Sunday, December 25, 2016

Plus ca change le meme chose. 

In the day-by-day emails of the greatest diary ever written, we're up to December 1663 now, and Sam Pepys writes that in the Coffeehouse the discussion was about

"the great evil of discouraging our natural manufacture of England ... by suffering the Swede to bring in three times more than ever they did and our owne Ironworks be lost..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Life Before Google

Reading those old DOS journals, I find this. 
Kids, here's what life was like Before Google.
                  July 8, 1993
Anna r. on TV 1990s
  Anna opens at the theatre in New Hope,Pennsylvania tonight.  Bet it's hot as hell down there. [Must have been before we air-conditioned the house.]  She plays a psychologist who counsels a talking dog, so of course we want to send flowers.
  I look for the name of the theatre in the flyer she sent us.  It isn't there, but she's at the New Hope Performing Arts Festival.  
  I get out the atlas.  New Hope is near Philadelphia. 
  Buster sits on the atlas.
Buster visiting bathtub
  I check the phone book.  There are 12 area codes for Pennsylvania. 
  I remove Buster from the phone book. Philadelphia's area code is 215.
  Theatres usually have the phone numbers of florists handy, so I call Philadelphia information at 1-215-555-1212 and ask for the phone number of the New Hope Performing Arts Festival.It's 215-862-5880.
  I call 215-862-5880.  I get a tape reminding me that the play opens tonight.
  I call Information again.  They can't look up a number without the name of the florist.  I explain my quest.  They find the New Hope Flower Shop, 215-862-3169.
  I call 215-862-3169.  I get a crackling noise. 
  I think perhaps it's because Buster walked on the phone.
  I call it again.  I get a crackling noise.
     I call it a third time.  I get a dial tone.
  I call the operator and explain my problem.  She calls the number.  She gets a busy signal ­and­ a crackling noise. She tries again, and says it's out of order.
  I call Philadelphia information. They can't read the yellow pages but they'll transfer me to the service people who can.
   The service people find a number in the yellow pages for Tiffany's Florist, 215-862-1200.
  I call 215-862-1200.  "The number you have called, 862-1200, has been disconnected.  Repeat:  the number you called..."
   I consider Flowers by Wire.  But if I can't get through, how could they?  And how would I know in time if they failed?
 I call Philadelphia information and ask to be transferred to a service person.  No, not about a faulty line.  No, not about new service. I want the people who can read the yellow pages.  Reprovingly:   "That is just a courtesy we provide...I'll switch you over."  I get a dial tone.
  I call Philadelphia information again asking for the yellow pages service.  "Certainly, I'll connect you."
  I get a dial tone.
  I call again, pleading not to be cut off.  "Yes, I'll stay with you until you're transferred, but I'll put you on hold, don't get worried."
  I get a silent line.
  I get the yellow pages people!!
  I ask "Have you got time to hear my problem?"  "Yes, if it's not too long."  I summarize the morning so far.  I ask if there's a newspaper in New Hope.  "I can read the yellow pages for you, but there is a service center in New Hope.  Would you like that?" 
 That would be great, perfect. 
 Buster sits on the page I'm taking notes on.
  I call the New Hope center at 215-862-5880.  It's busy.  I put my automatic re-dialer on and it calls every 30 seconds for ten minutes.  Still busy.
  I try the automatic re-dial for another ten minutes.  I decide everything in New Hope has been washed out by a heat wave.
  So much time has elapsed that perhaps the box office is open, so I call the theatre again.  A tape reminds me that the play opens
  I call Philadelphia information.  I'm put right through to the yellow pages.  This time I get all the rest of the New Hope florists: the Pod Shop and Boxwood Gardens.
  Boxwood Gardens sounds like a garden store, so I call the Pod Shop at 215-862-2037.  A young woman answers immediately.  Roses are $60 a dozen.  We settle on assorted summer flowers.  I mention my morning's adventures. She laughs and says "We're all the same florist anyhow."
  Break a leg, Anna!
Watching Cat TV with Norm

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Appreciate it!

These days when I see someone hurrying in to the post office I stoop harder over the rollator and bite my tongue not to call after them -- "Do you appreciate the fact that you're walking?  Be sure to realize that you can walk!"
   It seems such a counter-intuitive thing -- all that height, that weight, that muscle, balanced on two small feet.  Yet babies pull themselves up almost automatically -- and what a triumphant look the first time they achieve it! 
   You can see by the spots on the knees and the toes of those white shoes that up until then he'd been crawling -- this was in my in-law's living-room in Montreal.  Fine moment.  

So anyhow -- my other son showed me how to access those DOS journals I kept on floppy disks after 1983 ('moved the typewriter off the desk today')  and I am delighted to find this entry in July of 1990:

Sometimes when I'm walking I am very conscious of the fact that I'm walking.  I can walk!  If I can't in the future, I'll never have to say "I should have appreciated it while I could..." because I do appreciate it. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Couldn't Be Beat

Last week's festivities -- 29 here for a fine feast, some who came spur-of-the-moment from London, woodfire burning constantly, and we used up five bags of marshmallows.  I did nothing but sit around while the people I still think of as The Kids did everything including the list-making.
               This picture was taken before all the homemade pies arrived. 
We had plenty of drama all week:
The garage door opener wouldn't shut. 
The microwave fan wouldn't go off.  
The disposal wouldn't dispose -- Avi said we wouldn't need a plumber, that when the eye surgeon arrived for Thanksgiving dinner he'd take the pipe apart and fix it -- and that's exactly what happened. 
This general dissolution was evidently contagious -- our overflow who stayed at a nearby b&b came back to borrow a plunger at one point.
We had an 89-year spread of ages -- great-granddaughter Athena spent most of her time in a big carton, obligingly left in the living-room by the applance guy.  Grandsons Nathan and Aaron each chose sets of Jane Austen from The Collection.  The London contingent furnished two young boys who kept the mini pinball machine in pretty constant use.  I have fine pictures of all these goings-on, forwarded from various attendees, but they just won't transfer to this screen.  That's why this post is so late -- I've been trying, giving up in frustration and then trying again the next day.
So I'll just tell you a bit about what I've been doing since:

I forgot to mention -- the washing machine stopped washing also -- and this during a  week involving one way and another nine house guests including a toddler.  I ordered a new washer, asking for the simplest replacement, but this new control panel seems to offer 42 choices ...  I was reduced to reading the manual. 
All's well that ends well.  For your viewing pleasure, here's a Before and After of every bath towel I own.  That bottle in Before is an unopened Beaujolais left from The Feast.  I'm not a drinker, and all I know about wine is that Beaujolais doesn't keep -- it's supposed to be drunk promptly.