On things you lost and wish you still had

As part of the e-mail exchange with Redmonk’s James Governor mentioned in my prior post, I wrote the following, in response to his description of me as “Open source maven and IBM change agent Dave Shields.”

James,

I was also a “change agent” when I drove a taxi-cab. I’ve lost some of my favorite possessions over the years: the change machine from by taxi days, my NYC taxi-cab license, my NYC merchant’s license I needed to sell baloons, my custom-made pool cue (don’t worry, I never took into a real pool hall, just used it for fun); some of the books in Russian I bought in my first visit to NYC.

I also lost my K+E 4181-3 Log Log Duplex Decitrig slide rule, but have recently acquired a replacement courtesy of ebay. I’ll be posting on my blog about it soon. (I also bought a plastic pocket-protector with Caltech on it, and am looking forward to shooting the photo that will accompany that post.)

That suggests a new variation on the “five things you don’t know about me” game of tag going around.

How about listing things you lost but wish you had back? I’m thinking of small things with sentimental value, not big-ticket items such as youth.

The two I miss most are the hack license and the pool cue. I loved to play pool in my childhood. My mother took me to see Willie Mosconi, one of the finest players ever, when he once gave an exhibition in Albuquerque. He was the technical adviser for one of my all-time favorite films, The Hustler, directed by Robert Rossen. It had a wonderful cast. It launched the career of George C. Scott and included the best film performance ever by Jackie Gleason (his roles in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies were ludicrous, as he was a good actor, and also a good pool player.) Mosconi can be seen in one scene racking up the balls.

The novel by Walter Tevis that inspired the movie is a classic in its own right.

I went to a few pool tournaments while I was in Los Angeles and then later in New York. The smoothest stroke I ever saw was that of Cicero Murphy. He was as graceful at the pool table as was Fred Astaire when he danced.

I just shot straight pool, with occasional rounds of billiards and snooker. My best run at straight pool was 39 balls, though this was on an old table that was so forgiving that it almost defied the laws of physics.

Paul Newman played the lead role in The Hustler, that of “Fast Eddie” Felsen, because Eddie liked to play “fast and loose.”

Fast and loose — works in straight pool, and also a good approach for blogging.

I guess there’s yet another game to be made of all this. How many blog posts can one generate based on a totally irrelevant post or e-mail by someone else?

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