Bambi's Bedtime Stories
The Tale of the Cents Key
(ASLM 15 July 97)
(how come there is no cents key on my keyboard??)
The cents key used to be shift-6. It is ASCII code 128. What happened to it is a long story, and there aren't too many monsters or princesses in it. I could tell you the story if you want to hear it... You wanna? Ok. You just lie down right here and Bambi will tell you a bedtime story. You comfy? Good.
Bambi sits on the corner of the bed with a nice cuppa herbal tea, and opens up a big book with pictures.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago. There used to be typewriters, and the world was a much quieter and simpler place to live. This was back in the days before beepers and fax machines, and even VCRs. And there was something magical about life... people had weird and wonderful jobs like saying "third floor, leather goods, ladies lingerie, half off". And some people even had pet lizards that grew to be 37 feet long. That was before Helga The Fearless Lizard Killer came, and that's another story for another day.
Then something strange and wonderful happened. Computers came around. Big computers. They could fill a room thiiiiiiis big, and they were still pretty wimpy. In fact, a million dollar machine which took up a whoooole room wasn't as strong as that machine you have right there. But that was before the Evil Empire came into being, and that was before Helga the Fearless Microsoft Hunter came; and, that, too, is another story for another day.
Anyway, back then, people didn't even have screens to see what they were typing. No, that part is true. The had these big typewriter things with this long green and white paper -- it was called greenbar -- and they'd type onto the paper, and they could take their greenbar home with them like lawyers would take home their briefs. And the people were happy with their 110/300 Baud machines and their telephone couplers, and especially their greenbar.
But, Helga wasn't happy. Helga wasn't fond of lawyer briefs, but she liked greenbar even less. Of the two, the briefs could stay, for awhile, while Helga Took on Greenbar.
Oh, it was a fight. A big fight. People liked greenbar. And all Helga could offer them was little tubes with black screens and green writing. Oh, sometimes it was light blue writing, and sometimes it was yellow or orange, but mostly it was green, because she figured people would identify the green writing with greenbar paper. But it didn't work. The people would say, "How can I do my editing if I can only see 24 lines and I can't go pages and pages back in my program?". But, Helga had an answer. Helga always had an answer.
Helga spake, and the earth shook, and the birds in their nests wrapped their wings about eachother, and storm clouds gathered on the horizon, such was the power of Helga's voice; and she said unto the people, "Haven't you ever heard of full screen editors?". Well, obviously they hadn't. They had used line editors on their beloved greenbar systems. But, would *you* want to mess with Helga?
They didn't either. They said, "O, Helga; thou vanquisher of large lizards! Thou defeater of flatulent gulls (for the world had previously been populated by large flatulent gulls) ! Show us the wonders of the screen editor!".
She sat with them and showed them how to use their beloved control key -- the one that they would use with an L to put in a page break; the one they would use with an H to backspace; the one they would use with a I to tab -- to move through a screen editor. ^B, she said, would page down; ^F she said, would page up. The marvels! The wonders! And then Helga left them, for the ozone layer was getting thin, and she still didn't like lawyer's briefs. And the people sang the praises of their vt52's(tm) and their tvi912c's(tm) and their beehive(tm) terminals. Each of them had a cents key. And then it happened.
Oh, it was terrible. The new keyboards came out, and they had replaced the cents key with the caret! And, who could save them? Helga was off in the south pole (where, I think, she met Penguin Girl(tm), and lost all interests in lawyer's briefs)... they made a desperate call for Helga, who ignored them valiantly. And a man came. The man who started the Evil Empire, and he saw the caret, that it was good. And he said, let the caret be standard on all 101 and 101+ style keyboards for the rest of time. And it was so.
Or it was, at least, until Helga got a job at Microsoft. But, that's a story for another day.
Hope this helps,
The Tale of How the World Began
(ASLM 17 July 97)
Bambi sits down on the incredibly large bed which has mysteriously been placed here for that very reason, and pulls out her big picture book.
Okay, everyone out of the sudsies and get into bed... oh, now, stop that... there might be men watching... all you men out there... close your eyes for a minute... ok, you can open them... guys! you can open your eyes now... oh sh*t, they can't read with their eyes closed... that's okay, with their eyes closed and all these lesbians in bed, they're probably not interested in *my* story anyway... they've got stories of their own to tell themselves... may we someday enjoy the great delights they're thinking for us. Such nice men. Ok, everybody else nice and comfy? Good.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, people met face to face, and the word codependency had never been uttered. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Of course, that was in the days when the large flatulent gulls ruled the skies and the giant lizards ate the cats in all the lesbians' apartments. It was actually the cats that called Helga in the first place.
You might not know this, but then you might, being lesbians and all, but cats actually rule the earth. Don't tell your Sunday school teacher that I'm telling you this, because she'll just tell you that I'm making up tales, and we all know that I'd *never* do that, right? Good.
Well, it all happened, many years ago, even before Helga came, that there was nothing but a big dark sky. And The Great Cat Herbert coughed up a Mighty Furball. This Furball filled all skies with goo which Herbert then walked away from. She's like that. Great cat, but none too pleased with furballs. And who could blame her, really? If *you* coughed up a Cosmic Furball, would *you* want to deal with it? Have you made your bed today? I rest my case.
Anyway, this goo became the world we live in. Oh, I know, you've heard of the Big Bang in school; but, who are you going to believe? A buncha scientists you've never met, or me, whom you've never met either? I figured as much... but, the scientists don't have Helga on their side. *Now* who are you going to believe? *That's* better.
Where was I? Oh, yes, after Herbert coughed up the Cosmic Furball, and the world was created, so were all the things of interest to cats. Windows, sunshine, catnip, sushi, and people who could pet them and pay their rent for them. This was the beginning of the division of labor. The people worked hard in the fields all day, and the cats played with their food and lazed in the sun. It seemed fair, especially to the cats, and, frankly, the people weren't bright enough to realize their situation. So, everyone was happy.
And then it happened. It always happened like that. The seagulls started eating the cats' sushi, and developed a dreadful case of gas. The skies were filled with methane and nobody could light matches as dreadful explosions would occur. That's what killed the dinosaurs, of course, and led to the ice age. And one thing the cats didn't like was the cold.
Oh, it wasn't the cold so much, but the people were stuck living in caves with them, which was fine for the petting, but the cats couldn't get together and discuss international affairs or play cards or anything, and they had to act like domesticated *animals*. How degrading. And the cats mewed out to Herbert saying, "Bring us a saviour! Bring us someone to kill off the flatulent gulls, and let humans use fire again so they can make pottery and work the fields and leave us to the real work of running society."
The very next day, Helga arrived on a high-altitude weather balloon, which ran on swamp gas (of course), a plentiful resource at the time. And it was armed to the teeth with great lasers, and other weapons like sarcasm and wit. And she spake with a mighty voice, and with a single swing of her mighty baseball bat and with her patented 16inch softball, she knocked all 2,384 flatulent gulls out of the air. Yes, Cristi. One for each of your relationships.
And the people emerged from their caves and looked at the carci in wonder. They were going to eat the gulls, but, Helga pulled out her Bic lighter (tm), and the sky was filled with fire, and all the glaciers melted. Actually, she just wanted a Marlboro(tm), to prove that sports and smoking aren't mutually exclusive, but, the end result was that she impressed the humans pretty, well, impressively. And the cats came out and rubbed themselves against Helga's calves, for she had brought cows with her in her high altitude weather balloon. And the world was a happy place to live. And the people went off to work, and the cats went back to quietly ruling the planet, and avoiding *cat*astrophes and *cat*aclysms, and *cat*egorically denying their role in it.
And the people met face to face, and performed mating rituals that they learned from the flatulent gulls, and it was all pretty disgusting. But that was in the days before the Net. That was in the days, my dears, that people didn't have to say that they were 38DDDDDDD to people they've never seen... they would see people, and the people would know them to be bustically endowed, and that, as they say, was that.
But, those were in the days before the Great Bank Robberies of the Bustically Endowed. Because there were no cameras then, they were never identified because their faces were never seen. But, that, too, is a story for another day.
The Tale of Scrabble and Corn
(ASLM 23 July 97)
Well, it's a rainy day, and rainy days are the best days for stories, right? I've got a nice cozy fire going in the fire place, and nice hot chocolate for everybody. So, put on your flannels and your warmest slippers, and Bambi will tell you a story.
Bambi sits on the overstuffed sofa in front of the fireplace with her big picture book and a nice cup of hot chocolate... with extra whipped cream, and begins her tale.
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, before two-task communication protocol errors, and memory violations, there lived a man in the Western District. He was a good man, and kind, and he had 27 charming and talented goats. Now, I might have said "kids", but then you might have been confused, and this story is confusing enough without going for gratuitous confusion. He also cheerfully worked the fields each day to pay the rent for two cats who ate very well. This was in the days after the flatulent gulls had been knocked from the skies, but you've already heard that story.
In any event, these two cats, Georgie and Rudolph, both females, of course, were high commanders of the Western District's Commission on the Care and Feeding of Endangered Species Friendly to Cats. They had done very well in the care and feeding of humans in the Western District, and since no one else paid their rent for them, or brought home tasty morsels of sushi, they really didn't have much need to bother caring for other species. Well, except birds, ironically enough, because birds were so much fun to play with; as were cochroaches, really. And so it was that the Western District was teeming with humans, birds, cochroaches, and certain food animals like, oh that swimming sushi thing. How much more cat-friendly could a species be than being dinner?
Even so, the remainder of the Western District's indigenous species were dwindling rather quickly. And Georgie and Rudolph realized that if giraffes were mysteriously to vanish from the Western District that they could no longer use the word "giraffe" in Scrabble, and that was worth 64 points. And, as nifty as birds were, kestral was only worth 61 points, and those were pretty high-frequency letters. So much so, in fact, that they hurt Georgie's ears. And Georgie hated that, although Rudolph tacitly approved as it improved her score.
You may recall from your science class that before this time, wildebeests aplenty roamed the quiet streets of Omaha, as did aardvarks, and elephants. But, Georgie and Rudolph had been rather apathetic to the decreasing numbers of those particular species, because, frankly, there were more than seven letters in all the animal names.
You may wonder why it is that aardvarks and elephants and wildebeests and kangaroos were in the Western District in the first place. Well, that's easy. See, way back when, animals were named whatever Georgie and Rudolph wanted them to be named, and biodiversity was the word of the day, even though it had way more than 7 letters.
But, it became very difficult to play Scrabble that way, because Rudolph had this disconcerting habit of naming animals things like QKJZFFV, being what we now call "pheasants" and IOIAEUE, being what we now call "herons". Of course, the resulting two letter combinations (QI, KO, JI, etc) were all smaller birds, like sparrows (formerly called "QI") and the tufted titmouse (formerly called "the tufted titmouse", because both Georgie and Rudolph liked the name). This also helped Rudolph's score. But, that was before an official list of animal names came down from High Command in Australia. Scrabble just wasn't as popular there, so they still have aardvarks and elephants and wildebeests and kangaroos.
What was that? Did someone say that your science teacher says there aren't any elephants in Australia? Well, that just goes to show you that teachers and scientists don't know everything. But, it's a nice fantasy, and a nice fantasy often beats a straight. And sometimes, the straights enjoy that. So, just nod and smile. Besides, we know where the elephants live. And, believe me, the elephants don't sleep well at night knowing that we know. Because we know Helga, and elephants have reason to fear Helga. As do Republicans. And it's no coincidence that the Republicans have elephants as their logo, and there are no elephants in the Western District anymore. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I have to say "And then it happened."
And then it happened. Can you believe it? I made it out of that digression fairly quickly. Anyway, it happened that the wildebeests of Omaha started a rebellion. They ate all the Scrabble tiles in the Western District. And, just as Georgie and Rudolph were reeling from that disaster, the elephants trampled all the dice and the aardvarks snorted up every last playing card, and the giraffes hid all the Nintendo machines in the treetops. Georgie and Rudolph knew that they had taken too passive a stand; that while they provided well for the care and feeding of those animals friendly to cats, that they had not taken an active stand against those animals that had no use to kittykind. Had it just been the obdurate wildebeests, they would have been alright, but against the hordes of anticat foes, they had no choice but to call for Helga. And they drew a great crop circle and joined paws and called Her Name.
And Helga came on the wings of large Great Blue Ioiaeuae and cast a dark shadow over the quiet streets of Omaha. And she lighted lightly at the home of the man who worked the fields everyday to pay Georgie and Rudolph's rent. And the man was taken with Helga, and who wouldn't be, really. And he made her corn lasagne from the cheese made from some of his favorite goats, and Helga enjoyed the corn lasagne, and made a mental note to bless the Western District with amber waves of corn, or something like that. And the man, whom I really should give a name to, how about Zjtoepr, why not, it's great for Scrabble; ah, yes, there are no Scrabble tiles. Fine, And the man, Bartholo*mew*, brought out sushi and catnip and made pleasant smalltalk, then quietly left the story. Such a nice man. Lovely goats, too.
Helga, Georgie and Rudolph discussed their collective predicament at length. Surely, the only way to make the Western District safe for corn was to rid the area of all the animals that, just coincidentally, had caused Georgie and Rudolph all their problems. And Helga took an object from the sidesaddle of the larger of the Ioiaeuae. It was her trusty frisbee, a lavendar frisbee that measured approximately 6184 feet in diameter. And, she hoisted the frisbee, and with just enough spin, sent it flying across the plains. And the frisbee picked up all the elephants and wildebeests and aardvarks and kangaroos and giraffes and so on and carried them across the ocean to the Eastern District, where they live still. And corn grew on the mighty plains, and Scrabble tiles and playing cards and dice and Nintendo equipment grew on dandelions throughout the District.
And, all went well for a while, until the lizards came and ate the fruits of the dandelions then started on the cats. But, that's a story for another day.