Sunday Snippet – Alphasmart by Bill Chance

“She’s not my wife,” the man said, “She’s my aunt, and she likes you.”

—–Bill Chance, random file from my Alphasmart Neo

Map Bag

My Not-A-Purse. What is strange is that I found this image floating around on the internet – I don’t know where it originally came from. But if you look, there is an Alphasmart Neo sticking up in the bag. I can’t believe other people out there have Neos in their bags, exactly like mine.

Over the decades I have been on a quest for the perfect, distraction-free, portable writing machine.

I have experimented with netbooks, phones with bluetooth keyboards and tablets with wired keyboards (which actually works well – but not in the sun).

My Toshiba Netbook – rode my bike to a coffee shop.

Bluetooth Keyboard and my phone.

My android tablet and portable keyboard, I stopped my bike ride on the Bridge Park over the Trinity River to get some writing done.

My favorite (but long obsolete) solution, however, has always been the Alphasmart. It’s a portable keyboard, powered by double A batteries (which last years) with a tiny four line display. You type text into it and it keeps the text. To export, you USB the thing to your regular computer, hit SEND, and it retypes your text back into whatever program you want. Amazing and simple.

I used an Alphasmart 3000 for a couple years. I wasn’t happy with it – the keyboard was clunky and hard to type fast on. I replaced it with an upgraded version that had an excellent keyboard – the  Neo – which was really good. I still have it – I lost one key somewhere, but it isn’t an important one. I need to dig that thing out and start carrying it again.

The medium used to generate words (handwriting, Alphasmart, tablet, phone laptop, desktop, digital or tape recorder, manual typewriter, Dragon naturally speaking) has a huge influence on how I write. I think I’m going to dig out the Alphasmart Neo and carry it again. Since you can only see four short lines (a tiny bit of text) at any one time, it helps to kill off your internal editor – you just move on. It does tend to produce small bits of jarring snippets of text, however. These, hopefully, can be expanded and re-used later.

I found some files on my computer from many years ago labled “AS1, AS2, AS3…” and so one. These were collections of stuff I had written on the Alphasmart Neo up to a decade ago.

Here’s one:

I was about to leave a run-down roadhouse in Bumfucker, Arkansas, when I offered two bottles of Budweiser to a local couple I had just met.

“One for you and one for your wife.”

“She’s not my wife,” the man said, “She’s my aunt, and she likes you.”

Later I was lying on a noisy mattress in the back of her trailer, thinking, there are other people in this room. But they were only cats.

I’m actually sort of excited about bringing my Alphasmart Neo back from the dead. If you want one – they are readily available used for 35 bucks or so from Ebay.

Afternoon at the Brewery

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Four Corners Brewery, Dallas, Texas

Four Corners

A Pink Floyd Reference

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania
Neptune, Titan, stars can frighten

—-Pink Floyd, Astronomy Domine, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

 

One of the order boards, Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Elllum, Dallas, Texas

Nick and I took the DART train towards downtown with our bikes. He got off before me and went for a longer ride – but we met up at Braindead Brewing in Deep Ellum for a late lunch and a beer. Braindead has a lot of taps with their own unique brews displayed on the wall. I ordered a number 14 from a very young-looking waiter.

“That’s a Pink Floyd reference,” he said, with pride.

“I’m old,” I said, gesturing at my gray hair, “I know that album,” (although I was only ten when the album was released… Actually I think I heard it on re-release in the 70’s).

“I’m just showing off that I know what it is,” the waiter replied.

And I was suitably impressed.

And the beer – a strong dark Scotch ale, brewed with coffee, was good… worthy of classic early Pink Floyd – with Syd Barrett.

 

 

 

Cold, Cold And Hop-Bitter

“Oh, this beer here is cold, cold and hop-bitter, no point coming up for air, gulp, till it’s all–hahhhh.”
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Taps on the wall, and a bear. Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Bike Porn – Tribe

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Nice Tribe Urban Bike parked outside Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

That’s one way to store your cleated bike shoes while you go in for a beer.

You’re Not In Tejas By Accident

“And here …” Now the orange became Tejas: “In the middle of this mess, Tejas, Spanish to the core, God’s bastion, just as in Europe.” He patted the orange, reveling in its security, and said: “God arranges these things according to His grand design. Believe me, Trinidad, Tejas is not where it is by accident. And you’re not in Tejas by accident. Your destiny is to rear Spanish sons who will build there cities much finer than New Orleans.”
James A. Michener, Texas

Four Corner’s Brewing, Dallas, Texas

Open Your Veins, and Bleed

“You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
—-Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith (and many others)

Our kitchen cabinets are filled with pint beer glasses emblazoned with local breweries – souvenirs of the visits to many brewery tours and keep-the-glass sampling events.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company – Dallas Blonde

One of these was a little too close to the edge of the kitchen counter when my son’s Lab was looking up there scouring for leftovers and knocked one off – breaking it on the floor – shattering the vessel into a thousand slivery shards. The first nine hundred and ninety are easy to sweep up. The last ten are invisible, sharp and hard, hard to find.

Last night as I walked barefoot through the kitchen to my room, intending to sit down and write for my hour… I found one.

There is an interesting pain profile as a sliver of glass pushes through the thick callus on the bottom of a foot into the tender, live flesh, muscle, and sinew beneath. I doesn’t hurt much… until it does. I hopped on one foot to a countertop and leaned while I searched for the glass. It’s transparent, crystalline and invisible, of course, so I had to feel for it, then pull it out. I glanced at the splinter before throwing it in the trash. It was longer than usual and was red-tipped – but I didn’t think much about it.

I suffer from a form of graphomania and, while most people complain of writer’s block, if I don’t get a solid hour of writing in each day it’s hard for me to go to sleep (writing something good… now, that’s another question – one for another day).

I sat down at my desk and lost myself, writing for an hour or so. I saved my work, and decided it was time to walk back and go to bed. But as I tried to stand up, I realized that my foot was stuck firmly to the floor. That was confusing and unsettling, why couldn’t I lift my foot up from the painted concrete – I was floored. Looking down into the murk under my desk I saw that my foot was centered in a dark-colored disk of some glue-like material that was intent on keeping it there. I had already forgotten what had happened only an hour before – so I guessed I had spilled some fruit drink or something and it had dried into a sticky trap.

So I redoubled my efforts and with a viscous pop my foot came up. It wasn’t until a few minutes later I remembered the glass sliver and realized my foot had been stuck to the floor by a pool of drying blood. I hadn’t moved my foot for over an hour, plenty of time to bleed, coagulate, and adhere.

Not much I could do, so I went to sleep. Today, I found dark crimson crescents of blood scattered throughout the house – I didn’t realize how much I walked around last night.

Time to get out the mop.

Glass from Wine Walk
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

Lakewood Brewing Company, French Quarter Temptress, Special Glass, Brewed, Fort Worth, Texas