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added Feb 11, 2011

Short Term Employee
- with long happy memories


I discovered your web site while searching for information on whatever became of Measurex.

I worked for Measurex briefly, from around September 1978 to March 1979. After graduating from San José State with a degree in biology in 1976, I bounced around a variety of dead-end jobs, most of which had nothing to do with what I had studied in college. I was working as a lab technician for Reichhold Chemical in South San Francisco when I answered an ad from Measurex. I wish I could remember all the names of the people I worked with there. I found John Dahlquist mentioned on your web page. He and another physics Ph.D., an English fellow, interviewed me. They asked me science questions of increasing complexity until they found my water line, then gave me a problem in what I later learned was Boolean algebra. I was stumped on that one. I was told, “When you’ve figured out the answer to that problem, call us and we’ll talk about you coming to work here.”

My job at Reichhold was making up test batches of alkyd resin from formulas dreamed up by my boss, who was a chemist and an insufferable [xxx]hole. The objective of the project was to develop a water-soluble alkyd paint formula to meet California air quality standards (I don’t think they ever succeeded). One of my tasks was performing “scrub tests” on a paint formula, meaning I watched a scrubbing machine go back and forth over a strip of paint, waiting for it to wear through to the base. It took several thousand strokes, and was pretty tedious stuff. I spent a lot of that time working on the algebra problem. When I solved it, I called back to Measurex, and was given a start date. When I started the R&D lab was near the main offices toward the building’s front entrance, but around Christmas we moved into a new addition that was on the opposite side of the assembly floor.

I was hired to fill the technician slot in research and development vacated by Marian Magee, who had been promoted to scientist. “Marian the Librarian” was both extremely pretty and extremely smart, and her lack of romantic interest in anyone at Measurex was a source of frustration for many of the male employees there, hence her nickname. I was doing a lot of on-the-job training, as I didn’t have a great background for the kind of research they were doing at Measurex. I always felt intellectually outclassed by the people I worked with. Virtually all of them were terrific people, but way smarter than me. I tested and calibrated Unigauges that were about to be shipped, worked on writing an assembly manual for a pH meter, and restarted the lab’s HP minicomputer whenever we would have a power surge or interruption, which was frequently. The HP required input of six or eight binary strings by pushing some buttons on the front of the chassis, and no one in the immediate vicinity seemed to know how to do it. I had a cheat sheet and guarded it closely, as it seemed to be the only work of value I performed and I didn’t want to be replaced.

I had a secret longing to be a cop, and would from time to time put in an application at one or another law enforcement agency around Northern California. When I answered an ad from the City of Reno, NV, they moved on it very quickly. Three weeks after I took their written exam, I got a call at my desk in the R&D lab, telling me that I was #2 on their hiring list, and they were going to add three more recruits to the police academy class that began on the following Friday (this was Tuesday). I had to give him an answer then and there. I accepted the job, then went to find John and tell him the news. I have wondered many times how life had been on the road not taken.

Although I was leaving on very short notice, the staff gave me a great sendoff lunch and all wished me well. I worked for Reno PD for 12 years before transferring to the municipal court for two more years as a bailiff. Since then, I’ve been a tribal cop on an Indian reservation, a criminal justice professor at five colleges, a regional trainer for a state law enforcement agency, and an editor for two law enforcement web sites.

I wasn’t at Measurex all that long, but it was one of the best places I’ve worked. I hope that anyone from those days who is reading this is doing well.

Tim Dees, CPP
P.O. Box 6815
Kennewick, WA 99336
(910) 688-3337
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