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Daniel Eran

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photo Reading Palm
I usually write stories in a text editor. I can't really write manually, because I am as much an editor as I am a writer. I could never get anywhere on a typewriter, and paper just scares me. It's hard to legibly finish a paragraph. When the power goes out I have to draw pictures.
There’s only one thing that really lies in the void between electronic word processing and writing or typing on that old fashioned stuff they make from dead trees. That would be a Palm Pilot. The Palm’s Graffiti input system has you writing simplified characters with a stylus on a pad. But unlike writing with a real pen, your hand doesn’t move along the page. Instead, every character is written on top of the next, and you have to discretely make space characters, like hitting the space key on a typewriter.

I’ve taken long notes on my Palm before, but after writing in Graffiti for a while, you start forgetting how to write in the real world. Plus you start to miss being able to do shortcut things like scrawl a special mark followed by “dts” to type out the current date and time for you. And you start to develop this hybrid malady that combines writer’s cramp with keyboard repetitive stress injury.
photo I broke down and got a collapsible keyboard for my Palm, but it’s yet another thing to carry around, so I only have it with me when I’m making a point to let people around me know that I’m excessively geeky. The Palm and keyboard team makes for a rugged, tiny, battery efficient laptop though.
After getting plowed into the pavement by an inattentive tow truck driver, I found myself without my Palm keyboard, unable to extricate my PowerBook from my backpack, and seriously bored while waiting to get fixed up. I didn’t even have a Snickers bar to guck down while I waited. So I pulled out my Palm Pilot and started single-handedly documenting my trip through the faltering American healthcare system in Graffiti scribbles.

When you ride a bicycle, you take a different route than when you drive a car. Particularly in San Francisco, where the fastest way to get somewhere in a car can be flying over major hills that would be torturous on a bike, while the fastest bike route might cut through bumper to bumper stalled traffic that would have Mother Theresa screaming profanity and flipping people off, were she behind the wheel of a full size car.

Similarly, writing in Graffiti takes a different approach to composing ideas since it lacks the luxury of a speedy keyboard and automatic spell checking. It also makes scribbling certain characters frustrating. My C frequently comes out L, my G a Q, and my apostrophe a period. Writing individual letters with frequent corrections for mistakes makes Graffiti so slow you have to make terse abbreviations to keep your scribbles up to the speed of thought. It’s like writing in cuneiform, without the clay and toga and gad flies sent by God to induce you to free the Israelite slaves.
photo So anyway I told that story to tell this one: My scribbles about my two ambulance rides, crackhead girlfriend-stabbers at the Hospital of Last Resort, clean underwear and lots of narcotics were all taken in Graffiti, so the writing style of the resulting stories is different and maybe more understated.
In addition to my Palm, I had my camera phone, which I used to further document the ordeal. I would also like to point out that both the camera photos and the Palm scribbles were done one-handed and under the influence of lots of morphine, so cut me some slack. Basically, I’m saying I don’t have the time or inclination to edit all this stuff too much, so I might dive off into sappy or boring details of minutiae.

I’m sorry to have rambled so long and to only point this out at the end, but I actually tried to make this story unreadably boring so as to make my hospital stories seem interesting in comparison. It’s too late to do anything about having wasted your time like that, so without further ado about the situation…

And now for something completely different. Details of my crash weekend:


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