Geek Out

I'm A Tech Writer Thanks To This Calvin And Hobbes Comic Strip

I wasn’t supposed to be here today. Growing up, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and dreamed of becoming a paleontologist — the thought of sifting through heaps of stone and soil was far more enticing than fighting fires or learning Ninjutsu, my two fallback careers. But then Calvin’s dad went and blew my mind.

“How is that possible? Is it even possible,” I asked myself. And my parents. And my teachers. But nobody could produce a sufficient explanation as to how two concentric circles could travel two distances in the same time, at the same speed — at least, not in a way that a second-grader could understand. And, this being 1989, I couldn’t Google it. Drastic measures — and sacrificial electronics — would be necessary.

My father’s old Kenwood LP player had sat, practically unused, in its hutch in the dining room for as long as I could remember. In my mind at least, that totally designated it fair game for disassembly in the name of science. I dutifully collected the tools I would need — a ball peen hammer, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, hack saw, and slip-jaw wrench — from the tool box, set the turntable on the dining room table, and went to town stripping away components in search of their wax-spinning secrets.

I made it through all of two exterior screws and the needle holder before my parents interrupted the operation. I couldn’t sit for three days afterward, and I am still banned from even touching the stereo cabinet in my parents’ house 23 years later. But that seminal investigation changed the course of my life. I no longer cared for piecing together the remains of ancient animals like a macabre jigsaw puzzle. I wanted to discover how the modern world worked — how a menagerie of gears, drives, pulleys, and speakers could reproduce Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy or how the LP came in to existence in the first place. It was all so fascinating and perpetually new.

So thank you Bill Watterson, for helping me discover the beauty of looking to the future rather than digging through the past (even though I still secretly want to be a ninja).


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