Typewriter of the moment: Australian journalist Ron Boland, OBE

December 27, 2008

1930s era typewriter that accompanied Australian journalist Ron Boland through his journalistic career - State Library of South Australia (on loan from Jasin Boland)

1930s era typewriter that accompanied Australian journalist Ron Boland through his journalistic career, a Remington Portable - State Library of South Australia (on loan from Jasin Boland)

Ron Boland played an important role in the expansion and maturation of Australian newspaper journalism in the 20th century — in the era before Rupert Murdoch, mostly – though Boland worked for Murdoch and could be said to have created the style that made Murdoch rich — in an era when newspapers still set the pace of the Information Age.  He retired in 1977, the year Altair was a top computer name, the year RadioShack almost got the TRS-80 to market, the year Jobs and Wozniak started work on the Apple II (before Macintosh).

For nearly 50 years, this typewriter was the peak of technology, for a world class journalist.

Boland’s life and timeline could make for some interesting projects or study assignments — see Boland’s campaign for topless swimming on Australia’s beaches.  Topless swimming for men.

Boland’s work is probably mostly invisible to American students, but it should provide some good enrichment for students of world history.

The case for Australian journalist Ron Bolands Remington Portable typewriter, testifying to the globe trotting done by the typewriter, and Boland.  State Library of South Australia

The case for Australian journalist Ron Boland's Remington Portable typewriter, testifying to the globe trotting done by the typewriter, and Boland. State Library of South Australia

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Meow Meow, 19

December 27, 2008

Meow, reminding her humans that paying attention to the cat is always more important than reading Dilbert - June 24, 2008

Meow, reminding her humans that paying attention to the cat is always more important than reading Dilbert - June 24, 2008 (photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell)

It was a dark and stormy night.  A meow rang out.

That’s how she came to adopt us.  Kay Lawrence was out walking, before the storm blew in.  The wind was picking up.  50 yards from home, she found a sad scene:  A kitten dead on the pavement.  Kay got a bag to hold the body.  As she was scooping it off the road, she heard a loud meowing from the bushes.

It was the sister of the dead kitten, probably.  Alone in any case.  Kay knew that Kathryn had studied how to save kittens, and having a large golden retriever, she thought better of taking the kitten to her own home.

With the first flashes of lightning, before the rain, there was Kay Lawrence at our door holding a remarkably flea-ridden kitten, wide-eyed and making enough noise for a litter of 12.

“We’ll find a good home for her,” Kathryn said as Kay dashed back home before the rain.  I suspected the kitten had already found that home, though Kathryn was still at least mildly allergic to cats.*

That was more than 19 years ago.

We learned from Meow that cats show joy with their tails, express love by blinking, and that each one has a different personality.  Some cats can ignore catnip, for example.   She liked to join us in reading newspapers — or perhaps more accurately, she liked to prevent us from reading newspapers, telling us that paying attention to a cat was a better use of time.

Meow would occasionally become seriously agitated when a peanut butter jar was opened, making a ruckus until she got a half-teaspoonful of the stuff for herself.  She wasn’t concerned at how silly a cat looks trying to get peanut butter off the roof of her mouth.

Meow left us this morning. For the past couple of weeks her eyesight was failing much faster — she had cataracts.  For a week she bravely tried to learn how to navigate the house blind, mastering a lot very quickly.

Something else happened, though.  One veterinarian said it was brain — stroke?  Tumor?  We don’t know.  For much of the last week she was walking circles through the house, sometimes bumping into things, sometimes walking over things she shouldn’t.  And in the last couple of days, the circles she walked grew smaller.  She’d circle until she couldn’t, then collapse in the middle of the floor and sleep.

On the way to the vet this morning, the clouds rolled in.  It grew dark.  Lightning flashed, and the rain came furiously.  It was a dark and stormy morning, very similar to the night she found us.  Meow passed very quickly.  The clouds disappeared, and the sun shines.

Down at the end of the path past the big live oak, Meow now rests with others in our departed menagerie, Maggie and Rufus the dogs, Sweetie the rat, and Katie, the other brave, one-eyed road kitten (from a different, later rescue).

We miss her. We started the year with two dogs and three cats.  Now we’re down to one cat, with the two dogs.  It’s a lot quieter.

Meow, winking for the camera, 2008 - photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell

Meow, winking for the camera, 2008 - photo copyright 2008, Ed Darrell

*  A book we had Natural Cat, had a recipe for a food supplement for cats which, the author claimed, would alter the cat dander so it would not trigger allergic reactions.  What can I say?  It worked like a charm.  We stopped feeding the supplement to the cats 15 years ago.  Kathryn’s allergic  reaction, to our cats, has not returned.


Incomplete history and Willie Nelson

December 27, 2008

Fort Worth Weekly did a story on Willie Nelson’s living in Fort Worth in the 1950s.  The writer drove by Willie’s old haunts.

But no pictures? No directions on how to get to the future shrines?  How is the National Register of Historic Places supposed to find the things?

The Weekly was doing what might amount to a local sidebar on Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, Joe Nick Patoski’s biography of the composer and singer.  The Weekly needs to learn a bit about including web links, and especially about including photographs!

(Who’s going to get Patoski’s book, get the addresses, and post photos?)

Accuracy note: I linked to Robert Hilburn’s review of the book in the Los Angeles Times; he has another version of the story of Willie’s first wife, Martha, sewing him in the bedsheets when he came home drunk, then beating him with a broom.  Hilburn’s review is worth reading just to get this story from another view.


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