Monthly Archives: October 2008

A virtual gadgeteria

What’s happened during my dotage to dash almost all interest in how things operate? Why’s it always easier, as I push 70, to push mechanical matters to a son or grandson? Let me explain:

Much more affluent than in earlier years, I’ve acquired much “stuff.” No home is without a computer, and I notice as I struggle on the treadmill at the City Recreation Center, that a number of people my age are wired, in the sense that they have music being piped in from a device the size of a quarter.

Twenty years ago, these same fitness buffs and I would have had a 60-pound Victrola record player strapped to our backs as we sweated to the oldies on a steam-powered treadmill.

But back to “stuff”: Either through the simple act of outgrowing it or my inability to keep up with the technology, I buy but don’t fiddle much with gadgets anymore. Of course, I will use my laptop computer until I expire, but will probably never cultivate a taste or tolerance for electronic gadgets found in Better Image catalogs. Continue reading

Don’t joke with airport security

Although most aspects to our recent trip to five European countries remain the highlight of all our travels, it’s good to be back. International travel can be stressful. I write this as a legitimate concern, not as one wishing to brag about all the places we’ve been. Only since retirement (mine) have we taken long trips, and unlike many others around us, we spend our money on trips, not fancy cars or houses.

That said, let me mention that the Trujillo-as-Terrorist factor this time was diminished. In 2003, I wrote a column titled “Do I look like a terrorist?” an honest question wrought by the constant delaying, prodding, poking, pummeling, patting, probing and pinching by airport personnel. Continue reading

Is Joe Six-Pack impressed?

One of the things that make a reporter’s job difficult is the ever-popular “no comment,” uttered by politicians to reporters who make them squirm.

Even back in the ’50s, the TV producers of the popular sit-com “Dobie Gillis” were aware of the face-saving remark and had Maynard G. Krebs tutoring Gillis, played by Dwayne Hickman, in saying “no comment” before running for high school student council.

A recent issue of the Journal North showed three unrelated, side-by-side articles, each with the tell-tale no-comment. Generally, when reporters fail to get a response from the source, they write that the person “declined to comment.”

But lately, perhaps in their zeal to economize on words, writers have simply written “declined comment.” Curious about whether it’s common practice or a mere aberration, I Googled “declined comment” and unearthed far too many instances to present here. Continue reading

But what about the flea?

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Much communication – or lack of it — comes in the form of merely believing we know what another has transmitted.

I was leafing through the Laugh-Lines section of a church publication and was struck by the fact that all eight jokes dealt with kids’ misunderstanding of certain words.

For example, a kid in church tells his parents he knows God’s first name. How come? “Well simple, Dad. In the Lord’s Prayer it says, ‘Our father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name.'”

Or the kid who asks about the fate of the flea when hearing about Joseph’s instructions to take his wife and child and flee to Egypt. Continue reading

It’s plain unpronounceable

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – Anyone dissatisfied with almost-$4 gasoline prices can’t expect corresponding savings by flying. Our recent international flight cost my family . . . well, you don’t really want to know. Nor do we. Only our credit-card issuer has any interest.

To make the trip across the Atlantic, aircraft need to be big, bulky and commodious. The usual seating arrangement is two aisles, with two seats on the left, two on the right and three or four in the middle.

We tried to sleep upright, being crowded by our seatmate. The worst seat on a long flight is next to the window. Sure, it’s fun to watch the takeoff and landing, but the rest of the time, all we see are clouds. Continue reading