Thursday, April 16, 2015
How PCs Changed My Life
As is the case with many of you, PCs changed my life.
Back in the day when I was in college, there was always someone around --- a friend, acquaintance, or someone's girlfriend --- who would be wont to say something like:
"Oh, I always wait before the night a term paper is due to start it. Doesn't matter if it has to be 30 pages or more. Drafts? Nah, I can always type a paper straight out. I usually get an A too."
I would contrast this statement with my experience of writing a term paper, which required more drafts than you'd find in a Bavarian Beer hall during Oktoberfest. Banging away at my manual typewriter with invariably sticking keys, I'd produce a free-form first draft that unleashed half-baked ideas written in third grade language swirling from page to page like drunken sailors.
The second draft would assemble the more credible of the ideas into presentable but ungainly order and raise the level of writing to middle school remedial, and the third would laboriously finally give rise to hopefully coherent college-level content with overly flowery opening and closing plus prodigious padding where needed, relevant, and warranted.
But that still wasn't all. Draft Three could never be submitted for your approval until graced with extensive handwritten adjustments, insertions, cross-outs, and arrows until it came to more closely resemble a Thursday night bowling team scorecard than a term paper.
Done! Usually five minutes before due.
But then PCs were invented. Though too late for my college experience and too many other experiences beyond then, writing at long last became enjoyable, relatively quick, and Oktoberfest-free.
And so it was at a college reunion a few years ago, I ran into one of those people who once so bedeviled me with their professions of term paper prowess.
"I remember you," I said. "You were George's roommate."
"Yes, I'm Jack."
"I remember you were always a very fast writer. Once I heard you say you could write a 30 page term paper in one night."
"Yes, I did have that skill."
"Well, Jack, now with PC's, I'm a really fast writer too. I venture to say I'm probably ... um ... almost as fast as you are."
"Well, that may be true," said Jack, "if you can check your substantial holdings in the market, play Rise of Empires at the championship level, and write a detailed 45 page legal brief for the Supreme Court the night before it is due."
Yes, PCs did change my life.
But damn it, not enough!