Saturday, September 09, 2006

New & Improved

My daughter, suffering from a Katrina of a cold, is now popping antibiotics and other nostrums recommended by her doc. And naturally, the subject came up at her blog, where she requested that her readers send her comments on the good -- and the bad -- changes that have happened all around us in the recent past.

This is my contribution: the typewriter. This old Oliver was sitting behind the counter when I went into the Goodwin Street Pharm to pick up my own meds yesterday. Hey -- it predates me by quite a few years and that is saying something. I've never used one -- but I'll bet you really have to pound those keys to make an impression.

A picture of that machine is about as good a punctuation to the end of an era as I could hope to find. I lived and worked through the days of the typewriter -- lovable old Royals and Underwoods and the later slick little imports from Italy. I even have a portable down in the basement, as an amulet to ward off any possibility of our electricity disappearing. And, yes, my bright red IBM Executive is still around somewhere.

The age of the typewriter was the age of carbon paper (and making corrections by hand on six carbon copies!) It was the age of ditto copies that got purple all over your clothes and mimeograph machines for duplicating one's work. You've absolutely no idea how revolutionary the Xerox machine was when first introduced -- as the People's first publishing machine, it probably was a part of the new order that brought down the old USSR.

The typewriter age was the also age of perfection. You got it right the first time -- or you started over again. Oh, eventually somebody came up with the idea of white-out (which I use today on my Sudoku bloopers) and IBM did add to its deluxe electric typewriters a gizmo that fed a white cover-up tape to fix errors.

But oh! How easy it all is today. In my little home office, I can publish limited editions of essays, directories or picture books. And in 4-color, yet. Needless to say, I love it.

The down side? Perfection is a lost art. In spelling ... in syntax ... in writing ... in publishing generally. Too bad. I miss it. It was a good discipline.


catalyst said...

Ah, another typewriter lover.

I used to collect these darn things before we moved to Mexico but I guess they all went bye-bye in a garage sale.

k said...

I miss it too. It's lost in other places as well - simple household tasks like washing dishes or following a recipe.

My young-adult niece and nephew - wonderful kids - and their various SO's over time have surprised me over and over with that *imperfection isn't just okay, it's GOOD* approach.

Following the directions the first time you use a new recipe makes sense; I assume the author had a reason to say, e.g., *Pack the brown sugar well.*

The reason was NOT necessarily because the author was a Stupid Rule Freak!

When a food experiment miserably failed, I gently suggested that it's okay to experiment with the *rules* once you have some experience with a certain recipe.

Till then, if you're sloppy or imprecise or rebel against simple inoffensive recommendations, you may well be unhappy with the result of your efforts.

Just as when I'm trying to read things they write me, where the misspelling and fouled grammar and bizarre punctuation make it impossible to discern their meaning.

That's not communication!

Granny J said...

Hear! Hear!

Lane said...

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! I love the artistry of old machinery! Thanks for the detail!

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