[ExI] A fly on the wall

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Apr 25 18:50:22 UTC 2020

Spike writes that he would not be a fly on the wall listening to the
fems gossip. Here is a bit about long-delayed gossip from writing up
the adventures I had around 1970.

Dress code

After I graduated with a BSEE, I kept working (mostly programming) for
Heinrich GeoExplorlation for a few months.  They then hit a downturn
in the mineral exploration business and I had to find another job.
Wound up at Burr-Brown working as an analog design engineer under
Howard Handler--who had been my advisor at the U of Arizona.  It was
an interesting job and Howard was a decent boss.  While there I made
my first invention, a 4 quadrant log-antilog multiplier.  It was in
general a reasonable place to work and I had a few interesting

But this is about how I reacted to the dress code.  It was not very
onerous, but at Heinrich, it had been comfortable jeans all the time.
So I bought four light blue shirts and three pairs of grey pants.
Figured I would go for a uniform look long as I had to meet some dress
code.  For rare cases where we had to be more formal, I kept a clip-on
tie in a desk drawer.

I wore this outfit every day of the two years I worked there.  Toward
the end of that time, the shirts developed a subtle degree of
distinctiveness due to different ink stains on the pockets.

I never had any of the other engineers or production people make a
comment.  Not sure any of them noticed. I doubt it; engineers are not
much into fashion.

But a couple of years after I left, one of the engineers I had known
there visited Analog Precision, the company I set up after being fired
from Arizona Gear.  He had married one of the Burr-Brown secretaries
and she was with him.  I don’t remember exactly how the subject came

The engineer’s wife went into considerable detail about the gossip my
clothing inspired among the secretaries.  (Talk about an out-of-date
word, “secretaries”!)  Anyway, my effort was not wasted; according to
her this guy who had only one set of clothes was a constant subject of

I explained that I had bought four identical shirts and three
identical sets of pants to give the impression I had only one set of
clothes.  She thought it was very funny.


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