Thursday, April 30, 2015

First, Fourth, Second

Oh, we’ve got trouble. Right here in River City. That’s trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and stands for pretty funny how you go from 4th to 2nd unbeknownst to the judges. This is a small town, folks. When stories go ‘round about backroom shenanigans at the 50th annual Leonard J. Waxdeck Bird Calling contest, not only will the birds returneth again to their nest, but they’ll ruffle a few feathers when they get there! Angry Birds will suddenly take on a whole new meaning! In other words, some among us may take such things seriously. Judging by the 200+ in attendance at the Champagne and Strawberry Party, honoring Mr. Waxdeck and the 50th Anniversary of the contest, there are quite a few who do, indeed take the contest and it’s reputation seriously. Slightly off topic, I must take a moment to say that, were Mr. Waxdeck alive, he would have been humbled by such a special event, held at the home of Ron and Gloria Gruber on Saturday, the night after the contest itself. It was the sort of party that, sadly, has become a scarcity. A charming, more genteel side of Piedmont that is now often drowned-out by an abundance of ill-mannered blow-hards. This was a party of Piedmont’s quiet and confident, pleasant and at ease. Think of it as Piedmont’s true power-players, but the ones with manners. If you missed it, you missed Piedmont at it’s finest. An afternoon to savor. Back to the feather-ruffling… As far as I can tell, the group of contestants who won second place, were scratched at the last minute and the fourth place group was somehow bumped-up to the second place spot. How do you bump-up fourth and disregard third altogether? Shouldn’t third have been bumped to second? More importantly, why was second scratched in the first place? I imagine there’s a good explanation, but I hereby give fair warning that some are crying “Cock-a-doodle-dooty!” You see, when you tinker with the reputation of the 50-year tradition that put Piedmont on the map nationally, you also tinker with the sensibilities of those who put that tradition in place. If home-cooking is suspected in the bird calling contest, it will render it nothing more than a sham. That’s tinkering, with a capital T! A bird is known by his feathers, Mr. Brown. Unless you want to be known as the yellow-bellied dodo who hurled the bird calling contest into extinction, you just might wanna clear things up for us.
Fifty years of tradition translates to a lot of old birds and old birds are hard to pluck. Cuckaw!! Cuckaw!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quasimodo Hump

 E. Boyer
I suppose I’ve evolved.  After the typical resistance and the standard learning curve, I’ve adapted and caught-on to most of the current technology.  A liberal old bird, I like to think that I’m a forward thinker and doing my darndest to stay current.  I cut out the carbs, subscribe to Netflix, have a smart phone, pay my bills online, I’m not shocked or surprised by sexuality, I’m fascinated by other cultures, I watched Breaking Bad (although, I was never fully convinced that Walter’s career move was very well thought out,) I’ve resisted the Rockports and elastic-waist pants (unless absolutely necessary,) I get my boarding pass via text and I’ve added things like agave syrup and coconut oil to my pantry. Truly, I’m at least in the game, as they say, at staying relevant. However, there is something that has me feeling a little old and cranky…
I know we can’t put the genie back in the bottle and I do, in fact, find texting enormously handy.  But, for heaven’s sake, it’s becoming a bit of a opiate, of sorts.  We seem so bound by the technology that many of us exist in a state of profound mental dullness, paralyzed and unable to complete sentences or tasks without a constant checking and re-checking of our "screen."  Teenagers, as a result of their nearly constant static, hunched-over position have developed a Quasimodo hump!  Men and women with an assumed knowledge of certain etiquette have all but abandoned these rules in favor of scrolling through an endless stream of Facebook updates and old text conversations while in the midst of a conversation!  Why accept a dinner invitation, if you spend the evening looking down at your phone?  Wouldn’t it be better to stay at home? There’s no benefit in having you in attendance if you have nothing to contribute.  Research suggests that cell phones may inhibit our ability to connect with the people right next to us and there are now commercials urging parents to put down their cell phones and practice talking to their children.  Practice!  Which is to say we’ve all but forgotten how it’s done!  Well, my heaven’s… a very sad state, indeed.

I suppose this is a stale opinion to many and as a society, I believe we’ve come to accept the deficit of social skills associated with cell phone usage. But, for the record, I simply can’t abide.  There are far too many interesting people/places/things that deserve my full attention.  I find it altogether worrisome when I think of the potential blight associated with this constant disconnectedness.  I’m not sure that the bad in this particular Pandora’s Box is worth the bit of good.  

I was in a local coffee shop recently and noticed a little girl of about 3 years old and her father having breakfast together.   The little girl chatted away while her father scrolled through his cell phone.  She asked endless questions to which her father never responded.  She would wait for a second or two in hopes of a response and then sadly look away and continue chatting to herself and poking around at her muffin.  I still feel like crying. If only he knew that in an instant, she won’t look the same, she won’t sound the same, she won’t be the same.  He’ll blink and just like that..she’ll be grown-up.  If he knew, he might have put down his phone.  Hindsight.  Honestly, the child would have been better off having breakfast with one of the overly caffeinated “regulars.”  Lively conversation with a stranger would have been more beneficial to the young girl than enduing the pointless, empty vessel that her parent was proving to be that morning.

Please, folks, take your thumbs out of the scroll-ready position, stand up and look out toward the vast horizon that awaits.  No, it’s not something just forgot about it while you were looking at dog memes.  Say “hello” to your family members and ask them about their day.  When they respond, maintain eye contact no matter how strong the urge to check the latest Pinterest boards for organization and storage ideas.  Keep both hands on the wheel until you reach your destination and remember that nothing in your in-box is ever groundbreaking…is it?  Be honest.

They say that progress can often introduce problems.  Judging by the dullness and Quasimodo humps, I’d have to agree!  Chicken pot-pie, anyone?