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Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Why do you call it a clicker?

“Why do you say that, Pap?’
“Say what, Owen?”
“Why do you call this a clicker?” he said, as he handed me the TV remote.
Owen is my 10-year-old grandson. It was Saturday morning and we were doing a little channel hopping, trying to find something other than cartoons that a very intelligent 10-year-old might want to watch.
Sensing he really wanted an answer to his question, I tried to explain.
Since I can’t seem to ever give a direct answer, I sort of took the long way around. I told him that a few years before his dad was his age, TVs didn’t have remotes . Matter of fact, they only had three channels. I thought that might impress him since today we get a gazillion. But he didn’t say anything one way or another. So I continued.
“There were no cable channels. Just the three major networks. And when I was your age, in order to watch them, we had to tote an antenna to the top of the highest nearby hill, mount it in the top of the tallest tree we could find and run a wire to the house. Two of the channels originated in Huntington, W.Va. You’ve been there. That’s where Camden Park is. The other station was in Charleston. That’s even farther away.
“If you didn’t aim the antenna  just right, the picture would be real snowy,”I added.
“What do you mean, snowy?”
“Well, like the interference made it look like you were looking through a snowstorm. Real grainy like.
“And you know what else, there was no color. Everything was black and white.   Color TV didn’t come along until I was nearly grown”.
He still appeared to be paying attention to what I was saying so I explained how cable came along and how the picture was really clear after that. “The problem was, of course, if you wanted to change channels or turn up the volume, or even if you wanted to turn the TV off, you had to get up and walk to the TV to do it. Then, it was about that time that the TV remote came out,” I said. “And to answer your original question, here are the facts about this remote. You could turn the TV on and off with it and you could change channels with it. But every time you pressed the button, it made a loud CLICK. Therefore, everybody called it a clicker. Apparently, some of us still do.”
That seemed to satisfy his curiosity, and I felt good that I had given him a pretty good history of early TV and the remote control -- at least as far as I could remember it -- and why I still called it a clicker.
Then, a little later that afternoon, he and I decided we needed to go to Walmart for a few things from the toy department, like Legos, perhaps. As we entered the store, I said, “Grab us a buggy, Owen.”
He stopped, looked at me and asked, “Pap, why do you call a shopping cart a buggy?”

Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

This little piggy….

Whoever discovered that a pig’s valve would be compatible with a human heart valve had to be a genius. I mean, of all the animals on Old MacDonald’s farm who would have thought the pig would be the best choice?
Now I’m not a pork snob or anything, but those little fellows wallow in mud, eat swill, and live in a pig’s sty. You would think their organs would be the least desirable of all. But more importantly who was the person who figured it out? Were a bunch of cardiologists sitting around one day eating barbecued ribs and someone blurted out, “Let’s try out a pig’s valve on this patient’s heart.”
When I mentioned this to my cousin the veterinarian, Dr. Jan Ball, she squealed with delight. “I think they probably used a more scientific method, Sara.” She then proceeded to explain that a lot of experiments had shown that pig organs were very similar to humans. In fact, she said that tests were being conducted at the present time that showed pigs corneas were a better alternative than human cornea donors. And since my corneas are scarred, I found this intriguing.
I couldn’t help but wonder --- if I had a pig’s cornea would I view pork in a different light? I mean, could I ever eat a pork chop or a slice of bacon again without feeling guilty? When I mentioned this to my husband he said in his best Porky Pig accent, “I don’t think it would bother you a bit Pe-Pe-Pe-Petunia.”
At my last eye check-up, I learned that my opthamalogist was traveling to Pennsylvania to learn all he could about pig corneas. It seems the Chinese are the ones who came up with the concept and they discovered that there was less rejection and infection when the animal corneas were used. That gives me hope. And not just for me, but for all those who are blinded by this malady.
As a chubette child and a chunkier adult, pork was never one of my favorite meats. I would choose a hamburger over a BLT any day of the week, but if this cornea replacement thing pans out I will quit eating pork out of respect for their porcine sacrifices. Health wise, it would put less grease in my diet, too.
Who knows --- the next time you see me I might have a glint in my eye that reminds you of a pot-bellied pig.
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!

Jun 22, 2016, 08:13

Teaching old minds new tricks

I am the first to admit that I am no computer guru. In fact, what little I know I learned the hard way, by hunt-and-peck, and deleting of mistakes.
Of course, I did have a lot of help from my much smarter kids and grandkids who seemed to have been born knowing about computers. Through the years they have tried to pass some of this on to me, through not always successfully. I have been thankful that while he was still in kindergarten, grandson Benjamin Keith Fannin taught me how to turn one on and off, which to me at the time was a biggie.
My first computer was an old Windows ’95. I loved it, and what little I know I learned on that machine. I kept it for years, and then sold it. Happily, at last report, it was still working.
I replaced that old Windows ’95 with a new Windows ’98, which became my treasured workhouse. I wrote my column on it, wrote four books on it, started three more, which I still work on. In addition, I got emails, and did the gospel music I composed, plus the several other songs that I liked well enough to download.
A few years ago, we began to get a warning message from Microsoft that they were phasing out the ‘98s and would no longer support them. I deeply resented this; sure it was an effort by HP to get people to buy more computers. In time, of course, it happened just as they said it would.
Nevertheless, I still clung to my old tried and true machine. What was different was that I could no longer get the Internet, my emails or much of anything else. Then a very obliging gentlemen by the name of Clyde Trent came from Big Sandy Broadband, the TV cable and telephone company that I use, to see if he could help me with my computer problems.
Clyde taught me how to bypass Microsoft by going into Mozilla Firefox and Voila! I could once more do anything Microsoft had previously let me do; get the Internet, do my column, send it to the paper, and continue to work on the things I was involved in. Thank you so much Clyde!
As time passed, my old ’98 began to be very sluggish, slow to respond to my clicks. But along the way I had learned how to reboot it back to its factory settings to make it be as brand new. It is possible that all computers have a program to do this. I know for my ’98, as soon as I turned it on and while the monitor was all black except for the little row of words across the bottom that tells how to do it, I had only to punch the F10 key it asked for and immediately the machine would begin this reboot, making itself like it had just come from the factory. Of course you had to reload some of your old personal programs lost in the process.
It occurred to me that maybe, someday, that old computer of mine might actually quit beyond the fixing. So I bought a new 8.1 version of HP. Of course, still not knowing a lot about how to move from program to program, I had to acclimate myself to its workings.
Right off the get go, that Microsoft-supported thing began to send me messages to download a free version of the new Windows 10. So I tried it, hated it, and then went back to the 8.1 version. However, apparently not liking to be outdone, the preprogrammed brain of my computer did its own thing and beyond the believing, returned itself to Windows 10.
Almost at once the virus program that came with the machine began to make war with the virus program I had put in, and the two of them froze my computer. What to do? I had no idea how to unfreeze everything, and I had a column to write.
Then, driving along Second Street in Paintsville, I saw a sign on the lawn of one of the houses there that said “Computer Repairs”. I had my daughter Deb, who was doing the driving that day, circle the block just so I could check out the sign, write down the telephone number that it listed. At home again, I called the number.
On the other end, a pleasant male voice introduced himself to me as Phillip Trimble, a name vaguely familiar, as was the name of John Mark Trimble, who Phillip said was his father, though I was reasonably sure I did not personally know them. Of them, yes.
“What can I do for you?” Phillip asked me. So I told him all about my computer problem and my ignorance of how to fix it. “Can you bring it in to me?” he questioned. I told him that I was 86, my husband was almost 87, and neither of us drove anymore, that the two of us depended on one of our children for transportation, and thank God for it.
Then after saying he would come to us, Phillip asked me to read to him what the computer was saying. When I did, he said, “I know how to fix this. You just have to do exactly what I tell you.”
Next, this knowledgeable and obliging young man told me what buttons to click to fix my computer. Now everything is working fine, for am I not at this moment writing words for this week’s DownHomer column? Now if only I could take my old ’98 to Phillip Trimble and have him rebuild it, which I am absolutely sure he could do.

Education and Common Sense
Teaching old minds new tricks

Since I now live in Louisville, the hometown of Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., three times Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, and dubbed “the Louisville Lip”, I felt it my duty to watch the broadcast of Ali’s funeral procession and Memorial Service last week.
Naturally, I also want to report what I saw and felt about the city’s outpouring of love and respect for the Champ and his family as he was laid to rest in Cave Hill Cemetery, where many famous Louisvillians are also interred.
I watched as the 26-car funeral procession left the funeral home and proceeded past many places that had been significant in Muhammad Ali’s life, such as the house he lived in as a child, his high school, and the place where he learned to box.
He went there because he had a new bike stolen from him, when he was 12 years old and he told the policeman that he wanted to “whup” the person who stole it. The policeman, who was training youngsters to box, told him that he needed to learn to fight before he whipped his enemy. He weighed 89 pounds, but he learned to “float like a butterfly; sting like a bee” and the rest is history.
Somewhere along the way, he became unhappy with the segregation laws then in effect, and he felt the religion of Islam was more inclusive. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali, left his father’s Baptist Church, and got on the wrong foot with the Courier-Journal, which continued to call him Cassius Clay until 1970. Recently, the paper apologized for that decision.
I wondered how the people who were trying to get from one place to the other managed to cope with so many main thoroughfares being shut off for the funeral procession, but I was very proud of Louisville that there were no violent incidents; nobody decided to shoot into the crowds that lined the roadways as the hearse passed, all of them shouting, “Ali!,” “Ali!,” “Ali!”” and throwing flowers at and trying to touch the hearse as it went by.
Ali had the whole service planned. He had said that he believed that all religions pointed to God, so he had as speakers at his memorial service as nearly as I can remember: a Muslim, a Mormon, a Baptist, a Catholic, two Jewish rabbis, two Buddhist monks who chanted and beat on large fans, and three Native Americans, one of whom spoke a few words. His wife and two of his daughters spoke, as well as the daughter of Malcolm X, a young daughter of his lawyer, a female Muslim college student, a close friend, and finally comedian Billy Crystal, broadcaster Bryant Gumbel, and Former President, Bill Clinton, all of whom were personal friends of Muhammad Ali.
One of the speakers told the story of a man the Ali’s picked up on the side of the road. They told him they were going over to the bookstore to buy some Korans and Bibles to give away. The man said he had three Bibles he would donate, so they took him home to pick them up. Ali tried to pay the man for the Bibles. He insisted on giving them to him.
“I’m trying to get to Heaven,” Ali exclaimed.
“So am I,” replied the man. Finally, Ali put the money under a table cover and left.
One statement that the bragging, “I am the Greatest” Ali was quoted as saying is, “I believe God sent this Parkinson’s Disease on me to show me that I am not “the Greatest” God is.”
Louisville gave Ali a wonderful send off.
He is now in God’s hands. May God have mercy on his soul.

Smile Awhile
Sara Blair


The first time I ever heard the word “crepe” it was in reference to a type of a paper used in crafts and the wrapping of gifts . If you stick wads of it in chicken-wire you can create a pretty good parade float.
But relatively recently, the term has been applied to another area with negative connotations. You can now add “crepe” skin to all those other descriptions that refer to an aging body: sags, bulges, bags under the eyes (and else where), crows-feet, turkey necks, stretch marks, and everybody’s least favorite, fat!
Crepe skin --- who came up with that term? It was probably the the same guy that coined Alberto VO-5, which became an instant hit on the cosmetic market as soon as it appeared on TV screens. And the joke of it is, the VO-5 in the product title doesn’t stand for anything. The average consumer thought it was some code for how many experimental variations the scientists tested until they found the right mixture. But in truth the only effort used in naming this product was a bunch of advertising executives sitting around a table who juggled numbers and letters until they came up with a name that sounded respectable and rolled off the tongue when you said it.
But getting back to “crepe” skin (especially for those of you who are too young to realize the meaning of the term, let alone experience it) it is mainly that area of skin on the chest that bunches up and gets crinkly, especially if you sit hunched over with your shoulders forward.
But there’s good news! There is now a product that takes care of this horrible affliction. However, as I write this I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called because every time the ad for this miracle cream comes on TV I run to the bathroom to check myself. By the time I return to the television “Criminal Minds” is back on and I’m depressed.
How come the Ad people don’t target aging men with these derogatory terms? If I am to believe the TV ads, the only things men have to worry about are baldness and a little greying around the temples. Whereas we women paint lines around and above our eyes, blend flesh colored cream all over our faces to which we add rouge, paint various shades on our lips, color our hair and sleep with oils and cucumbers on our faces. And just when we think we’ve got it all under control, someone comes up with “crepe” skin.
As Charlie Brown would say, “Good Grief!”
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!

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