Van Walther

Van Walther was the lead Information Engineer in our writing department, and as such, was responsible for keeping track of the "big picture." To do this, he had to go to a great many meetings--which, of course, the rest of the writers in the department were more than happy to let him do, since that meant that we didn't have to go to those meetings, and hence, we could get real work done.

Van's departure came at a time during which we were working on documenting a brand-new computer code-named "Forte" (shown at right)--it was pretty hot stuff in its day. Documenting this computer was at times exasperating, because we would diligently describe its workings, only to find out that the design engineers had changed it. So, we would diligently change the documentation to conform to the new specs, only to find out that the design had been changed again. In actuality, there were probably no more mid-stream changes to this computer than to any other, made by any other company, but it sure seemed like a lot. . .

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Go to Meetings? Nevermore!
Copyright 1999 David Arns

Once upon a weekday jolly,
Working for my boss (that's Holly),
I was writing 'bout the Forte boxes,
      which had changed once more.
As I typed, my fingers humming,
Making a staccato drumming,
To my desk, here Van was coming,
      though I did not know what for.
So I looked up, gave him the floor.

Now often, when he stops to visit,
He says, "Your book's not done, now, is it?
I know this for a fact because
      the Forte's changing yet once more."
He then proceeds to tell the story,
Including every detail gory;
Soon, his rhetoric would soar: he
      tells me what each change was for,
And future changes, still in store.

Well, that is what I fully expected,
I had not in the least detected
What his real reason was for
      standing at my virtual door.
He looked around with glances furtive,
Hushed his voice and waxed assertive,
No longer wishing to avert
      responsibilities he bore,
(As he had done for weeks before).

He spoke the simple words, "I'm leaving."
And Keith and I gaped, unbelieving,
We struggled to imagine work at
      HP when Van was no more.
You see, it's Van who goes to meetings,
Taking all the verbal beatings
From labbies who are now deleting
      features new just days before.
And now he says he's out the door?

And that's not all that Van's been doing,
He always knows when trouble's brewing,
When "Powers That Be" decree that we have
      far less time to do much more;
When schedules state, with strong conviction,
We must deal with time restriction,
We just write our science fiction,
      paint it, ship it out the door--
And now Van's saying, "Nevermore?"

He says he'll go to Salt Lake City,
Be a writer--more's the pity--
But, not only that, he'll be the
      proofer, manager, and more.
You see, this tiny corporation
("Open Skies," its appellation)
Proved to be too great temptation,
      one HP could not ignore--
We bought them. Now their stock will soar.

We'll miss you, Van; we'll miss your smiles
As we wander through the aisles
And, in desperation, search for
      one to do what we abhor.
(You know, I'm sure, that I'm referring
To those endless meetings during
Which you've learned, with vision blurring,
      aching head, and fingers sore,
To keep it quiet when you snore.)

We wish you luck, our IE leader,
As on the ragged edge, we teeter,
Rocking from the blow we'll feel
      when you're really here no more,
Go find a house, and move into it,
(So your wife won't have to do it),
We're confident that you'll get through it,
      and will write new books galore,
But go to meetings? Nevermore!

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