Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Two seemingly small—and yet significant—changes have found their way into my life.
I recently started typing only one space after each period, instead of two.
I’ve lived almost a half-century now (yup, the big 5-0 is coming up in a few months), which means I learned to type almost 40 years ago. I didn’t walk barefoot to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, but I really did type college papers on an old manual typewriter. And the first analysis paper I did at my post-college job was—I know, horrors—hand-written!
One of my next work projects had lots of charts as well as text, and I did the whole thing in Excel. Which meant that any edit to the language—additional words, deleted phrases—all had to be manually carried through, line by line. That burden didn’t dissuade me from tuning (and fine-tuning, and over-fine-tuning) the language, complete with double spaces after each period. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that the drawn-out labor of editing in Excel didn’t tempt me to learn a word processing software. I didn’t try my hand at such until I had to scramble to finish a project someone else had already started in WordStar—so I was under duress and under the gun and I had no choice.
I never went back. I went forward of course, to WordPerfect, and then Word. And oh, I still love Excel, but rarely for text!
(Note: I do think that the trial-by-fire way I learned my first word processing software is, in some ways, the best way to learn a new tool. I suppose that a less panicked way to frame that is this: a concrete task is the best motivator. That maxim still holds for me today. I recently took on the job of managing the new twitter account for my office. I learned more about twitter in one week than I had in all the four years since I’d created my own personal twitter account and on which I’d tweeted a grand total of nine times!)
At any rate, my point is that my typing goes “way” back, to the days before word processors. The standard then was two spaces after each period, because the typewriter didn’t letter-space (or kern) like all word processing software does today. The single- vs. double-spacing debate is somewhat generational and surprisingly vehement. I recently read an article extolling the virtues of solo spaces, and while it wasn’t the first such voice I’d heard in that debate, for some reason it stuck, and I’ve been single-spacing it ever since.
(Note: faithful readers might be moved to point out that all my posts have been styled singly. You are right! It’s because WordPress converts double spaces to single space. That correction didn’t go unnoticed by me either. It’s probably been working on me these last few years, finally culminating in my own conversion.)
I now take my socks off inside out, and leave them that way in the wash!
This one is likely to infuriate my daughter and my partner, both of whom have heard me complain—more than once!—about having to turn their socks right side out while doing laundry.
For some reason, I started taking off my socks like they do—peeling them off inside out instead of pulling them out from the toes so that they stay properly right side out. (I blame it on some special socks I recently acquired, that form tightly to my foot for support and that are subsequently not so easy to remove right side out.)
For some reason I even washed them like that, inside out. And then (!) it occurred to me that unless I’m walking around in my sock feet in dirt or on dirty floors, the inside of the sock is perhaps more in need of the mild scrubbing the washing machine offers to fabric surfaces than is the outside of the sock!
So. I’m converted.
Silly examples? Maybe. Sure. But as revisions to firmly held life-long habits, they seem significant to me. The fact that I’m clearly in the midst of some other big life change (think 5-0) isn’t lost on me.
What’s my point?
Well, here’s a picture of the 2012 winner of the world’s ugliest dog contest to illustrate my point. (Actual pictures of old dogs were sad… this little fella, while only 8 years young, just oozes old-age whiskers and curmudgeonly-ness!)
Mugly. Age: 8 years. Translates roughly to 56 human years. Yes, I know: not too far off from my own age. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (© AFP/Getty images)
My point? WE ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO CHANGE!