists or engineers were more responsible for the electronic diode. The diode was really new at the time; it had replaced vacuum tubes in portable radios by that time but not much else. Look at what the diode has given us today: television, cell phones, computers, phone answering machines, digital cameras, robots, numerically controlled factory machines, unmanned aircraft and missile controls, satellite guidance systems (into space yet), moon visits…the list is endless. This book was written in 1970 – how much more meaningful is it today. No wonder I feel so inadequate!

And today I’m using my computer and digital camera as I develop a PowerPoint presentation for the John Deere Fall Fest to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the largest change ever in the Agricultural Equipment Industry. I was quite involved in that as a young Deere employee and am having great times working with other “old guys” on the celebration.

This got longer than I intended so I’ll quit. We’re doing fine here. I recently visited a neurologist and on Tuesday had a cat scan of my neck – hoping we can find a cause for my balance problem. Mom spends a lot of effort taking care of me for which I’m grateful.

Lots of love to everyone,

Dad/Mom (aka Grammy/Grandpa)

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.  ~ Mark Twain

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