I am (and shall remain, I boldly declare) a steadfast believer in pen and paper. I write first drafts by hand. As a lefty, I experience an intuitive connection with the page that is quite different from the balanced intellectualism of keyboard work. And I love the grace and ease of certain pens. I work with a Rotring fountain pen and Aurora or Noodler's ink, which is a much more economical option than some of the roller ball pens I worked with as an academic. At two and three dollars a pop, disposable pens end up costing a whole lot more over time. (To compare, a seven or eight dollar bottle of fountain pen ink lasts a year even with heavy daily use.)
But enough about my pen fetish...
The point is, when it comes to getting text off the handwritten page and into a word processor, I find I often get sidetracked (Videogum, I'm looking at you!). So the idea behind the AlphaSmart purchase was that I could separate my writing time from other, superfun, but perhaps less productive activities. I'm thinking a super lightweight portable keyboard is also a better option than my big old superheavy laptop for transcribing research in the library, for taking out to the coffee house, for dropping on the floor accidentally, and for traipsing about the wilds of Northern Ontario. (Our family cottage doesn't have regular hydro service. There's a generator, but we don't run it 24/7 and it's loud and unreliable.)
So the point of all this, is that I ordered an AlphaSmart from some dude on eBay for $9.95 US, and it came today. They tend to go for a little more than that, but not too much more. I purchased a simple cable that you need to upload files from the AlphaSmart to your computer, and I was ready to rock and roll.
The point to this story is that the AlphaSmart was previously loved by a school that used it to help kids work on their writing (or for all I know, their typing). As it turns out, files do not get deleted just because the device doesn't have batteries or a connection to power. When I turned it on, I found that two of the files had, uh, content in them. Reading these made me immediately want to go out and get some schoolage kids of my own.
The first item:
Dear Mrs. Losey
we would like your approval to have an’end of the year water party’the we would like to set up are water balloontoss,quismo,gallonfill,freetime if you let us do this we will be on are best behavor and we will clan it up.
I have no clue what half of this stuff is. Quismo? Sounds diabolical. But at least this child is promising to honour his Scottish roots. Or maybe his supremacist roots.
I also found this short story? essay? about a touching weekend camping trip:
When me and my uncle were at a forest I was throw rocks I hit something and that something was a Camodo Dragon.It chased us intill my uncle found a stick and hit him with it.Then he died,he picked him up and droped him on his head again an again to make sure he was dead.Then raped him up and was heading home.I sat in front cause I didn’t know if he was still alive.
I love that it becomes unclear whether the kamodo or the uncle dies and gets "raped up". Powerful use of ambiguity, that. Seriously, kid, if you're out there and this is your work, I hope you kept writing. I can only imagine what kind of sick stuff you'll cook up after you experience the horrors of dating and life after high school.