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Old 05-13-2008, 02:42 PM   #1
Taylor514ce
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The Secret of Lost Things

I've just begun to read "The Secret of Lost Things", by Sheridan Hay. I'm only in chapter 2, but can already tell I'll love this book. Any book that contains a paragraph like this, is obviously a lovingly written and very evocative story. The narrator is recalling trips with her mother, a hat-maker, to a supplier with a large cabinet of drawers full of hat-making knick-knacks:

I used to imagine that the endlessly varied objects contained in the drawers appeared only moments before the knob was pulled and the drawer opened, as if conjured by my wish to see them. The wall of drawers appeared to my small self to hold everything; and "things", of course, were the sum of the world.

Yes! I had a similar feeling about card catalogs in libraries. I could pull open the drawer, and that action itself manufactured the cards, the details, the map to the books.

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Old 05-14-2008, 08:06 AM   #2
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now stop it will you, i'm already going to have cut out mr altogether soon if i want to make any progress on my reading list...
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
now stop it will you, i'm already going to have cut out mr altogether soon if i want to make any progress on my reading list...
Yes, well, the last forty pages of The Philosopher's Dog have thus far taken me a week to read (actually, thirty of the last forty as I've still ten to go). I keep staying up jjust long enough for you oddly-timezoned folk to wake up and then I get caught in here until far enough after midnight that the words in the book won't stay still nor in my head.

I shall be going to bed shortly.

One of my memories of Dad (lost to prostate cancer five years ago) is his bedside drawer. Dad was a very exact person within his own sphere of control (note that he didn't try to "control" us), and one of my oldest memories is of going to his bedside drawer and looking at his stack of fifty cent pieces, his heavy gold watch, his little nail-grooming kit, and his few hankies. They were always exactly in the same place, and placed exceedingly neatly (our fifty cent pieces are not round, but have 12 sides - his stack had all sides aligned). The coins were front right, pushed into the corner. The nail-grooming kit was front-left, its catch facing down and towards the back so just the leather showed, that flat top raising lightly from front-to-back (naturally every nail-tool in it's "holster" inside). The hankies were always back left, with the folds, not the edges, showing. The heavy, gold watch (with heavy gold band) lay flat, in the middle front-to-back, but over on the right, with the face upwards and on the right while the band was perfectly "horizontal" to the left.

Initially I got in trouble for going into the drawer, obviously because Dad thought I'd mess it up rather than any fear of theft. Eventually he realised I had my own introverted and "tidy" mind, and that I would always place everything back exact.

After he died (I was going on 33), I went into his and mum's room and sat next to the drawers to have a look, and even after all those years and after all the houses he'd moved to (Dad was in the RAAF his whole life), everything was the same in that drawer.

So now, when I open a drawer, the first thing I see is a flicker-image of his perfect layout of minimal items...and then it disappears to be replaced with whatever is actually meant to be in there.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:55 AM   #4
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i was going to make a snarky remark about who's calling whom "oddly-timezoned", and then i was going to add that i've been doing exactly the same thing lately (so my 4 o'clock bedtime is mainly you lot's fault), but then i was unexpectedly overwhelmed by the poignancy of the rest of that post and only wanted to give marc a wordless and deeply moved friendly pat on the shoulder.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Taylor514ce View Post

Yes! I had a similar feeling about card catalogs in libraries. I could pull open the drawer, and that action itself manufactured the cards, the details, the map to the books.
If you've ever seen those old card computers, they made me feel something as mysterious. I spent hours trying to figure out what they meant and then threw the bunch down the stairs. No computers for me nossir! Where did that lead...
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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Yes, PCs were invented in my lifetime, something the ipod generation will never comprehend. Card computers were a bit before my time, but I did a brief internship at Ma Bell and they still had them around, though not in use.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:57 AM   #7
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Yes, PCs were invented in my lifetime, something the ipod generation will never comprehend. Card computers were a bit before my time, but I did a brief internship at Ma Bell and they still had them around, though not in use.
Ditto. Card computers were before my time, but I did have occasion to make a card or two, as a few old computers still used them. We even had some Xerox computers which had to be booted with a loop of paper tape.

Marc -- are you sure we aren't long lost siblings? Your dad sounds a lot like my dad (who we lost to prostate cancer 11 years ago). Things were always in the same place so that one could reach for them in the dark, or behind the car seat while driving. Dad & I loved to wonder at Mom's NON sense of place. The jar of pickles (or whatever) would be placed randomly back in the frig, always in the only spot where the milk bottle would fit, and so was of-course always the milk bottle's place!
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:06 AM   #8
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All of my computer classes in college until my senior year were all done with cards. In high school it was paper tape. Personal computers for engineering students weren't a requirement until after I graduated. Am I dating myself?

I loved the card catalog in the library way back when. It was so much fun, at least to me, to rifle through the drawers and finding all sorts of treasures.

The book sounds interesting, I'll have to put in on my list.
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