Bob’s a speed bump on the road to progress

Bob's a speed bump on the road to progress By Bob Karolevitz I suppose all you computer folks think that writing my way � with a ball point pen and ancient typewriter � is not far removed from carving hieroglyphics on chunks of stone.

I've been told that all the reference books in my Neanderthal office could be replaced by easy accessible images on a glass screen. I could just sit there fiddling with my mouse, and words would flow onto the monitor as fast as my arthritic fingers could find them on the keyboard.

I could throw away my carbon paper and by bottle of Wite-out. I could insert, revise and shift paragraphs to my heart's content.

But � woe is me! � I'm a speed bump on the road to progress. I'm stuck in a terrible rut. And I like it there!

Over and over I've heard that I can't possibly write in my caveman way. Gee, I should have known that 36 books ago. While I can't compare myself to Papa Hemingway, Mark Twain or Bill Shakespeare, I can at least say that if being computerless was good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

A computer will save you loads of time, they tell me. For what? I'm not going anywhere. Oh, I suppose I could read all those X-rated jokes on e-mail, but years ago I heard versions of most of them in the barracks.

So, technology be danged, I'll go on in my paleolithic way, using the old tools of my trade which get me up out of my chair now and then.

Not far away is my big Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, almost five inches thick. It is full of more words than I'll ever use. Next to it is my Bible which is truly a valuable resource. And I like to read a few extra paragraphs occasionally when I need a little inspiration. I especially like Ecclesiastes.

I've got hundreds of file folders full of facts, but next to my desk is a well-worn set of the Encyclopedia Britannica which tells me more than I ever want to know about aardvarks and Huldreich Zwingli � as well as thousands of subjects in between. That's A to Z in case you missed the point.

For jokes I've got Bennett Cerf's Modern American Humor and even a collection of Red Stangland's Ole and Lena stories. Periodically I go to Henry Davidoff's Treasury of Proverbs for such pithy sayings as Sam Johnson's quip: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."

On a nearby shelf are a few writer's crutches like Roget's Thesaurus, which Peter Roget first started to put together way back in 1805. The modern edition is still good. Then there's Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, containing more than 1500 pages of repeatable maxims. Incidentally, John Bartlett, then a book store owner, released his first small edition in 1855.

I borrow from Roget's and Bartlett's on occasion to make me look smarter than I really am.

Besides them, I've also got the Family Word Finder from the Reader's Digest and my Polish Phrasebook and Dictionary by Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski. The latter doesn't get used much, but I keep it around to remind me of my heritage.

My eclectic library is full of almanacs (too many of them out-dated), histories, biographies, how-to secrets and tomes on everything from sheep science to insects of the world. Near at hand are Hoyle's Book of Games, the Guiness Book of Records, The Filmgoer's Companion and the Lewis and Clark Journals. They're probably all on the Internet, but I like the real thing.

So, as bad as it is, I'll continue in my Stone Age way. It's been proved many times over that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but, at this stage, I'm afraid I'll have to forego the lessons.

I'm not fighting the system. I'm just struggling along in my dotage, letting the dot-com world pass me by.

I'd write more on the subject, but I'm running out of papyrus.

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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