Writer’s Workshop: XIV

I don’t know if they still teach Roman numerals in school; I have no kids, or at my age, grandkids, so what goes on in the schools we pay lots of tax dollars to support is a total mystery. Anyway, XIV is 14 in Roman numerals, if you didn’t know, and even if you did know, it’s still 14, as was Martin Prado, now of the Miami Marlins, when he was with the Atlanta Braves.

#14, Martin Prado (source: Braves Nation Blog). Rio Ruiz, another third baseman, sports #14 now.

There used to be a TV production company called Ziv Television Programs, Inc. that was started by Fredrick Ziv in 1948 to provide syndicated content to the brand-new TV industry. Some of the shows he produced were Sea Hunt, Whirlybirds, The Everglades, and my personal favorite, Highway Patrol, starring Broderick Crawford. At the end, the shows would display the company logo, the word “ZIV” in capital letters surrounded by a box that looked like a TV screen. Once I got past being scared of the logo (yeah, logos used to scare me to death, what about it?), I would see the word ZIV and think it was Roman numerals for something, but couldn’t figure out what the Z stood for. “Ziv” is the Hebrew word for “light” or “glow,” apropos of a company whose products glow from a TV set, don’t you think?

Speaking of scary logos, my friend Ben Minnotte (I don’t know the guy, I just call him that because I like the videos he makes for his YouTube channel, Oddity Archive) did a video on scary logos, which of course includes the Viacom “flying V OF DEATH!”

I don’t know if the schools around here teach cursive writing, but I do know that’s kind of a hot topic, because a lot of school districts are looking to eliminate it, rendering the current and future generations of youngsters incapable of reading things that their parents, grandparents, people they don’t know etc. wrote. Cursive writing was a hard thing for me to learn… no, it was easy for me to learn, almost impossible for me to produce to the satisfaction of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, who insisted that we should write as well (i.e. prettily — it’s a word now) as they did, and doing it using a cartridge pen, which I discussed in my first A to Z Challenge back in 2012 (which you can read here, if you’ve a mind to). I no longer write longhand, as my right hand was affected by the stroke and I never learned to write left-handed, which is probably just as well: even at its best, my handwriting was illegible. Sometimes even to me…

And that puts me at twelve lines. Which means this is the fourteenth, which was how many lines I was supposed to write…

18 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: XIV

  1. Ah, John, you’ve done it again. Don’t get me started on my rant about what they no longer teach kids in school. I could go on for days about no home ec, wood or auto shop and now if they add cursive writing to the mix, I don’t know what I’ll do. Thank goodness all my kids are grown so I don’t have to worry about it. I used to watch Highway Patrol with my dad. That brings back good memories to take the school stuff out of my mind. Scary logos, not really but the intro to One Step Beyond used to get me. Happy Thursday.


    1. Kids realize going into kindergarten that they’re in school to prepare to go to “university” (as opposed to “college” where you can get an associate’s degree, certification in a useful skill, or just take a few courses for adult enrichment) when they finish elementary, junior high and high school, whether or not they want to. That’s what the entire curriculum is geared toward, college prep. Even things like sports (including cheerleading), music, art etc. are offered only as a way to get a kid into college. There’s nothing left for a kid who has no interest in university, who wants to fix cars, install HVAC, or do any job that requires skills that can’t be gained by getting a bachelor’s degree in something. That’s very wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true and especially in my household where two of my three kids wanted nothing to do with college. It took them until their late 20’s to find something they wanted to do and the first 10 years after high school were spent in low paying retail go nowhere jobs. Fortunately they are getting settled in their niche now. Our youngest is in her last year of college for a Psych degree. She’s not sure what she wants to do with it yet but at least she is finishing.


        1. The sad thing is, so many of the jobs that require a bachelor’s degree don’t actually require one. The requirement is just there to give the recruiter an excuse for tossing the resumes of people who don’t have a degree in the wastebasket.

          High schools aren’t preparing kids who don’t want to go on to university for life after they get their diploma. It’s as though they forgot how.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. My kids both write in cursive….stilted, childish, barely legible cursive. Aisling can make it so small and cramped that she can write a novel on one page.


  3. I think it’s horrible that the kids don’t learn cursive since they won’t be able to read letters from their family of yesteryear. I was always in trouble with my cursive because it was never pretty. To this day my o’s look like u’s because they are so open. Oh well…those nuns need to smarten up


    1. It’s also a lot faster to write in cursive than in manuscript. Schools are assuming that every kid is going to take a laptop to class and take their notes on it, which is a lousy way to take notes; studies have shown it’s more effective to handwrite them.

      My handwriting was abysmal; even I couldn’t read it half the time…


    1. From what I gather, they’re learning how to fill in circles on standardized test forms.

      I’m sure what happened was that someone at the Department of Education got their undies in a bunch over reports that America’s students were lagging behind a good portion of the free world academically and decided we needed to double down on the three R’s, even if it meant eliminating physical education, music, fine arts, etc. It never occurred to them to find out how teachers in the countries that are doing better than this one were educating their kids (they’re too smart for that, you know). Maybe they’re afraid that they’d learn those countries were teaching kids the way they did back when you and I were going to school…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your video is a hoot! I’ve never considered how scary tv logos can be I was too busy being terrified that Dorothy wouldn’t be rescued each year from the wicked witch as the sand slid through the hourglass. Today I fear many of those disclaimers wouldn’t be allowed, some might actually believe them, lol.

    Homeschooling allows us to teach cursive (and anything else we desire). My 4 kids all begged to learn cursive, why would I deny them? I also wonder about signatures? If you don’t learn cursive how will kids learn to sign their name? I could go on, but I’ll refrain myself.


      1. There are some great channels out there where the creator curates the stuff TV stations broadcast besides the network programming, like commercials, bumpers (“Now we return to ‘The Brady Bunch’ on channel 32!”), news broadcasts, EBS/EAS tests, sign-ons and sign-offs, test patterns, interstitials, etc. Ben talks about a lot of that kind of stuff and pulls a lot of examples from YouTube. It’s actually quite relaxing to watch a video of all the commercial breaks from some date in the past…


    1. Maybe we’ll go to leaving a fingerprint instead of a signature. I don’t know. Cursive is a good thing to know, even if you don’t use it after a point. It’s definitely an advantage to someone in school (much easier to take notes that way). Rarely do people handwrite anything for someone else to read anymore, so it’s an organic way to leave notes for yourself (e.g. in a journal).

      I pity the designers of logos who learn that their creations have kids terrified and cowering under the bed. Here they go to all this trouble to craft a unique and bold logo to make a product memorable, and they learn that the reason it’s so memorable is because it scares people…


  5. I’m always fascinated by how much we can actually say in such a relatively small number of lines. My kids cannot read cursive and I think it’s so strange! Seems so obvious to me. Maybe I should teach them myself!


    1. I think you should, Kat. I don’t use cursive anymore (I have to type everything), but it’s great for taking notes in school. I hear a lot about how taking notes using a computer is nowhere near as effective as hand-writing them, and tend to believe them. The act of forcing the words from your brain to your hand makes it easier to learn, and there’s something about the feel of pen on paper that is more satisfying than typing. Sure, you can type faster than you can write, but that comes with the temptation of transcribing a lecture rather than listening and processing what the teacher is saying, then putting the words on paper.


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