John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Man vs. machine

There is excellent reason to suppose that the designer of the Bryant furnace/air conditioner in my basement suffered from demonic possession.

Removing the filter for periodic vacuuming of dust and cat hair is not difficult, but returning it means getting down on the knees, groping in the dark recess past a bundle of hanging electrical cords that probably shouldn't be pulled loose, trying to keep the wobbly aluminum frame of the filter from bending over itself instead of blocking the opening, trying to fit the little latch over the filter, repeating the process because the filter frame has come loose again, and — inevitably, every time — scraping the skin off the knuckles against some protruding edge of metal.

Such a struggle takes it out of a man.

And therefore, since I am at liberty today, if anyone else craves the benefit of a sustaining pint or two, I would find a little company to be salubrious. Fiveish or so? (Unless you’re pretending to work and won’t be sprung till later.) Hamilton Tavern, or some comparable Baltimore saloon? (Even if you’re paying, I’m not inclined to leave town. But send me your name, and I’ll drink to your health.) No reasonable offer refused.

13 comments:

  1. Two thoughts (as almost always).

    I thought the primary benefit of neighborhood watering holes was that you could walk, and not have to drive, to drink.

    And, are you one of those barflies that, like the Clint Eastwood character in "Gran Torino", insists that a bar is for the consumption of alcoholic beverages ONLY?

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  2. I haven't been in the Hamilton Tavern for twenty-three years, and then it was never with a ready to twirl, massive, espantoon.

    Sign me up, Sir, for at least a brief introduction.

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  3. Excellent grub available there as well.

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  4. Ah, on lefty political sites, this is known as "drinking liberally." interpret that phrase any way you'd like.

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  5. In my previous comment, my frickin' copy editor missed that I never went to the tavern WITHOUT a ready to twirl, massive, espantoon.

    Where is my stick?

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  6. I wish I lived a little closer to Baltimore; I would at this time welcome any respite from canning tomatoes.

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  7. I believe designers should always have to use their products. I've used too many printers and copiers that require placing your hands next to panels marked "caution: hot" to remove jammed paper or replace ink cartridges.
    I used to own a Volvo 144S in which the fusebox was in the middle of the dashboard. You could sit in the driver's seat and change fuses from an upright position. The next Volvo I owned, a 244GL, had a fusebox that was near the driver's left foot; that required stretching out on the pavement with the driver's door open to change fuses. My current car, a Subaru Forester, has the fusebox under the hood, just forward of the firewall. You can change fuses standing up, but if you don't have a garage you can't do this if it's raining: your hands will be wet while you're in contact with the electrical system.

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  8. Jim, what in the Andy-by-God-Jackson are you talking about?

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  9. Jim, before changing the fuse you might want to determine *why* it blew. Of course, sometimes, when I couldn't see any obvious reason for the fuse to blow, I *did* keep putting higher and higher rated fuses in to see what finaly DID blow. When I was a very young lad the Superintendent of the apartment house we lived would always threaten to put a penny in the fuse box to keep the tenants from repeatedly blowing the fuse.

    Retired in Elkridge

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  10. Captain Nemo: What's unclear? He's contributing a number of other human-unfriendly designs he's run into, to go with John's story of the hostile A/C filter.

    I'll add my own: I typed for a whole summer on an Olivetti electric typewriter that had won a design award, apparently for its appearance. Unfortunately, it had two very serious problems: you couldn't see the line on which you were typing, and if you started to depress one key before the previous key was entirely released, the typewriter would print neither of them but would skip one space. When the fault came into view a few lines later, it was impossible to fix it, because there was only one space to insert two letters into. Sigh.

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  11. I hope the beer was cold. I received direction from above, that would be from my chief benefactor, my bride, and didn't arrive at the Tavern until 5:20 PM. I scoped out the three other patrons and enjoyed the refreshing taste of my Coca Cola until 5:40. Then, of course, I had to run and explain why I was so late. She won't buy, "I stopped by the bar for a drink." Hell, I price soft drink sales down to the tenths of a cent difference, so I would NEVER spend $2.50 for one at a bar.

    Next time, perhaps.

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  12. And I got caught up in a delay at home and didn't arrive until 5:50. I have got to arrange these things more effectively.

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  13. We all must resolve to do better - over a beverage.

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