A Day in the Life of...
Dave "The Guy" Lyons
The radio had gone off ten minutes ago. Dave was finally able to get up drowsily and turn on the light switch at the top of his attic stairs. He soggled over to the dresser and pulled out jeans and a shirt at random. His shirt had a square that covered the entire front. Inside the square were the numbers "3.14159265..." carried out to about 500 digits. His rock-gray-speckled eyes seemed, in fact, as heavy as rocks as he adventured downward past the narrow regions of his attic staircase. Reaching the second floor hall, he walked across the green and black rug to the Bathroom Zone. Luckily this was Rod Serling's breakfast break. Dave proceeded to wash his zitted face and do any number of other things, leaving just enough time to eat breakfast and get to school on time. He combed his brown hair that was straight today, but gets a tad messy on days when he hasn't washed it for awhile. Then he picked up his books as he put on his metal-rimmed glasses and slowly ontook the second case of stairs. He did so in sort of a sideways manner, ducking in order to not hit his head, 5'11" above the floor, on the low ceiling of our poorly-designed stairway. The stairs awoke with a series of creaks and groans not uncommon to a staircase of this age. He continued across the landing and down the second flight.
Reaching first floor he slid his slim self into the kitchen, lifted his coat off the hook on the basement door, walked back into the hall and through to the living room. He placed all his homework, now in a Trager pack, and his coat on the couch in a style common to a great many people: "heap" style. Then want back to the kitchen where he knew I'd already been because the "good stool" was on my side of the protruding counter where we eat breakfast. The counter extends just far enough to accommodate three stools, one of which the leg usually falls off of when anything more than a hamster sits on it. But Dave really doesn't care about stools in the early morning. He doesn't want a big fuss over something right when he gets up. I agree, don't you?--I thought so.
Pretty soon our neighbor, Ben, came over to ride to school with us in our Chevy Citation. We snuck in a few poor, good-for-nothing puns about whatever happened to come up as we talked and finished breakfast. Then we were off to West High (we told some more bad puns on the way).
It's an odd situation at West. Both of our parents teach there. That would bother a lot of kids if it were their parents, but it doesn't bother Dave, or me either, for that matter. But why should it?
On arrival we all got our of the car and walked about a hundred yards through the 0-degree wind to the side door of the high school. Walking in, Dave disappeared up a stairwell just to the right, only to reappear seven minutes later to talk with semi-normal friends in the computer room. The room contains about 20 computers, Apple II+'s and //e's. After ten or fifteen minutes the room started filling with algebra students (it's also a math room) and de-filling with computer workers and goofers.
Cool and relaxed (and somewhat tired), Dave headed out to take on the long trek beyond the door and over ONE ENTIRE DOOR to the right to calculus. This class happened to be a very informal one. Once a student single-handedly took over the class by raising his hand before he spoke. No one knew what he was doing or why. Mass confusion caused a panic and the student was able to calmly direct the class. It is feared that this tactic may be used in future warfare.
No homework was assigned as usual. But when test time came about it was your own grade, nobody else's.
Second hour he entered the physics room. He sat ahwile and conversed with some friends until the beeper bleeped, designating the class beginning. Soon after the beeper (if you listened VERY CAREFULLY) you could faintly hear the announcements in the background of the class noise.
Homework assigned regularly in this class was supposed to be due immediately following the test, but most students wait until the trimester is nearly over, then they hand it all in at once. This commonly angers the teacher (as he goes about his business knowing that a three-foot-high stack of papers yet to be graded awaits him on his desk). Students do raise their hands in this class. It is said that the students understand physics better than the teacher does. An unusual class.
Dave proceeded on to third hour.
Since Dave is a Junior he has "open campus" and usually spends third in the computer room. He's always got something he needs to do on a computer. And if he doesn't want to work, then he can just talk or make some program that isn't useful. He manages to have a good time whether he's working or goofing around.
Fourth hour Dave attended American Literature. The teacher in this class is very picky about grammar. It's an OK class, though. I don't mean to say that the teacher is a grouch, she's just grammar-picky. Midway through the class the students were dismissed for lunch. Dave went to lunch, ate a lot of food, talked to whoever was there and then went back to American Lit for the second half (bummer).
Fifth hour he moved on to Spanish where he was known as <<Dahbeed>>. He had a good time explaining to the teacher that water was clear, not blue, therefore the answer Dave gave on that question should be correct.
Sixth hour he attended Physical Education (the big P.E.). Nothing unusual happened. Just your average P.E. class.
And seventh hour was spent expanding the minds of young government students.
As Dave puts it, "All my classes are serious SOME of the time, but none of them are serious ALL of the time."
But when Dave really becomes Dave is after school when his time is his own.
I got on the bus at Northwest Junior High. Dave was sitting about six seats back on the right side, asleep with his knees propped up against the seat in front of him. I sat down next to him. He didn't notice me until about half way home. He woke up and looked at me, and I looked at him. But we didn't say anything. We didn't have anything new to say, and we'd heard the old stuff enough. After a few minutes we were in town and the bus started letting people off. At our stop all the people stood up about five seconds before the bus stopped moving. About seven people got off. The snow had melted off the streets and my feet splished in the thin water layer that remained. Dave and I began walking the two blocks down the oak-lined street to our house.
Pretty soon Dave said, "So, how's it goin'?"
And I wated a second and said, "Oh, I don't know." And we went on our way.
I wanted to get out of the wet and cold so I started jogging. Dave started jogging, too. So I, in turn, started running. Dave started running, too. We closed in on the gate! Dave was ahead! Hard as I tried, I couldn't catch up. And Dave assumed that the race was over when he walked through the gate with a little grin. But I had different plans. I pretended to accept his winning, but as soon as I was inside the gate I RACED PAST in a final effort to defeat this pseudo-winner. And I slipped in the door just ahead of him. I was first! HA!
We walked through the dining room and into the kitchen where Dave hung up his coat on the door once aain and set his pack on the counter. I threw down my coat NEAR the door and dropped my pack on the floor by the counter. Dave reached down below the counter and pulled out a Coke from the carton of bottles that sat on the linoleum floor. He opened it up and poured a foam cup full. Then he raised his eyebrows and widened his eyes for a moment as if to say, "So what's goin' on?" and, "Well, are you just going to stand there?" So I had a glass of coke and proceeded upstairs. Dave stayed down for a few minutes and read the Byte magazine, a small computers hardware and software magazine, that had come in the mail.
I was upstairs and had played a few games on the Apple II+ by the time Dave came up. He asked me, after I'd done it several times, to please not hit the table when the enemy tanks blew me up. I said that I'd stop. After a short time I was really frustrated, so I went downstairs and put a record on my turntable and let it spin.
Dave did his physics for awhile. Then the phone rang. It was a friend who wanted to print out a paper that was due the next day. The friend had a Commodore 64 and a modem. But we had an Apple and a modem. How could he print out his paper? No problem. Dave had written a program that collected the characters and put them into a text file. Then the text file may be loaded after running a word processing program. Afer half an hour or so, it was done. Dave fixed a few things that were still messed up. Then he printed the paper and would take it to the person the next day in school.
Then he took some time to work on some programs for CONDUIT, a branch of the university that writes and sells educational programs for small computers. And he spent some time working out the problems of his personal usage programs, too. He leaned forward staring at the green monitor in front of him. His elbows on his knees and his thumbs propping up his chin, he puzzled at the program. Then he looked at the paper beside him, then back at the screen. And he asked himself questions.
"Why is it doing that?!!!"
"That doesn't make sense!"
Then he looked a little less puzzled.
"OoOh. I see."
Then a little less puzzled.
"OOOOOOOHH!!" I UNDERSTAND."
So he leaned to his paper and fixed the goof there. Then he typed and he fixed it all up nice and nifty.
Every once in a while he stopped for a Coke or a snack of some sort. But he didn't waste time. He was only downstairs because he had to eat, talk to someone, or shower. Dave's work is his hobby, his hobby's his work. If someone would pay me to play basketball, I'd be in business. He never watches TV except for Monty Python and Twilight Zone.
I had been in my room all this time trying to think of a conversation Dave and I had had. It was an assignment for writer's lab that was already overdue. I was unsuccessful in my attempts, so I finally just went up to Dave's room and asked him.
I said, "Dave, tell me about some dumb conversation we had about math theories or something."
"Some dumb conversation?"
"I don't talk about dumb things."
"Well, just any conversation."
"Well, how 'bout this one?"
"Except this one."
"Well -I- think this one should count."
"No, I don't want it to be this one."
"Well, write it down anyway."
"Well, then give me a piece of paper."
"There's some on the corner of my desk."
"Where on the corner of your desk?"
"Oh, I see it. OK."
That's the kind of sarcastic conversation we often have. If I ask him for advice, he says the sensible thing.
"It's up to you, not me." And that's true. If I asked him he'd tell me what he thought, but he'd also say that it was my choice and his opinion shouldn't necessarly influence mine.
He's collected and rarely gets angry. When he does get angry, he is always in control. He's considerate and friendly and doesn't judge people before he knows them well. He's patient in letting me, my sister, and all my sister's friends use the computer when he could be doing things worthwhile. Take this paper, for example. He has a paper due tomorrow that he hasn't started yet. And it's ten o'clock now.