A couple of weekends ago, as we drove home a bit before midnight from a pow-wow at Lower Brule, a coyote flashed across the highway ahead of us and into the north ditch about a mile short of Kennebec. I hadn't seen a coyote in the wild, so to speak, in years and years, and this one made its move across the interstate way out where the beam from the headlights was beginning to fade. Even so, there was no mistaking the creature, any more than a person can mistake the sound of a rattlesnake. I've had a fascination with coyotes since I was a kid.
Nobody actually uses a telephone these days. "Tele" has disappeared from the language. People use "phones'' -- cell phones, mobile phones, smart phones, iPhones and all sorts of other fancy names that creative marketers give to handheld devices that can take photographs, make videos, surf the Internet, tell the temperature, pinpoint the owner's location and, if the mood strikes the user, make an actual telephone call. You know, a telephone call?
When I was a high-school senior, I took some aptitude tests that told E.J. Lodge, the Chamberlain High guidance counselor, I would make a terrific medical doctor. Well, I liked Mr. Lodge quite a lot, and when he told me the results of the tests, I nodded my head in what I hoped was a contemplative way, but I didn't say much. I wasn't at all sure what questions I answered in such a way as to show an aptitude for medicine. If I remember the test, it was pages and pages of "would you rather do this or do that" kind of questions.
I saw a television commercial the other day about basement cleaning that really hit home. I just caught a glimpse of it, so I don't know the company name or any details. We have this gizmo on our television that lets us stop the action and go back to replay stuff we missed. That's handy, but I never remember that we have it, so I never use it. And that is why I don't know the details of the commercial, even though I could have replayed it a dozen times if I'd thought about it. (Once you leave the channel, you can't go back and use the replay feature, apparently.
After watching way too much of the 2012 Olympic Games, I'm wondering when South Dakota high school and junior high kids will begin to roll on the track and curl into the fetal position after finishing second or third in an event at a conference or state track meet. If the grown-ups do it, it won't be long before kids do it. And this year at the London Games, it seems to me more grown-ups than ever before are being incredible sore, demonstratively sore, losers. It is a trend that can have no good end.
Growing up, I figured anybody who owned a grain elevator was a giant, far beyond the reach of mere mortals. With George Shanard, I was right, and I was wrong. He was a giant, in a way. He built and managed a successful business career, and he fashioned a successful political career.
Our younger son just returned from traveling through England, Scotland and Ireland, and I'm not even thinking "So, Nancy and I have been working for something like 45 years now and we've never so much as thought about getting passports, much less using them." Actually, I was rather impressed with how carefully his travel was scheduled, with train times and rental car pickups and hotel check-ins and all that stuff jotted down well in advance of the day the kid drove to the airport to catch a flight across the ocean.
I have another story to share in my occasional series about old guys learning to deal with technology, but it seems so outlandish somebody at the office probably already has purchased the thing my story describes. In the evenings, I like to read a bit before turning in. Reading is a relaxing way to turn down the volume of the day and prepare for sleep -- even if the article being read describes a rather frightening development in the pell-mell race by humanity to create so many technological wonders that we make ourselves irrelevant.
I visited with an old friend the other day, and as it often does during a South Dakota summer -- and way more so during the month of July in this South Dakota summer -- the conversation turned to the weather. I'd just come from the river, where Nancy and I had joined two other couples in a kayak trip from just below Oahe Dam down to Marion's Garden. The Corps of Engineers had the release rate from the dam cranked up, so the current was ripping downstream at a pretty fair clip.
It's perhaps a sign of how devoted we are to boating that Nancy and I toyed with the idea of going up on Lake Oahe last Sunday even though the branches of the trees outside the family room were whipping back and forth in the obnoxious breeze and The Weather Channel's local report said 100 degrees and 33 mph gusts of wind. Matter of fact, we went so far as to climb into her car and drive the loop out of Pierre along Highway 1804, across Oahe Dam, back into Fort Pierre on Highway 1806 and across the Missouri River bridge to home.