Biff Rambles On About … Being All-Ears in Kansas, Excelling At Corruption, and the Art of Teletype Repair

Biff Hiking #4


It is Wednesday, and we all know what that means.

If the week were a coast-to-coast car trip, Wednesday is Kansas.  Mile after mile of flatness and corn.  We are too far from where we began to turn around.  We are not close enough to our destination to be buoyed by anticipation and excitement.

The best we can do is stare out the window at another mile of corn and hope that a silo or a cow will break up the monotony.

[I apologize to any Kansans for the previous metaphor.  You have a lovely state, but you cannot deny its flatness.  Or its corn.]

The only silo that broke up my monotony today was the corruption of an Excel spreadsheet I’d been working on for several days.  It was a thing of beauty.  (The spreadsheet, not the corruption.)  It had pivot tables galore.  It had links and SUMIF statements and VLOOKUPs and HLOOKUPs and IF THEN statements.  A simple change on the admin page would ripple through a dozen worksheets and automatically update tables and graphs and outputs.

Then, this morning, just as I had put in my last change and closed the file, Excel decided it did not like what I had done and corrupted it.  It asked me if I wanted to recover it and I clicked the “hell yeah!” button vehemently.  But what it recovered was but a shadow of what I’d created.  It replaced all of my beautiful formulas and pivot tables with their resultant values.  It was no longer dynamic.  It was static.

So … yeah … I got to clean up THAT gargantuan mess.

Thank you, Excel, for giving me opportunities to excel.

000 - Divider #1

In other news today, it was determined that there was no other news today.

A brief investigation into this oddity revealed that the teletype machine in the downstairs foyer had stopped producing news.

Indeed, it had fallen silent for the first time in many decades.  This was mostly due to the fact that the ink ribbon finally dried up and a replacement could no longer be found.

Since the warranty on the teletype had expired in 1972, there was no point in calling the teletype manufacturer’s service desk since (1) the warranty had expired while I was in elementary school and (2) there were only 5 digits in the phone number listed on the metal information plate on the back of the teletype, which, when dialed, only produced a horrific screeching noise from the phone followed by an electronic voice instructing us to “please enter more digits”.   But our fingers would not fit in the coin slot.

We could, of course, have sent them a Telex, but since the only Telex machine we could find was on eBay and was listed as “for parts only, as-is, no warranty”, we decided to save our money and to learn to live a life without news.  How bad could it be?

000 - Divider #1

Well, that’s about all I have for tonight.  It was a very slow news day (see previous section regarding the broken teletype machine).

To take your mind off of the lack of news, feel free to gaze out the window.

Hey!  Is that a cow on top of a silo?

Oh … no … it was just more corn.




  1. I learned one of my first programming languages on a teletype. 300 baud, with paper tape spiraling off the side. It was the latest thing in remote processing, and I think it even had a text based Star Trek game available.

    Sometimes I feel old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re not old … we are vintage. I do miss all of those old technologies. There was much more art and craftsmanship in them than there are nowadays. As programming has become more and more sophisticated, a lot of the art has gone out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I worked with them briefly when I first got out of college. Some of our customers demanded them as their terminal devices. Yes, the 75 baud interface was infuriatingly slow. You could literally watch each letter as it was typed. Of course, at that time, 9600 baud was the state of the art, so in comparison, 75 baud wasn’t that much slower.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No news works fine for me – no need to fix the teletype. I’m living in a country where I don’t speak the language, so i don’t watch TV or read the newspapers. I’m sure if something important happens someone will mention it. I just hope that someone speaks English.


  3. I have seen a cow on top of a silo – a cyclone blew down into the wheatbelt region, the lid of the silo lifted off like a space craft, and landed in the paddock with the terrified cows. the lead cow walked up and stood on it – showed it just who was boss in this paddock.
    Not quite what you envisaged, was it?

    Liked by 1 person

I Love Comments!

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

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s