Objets D’Obsolete

Each of the three cars I have owned … hold on, was it three? Let’s count.

My first car exploded into a fireball and melted into a big mound of car before my eyes precisely 23 hours after its long-standing overheating issue had been repaired. Making so many repair shop visits about this concern had been annoying, but some quick fixes are neither. The next car was also prone to overheating—steam, not flame, in this case—and I perpetually thought it was ten minutes from an explosion as well. When one has owned a car that one watched meet its end via self-immolation, one develops a sensitivity to over-heating. PTSD, even. But I saw that car on the roads of my town for a full five years after I sold it. My last car was repossessed because I was not an adult back then, and banks like doing business with adults. So, yes, three cars.

The tools of life and I do not have a functional working agreement.

I have a superstitious nature, something that I am loathe to admit to. Place two identical pens before me, give me a day or two to use them, and I will declare one a favorite. And the other? I will have held it perhaps once, but I will have felt something about it to be frustrating or “wrong,” and left it alone. From then on, forever. I buy replacement pens even though I own many pens and have not been without a pen in decades. (The Zebra F-301 or G-301 model, for completeness’ sake. Black ink, 1.0 mm point size.)


Pencil porn.

Pencils, too. I am probably the ideal Blackwing 602 customer, but I like money more. A 12-pack of the pencil—oh! Look at those gorgeous creations to the right!—will set a customer back approximately $21 either online or in person at Barner Books in New Paltz. (Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose and no business interests with Barner Books other than it is one of my favorite bookshops.) That is a lot of money for a mere dozen pencils, eight of which I might very well ignore for the length of forever in my personal writing tool superstition. Thus, even though I have held a Blackwing 602 only one time so far in my life, and I indeed drooled over its swift action on the page, I have not purchased a set and I tell myself that it is because these Blackwings are knockoffs made by a company that bought the naming rights and these are not the classic pencils themselves.

Those Blackwing 602 pencils, the real original ones, they pop up on eBay at prices like $101.77 for three pencils. Yes, these were unused pencils. Three.

My writing implement superstition has reared its head in my life with computers, also, sad to say for my wallet. At this point, it would take me longer than you have available for me to recount to you the number of computers, laptops, and handhelds I have owned. (I loved the Treo 90 and owned a half-dozen over the years, some of which felt right and some of which did not.) Some computers I became attached to like a beloved typewriter, others were only employed to go online and tell others that I was still alive when I discovered that typing on them just didn’t “feel right.”

Five years ago, I purchased a full-sized laptop on which I tried to write a book. Either the keyboard was built too sensitively, or I typed on it like an orangutan, but it no longer produces the letter C. (This is one of the top 10 letters in our alphabet.) When the briefly popular Netbooks came out (the era lasted approximately six months in 2006), I bought one of those. Upon learning that the full-size machine was resistant to writing, at least those words that need the letter C, I returned to the Netbook and discovered I was making more progress on that book project. It sat, happy to be employed, on top of the useless full-size laptop.

The computer I now use, a full-size Asus laptop, has not YET lost any functions nor burst into flame. But my superstitions and my general physical incompetence with things of this world have been known to create immediate and irrevocable obsolescence, so I assume nothing about the future.

* * * *
This is an edited re-visit of a column from a year ago, “The Li’l Guys.”

* * * *
Follow The Gad About Town on Facebook! Subscribe today for daily facts (well, trivia) about literature and history, plus links to other writers on Facebook.

Follow The Gad About Town on Instagram!

The WordPress Daily Prompt for July 2 asks, “Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?”

And please visit and participate in the Alterna-Prompt, “The Blog Propellant.”


  1. Rose Red · July 2, 2015

    Is the Zebra 1.0 like a fine point or like a medium point? I’m very fussy about my pens. I finally found one I like but it’s kind of fat and I like a slimmer pen.

    I was ecstatic to finally find a pencil that suited me and was not crap when sharpened. I could never afford those pencils in your post but then I’m not an artist. But both children prefer pencil to pen. I’ve been buying the Dixon Ticonderoga. They come in a package pre-sharpened for about five bucks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · July 2, 2015

      As a standard ballpoint, the 0.7 mm Zebra is my preferred–it is a fine point. In the last year, I’ve been writing more with gel pens and the Zebra gel 1.0 is great. They are pricey, but not Blackwing pencil pricey.

      Dixon Ticonderogas are great. (I always re-sharpen the already-sharpened ones to make them more to my extremely fussy liking.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Reluctant Scribbler · July 2, 2015

    It has been suggested that maybe I should look at buying an Asus laptop. Which model do you have and what, if anything, would you change on it – if you could? I too have a netbook (Samsung N102 – 3 years old. I have just upgraded the RAM today, which has helped with slow running, although we have rubbish broadband speed too). With constant use it is now impossible to see (if you didn’t know) which is the A, S, E or C keyboard button.
    My husband has a fine collection of pens – enough to supply several small village schools in a thrid world country for at least 12 months – if they all still work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rogershipp · July 2, 2015

    “Either the keyboard was built too sensitively, or I typed on it like an orangutan”… I laughed so hard I carded the dog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TEG Diez · July 2, 2015

    Excellent 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Teresa · July 3, 2015

    Yep, Asus laptop did the job for me for now. See how long it will stand the toil…


Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.