Sunday, February 17, 2013

Visit to Dad's Work

Lately, I've been begging Dad to take me to visit his work. Dad has to spend a lot of time there and I am very curious about what he does.  I've been asking tons of questions about what his job actually entails.  Mom is a Nurse Practitioner and I understand that very clearly.  "Mom heals people!"  In fact, Sister and I play "Nurse Practitioner" all the time.  But Dad says he is a "Systems Engineer on computers and networks".  We have lots of computers in our house, and even though I'm not allowed to use them yet,  they don't look that complicated.  But Dad says the computers at his work are 'big machines', and they make his company run.  So I've been asking to see it all!!

Dad's workplace is a actually a worldwide organization that manufactures high tech machinery.  The building where he sits is huge!  I was very impressed as we drove up.  We had to get special permission to get access to the site.  We even had to wait until I was old enough to get the pass! Visitors are rarely allowed and must be escorted at all times. Even Mom has never been to his work for a visit!

We were allowed to take photos of me on my visit, but we could not take pictures of the manufacturing machines. I was very impressed by everything.  Everything was on a massive scale.  The halls are long and plain, and Dad's desk is surrounded by many other desks. His 'cube' is very small but, but each person in Dad's area has several computers with many screens.  Very complicated...  I've never seen anything like it!

Dad's desk definitely reflects his style and he even had some old toys of mine that I was very interested in.  He says he likes these things to be there to remind him of why he is at work all the time!   Some things I found there included my first Buzz Lightyear, a 'poopatrooper (tiny parachute man), one of my old Lightning  McQueens, and a Lego mini-figure of a dwarf!  Dad let me take the mini-figure home and I gave him one  I built especially for him from my collection.  I wanted him to have something special of mine at his desk, from me!

After checking out Dad's desk and sitting in his chair for a while, we went to a nearby break room and we bought some 'crisps'.  I've been jokingly obsessed with a Geiko Gecko commercial for more than two years where the Gecko buys some chips from a vending machine with his boss' very first earned dollar.  I think it's hysterical!  So Dad let me go buy some chips.  I loved pushing the buttons to buy the 'crisps'!

Then we went into the 'machine room' to check out the Big Machines.  WOW.  I was very impressed.  Huge rooms filled with giant computers and other machines that Dad says are 'routers' and 'tape libraries'.  Hundreds and hundreds of machines.  It was loud and very cold.

I was especially impressed with a robotic arm that moves 'backup tapes' around.  I watched it moving inside a big machine.  Although it's wasn't as interesting as the 'robots' I have seen in cartoons, this was real life...

While we were in the machine room, Dad showed me the 'raised floor'.  He says that all those big machines need extra cold air to keep from overheating, so they sit on top of raised floors with chilled air flowing underneath.  He says all the network and power cables are kept under there as well to keep things neat and organized.  I was very impressed by the engineering behind all this.

Dad showed me a very cool trick that you can do using the air which blows up through all those tiny holes in the floor.  You can 'skate' a CDROM over them and it actually floats!  We skimmed a CDROM back and forth to each other for a while on the air cushion.  I loved it!

Dad told me about a visit to see a computer that his Dad (my Grandpa) arranged when my Dad was five!  (he says you don't want to know how long ago that was, but people were still walking around on the Moon then...)  Back then, my Grandpa was a key official for our state and took the initiative that brought the very first computer into our state government's infrastructure.  That one computer cost millions of dollars and filled as much space as all the 'big machines' I saw.  But it was only one computer!  Anyway, Grandpa arranged for my Dad to have a tour of that computer center and it made a big impression on him.  They let Dad play a game on the 'console' and printed him a picture of Snoopy and Woodstock on a 'dot matrix printer'.  Printers were really rare back then, apparently so it was really really cool.  Dad kept that printout for years...  Dad says there must be some kind of 'synchronicity' in the whole Snoopy / Woodstock thing, because I have become really interested in Snoopy and Woodstock in the past few weeks.  Same age, same thing.  Circles and circles, Dad says. 

I don't understand what all that means, but i
t was great to see where Dad spends so much of his time.  He says he hates to be away from me, Sister, and Mom so much, but he does it because he loves us. He says doing one's job is about the most important thing you can do in life, when you do it for the right reason.  He says 'we are his reason' and that I will understand all this when I have a family of my own!   All I know is that I miss him terribly when he goes away and that I loved seeing where he works!  A week later, I am still talking about it all!

Thanks Dad!!

PS Dad says that even though he was very impressed by that long ago visit to the computer center, he did not want to grow up to have a career in computers.  He wanted to be an astronaut!  He secretly wonders if I will ever catch that spark, but he is letting me find my own way....