Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A typical, not topical, Wednesday

I’ve been sitting here this morning wondering just where this little epistle will go. One sure sign of getting into the older mode is more and more reflection on the “old days.” Working various ideas through my head this morning reminded me of those days when I, actually we since a few of you readers are also gaining distance between now and your school days, had to write an essay, theme, report, whatever a particular teacher called it, each week.

Seems to me the big majority of the pre-college ones were in the 500 word range, except at least one each year was a much longer, involved piece of writing. The teachers, mostly English teachers and a very few social studies or history teachers, gave a topic for the writing and mostly those pieces were related to something being studied at the time.

The worst part of those writings was that they had to be handwritten. I had at least one teacher who had a very simple rule: If the piece of writing couldn’t easily be read, it was an automatic zero and couldn’t be made up. Sure, typewriters were available, but most of us high school students didn’t know how to use one.

We were tracked back then. My high school had four tracks: general, business, scientific, and college prep. Actually, both of the last two were for college preparation; they just had slightly different base subjects. I was in the college prep track. The problem was I was male. Most college prep students, and all male ones, could not opt to take a typing class.

Even though I didn’t know how to “touch type,” my folks bought me a typewriter for Christmas one year and then I pecked out papers. Sometimes I thought handwriting was faster. In either case, making a mistake was just painful. Unless one had a very good eraser, an error resulted in starting over. What a pain when an error came at the end. At least with a typewriter, multi-page papers only needed the one with the error redone. I hadn’t heard of a correction ribbon.

That all meant that virtually every week in high school I turned out 500 word essays. One very notable exception was the senior comparative essay. In at least two thousand words we had to compare three novels by one author. I completed the assignment on time and received an “A” with a very nice comment from the teacher. I’ll never forget it. It was probably 15 or 20 years later before I read the three books.

Somehow I never imagined back in those formative years that over a half century later I’d still be writing little essays. There is one huge difference between now and then, though, instead of mostly once a week during the school year, I’m trying to write something six times a week all year. Incidentally, for any of you trying to keep count, I have now reached that magic word number 500 right here. I sure wish I had a computer and a word processor back in high school. And college, for that matter.

There are topics I could have mentioned this morning. Gov. Baldacci delivered his State of the State address to the Maine Legislature last night. I didn’t watch it and I haven’t read enough yet to honestly make comments. The federal Omnibus bill with its 9000 earmarks passed. Surprise! Surprise! There as many Republican earmarks in it as Democrat; in fact, six of the biggest ten spenders all have R’s after their names.

And the bailouts and spending packages passed by Congress since Jan. 20th haven’t all been spent yet and we haven’t seen any great results so far, so what does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want? Yep. More spending packages. It isn’t going to stop until the country is totally broke. We’re going to be paying for this disaster long past my being on Earth.

And, of course, there’s always the weather. Today’s is rather lousy. Rain here along the Maine coast, but not too far inland there’s some sleet and freezing rain. Some places have even had snow. We’re already above the freezing mark, so we’ll stay in the rain for much of the day.

I guess if I had worked at it a little harder, I would have come up with something to say; but, you know, sometimes it’s just as much fun saying nothing. Many times I think I do a better job at that.

GiM (Oh, in case you’re interested, this ended up being a total of 763 words.)


Sheepish Annie said...

I still hand write lots of stuff. I have notebooks everywhere just in case I feel the urge to write something down. And nothing gives me more joy than purchasing a cool new pen!

I love my computer, but sometimes you just gotta kick it old school, right?

GiM said...

I sometimes jot down ideas, but I rarely write these days except for my daily. Before typewriters, I actually had what folks called "pretty penmanship." It didn't take long for it to deteriorate, though, once I learned to type in college. I disllike writing my name now, say nothing about filling in check boxes on forms.

You read like you've gotten your health back in order. I'm glad you're on the mend.