-Fred Stock

        Years ago I was a radio broadcaster. This was in the days of 33, 45, and 78 RPM records made of vinyl or older plastics. We used diamond tipped needles to play music on the air, and news came through the telephone and a typewriter, or was torn from a teletype machine from the Associated Press. Commercials were recorded on little tape packs labeled “Fidelipac” and played on a “cartridge machine” larger than your family bible. Local news was often a quick check of the local police blotter and a re-write of the morning newspaper. We had 15” reel-to-reel tape decks to play back any recorded news material we might get, and there were no satellite feeds or world-wide sources to consider. TV News came at 6 and 11 PM and lasted 15 minutes. Things were simpler then.

           Typing was never a skill taught to boys in school unless it was specifically requested in those days. If you did take it, you were the only male in a class of 30 girls. That wasn’t cool. So, I made my way into the world of broadcast news without that ability. My typing consisted then of two fingers on the left hand and perhaps two on the right. It’s fifty years later now, and it still does. I have hit backspace and corrected perhaps twelve errors in this paragraph so far! Yikes!

             Remember, there were no computer keyboards, no text messaging, no portable Blackberries in those days. Messages were written with a pen on paper – how many of you young readers of this line actually have a pen in your pocket – next to the internet enabled music playing picture taking phone-call making electronic device the size of a fat credit card – how many? No, I didn’t think so. But you all know how to type, right? It’s a different world. Oh, my!

             Now back to us, the handicapped generation! I have a few errors which repeatedly pop up. For instance, working with a wide fingertip and a thumb, where does the “o” go in the word “if”? It will come out “iof” about nine out of ten times! And the automatic “p” gets added to the preposition “for” so it reads “fopr”,  pronounced “fopper” I guess! “In” becomes “ion”, which, by the way, the spell checker will not catch because ion is a real word – not the one I was hoping for, but a word never-the-less.

            Ever notice how fast you can type your own name? I can too! But with the wayward fingers the extra characters make “Stock” come out “Stroickl” Good grief! Here’s another one that seems to be built into my fingers. Ant wordf, I mean, any word with a letter “p” in it will likely also have a bracket “[ “ as well. Some even have two brackets, like the word for the opposite of sad, “hap[p[y!”

            Today, there is something called “speech recognition software.” You speak into a microphone and the computer types what you said… well, something remotely resembling what you said, somewhat. Almost as many corrections there as I have with my keyboard attack incursions. That’s what they use on “closed captioning” on TV and we all know and respect that! Right?  I cannot imagine spending the time un-learning all those old broadcasting bad habits; great zagg! So I guess there isn’t much hope for me at my age; I will just keep slugging it out with the MS Word program. More than friendly with the backspace and delete keys! I just have one last question though; what is the correct position for the two “X”s and the “G” in the word “church” – “cxhurxchg” ? Good gracious! -fhs