Being a Time Traveler

Yesterday some point was raised about how an early twentieth century person would react to the modern day.

Well, give them some years to adapt.  I know.  You see, I am a time traveler.

I think I have mentioned in the past that I was reading a book on the Middle Ages (the Time Traveler’s Guide to the Middle Ages, I think) and kept coming across things that I went “so?” on.  Because they were the same conditions I grew up in.

It’s hard to explain, truly, because we had buses and cars (not many cars.  For instance there were two vans and one car in the village.  When I had a breathing crisis in the middle of the night (every few months or so till I was six) we had to knock on the door of the grocer across the street who — poor man, may he rest in peace, he died with Alzheimer’s — is as responsible as my parents for my still being here.  He would throw on clothes at any hour of the day or night and drive us to emergency in the city, then wait with my parents until he found out if I’d be sent back home or kept on oxygen.

We also had telephones.  In the grocery store.  If something dire happened to one of the relatives overseas, they’d call, and so when we got the knock on the door and “call for” we knew it was bad news.  Only worse news was a telegram.  Mind you, my brother used that phone to call in song requests to request programs on the radio.  (Programa de pedidos.)

Oh, yeah, we had radios.  Everyone had a radio, even my grandparents, and had had them from the beginning of the century.  There were dead tube radios in the attics, which is how I built myself my first radio.  (“Dad, I want a radio.”  “Good, you can have one.”  And then he went back to reading Three Men In A Boat. I’m not actually joking.)

And then there were televisions.  Well, every coffee shop had a TV, which is how they attracted the after-dinner crowd who, for cultural reasons, were mostly male.  Then again the nearest coffee shop was a mile away.  Through ill-lit streets.  So, yeah.

My godmother and the housekeeper for the earl’s “farm house” catercorner from us had tvs.  We often went to watch TV with the housekeeper, when the earl and his family wasn’t in (which was 99% of the time.)  And all I have to say about my godmother’s door pane is that she really shouldn’t have gone on vacation at the time of the moon landing.  And besides we cleaned up and left her money for the replacement.  (Sheesh.)

We got a TV when I was eight, but programs were mostly on at night — and an hour at noon which was cartoons for the kids who had morning classes — and most of the stuff was more than 20 years old US programing, except for “talking comedy” and game shows, most immensely popular.

BUT the main form of entertainment was the radio.  There were soap operas on the radio and when I had morning classes (imagine a country that outstripped its school space so far that the kids have school either five hours in the morning or in the afternoon.  Mind you, I rather liked that, because it gave me half the day for myself.  Particularly morning classes) and came home by bus, I could walk down the main village street and listen to the Soap, as I passed each door, a sure sign that the lady of the house was cooking and listening to the travails of some wronged damsel.

Mom who worked Ringo-like i.e. nothing for months and then a month of very late nights, often listened to radio while working till all hours.  Which was interesting because the late programs were incredibly stuffy, like stuff on History or Greek Myth. At one time they did “readings from Russian Literature” which is why my brother ended up nicknamed Miguel Strogonoff.

But these were the frills.  The reality went on alongside.  Most people in the village had beaten earth floors in the kitchen.  (Yeah, we were higher class.  Grandma had red concrete poured.)  The bedrooms, and other rooms tended to be wood.

A “nice house” wasn’t a pretty one, though my grandmother might refer to one of the more modern-built, all convenience houses as a “right palace.”  A nice house was one with a chicken coup, maybe a pigsty, almost for sure a barn for a bull.

(For reasons totally unknown to me, we stopped keeping larger animals — bulls, goats — long before I was born.  If I were to guess, I’d blame it on grandmother’s reluctance to see things she’d raised killed.  It’s one thing to “retire” a laying chicken and keep her till her natural death.  A bull, now…)

A nice house ALSO had a vineyard.  Because  most of the land plots were tighter than your suburban backyard (unless it’s the area we’re renting, which would be about half of grandma’s backyard) the vineyard would a) cover the patio.  Well, surely you don’t want your kids to sit in the full summer sun, right?  It would also cover the chicken coup, the storage outbuildings, granddad’s workshop and the wash tank.  Come grape harvest we got trained in solving logistic problems that would make your mind spin.  Like “How do we harvest over the workshop when there’s barely enough space to lie down on your back?”

You weren’t allowed to harvest from a ladder till you were five.  This meant you were restricted to harvesting the one vine near the woodshed in the back where you could reach from the wood pile.  I LONGED to harvest from a ladder, like the grownups.  The next step up was “harvest like a teen.”  My brother and cousin were allowed to harvest the difficult places in hero mode.  (“Mind the roof of the chicken coup.  The metal is rusted and we don’t want you cut.”)  For some reason it lost some of its glamour once my brother and cousin were married and I was the ONLY one doing the “difficult spots”.  After I married those spots went unharvested.

People only bought food if what they produced wasn’t enough.  We always had eggs and vegetables, though in winter that was mostly cabbage.

Bread was the exception, because we ate A LOT of bread — bread and soup was a sufficiency for a meal — rye-corn bread (broa, clearly a Germanic word) from the farmer across the street and pao (pronounce pown, from Panen the Latin survival) from the bakers.  The bakers delivered.  You left a little bag tied to to your kitchen door, and in the morning it was filled with fresh bread.  (This is the thing I missed MOST as newly wed here.)  This originated a competition in “nice bread bags” among village ladies, so these were very fancy work, embroidered or open work, or crochet.  I brought half a dozen in my trousseau, and it only now occurred to me to wonder where they ended up.)

The rhythm of the day was medieval.  We even had the bell tolling, and you were supposed to stop at any time you heard it and say the prescribed prayers.  (“So and so’s book of hours” made perfect sense to me.)  Most people worked insane amounts.  Boredom was assuaged with singing, or handywork or rarely reading.  (I was WEIRD, okay.  Actually my whole family was.)

On Sundays you sat by your front door and watched your neighbors and gossiped. (I could never get a determination on whether it was sinful to read on Sunday, so I just hid out and read anyway.)

As for modern conveniences… Well… I didn’t know electrical typewriters existed.  Dad bought me a manual one for my 14th birthday, and he bought a very expensive one, because it would have to last me my whole life and, if he knew me (he did), I’d make my living by words.

I not only didn’t see a dishwasher till I was 12 (I think) but, having heard of them, I imagined them kind of like the robot diners in Simak.  Arms come out the wall and wash dishes.

I was by no means the person from the most backward environment to become an exchange student.  I certainly didn’t come from as backward a place as my host-parents expected (look, host-mom was descended from Portuguese.  What she didn’t realize was that it had changed since her grandma’s stories.)  They showed me how to flush the toilet…

However there were myriad culture shocks.  The all-day tv, for instance.  (I watched for two days solid, then decided it wasn’t my thing.)  But mostly, at that time, the culture shock was the prosperity.  My host mother bought a small tv for the kitchen on a whim, at a time when, in Portugal, you’d still have to save for years to buy ANY TV. Or the things considered necessary.  We had patio furniture, though I don’t think anyone but me EVER went outside.  (Not to blame them.  Ohio has two seasons: Deep Freeze and Sauna.)

The refrigerator.  When I came over we had a fridge.  We got a fridge when I was ten.  But a) it was the size of a dorm fridge.  b) mom was still in the habit of shopping every day.  So the morning was devoted to shopping for the food for lunch/dinner.  The main thing we used our fridge for was ice-cubes, one per drink, because more than that might kill you.

My host family shopped once a week, and kept stuff in the deep freezer, so you didn’t need to run out to get food every day.

But now, note, I’m writing this on a computer.  I own a dishwasher, a deep freezer, an mp3 player (my brother’s transistor radio was a wonder and an object of envy for everyone in the village.)

Most of the transportation in the village was by ox cart.  It’s how my parents moved house.  Moo-haul.

How did I adapt?  Well, like Lizzy Bennet, so gradually I was in the middle of it before I knew what was happening.

Adapting to a higher standard of living with more conveniences is easy.  Mind you, our early century guy might not “get” or might feel vaguely disquieted by innovations.  I was after all an SF reader, which helped.

However, Man is infinitely adaptable.  I know since the great summer of non recovery in 2008 we’ve made a lot of adjustments to our lifestyle, mostly in terms of “we can’t afford this” and while it hurt at first, now they’re hardly even noticed.

Which is how people in downward-spiral countries convince themselves things are still ever-better.  (Usually with a little help from the traitorous media.  [Did they try Summer of Recovery this summer? Did I so totally tune them out I didn’t notice?])  And why Greece’s crash was “unexpected” to Greeks.

There are things left behind, in that past I came from, things I can easily live without.  First there’s the lack of access to medical care.  Most Europeans who are happy with socialized medicine are happy because at the time it was introduced it was a huge step up over what was available at the beginning of the century — when it was introduced there.  If all you have in the way of treatment is a local nurse who administers shots, the local pharmacist which (say, apropos nothing) will change dressings on the back you completely skinned while seaside-cliff climbing (or rather falling from.  I managed to turn around and take the slope on my back.  I still don’t remember/have no idea how we kept mom from seeing the dressings) and the occasional overworked, over harried doctor who will do house calls at a prohibitive price if you’re seriously ill, yeah.  Socialized medicine is an improvement over that.  I don’t think the progressives (I almost typed primitives — curse you, auto-correct mind) who push for socialized medicine understand that it’s not an improvement even over the f*cked up bureaucracy of the US.  They tend to live in a state of envy of the fact that France has a pony and imagine that pony neither craps nor eats.

I don’t miss the tribalism.  Though frankly the tribalism in my field gets to me at times (to paraphrase Anne in Black Tide Rising “Why is my field so filled with screwed up people?”) it’s not as bad or the same kind as in the village.  As in, when a boy from the next village over came courting my aunt, my dad had to stop the local boys from beating him up.  And when some guys on motorcycles (with, I swear no encouragement.  At 14 I still had no idea what Mr. Hormone was for.  I mean, I was developed, and I had an INTELLECTUAL knowledge of reproduction, but I failed to see why it would apply to me.) followed me home, it came in useful as some of the guys in the village beat them up for “Coming trying to poach one of our more select girls.”  BUT that type of tribalism is nutty and holds back people from working together or even from moving to the next village, no matter how good the opportunity.  Which in turn stunts lifestyle and wealth.  (And I wonder what they feel about my husband whisking me right across the ocean.  I know my brother still resented the girl his generation who married an American.  She was reportedly the most beautiful woman of her generation and her parents had, in a fit of foretelling, I guess, named her America.)

I don’t miss having to scrounge for books or re-read books a million times because they were so expensive.  And I don’t miss not having the internet.  First time I read of “something like the internet” was in Friday, and I wanted it with lust-like intensity from the moment I heard of it.  If I didn’t have a work ethic I got from grandma, I’d spend my day, every day, cruising for weird info on the net.  It’s what other people do — I think — when they game or watch TV.

Anyway, yeah, I don’t like TV and I get most reference jokes because friends make them so much, rather than because I remember the show/program.  And sometimes you come across a meme/show I never heard of, and are shocked.

But over all, I’m here to tell you time-travelers adapt remarkably well.

Even if my kids can’t imagine a world without computer games, they’d probably adapt too.

Elastic.  That’s what humanity is.  And why we’ve become the dominant species.  And that’s why — to me — the doom and gloom, everything rusting and no hope for anyone books don’t pass the sniff test.

That’s not how humans live.  Humans adapt.  In the darkest pit we find hope and joy.  And in the brightest paradise, of course, we go lusting for flaws.  Which explains the rusty-decaying-future literature.  Not to be confused with apocalyptic but hopeful literature, like Black Tide Rising.  Yeah, I mention it a lot, because I’m listening to it, while hammering and painting.

Which reminds me: I need to stop typing and go clean and wax floors and stage rooms, while older son finishes the one room that needs painting.

World without end.

293 responses to “Being a Time Traveler

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Not as big of change as yours, but in my former field of work, I went from creating “punch cards” to create programs to using a PC to create programs.

    My first “book list” (of my books) was created on a manual typewriter as well as writing authors & titles on 3×5 cards.

    Now, I have a book database on my PC where I don’t even bother printing a paper listing of my books.

    Being a Time Traveler in deed. [Smile]

    • Ah the joys of tech change like 100 analog vinyl audio recordings on your coin op music machine to upwards of three million on the coin operated computer the takes 1/4 the space and needs less then 1/10 the maintenance. In less than 25 years. Vive la differance.

    • Don’t think of it so much as “using punch cards” as of having to talk in machine code. You no longer have to code by the bit; you have “servants” NCOs to translate your instructions into actions.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Well, I was thinking of *my* experience in programming. I didn’t have to worry about “machine language”.

        But you’re correct. I had a chuckle when I read Piper’s Cosmic Computer. The “Great Supercomputer” Merlin had to be “fed” machine language commands and machine language data. Which took hours to create. Merlin would answer in seconds but it would take hours to translate its response into something that humans could understand.

        It was computing before the “compilers”. [Smile]

        • Of course, we’re still (mostly) using keyboards.

          How quaint.

          Notice how few keystroke Scotty uses to get his results. Pure handwavium in action.

          • Tell you what – if PC speech-to-text worked as well as the voicemail-to-email service that some people use, a lot more people would use it for both writing AND programming. The other day, I was running late to pick up my wife, and called one of our friends, who she was with, to tell her that I was on my way and would be there soon (wife does not have cell phone). Now, I have very nearly a bog-standard middle American accent (which is generally the basis Hollyweird uses as Standard American), but with absolutely no training to my voice whatsoever, the transcription was nearly perfect. And I was talking quickly and without trying very hard to pronounce things clearly (I hate leaving voicemail). It missed the tense of one word that I noticed, but as far as I could remember, the rest was perfect.

          • ALMOST totally off topic, but you mentioned keyboards. A girl I know is going to Africa to help some missionaries for six months and is going to blog about her experiences (when she has computer/internet access) while there. She is going to Togo, a French country, and she asked me today if the French use the same keyboard we do, or is she going to have to learn to type on a different keyboard? Totally blindsided me, I never even thought of different countries having different keyboards, but I assume upon thinking about it that there would be a Cyrillic keyboard, what about the Asian languages, what sort of keyboard do they have?

            I’m guessing the French use the same keyboard, but don’t really know, I’m assuming some of those here that have spent time there (Sarah, TXred) would be able to tell me, however.

            • Clark E Myers

              Close enough as not to be an issue.

              Easy enough to check for Office users by telling e.g. Word to use a French for France keyboard mapping with whatever is currently attached.

              French uses dialectics – accents grave, aigue, combined as circumflex, cedilla…… which on traditional English language keyboards are handled by a backspace and overstrike.

              I suspect the many available keyboards can also be displayed on screen to use mouse clicks for key strike equivalents even if the machine is use is nominally configured all French.

              Won’t be a problem.

              • Clark E Myers

                If I wasn’t clear – manual keyboards may have slight adjustments that may slow down touch typing as the typist looks at the keys and may well not as the keyboard may be long ago donated Royal McBee or what have you. In that case typist backspaces as mentioned. IBM Selectrics used to have a variety of language typing balls and might have key tops with alternative markings or key tops might be replaced as necessary. Used to be fairly common to see a wooden handled wire key pulling tool. PC keyboards will have different mappings maybe reflected in the key caps or maybe interchangeable keys but French is close enough either way to be no issue.

            • The ones I saw in Japan had normal keys, and then secondary squiggles on them. (No, I don’t know the name of a single symbol; I can only guess they were the “foreign word imported wholesale” symbols, not the other ones.)

              Korean were the same, but (duh) different symbols.

              this is a Japanese one:

              • Clark E Myers

                Speaking of time travel in the days before PC’s even before ASCII and High ASCII with somewhat machine dependent mappings (and EPCDIC) and long before the rise of Unicode there were typewriter equivalent machines of great complexity – much more like typesetting? – that would assemble a full range of characters (that’s a pretty large countable number – short list machines might be easier?) from brush stroke equivalents so that a sequence of key strokes would be followed by execute and move one space. Those machines really were language specific and required a practiced (skilled?) operator indeed to get any speed.

                It’s been suggested that this was a real drawback to Japanese industry. Almost as bad as the relative inability to reduce everything in the business place to TLA (three letter acronyms)

                • Being restricted to three letters would be a PITA.

                  More seriously, I find the ingenuity of creating “typesetting” machines for brush stroke written languages really cool. I wondered how a whole word written language would be amenable to typing.

                  • Chinese is something of a pain from what I’ve seen. I would NOT want to learn to type it nope nope nope. Typing with letters is complicated enough.

              • RealityObserver

                On most keyboards, the “squiggles” are hiragana (used to write Japanese words that have have no kanji). UNLESS you press the key that’s two to the right of the tiny spacebar – then you have katakana (used to write “loan” words from other languages).

                Romaji (the “o” should have a macron over it, I can’t seem to get any “foreign” characters to work here) is our Latin script. Kanji is the symbols for the “real” Japanese written language (when you have IME turned on, you can type on the keyboard in romaji or katakana, press the tiny space bar, and the magic translates it to the kanji symbol for the word you just typed).

                Chinese uses a MUCH messier system.

                (Don’t know why I’m feeling trivial… Must be about bedtime.)

                • RealityObserver

                  Ah, just saw Clark’s – yep, that’s why IME was invented.

                  I think this is a gag photo for a Chinese “keyboard” – but their input methods (at least used to be) so complicated that I can’t be absolutely sure…

                • How about, “because the words are pretty, and SOMEONE is going to wonder what the correct words for what Fox is yammering about are”?

                  I can’t keep names straight, but I still enjoy the knowledge.

              • Those “squiggles” are the Japanese native phonetic alphabet (hiragana). The key to the right of the space bar has the word “kana” on it, which I presume shifts you into the “use hiragana” mode. I’m not familiar enough with Japanese to know what the key to the left of the space bar has on it.

                The last Japanese word processor I used allowed you to use Latin characters to enter the hiragana, and would provide you with a list of kanji to select from.

            • My Zain phone (in Bahrain) has English characters and Arabic letters on the keyboard. I always get phones with complete keyboards for texts because I can’t stand text speech. I did have to configure the phone for English when I bought it, which means that the alt key puts in the punctuation when I hit it.

              When I was studying Russian in college, there was a way for us to configure Word to substitute Cyrillic letters for Roman, so we could learn to type in Russian as well. EXTREMELY tedious and time consuming, though. French shouldn’t be that much different from English, though, for the most part.

            • French and German use pretty much the same keyboard, with a few of the symbols switched. Once you start getting into Slavic keyboards, then I run into trouble (for some things you use Function, others Shift, and others a Command key, because there may be three characters on one key, and not where you’d think they should be).

              • The German keyboard swaps y and z. They’re uncommon enough you can usually catch it. But I was there working on code for a 3-axis mill, guess what half my variable names had in ’em?

            • English and French keyboards are close, but not quite identical.

              The most common “english” (UK or US) layout is QWERTY, French is AZERTY, although some enthusiast came up with BÈPO. Depending on the computer your young friend may be using, she might be able to switch between various keyboards on the fly, which would be helpful if she’s a touch typist.

              Meanwhile, I don’t speak/write French, and read it only laboriously, but in a previous incarnation I managed keyboard documentation for a division of a large computer maker. Order a workstation or server, and you had a choice between a dozen or more different “localized” keyboards. (The fun part was making sure that I didn’t switch the descriptions of the PRC and ROC-localized versions that we offered. Pretty much all the rest, european or asian, were easy to sort out.)

          • We use keyboards because most people can’t speak intelligible English. They omit entire words, elide, omit, or simply use the wrong vowel or consonant sounds, use mispronounce words, use wrong words, omit inflection, speak in sentence fragments, or simply run everything together in one mumbly blur.

            Almost always they think they’re speaking perfect grammatical English. And they get *angry* when I play it back with my little pocket tape recorder.

            A beautiful example are the tapes from the Oval Office at the White House. Most people know about the Nixon tapes, but it was JFK who started recording everything. Eisenhower’s staff only recorded things they thought might be important later.

            Anyway, you’re talking about professional speakers; politicians and general staff military officers. And most of them are lawyers, whose profession more closely resembles computer programming than anything else. People you’d expect to communicate clearly and concisely.

            The transcripts – you can find them online – read like mixing two or three different TV shows while chopping random chunks out. Sometimes it takes careful study to figure out what they’re trying to say. Sometimes that’s not possible.

            Speech recognition would be easy, except first you have to have recognizeable speech…

            • Sara the Red

              Gah, I had to transcribe notes some months back from a meeting that had been recorded on a digital tape recorder. The meeting itself was only about 2 and a half hours or so, but it took me TWO DAYS to transcribe it, for precisely the above reasons. It also reminded me, annoyingly, just how very, very much most people use nonsensical fillers like “um” and “uh.” Barely noticed them in the meeting itself, but on tape…yeah I was ready to murder people.

              • Believe it or not, such use of fillers has been correlated with larger vocabulary. The thesis is (it has been something like 40 – 50 years since I read this, and i performed no review of the data, so it could have just been Mensa butt-covering) that the larger a vocabulary the more time/effort/attention required to search for and select the proper word.

                I make no claims for reliability of such trivia.

  2. We’re all traveling at 1 second per second. It’s where we are and what we’re traveling through, though, that makes all the difference.

    • And *that* was the basis for one of Spider Robinson’s early Callahan’s Bar stories, “The Time Traveller,” in which the title character had spent a number of years in a foreign prison.

      • And both of my previous replies highlight one problem inherent in replying prior to reading the *entire* comment thread. Ah, well. It’s not the first time I’ve jumped into something a bit late.

  3. Boy am I time traveller. My Childhood was very much like yours. BTW you forgot one Ohio Season: Slush (Begins in February) Gray skies slush above you ankles.

    • Oh. That. That is the reason Dan moved away after growing up there from age 8.

      • Sepultura’s “Under a pale grey sky” should have been recorded in Ohio?

        /I used to prank girls who went on about how “romantic” Brazilian music is by putting on “Arise” or “Beneath the remains” 😉 How ironic that the band’s hometown is called Belo Horizonte 😉

        //Later, after 2nd coffee after another 12-hour flight to NCT Base East 😉

      • There is a reason I am in SoCal.

    • The Other Sean

      No, there actually two more seasons in Ohio, each lasting about 7 weeks. From late March to mid May is Early Comfortable but Prone to Rain. And then from late September to early November is Late Comfortable but Prone to Rain. 🙂

      • Good point. Then there is the overlay of allergy season

      • Huh. And here I thought the two seasons were the same as we had in Minnesota — Deep Freeze, and Twin-engine Mosquitoes.

        • Bumper sticker seen in St. Cloud: Summer will be on Tuesday this year!

          • Looks like this year’s Finnish summer is going to be one of those where you can tell it apart from winter because it’s raining instead of snowing (or in my area, snowing and raining), the main colors are grey and green instead of grey and white, and there are mosquitoes. But we are going to be cold (and wet) when we venture outside, just like during the winters in the southwest Finland where I live (and yes, wet during most time because it rarely gets cold enough long enough to get dry in these parts in winters).

            • Plan ahead:

              From London’s Daily Mail: The Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned. A new study claims to have cracked predicting solar cycles – and says that between 2020 and 2030 solar cycles will cancel each other out. This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘Maunder minimum’ – which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715, even causing London’s River Thames to freeze over.
              (HT: Urgent Agenda, 07-10-15

              • RealityObserver

                I was putzing around last night on the interwebz – and ran across the video of the big July 4th blizzard over in Russia…

                There are times I am happy I relocated back to my desert Southwest from New England. A cooler than normal summer (like this one) just means it stays in the double digits most days…

              • Oh joy.

                Needs to find a way to retire somewhere south…

              • You know the enviro-whacko response to this will be the same……The government MUST take over ALL aspects of life so as to make everything fair for everyone and protect mother gaia from the ravages of unfettered capitalism……

              • Well, since the locations of the old London Bridges contributed to that Thames freezing over, the pundits may be wrong on that bit. Otherwise it’s nice to see they’ve caught up with the rest of us of the school that believes that when you turn the sun’s output down, you turn Earth’s thermostat down as well. But it will still be mankind’s fault and the solution will be to drive less and use even more solar panels to counteract the reduced energy output. *SIGH*

              • Cue claims that Global Warming is causing reduced solar activity in 3…2…1…

          • If summer comes on a weekend this year, we can have a picnic! (old Seattle – and probably other places – saying).

        • Sara the Red

          Wyoming’s four seasons: Winter, winter, winter, road work.

          Although this year we’re getting buckets of rain to go with the road work…

  4. some of us are space/imagination travelers. I grew up in new york city but I read about different places.

  5. Moo-haul. I am *so* stealing that 🙂

  6. Welcome to my world. I once worked out that my ideal birth date would have been in 1880, where I could have witnessed the changes of the Edwardian era, but been spared the coarse and loathsome second half of the 20th century. Don’t even talk about the 21st (think: Kardashians, Obama and ageing hippies).

    As it is, I’m a 1911 man in a 2015 world. And that’s how I live my life.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      There was a time travel story where the method of time travel was to immerse oneself in “time period” you wanted to travel to.

      IE wearing period clothing, living in an apartment with period settings, etc.

      The main character went back to pre-Spanish-American war New York City, fell in love, and finally decided to cut all ties with “his true time” to live permanently there.

      Oh, he had brought the woman he loved to “our time” for a visit and she hated our time so returned to her time.

      Mind you, the story didn’t going into the nastier details of that time and of course he was part of upper-middle-class New York City of that time. [Smile]

    • The 1911 is more popular today than ever… well at least there are more brands making it than ever.

      • I just bought one…

        • I have a Remington Model 8 to go with my 1911. It will be 101 years old in a few months. I’m still saving my pfennigs for a Winchester Model 1887 shotgun…

          John Moses Browning’s birthday ought to be a national holiday. He deserves it more than the politicians who normally get the nod…

  7. Back in the middle ’80’s while working in Saudi Arabia I used go Hashing with the rest of the ex-pats. Out in the desert near Jubail one weekend, I’m ambling along by myself and up comes a local(Saudi) in his Toyota Land Cruiser to save the stupid lost Ami. He was probably about my age – early 40’s.
    Anyhow between my broken Arabic and his broken English we managed to understand that I wasn’t really lost.
    So he asked me if I’d like to see the vil where his mother grew up. Short version it was at an small, abandoned(as in maybe 50yards across) oasis and the hut(bottom foot or so was adobe blocks rest was dried out wattle) was probably about 10 feet in diameter. Gave me a whole new sense of perspective that did.
    Oh yeah, he insisted on driving me on over to the end of the Hash course and everybody insisted I had cheated…

    • 20 odd years ago I celebrated my move from Japan to the US and the associated payrise with a top notch safari in Kenya & Tanzania (strongly recommend doing a safari first class, it’s probably a once in a life time experience so don’t be cheap). We visited various local villages that were just about getting electricity but neither they, nor the lodges and “camps” we stayed in had any connectivity to the outside world beyond ham radio and the mailman. As I understand it now these places all have cell phones. I’d love to go back and see what they do now that they are so much better off.

      PS wow another hasher! On on

  8. I grew up in Israel, in a upper middle class area. It was still a shock to see the selection in Barnes & Noble and Fry’s when I moved here, or to get used to being able to run AC the whole summer.

    • Oh, yeah, mom turns off hot water in summer. It’s a luxury and not needed. Also crazy expensive. And we were never less than middle-middle class, and now they probably qualify as upper middle class.

      • *snort* Flat State U turns off the hot water on April 1 and it comes back on November 1. Granted, this has to do with the steam boiler heating system that also just happens to produce the hot water, but some things never change.

        • I knew a lady who lived in Saudi with her hubby (Oil biz) and they turned the Hot Water off in summer, and used it as the cold water, and the cold became the hot.

          • “they turned the Hot Water off in summer, and used it as the cold water, and the cold became the hot.”

            I WISH I could do that in my flat. Or at the gym on base. I do not in fact enjoy getting into a blazing hot shower after having just left half a gallon of sweat on the treadmill. The concept of cold water out of a tap apparently eludes people. Except not really, because there is a lovely swimming pool on the top floor of my building, and both a hot and cool tub. I don’t get it at all.

  9. Now that reminds me (somewhat) of my own smallish ramblings.

    I still have an old radio much like the ones we had (second, third, however many hands down) when I was a kid. It’s about four feet tall, has four dials and six buttons, transistors, and can tune in to shortwave bands as well as standard. One of these days I’m going to refurbish it (after the house gets straight- May it happen in my lifetime!). My godson now thinks it’s a relic from the middle ages. *chuckle*

    We kept blueberries and grapes as well as the stuff everybody had- tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peppers, peas, beans… The blueberries were a new experiment. Keeping those wasn’t “work,” it was “chores” at best. Work was what you did for other people, or other people did for you if you were rich enough.

    Human beings are *enormously* adaptable. There’s a hunger in us for learning, from our earliest days. I don’t think a time traveler from the early twentieth century would all that much trouble adapting. To the tools and machines of this age, that is.

    The *cultural* shock would be the kicker. Drop a smartphone, a car back in history? Folks would figure them out, enough to use them right enough, but not replicate them (for years yet, but my minds on they’d be trying, nonetheless). Things like tvs and refrigerators, without a power source would be wonders for their materials as much or more than what in the world were they *for.*

    After all, how many science fiction stories do we have of humanity reverse-engineering FTL technology or the like? Individual humans and cultures I grant will reject new things, as they are against “new” for whatever reason. But in general, my money’s on humanity figuring things out, one way or the other, right quick.

    Now *this* human in particular needs to get back to those walls in the second floor bedroom. Almost ready for trim, then base coat and paint! Only four more to go, then the halls…

    • Clark E Myers

      John Campbell did an editorial in which a target drone (Ryan Firebee IIRC) returns to its point of origin – Wright Patterson maybe so the base would be cutting edge on technology – only about 20 years early – followed by the suggestion that simple things like wave guides would lead to the reasonable conclusion that the technology from a few years later was from far in the future.

      • I can’t tickle Google into a link; anything with “drone” simply gives too many results to sort through – but some years back a UAV in (Afghanistan?) suddenly left its station and headed north and east until it ran out of fuel.

        As I remember it, the communications system failed, so its failure mode was to fly back “home” where the system’s origin point had been established, which was somewhere in Ireland.

        At the time I wondered why the origin was in Ireland. Presumably that was either where the contractor initialized the system or where the military depot was.

        The article didn’t say where in Ireland the drone was going, but there’s a lot of controlled airspace between Afghanistan and Ireland. I visualize a couple thousand miles of apoplectic Air Traffic Controllers ordering an unresponsive aircraft about…

        Lat/long 0,0 is off in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles off the coast of Africa, which is a more logical zero point. Hey, it would be the “Drone Triangle!”

        • ” I visualize a couple thousand miles of apoplectic Air Traffic Controllers ordering an unresponsive aircraft about…”

          Nope, I visualize about 15 to 30 minutes followed by a fighter scramble and an explosion.

    • > There’s a hunger in us for learning,
      > from our earliest days.

      I don’t know. Maybe some casual curiosity, but seldom the willingness to expend much effort toward understanding.

      As a friend once said back in the dawn ages of personal computers, “There are two kinds of people. The ones who will never wonder what’s in that box, and the ones who can’t stand not to know.”

      We were both solidly in the second category, so that might have been a biased sample set…

      • Heh. Got me there, I’ve met more than a few of the former set myself when it comes to things (a lot of things) I’m curious about.

        Perhaps there are qualities of intelligence that muddle the matter a bit, though. I’ve a near zero amount of curiosity for what the Kardashians are doing right this moment. Or what’s on t.v. today. About the inner workings of most other people’s social and personal lives, I remain blissfully ignorant.

        For some very high functioning (socially) folks, these things are of vital importance, though. Folks like us may not have that kind of wiring, but for those that do, it’s an art form. It’s complex, continually changing information streams that have to be analyzed and acted upon on the fly, without notes or manuals. And they don’t even think about it.

        From the outside, that sort of thing is pretty incomprehensible. But I think it’s a form of intelligence, too. We apes- sorry, homo sapiens– are social creatures too, but that sort of thing is on a whole different level!

        There’s probably other things too. But yeah, we will always have the lazy and incurious. Lazy and *curious,* mind, those are the ones that say “There’s got to be an easier way!” rather than “It builds character. Get used to it.” *chuckle*

  10. Moo-Haul! Activate Carp Launcher! Load and fire at will!

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I’d hate to be Will, what with people firing at me all the time and everything.

      • Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. At least, that’s what cousin Will used to tell me. Scary thing is, he was usually right!

        • Was that Trespassers Will? I’ve heard about him! He operated the scales at the truck checkpoint, right?

  11. MadRocketSci

    Ohio has two seasons: Deep Freeze and Sauna

    Oh come now! You’ve completely neglected to mention Gloom and Tornado season, and Biblical Plague season. 😛

    • Wait just a minute, there. There’s at least two weeks before and after winter when it’s actually comfortable.

      On the other hand, the motto for the region (at least the southern part) is that if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour, and it will change. You still might not like it, but it will be different.

      • Sara the Red

        Yeah, they say that about Wyoming too. (Though I think the “wait an hour” is more often “wait five minutes”)

        And then there are the rare calm days, when no one dares to say the “W” word (wind) too loudly, lest it hear and come back…

        • Ugh. I got a taste of the Wind today. Severe thunderstorms started about 2 1/2 hours ago, lasted about 45 minutes, and now the sun is out.

          But the thunderstorms came with up to 60mph winds. Now, 2/3 of my corn is practically lying on the ground.

          • We had a storm like that blast through a few weeks ago. Except that it was 15 minutes (pitch black) and tossed around a lot of trees.

        • I’ve been told (by a native) that the snow in WY doesn’t melt, it just wears out after being blown back and forth all winter.

    • The Other Sean

      I’m pretty sure Gloom and Tornado season is just another name for Sauna season.

    • North Dakota has Winter, winter, Roads Under Construction, and Winter.

  12. Many years ago Spider Robinson did a short story set in his Callahan’s Bar universe called I believe the Time Traveller. Published in Analog, it was very controversial as it was not SF. Damn fine story, but had folks canceling their subscriptions as John Campbell chose to step outside the genre.
    Premise was a church missionary had been imprisoned in some South American chithole and kept incommunicado for as I recall fifteen or so years. On his release and return to the States he found himself a man out of time. So naturally he turned to crime, tried to hold up the bar, and wound up hired as their relief bartender.
    I loved those stories.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I thought of that story as well. [Smile]

    • Friend of mine studied in China for two years in the early 90’s.
      One thing I remember, he came back and was talking about something like trying to figure out who called him on the phone but hung up before he got to it.
      I mentioned caller ID, and he looked at me like I suggested the FBI could be contracted to take messages for him.

      • You never hear about obscene phone calls anymore. Last one my house got was in early 80’s, right after we started paying extra to get the caller ID. I was supposed to be at sea, but stayed in. Dialed back, and got the squadron office that the boat was attached to. Asked to speak to the officer in charge, then demanded to. Explained what just occurred. Obscene phone calls to Navy wives whose husbands were on deployment dropped almost immediately to zero after that.

        Unforeseen positive side effect of caller ID. A few months after that, we got a heavy breathing call, and dialed back and asked to speak to the father; was a neighbors house. A few minutes later the son came out rubbing his sore bottom, and yelled at my kids “You have caller ID, don’t you!?” Soon thereafter, everyone had it.

    • I recall it being 10 years, but I could be wrong.

    • RealityObserver

      That was a good one…

      And to those that called it “out of genre” – if that is, so is “124C41″…

  13. I think I started that whole discussion yesterday. Based on something I read once about how a Roman farmer and one from out 1800 era would find much in common, while a much smaller leap to modern day would find the traveller totally dumbstruck. Point being that technology was expanding exponentially and we were on the steep part of the slope in these modern days.

    • For several decades I have bored companions with that particular observation (it isn’t the observation that bored, it was my constant repetition which invoked repeated cries of “For God’s sake, RES, sit down!”) and it seems to me the crux of it is the industrial revolution. It was the development of power sources other than muscle (with the occasional intermittent use of water or wind to turn our mills) that provided the leverage which enabled our movement onto the steep portion of the slope.

      Steam power changed the game entirely, establishing the utility of dependable transportable power.

      • transportable transport power that was reliable (of a sort)

      • It wasn’t steam itself as being able to harness it. There’s stuff about steam power, including sketches of recognizeable through primitive steam engines, going back almost a thousand years. Mining engineers lusted for steam power the way modern engineers lust for room-temperature superconductors.

        “Steam engine time” had to wait for a particular kind of unobtainium – cheap steel. Cheap, good quality steel. And in commercial quantities.

        Abraham Darby made it happen. And that steel didn’t just make steam engines, but also steel railroad tracks, steel bridges, steel-framed buildings, steel ships, armor plating, more and better cannon…

        Abraham Darby fired up his new furnace on January 10, 1709. And *that* is the start of the Industrial Revolution.

      • “occasional intermittent use of water or wind to turn our mills” – actually, the water-driven mills were in more than occasional use – as I recall, there were a number of late-medieval local barons who could afford to build the things, then made a tidy income charging for the milling of grains.

        • The medieval era saw an explosion in mills, in both numbers and work they did. Used in steel working, for instance.

        • Water mills tended to suffer the problem of not being particularly movable – they had to be where the water was. There were also complications attendant to spring floods, summer droughts and other such environmental circumstances.

          That acknowledged, they were generally reliable and the problems (except transportability) amenable to solution. One reason New England developed as an industrial base was the application of water-power to industrial manufacturing, for example by turning a master axle (I forget the proper noun) to which many secondary machines (lathes, sewing machines, e.g.) could loop a strap for parasitic power.

          And of course the water wheels also generally occurred where navigable streams facilitated shipment of raw materials and finished goods.

  14. A point (which you have made ere now, many a time, but over-looked in this post) of order: What you have described is less a matter of travelling in Time than in wealth.

    The culture in which you grew up was (comparatively) poor. P-O-O-R poor. The society into which you moved was wealthy, R-I-C-H. Your birth society knew about these things the wealthy societies had, even if they made very little sense.

    One aspect of the push for Socialism in the “First” World is the degree to which accumulated cultural wealth is taken for granted. We are all, in our individual ways, Trust Fund Babies. Some of us squander that wealth on sybaritic living, some of us (most, probably) live quietly of the dividends, some of us declare it unjust the whole world is not equally endowed, and some of us get down on our knees every morning noon and night and give prayers of thanks to the ancestors who bequeathed us such treasure.

    • Democrats in 1992 charged that George H. W. Bush “was born on third base and thought he hit a triple” (a line Ann Richards swiped ((funny how often Dems do that)) from football coach Barry Switzer) but they ignore the fact that simply by being born American we are all born on second base, standing in scoring position. They tend to take the achievements of those who placed them there for granted, as expressed in this observation from the editors of the NY Post this morning:

      note that the NYPD’s “Broken Windows” policing hasn’t just made New York far safer. It has also drastically cut how many New Yorkers get sent to prison — by 69 percent from 1992 to 2013.

      It does so by preventing crime before it happens — by creating a sense of public order that discourages potential criminals from becoming actual ones.

      Note how the Leftards running NY are presently trying to undo that sense of public order by treating it as a naturally occurring condition rather than as the artifact of human achievement it actually is.

      Ponder the broader arena of things the Proglodytes simply assume* occur without anybody needing to work, and work hard, to achieve.

      *Y’all know what the adage is about what happens when you assume … and now you understand why the symbol of the Democrat Party is what it is.

  15. Moo-haul.


    • For my parents and grandparents in Arkansas in 1935-37 or so, it would have been “mule-haul”; one of the earliest pictures we have of my mother shows her sitting in the back of a mule-drawn buckboard wagon on a trip into town.

    • My maternal grandmother was born in 1910, in the back of a covered wagon. The family was moving and had just gotten to east-central Texas when the first born (of 6) arrived on the scene.

    • I had a relative who was born in the 1900’s in California, in a still-pioneer area. She told us a story of how her father went to pick up a strange device being delivered by rail for a friend–an automobile. Her father had no idea how to start it or drive it, so he hitched a team of horses to the bumper, sat on the hood, and delivered it to the friend that way. 😀

      I think one of the biggest disconnects for a time traveler would be relative literacy rates. Even in 1850’s England it was not that uncommon for working class people to be so illiterate they could not sign their names. Here and now, in our *highly* litigious society, it is considered sufficient warning of danger….to have a written sign posted. And when people decode the runes on viking swords and amulets and such, it usually is something banal like “Olaf made this” or “Heal me Frig”. Just the fact it was written was power.

      • There’s a reason magic was referred to as Gramarye.

        She is not any common Earth,
        Water or wood or air,
        But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
        Where you and I will fare!

      • Probably good that he didn’t try.

        Getting one started was quite a trick. Insert the crank handle and turn the engine until one cylinder was just past top dead center. Use the hand pump to pressuize the gas tank. Hit the priming plunger to push some gas into the carburetor, not too much, not too little. Turn the ignition switch to “on.” If you were really lucky, the engine might start! Otherwise, walk back to the front of the car and pull up sharply on the crank handle. Repeat as necessary. If the engine kicked back instead of starting you might be injured, as in “compound fractures” in an era without anesthesia or antibiotics.

        Once running – don’t forget to pump up the fuel tank every now and then – you got to work the clutch and shifter. Try not to stall the engine; if you flood it you’ll have to open the taps on the top of the cylinder head and vent the excess fuel vapor, and those taps are HOT after the engine has been running a while.

        So, it shouldn’t take you long to figure out a manual transmission, you’re off! You’ll have to adjust the fuel/air mixture and spark avance by hand. If you have a fancy car, these are on sliding rings, like old-time horn rings, concentric with the steering wheel. Adjust the mixture until the engine is running smoothly, then adjust the spark for maximum power. You’ll have to re-adjust every time you run into a hill or slow down.

        Ah, it’s getting dark. Not to worry, you have modern carbide headlights! You put water in the reservoirs before you left, right? Open the valves enough to drip water onto the calcium carbide, which generates acetylene gas. Strike and match and get it lit immediately, lest you make a fireball that costs you your facial hair. Make sure the mantle is seated and the glass cover is secure, then resume your journey. Don’t forget to close the valves completely when turning them off; if you park in the barn and someone strikes a match later, the results would be… unfortunate.

        Oh, and the details varied a *lot* between marques; even an experienced driver might need some time before figuring out how to get one going…

        I think I’d *insist* on having it delivered by horse team…

        • Automobile electrical systems did make things easier. Mostly.

          Our (my father’s) second car was a ’53 Hillman, and it still permitted a hand-crank start. It did, after all, use Joseph Lucas electrics.

          Oh, and when you’re turning the crank, do *not* hold it with your thumb opposite your fingers. If it kicked back you would, at best, end up with a dislocated thumb, if not a broken one.

          The 1912 Cadillac was a definite usability advance for autos.

  16. ” -one per drink, because more than that might kill you.”
    A lot of your readers might not realize the source of this. I had a Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother convinced any of us might fall instantly dead if we drank a glass of chilled water from the refrigerator. It was a common old wives tale. I often thought some poor fellow probably keeled over dead by chance in the past – right after having a cold drink – and the human mind always looks for patterns, causes, and blame.

    • Yes. It was actually taught in my school in ninth grade. That’s how king Tut died, after all.

    • Curt Thomson

      To “realize the source” one would necessarily have to have heard of it before, which I hadn’t. Not that I believe for a moment our hostess would have made it up. Having grown up in Minnesota might explain my ignorance. No Dutch in my family tree though.

      Thank you Mackey!

    • Hasn’t changed in Germany. Very cold drinks are suspect, and Italians get anxious about air conditioning set below about 74 F because the cold will make you sick. Asking for ice in a drink, or iced tea? Don’t bother. It’s not healthy to chill your inner organs. But Germans also consume the most ice cream per-capita in Europe, so go figure. “Well, that’s different: it’s ice cream!” *shrug*

      • These are the people we should be taking cues for our healthcare system from?

        • Probably not, but they gave me the perfect lead in to how the black Greens managed to wall Europe off from the rest of the world (kinda) and revert to a feudal society “for the good of the Earth”. It starts with environmentalists, socialized medicine, and the push for “natural” remedies (thermal baths, herbs) . . . Using plastics is bad, so trim down. Herbal remedies are better, so only use modern medicine and technology as absolute last ditch (when it will be less likely to work, showing that expensive [to the state] treatments are not really good), cars and personal transport is not really necessary because we have trains and busses, technology is overrated and a wasteful luxury most of the time, the black-outs are proof of that so you are better off living small . . . And so it goes.

      • Reminds me of one of my trips back from Tajikistan. My wife and I transited Frankfurt and were goggling at the modern conveniences (shopping in the U.S. still overwhelms me). The flight we took from Frankfurt to the U.S. was full of high schoolers returning from a class trip. “We couldn’t even get ice in our water in Germany! Isn’t that weird?” was a comment we heard repeatedly. We were just glad we could drink the water they handed out on the plane…

        • I have visited Germany once and remember a conversation my friend was having with someone from there about how weird they respectively found Germany’s affection for carbonated water/America’s preference for uncarbonated. It was an oddly entertaining case of a cultural difference completely unexpected on both sides, because who thinks to warn people that the default assumption about fizz is different?

          But, yes, that both are clean and safe to drink is worth appreciating.

          • that’s the biggest source of world-building flaws, people who don’t realize what could be different.

        • Corporate sent me on an all-expense-paid trip to Kyrgyzstan to work at the US base over there, The local apartment tap water was definitely an issue; I was consistently reminded not to drink it unless I boiled it, but because I subsist on teas as my beverage of choice, this wasn’t an issue. The US base, on the other hand, was plentifully stocked with bottled water, which we were consistently reminded to drink to stay hydrated. The bottles were locally sourced, at least judging by the Cyrillic label, but the small print on the bottom said the bottler was a Coke subsidiary…

          The country was fascinating as an example of uneven modernization and globalization. I was in a former Soviet territory, largely populated by Turks, which bordered China (and not Russia). Soviet war memorials… which definitely look Soviet… expected. The locals having no problem with alcohol despite being a supposed Moslem-majority nature… expected. The constant cell phone ads everywhere? Not expected. Villages that looked like they could serve as the backdrop for WW2 (or the Russian Revolution) except for the forest of satellite dishes? Definitely not expected. Same with the modern pop music on the radio, the web cafes, and the recent Western movies in the theaters (and the sidewalk vendors had bootlegs for stuff still in the theaters at home).

          • That’s Central Asia in a nutshell. There are varying degrees of weirdness (on a spectrum Turkmenistan is at one end and Kazakhstan’s on the other), but it’s all a land of contradictions. Great place to visit (and live in…)

      • It’s probably a holdover from Greek humors theory. See, it was dangerous to drink something cold and damp unless you were already hot and dry to a dangerous extent. Much safer to drink something lukewarm and damp, and not risk putting a dangerous chill on your stomach. The Japanese, Chinese, Indians, etc. also had a lot of similar medical theories (apparently mostly from those travelin’ Greeks and from “5 elements” theory, which is closely related to humors theory), and tend to drink hot drinks to make the heat outside feel cooler by comparison.

        Ice cream is cold, damp, and sweet. Sugar is fiery and hot, so it counteracts the cold and damp. An Arabic-culture-based proponent of Greek medicine and humors (like Dr. Oz in his non-Western medicine mode) tends to see sugar and alcohol’s fiery heat as possibly dangerous, but European humors theorists felt that sugar and alcohol were largely health foods when taken in moderation.

        So it all makes sense! Not in a science way, these days, but in a hidden cultural assumptions way!

        • Btw, St. Hildegarde of Bingen’s medical book goes into detail about how both milk and eggs were often dangerously cold and damp. The real point was that cows in medieval Germany were not always healthy contented cows, and the same was true for eggs. So it was true that cooking, and thus applying heat to, milk and eggs made them safer; it was just the reason why it was safer that was wrong.

        • Sugar was wonderful in medieval Europe. Prescribed a lot for the sick.

          One could see how something so easy to digest would be ideal for those already not vigorous.

        • Drinking something lukewarm and damp when you are dangerously hot and dry, is better for you than something cold and damp. The main reason it is better though, is that if you are dangerously hot and dry, you are likely dehydrated. And you will drink greater quantities of something lukewarm, than you will of something ice cold.

      • When I worked in Germany in 1994, I was an Alabama boy who’d never been abroad, so naturally, I asked for iced tea. (For a number of reasons, I didn’t drink alcoholic beverages). Of course, no one had it. Usually, they would bring me hot tea and a glass of ice. I gave up asking when one place brought me “iced tea” made by stirring instant iced tea into the local sparking (and somewhat bitter tasting) mineral water. Sparkling iced tea? No.

      • I have heard, and believe it is true, that in the United States you get more ice then soda in your cup at fast food places because the energy to produce ice is cheaper then the syrup to make the soda. And in all of Europe, you gat more soda then ice because the energy to produce the ice is MUCH more expensive then the syrup to make the soda.

        And that could be the reason why they’re suspicious of cold drinks to this day.

        Old tales die hard. Graduated in HS in 1973, and I remember the track coach insisting we not drink too much water, for we wouldn’t be able to run fast… and it was known by then that water discipline didn’t work. Nowadays, the kids on the track team are told- Hydrate! Hydrate! Drink more!

        • No, the soda’s cheaper even here. I tend to ask for “no ice,” myself.

          • Where’s here? I also ask for no ice, because the water goes through a cooler on the way to the spout, and is cold enough for me.

          • Could depend on latitude. Hot climate would make it more expensive to freeze the water.

            Either way, back when I was 10 or 12, we were driving South (Living in Northern KY, “South” could have been some other part of KY, TN, GA, or FL. I don’t remember which it was), and stopped at a Cafeteria-style restaurant. I asked them for a soft drink with no ice, and they very carefully explained that they would only fill the cup with the amount that someone getting ice in their drink would get (To which I replied that I didn’t care – ice hurt my teeth).

            Today, in a world of unlimited drink refills, the memory seems sort of surreal.

        • A lot of fast food places *try* not to give you mostly ice and the employees are theoretically trained not to give you mostly ice. The drink-filling-machines that McDonalds is using give you about 1/3rd of a cup of ice by volume.

          Look at some fast food cups… notice how many of them have a line in the design or a ridge, or something, about halfway up? that’s where they are trained to fill ice to. But then, of course, the cup designs get changed….

          • Really? I always thought that ridge was so the bottoms were necked down enough to fit in a cupholder. Unless I fill it personally, I have NEVER seen them only fill the ice to the line. Most stop an inch or two short of the top.

            • it is. the ridge i am talking about is a little thin ridge on the inside, was usually on paper cups. But yeah, they aren’t supposed to ‘fill cup with ice’ and in the age of free refills it doesn’t save them anything anyway

      • A friend was stationed in Germany during the 1980s. He had no problem with the cultural shift between rural Virginia and urban Berlin other than the Berliners didn’t seem to believe in iced drinks of any kind. For someone whose consumption of iced tea was measures in pitchers-per-day this was a big thing…

    • Kitteh-Dragon

      Something very cold, especially on a very hot day (think someone doing heavy farm or construction work, by hand, in high summer heat) can affect your heart just as though someone put the charged paddles on your chest. We don’t run that risk because we rarely get that hot, and rarely do the heavy exercise.

      It wasn’t an old wives’ tale, so much as folk knowledge that is no longer needed in our mechanized society.

      It’s akin to “put butter on a burn”. It’s not because butter is some sort of sovereign cure-all, it’s because butter was usually kept in the coldest place possible. Put *cold* on a burn (or soak it in the cold water spring where you keep the butter) and you have the same thing.

    • There likely is something to this urban legend. I have a nasty scar on my chin and a chipped tooth which I always joke I got from drinking too much… water. One warm morning about 5 years ago, I got up and took a long drink of cold tap water. Next thing I knew, I felt incredibly dizzy and had enough foresight to put the glass down before I passed out into a granite countertop.

      After a thorough check-out from the ER doctor, including a check of heart functionality (which fortunately turned up nothing amiss), the official medical conclusion was that the temperature differential from the cold water plus the cut-off of oxygen to the lungs caused enough of a shock to make me pass out.

    • Sara the Red

      I got regularly chastised when living in Romania for drinking refrigerated water, or requesting ice. And God help you if you opened a window and then opened the front door!

      We had an extended (friendly) argument with a lady we were helping to move. All that was available was a two-seater truck, and the back end which we (there were I think six of us young strapping Americans) had loaded up with furniture. The truck had to be taken to the new apartment and unloaded, then brought back for the next load. In the interests of time, most of us simply hopped into the back of the truck with the furniture, so we could help unload on the other end instead of waiting around doing nothing…and the poor woman nearly had a heart attack. We eventually persuaded her that, really, it was okay, but she was still pretty convinced we were all going to catch pneumonia and die. (It was, mind you, the middle of summer, and close to 100 degrees.)

  17. I remember seeing online something to the effect of this:

    Q: If you were a time traveler from 1955, what would be the most difficult thing to understand about 2015?
    A: That people carry in their pocket a device capable of accessing nearly the entire sum of human knowledge. They use these devices to send pictures of cats for the world to see and to argue with strangers.

    • Birthday girl


    • I avoid facebook just so I can avoid arguing with family. (well, that and Zuck’s questionable ethics about those he goat ropes into using the place)

      • What keeps me off ZuckerLand is the spying: “Whenever you are logged in to FB you have granted us the right to harvest all the web sites you visit on all other web pages on your computer, tablet, or phone, so we can sell taht information to others. Yes, we in fact do that. No, you can’t opt out. What do you mean that’s not fair – see, it plainly says that in return for all teh cat pictures and argument opportunities you are allowing us to do that right here in the 10,000 word terms of service clickthrough you agreed to. Besides, what do you have to hide?”

  18. I think you can ask some 90-100 year olds, those that are still compos mentis can tell you exactly what it is like. My Dad for example. He’s managed to adapt to mod cons – even computers. But he was born in an era where even the rich were poorer than the poor today in many respects.

    If you read Agatha Christie novels you get to see what it was sort of like. And to him that isn’t history, but the way people mostly lived. Milk kept in a cooler with a wet cloth over it, butter ditto, larders/pantries on the north side of the house, outdoor toilets etc. Heck I knew a family when I grew up who had an outdoor toilet – I remember their pride in getting proper mains drains and the planning permission to build a new throneroom inside.

    Mind you my Dad’s been deciphering his Great(maybe Great great?) grandfather’s diaries of travel in the first half of the 19th century. Memorable points included stopping at Nice and not continuing into Italy as planned because of a disease epidemic in Genoa. This was a journey by carriage that started off a month or more earlier from a channel port. Also his first train ride – he was strongly in favor of trains once he’d ridden in one – and another train ride in Europe somewhere where the mixed nationalities conversed in Latin because the parties had no other language in common.

    • My father’s family was actually fairly well-to-do back during the depression, largely because they had a farm and were able to raise not only a garden that would feed them pretty much all year, but also enough cows to provide all the skim milk they could drink (they centrifuged the milk and sold the cream), plus butter. Plus pigs and chickens to provide the majority of their meat, and eggs from the chickens.

      Naturally, however, they had an outhouse, and he told me about how they would have a big breakfast, and the leftover meat and biscuits would be left on the table under a cloth, and if someone was hungry during the day, they might grab a biscuit and drag it through the grease on the meat platter instead of using butter. My wife nearly gagged when she heard this – I thought it sounded fine.

      • Sounds good to me, so long as you keep the flies off of it.

      • Fat/ grease is eeviil now, despite still being primary meat puppet fuel.

        • reemember asking in Biology ” if red meat and fat is the worst, how come Eskimos (and not the team the next town over) don’t all die in their 20’s?”

          • Back when people depended on wild food, fat was the most valuable resource. Demand far outstripped supply. That’s why bears were revered and eaten.
            The Sioux word for whites is Wasichu, fat stealer.

            • We used to cook a bit of lard to fry up our meat, as Dad was feeding us venison so often, Rabbit Poisoning is not something Bugs Bunny came up with. We used to mix in a bit of pork to bring the fat content up too.

              • Yep. There’s a good reason everybody likes bacon.

              • My parents grew up in the rural South during the Depression. They viewed fat as a basic food group.

                My mother kept used bacon grease in a can on the back of the stove. She put it in almost everything she cooked. Lots of it. As in, you’d sit down at the kitchen table and there’d be a collection of bowls, each with a gray-white crust. You’d have to crack through it to find out what was underneath – peas, carrots, spaghetti sauce, goulash, whatever.

                The single greatest joy of moving out was that I never had to eat my mother’s cooking ever again.

              • When my father started elementary school in early ’30s rural Texas, his usual lunch was a white-bread sandwich with lard and brown sugar filling.

                He eventually tired of it, not that there was a lot of choice to be had for a few more years.

                • I often had mustard sandwiches
                  Bread with mustard, yep.

                  • Mom preferred ketchup sandwiches, she told me.

                    • Metalica I think lived on Meat in Hand sandwiches, They couldn’t afford both baloney and bread, so just bought the baloney.
                      Now you know why they are so full of baloney. The story came from the guys in Anthrax.

                  • Clark E Myers

                    Common for mustard to be the primary and often only condiment as not needing to be refrigerated after opening. Hence also mayonnaise and ketchup (as well as condensed milk) in tubes like toothpaste. Ketchup of course started as preserved tomatoes. Mustard is or was still the choice for boarding school and college kids making do without refrigerators.

                  • Ramen packets were a great advance in po-folk cuisine, as long as you didn’t mind the hissing in your ears if you ate more than one at a time…

                • It wasn’t until I was reading about rationing in WWII that I eventually realized that people thought of butter as a food instead of a condiment. When they were talking about “bread and butter” they meant “eating a chunk of butter”; the bread was just to hold it with.

                  Where I’m from, butter is just a condiment, and one I would prefer to avoid.

                  “No, I ordered ‘French bread,’ not ‘grease bread’…”

                • I ate white sugar, cinnamon, and butter or more often margarine sandwiches as a kid.

            • When my parents did winter mountaineering, my mother would cook. The campers would fight over the drippings from the bacon pan.

      • Nothing wrong with using meat juice on your bread. Tasty and full of nutrients. I’m guessing your wife’s not from a German family… although actually a lot of different ethnicities do that.

        I think I committed a faux pas, or at least a cultural weirdness, at an East Coast wedding once (non-relatives). We had a tasty meal that included meat with a fairly large amount of sauce, and a roll. So of course I saved the roll to use to wipe up the extra sauce when I was done, and then ate the roll. This guy seated next to me (whom I knew slightly as a friend of a friend) stared in near-anthropological fascination, and then declared that he’d never seen anyone do that before. It didn’t embarrass me, but it made me wonder how his family got the sauce off their plates.

        Meanwhile, if you go to eat hardcore barbecue, you are often issued white bread to use as a finger-degreasing napkin as well as a plate wipe, and then you just eat it to dispose of it.

        (It has to be the really spongy stuff like Wonder Bread, or it doesn’t work as well to pick up the grease. It’s really magic! Wonder Bread is also a good eraser of certain kinds of dirt on paper or wallpaper.)

        Of course, if you’re in a really hardcore SCA chapter, they give you bread for your trencher, serve the food on the trencher, and then you eat the trencher with the leftover sauce already included!

        • I was told that that was considered bad manners if done outside the family dinner table. I was also told that it was considered that because Jesus used bread dipped in gravy (the sop) to mark Judas as the one who would betray Him.

        • Indian/Pakistani restaurants serve various breads for the express purpose of use as an eating utensil, similarly with Middle Eastern pita bread and Mexican tortillas.

          Panera and other places that advertise seerving their soup, chili or salad in “a bread bowl” are simply the modern version of that trenchant practice.

        • It didn’t embarrass me, but it made me wonder how his family got the sauce off their plates.

          With the meat, or potato– at least in my family.

          The breads aren’t usually ones that go well, and the sauce came on the meat, and as for the potato, well, that doesn’t need explaining, right? *grin*

          It helps that meat-with-sauce isn’t much of a thing– either it’s stew and you’re not using a plate, or the sauce is gravy which also was being put on the potato; the main dripping from the meat is just juice.

          • Clark E Myers

            I’ve never seen it but I was assured by people who were old when I was young that the tales of nail a bird to the porch by its tail feathers and when they separate and the bird falls it’s rotten enough to handled by everybody’s equally rotten teeth were true. Maybe a reason the South continued to value spices and sauces so much was a taste for dealing with the well aged meat.

            • Sara the Red

              My father and I both dream fondly of getting our hands on a particular kind of cooler of a certain size that would allow us to age the elk/deer for as long as we like without worrying about a sudden heat wave…

        • I’ve had a few people imply that my table manners don’t meet their local customs. This usually involves use of fingers vs. cutlery.

          Here in the South fingers are appropriate for any food that doesn’t run grease or sauce down your arm while you lift it to your mouth. (with the notable exception of barbecue, where sauce drippage is normal)

          Foreigners (non-Southerners…) will sometimes go to ridiculous lengths to avoid touching their food. I’ve watched people chase fried chicken across a plate with a knife and fork, carve slices of pizza into bite-size chunks, carefully fold up little paper diapers to protect their hamburgers or tacos, eat french fries and onion rings with a fork… then they freak out when I roll up a fajita and eat it. Whaaat?

          And they’re not even consistent. After trying to eat a chicken leg with a fork, they don’t have any problem picking up a roll or biscuit with their fingers. Yet they devoutly believe they’re the One True Way of manners… [shrug]

          • I was astonished the first time I watched someone attempt to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork. They wouldn’t even pick the bones up to get all the tasty bits that cling in the crevasses. Seemed very wasteful to me.
            As for BBQ ribs, the very definition of messy finger food. Good Lord Almighty! How can one not pick up a rib and gnaw away?
            But then when I consider the matter, both of those are poor people food. Chickens are cheap and easy to raise, and ribs are what’s left over after they take the hams and roasts. Bacon is of course its own food group entirely.

          • *raises hand* I confess to eating pizza with knife and fork. Because the dentist has my teeth rigged so I can’t bite well, or tear/gnaw things to death. Otherwise G-d gave us fingers because He also gave us pizza, and fried chicken, and watermelon, and spring rolls, and BBQ ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches, and bretzels, and sweet-potatoe fries, and . . .

            • Then of course there is Chicago deep dish which is pizza in name only. More of a quiche that the typical cheese and sauce on a cracker form of regular New York style pizza.
              It’s possible to eat by hand, but much easier with knife and fork.

            • Eric Raymond wrote about a trip to Korea where he saw a waitress use scissors to cut a piece of meat.

              I thought that was a fine idea, and we keep scissors in the kitchen now. My wife has a mouthful of expensive dental work and has problems tearing food; the scissors are *much* faster and more convenient than using a knife.

              • Using the meat shears means that we’ve been able to keep the same set of six kids’ plates for almost four years, now, rather than throwing them away every year or two when the knife marks are too deep.

                • After I finish the house my next “new” project will be to make patterns and cast some decent cutlery. Besides properly-configured spoons and useful forks, the implements will include table scissors and a food pusher.

                  I’ll be staying with split bamboo chopsticks, though. I’ve had fancy lacquered ones, and I made a few sets out of stainless steel… but the problem with a slick stick is holding on to whatever you pick up. It’s doable, but so much easier with the rougher surface of split bamboo that the fancy sticks have migrated off into the “where did I put those?” zone.

                  • Pardon my ignorance, what are you gonna cast your cutlery out of?

                  • >>>even store-bought forks seem to give right where the head attaches to the handle.

                    Ding! We have a winner!

                    That’s probably the #1 fail point for common cutlery designs. I have some otherwise-good tablespoons that have such thin necks they just fold over if you try to dig stiff ice cream out of the carton.

          • I can freak people out with my patent peanut butter and bacon tortilla rolls.

      • Bacon or sausage grease is more flavorful than butter. And growing up I recall an older guy who lived down the road a few miles (late 80’s) My dad and I stopped by there one afternoon and he was having pancakes and sausage for dinner. Rather than using syrup on his pancakes he would butter them, then pick up the sausage platter and pour sausage grease all over them. When we left I remember my dad commenting on how he was healthy as a horse and still did all the work around his farm, himself; and how possibly the doctors didn’t know quite as much about the evils of cholesterol as they thought they did.

        Mind you, this was a guy who did manual farm labor his whole life and actually burned off the calories that he consumed. Many of the “unhealthy” foods you hear about today are only unhealthy to someone who sits behind a desk all day. Something many people tend to forget is that “calories” are not evil, they are simply a measurement of potential energy. If you are using something that requires energy, you need those calories, if not your body simply stores them against a later need. But they are kind of like ethanol gasoline, if you keep storing them without using them up, they go bad and clog up your carburetor.

        • To make that clear, I was saying the older guy was in his late 80’s, although the incident mentioned probably occurred in the very late 80’s also, possibly early 90’s.

          • and I have seen Insty linking to “Well, maybe cholesterol isn’t really as bad as we thought” research that shows avoiding it is not much of a help.

    • Feather Blade

      I knew a family when I grew up who had an outdoor toilet

      My mother says that she doesn’t like camping, because she had enough of outdoor plumbing when she was growing up, thankyouverymuch.

      Her parents didn’t get indoor plumbing until they built the new ranch house when she left for college. In the late 1970’s. ^_^

      • Clark E Myers

        My grandmother, who went west in a covered wagon, had an outhouse until the day she died. Running water in the kitchen was a hand pump.

        Adapting to outhouse only in a crowded house during a blue norther separates folks who grew up using honey buckets and chamber pots comfortably from people who are sometimes called summer people

        • My dad’s chore at 10 was to drive the old Pontiac down the road to the folks who had a well, and fill the 55 gallon drums with the day’s water, until Grandpa could get the well in.
          Grandpa was also a water witch … he used rods and told my dad that putting the well there had good water, but the clay would plug the point, and it did, The point would have top be pulled, cleaned in acid and resunk, twice Later, we dug, by hand, a basement for the house, and after Dad sold it to his best friend, and the point plugged again, they put a well in there, right where Pa had told him there was gravel and the point hit … gravel.70, maybe 80 feet between the two wells.

  19. fredericmora

    > “Dad, I want a radio.” “Good, you can have one.”
    > And then he went back to reading Three Men In A Boat.
    > I’m not actually joking.

    Good grief. Did he get the idea out of “Have spacesuit, will travel?” Or are Heinlein’s education methods actually rooted in old Europe?

    (For the 2 of you who haven’t read “Have spacesuit, will travel”, the young hero boy, Kip, tells his dad “I want to go to the moon!” to which the father replies “All right” and goes back to reading, letting Kip pondering the “how”.)

    • Evidently our hostess connected with Heinlein’s work for even more reasons than I had realized. *grin*

      • I thought that was the way one was supposed to raise kids.
        “Mom, I want . . . .”
        “Sounds reasonable. I’m not buying you that, so what’s your plan?”

        Maybe that’s why my kids are considered weird?

        • Sara the Red

          I read about a family with a dozen or so children not too long ago. (Probably they were Mormon.) They were financially very well off, but their approach to computers and vehicles for the children were as follows: You want a computer? Do the research, make a list of parts. We’ll help you get the parts–though it was implied the kids had to pay for as much as they could–and then you have to build the computer. It was the same deal for a car: Mom & Dad would buy a car from the junkyard for fifty bucks or so and hand the kid the mechanic’s manual. Kid then had to buy all the parts and fix the car. If they got it running, they had a vehicle, hooray. If not, well, keep working at it, and if nothing else you’re learning how cars work.

          This went for boys and girls both. Although I have no problem building a computer from scratch, I view the building/self-repair of an automobile as an alien planet…but I still think it was a pretty good idea. A little help to get them started, but otherwise no handouts, and they had to build it themselves…

          • You say they were very well off financially. A family with that many kids, there are a number of reasons they would be in that condition. You just described a very important one. Spend your money carefully and well.

  20. Sarah, this sounds like the way my parents and grandparents lived until the 50s, and I saw some of it as a 4-10 year old.

  21. Generally when large livestock cease to be kept, it’s because either they’ve been replaced by tractors and delivered milk, or there’s no longer a sufficiency of strapping lads to harvest the considerable fodder it takes to maintain such beasts through the winter.

  22. RealityObserver

    Sigh. Just took another long foray through Gutenberg….

    I hadn’t read “Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)” since I pulled it from the town library 40+ years ago. (Yes, right after reading my VERY FIRST science fiction book…)

    Time to do so again; I have completely forgotten how they that got that can open (or if they even did!)

    I beat you on the “old tube stuff,” though. I had my own tube 15″ TELEVISION, from when the grandparents replaced theirs with a color set. Miracle I got it working – not the electronics issues, but the darn thing weighed more than I did at the time…

    • I remember going to the local hardware with Dad and testing tubes to get out TV working again. Later we kids got a B/W TV dad made taking a Elctronics corospondense course. Dad is a retired ,self taught electrician … well he was a machinist for 15 years, (electric motors, UAW Commitee member) 3 years as a foreman (and the UAW claimed he was the antichrist) then he quit and became an electrician/lineman and again got fed up and quit after 18 years.
      His UAW pension for 15 years is 1/4 th what he gets for 3 years as a foreman. Boy, those union dues sure did wonders, no?

      I’ve a buddy in N.O. who has a refurbed Fisher tube amp, using Russian tubes. I think they do sound better than a transistor set.

      • The “sounding better” of tubes at high volumes relates to different harmonic distortion characteristics. A tube’s response being much slower than a transistor’s, if you crank the volume on, say, a simple sine wave, the transistor will clip it to almost a square wave with oodles of odd harmonics, while the tube will produce something sawtooth-like that sounds much more pleasing to the human ear. (If you want a violin-like sound on an analog synth you start with a sawtooth wave.)
        There’s a reason many electric guitarists swear by tube (pre)amps or digital simulations of same. Or why some metal bands combine the mellower sounds of tube distortion for lead with the grittier transistor sound for rhythm.

  23. Kitteh-Dragon

    My dad was born in a one bedroom ‘house’ that he remembers putting the pipe to the kitchen so his mom would have running water, when he was about 10 (he says his brother-in-law helped).

    It was later, still, that they got electricity to it. And yes, an outhouse. They moved it every couple of years. And spread what was under it on the garden.

    I grew up next door to that house, which by then my bachelor uncle was living in. My parents bought me a 45rpm record (Turkey in the Straw on one side, Icka Backa Soda Craker on the other) for Christmas one year. We had to make arrangements with the uncle next door for me to come over in the evenings, he’d crank up the old Victrola with the huge ‘bell’ speaker thingy, and I was allowed to listen to two songs. Both side of the record, or the same side twice. This was a big thing, because he had to stay up late (for him, he was a bricklayer) so I could come over.

    And I am not all that old! Really!

    • Sara the Red

      My Dad remembers them not having running water for several years of his early childhood, and he’s only 56. His grandparents were homesteaders in the early part of the 20th century, and didn’t have electricity/running water/telephone until…the 80s, maybe? If then? My great grandmother used to write to my Dad’s mom every day, and send the letter “down the hill” with her son when he headed for the fields, because she didn’t have a phone and that was how they stayed in touch.

  24. Our parents saw the beginning of flight to the moon landings. Some people of that generation, till their dying day, swore it was all Hollywood. Spaceships were relegated (by them) to books and not reality. They ‘knew’ from WWII and the V-2/Buzz bombs that ‘rockets’ were only weapons of war.

    • I know people who still believe the moon landing was shot in a warehouse in (insert city of choice). Of course, seeing how accurate the news media is today, believing that is almost understandable. Except the media of the past would have had to be unbelievably more competent than the current crop (I know, not difficult) in order to pull off such a deception.

      • Oh heck, everybody intelligent bleedin’ knows it was filmed in a warehouse … in Roswell, NM. Of course it was — where else would they have gotten the tech to produce such footage?

        • Clark E Myers

          Any of the filmed on a back lot believing folks account for the presence of laser targets on the moon?

          Mythbusters must be part of the conspiracy – and of course that says a great deal about Mythbusters as an institution.

          • It’s simple, the same people telling us about the laser targets, are the same ones that showed us the “moon landing” video.

            Of course those who don’t believe we ever went to the moon aren’t going to have the equipment to check for such objects on the moon, themselves.

  25. “Most Europeans who are happy with socialized medicine are happy because at the time it was introduced it was a huge step up over what was available at the beginning of the century — when it was introduced there.”

    It coincided with the first mass–produced antibiotics in the UK.

  26. Randy Wilde

    (I could never get a determination on whether it was sinful to read on Sunday, so I just hid out and read anyway.)

    Wait… So by posting this on a Sunday, you might be enticing us to sin?

    Truly nefarious. I’m beginning to understand the Evil part of your title.

    • This group? No enticement is needed.

    • She’s a closet Lutheran. According to tradition Luther said, “If you would sin, sin boldly . . . but repent even more boldly.”

      • Which actually feeds into a Medieval idea about Heaven rejoicing more over a major sinner who repented, and so if a person is going to sin, do the worst thing possible so you can be forgiven as much as possible . . . some people had way too much time on their hands to come up with justifications for being naughty

        • Oh, it’s earlier than medieval; try within 50 AD. “The more you sin, the more grace you receive to be forgiven, and grace is Good.”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            And Saint Paul rejected that reasoning. [Smile]

            • Sara the Red

              I always got the feeling that St Paul spent a great deal of time facepalming and going “No, no, NO, you guys, that’s not what it means, knock that off RIGHT NOW.”

              Presumably at some point he threw up his hands and went and preached to someone else…possibly in a never-ending search for people who weren’t stupid as soon as they got into a large enough group… (And died a disappointed man.)

              • I don’t think it was quite that bad, but the whole gnostic movement going “ooh, Christian, that’s SHINY” and running off to write about Super Sayan Jesus probably “made up” for that. (I wish I was joking, that stuff is funky.)

                • Sara the Red

                  The people things come up with where religion is concerned…

                  Oh, man, some of the stuff people STILL believe about Mormons is very nearly as good as a lot of the crock they believe about Catholics. (The Catholics still have the better stuff, though, us Mormons haven’t been around *nearly* as long, and haven’t had time to accumulate some of the really awesome conspiracy theories. Though I do like the secret tunnels under the temples stuffed with treasure and…armies, apparently?)

                • Sara the Red

                  Also: “Bible fanfiction with Jesus flying and shooting fireballs”…you made me inhale my drink, dammit… 😉

                • Patrick Chester

                  Super Sayan… Jesus. O_o

                  (…and now all those late nights I spent with Toonami’s endless replay of Dragonball Z come back to haunt me.)

  27. Clark E Myers

    Time travelers all, all right – but from different pasts in so many ways.

    The McCormick reaper mitigated the hardest job of harvest which was of course feeding the harvest crew. My mother-in-law grew up in a blended – yours, mine and ours – farming family that with hired hands and hangers on fed more than thirty head at the breakfast table every day. More in season. All she ever cooked herself growing up was the hot breads.

    I can remember as a child in Kansas times when the old women as I saw them, no doubt half my present age and younger, were busy in the old homestead’s kitchen (with what I thought of as the normal stove), north kitchen and summer kitchen. Getting the most out of wood and coal burning stoves and especially their ovens was a dying art.

    For more recent times and places I lived places where the cable was radio – a service of the post, telephone and telegraph agency. Even in the United States for folks I knew the home entertainment center was often a big Grundig brought back from an expense paid trip to Germany. TV looked like a console radio but with a tiny round view CRT abut the same area as the top view of a normal radio tube.

    And one year in South Eastern Ohio not too far from the Ohio river we could have great fun sliding down steeper snow covered hills on the underlying leaves with no need for a sled.

  28. “Moo-haul”
    I like it. It has been suggested that if Orvan was not with ACME, he might be working for… FedOx.

  29. This article was fascinating to read as I just finished reading “Medieval Underpants and other blunders. A Writer’s (& Editor’s) Guide to keeping Historical Fiction of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths.” by Susanna Allyn.

    It very much put me in mind of the small things different between times and places then I go turn on my computer and read this fyne article of Sarah’s.

    • Not about to write any historical fiction, but I just ordered that for the kindle. Amazing what info you find in the comments hanging around here.

      • I recommend it. Another one is “How to Be a Victorian” by Ruth Goodman. it’s a daily life description by someone who has reenacted all the different sub-sections of the Victorian Era. I had no idea that there were/are over a dozen ways to fold a cloth diaper depending on the age and sex and activity level (or tummy troubles) of the baby, for example.

    • Sara the Red

      Okay, that book is now on my Amazon wishlist. Thanks!!!!

  30. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    We tend to not realize just how different things were just a very short time ago. Sarah talks about Portugal. But I grew up in the 1960’s and things weren’t really that different in living memory for most of my relatives. I’ve been going through my grandfather’s slide collection and there are pictures of horse drawn farm equipment here in the US. So It’s not that long that things were truly different.

    • Clark E Myers

      Rubber tires and roller bearing axles mark a departure in horse drawn equipment.

      I’ve seen mule drawn wagons in common usage in the United States, maybe the middle of the last century, though not lately. I’ve seen similar rubber tired flat top wagons drawn by motive units that look like a variety of walk-behind Rototiller hooked to pull in the Far East though again a long time ago.

  31. Completely Off Effing-Topic, but this thought occurred while doing my weekend Walmart visit, deadening the pain by listening to Brothers in Arms:
    When they make the Miles Vorkosigan movie, in the role of Miles: Peter “Tyrion Lannister” Dinklage.

    The part and the actor, at the right time.

    • Sara the Red

      He would be absolutely perfect. Alas, that they probably won’t get around to making it before he’s too old…sigh.

  32. You built radios? With tubes? There were no girls like you in *my* neighborhood in 1965.

    BTW, I still have about 2,000 radio tubes in boxes downstairs. If you ever want a tube for something, you know who to ask. (I have the sockets too. And, well, all the rest of it.)

    • If you’re feeling patriotic, you might want to contact your local Navy calibration lab– we had to raid the museum to get a tube to fix a piece of equipment to calibrate the equipment that’s required for a cutting-edge (…ten years ago) piece of equipment to fly.

      Apparently they never, never break. What never? No never. What never? Well, hardly ever….

      • This was after we tried to find one on Ebay, which if it weren’t against the rules would be the work around for when the supply system no longer supplies required items.

      • I once visited a place that had a government contract to “remanufacture” rocket motors.

        They had GIGANTIC lathe. It was originally driven by belts from overhead shafting. The manufacturer plate was missing, but their best guess was that the lathe had been made in the late 1800s.. It was so big you could climb up and walk around on the ways.

        They had it recutting the combustion chambers of the rocket motors. Sometime in the early 1970s one of the shop guys had converted it to CNC. Not the usual punched tape, but “real” CNC, with some kind of microcontroller processor board running interpreted BASIC, talking to wire-wrapped homebuilt controller boards driving servo motors. It was all shop-built stuff, and the guy who did it had retired long ago.

        A machine tool built in the gaslight era, before manned flight. And while the computer control was laughable by the time I was there, it was bleeding edge technology when it was built and fitted to the lathe. But both of them were still going; they were running the lathe 24/7.

        Manned flight? It was recutting motors for the Space Shuttle.

      • Most of the tubes that I have are consumer-grade and came out of junked radios and TVs. I do have a scattering of military tubes, largely radio-oriented and intended as spares for some tube-era military radios that I bought years ago. As for the rest, I doubt I have a local Navy calibration lab, given that I’m about as far away from an ocean as one can get in the US. If you know someone who needs something, feel free to send them my way, or just shoot me a tube identifier and I’ll dig around when I get home.

        –73 de K7JPD

        • There’s a PMEL calibration lab at Petersen AFB. A friend worked there from ’86 to ’94. Of course, it may all be outsourced now.

          According to him some of the test equipment they worked on was… seriously weird. Once he was assigned to fix some kind of meter. The manufacturer was out of business and there were no schematics, but how hard could it be? He opened it up and found a PC board full of jumper wires and cut traces.

          The problem was something simple, like a dead capacitor. But he still insists that the circuit board was actually for some kind of radio; the designer or builder had just cut and jumpered the traces as needed and used it to mount discrete components for an entirely different circuit.

    • When I built them it was 1970 😉
      I no longer build stuff, but yeah the joke in the family is that my brother was the engineer and I built machines.
      So why wasn’t I an engineer? Well, some day, with a drink…

      • Clark E Myers

        Now with Heathkits and Archer Kits and Radio Shack mostly gone Make and Maker’s Faire carry a torch into the future.

        Folks should at least know how to make a Philippine Guerrilla Gun – as Leslie Fish (among others but she gets it right) sings teach your children well

        • And she has the teaching tune to do it:

        • Double-check your radio shack– ours doesn’t have kits for making radios, true, but they do have all the parts needed to fix or build your computer. (Had a heat sink come loose and I stopped as a last act of desperation…to find they had something like six varieties.)

      • I see I need to buy you a drink… or have Orvan deliver some ACME Ale, perhaps.

  33. How much difference twenty-some years make young lady. Many of my memories growing up in Ohio and Florida mirror yours in Portugal: No phone followed by a 5 party line, chickens in the yard, ice box, not fridge at one time, radio (Including both crystal and tube radios that I built) not TV, -no ox carts though.

    Alas though I enjoy the written word (& yes I read on Sundays too), unlike you, I could never have made a living at it, I always was a very pour spelller. & ‘nother reason I could never have made a living as a writer, remember Fred Brown’s shortest short story ending in, “…there was a knock at the door.”? -That’s about the longest plot line I could carry.

    One of my fondest reminiscences is that my granddad’s life went from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

    Excellent post Sara, it’s nice looking back & even if you don’t have the house finished ready to sell you done did/are doin’ great!

    Oh, & definitely yes, some of your fiction ain’t half bad either! 😉

    • As I recall from a brief history of the development of modern telephone systems, there was quite a bit of Midwest farm country where the original telephones were put in using existing barbed-wire fencing for the wiring. Took a little bit of modification every so often where they didn’t connect right, wasn’t totally reliable, but they got their party lines working!

  34. It reminds me very much of how I grew up without the village though. One place in SLC they still had an apricot grove and we would help harvest it. There were so many rules on when NOT to eat the apricots (when they are green… grin)

  35. To we odds reading is a sacrament, and our reading any where any time is a form of worship. Anyone who says different is a heretic and deserves to be introduced to Kate the Impaler for some stakey reeducation.

    • I am so very appreciative that the time has arrived when, thanks to the MP3 player and audio literature, I can read while engaging in menial labor. Washing the dishes? I can read Brothers in Arms while doing it! Setting up the kitchen for the next morning? I can read Bright Orange for the Corpse while doing it! Clearing snow from the driveway? I can read Have Spacesuit, Will Travel while doing it! Trimming trees of branches too near the house? I can read Monster Hunter International while doing it! Painting trim? I can read Revolutionary Brothers while doing it!

      Sure, it is at a speed that is much slower than my normal reading speed, but it is much faster than the reading I would manage during those chores without an audio book. And the slower pace allows the mind to play with elements of the story-telling in ways I would never do if immersed in the actual text.

      Truly, we live in a wonderful age. Such a pity so few appreciate it, looking at the trivial flaws, dings, dents and scratches that are the eventual effect of entropy. It is a sad thing to be unable to appreciate the pony for all the horse-shi(rhymes with twit).

      • Four years into a 9-month remodeling project, I’m a massive consumer of audiobooks. Fortunately the library can get requests from other libraries…

        The odd thing is, three years after putting down a section of floor, I can look at it and think, “The Jennifer Morgue”, or where I shoveled a trench to replace the sewer line four years ago and it took several Robert B. Parker books…

      • Clark E Myers

        Nothing new about that. Cigar wrappers and other skilled trades used to pay somebody to read aloud while they worked.

  36. Ancient Saxons Defeat MRSA?

    The past may be another country, but those who assume it has nothing to teach do so at our peril.

  37. A nice house was one with a chicken coup, maybe a pigsty, almost for sure a barn for a bull.

    Nitpick: A chicken coop is where chickens are housed.
    A chicken coup is what happens when the chickens in Orwell’s Animal Farm get tired of the pigs being more equal.

  38. Both sets of my grandparents had outhouses. My family was poor. I didn’t encounter dishwashers, microwaves, or air conditioning until I left home. I adapted all too quickly and easily! So, yes, things may be strange, but once one is introduced and uses them, the appreciation remains but the marvel quickly fades.

  39. Ms Hoyt’s remininicence of her hosts’ expectations re: her familiarity with modern plumbing reminded me of my mom’s story about, well, the perils of back country toilets: