Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why I Type Loudly

You know what's a strange sign of the generation that I came from?  How loudly I type.  I often go to libraries to work on various self-assigned writing projects, and what I find is that invariably at some point as I'm typing, I will get a look from a person or two.  It only had to happen a few times for me to realize what was going on. 

These people were all young people, in their twenties or thirties.  And I'm fifty.  The first Mac SE that I ever touched was in the U.S.C. library during about my junior year there.  And the first Mac that was ever mine to use with regularity was when I worked at Disney Feature Animation, where I was assigned my own Mac SE.  That was the one that looked like an upright shoe box and had a black and white screen about the size of most stock car navigation screens.  And the first Mac that I ever bought was the second generation color screen Mac with money that I had invested in Pixar Animation and had made enough upside to purchase it. 

So, where did I learn to type so loud?  At Grant.  Grant High School that is…good ol' Ulysses S. Grant High School in Van Nuys. 

There was a semester in which I was faced with a dilemma.  I had to take a half semester of Health, and then had to choose another half semester of something else.  The choices were pretty bleak as I recall.  The offerings were tid bits that were not substantial and deep enough in order to get anything out of in ten weeks, such as carrom play, which was under the umbrella of the physical education department.  There was driving class, but I had already gotten my license in Teen Auto Club, so I didn't need that.  And there were other half baked appendages of review type courses which didn't interest me or were unneeded. 

As I was looking through the choices, my mother said, "Fred, taking the typing class."  "Typing?" I responded with a look of having eating overripe cheese.  "Really, it will be something useful in your life."  Well, my mom tended to be right about things in the long term.  The results were usually over my ability to see over the horizon, but she had a pretty good batting average with regard to foresight.  So I signed up for typing.

We used electric typewriters (I'm not old enough for the manual ones, though as a child, I had a little red manual typewriter who's keys I became very adept at tangling).  The class went by in a flash, and I got out of there having learned all of the letters and most of the punctuations, but not the top row of numbers for some reason.  I still look at the numbers most of the time when I reach for them. But even with the electrical typewriters, they still took a bit of punch from one's fingers to stroke the keys.  And that's what I got used to. 

The other thing that I have always done since I was a small child is play the piano.  At my high water mark, I played ragtime pretty well.  There is a video on YouTube of me playing.  Again, this type of playing, the ragtime, Dixieland, bar hall style, took deliberate strokes from one's fingers to play.  I have exceptionally strong, yet dexterous fingers, by the way.

So, when I'm in the various libraries around town doing research and typing away, and I hear, or rather don't hear, but sense young people magically moving their fingers over soft air pockets above their keyboards and producing texts on their Word programs, I quickly become aware that I need to lighten up on my touch.  The lesson here; one's age shows itself in so many varying ways.