Friday, November 25, 2005

Goodbye, Norrie

You may remember Noriyuki (Pat) Morita best as Matsuo Takahashi ("Arnold" to his friends), the malt-shop owner who bought the name along with the restaurant on television's "Happy Days" or as Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, the wax on, wax off sensei in the "Karate Kid" movies. I remember his later years, when with speaking engagements and projects like "Beyond Barbed Wire" and "Only The Brave", this child of the internment camps worked to bring the story and the dignity of wartime Japanese Americans before his people — Japanese and Otherwise American. (Oh, and Canadian as well. We were no better than our neighbors to the south.)

I'm glad I had a chance to get to know something of the man beyond the wise-cracking comic and the over-the-top characters he often played. But Norrie, we hardly knew ye. Rest well.


Jess said...

Wow... and 73... that's so young, I think. I never knew any of the other projects he worked on... but it's definately not an exaggeration to say that him and the characters he played contributed to the definition of my generation.

STAG said...

When I was taking my threes at Borden, Happy Days was on every Tuesday night. PO's were due every Wednesday, so we were always pushing the Tudors into position the next morning. "Arnold's" favorite saying was "Push the Wings", and it became our "class saying" as we all got together to "push the wings" in the morning.

Upon re-reading the above, it seems like I am speaking in code! You had to be there....grin! I am sure you understand every line Stan!

Stan Rogers said...

Sure do, Bill. Makes me realise how difficult life must be for the civvies around me -- I speak in acronyms from both the (Canadian) military and the computer world.

For those wondering, "threes" refers to Trade Qualification Level 3 (TQ3 in the old days, changed to QL3 around 1990, current equivalent unknown) -- the first actual trade-related (as opposed to general military) level of training a member of the Other Ranks (was Man or Woman in those days) receives in the Canadian military. "POs" are Performance Objectives, tests of one sort or another to ensure that Enabling Objectives (EOs) have been met in training. And "wings" are horizontal appendages on the "fusilage" of an "airplane" that provide a visible separation between the port and starboard navigation lights.

STAG said...

Its a little scary to remember that I not only watched "Happy Days" before re-runs, but I was an adult in the military at the time! Talk about water under the bridge!

The whole concept of video game was almost unheard of, there was a game called "Dragon's Lair" in the dry canteen which was an arcade game...and I believe it was the first distant trumpet of the eventual video game army which has resulted in Doom and Quake. On my "fives", I was the first person to build a 'puter,(well, we all was some sort of Heathkit thing) and actually ascii in a "moon landing game". I had to teach my right hand binary. I can still say to it "three" and my pinkie and ring finger come out from my closed fist.
Does anybody still use Grey Code?

Those are my memories of my fives. Most of my classmates have memories of seeing the inside of "Snoopies" through the bottom of their beer classes.

Stan Rogers said...

Man, I got so ripped off -- I got my fives in the mail. No digital, no HR soldering, no nuthin'. Just a rewrite of my threes final PO in Shearwater -- including knowing the difference between UNC and Whitworth threads, R&P & Phillips heads, how to fuel a Tutor, and about five questions on the comm and radar stuff I was supposed to know. I actually took my digital (the cheap little 9L course) with a bunch of armourers after I got to Summerside -- five years after I got my fives. I missed a good chunk of the course because of my grandmother's death from cancer, but still managed to average over 99% and got top student. Heck, I'd been programming in machine code and working with discreet logic on the job all along (the old Doppler and Omega systems were a great training ground). But it wasn't the same thing -- we didn't get to work on the Heathkit/Zenith 6502s. (I know the machine 'cuz I used to help the fives in Kingston when I was living in Charlie's B6 on PAT for POET -- now there's a sentence that a civvy would have trouble with).

I did spend quite a bit of time and money at the Lanc, though -- and I'm pretty sure that the Dragon's Lair machine was still there, upstairs in the pool hall. Between the arcade games (pinball, Robotron and Q*Bert were my non-alcoholic addictions at the time) and doing our homework at the oddest McDonalds in North America, the Lanc got more money from me than the messes did.

(For the civvies out there -- a quarter's a quarter as far as a video game is concerned, and a coffee at Mickey's is the same price everywhere, but a beer in a Canadian Forces mess can be somewhat less expensive than you might expect. And that's on dry land. Perhaps it would be best not to speak of the price for hard liquor at sea in absolute terms. Let's just say that it would have been medically impossible to survive a twenty-dollar multi-day binge in my day, and that five bucks would make you miss your next duty watch or two -- even if you did stick to the super-premium brands.)

Gray code? They tell me it's used somewhere for mechanical/optical encoding, but the only place I've user seen it is on a Karnaugh map. Thank God I used to teach Karnaugh maps. I don't know what my life would be without 'em. It is nice to know, though, that given an infinite amount of time and an all-you-can-eat coupon from Radio Shack (not our "The Source by Circuit City" thing, the real one the still have in the States) I can build and program a working Domino server using nothing but NAND gates and resistors.

Oh, the oddness of the McDs at the Lancaster club? No freakin' hamburgers. Hot-freakin'-dogs.

STAG said...

I discovered at the Lancaster Club that there were a LOT of people better at hustling pool than I was.

I am amazed you remember the designation of that Heathkit!

Pat= Personnel Awaiting Training
On Pat means you are waiting to be assigned and report to the Duty NCO instead of your school.

POET...Performance Oriented Electronics Training. I (and a bunch of others of course) brought POET to CFSAOE in Borden. No bored readers of Stan's Place, "Borden is NOT an acronym, it is a place!)
CFSAOE is the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace and Ordinance Engineering that I got sent to when my "Looie" got told that there had been a terrible mistake, they almost sent me to Baden ( Candian Forces Base Baden-Baden, Germany,) and they now realized that I had wanted Borden. So with two weeks to go, they re-directed me! (There was something going on! Somebody's fair haired boy got sent overseas, so they bumped me. If they had only been honest about it, I may have forgiven the deception!)

HR soldering is "High Reliability", and the standards of HR back then would not cut it nowadays. Or so I have heard.

I was in Borden for almost 8 years. 3 in Poet, starting it from scratch. Almost made it into the promotion window, and they moved me to CFSATE, (Aerospace Technical Engineering) a sister school in the next hangar. I had experience in starting courses, so they had me head up a bunch of fitters and riggers to create a "ground handling" course. Three years there, started at the bottom, and almost made it into the promotion window, and they posted me back to CFSATE. The fitters and riggers all got promoted. I started over at the bottom as if I was going to a new base. I refused to sign, kicked up a fuss. Didn't help though, except now I had the reputation as a trouble maker. Taught something at CFSATE, can't even remember what, but I know it was in dire need of re-vamping, so I re-vamped it. When it came time for the annual performance reviews, I didn't hold out ANY hope. I had got my posting message, so why should they waste valuable "points" on a guy who is leaving! My Sergeant was furious at being told to mark me so low, and he fought it, and lo and behold, I got a promotion level PER!
Summerside Base was interesting...the only base at the time other than the West Coast base of Comox which in my opininion did a military job. Patrolling the borders of a country IS a military job, even if all you are doing is pissing off Spanish Trawlers who are here poaching fish. They brought in a way of checking people's weight about that time called BMI. (Body Mass Index) I was over, and you can't get promoted until you are under a certain BMI. My Sergeants in Summerside were ALL overweight, but their hands were tied. My promotion was sitting in the Warrant Officer's desk for almost a year while I sweated it out in the gym 3 hours a day! I took my Junior NCO course in Summerside, and got the grade point average...which I knew they were going to do since I was too old and had too much attitude to be top of the class, and too experienced to put me at the bottom, so I sweated out that course.
Got off the JLC, and went on a 10 mile run, came back, got weighed, I was under my BMI (surprise....) and got my promotion. Things changed after that....the shit that hit me as a corporal was nothing to that which hit me as a Master Corporal!
But that is another long and boring story, and I hear readers sliding off their chairs asleep in back!

Ottawa Wood Show this weekend! Every supplier of wood working equipment in North America will be there. Woo hoo!