Stu Beatty

Stu Beatty had been a writer, but at the time I joined the writing group, he was a jack-of-all-trades fix-it guy and troubleshooter for the writing, typesetting, and illustration departments. Now this was really back in the dark ages: our "word processors" were comment lines in a no-op BASIC program, and this text was transferred via 8-inch floppies to another machine where the markup was translated and output onto paper tape for input into a monstrous Mergenthaler typesetting machine. Then later, we started using HP Tag, a proprietary SGML-based markup language that was translated into Donald Knuth's "TeX" typesetting language. As you can imagine, this process--while allowing us unprecedented typesetting capabilities--was fraught with danger (talk about bizarre error messages), and Stu always know how to get us out. This poem was written for Stu when he left our department to become an SE (Service Engineer).

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Beatty at the Bat
Copyright 1990 David Arns

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the writing groups that day,
For everyone had heard the news that Stu was going away.
Frantic whispers crossed their lips, their faces stark and drawn,
And everyone was thinking, "What will happen when he's gone?"

Stu's the one who knows the most about our HP Tag!
He's the one we run to when we've hit a nasty snag!
When we get an error message seven pages long,
Who will tell us where and how we coded something wrong?

Can production get along? And make their repro flow?
Can the Micro-5 survive this stagg'ring, stunning blow?
How will ME-30 run without Stu's guiding hand?
Who will know, from years gone past, that one, obscure command?

And knowing TeX is yet another forte Stu has got--
His knowledge and his macros keep the place from going to pot.
As California's standards keep conflicting with our own,
Who will tweak our programs when he's left us all alone?

And we won't even mention things he's done in years gone by--
Remember old "Newpager" and how it used to fly?
Twenty lines a minute, then it went to paper tape,
And finally to the Mergenthaler's huge, ungainly shape.

But is he really leaving? Can it really, truly be?
Would he really leave us, just to be a plain SE?
In the past, he's been so helpful, no, essential's more the word,
Who will answer all the questions of this restless herd?

Well, we'll doubtless get along, though probably not as well,
Stu's a wealth of knowledge, as everyone can tell.
There's one thing sure, we'll all agree, and this is simply that
The writing groups have come of age with Beatty at the Bat.

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