Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The obsolete alphabet

I love new stuff. Ideas, technologies, experiences, connections – they all inspire unexpected possibilities and adventures. Most of us never think about the stuff we shed as we head forward – I seldom do – so I was fascinated by this huge list of skills declared obsolete. As I was on a long flight, I had some fun adding a few of my own and making up an alphabet. There’s a few that may be obsolete in most people’s lives but still feature in mine (7 actually, but who’s counting?). Over to you to figure out which ones. And if you’ve got any additions, let me know.

A for Adjusting the rabbit ears on a TV set
B for Building with Meccano
C for Carbon copies
D for Dialing a phone
E for Eating a high carb diet
F for Filing
G for Getting down a dictionary to look up a word
H for Handwriting anything
I for Inserting a fountain pen into a bottle of ink
J for Jokes
K for Knowing how to do long division
L for Loading film into a camera
M for Memorizing phone numbers
N for Navigating with a compass
O for Operating an overhead projector
P for Paying cash
Q for Quitting work at 5 pm on the dot
R for Replacing heels and soles on your shoes
S for Setting the time on a VCR
T for Tying a Windsor knot
U for Using a beer can opener
V for Vinyl records
W for Winding down car windows
X for X and Roman numerals in general
Y for Yodeling (in my world anyway)
Z for Zip drives


Susan Plunkett said...

I do several things on the list also!

A couple of additionals. I never use a public phone or phone box and one never has to use one these days, or knock on a strangers door, if you need road service for your car.

I never pop a cork. All the NZ wine I buy has screw caps.

I also never use a cassette player.

It would be interesting to review your list against the sustainability matter e.g. not replacing heels on shoes tho few of the other list items are applicable perhaps.

As an adjunct issue, the "paying cash" reminded me how often in the past month I've found that shop assistants are trained NOT to think beyond the square and that when you ask for something different to what they are used to, they are completely thrown. Even my son commented yesterday (after a similar experience) that training must be getting very tight and linear these days.

Susan Plunkett said...

Learning and reciting your culture's poetry!

I had to do this every week in primary school and I rarely hear of children doing it now.

And perhaps add....

Being able to spell without a spell checker.

(Gosh I have seen some woeful spelling even from top execs when they have written away from a spell checker)


Changing a fuse (house).

Susan Plunkett said...

Using card index systems in a public library!

Ian Sanders said...

I like your A-Z Kevin. Most of these are my obseletes too but my father for instance would still use all of your list (and he's still struggling with the VCR). Many people his generation have embraced New Stuff but his mindset has yet to shift. He's not so good at change.

A couple of obseletes to add:

- Meeting a friend in a pub and if they didn't show after forty minutes, you'd go

- making 'phone calls at one fixed-point in the house, normally in the hallway

- borrowing 2 pence for a 'phone box call

Dean Calin said...

Curiously and counter-intuitively, vinyl is making a small come-back. One example is a vocal reinterpretation of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," called "Dark Side of the Moon A Capella." ( Their reasoning is that vinyl offers a higher fidelity than is available even on CD, and the all-vocal realization of this seminal work demands maximum bandwidth for listening pleasure. Old is new again, again.

Melinda Murphy said...

My A-Z list. Though very "American," many things are applicable worldwide.

A – "A is for Apple, J is for Jacks"; AM radios
B – Bad – as in “That’s bad” for anything that is good.
C – Christmas season beginning in December; car phones
D – Drive-ins; Donkey Kong
E – Earring in one ear
F – Five cent bubble gum or jolly ranchers
G – “Groovy”; Giant satellite dishes in the yard
H – High fives; Hands Across America
I – "Ice, Ice Baby"
J – "Just Do It"
K – Keys for hotel rooms
L – Letters that are handwritten
M – Manual pencil sharpeners, car windows, television channel changing, etc.
N – Notes from friends (texting is the new note)
O – Online dial-up sounds
P – Pong
Q – Q-Bert
R – Roller skates; record players
S – Styrofoam hamburger containers from McDonald’s
T – Tuning a radio; tightrolling your jeans; typewriters
U – Underoos!
V – Video killing the radio star – that would supposedly now be the internet
W – “Where’s the beef?” “Wax on, wax off.”; Word processing programs
X – X being the only Saatchi & Saatchi extra letter company – welcome, S!
Z - Zero tolerance

Melinda Murphy said...

I hit send before I put context around my A-Z list. I meant to add that these are not only actionable skills, but also things, sayings, and behaviors that are either already obsolete or becoming so. I believe it's all connected.

Susan Plunkett said...

Oz still has YMCA's, Zero tolerance (on certain issues) and every country motel I know uses keys.

I roll my own window down people!

Dean, true. My son recently surprised me greatly when he bought a turntable for vinyl. Last time I was there I saw he'd been using it.

Piotr Jakubowski said...


Yours are:
J for Jokes

Its funny how Kodak recently announced the end of their investment in film photography. One of the beauties of photography is the science and art of film. As most people are switching to digital, I recently bought a Leica M6 (instant lovemark), and haven't regretted it since! Film in the camera is not obsolete for some!