On The Ball

Selectric

The wife and I are not ‘Retro,’ we’re just old fogies.

It’s not that we’re technophobic. Lord knows, we embrace technology to the limits of our non-Electronic Age brains. In our house, there are 2 PCs, a laptop, 2 tablets, 3 Kindles, 2 Kobos, 2 Smart Phones, and a Smart TV that’s smarter than both of us together. Still, sometimes we like to relive The Good Old Days, in The Good Old Ways.

The QWERTY keyboard was originally developed when early typists got faster than the rudimentary machines, and jammed letter strikers against the platen. It put the usual letters in unusual places, to slow typists down, and prevent jamming. It was touted by its proponents as, “More efficient,” a lie with a bit of truth in it.  It reduced the words per minute typed, but almost eliminated having to stop and unjam the machine, resulting in more total words typed at the end of the day.

The development of the electric typewriter smoothed out the jamming problem somewhat, and also eliminated the need to manually move the heavy carriage with the left hand/arm.

Selectric Ball

In 1961, IBM re-invented the wheel – actually, a ball. They produced the Selectric, a typewriter with no keys to jam. Instead, it had a little ball with all the characters on it. The smart machine rotated the ball – nicknamed a ‘Golf Ball’ – to the right position before smacking it against the paper. Different balls, with different fonts could be quickly snapped in and out.

Several models, with different features were developed, including one with a rudimentary 40-character memory. If a typist noticed a mistake while typing, (s)he could hit a special ‘Hold’ key, back up in the memory, change the error, and free the machine to continue.  There was no more heavy carriage to move back and forth. Instead, the ball and ribbon moved smoothly and quietly across the platen. This was the precursor to the computer word-processor.

Sadly, because of that, they didn’t last long, and soon became extinct – but not before over 2,000,000 of them were sold. The wife worked on one, in one of the offices where she was employed. She loved it. Recently, she had a couple of typing projects – recipe cards, and knitting patterns – where a computer and printer just didn’t work out well.

She found one offered for sale on Facebook Market. The woman wanted $40 for it. I asked where I had to go to pick it up. She’s had me drive 10/15 kilometers locally, for other items. This one, she said, was in Oshawa, the other side of Toronto. I told her that it would cost another $40 in gas, to drive there and back. Without any other offers on it, the price reduced to $35.

Driving completely across metro-Toronto, on Highway 401, is not the worst traffic in North America, but it’s definitely in the top 10. When I checked the location with a map program, the actual mileage (Canadian kilometrage) wasn’t all that high, but the program warned that, at the time that I checked, based on current traffic conditions, estimated trip time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.

We planned the trip for the middle of the morning, after the get-to-work onslaught, but before the lunch-time rush, and made the 160 Km/100 Miles in 1Hour/40Minutes. We waited till 2:00 o’clock to start back and, aside from some slowdown from the ‘memory of an accident’ we saw on the way there, we got home in 1Hour/40Minutes again. We immediately stopped at Costco, and put $45 of gas in the car.

The wife wanted some proof that the machine worked, but the woman getting rid of it was a young Real Estate agent, charged with disposing of an estate. She was so young that she’d never heard of or seen such a contraption. She plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed. She hit a couple of keys, and it clacked a couple of times.

Since she’d still not had any other offers for it, and since we were coming from so far away, she reduced the price to $20, which she may have quietly pocketed. When we got home, the wife plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed! She tapped a couple of keys…. but the little carriage didn’t move. She sat down and pored over the included owner’s manual – to no avail. A part may be broken/missing.

Mennonite

With the existence of so many Mennonites within a 50 kilometer radius, it is probably easier to locate a Ferrier (one who shoes horses), than to find a local typewriter repair shop. There was one, but the old gentleman who ran it was 83 in 2015, and the website is dormant. The wife has located one in the city of Hamilton. It’s not quite so far away, and in a different direction. It should only cost us $35 for gas – TWICE – once to drop it off, and again when we pick it up, plus the charge for Barney Rubble to fix it.

You may never get a hand-written letter from me – for which you should be thankful. With my essential tremor getting worse, the doctors’ scribbles that I mentioned in my Griffonage post, seem clear and legible, compared to my handwriting. I’ll tell you whether we are successful at this technology resuscitation project, and you may get a hand-typed letter to prove it.

’19 A To Z Challenge – B

Letter BAtoZ2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all started with a block of cheese at Costco.

Balderson

I never know when a language lesson will rear its ugly head. It was on a recent Costco run, when one leaped (or is that leapt??) out at me. The wife wanted to buy another block of Cheddar cheese, to provide dietary source of calcium for me. Instead of taking Costco’s house-brand – Kirkland – she asked me if I would take one that was on sale, named

Balderdash

senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense.

Obsolete . a muddled mixture of liquors.

Related words; jargon, crock, claptrap, rot, bunk, tripe, rigmarole, drivel, moonshine, poppycock, bull, malarkey, fustian, trash, fudge, twaddle, flummery, bosh

For a word that means nothing, it sure has a lot of synonyms. The dictionary omitted the most recent one – Donald Trump. It’s another great old word that the hipsters don’t have time to use, IMHO. The name that she meant to use, was

Balderson

This interesting surname is of medieval English origin, and is an assimilated form of the locational name Balderston(e), which is itself derived from two places so called in Lancashire. The earliest recording in 1172 (Whitaker’s “History of Whalley”‘) appears as “Balderestone”; in the Feet of Fines as “Baldreston” in 1256; and as “Baldreston” in the Court Rolls of 1323. Balderson derives from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Baldhere”, composed of the elements “beold”, brave, and “here”, army, with “tun”, a settlement. During the Middle Ages, when it was becoming more common for people to migrate from their birthplace to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name.

This is the kind of claptrap, drivel, trash, etc. that I serve you when I’ve been distracted, debating with Apologists, and wait till the last minute to compose an A To Z Challenge post. At least it had cheese sauce on it – tasty little morsel.  I promise that Wednesday’s offering will be a little more entertaining and informative. I hope to see you here then   😀

A To Z - Survivor

Cuz I forgot to add this image to my ‘A’ post, two weeks ago

A To Z – History And Hi-Way Market

Challenge2017   Letter H

About 125 years ago, just at the turn of the 20th Century, in the heyday of Ontario manufacturing, Kitchener was not yet a city.  It was still a town, a booming, industrial town, full of Germanic Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch, called Berlin.

A bit over a mile (a long way in those days) north of ‘City Hall’, toward Waterloo our Twin City, two companies were established, and two buildings were erected. The nearest was Kaufman Footwear, making slippers, shoes and boots.  A square, three-storey structure went up.  Over the next 50 years, three more additions produced a plant a half a block wide and a city block long, right where the main street crossed the old highway.  At its height, it employed hundreds of men (and later women).

I applied for a job as a lab assistant in 1965, when I first came here, but was turned down. I worked for Kaufman for two years, 25 years later, after they’d moved storage and most of the manufacturing to a new plant at the edge of town.

Another block further north, a rubber company was formed. This was the plant I retired from.  It began as Merchant’s Rubber, then became Dominion Rubber, then Uniroyal bought it, and later amalgamated to become Goodrich/Uniroyal, though it never produced tires.

The asshole brother-in-law worked there for almost 25 years. After he left, I joined it as Becker’s Lay-Tech, then it became Perstorp Components, and finally, Collins and Aikman drove it and its sister plant down the street where my brother worked for Dominion Textile in 1965/66, into bankruptcy.  During its Uniroyal heyday, there were 3600 people working around three shifts.  It didn’t grow as neatly as Kaufman.  Over 50 years there were 13 ‘buildings’ which became another half-block wide X block-long X 4-storey plant.

A mile further north, in the open fields and meadows between the two cities, dozens – hundreds – of stout little homes were built to house all the men who walked or biked to work at these plants. The wife was born in a sturdy brick house, three doors north of the imaginary boundary of Waterloo.

This neighborhood was once called the North Ward, home to the blue-collar families who worked in these factories. The North Ward is slipping away.  The area is called Mid-Town now, and it’s the up-and-coming place for young professionals to move to.

Of course, not everyone in the subdivision could be a mindless plant drone. Her father built a barber shop a block and a half from the Uniroyal plant, and raised 9 kids by cutting hair for men going to or from work.

Two nearby young brothers tried plant work, but found they were more interested in installing and adjusting machinery, so they started a millwrighting/rigging firm in their dad’s garage, to service the two firms. Years later they built a facility further out of town than the Kaufman plant.

I worked for them for two years, and the engineer down the hall, was the guy who didn’t hire me at Kaufman. The structure is now the plastics plant where the son works, and they rent warehouse/assembly space at the nearby ex-Kaufman building, where I once cut shoe/boot parts.

The man whose Portuguese wife sent him to work with delicious sandwiches, started providing them for a friend – or two – or more – soon dozens. He quit the company and started his own catering business, eventually stocking the vending machines, and running the three-shift, hot meal cafeteria in the plant he no longer worked at.

The greatest success story was the local grocer. He also couldn’t take the plant work, but had an inspiration.  If it was a mile walk for the men to go to work, it was a lot further trudge, dragging children, to go shopping.

He turned his front living-room into a little ‘corner store’, when such a thing didn’t exist locally, and stocked it with the essentials. GENIUS!  He had a captive audience.  Soon, he expanded the ‘living-room,’ and then added on….and added on again.

Then he had another flash of genius. In the late 1950s, more families owned cars, and the rise of shopping malls was beginning.  In order to get around an hours-of-opening bylaw, a mile outside the city limit, he built Hi-Way Market.  In the days of two-lane highways, you could just drive out to the A & W, and turn left across the road.  Today, it’s two exit ramps and an access road.

This was the Costco/Price Club of its day, 20 years before Costco was born. He erected a huge big barn of a building, as big as any Costco.  Like Costco, he sold everything, and much of it in bulk – canned and boxed goods, produce, meat, bakery, clothing, hardware, electrical.  He had a sit-down lunch bar where both the wife and her brother worked, and a postal, and a banking facility.

There were actually two floors, but much of the upstairs was used for storage and staff/administration. He put a photography department up there, which later went independent, and still exists in town.  Aside from the main-floor diner counter, he tried a slightly upscale restaurant upstairs.  It became famous in the region, as The Charcoal Steakhouse.  It built a fancy new home a block further up the street recently, when the original building was torn down.

So much history! So much local commerce emerged from the wife’s neighborhood.  The Kaufman plant is now a preppy downtown condo, and my C&A plant had a tiara added and is home to a bunch of Google gremlins.

Jeep goiing up

And so, the ugly duckling has become a swan.    😉

Google Building

 

Taken For A Ride

Mafia

I got taken for a ride recently. Fortunately it wasn’t in the trunk, and I got to go home afterwards.  After 35 years of Snap, Crackle and Popping our spines, our erstwhile Chiropractor has decided to hang up his hands.

I recently published a post about being surprised at the number of people who are so nice to me/us, when I don’t feel that we have done enough to warrant it. After handing us off like a football at the Super Bowl, Doc Bones recently contacted me to ask if he could take me (and Shimoniac) out for lunch and a beer.

I hate to admit that I am sufficiently insecure and paranoid to wonder, “What’s he up to? Does he want me to buy his collection of Elvis memorabilia?  Does he have a condo time-share that he wants me to invest in?”

A year or so ago, a group named Everclear had a bit of a hit on the radio, called, “She Likes Me For Me.” I liked the idea, but thought it was a horrible condemnation of society that so many of us are fixated on what others wear, or earn, or drive, or where they live, (Beverly Hills 90210 e.g.) rather than what we are.

The little guy in the bar, trying to pick up the statuesque blond says, “I’m not really this tall. I’m sitting on my wallet.”

Apparently the BoneShaker likes me for me, although I’m not discounting the fact that (he and) his wife babysit a granddaughter three days a week, and he has gone from having a dozen clients per day to talk with, to zero.

He just needed to get out of the house and interact with real people. There’s no sense sitting at home and going crazy with cabin fever, when he can take us to lunch and go crazy with The Bear and me.

Lancaster Smokehouse

He took us to a failed hotel and bar, which has been re-opened as a liquor-licensed Barbecue restaurant. One of several places in town which feature Blues music, its heavy planked floor has old licence plates embedded in it.

Pictures on the wall show the original hotel, when it opened in 1948, with a B/A gasoline station across the road, and a two-woman motorcycle racing team.  Tee-shirts (on the wall, for sale, and on the waitresses) say, among other things, “We have the best butts in town.”

BA Station

A good time, and a great lunch, was had by all. If ever he wants an excuse to get out of the house again, I would be willing to volunteer.  I’d like to return the favor, but, with our finances, I’d only be able to take him out to Costco for some free samples.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAINRANTS!

Birthday Cake

I sent BrainRants a birthday present!

From comments on previous years’ posts, I knew that BrainRants’ birthday was some time late in January. Using stalker senses honed by sticking my nose into Cordelia’s Mom’s business, I found a link to the employment consultant who was aiding him in obtaining suitable civilian employment.

She’s a lovely lady. Wanting to surprise Rants, I sent her a package, along with a note, asking if she could discreetly forward it to Mrs. BrainRants.  No black helicopters came winging north over the border, only an email saying, “Can do, and did!”

Rants’ new bride doesn’t know me from Santa Claus.  Inside the shipping envelope I included another note, asking if she could hand him the final package on the fateful day.  She obviously knows of his blogging, and coterie of blog-friends.

Perhaps the arrival of strange bundles, delivered in odd ways, isn’t all that unusual. All I know is that the FBI didn’t ask the RCMP to stop around and ask some pointed questions.

SDC10927

SDC10931

During my ongoing housecleaning, I realised that I possessed two commemorative medallions, one bronze, the other aluminum, honoring astronauts, and the Apollo 11 and 12, 1960s Moon Missions. Knowing of Rants’ interest in science, NASA and the moon, I wondered if he might have any interest in them.

SDC10936

I included a shield-shaped Canada shoulder patch which I picked up the day I went to photograph the tank and Spitfire.  I doubt that he has uniforms anymore.  The army made him turn all his stuff in.  He would only wear one for a special occasion, and the Maple Leaf patch would not be allowed because it is non-regulation.

SDC10932

No cost was spared when I packaged his coins in the Costco box I received my membership-renewal Christmas gift card in.

While not ‘strange’, my plan was unexpected and unannounced. Mrs. Rants was apparently willing to go along with it.  She sneaked out an email to confirm that she had received his gift, and presented it to him.  I received another, from him, thanking me for my little piece of thoughtfulness.

This sending of physical packages and actual printed letters seems almost outdated in today’s electronic society. I couldn’t use a drone, because the DC area is a no-fly zone.  Somebody, perhaps Rants himself, would have shot it down.

If you haven’t already, drop in to his site, wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, and really make him feel old. I had hoped that another gift might be the ability to announce that he has secured gainful and productive employment.  We waited – but none of us as hard as him, and now everyone’s wish has been granted.  He scored a job – cube-drone trainee, working under Dilbert.  Still got the training wheels on. Good Luck, Rants, and thanx.  😎

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The presents, as they sit proudly in Rants’ house, at an undisclosed location in the Eastern USA.   😆

 

Old Food

Pioneer BBQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found another old place to eat.  This one is in Kitchener.  It wasn’t, when it started, but it is now, because the city has eaten it up, and people from the city are going out there to eat up.  It first opened in 1927, so it’s three years older than the Harmony Lunch I wrote about earlier. 

Currently owned by a Greek-Canadian and his wife, it has changed hands several times over the years, getting bigger and better.  It’s called Pioneer BBQ, because it’s near the Pioneer Tower memorial, from my Magical Mystery Tour.

From center to center of many towns in Southern Ontario is five miles, because that was as far as a set of horses pulled a stage-coach, thus, the “stage” in stage-coach.  Five miles south of the center of Kitchener, there used to be a small village named Centerville, long since annexed and existing now only as a subdivision name. 

Five miles further south, there was never a “village”, but always a point of commerce.  This is just about five miles north of the center of our neighbor city, another stage-coach hop.  The two burgs have sprawled towards each other, till now the boundaries abut.

The area has grown into a conglomeration of hotels, various bars and fast-food joints, restaurants, big-box stores, Cineplex and gas-stations.  Poor little Pioneer huddles behind/between the Tim Hortons/Subway strip mall which faces one big road, and the tire store/furniture/ electronic games store strip mall which faces the other main street.  It fronts on the main access road to the next town, fighting for its business with the Golden Arches across the street, and can be seen from the back of the Costco parking lot.

Continuing in the fight to confuse locals and visitors alike, two-lane, little Pioneer Tower Road comes up from the river.  When it reaches the old highway, it blossoms into a 4/6 lane street, now named Sportsworld Drive, where our eatery is located.  A half a mile south, it passes into the city of Cambridge, and becomes Maple Grove Road.

Just at that border, in 1927, the Preston/Kitchener Street Railway ran.  Folks used to take an electric-trolley ride out that far for a Sunday trip in the country, and stop in for some fine eatin’.  At first, it was just the parlor of the home of the wife of a Railway Manager, which got turned into a dining area.  Later their living room became the sit-down counter.

 In the 70s and 80s, a liquor licence was obtained, and a large roofed deck was added to the other side of the “house”, to segregate the smokers.  It could only be used for a few months each year, so, in the 90s, it was closed in, insulated and a fireplace and heat vents added.  Smoking in Ontario restaurants has since been banned.

This is Home Cookin’ at its best, or pretty darn close.  Pulled pork, beef, or chicken sandwiches, with pickles almost as good as ours, sturdy salads, onion rings with onion, not tons of coating and a whisper of onion, thick, crisp, browned steak fries.

They serve a variety of burgers and combos.  They have steaks, spaghetti, fish and chips, cold sandwiches and hot sandwich plates.  This is a real Mom and Pop diner.  At an ordinary restaurant, a turkey sandwich would contain a couple of thin slices of processed turkey loaf.  The wife ordered a turkey sandwich and was asked, “White meat, or dark?”, and got slabs of turkey thigh meat.

They must employ at least one, or more, near-world class bakers – doughnuts, tarts, muffins, brownies, 5 or 6 kinds of pies, and CAKES, with caramel and/or chocolate drizzled over them.  Ya gotta keep moving past the display case, or you gain weight.  Everything, including the pastries, is available for take-out.

SDC10617SDC10615Like Harmony Lunch, I’ve never seen or heard of Pioneer BBQ advertising.  They’ve survived by word of mouth.  Slowly, as more and more people grow familiar with the area, because of the surrounding shops, their clientele increases.

The food is delicious.  The service is tight and friendly.  The prices are reasonable for the healthy blue-collar size servings.  The noise level was low, the day we went there.  Even with the (relatively) new owners, they still like doing things the old-fashioned way, which is fine by me. I took a business card as a reminder to compose this post.  The first thing I noticed is that they don’t have a website.  Our waitress told me that some of the young preppies ask where the Wi-Fi section is – and everyone laughs!

(It’s inevitable, and unavoidable. Between composing and publishing this post, we invited the son out for lunch here during his vacation period.  It gave me another great restaurant meal, and a chance to take photos of the pastries.  They still don’t have a website, but as we approached the door, we could see the new sign, “FREE WIFI.”  A couple almost as old as us sat next to us, not saying a word, but each diddling a new Smartphone.  The son said, “If I ignored you, at least I’d do it to your face!”)

We sometimes take the daughter out for lunch before we all go shopping at Costco.  We’ve hit a nearby Wendy’s a couple of times, and have been thinking about the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet, across the highway, but this place is definitely on our go-back-to list. 

They’ve got old-fashioned food for us old-fashioned fogies.  It’s nice to know another local eatery is still going strong after almost 87 years.  I’m willing to throw myself on a plate of poutine to keep them going.  (And that gold cake with caramel sauce, could we take a slab of that home?  Please?!)  Diet??!  What diet?  😕

😉

Out Of Touch

The good little New York, Jewish son called his momma every day while she wintered in Florida.  One day, in the middle of a conversation, he realised he couldn’t hear her.  He began clicking the hang-up button, and shouting, “Momma!  Momma, are you there?  Can you hear me?”  A technician, obviously aware of a problem on the lines, cut in and said to him, “I’m sorry sir.  You’ve been cut off.”  He replied, “I know, but should that affect my hearing?”

I don’t know how you “connected” people do it.  We were cut off from reality for a couple of days, (no smartass comments, please) and I was amazed at what I’ve grown used to, and reliant on.  The third novel of the Jack Reacher series arrived as an e-book, from the library.  The wife downloaded it to her laptop, and proceeded to put it on the son’s old Kobo, so that I could read it at my convenience.

The Kobo accepted the download, and she directed it to present it for reading.  “Restarting,” and then, nothing!   She plugged it back into the computer, but the computer wouldn’t even recognize it.  Took the little pin out, and poked it in the Reset hole in the back, poked it in the hole twice, three times, pushed it in and held it for ten seconds.  Did I mention, Nothing??!

Took it over to the electronics store.  The “Expert,” who was only a fetus last week, did exactly what we had done and then shook his head.  Apparently, the Kobo site mentions, “bricking,” where all the programs, and downloads, and commands, somehow run together, and jam the unit.  Even leaving it for six months for the battery to run down for a cold reboot, might not unjam it.  We decided to buy another one.  We thought of trading up, but decided to take a brand-new copy of the five-year-old tantrum-thrower.

We took it home.  The wife downloaded the Kobo library program to it.  It said, “Restarting,” and froze!  Damn, damn, damn!!!  The wife went to lift her laptop, and couldn’t hear the fan running in the cooling pad.  (See damn, damn, damn, above!)  Back to the electronics store the next day, for a no-charge replacement, and a $25 cooling pad.  Third time’s the charm, and I’m finally reading Reacher.

I took the wife to a Podiatric appointment Monday.  When we got home, she tried to phone the daughter.  No dial tone!  That meant that somebody, whose name is ME, had to ensure that every phone in the house is firmly on the hook.  Sometimes, the cats order pizza, while we’re out.  All phones a-okay, must mean it’s a Bell problem outside, so the wife punched in 611 on her cell phone, to reach Bell.

The home phone is Bell, but her mobile plan is with Telus, so she got the Telus office.  We’ve had problems with Bell services before, so we know the drill.  Again, ME, went around the house and unplugged all the phones except the last one used, (we know that one works!) including the DSL computer modem.  She dialled 310-BELL, and prepared to play the game.  Unplug all phones, including computer feed.  Done!  Plug back in a phone you’re sure works.  Done!   No dial tone.  The problem’s probably outside, but Bell has no other complaint, or work being done in our area.

The computer feed was working, but the phones weren’t.  How, and why unplug it?  Imagine two pipes, coming to a tee, and feeding the same tap.  Okay, then why unplug the computer?  That line may be affecting the phone line.  We need you to be home.  When would it be convenient to send out a tech?

We have appointments Tuesday and Thursday.  Could you come on Wednesday?  Sure, no problem.  The son works midnights, and hopes to sleep all day.   And if the problem’s  outside, why do we need to be home?  Bell might have to enter the house.  Okay, we hope to not see you on Wednesday.

We went to a chiropractor Tuesday morning and Costco in the afternoon.  When the son got up Tuesday evening, he told us that Bell had fixed the problem externally, and then rang the doorbell about 2:00 PM, which set the dog off, which partly woke him up, to hear the one phone ringing.  He trudged down the hall to the computer room, and heard the dog barking on the phone.  The repair tech was still outside.

We asked for a specific day and time, for a specific reason.  It was nice to get our phones and computer back a day early, but, while it was super-efficient, it was bureaucratically unreliable.  Just as we were preparing dinner, the phone rang.  It was Habibi – sorry, “Kevin” – wanting to clean my ducts.  Oh joy!  It’s a good thing we’re on that Do Not Call List.

We don’t Facebook.  We don’t Twitter, and we can live without telemarketers.  I was only without my blog, and the internet, for a little over one day.  No reading others’ posts, no comments, no likes, no online crossword, no definitions, no translation, no MapQuest, no researching arcane trivia.  I was going mad, I tell you, MAD!  For a disconnected old curmudgeon, apparently I need a lot of connecting – but I’m not getting a Bluetooth.  Even Putin thinks they’re gay.

Now that I’m back online, anybody got a comment?  Wanna click my Like button?  Anybody??  I’m feeling very lonely, and unloved, and disconnected over here.