December 31, 2018
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Happppyy Almost New Year!! It’s Week Number 380 of Slow Thoughts for Fast Times, a service of the Can’t Handle Change Institute, where we say “computers? Just give me an old IBM Selectric (Rotating ball model) and I’ll be happy.”
Just a’kidding. I was thinking the other day about how I put words on paper, and the tools with which I’ve done it through the years, and I figure I’ve handled change reasonably well. Your opinion may vary.
Pencil and paper were essential for the first effort, of course. Then I graduated to my brother’s old Underwood typewriter in the early ‘60s. ‘Portable’ in those days meant anything under fifty pounds. The Underwood came in at about 48. The thing was built like a battleship and dated from World War II.
Then, I actually traveled BACK in time, typewriter-wise, when I was hired as a part-time weekend radio announcer in 1964. I was tasked with writing fire and car wreck stories for our weekend newscasts and the only machines available in the WOMT newsroom were 1926-vintage Woodstock typewriters that were new when the station went on the air. These were lightweight, fun machines, and even a hunt-and-peck typist like me could really fly along cranking out the verbiage. The keys delivered a nice sharp ‘slap’ to the platen, so it really sounded like you were doing something Very Important.
When I was in the Army we used a variety of machines depending on where we were and how many budget bucks the office was allowed to spend on equipment. This is where I first encountered the IBM Selectric, a true technological miracle. Once we got used to the fact that there were no keys flying up and whacking the paper we got along fine. The first Selectrics had a rotating ball with the letters, numbers and punctuation marks on it and the thing performed flawlessly, even at high speeds. Almost everyone I know who has used the first and second versions of the Selectric liked the ball version best.
The military was also the first place where I brushed elbows with the computer age, using a typewriter that disgorged miles of paper tape with holes punched in it, which was then fed into a primitive computer which in turn distributed it to whomever needed the information contained thereon.
Our first home computer (around 1989) was a Radio Shack TRS 80, one of the later versions of that much-produced machine. It used that dismal DOS system, which meant a lot of ‘Control-plus’ key stroking to do anything. When we finally got a computer that used a mouse we were in heaven. And it had an incredible 64 megabites of memory. Yahoo! And you could edit and change your copy easy as pie. Computing couldn’t get any better than this!
The only sand in the wheels of progress were those clunky dot-matrix tractor-feed printers. They were unpredictable and had a bad habit of jamming up or running out of ink just when you were doing something that needed to be done NOW. When the industry finally started producing decent quality inkjet printers we thought we had finally reached the Promised Land. And they were so cheap! Later, we realized WHY they were so cheap. ‘Cuz you needed a new 20-buck ink cartridge about every two weeks, that’s why.
Fast forward to the present: things are pretty good. Unless your router disconnects for some unknown reason or you hit just the right combination of keys and lose all you’ve typed. Yeah, nothing’s perfect.
So, what’s the point of all this? Nothing much. I just thought of it the other evening when I sat down to write my annual Christmas Letter to Sally. With pen and paper. And it felt pretty good. Like I was doing something Very Important.
Let’s check the trivia results from our December 17 post…
Edith got the Christmas song! Yes, it’s was Jingle Bells where the singer invites ‘Miss Fannie Bright’ to go along for a ride.
Terry guessed Spalding as the second-oldest sporting goods manufacturer. No, sorry. The company we’re looking for made its fame with golfing gear for the well-heeled gent. Oh, that’s a hint.
So, that question is still available, as is the one about the edible confection that also be used to soothe sunburn and condition lifeless hair. HINT: It’s great on pumpkin pie.
One more time for the Lincoln question: what member of his cabinet actively schemed to get a Presidential nomination for himself over his boss. And this went on for several years into Lincoln’s administration.
And, a last go-round for this Christmas-y question: What did a fragrant gum resin have to do with the traditional Christmas story? Think: a trio of guys following a star. (That’s almost too much of a hint.)
Here’s a new one: Nex-Tech Wireless is the current occupant of the NW corner of 10th and Grant in GB. There have been several restaurants there spanning 15 years or so. What was the first ‘big-name’ one during that 15 years?
That’ll tie the ribbon on this package. As always, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will note your input next week.
Happy New Year! Let’s all hope 2019 is not quite as ‘crazy’ as ’18 was.