The Future of Miss Powers - Cover

The Future of Miss Powers

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 17

Danny was walking to his Physics class with his head down in thought about his art project. He knew that he was kind of becoming obsessed with it. The thing was, he could almost see it working, in his head. There were just a few niggling details like, how to install windows and doors. Or how to paint the interior. There were lots of different little niggling things that were tough to solve, and could make it a virtually impossible task.

He mumbled, “Every noble work is at first impossible. Thomas Carlyle.”

He felt a nudge in his side, and looked up to take stock of where he was. He had come to a stop while thinking about his problem. The nudge woke him to his current surroundings.

“Oh, hi,” Danny said.

“You looked deep in thought. I wouldn’t have disturbed you, but you walked past your class,” Val said.

Danny looked around. He said, “You’re right. I guess I was out there.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“My art assignment,” Danny answered.

“I hope this one won’t get you in trouble with the football team,” Val said with a smile.

“That’s not very likely,” Danny said.

Val said, “I read the article in the paper last night. That was pretty good story about you.”

“I didn’t know that it came out. I’ll have to stop by the library to read it,” Danny said.

“You aren’t going to run out and buy a copy of the paper?”

“Why would I do that?”

“To add to your scrapbook,” Val answered as if the reason should be obvious.

“I don’t have a scrapbook.”

Val said, “You need to start one. I have one.”

“Why?” Danny asked truly puzzled.

Val said, “I figure that some day I’ll have a son or daughter who will ask me about how I became a famous lawyer. I’ll be able to haul out the scrapbook and show my kids the public story of my life. The little reminders will help fill in the private parts that are missing from the story.”

“That’s an interesting idea. However, I’m not targeting fame,” Danny said.

“According to the article, you intend to shape the future. That kind of activity tends to put one in the spotlight,” Val said.

“I suppose it could, but I don’t think so,” Danny said.

“The bell is about to ring. I better get to my class. I’ll see you at dance,” Val said.

Danny said, “I’m looking forward to it.”

Val walked off with a smile while Danny headed into his class. He had just taken a seat when Mr. Chandler said, “That was a nice article about you in the newspaper.”

“Thanks,” Danny said.

The girl sitting next to him asked, “So what did the creepy guy do that got him into the paper?”

“He was interviewed about the software engineering track at the university extension,” Mr. Chandler said.

“That sounds boring,” the girl said rolling her eyes.

“Danny made some interesting points. I think it was an exceptionally good article.”

“Thank you, Mr. Chandler.”

“Come on,” the girl said. “I don’t believe it. What could he possibly say that anyone would be interested in?”

Mr. Chandler said, “Danny, you said that a lot of people who might automatically dismiss software engineering as a profession, are actually ideal candidates for the profession. Is there anyone in this class you feel would make a good software engineer?”

Danny pointed to the girl seated next to him and answered, “Her.”

“Get out of here. I’m not a computer geek,” the girl said.

“Why her?”

“She’s a very organized person. She likes to make sure that everything that needs to be done is done. She is meticulous. She makes lists about what has to be done and then follows it. She double checks her work all of the time, sometimes to her detriment. However, she’d make an ideal software tester. Some company would find her and pay her a fortune, particularly if she got into testing secure systems.”

“They’d pay me a fortune?”


“I don’t know,” she said.

“It might be difficult for you to get through the math and science components, but there are tutors who would help you. You’d have companies lined up to hire you when you graduated.”

“Who else?”

“That girl over there,” Danny said pointing to another girl seated halfway across the class.

“Why her?”

“I’ve heard her describing things. She gives wonderfully complete descriptions. She doesn’t embellish things, but includes the essential elements that makes her description complete. That’s a valuable talent for someone who is developing requirements for a program. She’s also pretty social. That really helps when you have to talk to someone and find out what they need a program to do. Again, some company would pay good money for a person with that talent.”

“Really?” the girl asked.

“Sure. A lot of women and minorities automatically dismiss software engineering as a field, when they’d be perfect for it.”

Sam, one of the black kids in the class, said, “That’s baloney. No one is gonna hire a black to write programs.”

“I beg to differ. While it is true that the law says companies have to hire people independent of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, the fact is that engineers are valued for their mind not their body. If you give the effort to truly learn the engineering mindset, people will hire you.”

“How come there are so few blacks in the software field?”

“How come there are so few blacks trying to get into the software field?” Danny countered.

“Because no one will hire a black.”

Danny said, “If you were to go to Silicon Valley and walk around some of the leading software companies, what you’d find would amaze you. There are folks who have their hair dyed like a parrot. There are folks with tattoos and piercings in places that are best not discussed. There are slobs and neat freaks. Every race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation is represented there. These are not folks in suits.

“The days of software engineering being the province of old white men is gone. For a couple hundred dollars, you can start your own software company, and make good money with it. Who can keep you out of the field when that is the case? I’ll answer that – no one.”

“I never thought about that.”

“If you’ve got a mechanical interest, there’s robotics. If you’re interested in how people think, there’s artificial intelligence. If you’re interested in art, there’s animation and games. If you’re interested in numbers, there’s scientific programming and data analysis. If you’re interested in how the world of people works, there’s big data. Any interest that you have, is reflected in software engineering.”

“Football. How’s that reflected in software engineering?”

“Do you ever watch games on television?”


“Did you every wonder how that line showing where the first down is, appears on the screen? They aren’t really there. A program adds them to the broadcast image. You ever watch them trace out the play on the screen. That’s a program at work.”

“I thought they projected that line on the field.”

“Nope. It’s all done by computer.”

“You learn something new everyday,” the kid said.

Danny said, “Don’t forget how the commentators are able to look up statistics about every aspect of the teams. There is a world of data about sports teams and players out there. Again that’s the computer at work.”

Thinking they were using too much class time, Mr. Chandler said, “It’s about time to wrap this up, but I’m sure you have a quote that fits the discussion.”

“How about two from Michael Jordan?”

“Perfect,” Mr. Chandler said with a grin.

“The first is: ‘I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.’”

Danny paused a moment and then said, “The second is: ‘If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.’”

“How does that relate?”

“Lots of people avoid even considering some jobs, because they think it’s beyond them. That’s not trying. Others give a halfhearted attempt at something new, and give up at the first failure. That’s letting obstacles stop you. It doesn’t apply only to considering software engineering as a field, but considering any field for your future.”

“I think Mr. Michael Jordan is quite correct,” Mr. Chandler said.

Danny nodded his head. Mr. Chandler said, “It’s time get started on the class.”

While Mr. Chandler lectured the class on some chemistry fundamentals, Danny turned his attention to his art project. Finally having a moment to think about it, he pulled out a pad of paper and started trying to draw what he had in mind. He went through page after page trying to come up with a design that would work. By the end of class, he still hadn’t found anything that worked to his satisfaction.

When the bell rang, the girl seated next to him asked, “What were you doing? You went through a whole pad of paper.”

“I’m trying to solve a problem,” Danny answered.

“All of those pages is the solution?” she asked wide-eyed.

“No. Each of those pages is an attempt to solve it.”

“You might as well get some help because I don’t think you’re going to solve it on your own.”

“I can’t get some help because nobody has a solution to this problem,” Danny said.

“So give up.”

“Edison made a thousand attempts to build the first light bulb. The road to success is paved with failure,” Danny said.

“Who said that?”

“Actually, I don’t know. I’ve read it in a number of places, but I’ve never found an attribution for it.”

“Oh,” the girl said. “I’m going to my next class.”

“I better go, too,” Danny said.

Danny stepped out of the class and found Val waiting for him. Surprised to see her there, he said, “Hello.”

“What did she want?”


“The girl you were talking to,” Val answered.

“She was curious about what I had been doing in class,” Danny said.

“I’m sure she was,” Val said.

Her comment puzzled Danny, but he wasn’t curious enough to follow up on it. He said, “I’m thinking I should swing by the library and check out the paper. Mr. Chandler mentioned the article about software specialization in class, and I have no idea what it said.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Val said.

Danny headed towards the library. Val walked along beside him. He didn’t think to make any small talk.

She said, “You keep talking about your art project like you’re having problems with it. What is it?”

“I’m supposed to create a sales presentation for raising funding to create a 3D printer that prints houses,” Danny said.

Val came to a stop surprised by the nature of the assignment. She would never have thought of that as an art project. Of course, she hadn’t thought of an ad for deodorant as an art project either. She knew that fund raising was an important activity. Weren’t campaigns to save the whale accompanied by high quality images of whales swimming through the ocean? Then it dawned her that movies were considered an art form, although a lot of films didn’t qualify for that label.

“That’s interesting. Are you making any progress?”

“Just a little. I’ve about framed out some of the technical problems of making a 3D printer for making a house.”

“You’re actually trying to design a 3D printer?” she asked shocked that he would even consider that.

“Of course. How can you sell the effort to develop something if you don’t know what it is that you are trying to develop?”

“I never thought about it,” Val said.

They reached the library and entered. Mrs. Holmsteader looked at Danny and said, “Hello, Danny. That was a nice article about you.”

“Thanks. I haven’t seen it, yet. I thought I would come over here to read it, so I could say that I knew what it was about.”

“It’s over there next to where the magazines are,” she said. Turning to Val, she said, “Hello, Val. What do yo need?”

“I’m here with him,” Val said gesturing over at Danny.

Mrs. Holmsteader looked at Val rather surprised. She said, “Interesting.”

Val fidgeted nervously. She looked over at where Danny was reading the newspaper. He didn’t look all that happy about the article. She wondered what he wouldn’t like about it.

The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.