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.

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Flash Fiction #183

Retirement Village

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Wuz anybody famous ever born here? Y’alls gotta be jokin’! We wuz gonna have Thoreau Theodore, thuh weather-forecastin’ prairie-dog, but thuh little varmint wouldn’t come outta hiz hole. Wouldn’t matter if’n he seen hiz shadow or not, we’d jest git ‘nother six weeks of whatever’s outside.

Some Eastern dude retired here. Place useta be called Nowheresville – motto, “Civilization’s Thataway ->”. Folks renamed the town after him. Think he wrote a book – sumpin’ about fishin’ at some pond, ah think. Doan know why ennybuddy with a pond ta fish in, would come to a place like this, drier than a popcorn fart.

***

Click to hear ‘Wild Horses,’ Canadian Gino Vanelli singing about parts of the US where the population density is so low, that you can be, “a hundred miles out of town.”

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Starvation Wages

Horses

A beggar walked up to a well-dressed woman
shopping on Rodeo Drive and said,
“I haven’t eaten anything in four days.”
She looked at him and said,
“God, I wish I had your willpower.”

***

A blonde bought two horses and could never remember which was which.

A neighbor suggested that she cut off the tail of one horse, which worked great until the other horse got his tail caught in a bush.

The second horse’s tail tore in the same place and looked exactly like the other horse’s tail.

Our blonde friend was stuck again. The neighbor then suggested that she notch the ear of one horse, which worked fine until the other horse caught his ear on a barbed wire fence.

Once again, our blonde friend couldn’t tell the two horses apart.

The neighbor then suggested that she measure the horses for height.

When she did that, the blonde was very pleased to find that the white horse was 2 inches taller than the black one.

***
A man and a woman who have never met before find
themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a
train, after the initial embarrassment they both
go to sleep, the woman on the top bunk, the man on
the lower.
In the middle of the night the woman leans over
and says, “I’m sorry to bother you but I’m awfully
cold and I was wondering if you could possibly
pass me another blanket.”
The man leans out and with a glint in his eye,
says, “I’ve got a better idea … let’s pretend we’re married”
“Why not”, giggles the woman.
“Good”, he replies, “Get your own fucking
blanket!”

***

A couple are rushing into the hospital because the wife is going into labor. As they walk, a doctor says to them that he has invented a machine that splits the pain between the mother and father. They agree to it and are led into a room where they get hooked up to the machine.
The doctor starts it off at 20% split towards the father. The wife says, “Oh, that’s actually better.” The husband says he can’t feel anything.
Then the doctor turns it to 50% and the wife says that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much. The husband says he still can’t feel anything.
The Doctor, now encouraged, turns it up to 100%. The husband still can’t feel anything, and the wife is really happy, because there is now no pain for her.
The baby is born. The couple go home and find the postman groaning in pain on the doorstep.

***

How many Witches does it take to change a light bulb?
It depends on what we are trying to change it into.

***

How many gorillas does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only one, but it sure takes a lot of light bulbs!

***

I asked my friend why he walked away from his last job.
He said the pay was so poor that he couldn’t afford a car

***

 

The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

If Wishes Were Horses

manure

If wishes were horses….there’d be a big pile of manure around any significant discussion. We are a strange species, willing – anxious – to deny, or argue what others among us regard as perceived truth.

On my recent, A View Of Islam post, it was all going so well, seemingly, until I got the following response to this paragraph:

‘In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of “no-go” zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuse to acknowledge British law.’

What a load of ****. There are absolutely NO ‘no-go’ zones of any description in the UK. British law applies and is enforced throughout the UK, without exception.  Donald Trump had to apologise after making a similar, and untrue, statement about the UK city of Birmingham. I appreciate that you are only quoting from someone else in your blog but to give publicity to a totally untrue statement is demeaning to your blog and yourself.

I snidely protested;

Enforced the way it is in the barrios of East L.A. or Little Cuba in Miami? In my quiet, well-behaved city of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, two blocks from my home, is an enclave of 75 houses, full of people with beige skin and head coverings. In 15 years of living here, I have never seen a police car enter or patrol it.

That earned me this reply;

 In the UK, British law applies to everyone. ‘No-go’ areas that police do not enter just don’t exist. I cannot comment on Canada, I have only been there twice.

He reminds me of a militant atheist, desperately trying to ‘prove that there is no God.’  He knows what he wants, what he feels should be, what he believes, and what he wants others to believe, and just ignores any evidence to the contrary.

I especially liked his ad hominem attack on Canada, and his implied claim that he is well enough off to have travelled here a couple of times, to set us Colonials straight.

He’s right that British law applies everywhere in the country, but if he truly believes that there are no areas where policemen don’t bother to go, his ass is in the air, right beside the ostrich with its head in the sand.

I recently read a post from a young female who attended Catholic Church, but disagreed with almost everything the priest propounded as Church tenets – no gay marriage, hate and fear homosexuals, no divorce, no birth control, and no married priests.

I congratulated her on her independent thinking, and asked her what she was going to do about her contrary beliefs. Other than her blog, was she going to go public, to the priest, to her family, to the congregation? Would she leave the Church?

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m going to keep going to Church.” But she’s not! Now she’s just attending a social club – and there’s nothing wrong with that – if she, and others like her, have the integrity to admit it.

If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses; just don’t try to ride them.  If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.  These buggers are riding the hobby-horse of their own imagination.

A blonde, who has always wanted to ride a horse, decides to try it one day. She carefully mounts, clutches the reins, and they’re off.  Not used to the powerful motion, she has trouble staying in the saddle.  Suddenly one of her feet comes out of the stirrup, and she falls forward onto the horse’s neck.

She holds on desperately, but begins to slide off the side of the horse. Lower and lower she hangs.  Her other foot is now jammed in the stirrup, and she winds up hanging almost upside down.  Finally, her head touches, and the horse’s strong movements begin to bang it against the ground.

She feels pain, and begins to see stars. Just when she fears that she will lose consciousness and die….the manager of the Wal-Mart rushes over and unplugs the horse.  😉

Half A Millennium

Caveman

No! That title doesn’t refer to my age. That whiny rant will be coming up later this month. Stay tuned for your chance to legally stick it to the old Archon.

This is my 500th post. Yay! 😛 Believe me; no-one is more disappointed surprised than me. Stuff just keeps leaking out of my head and falling on the keyboard – and people read it, and like it, and comment about it. BrainRants is right. This is very inexpensive therapy.

I’ve dumped out memories of my childhood, some cooking posts, stories of trips and suggestions for places for my readers to try. I’ve railed about politicians, religion, and just assholes who should get along with the rest of humanity better.

I’ve given a glimpse (well, more like a full-length motion picture) into the slightly off-kilter life of the crazed Archon, and his slightly off-kilter family – a little weird, but basically harmless, often with photographic evidence.

I slowly plod along, from post to post, dropping the occasional clot of keystrokes, and enjoying the warm glow of those who visit and read. I’ve appreciated finding those out there who are just as ‘non-standard’ as I am, possibly more so, and sometimes in surprising ways and directions.

I have a love/hate relationship with the status quo. I like stability, but feel that everyone should have the right to be as individualistic as they want – as long as they don’t frighten the horses or small children. I hope I’ve shown some who are hemmed in by family, employment or religion, that being a bit different is okay, and not evil.

This has been a most enjoyable voyage of discovery, and I hope I’ve given, nearly as well as I’ve received. I’m still not sure about even getting to post number 600, and One Thousand, the full millennium, seems a looonng way away.

Nun

I am a creature of habit, even though I’m not a nun. (Mental image of the Pope having a stroke, and nine Cardinals having simultaneous heart attacks) I’m gonna keep doing this until I can’t, and I thank all of you who have made it fun, and a real learning experience.   😆

500 Posts

Flash Fiction #6

It’s Only Natural

copyright-erin-leary-2He stood at the fence, looking at the little stream, enjoying the beautiful morning.  The sun was well risen, but not yet really visible, as it burned the fog from the valley.

The red-winged blackbirds held chirpy conversations.  A few dragonflies darted here and there, importantly.  The occasional frog made a political statement.

It had been a lovely summer, and the autumn was still warm.  He loved being able to come here and stand in the shade of the trees, enjoying communing with nature.

He’d better get back to the barn.  His young owner would want to saddle him soon.

Go to Rochelle Wisoff’s Addicted To Purple blog, and use the weekly picture as a prompt.  Write a 100 word complete story about it.