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 #188

Lilliput

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

His grandfather had this house built, over a century ago. It had been a proud mansion, 2-1/2 stories of fieldstone, a mile and a half from town, dwarfing nearby one-story wooden farm houses.

Times changed. Commerce changed. Businesses started up, and workers moved in. The city changed. Steadily it bloated out towards him, into pristine Mennonite farmland.

Now, the house was the last of its kind, on a busy street, a Lilliputian, towered over by apartment buildings. Developers constantly hounded him to sell. He would mourn the loss of his heritage, but it was time to surrender and move on.

Mennonite

***

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

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Friday Fictioneers

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion?

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion??!  Take a look here.

Delusion

Some Christians get upset when others argue against all their unproven assumptions. There’s everything from the ranting and raving, “How dare you disagree?” to a less confrontational, honest request for quiet acceptance of their beliefs and actions.

This morning, I found a YouTube video from The Atheist Experience, with the above title. Then I came down to read the newspaper, and found this article.

Farmer burned down barn, shot at house

Actions a ‘cry for help,’ judge says, sentencing man to 22 months for arson, firearms offences

In a ‘cry for help’, a depressed and guilt-ridden Mennonite farmer set three fires on his property – including one that burned his barn to the ground, killing seven cattle and a horse, causing $400,000 damage. Later he shot five or six times at his house with a .22 caliber rifle, while his wife and two young children were inside.

“It would appear that much of his angst arose from guilt that he felt over pursuing some secular interests that may have been contrary to his religious teachings.”

His lawyer was asked outside court about his secular interests. “He got a phone, as necessary for the operation of his cattle farm. The cell-phone was a Smart Phone, with access to the internet, and he started to retreat to the barn to watch Hollywood movies. So he was watching movies like “Superman” or something. It wasn’t pornography or anything.”

What’s wrong with a little comfortable delusion? Nothing, until it changes to psychopathy, and becomes uncomfortable, both for the deluded person, and the rest of society.

This is not an isolated incident, and it’s not restricted to Christians. The same paper contained an article about a Christian Pakistani woman who has been held in jail for 7 years, much of that in solitary, because a neighbor accused her of blasphemy. The raging mob demanded her execution, and that of the judge who finally freed her.

Don’t be deluded; it can be very dangerous.

Speaking of being deluded…. My contract says that I’ll be back here in a couple of days, I hope, with a new 100-word Flash Fiction.  Don’t let me down.  🙂

 

The Same Sad Story

confession-box

The recent scandal of the Catholic hierarchy covering up sexual allegations against priests, and moving them from post to post, only shows that the problem is neither new, nor restricted to the Catholic Church.

The first time I heard about a serial child molester was about 1960.  The United Church of Canada had defrocked a minister named Russell D. Horsburg, after he had been convicted in Windsor, Ontario.  He was an equal opportunity pedo, willing to debauch both boys and girls.

One of the wife’s older sisters had left the Catholic Church, to wed a New Order Mennonite boy.  As a compromise, they attended and were married in a local United Church.  Always paranoid and defensive about leaving the Catholic Church, and anxious to justify her actions, she is the only person I personally know, who put her marriage certificate in a silver frame, and hung it on her living room wall for all to see.

After we got married in 1967, and had a child, we sometimes visited.  One evening, after a washroom trip, I stopped to examine the certificate.  Sure enough, it was signed by Reverend Russell D. Horsburg.  Hmmm, so he practiced his craft here, before the United Church slyly shipped him 300 miles down the highway, to an unsuspecting parish.

She suspiciously wanted to know what I was looking at.  I told her that her officiating minister was later jailed for pedophilia.

WELL, THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT WE’RE NOT REALLY MARRIED!

No, but you’re probably lucky that he wasn’t still here in Kitchener, as your kids grew up.

Okay, I’ve described the problem.  Now it’s up to somebody (or somebodies) else to come up with a solution to it.  😳

Abuse

Offerings To Propitiate The Gods

Gods Our genial host, just back from an anger management class

Not that the lovely couple who we went to visit were actual Gods, but they had long since achieved that status with me.  Hell, anyone who doesn’t complain about my presence is nice.  Those who have the occasional kind word for or about me are saints.  And those who invite me into their home for an extended visit, are surely Gods.  Since we had to drive 500 miles of paved highways to meet them, they truly are The Gods Of Asphalt.

SDC10018A FEW of the son’s collection of skulls

3-D printers have become affordable for the average geek.  A son-in-law of the daughter’s friend acquired one, and started fooling around learning its secrets.  First, my son was given the larger, softball-sized skull.  It’s thermo-optic.  If sufficiently warmed, it changes from grey to white.  Later, the golf ball-sized, darker grey one was added.  They are all low-density plastic, and float like corks.

SDC10015

SDC10014

The son’s two skulls at the back – the two Voodoo, “Impeach Trump” skulls, going to DC, in front

My limited etiquette knowledge only told me that a Hostess gift was good manners – and one for the host might also be a good idea.  Our handsome host instructed me not to spend much money, and assured me that it was our presence that they valued, not presents.  Still…. a few gewgaws to demonstrate Canadian my twisted culture.

One of the pair collects skulls, like my son does.  I obtained another couple of the smaller ones.  I leave it to you to guess which one is the blood-thirsty spouse.

SDC10010

SDC10011Amethyst is supposed to foster peace and tranquility.  After adding skulls to the home of a skull-collector, and an ex-tank-driver, I felt that we needed all the tranquility we could get.  Since our host is Plus-sized, and his diminutive bride has trouble seeing over a garden hose, I brought a large chunk, and a smaller piece.

The best, darkest, amethyst now comes from Brazil, because most of the good stuff has been removed from mines just north of Lake Superior, in Ontario.  The daughter visited an online friend up there, a couple of winters ago.  She had just returned from a saved-for summer trip before we set out.  It is possible to walk the shores and occasionally find a good piece that a retreating glacier dug up, so these pieces were from both us, and from her.

SDC10007In return for throwing me a fabulous online birthday party, I once promised our hostess a 55-gallon drum of fresh, pure, Canadian maple syrup.  Of course, like most promises that men make to women, I wasn’t able to delivery anything that big.  Still, since our hosts had been so sweet to us, I felt compelled to bring along 2 liters (half a gallon for the non-metric Americans) of freshly-squeezed, Mennonite Maple Juice for them.  If you hear of an IHOP or Denny’s in the DC area going bankrupt, it’s because they aren’t going out for Sunday brunch till this is gone.

Actually, years of residence in New Hampshire has made her a bit of a syrup snob.  Like Florida has laws that translate, “Don’t f**k with the citrus, especially oranges.” Vermont also has strict rules against messing with the maples.  She would have requested some Maple syrup; but felt that it might be illegal to export.  Nobody asked me about maple syrup at the border, and she was thrilled to get the real stuff, cooking everyone blueberry pancakes the first morning.

SDC10650I told this little old guy that it was really important to me, and go out and squeeze his Maplest tree for my kind hosts.  He said that he would be happy to….  or maybe it was, ‘crazy English’…. something like that.  Coming up soon, a post about all the great stuff we brought back – aside from treasured memories, and happy hearts.

spacehounds-of-ipc

Since I have re-read them all over the last two years, and because our host is a great classic Sci-Fi fan, I offered him copies of every E.E. (Doc) Smith book that I possess, 24 out of the 25 that he wrote. Always a fan of Robert A. Heinlein’s works, I felt that he might appreciate obtaining copies of the seminal Space-Opera novels written by Heinlein’s mentor.

While I regard them as inexpensive paperbacks, many printed before he was born, he recognised their rarity, difficulty of obtaining, and the fact that they were collector’s items.  I usually don’t mind being kissed, just not by him.  Their value to me is that someone who really appreciates them, now possesses them. He said that he didn’t even know what order to read them in….and then found that I had obsessively boxed them up in chronological order.

Our deepest, sincere thanks to BrainRants and H E Ellis, two of the Titans of the blogosphere.

Keeping My Hand In

Extra Extra

Keeping my hand in – one middle finger at a time.

Anti-Christian slant illogical, prejudiced

Re; Politicians should leave religious beliefs at home

Letter writer Larry Lootsteen’s arguments are somewhat illogical and prejudiced by his own beliefs about religion. To suggest that politicians should leave any of their beliefs, principals (sic), values, and education or life experiences at home is equivalent to arguing they should leave their gender at home, or part of their brain at home.

And why center out only people who believe in the God of the Bible? Why be intolerant and non-inclusive of only one particular religious view?  Everyone has some religious belief; an agnostic claims not to know if there is a God, and atheist denies that there is a God.  Would Mr. Lootsteen be as keen to force those individuals to deny or suspend their particular religious beliefs on being elected?

Would he impose the same restrictions on other faiths; Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and devil worshippers, etc., as well as screen all new immigrants to Canada and insist that they promise to deny their faith and convert to his particular religious beliefs before they become Canadian citizens or run for elected office? Of course not.  Mr Lootsteen appears to have a narrowly focused resentment and prejudice of Christian believers who run for office because he does not think they will vote the way he wants them to vote.

Finally, to label everyone of faith as “right-wing” and not sensitive to the democratic and civil rights of Canadians is to ignore the Judeo-Christian foundations of all Western civilization.  It was our Jewish and Christian values and principals (sic) that precipitated our democratic institutions, hospitals and schools, freed the slaves and were the first to recognize the rights of women.  Has Mr. Lootsteen forgotten that?

Ed Jacob – from the Mennonite stronghold village of Wellesley

Pro-Christian Paranoia

He who takes offense when none is offered, is a fool.

In his letter, Anti-Christian slant illogical, prejudiced, Ed Jacob not only takes offense, but he takes considerable licence to do so.

It would, indeed, be foolish to expect a politician to leave all their principles, values, education or life experience at home.  All Ed Lootsteen suggested was that a local politician leave some of his specific, unproven moral opinions at home or church, while he is serving his constituents, which a majority of whom, including many good Christians, do not agree with.  His government job is administration, not Evangelization.

It would be arrogant to expect anyone, including immigrants, to be forced to accept anyone else’s religious practices, though many of them are forced to convert to Christianity if they want to be sponsored and supported by various Christian Churches. But neither should newcomers be allowed to demand that the rest of us wear yarmulkes, turbans or hijabs, bow to Mecca or mutilate our females’ genitals.  Not all religious morals and practices are acceptable.

(No wonder I’m) Grumpy Old Archon

Forgive me (insert name of your higher power here), for I have ranted. My tolerance cup has runneth over and I must empty it in order to move on. It has been too long since my last ranting (if that’s even a word).

Gad (not God), this guy is so verbose that he makes Archon look concise, and what he passes off as logic, and his straw-man arguments, could do a seven minute set at Yuk Yuk’s.  Once one of these Bible-thumpers gets up a good head of steam, you never know where the train’s going to end up.

The reason that the original letter attacked ‘The God of The Bible’, is that the local Federal politician is a ‘good Catholic’; at least his NINE kids think so.  There’s no sense complaining about the Sikh 75 miles away, because he intentionally, politely, leaves his religion at home.  BTW; Mr Lootsteen IS a ‘Christian believer.’

His Good News/Bad News list of “Christian” accomplishments is more a ‘Laugh?/Cry?’ list. Most of them were not ‘because of’ Christianity, but ‘in spite of’ it.  Democracy was given to us by the heathen Greeks, and Christian Europe refused to institute it for over two millennia, until we held a party at Madame Guillotine’s place in Paris.

Good Christians owned slaves for centuries. They only recently let women own property, sign legal documents, be ‘a person’ under law, allowed women to vote less than 100 years ago, and they still want to control and restrict their reproductive rights.  Mr. Lootsteen, and many of the rest of us, have not forgotten that.  😯

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BTW; sic, sic, sic.  For the non-linguistic nit-pickers – He’s talking about ‘principles’, not the head of his kids’ school.

 

 

2017 A To Z Challenge – Kitchener – Krug Street

Challenge2017

We’ve had enough History, so this post is just a little background (With me in the foreground, of course) of where I’ve lived for half a century.  Both Kitchener, and Krug Street fit in the

Letter K category.

The cheapest way to honor someone, is to name something after them.
So, Henry Hudson, you discovered a gigantic bay at the top of North American. It’s just a big hole in the continent that lets all the cold in. It’s covered with ice and polar bears.  It’s not good for anything, and you found it while you were searching for something else for us that you never did locate.  I’ve got it – we’ll name it after you.  That way, you’ll be forever associated with an expensive, pretentious Canadian department store.  Aren’t you honored??
So it is with both Kitchener, and Krug Street.

When the first white explorers came here, over two centuries ago, they called their pitiful little collection of huts, ‘Sand Hills,’ because that’s all that was here – a collection of minor hummocks that would bleed sand if you scraped the thin topsoil off. It first officially became Ebytown, to honor Benjamin Eby, a take-charge (and anything that wasn’t nailed down) early settler.

Later, as more hard-working Germanic, Mennonite and Pennsylvania-Dutch settlers arrived, they renamed the burgeoning, now-prosperous town, ‘Berlin’, to honor the capital of the country that they’d been driven out of. By 1912 it had grown large enough to become a city.

In 1916, in the middle of a World War that the honored country had started, it was felt that a more English name would better show Canadian, and British Empire loyalties….by the now-increasing numbers of English-descended citizens.

By late June, the final shortlist of new names were: Adanac, (Canada, spelled backwards) Brock, Benton, Corona, Keowana and Kitchener. Kitchener was a late addition to the shortlist of possible names, as it was added shortly after the death of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, a difficult and controversial man, who had died June 5, 1916. This is perhaps an understatement.  He was an entitled, arrogant, martinet of a man, who had invented the concentration camp during the Boer War.  I’m not sure how much ‘honor’ was involved, and he didn’t live to know about it

Kitchener

This is the darling lad that the city was eventually named for, in a recruiting poster for the Boer war.  As my American readers may realize, this was the inspiration for the “Uncle Sam needs you!” poster of the first and second World Wars.

While more than 15,000 people lived in the city at the time, 346 people voted for the name “Kitchener” on June 28, 1916, from approximately 5,000 eligible voters.

The Krug (kroog) family has been a moving force in Berlin/Kitchener for many years, both politically, and industrially.  In 1887, Hartman Krug established a furniture factory opposite the G.T.R. (Grand Trunk Railway) which he built up into a large institution.  He was also a charter member of the Interior Hardwood Company, and subsequently purchased the Doon Twine plant, and brought it into the city.  His son Henry was President of this company, and his son Rudolph succeeded him at the H. Krug Furniture Company.

I guess when you bring half a keg of gold coins with you from Pennsylvania, and use them to build a company, expand two more, and provide employment for hundreds of people, the least the frugal burghers could do, is name something after you – and the sewage treatment plant was already taken.

Krug Street forms part of one of Kitchener’s famed 5-point intersections. It approaches the 4-lane feeder road at a 45° angle, while Lancaster Street wanders in at 45° from the opposite direction.  After confused and delayed drivers manage to cross at the lights, they/it become(s) Cedar Street.

He decided to build a home about a mile from city center, away from the hoi polloi who toiled in his factories. Soon, the town council, made up of other rich, privileged white men, decided to assume responsibility for the oddly-angled lane that his estate, and now several others, was situated on.  They improved the road, and, in thanks for what he’d done for them and their town, named it after him and his family.

Krug Street