Digressions and Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

First anniversary issue

It's hard to believe Port of Call has been rolling off the presses for a year! It's been a good year (no strikes, liable suits, press wars, paper boy gang fights, boycotts of advertisers, etc.) The union has again agreed to the same no-wage contract, and our primary advertiser (for tax purposes) has agreed to again cover the substantial gap between the Intertel supplied newsletter budget and actual non-labor cost of production.

(Somehow the images of crucibles of molten lead joining with sloshing buckets of multicolored ink to be transformed into the printed page, the 1940's movie montage of late night press runs to meet the morning deadline, the primeval understanding of the effects of colored liquid on a dry surface, all seem more romantic than the image of melting plastic toner pellets onto precut sheets of blank paper. So you'll excuse me if I indulge in a little "publisher's license".)

You can't say I didn't warn you back in issue 1. I stated quite clearly that if you didn't contribute enough articles and letters to fill in the space, I had over a quarter million words of unpublished fiction just waiting for a word vacuum to develop. Well, I told you so...

The first piece I've chosen to inflict upon you is quite appropriate in a number of ways in this first anniversary issue. First of all (and the only good news...), it's the shortest piece of fiction I've ever managed to write. Yes, my verbosity affliction is even more manifest (or perhaps you suspect joyously overindulged...) in my fiction than in my rambling diatribes.

I'd written 2 unpublishable novels with typewriters and I hated retyping. Talk about an internal conflict! Part of me wanted to use and abuse verbiage with reckless abandon, while the other part was constantly whining about "you're going to have to retype all those extra words over and over again if you let them leak out of your fingers this time..."

I'd run smack into the "writer's paradox" that nobody tells you about before you're hooked...

Writers never admit it openly to readers, but half the point of writing is to safely vent off the excess "word pressure" accumulating in the neural-digital (mind-finger) system. Failure to find a safe way to vent the pressure can result in uncontrollable attacks of twiddling or doodling, or if left untreated, potentially lead to violent acts of graffiti. In the most tragic advanced cases, the syndrome can degenerate into advertising slogans or even (gasp) political banners and protest signs.

But it's one thing to let the accumulated word pressure drain out with an internally generated "creative effort". It's quite another to bring words into the system through the eyes or ears, and then push them out the fingers. Pushing external words through the system always results in some of the pesky little buggers getting left behind - adding to the internal word pressure not diminishing it. Retyping was undoing all the therapeutic benefit of the initial creative effort!

And then I heard about this wondrous device called a word processor. Just a faint rumor of what a spelling checker could do was enough to convince me. (I refer to myself as a volume misspeller - I "know" lots of words that I have no idea how to spell.) At the time I was suffering from a particularly acute attack of my chronic imbalance between liquid financial assets and desired expenditures, and so I got my first credit card - which was only good for buying computer equipment. I bought (on high interest credit) my first computer - a Kaypro CP/M machine with 2 floppy drives, 64k of memory, and a small mountain of manuals. "The Closet" was my first attempt at writing a short story, and the first "literoid" I wrote on a computer. I figure it's about time I found a use for this old dusty bit pattern that's been cluttering up the archive for so long.

After all, I'd like to think there's a reason I've gone to all the trouble to transfer this particular collection of bytes from computer to computer, converting from one data format to another as the underlying technology changed, for so many years...

literoid - a creative work that exists primarily in digital form, ie: created and stored within, and primarily accessed through computer based technology (Cyberspace). Once expressed in a persistent format in the physical world (printed on paper, carved in stone, etc.), that expression of the work may become literature.

Update on "Flawed Flaw Reporting"

In February I received a listing from Intel of all the compiler vendors with currently available products incorporating the floating point work around. Nearly all of the main stream compilers were on the list. Of course, I haven't seen any mention in the main stream press that the flaw worthy of banner headlines has been solved.

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