I decided to take off a couple days for myself last weekend, and since we’re out of the dog days of summer and into the cat nights of August, it seemed like good timing. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but it was a chance for me to get back to the practice of sitting on the porch, piddling around and catching up on the latest bingeable streaming shows, of which there aren’t many that keep my attention.
And also extra time spent on the internet with its interminable trendiness. And little aggravations, like a couple of weeks ago when, due to my quirky router, the internet went out for a while and I couldn’t read the news or check my email or snoop around on Facebook, or even check Doppler radar to see if it was raining.
I did, however, have a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to fall back on and proceeded to brush up on how to plant a garden in New England, plus a little history – something I keep up with lest I repeat it myself. For instance, the British burned the U.S. capitol and President Madison’s house in Washington on this day in 1814; possibly the one time “taking back America” meant literally that.
By the way, August 24 is the anniversary of the waffle iron. A man named Cornelius Swarthout received the patent on what he cleverly called “a device to bake waffles” in 1869. There had been waffles before that – the French word wafla means “a piece of honeybee hive” – but you couldn’t have them for breakfast in a Day’s Inn lobby until Cornelius came along.
It was also on this day in 1456 that the printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed. It was the first edition, and since then, people have been trying to figure out Latin.
Back in high school, we had the choice of two foreign languages, and because of a shortage of bilingual teachers in my Kentucky town there was only French and Latin to choose from. Just for fun, I picked Latin and did OK, but the only thing I remember from it is how to conjugate amo; amo, amas, amat, animus, amatis and amant. And that the word picnic in Latin is picus nicus.
Gutenberg’s Bible was the first ever printed book and before you knew it the whole printing press idea took off. Come to think of it, my co-workers and I at the Chieftain wouldn’t have a job without a printing press. Oh, I know, there’s the digital thing that’s all the rage, but I still would rather read something printed on paper as opposed to anything one can read on a computer screen or tablet.
With, say, a real newspaper, you can flip through pages glancing at the various headlines and pictures. I may be a little biased here, but in the long run, newspapers may be better for us than those countless online information sources and “news” sites that people just thought up.
When you read a paper paper you may have to skip over a lot of articles before you get to one you might be interested in, but in doing so, you are taking in everything on the page. Something may catch your eye among all those headlines and you end up reading something you hadn’t sought out. If you think about it, in a way, the result of all those algorithms filtering out everything except our particular interests could be, if I may, making us less informed.
But I digress.
I’m as guilty as anyone when I get caught up cruising on the web. You sure get all kinds of opinions from every which a way – conservative, liberal, right-wing, left-wing, chicken-wing, you name it. I was thinking, you put all those together and you get the Johnny Cash song about the singing group that performed on stage in a particular line-up:
The one on the right was on the left,
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was …
“The One on the Right is on the Left” ends with the band members getting into a knock-down-drag-out on stage one night over their political differences. The Man in Black released that comedy ditty in 1966 when the war in Southeast Asia was heating up, and I don’t know for sure, but something tells me it could also be a hit today. One difference being by the late sixties, there were peace demonstrations on practically every single college campus.
Fact is, college students wanted to get drafted.
Nowadays, there are protests over the price of Taylor Swift tickets.