Short-Term Thinking

October 20th, 2007

alt="Today I would like to start with a joke:

An avid typewriter collector had just driven 80 miles to pick up a rare Royal
Grand typewriter he had finally found after years of searching. As he drove
home with his prize, it was dark and he was becoming sleepy. He decided
to pull off the highway to get some coffee. He had barely tasted his first
sip when, much to his horror, he realized he had left the Grand exposed on
the back seat of his unlocked car. He jumped up and ran into the parking
lot to his car, but saw he was too late. The window had been smashed...
and there were two more typewriters beside his prize!

I certainly won't be writing every blog post on a 1944 typewriter, but I'm
still writing about this thing, I thought it would be fun to use it again.

Today I cleaned some of the old gunk out of the type, so hopefully the
text is a bit clearer today. Also, I've set the margins to limit the width
of the text so I can post at a higher resolution.

The Internet, of course, harbors communities around just about every
imaginable topic, and typewriters are no exception. I have learned about people that have over 300 typewriters stored up in a basement. I also read of one person that had accumulated perhaps a dozen working typewriters and wanted to downsize. He donated some to a local daycare, where they proved to be immensely popular with the children and the parents that read their work.

That seems to sum up the appeal of old technology, whether typewriters, care, or Coleman lanterns. The technology may be finicky, maybe the engine doesn't always start right up in the winter or the lines on the page are rarely perfectly straight, but the machines are intuitive enough that most can grasp the basic operation without the need of a manual -- and certainly without needing some toll-free tech support person on a different continent. Plus, these things often seem to outlast not only their inventors, but often the companies that build them as well.

In a sense, it reflects the attitude of an earlier society. Today, many people buy the cheapest item on the shelf at Walmart, never stopping to consider whether it will be the cheapest long-term value if a plastic piece breaks off after a couple of months. Sometimes, it is difficult to even find higher-quality items today. If only America wouldn't be short sighted, not just in its purchasing habits, but also with its government policies, we might be a happier and less fearful nation today."/>





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