Monthly Archives: December 2009

It would be nice . . .

With 2010 coming up, we wonder what changes we can expect. And if there are changes, which ones and to what extent?

People don’t feel too concerned over the nice, even round number that 2010 will represent, nothing like when nature’s odometer turned from 1999 to 2000, or Year Two Thousand.

Ten years ago my wife and I were attending a Y2K party at the home of Prentiss and Nancy Childs, when we got a phone call requesting we go to my mother’s house on Railroad Avenue. My two older sisters, Dolores and Dorothy, had arrived from California to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day with Mom, but a few ticks before the year 2000, Mom insisted she needed “a man around the house.”

We left the party for Mom’s house, where she revealed the fear that everything electrical would suddenly melt down. But the main issue for her was whether she should make “cafecito” before midnight, just to have it handy. Continue reading

Olive, the other reindeer . . .

Invention is the mother of necessity. Just because if it’s been manufactured, we must have one. A look at the spending frenzy Sunday night at Santa Fe’s Best Buy convinced me that the world is ending tomorrow, and if people don’t buy their gadgets immediately, there’s no hope.

For the most part, I’m a practitioner of shopping at home, but what I needed was not available locally. As I saw people grabbing up flat-screen TVs, for less than $200, I wondered why the serious jolt to the economy doesn’t seem to have hit Santa Fe or Las Vegas.

Remember when TVs resembled goldfish bowls? They bulged out and were more round than square. The cheapest, smallest color TV set went for $350, back 30 years ago, when that amount was much dearer to us. With each upgrade of a computer, TV, iPod or cell phone, somehow we must have the latest version. Continue reading

A regime for the New Year

Possibly due to strict upbringing, or maybe because of a year with Sister Immer Richtig at Immaculate Conception School, I’m accustomed to saying, and, especially, hearing, “That’s wrong.”

Teachers are discouraged from using the “w” word, lest somebody’s ego gets crushed and Mommy and Daddy need to run interference for the brutalized child.

Let me explain:

In what may seem like a concession on my part, on the part of the most persnickety Language Cop alive, I’m coming around to accepting the fact that language changes and — dare I admit it? — language is what people make of it, not necessarily what dictionaries say it is or should be. Continue reading

An irregular rebellion

Andy Rooney’s segment on “60 Minutes” Sunday evening made a point that’s become increasingly obvious: Few people write letters the way they used to.

Rooney drew the patent conclusion that with e-mail almost instantaneous and almost free, the Postal Service receives less revenue because fewer people mail that way.

Of the 40-plus names on my e-mail address book, I know the street address of precious few of them. What about their phone numbers? That’s even worse. Having cordless and cell phones that store 50 numbers, we don’t actually “dial” people anymore.

The matter became increasingly apparent this week when I received calls from different recipients in different states who wondered whether my once-sharp spelling and grammar skills had taken a nosedive.

Let me explain: Continue reading

‘Official U.S. mail recipient’

With trembling hands, I slid my thumb under the perforated seal in anticipation of news that could be only good or bad.

The envelope had the image of the bald eagle, a line of stars and the word “official” two places in front and once in back. It came with the familiar no-nonsense san-serif font we’re all familiar with, and it bore specific instructions:

  • “To be opened by addressee only.” Darn! I was hoping my neighbor James Sandoval would be the first to open it.
  • “Postmaster: Follow official postal rules.” Really? Don’t postmasters sometimes take home official-looking envelopes with the idea of making paper airplanes?
  • “Do not discard this envelope.” Oooh! Shivers down my spine. I’ll be enjoying decades of accommodation at Leavenworth if I pitch this envelope. Maybe I can join my uncle who grew old there after removing one of those silly tags from a “Silly” mattress (I mean “Sealy,” but that’s a topic for a later column.)
  • “Official U.S. mail recipient.” Well, now, that makes me feel all warm and runny inside. For too many years I’ve doubted my officialness. Now I have something to be proud of. Remember those bumper stickers, blazoned with red, white and blue stars and stripes that read “Official U.S. Taxpayer”? Continue reading