Sunday, August 22, 2010


A Note From Newton Ulm, an old fogey.

Since I cleared off my desktop to perform a computerectomy and replace the modem, I haven't had easy access to a dictionary or my Oxford English etymology. This morning I search the bookshelf on the east wall to find out the origin of the word fogey as in old fogey. The Oxford etymology allows the addition of the (e) but the spell checker doesn't. Screw the spell checker.

First, kids, we'll look at the etymology of cynic. The Greek philosopher Diogenes thought dogs"were extremely moral and intelligent and even adopted the nickname Cyon which means Dog.*
*How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren.

Diogenes and his followers became known by the nickname as "Cynics" or "Dog Thinkers", again both the information and the quotation marks are from Coren. I'm big on dog thinking. Mandy and I spend fair amounts of time-me talking to her and she doing some serious listening. I'm getting better at reading her body language since her only English language word is Roof.

So at the risk of being labeled an old fog(e)y I'm giving you my take on some of the newest trends (nice word for fad). I could be complaining about the weather and mosquitoes, so bear with me.

Facebook. My neighbor in Arizona rented a home in Colorado for a month to be closer to his grandkids. The woman who owned the home put him on Facebook for reasons that were puzzling to Buster(a nickname for my neighbor). When I noticed he was on Facebook, I called and asked about the startling event. After his retirement from securities fraud investigation he limits his time on computer to e-mail. His answer was something akin to, "I have no idea. Do you know how to get me off?" As far as a literary vehicle Facebook rivals Little Lulu comic books from my youth. Number one son uses Facebook to let people know which bar he's bellying up to after work. I get requests from Artie Shaw to be my friend. "Well, Artie. I thought you were dead." My local sandwich shop is on Facebook and Yahoo or some other news source says that North Korea has a Facebook page. Most of the information posted there is short, one liners that would be better served in an e-mail. I can imagine a post on the Facebook wall for North Korea,"Hey dudes, what's the word ?"

E-mail. It's like talking to my wife. She reports to me that she's going to start the potatoes. We were discussing canning tomato sauce. I'm puzzled why she wants to can potatoes. We usually store them in the basement or garage. "Oh, I meant tomatoes," she says after I grumble, "What the hell?" There is so much unsaid in e-mail. Inflection, intention and communication are severely affected. I get e-mails that I'd like to make comments about. I know I'll only get in trouble because my sentiments in e-mail will, too, be distorted and will be labeled terse or worse. Self absorbed daughter wrote this comment after I did a blog post about our new puppy," Oh no, you got a dog." Yeay? This comment makes me really happy. ...And with all the rage for texting, e-mail has gone the way of writing a letter. How R U ? I M OK. You'd better watch out or the portion of the brain designed to communicate will become shriveled and we'll be back to grunts and Oofs like prehistoric man.

YouTube, Twitter, Blogging. More literary nightmares. I've been considering giving up blogging because the venue is so compromised. It's not exactly a place to discuss deep thoughts, develop characters or explore the realms of the mind. Anything put up in a public forum is open to attack, ridicule or worse, comment.

A daily newspaper reports on a nude bike ride in the state capitol to focus awareness on using bicycles more often. I'd be the first to jump on my mountain bike if some comely nude maiden were to ride with me. The newspaper also allows comments by readers. One young lady hoping to avoid arrest paints the upper portion of her body to appear as if she's clothed. An overzealous policeman knocks her off her bike, tosses her in the back seat of the patrol car and according to the woman, oogles her repeatedly refusing her request and her boyfriend's urgings to allow her to put a shirt on. I'm amazed that the newspaper printed a pornographic comment by a reader about the event. Those words shall not pass these lips.

The problem:TIME. No one has time for retrospection, reflection and good old fashioned complete sentences. I'm the first to admit that I'm time compromised. If it weren't for the hordes of mosquitoes and dense fog on this Sunday morning at 8:30 am I'd be working outside. I realized this when my daughter e-mailed me a short HOWAREYA ? I cut and pasted an entry from a recent post and sent it off with the web address of the blog, reminding her she is still listed as a follower. I followed with a promise to write a personal note. She wrote back with an explanation that looking at a computer screen all day at work isn't much incentive to go home and do the same.

I know people who don't own a computer. Some are younger than me. The weatherman promises that the fog will burn off and we'll be having a beautiful Sunday. The Pooch just knocked a pen off the desk top and is showing Mandy a few tricks about writing without an opposable thumb. The other side of the french door for Dawn's studio is on a worktable in the garage awaiting another coat of polyurethane. Maybe Prairie Home Companion will have a live program on the repeat broadcast Sunday mornings. Maybe I'll go for a nude bike ride. Mandy wants me to play with her bunny. Wow, so much to do. So little time.

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