On the passage of time and the passing of paper!

03 Jul

I’ve just noticed that it has been almost 5 weeks since I last posted anything here (and I expect there will be emails soon tentatively enquiring as to whether I’ve quietly gone and died) and while it is true to say that I currently have about 4 started articles all looking for an ending that is not the main reason for my absence.

As many of you know I work in the realms of “I.T.” doing various things just to keep the bills paid.

There are, in fact, two types of that line of work that come my way.

The first is the “hands on” sort of thing where I’m helping run a network, getting my hands on broken PCs and rebuilding them, or sitting with people and showing them how to do the things they want their computer to do.

The second is the “helpdesk” type of job where people with no idea of what they’re doing call you up and ask you to fix it for them! This involves the serious mental effort of imagining what they are seeing on their screen, assuming that they have just pressed the key you asked them to and then getting them to tell you in understandable terms what has then happened while, at all times, keeping your temper.

When I do the first type of job I have no problem sitting down at my own computer at home, relaxing and doing creative stuff with it.

When I have a “helldesk” type of job I come home, scream at any family member who suggests I might like to look at their laptop and sort something out for them; and then will not go near my own computer if I can possibly avoid it!

See if you can guess which sort of job I’ve had for the last four weeks!

So I’ve been busy doing other things instead – gardening, fishing, replacing all the tiles that fell off the wall of the en-suite bathroom last winter, and numerous tasks of that sort.

The Service Centre job continues but I have managed to grab some time on this Sunday evening to try to create something new for you.

One of the other things I’ve been doing instead of writing is reading. This has always been something I’ve done a lot of but I recently found that I have read everything on my bookshelves at least once this year so I wanted some new material.

And having some unspent Christmas /Birthday present money still burning a hole in my account I decided to go electronic on the reading front and purchased an Amazon Kindle e-book.

This is the very first time I have managed to get hold of one of the real sci-fi gadgets from my youth!

OK we’re still lacking the jet boots, shiny Inter-city monorail systems and the carbon filament “space elevators” to cities in synchronous orbit but the other thing most stories had was the “book plaque” providing news updates and casual literature wherever in the Solar System (or out of it) the reader might be. And now I’ve got one too!

Of course, what they never, ever mentioned in those stories is that you have to pay for the content you read. Or you would if you weren’t as tight with the pennies as I am!

OK, if I come across a book I do REALLY want to read quite badly I WILL pay for the download (which goes straight to the Kindle via my home wireless internet connection) but I decided that there exist so many books I never got around to reading that are also out of copyright that paying out should not be necessary for some time!

The Amazon site contains a substantial number of literary classics that some kind soul has converted to a suitable digital format and with that and the previous output of the awesome but cumbersome “Project Gutenberg” I’m downloading freebies like there’s no tomorrow.

Currently the contents page of my Kindle has on it:

“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes “

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

“The first Men in the Moon”

“Gulliver’s Travels”

“The Illiad”

“The War of the Worlds”

With the exception of the last one I have never read any of these before.

One thing I have noticed so far is that ANY of those that have been made into movies have been made into movies that bear little or no resemblance to the book. And if you saw the movie first you are in for a shock when you do the book!

For example, if Walter Elias Disney had not prettied it up in a cute cartoon format I am sure that no-one in this day and age would ever regard “Alice” as a children’s’ book!  It scared the crap out of me – nearly as much as “Lord of the Flies” at school!

Also WAY different to its movie is the one I didn’t mention in the list which I am actually reading at the moment – Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”!

If you are round about my age (late 50s) I am sure you have memories of those winter Sunday afternoons watching the TV with your family and marvelling at the adventures of the wholesome Bing Crosby as the 19th Century Blacksmith flung back in time 1300 years or so.

As I recall some play was made of his using “modern Science” to gain a privileged position amongst the primitives but I mainly remember “Sir Boss” going off on a jaunt with a disguised King Arthur and singing “We’re busy doing nothing”!

There is no singing in the book and I was surprised at the venom with which Twain gets in his anti-monarchist sentiments. I haven’t finished it yet but so far “The Boss” (more menacing than “Sir” when everyone else is a knight or higher) has set up hidden villages with schools to educate the peasants and factories to produce needed items (such as soap!) with a view to overthrowing the “Rights” of the Aristocracy and the superstition and terror used by the Church to keep them in order. The fact that both these institutions are still in existence today suggests that he doesn’t succeed but I for one wish him well. Read it yourself and find out what really happens!

Oh, in case you were wondering I had the idea of telling you about my Kindle when I decided to charge the battery tonight. I had done this over four weeks ago when I first got it and have read it for at least 30 minutes every day since. The battery charge was reading just under half full! So, in addition to being capable of transporting a sizeable library in a unit 7 ½ inches by 5 inches by ¼ inch thick, the damn thing uses hardly any power! Wonderful!



Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “On the passage of time and the passing of paper!

  1. MikeT

    July 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    And now I have that damn song lodged in my brain!!!! Cedric bloody Hardwicke!!!!

    • Alfie

      July 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      There’s an easy solution to that problem Mike – try to find lots of things not to do!


  2. Vincent

    July 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Have you seen the version of Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr? Against all logic – I actually rather liked it. A sequel is currently in the works…

  3. Cy Quick

    July 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I so admire your abilty to read a classic, by definition of the past. I find it too heavy-going. I can only read something of today, like Graftopia by Matt Taibbi, or The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker. Also: I am, as you know, one of the people that take years to get the hang of what, to you, are simple jobs on the computer. Good for you cyber-genius guys!


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