Dislocation Points

by admin on December 5, 2008

So I remember the first one of my adult life, the last year of university, 1989. I was finishing off my journalism degree at Carleton U. For my honours research project (thesis) I was trying to track down what had happened to Alexander Vonderenko, the pursor of the former Soviet Union cruise ship, the Alexander Puskin, who had been assasinated by the KGB on Canadian soil in the 1970s. At least, that's what I wrote but couldn't prove, as the people in the intelligence community wouldn't go on the record about it. Hell some of them stopped talking to me as soon as they found out I was just a lousy student.
Anyways, the talk on campus that year was Gorbachev and the Soviet Union. There were rumblings
about Eastern Europe going democratic, and the Cold War professors scoffed at the idea, saying the Berlin wall would stay up for 100 years.
In the spring, I was in the radio room of St. Patrick's college, looking up at the common lounge TV watching Germans rip concrete out of the wall with hammers and drills and pick pieces up with their
bare hands and shove it in their pockets for souvenirs.
Dislocation point. You wake up and everything looks the same and you think nothing has changed but it has, the world has changed in a big way and the flow of large invisible streams of history have been altered.Later that year, the largest empire in history falls apart just like that, and later that year Canada has another referundum and we nearly fall apart too, if only 10000 more Quebecker change their mind then the second-largest country in the world falls apart too, just like that.

In 1993, I was working for a service bureau called Laser's Edge and we had just started using this thing called email which was pretty stupid as all fifteen of us were crowded into one large room and if we really wanted to communicate with each other, all we had to do was yell. But it was an interesting concept, nonetheless. The electronic mail got sent to us over this thing called an Internet, built by the US military. One of the co-owners of the company, Dan Beaudoin was always waving his arms around saying the "internet" was going to be huge. A lot of the other guys were also interested because it was rumoured that dirty pictures could be found on these things called "web pages." However, this rumour could never be verified because the modem to Laser Edge only ran at 19200 baud and most of the time it was busy with customers sending in their files via ftp. In a couple of years the internet goes commercial and we stopped using Gopher and started using this new thing called a browser from Netscape. Dislocation point.
I left Laser's Edge and camped out at another company that went out of business and then got hired
by this little company on the edge of town called Creo. I flunked the first interview but got hired a year later. Six months later I'm on a plane to Europe all expenses paid as application specialist masquerading as a workflow expert. And the plane just kept flying higher and higher

Late in 2001 I wake up the sound of the phone ringing and it's my flaky sister-in-law on the phone, God bless her she always was excitable."My God, it's World War III, they're blowing up everything!!!"
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I tell her, things are going to be okay, whatever. I'm looking outside and everything seems to be fine and dandy. But then I turn on the TV and they are showing smoke coming out of one of the World Trade Centers. I haven't even made my first coffee of the day and I'm seeing it live, a f---- plane comes out of the sky and hits the second one. Then a bit later one of the buildings fall and ooh, ooh comes the voice from the TV screen. I don't remember a narrative, just pieces of info dropped here and there... terrorists, all planes are being grounded, fighter jets scrambled to shoot down any planes still flying... ...the Pentagon is hit. Nobody knows where the president is. I drive into work and it's quiet like a warehouse at midnight, so many people are at Graph Expo in Chicago. I phone the Iris team in Boston and I think that one of the planes flew out of Logan, an airport I had flown out of many times before.

Dislocation point. The stream change course again, so suddenly and violently it's more like a flood. And it all starts to turn to crap now. Printcafe. Iris Graphics. The tech stocks go down and stay down. Layoffs. More layoffs. Out the door go my co-workers, some of them my friends. Then one day I get a call for an immediate meeting that was no surprise. They put me in a room with somebody I had never seen before and he asks me about my feelings. I feel fine, I tell him, I feel nothing.

It's more than seven years now from that awful day. It's nineteen years since Germany became one country again and nobody remembers the world without the internet, without cell phones. I have two sons and a little girl, every one healthy and full of enough vigour to exhaust me every single day, praise God. This summer I get together with my friends and we ask ourselves will Barack really become the first black president and I say yes just because McCain is the same age as my Dad and my dear old Dad naps every day, c'mon being an American president is hard work. In the last month of a close race, this weird thing called a credit freeze starts to hit the markets. The stock market starts to go down, not just tech stocks but frickin' everything. Financial experts start going bananas. Politicians everywhere say we have to give billions to those fat cat MBA bastards who have been screwing the little guy for the last decade. The stock market goes waaaay down. We're going into a recession. No, we've been in a recession for awhile and we just realized it. The CEOs of Chrysler, GM and Ford fly down on their corporate jets to congress to ask for 20 billion. It's not recession, it's 1929. A friend of mine starts buying gold coins, little gold bars and he says gold will going to $1500 an ounce. We refinance our mortgage and save $3000 over one year, whoohoo.
I think to myself, is this a dislocation point?

And my honest answer is, I don't know yet.

{ 4 comments }

tom clifford December 5, 2008 at 4:29 am

Print Cafe..almost a dislocation point right there. Love this and yes you are right, those life changing moments are right there. I remember where I was then the space shuttle blew up on take off. Everyone who was alive knows exactly where they were then John F Kennedy was shot in 63. Man walking on the moon..same kinda thing.

So does the day Creo discontinued Platemaster count as a dislocation point?

Len December 5, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Wonderful post.

admin December 5, 2008 at 2:36 pm

First Len, thanks for the compliment. I don’t really give as much thanks to the commenters on this blog that I should. It really does motivate me to keep doin’ it.

Hey Tom, about Platemaster… actually the day that they announced that it wouldn’t be supported, there was big party. Yeah, that’s it. That’s what happened.
All the Prinergy software developers gathered in the laboratory and they dragged in old DEC Alpha with Platemaster installed. We all drank beer and they danced around the server singing “Ding-dong, the witch is dead.”
Finally the server was smashed to pieces by dropping dead thermal heads on it over and over. Then the riots began, with drunken coders running through the Willingdon building smashing every server they could find that had ever run a Harlequin RIP. Unfortunately, the celebration had turned ugly.
Sorry to tell you that, Tom, I knew you liked Platemaster. But I thought you needed to know the truth.

bagio54 January 2, 2009 at 6:25 am

Being 55 I remember many dislocation points, those mentioned and more. I remember in elementary school when it was announced over the loud speakers that President Kennedy had been assassinated and everyone was told to go home, most of us in tears.

Good article, I doubt any of us will forget where we were on 9/11 though I must admit I don’t remember exactly what I was doing when the Berlin Wall came down.

It would have been a better though if the comments about McCains age would have been omited, they weren’t necessary to the context of the story and will draw anxt.

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