Death of an Art

The other day I went to a local big chain store, looking to buy a small tablet of writing paper. You’ll no doubt remember what I am talking about – sheets about 6×9, white, ruled, but no perforations at the top or holes on the sides. The pages were glued at the top, and you just peeled them off one at a time. I believe they were made by Mead, and my mom always had one or two of them laying around the house somewhere, for notes, memos, lists and writing a quick letter to someone. My plan was to write a couple of letters to a few of my husband’s relatives that always send us a letter with their Christmas card, and include them with our 8748629550_cb3342302f_wNew Year’s cards this year. I searched everywhere in the store, but couldn’t find the tablet anywhere, and figured this location was out. So, I looked at a different location…nope, not there either. No stationary in the cards department either. It finally dawned on me, no one writes letters anymore. We tweet, Facebook and e-mail everything. Even an actual Christmas letter is going the way of the dodo bird, and has been replaced by the Shutterfly photocard (yes, we’ve succumbed as well!) but the list we send out to has slowly dwindled over the years as folks have stopped sending to us. Amazingly, we do have 2 relatives who still send handwritten letters every year, and I like to send a handwritten note back to them as well. I feel like if they have taken the time to do that for me, it’s the least I can do for them.

Think back, when was the last time you actually sent a handwritten letter? Not a birthday card, or a “thinking of you” card, those don’t count. I mean a real letter that you wrote out on paper or even old-fashioned stationary, and then put into an envelope that you hand addressed and put a stamp on and sent out? Something that you had to put some thought into, for that individual recipient, that was personalized in some way. It wasn’t a generic, whitewashed form letter that was printed out en masse, then had a one or two-line note at the bottom, followed by your hastily dashed off signature, but an honest-to-goodness real letter.  The sad byproduct of our not doing so are more announcements like the one I just read last week, for the closing of the Papyrus shops. CNN reported that its parent company filed bankruptcy and is closing 254 stores. They are one of the few retail places around that still sold fine stationary. So, when did you last send a letter? Has it been so long that you can’t remember? If the answer is either “yes” or “I’ve never have sent one”, I’m issuing you a challenge! Within the next week, go and write a letter to someone, and mail it. Let me know what happens, what kind of response you get from them, I would love to know.

Another art that is dying off, cursive writing. Apparently this is no longer taught in our schools, from what I’ve been told (having no kids, I don’t know this for a fact, so I might be wrong) but it sure seems to me that I see an awful lot of young ladies printing in the same way these days, large loopy letters, as if that is the penmanship now taught. It makes me wonder, do any of them know how to sign their names in cursive? I can remember my dad telling me when I was younger how important it was to be consistent with my signature, so that I would know if someone tried to forge it. I never did quite master doing it the same way every time like he did, but I have always done it in cursive, never printed. Are documents legally bound if not signed? I guess they must be, as even an “X” is sufficient if witnessed, but it certainly does seem strange.

Also having gone the way of the dodo bird is an RSVP. It comes from a French phrase ” Répondez s’il vous plaît”, and translates to “Respond, please”. We here in America have adapted it to mean “Respond So Very Promptly”. It does NOT mean “only if you feel like it” or “no response needed”, which is what I tend to get these days. Even if you don’t see an official “RSVP” on an invitation, unless said invitation is an open house, please give the host or hostess the courtesy of a reply. They are probably going to a lot of trouble to plan the event, and in addition to needing to plan for food and beverages, if it’s at their home they need to clean. It’s a metric s**t ton of work to throw a party, folks. Be courteous and let the person who invited you know if you’re coming WELL IN ADVANCE of the party. Don’t be a putz and make them call/email/message/text you repeatedly to find out. Especially if it’s the week their new refrigerator died and they are trying to cope with living out of a mini-fridge and 3 coolers. (I can’t make this stuff up.) Just reach out and let them know either way, trust me, you’ll make their day.


Getting Old Will Cost Ya

In our house we have an aging problem. Things are starting to really not be as smooth as usual, getting more clunky, and making noises that are unexpected and less than delightful.
No, I’m not talking about hubby and I, and although I could be, I’m actually talking about our old appliances. About half of them were still original from when the house was built which meant we needed to have a plan for how we would replace them. It’s like I said to my husband one day, if the dishwasher goes, it’s kind of a pain, and if the microwave goes, it starts to hurt a bit more. If it’s the stove, well now we’re getting really serious and if it’s the refrigerator, well that’s a trip TODAY to buy something. So, we’d been looking, planning, saving and trying to decide what would be getting bought first based on what was giving us trouble, and what was annoying us most on any given day. About six weeks ago I finally couldn’t take it, and with early Black Friday sales upon us, talked him into a new dishwasher, and off to the appliance store we went to pick out a new dishwasher.

As we waited for our delivery day, something unexpected happened. I went to put something in the microwave one morning and heard a horrendous combination grinding/growling sound. One second later I flung the door open and turned it off. We fiddled with it a bit, tried again and got the same result. Back to the appliance store we went and our wonderful salesman, Dominic, chuckled and said “yep, cracked your magnetron tube. It’s cheaper to buy a new microwave than replace those.” So we picked out a new one of those, and added it to the dishwasher order. Remember what I said about it hurting a bit more if the microwave went out? Guess what…it hurts a lot! I never realized how much we’ve come to rely on it. Need soft butter in a hurry? Not happening. Want to have a quick cup of hot chocolate or tea? Nope. Reheat some leftovers? Yeah, that isn’t going to work either. Seriously, this thing that my family didn’t own 30 years ago, is something we can barely live without in 2019.

What really surprised me, however was what happened AFTER it arrived. Last time we bought appliances, which was only 3 years ago, we got wonderful manuals with them, chock full of “here’s what you have, how you use it, etc.” This time around our ‘user manual’ was 4 pages long, printed on cheap, thin paper. It barely told us more than “here is the on button”.  If you want to know anything about your appliances, you need to go to the company’s website and download the user manual, or find a scannable QR code. Which is all well and good but what about for folks that don’t have computers or internet? (And if you just said “what’s a QR code, well there may not be anything we can do for you.) I know, I know, there are a whole bunch of you out there that find it hard to believe there are people in these United States without computers and not connected to the internet, but in April of 2019, Pew Research Center analysis of survey data shows that as of April 2019

“10% of U.S. adults do not use the internet …and seniors are much more likely than younger adults to say they never go online. Although the share of non-internet users ages 65 and older has decreased by 7 percentage points since 2018, 27% still do not use the internet, compared with fewer than 10% of adults under the age of 65. Household income and education are also indicators of a person’s likelihood to be offline. Roughly three-in-ten adults with less than a high school education (29%) do not use the internet in 2019, compared with 35% in 2018… The research found that key reasons for not being on the internet were that a third of non-internet users (34%) did not go online because they had no interest in doing so or did not think the internet was relevant to their lives. Another 32% of non-users said the internet was too difficult to use, including 8% of this group who said they were “too old to learn.” Cost was also a barrier for some adults who were offline – 19% cited the expense of internet service or owning a computer.”

I know there’s going to come a time when the whole dang world is on the computer, but I can’t help but think that these manufacturers are jumping the gun just a tad.

Having said that, it sure is nice having a dishwasher that is so quiet I have to almost put my ear next to it to hear it running, and I love that the top panel on my microwave isn’t halfway to falling off anymore. Now if I can just keep the fridge and stove working for a while yet.