Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Exercise in Circumlocution…

In the preceding post, I attempted (hopefully with a bit of humor) to utilize every buzzword I had accumulated over the past few months.

I had inspiration for this type of effort early-on.  My Dad was sitting around work one day (man, they lived in a different universe than we do…) and came up with a little essay, which he presented to me upon my departure for Baylor.  Fortunately, I thought  it funny enough to stick it in a photo album.  It’s one of those old sticky page photo albums, so now the paper’s irrevocably attached (apparently at the molecular level) to the book.  Nevertheless, I still have the document.



by Maurice Jones

     To obtain an education, whether in pursuit of your vocation or a pleasant avocation, or for your personal gratification there is required a degree of determination (and some professorial exhortation) to overcome the strong temptation to go into hibernation or indulge in abstract meditation during a student recitation or a professor’s dull narration.

     Despite a student’s prognostication that he will suffer from prostration or, at the least, regurgitation if he is forced into participation, it isn’t likely that all of his expostulation will force the administration to enter into negotiation concerning the assignation of a daily compilation of enlightening information.

     I say to you without equivocation that if your are planning matriculation, you should request elucidation on all subjects under consideration and refuse all invitations to indulge in excessive fraternization that would result in vacillation.

     If you will always practice excogitation your compensation at the termination of this period of melioration will be acclamation by your paternal relation and receipt of documentation which attests to your graduation.



Although everyone knows I'm addicted to my computer, I do not want to read books on it. One of my favourite books/short stories ever is "A Christmas Carol"; I've had many copies over the years, usually either lending them and not getting them back or just plain losing them. When I moved to Houston, I think my last copy went to the Malvern Library in one of the *47* cartons of books I gave them for their sale.

In any event, this year I needed to read it again and looked it up on the innerwebs. It's public domain, so there are various versions of it. I tried reading it online but finally wound up just printing the thing to read in my hand.

Somehow, a book is just comforting. I like books. I like the way they look; I like the way they feel; I like the way they smell. If it's an old, used book, I like the way it falls open to the previous owner's favourite part. If it's an old library book, it has that "library" smell, which is a comfort smell to me because of all the time I've spent in the library.   

I just like books.

In some ways, I feel sorry for the current crop of kiddos.  They might use books, but they use all the various search engines to find their subject matter.  When I was in school (to which I walked 5 miles in the snow…), one had to be organized to write a paper.  You had to spend hours in the library at the card catalogue, sifting through the thousands of cards to find the 2 or 3 books that had the information you needed, then go to that section of the library and find the books---and READ them (or at least skim them).  I’m not saying that way was better (you can have my computer when you pry my cold dead fingers off the keyboard), and I love Google, but there is something to be said for the skill needed to organize a manual search.  

As print media gives way to the inexorable force of the electron, certain things are being lost---and this loss is NOT an improvement.  Newspapers were the chronicles of mankind from the 17th century to the 21st.  Many editions are still available, and it’s fascinating to look at The Times archives and read about the ongoing difficulties in the Colonies, or India, or about something Disraeli or Churchill said yesterday.  These moldy old papers are still hanging around. 

I have a small brown paper bag on the bookshelf in my Den.  It contains all the letters my Dad wrote home to his parents and sisters during World War II (In another area, I have at least most of the letters he wrote Mother).  The letters are on that peculiar onionskin GI paper, and censored by government censors.  Now, my email output is about that much PER DAY, but it’s ephemeral---it doesn’t really record anything; it’s not an archive of thought.  It consists of blurbs, dribs, and drabs---little shots of thought here and there.  We’re losing letters altogether (when is the last time you took pen and paper and wrote one?).

All this electronic stuff is fantastic---right up until the power goes out.



If, for the next generation, Apple builds a bigger ipad, will it be a maxi-pad?


  1. I think your dad would get along just fine in today's corporate world. And his advice was good as well.

  2. It's interesting, I don't like reading books "on-line", but reading on my Kindle is another matter altogether. I got the complete works of Charles Dickens for free and I have read "A Christmas Carol" and "The Cricket on the Hearth." I am now reading "Treasure Island." It cost 99¢. I'm not even sure that I can tell you why I enjoy the Kindle, but not reading on the PC.

  3. I like books too. I wonder if I gave in and started reading online if it would grow on me? I just don't think so.