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More Dogs on Main Street

Although I’m not a complete Luddite, I’ve never been accused of being an "early adopter" of new technology, either. If something is working, there’s no real reason to go through the complications of replacing it with something that does the same job but is slightly faster or has additional features that may or may not be useful. The effort involved in changing has to be clearly justified. So I plod along with a 10-year-old computer that works just fine. My car has crank up windows in it, and while there may be situations in the heat of the summer where it would be nice to be able to open the back windows without chiropractic intervention, it’s not that big a deal.

Sometimes, though, circumstances develop that force a change. I was taking care of a friend’s new puppy over the Thanksgiving week. He was a very good little dog and a pleasure to have around. But still a puppy. The big wad of coiled up wire on the telephone was more than he could resist. In one of the few seconds he was out of sight, he chomped through the phone cord. Every dog I’ve ever had has done that. Every dog I’ve taken care of for friends has done it, too. Over the years, I’ve bought enough replacement phone cord to run a direct line to the moon.

I like the convenience of being able to drag the phone into any room or out on the deck, so the cord between the phone and the wall is a 50 footer. That makes an irresistible tangle of wire under the table for a dog to chew on. I understand. There are times I get a hankering to chew on it myself. So it was no surprise that it got chomped. The stretchy cord between the handset and the base was also getting pretty tangled. I was going to replace both while I was at it. A regular telephone makeover.

Rotary dials are still a wonder to me. I’m old enough to remember when we went from having to call the operator to place a call to being able to dial it yourself. It was a miracle. So once I got rotary dials, I figured that it just couldn’t get any better. Of course all those businesses that require you to "select from the following confusing menu" forced me to get a push-button phone in the office years ago. But I kept the dial phone downstairs because it worked fine for most of the calls I made. It’s got to be 30 years old, maybe older, and works flawlessly. You could drive a bulldozer over it without harm, except for the cord.

Standing there in Home Depot, looking at a wall full of phones and phone-like devices, I realized that the world has moved forward from my old Western Electric rotary dial phone. Technology marches on. For about $5 more than the cost of the two replacement wires, I could upgrade to a cordless phone. The whole thing weighs less than the handset of the rotary dial phone. I could take it to every corner of the house, even out in the yard or down in the garage. It seemed so miraculous that I had to buy it.

I got it home, charged up the battery and got it all set up. Just to test it, I put it in my pocket and walked around the yard, then down the street, and figured out that it has a range that is better than my cell phone. I could strap one on my dog’s collar and call her to come home. The first in-coming call was a challenge, but I figured it out. Maybe if I get snowed in, I’ll take time to figure out all the other buttons. They may be on to something with these things.

Have you been watching the big Saddam Hussein trial? He’s being tried for crimes against humanity, tax evasion, shoplifting, and writing bad romance novels. It’s been getting some press lately because Saddam is defiant and not behaving well. He’s showing no contrition. He complained the other day that he had been forced to sit through the trial for three days straight, and was wearing the same underwear all that time (which reminds us all of that disturbing jailhouse photo of Saddam in his tighty whities). Sitting through the trial for three days, like he’s got someplace else to go. Maybe they can get him set up to TiVo "Dr. Phil."

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is over there working for the defense, claiming that he is there to guarantee Saddam a fair trial. It looks like a bad impersonation of Jesse Jackson. The whole thing seems like a bad idea. Didn’t we sort of already decide that Saddam was guilty? If there was any doubt about that, weren’t we a little premature sending in the Marines? Instead of just lopping his head off on the town square, there is going to be a trial. Then they will lop off his head. The trial is a kind of circus that gives Saddam a daily opportunity to give a fiery speech on al-Jazeera TV. That can’t be good. He’s got better press access now than when he was in control. This could drag on for months, with testimony about terrible things that happened under his rule, and Saddam giving campaign speeches or laundry updates every day, with bombs going off all around the courthouse.

What happens if he is acquitted? Do we then say we’re sorry, and help put his statue back on the pedestal before we leave? Acquitted? How could that happen? Well, that’s what we said about O.J. and a few others. I wouldn’t bet on anything in Iraq. Saddam could be re-elected next week.


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