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    by Randy Ooney     

My Nickel’s Worth                     by Randy Ooney




My great uncle Bill was born in the 19th century and spent his entire adult life farming in Siren, Wisconsin.  There was little remarkable about the farm buildings and my uncle’s home, except even into the 1950’s, the farmhouse did not have conventional plumbing that most people of Bill’s generation had come to enjoy.  By the end of the Eisenhower administration, however, Uncle Bill had an indoor toilet and other plumbing fixtures installed to accommodate his wife, family and guests.  But when nature called Bill, he continued to make the trip down the path to the out building that provided relief for those many years.  The moral of this story is this – outhouses are nothing like computers.  Once they get old and full of crap, you can still use them.  Meanwhile, I was led through the Gateway from Windows Vista to Windows 7 without a choice, thanks to virus attacks on my innocent PC.


Over the years I have replaced cars, kitchen appliances, bowling balls, torn pants, lawn mowers and snow blowers, radios, TVs, golf clubs, eyeglasses, and many other items under the sun.  In most cases, the new one worked about the same as the old, maybe with an extra bell or whistle that you needed to adapt.  So why is it that when the need arises to replace a computer, you feel like you need to return to school for three years to learn how to operate the new system.  Geez!!


So I got to thinking about how all this mega (or is it nano) technology affects our favorite sport.  Years ago, when you went to the bowling center for a few lines of open practice, the desk sergeant would give you a large sheet of paper with a small box to record an X or / or 0 or -; and enough room to record your score in each of the ten frames.  Regardless of where you chose to hone your bowling skills in practice or league, the paper was basically the same.  The color of the outlined boxes might be different, the ads on the side were different, but it did not take a Geek to figure out where to write the numbers.  Later in life, along came acetate sheets with overhead lights to display player’s scores on a screen.  All you had to do then was find the toggle switch to turn on the light and hope the bulb didn’t burn out, or worse, that someone did not spill a beer on the score table.


Now we have automatic scoring computers.  They have eyes that can see how many pins you knocked over, and can calculate the score and display it on an overhead screen.  This is great when it works, but my participation in a traveling league as well as a few tournaments brings me to 20-25 different bowling centers each season, and they provide 20-25 different computers with individual systems.  The bad news is that no matter how smart these systems are, frequently they see 3 pins remaining for a spare when there are only 2.  They think you got a nine count because the ten pin went over late, just before the pinsetter got to it.  So then you have to tell the computer what happened by pushing some buttons and the buttons are never the same as you go from place to place.


So here’s hoping that someday Brunswick, AMF, Microsoft, GE, Apple, will acquire a monopoly on scoring systems so they will once again be the same no matter where we bowl, and we will only have to learn a new system once every four years, when the system gets old an full of crap.      




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