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integer-decode-float usage question

Perhaps I'm just being exceptionally dense today, but I'm having a hard
time figuring out how to convert floating point numbers on one machine
into a representation used by another machine (namely, the Motorola FFP
format).  I assume that this was the reason why the function
INTEGER-DECODE-FLOAT was provided, but darned if I know how to interpret
the numbers I'm getting back from it -- the exponent of 1.0 is -23?!?
Or is that a bug in the implementation (VaxLisp)?  Can anyone shed some
light on the topic?