Jul 25, 2005

Blickensderfer No. 8

I dislike driving my boss to curse words, but I did it yesterday.

I was thinking, for some off the wall reason, about typewriters. Old ones. When I was young, I realised that my penmanship was awful, utterly miserable, and that the only way I was ever going to make myself understood in thr written word was to learn to type. I was driven on by finding my grandmother's old typewriter, a beaten up, black enamel, solid steel beast that lurked in it's own black vinyl case. To my young and trembling arms it felt like it weighed 100 pounds or more. In truth it likely only pushed 40, but it was still a steel behemoth.

And thus a writer was born. No, not really. But I did learn to type. Incorrectly. Hunt and peck had nothing on me, I was the all out single finger typist. It was after only a small bit of this before my mother the hyper-retentive accountant realised how serious I was, steadily banging away on this jalopy of a machine. She bit the bullet and taught me proper technique--where to place each finger, and how to reach for each key. And THEN a writer was born.

Not a good one, mind you, but a prolific one. I still have a box-bottom folder here somewhere of my D&D-esque fantasy stories, even ones that show the very beginnings of my surreal leanings. And you sha'nt see any of them. The thing being, I was typing. I was typing a LOT.

It took me years of pounding away on that steel-keyed monster, often reaching into it's gaping oil-smelling maw to release keys that had become intermingled when I typed too fast, trying to rewind and respool the old ribbon, for my mother to realise that I was DEAD serious. One miraculous year she bought me the latest in typewriter technology--a tan, plastic bodied ultralightweight Brother that not only was electric and had an erasable ribbon built right in (no more XXXing or using those sheets of white-out talcum) but it even had three, count them THREE daisy wheels, one each for the three main pitches--10, 12, and 15.

And that's where the trouble starts.

Yesterday midmorning I was thinking along those lines, and thought about my daughter (the younger one) growing up never knowing the agony of having to untangle a Gordian Knot of steel letters, all entwined like angry lovers in front of the platen, and never knowing what magic the words Pica, Elite and...

And now you see the problem.

12 characters per inch, or 12 point is called Pica.
15 point is called Elite.
And nobody I know, including me, knows just what the hell you call 10 characters to the inch print.

So naturally I brought the issue to the daughter/the boss, and we turned to the might and majesty of the Internet.

Which gave us one thousand and one hits that told us all about typewriters from the dim reaches of memory up through the modern high-speed, low-drag word processing machines, but nowhere could we find anything other than mention that there used to be just three pitches, and not a billion and one fonts in your choice of a thousand and three styles, shadows, and anti-aliasing.

So I drove the daughter (and myself) to angry cursing after a fruitless half hour of searching, and I turn to you, my devoted readership, to tell me exactly what the hell you call 10 point type. The daughter wanted to say it was called "Courier," which sounds kinda right, but I'm just not certain. I've beaten my tiny grey matter soundly, and come up with nothing else. And fortunate for her she's at the other office, the new sparkly one, with the DOO and our Reginal Admin, to meet a new Regional Admin, and I shall mostly be stuck in the empty milk-crate office doing my little filing, adjusting the A/C down a degree every hour until RMB turns blue, and wishing I knew what that third term was.

1 comment:

Vulgar Wizard said...

Damn, it's cold in here.