Short Story Title: Law of Reflection

Story Type: Fiction


This Short Story is Chapter Three of "Early Microcomputer Experiences"

Date Written: July 16, 2019

Written By: Joseph T. Arendt

Copyright (c) July 16, 2019


Since I had no car and with finals week over, I got a ride back to home from college to the papermill town by contributing gas money to a student who did have a rusty car. Three feet of snow lay on the ground, but the roads were well-plowed. Once home, I described some of what happened during the previous semester to my parents and siblings. My brother Tim is around three years younger than me, and he was the only one interested in my stories involving microcomputers and mainframe computers. When I told him about the trouble that Bruce Brown got in with putting the Tic-Tac-Toe game on the PDP mainframe, that reminded Tim of something.

Tim went to his room, then came back with a handheld electronic toy called Merlin. It was about the size of a telephone receiver. Its case was of bright red plastic. It had a grid of LED's that had a pushbutton aspect above them. That is, you pushed what seemed the top of the LED to make a choice, but you really pushed a transparent switch above the LED. He had gotten it a year ago. He reminded me it had a Tic-Tac-Toe game.

Tim added, "If you let Merlin do the first move, then you can only draw or lose."

I had forgotten he had this because when he had gotten it last Christmas, it required six AA batteries to run. Those wore down fast. Given how it chewed through batteries, it had not gotten much use simply because Tim did not have spare cash for more batteries. However, now he had an AC adapter. As long as by an outlet, he could play the games endlessly.

It occurred to me all the games that the Merlin could play could be easily converted to work on a Josh Cistern's Vic-20 computer. For example, there were memorize the tone and light pattern games. The games were so simple that they could probably even be made to work in Albert Rose's Sinclair ZX-80 even though it only had one kilobyte.

Later during the break, Tim and I went down to the basement of my parents' house. A nineteen-inch black-and-white television had a videogame that contained a clone of Pong. It was by Magnavox, not Atari so was not actually called Pong but something like Video Tennis. As far as I could tell, the gameplay matched Atari's Pong. I remembered three years back when both Tim and I had pleaded for a videogame like Pong. It was the hot gift that year. That Christmas, we had gotten this. For some months, it had gotten lots of use despite the simplicity. Friends came over to play after school. Even if not hooked to a black-and-white TV in the basement but to the color TV upstairs, the display would still have only show black-and-white as that was all it could do. It did not use cartridges to supply new games.

What was popular for the past couple Christmases and still retained popularity this Christmas was an Atari 2600 videogame console. That would also hook to a TV, but it had color, By inserting different cartridges, one could play as many different games as the cartridges one bought. Many of those cartridge games were crude conversions of coin-op videogames. For example, one of the most popular cartridges was Pac-Man, which barely resembled the slick coin-op arcade version. Tim mentioned that he would much rather have a microcomputer, even one like the Sinclair ZX-80, then a videogame console this Christmas.

I asked, "When I was in high school, the only computer they had was a miniature version of an IBM mainframe. It only had punchcards. Although I heard about it, I never used it because it was only for those on a business, secretarial, and accounting track, but not for science, math, or engineering. Has the high school gotten any other computers yet?"

Tim looked frustrated as he replied, "No. Just the same computer as when you were there. I've only heard about it too, never used it."

As we played the Pong clone, Tim beat me easily every time, so I said, "You've gotten really good at this."

Tim deadpanned, "It's just that you're so bad at it."

I remarked, "It isn't much fun losing every time."

Tim said, "I'll tell you the secret. I'm taking high school physics. Did they teach you the Law of Reflection when you had it?"

I remarked, "Sure. Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection. Works perfectly for light. For bouncing a ball off a wall, spin on the ball and friction can make it not follow the Law of Reflection. Still, if not much spin on the ball, then it works pretty well."

The ball in the videogame was really a white square on the low-resolution screen rather than round like a proper ball, but Tim knew what I meant.

Tim pointed at the game, "The walls of this game use the Law of Reflection, but the paddles don't."

I asked, "Is the way it bounces off the paddle random?"

Tim explained, "No. In Pong, where it strikes on the paddle affect the angle it leaves. It is a direct relationship. In contrast, in the videogame Breakout, one can imagine instead of the paddle being a rectangle that it was a half circle, then that follows the Law of Reflection."

We played again. Tim won again, but our score was much closer than before.

I remarked, "That really works! I feel dumb that we had this game this long, and I never figured out what you just told me. I suspect there are many things like this I could learn if I just paid more attention."

Tim nodded, then noted, "I don't think we'll be getting a home computer or game console this Christmas. Dad complains money is tight after paying for your tuition, room, and board."

I remarked, "For the group I was hanging out with at college, the ultimate Christmas gift is a home computer. Josh already has his Vic-20 computer and Albert his Sinclair ZX-80, but I wonder if anybody else will have one when I go back in January."

Tim said, "Most of my peers want a car. I cannot get my license until next fall, but some of my classmates although in the same grade as me already have a license."

I said, "A person could get a very nice used car or two junky ones for the price of an Apple II system."

Tim remarked, "What I think is really going to take off for microcomputers is the IBM PC."

This was the year the IBM PC had been introduced, but I had never seen one. I only read about them with most articles claiming this made microcomputers respectable to the general population rather than just toys for nerds.

Tim had a friend named Jason who had wealthy parents since his father is a medical doctor and remarked, "Jason wants an IBM PC for Christmas, but even with his Dad's wealth, I don't think he'll get it."

A few days later when Christmas came, Jason drove over to my parents' house on Christmas day itself to show Tim his new gift, a car. It was not brand new, but not the rust-heaps most of the few friends I had with cars drove around, including the rust heap I had gotten a ride home from college in by contributing gas money. Jason's car was about three years old, but looked brand new.

I recalled how when I was at high school, having a car like that would make one super popular. Not one of the current crowd I had been regularly hanging out with as a Freshman in college even owned a car other than a guy from my math class who had a rust heap. It wasn't too much of a boon for that math class guy because he had to use it to drive about fifty miles home each weekend to put in hard labor on the family farm. He told me he had to keep working at the farm every weekend just to afford continuing at college. I didn't know if he would survive engineering despite how intelligent and hard-working he was because he was just so tired all the time from that routine. He made my college life seem a cakewalk.

As I looked at Jason's shiny almost-new car, it struck me how expensive well-equipped home computers like Apple II's and IBM PC's really were in comparison. It made me think how clever Albert Rose had been to get in the home computer game with only a $100 computer since he already had the TV and the tape recorder, and even Josh Cistern's Vic-20 system had set him back only about a fourth the cost of these other home computers.

At the Kant house, there were no videogame consoles nor home computers for Christmas. There were lots of board games, but also sweaters, shirts, socks, and things of that sort.

Two days after New Year's Eve, I again paid my share of gas money and got a ride back to Cornfield University in a rust heap. Once there, I figured Albert Rose and Josh Cistern's room had been a gathering point last semester and would again. It was.

Josh had two new pieces of hardware to show off. The first was a joystick, which let one control games in the Vic-20 like it was an Atari videogame console. It was an actual Atari-branded joystick, which Josh assured me worked perfectly on a Vic-20 with the same connector. The second was a memory expansion adding eight-kilobytes to his Vic-20. He had soldered it himself, so it was not in the brown plastic casing of the three-kilobyte expansion that he had had last semester. Yet, despite the visible chips and wiring, when he put it in and powered up the Vic-20, the display read, "11775 BYTES FREE."

I remarked, "If Xavier Carter were still here, even he might have respect for your Vic-20 now that it has this much memory."

Josh responded, "I went down to what had been his room. His former roommate is there, but has a newly assigned roommate. Xavier's really gone."

Albert countered, "I doubt Xavier would ever have any respect for the Vic-20. The Apple II and Apple II Plus have a piece of software that have greatly increased their popularity. However, to run it well, one should have 48 kilobytes of RAM. I heard the MSLC Apple II's have had memory upgrades so they can run this, as it is deemed educational software."

I asked, "What is this magical software? A very nice word processor?"

Josh answered first, "It's a spreadsheet called Visicalc."

Albert nodded to indicate his roommate Josh had the answer correct.

I wondered, "What's a spreadsheet?"

Josh and Albert looked at me like they could hardly believe how little I knew. As they started to answer, Bruce Brown showed up. He had not heard of VisiCalc either, so was interested in the ongoing discussion. I felt better that I was not the only one not to hear of it.

As Josh and Albert were educating Bruce and me about spreadsheets, Tom Anderson showed up. Tom was too excited to discuss why VisiCalc was making the Apple II series almost as respected in the business world as the IBM PC. He demanded we hurry down to his room to see what he got for Christmas. We complied.

In Tom's room set up on his desk was a Vic-20 system. He had a twelve-inch color TV as a monitor, just a little smaller than the fourteen-inch color TV that Josh had. Next to the Vic-20 was a tape recorder. Next to the tape recorder was a stack of blank cassette tapes. Besides this were two cartridges that I wrongly assumed were memory cards. He had a joystick, this one Commodore-branded. I picked it up and moved it around. I thought the feel of Josh's Atari-branded joystick was much better than this Commodore-branded one.

Tom indicated the cassette tapes and asked Josh, "Do you have any software I can have for my new Vic-20?"

Josh said, "Sure."

Tom remarked, "I've got something to show you first."

He took a cartridge, shoved it into the back of the Vic-20. He did this quickly, and Josh lunged forward too late. Fortunately, Tom got away with it this time.

Josh warned, "Always turn the computer off when inserting or taking out a cartridge. I learned when I made my eight-kilobyte memory expansion that it is very easy to short the 5 V power pin to the ground pin right next to it if you have the computer powered when plugging in or removing a cartridge."

Albert dryly noted, "You sound like you are speaking from experience."

Josh confessed, "It only blew a fuse in my power supply, but I had to go to Radio Shack to get a new one before I could use my computer again."

Tom promised, "I'll turn off the computer before putting in or taking out a cartridge next time. Enough of that, you guys have to see this game!"

Tom had to flick the power button off and on anyway to get the auto-start of the game cartridge to work, but when he did, the familiar screen of Choplifter came up.

I knew the game because it was sometimes played on the Apple II's in the MSCL. By the end of the last semester, it was second in popularity to Castle Wolfenstein. Compared to the Apple II version, this one had more vivid colors. As a negative, the pixels were bigger and more visible than in the Apple II version. That came from an actual hardware limitation of the Vic-20.

Tom played a while himself. It seemed he had done lots of practice during the break.

After he was done playing, he stated, "I really wanted an Apple II. I have a version of this game on the Apple II disks I copied from Xavier. My parents could only afford this. Still, this is a good version even though on a cartridge rather than a disk so it cannot be copied. Bruce, why don't you try it?"

Bruce also had a nice collection of disk games for the Apple II copied from the now-gone Xavier. That collection included the Apple II version of this game. Bruce took his turn, striving to top Tom's score, and did beat it.

As Bruce played, Albert noted, "Look at the slowdown when there are lots of items on the screen."

Sometimes beside the helicopter, there were also many stick men to be rescued as well as an enemy jet fighter.

I said, "I think the Apple II version does that slight slowdown too."

Tom defensively said, "It's still playable and fun!"

Josh conceded, "It's not too noticeable, but it is there."

Albert put in, "I've noticed a slowdown when the screen gets crowded even on some coin-op arcade games. These fast-action pixel-level-animation games push the limits of the hardware."

Tom seemed disappointed by the reaction of Josh and Albert. Tom shut off the Vic-20 despite how Bruce still wanting to keep playing Choplifter. The next cartridge was also a game, not a memory expansion. This was Omega Race. It was clearly highly inspired by the coin-op arcade game Asteroids. However, in the coin-op arcade game, the ship controlled by the player does a screen wraparound. If one goes off the top, the ship pops out on the bottom; if one goes off the right side, then the ship reappears on the left side. In this game, a glowing barrier appeared if one tries to go off the edge. The ship would bounce off the barrier, staying on the screen. The way the player's ship bounced obeyed the simple Law of Reflection. This bounce-off-the-sides required a changed game strategy.

Omega Race was played for some time. Even Josh and Albert were enthusiastic about this game. I looked at my watch, taking my leave before getting my next turn to play it.

I explained, "I want to be well rested tomorrow for Registration Day. See you guys around."

Registration Day took place in the fieldhouse. I went in as early as I was allowed in. I rushed from table to table, with each table representing a department. To make my schedule work for what I needed to stay on track to finish EE in a timely manner, I had to sign up for the session of Calculus II taking place at nine am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students tend to not like to get up early, treating even nine am as early, which is why there were still openings. Doing this, I got all the courses I needed.

I saw Albert Rose roaming the tables. I went up to him and said, "If you still need Calculus II, there are openings in the nine am section even though all the ones later in the day already have waiting lists."

Albert turned his gaze to his feet and muttered, "I don't need that. I signed up for Calculus I."

I said before thinking, "I thought you had that last semester."

Before going on his way to a different table, Albert said, "I did."

I was genuinely surprised as I knew that he meant he had failed the course. Out of the entire crew that either owned microcomputers or tried to wheedle time on those that did, Albert seemed the most technically competent. His Christmas gifts other than clothes seemed a bunch of computer magazines and computer books. I tend to describe Josh more than Albert in these stories because Josh had a gift of explaining to people what was great about microcomputers in a way that others would quickly grasp. When Albert talked about serial port speeds, processor clock speeds, cycles per instruction, how the register layout in a Z-80 system like his Sinclair differed from the Motorola 6502 in a system like Josh's Vic-20, and so forth, normal people's eyes tended to glaze over in incomprehension and disinterest. Somehow, I had assumed somebody with Albert's obvious technical expertise would sail right though Calculus, but I was wrong.

The next day was the first day of classes. Once my first day of courses was done, I headed over to Albert and Josh's room. Josh and Tom sat at Josh's Vic-20. Tom had brought over his stack of cassette tapes, and that meant the Vic-20 was too tied up with copying cassettes for any games to be played. Albert had his Sinclair out. It seemed to be on, but the 20-inch color TV screen was blank although the TV was on.

I asked Albert, "What's wrong with your display?"

Albert explained, "I'm running speed tests with the video output turned on and off. It's off right now. Josh's Vic-20 is named that because Vic stands for Video Interface Chip after a specialized chip that makes nice color graphics without requiring processing power from the main microprocessor. Not having such a chip on my Sinclair, over 70% of the main microprocessor's time is dedicated to making the video function. My Sinclair runs much faster when the video is off, so I am finding out how much faster."

The door to the room was open and Bruce Brown showed up carrying a case of beer. He walked over and handed it to Josh and declared, "I owe you this for what I drank when I found out I was banned from both mainframes last semester."

Josh said, "You didn't have to do that. Having one now won't hurt. My earliest class tomorrow is at eleven am."

All the others but me took a beer from this case. Nobody other than me had a class that started any earlier than ten am.

Bruce announced, "Only Professor McCullen teaches Computer Programming for Engineers, so I have to endure him again! Today, he gave the same speech about look to the right and left! Since not many students start in January, the class is about half the size as last semester. I'd further say half the people are repeating it like me, while the rest seemed to have changed their major to engineering for this semester or had an unusual January start to their college career. The speech didn't have the same impact when half of us were hearing it for the second time."

I remarked, "I wonder how his claim of only a third will make it through engineering will work out in the long run. We've already lost Xavier."

Bruce remarked, "Yet he passed this class! I don't understand why he gave up on engineering. However, you guy will like the next part. McCullen walked us over to the Cornfield Computer Center. After he showed the clipboard where one puts your name for the waiting list for the VT-100 dumb ASCII terminals, I raised my hand. He seemed reluctant to respond to me, but finally did. I told the whole crowd how if one has a microcomputer and a modem, then one can modem in after-hours. At that time, the PDP/11 is a wonderfully fast mainframe, and we've never had a problem with the dial-up phone line being busy!"

Josh wondered, "How'd the old man react to that?"

Bruce answered, "He reluctantly admitted that could be done. I put in that when doing it, never, ever, ever run a computer game on the PDP/11 even if it is after hours and even if the game is merely Tic-Tac-Toe! You should have seen him glare at me, but...hey...I was just telling others to obey his rules, so what could he do?"

Tom laughed and said, "I wish I could have seen that!"

Albert suggested, "It isn't wise to antagonize a professor even if you're right."

Josh added, "Especially not when you're right!"

Some weeks later, Josh, Albert, Bruce, and I were wandering down the hallway of the engineering building. Tom was in a class in some other building, so wasn't with us. Josh was telling us about the new Vic-20 game he had coded up, which was a game of Battleship.

A middle-aged bearded man was coming the other way. He looked old enough to be a professor, but maybe only mid-Thirties, so much younger that Professor McCullen. He had apparently overheard our conversation, and came over.

He said, "I'm Doctor Domain. I teach Physics."

I remarked, "I have Physics, but my instructor is Dr. Jones."

Doctor Domain said, "He does Physics I, and I do Physics II. You'll have me next semester. Did I just hear you guys talking about a Commodore computer?"

Josh said, "Yes. I'm Josh Cistern. I own a Commodore Vic-20, and was telling the others of a Battleship game I wrote."

Doctor Domain suggested, "If you have a few spare minutes, could I show you something?"

I asked, "Just Josh or all of us?"

Doctor Domain said, "All of you."

We followed him not to his office, but to a large physics lab. In the corner was a computer that looked like it belonged in a science fiction movie. The monitor was affixed to the to base with the keyboard integral as well so all one unit. The case was angular white-painted sheet metal. The keyboard was considerably smaller than on Josh's Vic-20, but not as small as the one on Albert's Sinclair.

Albert hurried to it as he said, "This is an original Commodore PET. It has the Chicklet keyboard."

I asked, "Chicklet?"

Albert explained, "For the rectangular candy. Somebody thought these keys looked like Chicklet candy, and the name stuck. The newer Commodore PET's have a full-sized keyboard like on Josh's Vic-20."

Doctor Domain no longer seemed like a professor as he enthusiastically turned on his Commodore PET. The text on the screen was amber colored. No other color was possible as it was monochrome. The amount of free RAM was eight kilobytes.

Albert noted, "The very earliest PET had a blue monochrome screen, but soon Commodore switched to amber. So, this is an early PET computer, but not the earliest. It's from either 1977 or 1978."

Doctor Domain remarked, "I got it in 1978."

Josh said, "It looks like the same version of BASIC as on my Vic-20."

Doctor Domain declared, "I can afford to hire one of you to write some programs on my Commodore PET. It is only minimum wage and a few hours a week."

Bruce stated, "For Commodore computers, Josh surpasses the rest of us. He's the one who owns his own Commodore Vic-20, after all."

Despite the praise of Josh, Doctor Domain asked Bruce, "What's your name?"

Bruce answered, "Bruce Brown. And this is Josh Cistern, Albert Rose, and Joel Kant."

Doctor Domain said, "I've heard your name, Bruce! Come over here to the other side of the room."

There was a DecWriter terminal in the other side of the room. This is a type of terminal that did not have a screen. It was essentially a keyboard attached to a printer. Since everything that was done went onto paper, it used phenomenal amounts of 132-column, green-barred, tractor-feed paper when in use. There was no direct cable connection between the engineering building the the Computer Center, but the room did have a telephone. Doctor Domain used a regular telephone and modem. It was just like we had been doing on Josh's computer after the Computer Center closed.

Doctor Domain logged into his own account.

He complained, "This PDP mainframe is so infernally slow during the day!"

It should have been totally obvious, but it came to me as a surprise that professors got just as infuriated with the slowness of the overloaded PDP mainframe as us students. Still, with patience, he got on. He then listed the files in the directory.

He gestured Bruce over, then pointed at a file that read, "TICTAC.FOR"

Doctor Domain asked, "I got that from the Sys Op last semester after I overheard Doctor McCullen complaining about it. Is that your doing?"

Bruce groaned and pleaded, "All right, yes, I did that. I already got kicked off both mainframes last semester over it. I couldn't pass Computer Programming for Engineers without using them, so now I'm Academic Probation. Isn't that enough punishment over a mere game of Tic-Tac-Toe?"

Doctor Domain stated, "You misunderstand me. It's a nice little program."

Bruce humbly admitted, "I didn't really create it. It comes from the book BASIC Computer Games by David Ahl. It's a very famous book."

Doctor Domain noted, "I assume BASIC in the title means the BASIC language like on my PET. This game is in FORTRAN. Did you do the conversion?"

Bruce said, "Yes, but you should see how improved Josh has made that simple game by doing screen updates, adding color, and adding sound."

Josh put in, "Tic-Tac-Toe is a pretty simple game. Using similar ideas, I am working on converting a jump-the-peg game to a Vic-20 game. You may have seen this game with a wood block with holes drilled into it and golf pegs."

Doctor Domain looked at Josh, then over at Bruce, and said, "Bruce, the job is yours if you want it. Four hours a week at minimum wage. We can go over to our secretary to fill out the paperwork."

We left the Physics Lab. Doctor Domain and Bruce Brown headed down the hallway to see the secretary, while Albert, Josh, and I headed back to the dorms.

Once we were out on the sidewalk, Josh said, "I could really use a part-time job. There's more I want to buy for my Vic-20."

I said, "I'm surprised Doctor Domain chose Bruce over you. Bruce is pretty good at programming, but on Commodore computers, you're phenomenal."

Josh remarked, "I'm glad Bruce got the job. He'll do a fine job."

Josh didn't seem very glad, though.

Albert said, "If I were paying somebody to code on a Commodore PET, I'd have a newer version than that one! The newer ones have more memory and 80 columns."

Josh remarked, "I've seen photographs of the newer ones. The new PET still has the monitor, base, and keyboard all fastened together in one box, but now its in a rounded and swoopy tan and brown plastic case. Doctor Domain's original PET with the sharp angles and bright white color looks like something from the future! It could be in the background of a Star Trek episode, and fit in perfectly."

Albert dryly noted, "Star Trek was made in the Sixties. You're advocating a retro-idea of what future tech should look like, not the reality."

Josh said, "I like the look of the props and sets in Star Trek."

A couple weeks later, Bruce showed up at Albert and Josh's dorm room when I was over visiting.

He explained to us as he held up a cassette tape, "I modified one of the programs I did for Doctor Domain so I can demonstrate it on Josh's Vic-20."

Albert asked, "What did you do to modify it?"

Bruce said, "Both the Commodore PET and the Commodore Vic-20 have the same language and same extended character set of PETSCII, but I wrote the program for the 40 columns of the PET rather than the 22 columns of the Vic-20. I got it to work in 22 columns, but it's more clunky."

I asked, "What's it do?"

Bruce gave a description of the inspiration first, "Professor Domain has an actual experiment where a wood platform about two feet by two feet has an object about an inch thick hidden under it. The object has a simple shape like a circle, square, or triangle. Students shoot marbles at it while being unable to see the object, just watching the marble goes in and out. They are to roll the marble straight without any deliberate spin."

I thought and said, "Is this about the Law of Reflection?"

Bruce agreed, "Yes, which works as long as not putting deliberate spin on the marbles. What I did was write a simulator for this experiment. Can you start this program, Josh?"

Josh took the cassette and loaded it into his Vic-20. The TV as monitor displayed a box in the center and small circles that seemed to represent balls. Bruce told Josh what key to press. The square was replaced by a triangle almost as big as the square had been.

Bruce said, "With the shape visible like this, trying using these keys to aim the marble, and watch how it bounces off."

Josh did as directed. The small circle moved with jerky character animation, but it did get the idea across.

After a little of this, Bruce instructed, "Now push S to change the shape."

Josh did so, and now the shape was a large circle. Josh bounces a bunch of little circles off the big circle. After this, a square, but tilted 45 degrees to be a diamond. He bounced little circles off the diamond.

In the real experiment, a big square hides the shapes underneath, and the program simulated that next. Using the jerky character animation with the little circles, we discovered we could all quickly figure out the hidden shape. This was done by just how the little circles entered and came out from the big square.

Josh pondered, "There might be a game idea here."

Bruce defensively stated, "Professor Domain has this to support the real experiment, not as a game."

Josh said, "There still might be a game idea here."

Bruce shrugged, then said, "Something strange happened today. After Professor McCullen finished his lecture in Computer Programing in Engineering, he asked me to come to his office. I asked him to tell me what it was right now in front of the other students milling around, but he wouldn't do it. I didn't see how I can be in trouble again this semester, so I wanted witnesses."

Josh asked, "What happened?"

Bruce answered, "When we got to his office, Professor McCullen showed me a bunch of articles about the starting salaries of engineers versus physicists!"

I suggested, "I'll bet he heard that Professor Domain hired you to write software on his Commodore PET."

Josh remarked, "What Bruce does for Professor Domain on a Commodore PET is no skin off Professor McCullen's nose. Late last semester, I told Professor McCullen about my Vic-20. He hates Commodore computers, calling them toys."

Bruce contemplated, "I don't think I ever will get an apology from Professor McCullen for his Draconian punishment of me for my trivial Tic-Tac-Toe game, but now he wants me to stay in engineering! That's a complete turnaround from when he was gleeful to kick me off the two mainframes last semester! I thought the world had collapsed when I got the academic probation for this semester as a result, but now that this has happened, I feel I could survive and thrive in either engineering or physics."


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