’20 A To Z Challenge – C

A To Z ChallengeLetter C

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technological obsolescence! It’s a term to describe things that we no longer do or own, because our rapidly accelerating science-driven lifestyle has replaced them with something newer, although not always better. (Remember Windows Vista?) 😯 We’re on generation 12 of Smart phones, and the Chinese are providing the 5G cell phone system to run them on, as well as COVID19.

The telephone operator lost her job when dial phones came into existence. The dials turned into push-buttons, and the push-buttons morphed into touch screens. The poor English language is having trouble keeping up with it all.

Let me introduce you, and then say good bye, to

CHIROSPASM

Spasm of the muscles of the hand, as in writers’ cramp.

Now there’s an expression that you don’t hear any more. It was common for hundreds of years, from religious monks inscribing Bibles, up to school children frantically composing essays for English class all desperately, tightly, clutching quills, pens and pencils, till their hands cramped.

Then, along came the electronic age, with its word-processors and keyboards. Archaic old chirospasm and writer’s cramp have been replaced by hunched-over-the-keyboard data-entry shoulders, and your cell-phone-toting grandson’s texters’ thumb.

Fortunately, I have never sprained or strained either of my middle fingers, the ones so necessary to communicate with taxi drivers and politicians. That would be the only physical disability which might affect my capacity to express myself, although I am just an amateur, compared to some of the old masters.

Salmon Arm Salute IISalmon Arm Salute

From his seat inside a private rail car during a vacation in Salmon Arm, BC with his children on August 8, 1982, Pierre Trudeau, then the Prime Minister of Canada, gave the finger to protesters in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, earning the incident the nickname the “Salmon Arm salute”. The gesture itself has also been nicknamed the “Trudeau salute.”

Trudeau

Our young drama teacher ski instructor Prime Minister learned at the knee of one of the (self-described) greatest.

WOW #56

Propriety

My wife was recently hospitalized from an overdose of

PROPRIETY

conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners.

appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances; suitability.

rightness or justness.

Note that the above definition does not contain the word “Community” standards, although that is usually assumed. Her problem was that she felt that she was the one to establish the standards, regardless of reality, or anyone else’s opinion. What she thought was proper – was proper.

Photo0036

The son located a ‘Sarcastic’ image like the above, online, and downloaded it as the wallpaper on his cell phone screen. In an orgy of irony, he rotated it 90 degrees, and installed it sideways. The next morning, she told him that his phone had beeped because of an update, and she noticed that the image was ‘wrong,’ so she ‘corrected’ it for him.

I bought a little 19 ounce can of tomato juice – just enough for three small glasses. Because they settle, sitting on store shelves, I inverted it, shook it, and poured a glass. I was going to put the balance in a jar with a lid, but thought, “It’s only going to be another two days”, and tucked it on the top refrigerator shelf. The next day I noticed dried-on drops on lower shelves, and thought the son might have nudged it. When I asked him, a voice came from the living room, “Well, silly me. I didn’t know that it was open, and it was upside down….”

Generally, men are less refined, and more basic than women, especially about bodily functions. A comedienne once declared that, ”Women don’t sweat, and we don’t fart. Hell, if we didn’t bitch, we’d explode.”

If you have to suddenly fart where there are other people, you apologize for the unwelcome smell. (I’ve been arguing with a repeated crossword clue that says that ‘odor’ is a foul smell – it’s a smell. A dictionary check shows definition number 2 is ‘foul smell.’ Definition number 3 says ‘pleasant smell’.) 😕 If you get a little warning, you move away from other folks, and do it in private.

One day, while I was still toiling in the salt mines, I joyously leapt out of bed early one morning, and headed for the bathroom. Once there I reduced internal pressure by releasing a toxic cloud that had the cat’s eyes watering. I ripped about four yards of sailcloth – FFFffphaatt.

Suddenly, from the bedroom, 25 feet, a hallway and another room away, I heard, “ARCHON!”

“What dear?”

“You could apologize for that.”

“There’s no-one here to smell it. Who should I apologize to?”

“Well, at least you could go somewhere else to do that.”

“I’m in the bathroom. Just me and the exhaust fan. Where else would you suggest I go?”

Now she’s angry. If/when you fart, there are two things you can do – at least one of those two things that you must do – and I’ve just demonstrated that neither of them apply.

“Oh sure, some of your Archon logic.” – as if I can somehow twist the Universe into any shape I want, like some balloon animal. Two plus two always equals four – but then, so does three plus one, nine minus five, and the square root of sixteen.

It would be logical for you to pop back again in a couple of days. I promise no stench – maybe some bread baking. 😀

WOW #54

Boustrophedon

Here’s another in a long line of words that you’ll never use in polite company – or in any company, I would imagine.

BOUSTROPHÉDON

Languages that are written in the Greek, Cyrillic, or Latin alphabets, are written from left to right. It only makes sense. 90% of people are right-handed, and the right arm moves away from what is being written. Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese are written from the top down, vertically. At least they’re getting out of their own way.

Forgive me for being un-PC, but languages like Hebrew and Arabic are just stupid. Both cultures – Arabs worse than Jews – make a big deal about being left-handed. Somehow it’s evil, allied to Shaitan, The Devil. Yet these languages are written from right to left. It’s only in the last 75 years that technology has partly rescued them, with instant-drying ballpoint ink, and word processors. Before that, writers’ arms covered what had just been written, smudging or smearing the pen or quill ink.

Cuneiform

Boustrophedon is a Greek name for some of the much earlier Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform type of ‘writing.’   This was just wedge-shaped marks, pushed into soft clay tablets. Back and forth – to and fro. Since there was no ink to smudge, a line would be entered from left to right. Then the writer would just drop down a line, and enter the next one from right to left.

The word originally just referred to that form of writing, but the meaning, in Greek, is “oxen turning.” Nowadays, the very few times that it is used, (always by a licensed professional) it can refer to things like the back-and-forth pattern of tweed, or the appearance of an agricultural field which has been plowed – fortunately, with tractors, not oxen – back and forth, up and down, leaving a visual difference between alternating rows or strips.

Flash Fiction #220

Nostalgia

THOSE WERE THE DAYS

The old man sat at his computer, longing for ‘The Good Old Days,’ knowing they weren’t really, what with polio, segregation and World Wars.

He tried to keep up, especially with the avalanche of technology – every month, new Smart Phones, tablets, readers, apps, games, Twitter, Facebook…. Sometimes progress could only be measured by how less quickly he was losing ground, running hard, just to stay in place.

He didn’t know how the young ones kept up. Some used methamphetamines. For the life of him, he couldn’t guess why. Surely their brains were already churning at the speed of light.

***

Click on Those Were The Days, if you’d like to hear Archie and Edith longing for the same nostalgia, then 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

’19 A To Z Challenge – J

330px-Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

My little home town was dying, as I was born.

The word that I want to discuss, is

Jubilee

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, as the twenty-fifth (silver jubilee), fiftieth (golden jubilee), or sixtieth or seventy-fifth (diamond jubilee).

the completion of 50 years of existence, activity, or the like, or its celebration:

Lighthouse

IN THE BEGINNING,
among other things, my home-town was a Great Lake port. A dock was built, almost a mile out into Lake Huron, to an island, to provide calm moorage. Small, sail-powered lake freighters brought wheat from the prairies, iron ore and timber from Northern Ontario. Before the existence of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, these goods were shipped by train to the Toronto area, below Niagara Falls.

The availability of cheap lumber encouraged the establishment of three furniture factories, and later, a plywood plant. There was money to be made – money to be had, and local tax revenues allowed the town to pay for many civic projects. Even today, it is the smallest town in Ontario, with a hospital.

In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her 60th anniversary as ruler of the Empire – her Diamond Jubilee. The town had recently foreclosed and seized the property of a sulkie racetrack, half a block wide, and two blocks long, just above the downtown area. Some namby-pamby toph who had not done market research, found that he couldn’t get enough paying customers from dock-wallopers, train crews, and factory workers. They might have watched horses that actually ran, but not swishy ones that only trotted, and dragged a cute little cart behind them.

The town filled in the track and manicured a baseball diamond and outfield. They put up a safety screen behind home plate and built a set of wooden stands. The 8-foot whitewashed wooden fence and ticket gates from the racetrack remained. To honor Victoria, and her achievement, they named it

Jubilee Park.

Then, times and technology changed. Lake freighters became larger, built of steel, and motor-powered. They could steam all the way to the mouth of the Niagara River, and the now-common trucks could move freight faster and cheaper. It is well for the town that, as its freight industry died, the tourist industry burgeoned. There are more summer cottages, paying year-round taxes, than there are residents’ homes. Still, the bloom was off the rose.

By the time I was born in 1944, the plank seats of the bleachers had become wowed, dried and splitting. As a child, for years, I wondered about the purpose of a decrepit, cabin-like construction beneath one end of the bleachers. When I finally thought to ask, I was told that it was a long-extinct concession booth.

Later, smaller, steel-framed stands were built down the first- and third-base lines. Perhaps being too lazy to walk any distance, many men parked right behind these stands. Many a pop foul sailed over the bleachers, to dent fenders and break mirrors and windshields. The attraction of small-town softball is long gone. The town has built a children’s playground in what used to be the parking area. I have not been back in years, but it would not surprise me to find that USB ports have been added, to recharge kids’ electronic devices.

Time relentlessly marches on, but us old-timers can only shuffle along, muttering, Remember when?”

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 – A

AtoZ2019Letter A

 

Life is moving too fast! I want to get off; I’m feeling woozy.

Logrithmic Scale

Humans used bows and arrows for thousands of years, then someone invented the crossbow. We used that for a couple of centuries, and someone invented the musket. That was used for over a hundred years, till someone invented the rifle. After less than a century, someone developed the repeating, lever action rifle. About fifty years later, the automatic rifle came into being.

Don’t like the idea of killing and maiming?? Let’s talk about recorded communication.

For eons, we scratched things into pottery or soft rocks. Then, some genius carved up a goose feather and dipped it into a dark liquid, and wrote on vellum (Scraped lamb-skin). We did that for a millennium, till paper was developed. Then later, someone created the reloadable fountain pen. A half century later, technology allowed Lazlo Biro to produce the first workable ball-point pen.

The typewriter was created, and Mark Twain was the first author to compose a novel, using one. He disliked the experience so much, that he tried to give it away – 8 times. Each time, it was returned to him. 75 years later, the first word processors became available, and in half that time, they’ve become quicker, more efficient, smarter…. and almost indispensable.

Isaac Newton said that he accomplished what he did, “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.” What I’m saying – the point I’m trying to make is that, as we progress, the progress comes faster and faster. Once, we had millennia, centuries, decades to get used to the idea of our basic world changing. Now, changes come in years, months, weeks!

Author Alvin Toffler invented the term “Future Shock,” the future is the way of life. The only constant, is change. Many of us have a hard time keeping up. Not only does the constant, rapid change keep us mentally off-balance – shocked – but it produces a related condition.

Alterity-
Alterity is a noun that means otherness; specifically: the quality or state of being radically alien to the conscious self or a particular cultural orientation.

Alterity is related to the verb alter, which can mean to change something, into something other – something different. It’s also cousin to the adjective alter – as in alter-ego. Batman is Bruce Wayne’s radically different alter-ego.

The Canadian band, imaginatively named The Band, says that Life Is A Carnival. It often has me spun. Why don’t you spin back again in a couple of days??  😀

 

’18 A To Z Challenge – M

Alarm Clock

By dark and dreary mundane passings, are clipped.  (Psst!  Wanna read some poetry?)

A travelling salesman approaches an old codger, sitting in a chair outside the flyspeck-town’s general store.
“Excuse me sir, do you know what time it is?”
“Oh, ‘bout Tuesday, ah reckon.”
“No sir, I need to know the correct time.  I have a train to catch.”
“Tuesday’s close enough.  Ain’t no train till Friday.”

Once, people toiled from sunup to sundown, not caring what time it was, and only vaguely knowing, when the church bells rang, to tell them that it was time to tithe.

As towns and cities grew, it became more important that most folks were doing things at the same time, so the Latin horas became English language hours.

Passing Time was chopped up into 1/60th pieces of the hours.  Compared to the ‘hours’, these little chunks were MINUTE (my-nyoot), and that’s what they were called.  The original meaning of, tiny, small, is still pronounced that way.  Centuries of mush-mouth slide have changed these chunks of time into MINUTES (minnits).

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, especially steam trains and their schedules, even smaller bits of time became necessary, and the MINUTES got carved into 60 smaller bits.  Since these were the SECOND smaller sections of the hour to be established, that was what they were called.

As modern technology relies more on computerized electronics, and even quantum services, time must be chopped up into finer and finer little portions.  The state-of-the-art technologists of even only a half century ago, would probably be astounded by the use of millisecond – thousandth, microsecond – millionth, nanosecond – billionth, and picosecond – trillionth.

It’s no wonder that Ethel GPS put me in Oregon, instead of Ohio.  She probably just needs new batteries in her watch.  I’ll watch to see if you stop by again soon.  😀

’18 A To Z Challenge – K – PART #2

 

Challenge '18
Letter K

KNOCKER-UPPERS

Now that we’ve all had our tween-aged boy snicker, we’re going to speak British.

The daughter, my primary research assistant, sent me a link to a YouTube video about a now-extinct job.  In the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, many men in the cities of the UK, worked in the factories and mills.  They were expected to be at work ungodly early, by 5:00, 5:30 or 6:00 AM.  Alarm clocks had not been invented, and the sun was not up.  How were they to get to work on time?

Alarm Clock

Who wakes up the bugler who plays Reveille, to wake everyone else at a military base?  The answer to that question is the reason that it’s now recorded, and played automatically.  This task fell to certain people, who would come around to your house, and tap on a window to rouse the worker.  These were usually the neighborhood night watchmen, who were paid to stay up all night, and keep an eye open for fires.

Since bedrooms were usually on the second or third floors, they carried a long wooden rod, often bamboo, with a metal hook or knob on the end.  Why not just stand outside and shout??  Because not every house had a mill-worker, and even the ones that did, had wives and children who could benefit from another couple of hours sleep.

It was an interesting human answer to one of the first technological problems.  I have in the past, and I do now, stay up (almost) all night.  I’ve roused my children, to go to school, and day jobs.  I don’t tap on other bloggers’ windows, but I do publish in the middle of my night.  It’s sometimes interesting to see who I wake.

Feel free to stop back in a couple of days when we’re all awake, to see if I’m successful this week with a 100-word Flash Fiction, or if I have to tap into my cache, and publish a WOW.  I’m setting my alarm.   😆

Flash Fiction #157

Amazon

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

CURSES, AMAZONED AGAIN

Poor forlorn shopping mall, not long ago, it was visited and loved by many. It was chock-a-block, cheek-by-jowl with teeming throngs of shoppers.  If you felt someone else’s hand in your pocket, it wasn’t a pickpocket.  It was just the guy beside you trying to reach his wallet.

Sadly, times and technologies change. Now, people buy things they can’t feel, hold, try, or try on, online, and little toy helicopters deliver them to your door.  I miss the milling crowds, almost as much as the forlorn mall merchants do.  At least I can get a parking space near the door.

***

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

***

As a personal pat on my own back, today’s 100-word Flash Fiction is my number 900 published blog-post.  I know of a couple of bloggers who have been at this for over 10 years.  At least one of them has surpassed the 2000 mark.  Plod, plod, plod, I am better than the May-flies who flutter in and die after a few posts, or the uncommitted, who post “I know I haven’t published anything in over a year…”

Friday Fictioneers