It has come to my attention that gentle humor and irony do not do too well in the medium of the blog. I think for them to be effective, one must make eye contact with one's interlocutor. Too often, well-meaning commentators seize on what was, from my point of view, a throwaway line or gentle bit of humor, rather than on the central idea of a post. I fear my remarks about Homer, Google, and my granddaughter Athena have fallen victim to that difficulty. As Marshall McCluhan observed a long time ago, the medium is the message, or, as Aristotle argued somewhat earlier, form dominates matter.
As I prepare for five weeks away from home [leaving at dawn the day after tomorrow], I am reminded once again of the virtues of old technology. This time I am not speaking of the standard typewriter or the fountain pen, but of two other instances of old technology whose virtues have proven themselves once again.
Susie and I live in a third floor condominium whose principal feature is a large porch or balcony, on which Susie has established a virtual arboretum of plants and flowers. I am very much an indoor person, but she loves the outdoors, and so leaves the door to the porch open as much as she can. Not surprisingly, we get flies. What to do? Well, it turns out that quite the most effective fly-killer available is old-fashioned flypaper. The young among my readers may not even know what flypaper is, but anyone who grew up in the 1930's, which is to say before air conditioning, will be familiar with it. Flypaper is a ribbon of extremely sticky paper that unrolls from a little cardboard tube and is pinned with a thumbtack to the ceiling or the underside of a high cabinet. It is impregnated with something irresistible to flies, and they are drawn to it, fatally. The slightest touch with a foot or a wing sticks them to the paper forever. Over the period of several weeks, we accumulate so many dead flies on the flypaper that I must get up on a ladder, take it down, and replace it with another fresh piece. Disposing of the old fly paper can be tricky, since it continues to stick to anything it touches. I am quite convinced that nothing modern science could think up would get rid of flies as quickly and decisively as old fashioned flypaper.
The drive out to Bennett in Greensboro seems to be putting a strain on my back. I have a forty year history of back trouble, and have spent my share of time with chiropractors and even the odd acupuncturist. When we lived in Massachusetts, I built an indoor swimming pool into our home [or, to be exact, had it built] and for years found that regular swimming kept the back trouble at bay. My regime of morning walks seems to be equally effective.
But after several trips to Greensboro last week, my back grew tired, and, as they say, compromised, and I could feel the old trouble threatening to return. Once again, what to do? There are any number of powerful medications. of course, as well as a variety of treatments -- heat, cold, electrostimulation, chiropractic adjustments. But instead of these expensive and often quite invasive interventions, I took myself off to a medical supply store and for twenty dollars bought a firm back support pillow, identical to one I used for many years in Massachusetts. Magically, on the drive home, my back felt fine, and getting out of the car, instead of the occasion for some pain, was entirely without incident.
I am not a Luddite, or an impossible old fogey, as I hope this blog has demonstrated. But it is pleasant now and again to discover that there are some everyday problems that have long since been very nice solved. Now if the transition from capitalism to socialism were just that easy.