Obituaries

Merlene’s Memos

“It is not known precisely where angels dwell — whether in the air, the void, or the planets.  It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.” — Voltaire, “Angels,” Philosophical Dictionary (1764).

OBITUARIES 

BERLE LARNED

Berle Larned, died at age 77, on April 9, 2017. I first met Mr. Larned in 1979. He was my first client. Over the course of 38 years, we worked together on one start-up or another. He always wrote the best Mission Statement. His Montblanc Fountain Pen was a treasured possession reserved for formality and tradition.

I met Mr. Larned when he was a client renting computer time and I was the Production Controller who scheduled the computer jobs. The second time was at Micromedex to discuss a new startup that was about to begin. This one would be with a new company using the first beta-production IBM 4331 Processor. It was an IBM intermediate-size information processing system. It featured a new 64K chip developed by IBM. It was exciting. The whole neighborhood was whispering about it. Berle Larned was the Vice President of Manufacturing. I was the Supervisor of Computer Operations. Gerard Pierce, PDS, was the brains behind the operating system and the computer room. Pierce wrote a new Operating System using IBM’s Virtual Memory (VM) and a little something from Waterloo University. It was a secret.

Barry H. Rumack, M.D. was the owner and founder of Micromedex, “a provider of computerized and printed information for professionals and consumers on toxicology, pharmacology, acute care, patient education, occupational medicine, alternative medicine, chemical safety, and regulatory compliance,” according to Bloomberg. We called it “micropublishing” because we published on microfilm and microfiche.

Throughout the past 38 years of my career, Larned and I occasionally shared-time from one “blind building” to the next. I was “the Consultant” referred to in the Contract. He was “the Client.” I worked in the computer room; he went to the convention.

In 1979, our first meeting started with two outlines — his and mine. He read mine first. Then showed me his. They were so similar he hired me immediately. This meant contracts were due next. Larned was prepared for this too. He pulled out a stack from his upper right-hand desk drawer. All the associated paperwork was neatly prepared. The usual contract signings occurred with the Employment Agreement, Confidentialty Agreement(s), and the newest, Propriety Information Agreement(s). Additional binding Agreements; including those for third-party vendors, were also included and accounted for. As Supervisor of Computer Operations, it is also standard operating procedure for me to get the keys to the vending machines. Larned had even prepared the Facility Agreement for me to sign. This was among the papers retrieved from his desk drawer. He even gave me the keys to the coffee cabinet.

After Micromedex went “live” by starting production, the owner, Dr. Rumack, moved in and took the position of President. Paul Slattery, the president Rumack replaced, went to Petroleum Information (PI). Larned went back to IHS. I telephoned another prior employer for a referral and ended up working at another service bureau to write software changes for DDA accounts to become N.O.W. accounts. Negotiable Orders of Withdrawal (N.O.W.) accounts, in 1980, were about to become the latest fashion in banking. The National Organization for Women (NOW) liked the acronym too. They were claiming then to empower me with equal job opportunities for women. Now, forty years later, Ivanka Trump, as First Daughter, is promoting greater opportunities for women who work. She encourages us to work in “STEM” — so we can learn more about science and technology.

It must have been about 1988 when I joined Berle Larned for a short-stint of six months or less at U S WEST Knowledge Engineering, a division of U S WEST Communications, Inc.  This was before they were Qwest. This was before MCI Telecommunications, Inc. and the breakup of the “Baby Bells” and before we knew about “Friends and Family” and how much long-distance telephone calls cost. This was before video conferencing and free wi-fi at The Village Inn Pancake House.

It was about 10 years later, in 1998, when WorldCom bought MCI and shortly before Bernie Ebbers was arrested for the “largest corporate fraud in the history of the United States,” according to most newsreports. Ebbers is currently serving a 25-year sentence in a minimum-security Louisiana prison. WorldCom closed with $11 billion in corporate fraud which left over 80,000 telecom employees suddenly unemployed — and I was among them.

Berle Larned was already back at IHS after U S WEST closed another division. I later worked at U S WEST, Advanced Technologies, in Boulder. I was an Independent Consultant there too. I wrote the “technical support customer service telephone routing procedures” for the soon-to-be-released “911” Emergency Telephone System (ETS). We needed “Technical Support Policies and Telephone Procedures” to define and establish “Tier-Level Technical Support for both Inbound and Outbound calls.” This is when Technical Support Tier-Level processing really began. I was already at MCI when the new Public Telephone Emergency System was announced and advertised on television. My one-year Confidentiality Agreement expired upon “publication” which meant I could talk about it after it “went public.”

Then, in 2008, I met Larned for lunch again. This time it was for a one-time, flat-rate contract for  World Engineering Xchange, LTD . The flat-rate was based on a $20 per hour estimate with a two-week estimated timeframe per project. It was work for four weeks. Then, the “software engineers” would enter the information into the database for retrieval later. At the time, I noticed that $20 per hour was the same rate Larned paid me in 1979 to write the “Data Entry Operations and Processing Manual” for Micromedex.

We started with an outline. He finished first.

 

LEE HARKEY HARDAWAY

Lee Harkey Hardaway, my former mother-in-law, died May 2, 2013, at age 95. She was last seen playing Bridge in her Tennis clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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