Missed Post

I knew it. I should have scheduled my latest Time Trip post on Sunday. Because I sure as HECK did not have time to get it posted on any night this week. However, I CARVED some time out of my schedule for “just me” time tonight, so I shall schedule it now, to post at, say, 10:00 tomorrow morning.

(My first impulse was to pull it till next week, because I didn’t think Fridays were so good to post on, but my inexplicable spike in traffic last week started on a Friday, so what do I know?)

In other news, I downloaded a borderless map of Europe, and divided it into three large kingdoms. Now, why would I do such a thing? Just a tad bit of worldbuilding for a potential alternate history fantasy that’s in its very early preliminary idea stage.

Too many ideas … not enough time!

Time Trip – Fill ‘er Up!

I am old enough to remember gas station attendants. Barely.

mobil4Here’s the procedure for getting gas during the 70s, as I recall it:

  • Pull up to the pump.
  • Wait.
  • Boy (always a boy) comes up wearing a shirt and pants of a particular shade of blue. He smells of fuel. On the chest of the shirt is an oval tag with his name stitched on. A simple, short name, such as “Bob,” “John” or “Mike”.
  • After some sort of polite greeting, he asks, “regular or unleaded?”
  • You reply, “Fill ‘er up with regular.” (or unleaded, but not common until the 80s)
  • The kid activates the pump, sticks the hose in your car, pulls the lever, and locks it in place.
  • You watch the dials spin. The dial that indicates the number of gallons just whizzes by, while the dial that indicates the amount of dollars performs a slow crawl You know–the opposite of today.
  • While the gas is filling up, the boy cleans your windshield. You watch the squeegee swipe the splatted bugs away. The smell of gasoline drifts in the open windows, because you have no AC.
  • Something clunks. The kid takes the hose out–dumping fuel everywhere and dousing down the side of your car–and hangs it back up on the side of the pump.
  • He gives you some dollar figure that now seems improbable, like, “Three-fifty-five, sir.”
  • You hand cash out the window. This amount includes the tip. You say, “Keep the change.” If you need change, it’ll be a while.
  • He thanks you and tells you to have a nice day.
  • You drive off.

In the 80s, the concept of the self-service gas station arose. There were different lanes for self-service and full service. Full service seemed to be a way to screw over old ladies, like my aunt, who was daunted at the idea of pumping her own gas and always paid extra for full service.

But eventually, even full-service went the way of the gravity-operated gas pump.

Advantages over Modern Tech

This is easy–the service. Getting gas was a leisurely activity, during which you just sat there. Disadvantage? These gas stations weren’t a good place to grab a snack. The tiny room that housed the cash register only seemed to sell automotive things like cans of oil and windshield-wipers. And maybe cigarettes. They were not places where women–or girls–ever ventured (unless maybe, you smoked). Cold drinks were sold out of vending machines outside. Oh, and you could get gumballs. Eventually, they started advertising snacks for sale inside, which morphed into the modern convenience store.

Offline Update, Upcoming Stuff, and a Traffic Spike

My life calmed down some this week. I work in the health care payments industry, and we had a product launch a few weeks ago, and I worked an unusual number of hours during those weeks. In fact, I had some work I needed to get done Sunday afternoon. However, we are establishing a schedule that should reduce the number of times I have to scramble to get requirements written so the developers will know what to develop when the next sprint starts.


When I was dreaming up my Time Trips posts, I write three of them in order to establish the habit and to prove to myself it was something that I could stick to. In the past, I have gotten all fired up by new ideas, written half a post, and then it languished there in my drafts folder as other things bubbled up in priority. So I will post that last post this week, and I have two more in the hopper. One is from the box of stuff that I brought home from my mom’s.


I’ve written a new scene to open my time travel novel. I’ll post it later this week, after I get some feedback for it. I’ve also renamed the novel to better reflect the road-trip aspect of the story. So I’ll need to update the excerpt and change the title everywhere on this site, which sounds like a Saturday chore to me.


I had a traffic spike this past week, where Facebook all of a sudden sent a bunch of links to either my home page, or my Infographics page. I have never before had 600 hits in one day, but it happened on Thursday. At first I thought my Time Trip post was the source, but no, they split almost evenly between the homepage and the parent infographic page.

I am perplexed, but hey! I’ll take it. If you’re new here, welcome!

Time Trip – Home Entertainment Back In the Day

When one mentions “home entertainment”, they often think of electronics. But when I was a child, there was more to it than that. When you really only have 4 TV channels, there isn’t always something on TV that will satisfy the diverse interests of a large family. On such occasions, Mom would troop us all into the living room to do something else. Like what? Here are some things that stand out:

Board Games

Monopoly was a big favorite, as it continues to be today. We also wore out our Parcheesi game, The Game of Life, and Clue. In a family of five children, sometimes the games ended with ugly fights, but most of the time, the games went on for hours before a winner was determined–especially Monopoly.

In the early 80s, Trivial Pursuit became a brief favorite. However, when my Dad won every game, time and again, the rest of us lost interest.


I hated playing cards growing up, so my mother sweetened the deal by issuing M&Ms in order to bet. It taught us to carefully husband our quantity rather than gulping them all down. We played Crazy Eights, Spoons, and other kid-friendly games with names that I no longer recall. Again, these games often went on long after our usual bedtimes.


Mom would get a 1000 piece puzzle and work on it in the evenings. She kept it on the dining room table under the table pads (I don’t know what to call them–they covered the whole table). We’d work on them night after night.

Hide and Seek

This was a favorite while there were still young children in our house, and we could slip into the smallest spaces. After a while, we just got too old to hide effectively. When before, we could squirm under the bed, after a point, there was a danger of getting stuck, even if you were skinny. And suddenly you realized just how dusty it was under there.


My Dad had a telescope that was old even when I was a child, and on autumn and spring nights, when it was clear, we would often go stargazing in the front yard. We never did this in the summer because the air was thick with mosquitoes.

I remember one time, when I was very young, Dad was excited because there was an eclipse of the moon. Thankfully, it was a clear night. However, I was terrified. The thought of something different happening to the moon was totally out of my realm of experience, and scared me enough to get me crying. However, Dad persevered and got me to look through the viewfinder. At which time, I was so relieved to see the moon that I stopped crying immediately, and didn’t even notice it’s odd color.

Home Movie and Slide Shows

My Dad was an amateur photographer and had an 8mm movie camera and projector, and a 35mm camera. While they were functional (5 kids are hard on things like that), he filmed and photographed us at every occasion and once a year or so, we’d have movie night. I thought of this because I recently toted home all the slides and movies, along with the old movie projector and slide projector. I actually have a projector screen, so we’ll be able to have movie night here as well, once nice dark night in late fall or winter.

Since all this tech is so old, I’ll be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy that is safe to use on electrical fires. (Just kidding–I hope.)

Electronic Games?

We didn’t have any electronic games in the 70s. Richer kids might have, but no one that I ever heard of had one until the 80s. We ended up reading a lot of books. I was a reluctant reader, but was still reading novels regularly by age 11.

Advantages over Modern Tech

I can’t think of any. Why? Because you can still do all of the above today. Home movies and slides are now reborn in the digital sense, and you can easily play both on your TV. It’s hard to see the advantage of the old tech, except maybe in atmosphere. There’s nothing like the smell of an old slide projector burning … something. Dust, I hope. Along with popcorn, it somehow adds to the experience.

When you were growing up, what did you family like to do on a boring Saturday night?

A Trip, Recent Writings, and Upcoming

Life is just so busy. I haven’t been posting lately because I usually use Sunday afternoons to prepare my posts for the week (all two of them, on a good week), and lately I’ve had to use that time to put in some extra hours at work. Hopefully, that’s all finished for now, but this weekend I went to my Mom’s to help her move her things into her new apartment.

I also toted home a LOT of what my sister calls the “historical items”. This includes the home movies and projector that I wrote about a while back. My Mom pointed out that I now have the paperwork for five dead people. This covers at least 3 generations, and includes ancestors born during the 1880s. Among those items are some old ration cards and a stamp album. So I can foresee some interesting posts coming up.


I tentatively renamed my time travel novel as HIGHWAY TO YESTERDAY (“HTY”)  to better emphasize the fact that much of it consists of road trips. I’ve been working on the second book, plus I’ve been doing some world-building for an epic fantasy that I may or may not get serious about. I need to write some more pilot scenes with the main characters to see how well we click. So far, I like the main character, but am seriously considering making her a supporting character and putting the main focus on a man, instead. And when I seriously consider things like this, in means I’m going to do them. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in HTY, it’s to go with my instincts when I think of things like this. When I resist, the story suffers.


I owe you a Time Trip post. This week’s going to complement the last post on old-style television. Plus, I have finished POISON PRIESTESS and want to get a review written, but that probably won’t happen till next week.

Reading Update, a Congratulations and another Time Trip

Hey everyone. Busy weekend, so I’m getting this post off late.

ReaPoison-Priestessding Update

I started reading Poison Priestess, the 4th book in Karen Azinger’s Silk and Steel Saga. While it is pretty gripping, right now, it’s all villains, all the time (almost). The last book left the minor villains behind and focused on the Mordant–who is the major villain–and the heroes, with just a few updates on the small fry. At the time, that was just fine with me. Now, however, there has been fourteen straight chapters of three villains, interspersed with occasional chapters of the beleaguered queen, Liandra.

I don’t read heroic fantasy to read only about villains, so I’m hoping this changes soon.


U. S. Army Ranger Tab

Although I have little hope of either of these young women reading this post, I wanted to offer my congratulations to Captain Kristen Griest and First Leiutenant Shaye Haver of the U. S. Army for making it through Ranger School. I always felt that there was a certain percentage of women who could equal the physical strength and endurance of a man, and they have now proven it.

When I joined the Air Force, I wasn’t exactly gung-ho, but I was a little affronted at the physical standards. I started Basic Training at a physical fitness level that I thought was the basic qualifications for getting into Basic Training. Once I joined, I learned that they were the qualifications for graduating, not for joining. And they assumed that we would have to work up to that level.

This is basic high-school fitness, guys. The ability to run two miles without stopping, do twenty or so sit-ups and the same number of push-ups, to lift fifty pounds. Anyone who was in reasonably good shape could have done it, so I guess that was all they were looking for. Not one of us washed out for failing to meet those standards–not even the ones who were slightly overweight.

Since any average day in high school cross country was much more challenging, I always felt I could have easily met the men’s standard–even the fifty sit-ups. So the fact that these two Ranger graduates met much tougher male standards makes me very happy for them.

Army Graduates First Female Rangers

Time Trip

I have another Time Trip post I’m planning for sometime this week–probably Wednesday. I hope you enjoy it!

Time Trip: Changing the Channel

When I was a kid in the 70s, we had a great stereo. It was capable of booming out Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra (aka the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey) at window-rattling decibels. Which is exactly the way my uber-nerd young dad liked it. He didn’t listen to rock-and-roll, and he didn’t care if the entire neighborhood knew it.

But there wasn’t much to that old stereo except the record player, the receiver, and the speakers. Dad had it mounted on a shelf installed above the TV. The record played at 72, 45 and 32 RPM. It was fun to listen to records at the wrong RPM, because the sound would either get too slow or too fast. The scratchy beat you hear in Rap music was well-known to us when someone bumped the record player, because the needle would go scratching across the record, often ruining the delicate vinyl.

Oh, and don’t leave records in your car on a hot day. They melt.

The TV was big and boxy and encased in actual wood. It had dials instead of buttons, and you had to turn the channel via knobs. It was considered furniture, and doubled as a sideboard. We kids sat on the floor in order to watch.

Here’s our TV, all decked out for Christmas. I think I see a volume slider. Check out the stereo and speakers above. I over-adjusted the color so you can see the detail.

70s TVA common superstition at the time was that you should not sit too close to the TV–it would hurt you, somehow. I don’t know the nature of this dreaded malady, but I did find out that if you tested your mother’s theory, your nose might get a nasty static shock.

There was no remote. To change the channel, you got up, walked over, and twisted a dial.

Where I grew up, we had channel 2 (NBC), 6 (CBS) and 9 (ABC), plus PBS, which I think may have been channel 5. Later on, we got a local independent channel at number 12 or so, and then even later, we got FOX on channel 15. Something else was on Channel 33 or thereabouts. These were on the UHF channels, because VHF (Very High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency) only went to channel 12 or 13.

When there was nothing on TV, there really was nothing on TV. Saturday morning was all cartoons, and Sunday morning was all Christian broadcasts. Star Trek reruns were on the independent channel on Sunday Nights at 6. Happy Days was on Tuesday Nights at 8. Love Boat was on Saturday Night at 9.

Advantages over Modern Tech

Yes, those old TVs had some advantages over modern tech. These days, when you turn on a TV, often nothing happens while it boots up. So unless you pressed the button on the TV itself (which I often do), you don’t know for about ten seconds if the danged thing is on, or if you didn’t aim the remote in the right direction. This situation often perplexes the older people in my life, who are accustomed to TVs lighting up immediately when you turn them on.

In the old days, when you turned on the TV, you would see a dot. It would eventually grow to fill the screen. If your hearing was good, you also heard a high-pitched whine that was quickly subsumed by the TV audio.

Got any old TV memories to share?