Many of us classify our computer (or smartphone) as our best friend, while many others of us consider that computer to be our worst enemy. Personally some days my computer can be a friend while other times it’s a foe that pushes my frustration to the limits. But, no matter what our feeling about our computer, we all must admit the computer world is here to stay and like the marriage vow line it’s “for better or worse.”
I just finished reading a book published in 1904 about the history of Republic County, Kansas -- my birthplace. My grandfather presented the book to me when I was born. I must apologize to him since it’s taken me over 70 years to open the cover and begin reading. No, I’m not a slow learner -- had other subjects of more interest, both at an early and older age.
When I concluded the reading of the book it was evident a lot of things in life have changed since the 1904 publication and the majority of those changes have taken place in the past 50 years... thanks to the computer and its relatives that make up computerized technology.
The computer has replaced the over 100 fraternal and social organizations that once existed in the county and thrived on socialization of the people, despite the fact those people worked sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week eking out a living on small farms and businesses. Gone are the homes with wraparound porches and verandas that were once filled by chatting families.
Now our major socialization seems to be done via the computer’s e-mail, texting and software programs such as Facebook, Skype and Twitter. Even computer technology has a cold voice of its own, barking out messages, or sales pitches to us.
Fewer people remember when business deals were concluded with a handshake. Today it’s via e-mail
Shopping experiences -- once done by going to stores asking for a special cut of meat, seeking more info about a product from the owner or a clerk who were personal friends and then hearing the words “thank you” as you exited -- are nearly lost by our present hurry-up attitude. Now, with the click of your computer, you can shop from your home for virtually any product at any store.
Still I cannot condemn our new computer world, where speed seems to have taken over everything we do. Society today seems too busy to take time to enjoy. One can argue the computer allows us more time to do other chores. An argument also can be made that this computer world may have created a situation where we are sacrificing personal human relationships and the benefits thereof.
I concluded that the Kansas history book exemplified no one was busier than those homesteaders and the hours they worked. Still, those people realized the importance of personal relationships and found time to groom them. Now the real question remains. Was the past really better than the present... and what about the future?
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Dogs may be smarter than we humans think
Pet owners have been cast by non-pet owners as a crazy lot. After seeing the dollar figures on what pet owners spend on their animals, it is really not hard to justify the fact pet owners might actually be crazy. In fact, another figure has come to my attention that reinforces pet owners as a nutty bunch.
Did you know 94 percent of pet owners talk to their animals as if they are human?
It’s no secret in our family that the betterhalf and I carry on a one-sided conversation with our present dog Missy. One-sided conversations have gone on for generations with our dogs Jake, Ralph, Suzy, Shadow and Pickles.
Of course, one-sided conversations in our household have gone on for years between the betterhalf and me. Thus, we both are accustomed to the one-sided situations. However, it’s been said the conversations between pets and owners continue because we believe the pet hears us better than anyone else does. In our household I wouldn’t exactly say, “Missy hears better,” but does pay attention, at least momentarily to what I say.
We make fun of dogs, actually question their smarts and continually remind them they are “dumb dogs.” But what is wrong with this picture?
“We common folks try to train our dogs to be housebroken, not to bark and to stay off the furniture. All the while that “dumb dog” has actually trained us. We get up in the wee hours to let the dog outside. We feed him at certain times and brush dog hairs from the couch when we come home. In reality, the dog is laughing all the way to the dog food dish and other comforts of the home he dominates.
If you doubt the intelligence of your pet, all you need to do is read a recent article in the Smithsonian magazine. The story tells the accomplishments of national security dog handlers who train explosive detection canines, or bomb dogs.
We must emphasize these bomb dogs are a little sharper than the average pet and specific breeds are more desirable for certain duties. Our Missy is no slouch. For instance, I would be willing to bet our Missy could catch a rabbit faster than a federal security dog although she could get blown to bits thinking a pipe bomb might be a disguised dog bone.
“Dogs don’t speak English,” these trainers tell us, so the only way to communicate is through gestures and tone inflections -- i.e. Good dog with “Good” emphasized. Also, 35 percent of a dog’s brain is assigned to smell, while a human’s brain has only 5 percent assigned to smelling.
The trainers concluded by saying an explosive detection canine works for praise and for food, but mostly he works for the fun of it.
With tongue-in-check I still must question just how smart the dog is who works only for affection from his handler. Our good old dog Missy might be smarter still. Missy gets affection along with food AND doesn’t work at all. Just how smart is that!
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
My ‘good guy’ routine turned upside down
Some days good things go bad, no matter how hard you try. That was the case this past week when I tried to continue with my good guy routine that has earned quite a string of daily praises from the betterhalf. However, just when I began to pat myself on the back, I find things can take a quick turnaround.
In our household I am what you call an “early riser” and the betterhalf follows a little later -- not a lot later, but just a little. I don’t drink coffee, but the betterhalf does. In fact, her early morning first effort is heading to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
In my effort to be a good hubby over the past years, I have become the guy who puts the coffee on. Notice I said, “Puts the coffee on” -- not make it? “Putting it on” in my viewpoint is turning on the automatic coffee maker that has the night before been filled with water; or using the other appliance that requires you to pour the water in the reservoir and then the percolating automatically begins. Actually, it seems like a foolproof job, even for me. Each time I perform that duty the betterhalf later offers her thanks for my early morning chore and I think what a nice guy I am. But, as we know, sometime good things must end. My good deed ended abruptly this past week.
In my haste, after pouring the water into the coffee maker reservoir, I forgot to put the pot under the spigot correctly. As the betterhalf shuffled to the kitchen for her early morning brew she stepped into a little moisture on the floor. Now I really don’t know how much moisture was on the floor, but I would guess it must have been a pot full. When I came back into the house a few minutes later, the betterhalf had finished cleaning up the mess on the floor and was trying to wipe down a cabinet and a puddle that accumulated under the stove.
Well, there was no “thank you” that morning or a pat on the back. I guess a guy was just lucky he didn’t get a kick in the “lower back.” Thankfully, the betterhalf also had a short memory, because I’m back at my early morning duty of making coffee and have been given that second chance. * * *
Several times I have caught myself condemning someone who was being occupied by a smartphone while his child gets a hit at his ballgame, or missed a “first-time moment” from his youngster because he thought that smartphone info was more important. You want to be careful about criticism. Times may have changed, but sometimes priorities can still remain the same.
A few weeks ago I caught myself being occupied reading the morning newspaper when a young house guest of ours caught her first fish. A newspaper or smartphone? Both have the capacity to take some precious moments away from us.
I admit it, I contribute to craziness in world
This is a crazy world and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m part of the craziness. While up at a Minnesota lake cabin, and having some idle time, I caught myself clocking how far a snapping turtle can travel in a six minute span. Doing such an act means a guy must really, really have some idle time and the turtle must have known this observer was nuts.
Without further comment, I will inform you the turtle was on a mission to lay her eggs and she covered 105 feet in the six minute trek. I should also add that while Prince William and Kate are new parents, the turtle has some time before parenthood and won’t even be present for the births. Turtle eggs hatch in a time span of nine to 18 weeks and the little guys will be alone on their march back to their palace in the lake.
I was debating whether to make my craziness public but, after reviewing a recent national newspaper, I felt better because I am in the company of a lot of crazy people. In the newspaper were editorials covering immigration reform and the potential crumbling of the Obamacare coalition. However, right next to that page was a lengthy story detailing the skills needed to win the International Cherry-Pit Spitting Contest in Michigan. I will spare you those details, but will point out one contestant practiced daily spitting cherry pits and wind is a factor in the contest.
Over the years much has been said about studies. You may want to know (or don’t want to know) about joint government-private sponsored science research at universities and other individual research projects.
This science research covers such subjects titled “Why dogs become man’s best friends; why some teams always seem to dominate the NCAA basketball tournament and skills needed to ride a bike. My favorite research, backed by some government funding, is the usefulness and safety of alternative and complementary medicine interventions. I like the response of one rational doctor when informed of that research who concluded: “There’s no such thing as alternative medicines -- there’s only medicines that work and medicines that don’t.”
In concluding, I should point out there might be a study people who live in messy houses would cheer. It’s a known fact dust mites cause hay fever-like symptoms that can trigger asthma attacks. A recent study showed these dust mites are less able to survive in messy, unmade beds because conditions were too warm and dry for them. * * *
I overheard a lady chatting with her friend. She said: “I don’t mind men who kiss and tell. At my age I need all the advertising I can get.”
Life's expensive enough without smoking
The campaign against smoking has been going on for years. I don’t know really how successful that campaign has been, but I must give credit to those who are against smoking for their persistence. A news note 100 years ago reported:
“Instances of the cigarette evil continue to accentuate the importance of the crusade which is now in progress. From East St. Louis comes the account of a young man of 23 who has just become insane after 11 years of smoking cigarettes.”
Now I don’t know how many people since that time have become insane from smoking. I can, however, vouch to witnessing smokers coming close to going insane because they didn’t have a cigarette.
As a good dad and granddad, I should say over the years I do recognize a smoking habit is not an easy one to dump. I’ve cited health statistics, quoted insurance rates, pointed out a heavy smoker can spend enough on cigs in one month to make a car payment and I even offered bribes. My lectures have only worked twice. My son quit the smokes at least six times, but still continues puffing. A couple of grandsons smoke on a “limited basis” governed by their own economics.
One of my two success stories comes from the betterhalf who once smoked only on social occasions and still insists she quit ‘cause she wanted to and not from my constant lecture of sticking around long enough to see her grandsons graduate from school. Just where is my second success story?
That success story came from yours truly. My smoking story seemed to revolve around a guy who, with just a few months of a college education, was bent on trying to create a macho image. At that time I never considered smoking held the potential to be a life-long habit
Cigarettes were my choice, but they required the expense of a Zippo lighter, or at least a book of matches ...and smokers constantly wanted to mooch a cigarette. Soon I realized this smoking deal could get expensive. If I remember correctly cigs cost around 20 cents a pack.
The money factor played a role in the change of my smoking effort. I was then convinced smoking a pipe was the most affordable way to go. After all, the commercials always showed this cool character walking around with a pipe between his teeth while the girls would smile and remark of the good fragrance of his tobacco. There was no mention in those commercials of a pipe stem creating a sore tongue, a leaky tobacco pouch, or a few burn holes sprinkled down the front of your favorite shirt because of pipe ashes cascading from the pipe bowl.
By the time I got around to trying cigars I found they were unacceptable in most circles because of strong, stinky odor. People actually had the nerve to tell you “no smoking” in their house, or business.
Finally, after a few months, the old light bulb went off. My early college education came through. I asked, “Self, why not just quit smoking?” So I did -- cold turkey. Unfortunately my monthly college budget during those years still came up short. And, even today, life is expensive without smoking.