By Mac McKerral

The list of stuff eliminated by competition or relegated to museums and “retro” users by technology grows each day.

I found, sadly, that the “Abacus,” the calendar created by the Western Kentucky University chapter of Delta Sigma Pi now joins that list.

I have purchased an “Abacus” every year since I arrived in 2005. A couple weeks back, I headed to the WKU Bookstore to get a 2015 edition. I scanned the calendar-section shelves but saw none.

So I asked one of the store managers when the “Abacus” would arrive.

The answer: never.

She told me the fraternity got out of the calendar business, Delta Sigma Pi primary fundraiser for near 40 years. The designer of the 2014 “Abacus,” Samara Heavrin, wrote this on her blog:

Abacus-Cover“The Western Kentucky University Abacus is a yearly publication of the university calendar. It has been an ongoing tradition for over 35 years to get an Abacus before the school year begins.”

The Delta Sigma Pi website states that the professional fraternity was organized to foster the study of business in universities and to promote closer affiliation between the commercial world and students of commerce — but not necessarily a closer affiliation with WKU.

The bookstore manager told me that half the 2014 editions did not sell, the victim of competition from similar calendars the store still offers and the growing use of tablets, phones and computers with calendar functions — and apparently, an interloper.

The manager told me I could find a spiral-bound calendar very similar to the “Abacus” in the Raymond B. Preston Health & Activities Center — for free.

I picked up the freebie later that day on my way to the fitness center in Preston, where I find parts of my body have outlived their usefulness.

The Preston calendar — not quite as ambitious as the “Abacus” — fit the bill, and I began filling it with entries — but now with a fair amount of guilt.

Cody Cox, president of WKU’s Delta Sigma Pi, shared in an email to me this about the “Abacus”:

“After we had a loss for $10,000 and the competition of a free planner from the Preston Center, we decided it was time to discontinue the abacus and look into other options.”

My office holds a desk drawer that — among other things — contains all the “Abacus” (Abaci, Abacusses) I have purchased since 2005.

They represent a decade’s worth of meeting, appointment and deadline memories.

I cannot let them go.

ReaderMy office also holds a bookshelf that sits on part of my desk. The shelves contain an array of reference books — dictionaries, quote collections and encyclopedias.

Yep, on the shelves sit a bartender’s guide to making drinks, a “CIA Fact Book,” and the “Al Qaeda Reader.”

These books used to be gold for writers and editors. But “Since we got the interweb, these hardly get used,” (My Morning Jacket, “The Librarian”).

Like my collection of “Abaci,” I cannot let them go.

(For more about Mac, search the menu for “About” and “Who is this guy?”)


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