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Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to Conclusions

I’m a biased parent. We all are bias towards those we love, but my kid is amazing.

When he was five or six, back in the early 90s, the company I was working for offered to sell their used IBM 8088 desk top computers for $100. We were replacing them with 286s, which were much faster, and used mini 3inch floppy disks, instead of the 5 ¼ diskettes used on the older models. The company even offered payroll deduction for four easy payments of $25. Well, my husband and I decided it was a great opportunity so we purchased one fast.

I brought the computer home and it had all kinds of software installed. There was WordPerfect 2.0, Lotus 123, dBase 2 and a chess game. I’m not a big fan of chess, but Gary and I would occasionally play together. I don’t have the tenacity for winning to be a good chess player. And, taking advantage of someone’s weakness isn’t an opportunity to thrawth them, but a chance to educate or engage in strategic conversation that turns into “I lose.” . I’m not a chess player.

My son was fascinated with the new box toy. He really wanted to know how it worked, so I dismantled it and taught him all the different components, explaining how the computer functions. He was fascinated and caught on incredibly quickly. We discussed hardware and software and how the software talked to the hardware through buses -- ribbon things with wires in them.

We encouraged his use of the computer, especially as a reward option.

So, one day, I’m cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, because those are complementary tasks, and I hear david playing a game a chess. The game had interesting and entertaining graphics and sounds, even for those early days of gaming. For example, when you captured a piece using the knight, you would hear “Let’s Joust” a clash of swords, and the groans of the defeated man. When you won, a trumpet herald the victory -- da da da! So, a couple minutes into the game, I hear the winning music. “Hey!” I thought, he won! That’s really impressive. Because, I never win. Then, about two minutes later, I hear the trumpet again. Whoa! That’s pretty amazing. And, no sooner do I get those thoughts out, again, the Trumpet sings!

Well, what would you think? I thought I had a flipping chess prodigy! My kid is a genius! He can’t add, but he is betting the heck out of that computer chess game that I can’t win against. I’m freaking out. So, I calmly dry my hands and step into the family room.

“Hey, Dave,” I begin nonchalantly. “Sounds like you’re pretty good at playing chess. You having fun?” because, I want him to have fun, especially if this becomes his lifetime career.

“Yeah.” He says rather unenthusiastically. “It’s really easy.” These words cause butterflies in my stomach. How do you raise a chess prodigy anyway? Who do I call?

“Well, I’m not very good at it.” I confess. “ Sounds like you have a knack for it.” I tell him, encouragingly.

“Not really.” my first grader responds. “It’s easy if you turn all the pawns into queens.”

I look at the computer screen for the first time. He has his board set up and, sure enough, his side had all queens in the front row.

Huh. So, he isn’t a chess prodigy after all. He’s a hacker. Twenty fives years later and we find my son working at a government agency: NASA at Langley Air Force base in Virginia. He maintains databases that has something to do with weather and aviation. My AP, Mr. McCarthy questioned dave’s job function: “Do what to the weather? Change it? Seed clouds.” I laughed, shrugging my shoulders, but I really don’t know what he does.

So, what is the message here? I lost a chess prodigy but watched the growth of a big data manager?

Or, don’t bother jumping to conclusions. The end result will be just as interesting and more enjoyable than the any short sighted expectations.


Don’t jump to conclusions because in reality you might jump over the obvious and into a bowl of cherries. Without pits, maybe.

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