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THE GIRLS WANTED A SANDBOX
Years ago, when my daughters were young I wanted to build them a sandbox with corner seats. Where was I to begin? For you see, as a young dad I didn't have any carpentry skills and probably the extent of my toolbox consisted of a hammer, saw, and some screwdrivers. My options on crafting a masterpiece that would earn me a place in the “good dad” category were fairly limited. In an effort to find plans I could go to the library, the bookstore, and a home improvement center with do it yourself magazines, or ask someone for help. I most likely opted for the library with pen and pad in hand to write down the instructions, measurements, and supply list. Being a novice, I found the process to be much more time consuming than I had imagined. However, by following instructions, the sandbox I built withstood the test of time and gave my girls years of enjoyment. I can only imagine how fast my project could have been completed if only Al Gore had invented the Internet earlier.
OH NO...NOT ANOTHER TERM PAPER OR ESSAY
Hard copy dictionaries and encyclopedias are all but lost and forgotten in this modern day of technology. Am I dating myself when I ask whether or not you learned the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Card Catalog System? Does anyone remember the salesman who came to your house in an effort to sell your parents the Encyclopedia Britannica? Of course, if you were fortunate enough to have encyclopedias then you also had to continue paying for the updates that were mailed to your address. How many times did we venture to the library to research a school project, going from one resource to another and asking the librarian for assistance along the way? I recall the laborious effort of reading scores of newspaper articles stored on microfiche. Our notebooks were jammed with copious amounts of notes and references. The whole process of putting together an essay was mind-boggling and time-consuming and who really knew whether or not your teacher checked the sources listed in the footnotes?
THE INTERNET AT LAST
The Internet has given us an opportunity to streamline our time, efforts and curiosity when looking for solutions to questions which have stymied us. All we need to do now is enter some keywords, phrases or questions…hit “enter” and voila a treasure trove of data appears before us in an instant. However, things aren't always as they seem. We now have the ease and accessibility of information literally at our fingertips. My personal dilemma is deciphering what is fact, hypothesis, opinion, or some fluffy piece of writing designed to lure readers just for the sake of page views and hits on advertising. It appears many feel they have a story to tell or because they built a birdhouse once they have mysteriously become experts attempting to get their “Do It Yourself” e-books published. Of course, the harsh reality knows that many of our “clicks” leave us disappointed and we merely “back arrow” out and move on to something else.
HOW TO MICROWAVE POTATOES
So, what happened to prompt me to write this article? The answer quite simply can be found in microwave potatoes. The heat wave experienced by many this past summer has caused a lot of people to forgo using their ovens and I am no different. While preparing skinless boneless chicken breasts in a panko, breadcrumb, and cheese breading, along with steamed broccoli, I additionally wanted to serve a baked potato but forgot how long to microwave it. I sat in front of my laptop laughing hysterically when I read the Internet post on 9 steps to nuking a potato, complete with photos of washing, poking holes, wrapping it in wet paper towels, all the way to the last picture of instructing us on cutting it open and serving with various garnishes. I guess a writer can’t be too detailed anymore. Do you have a hammer and nail question? No need to worry because there is a post with 10 steps to safely using a hammer and nail. If you would like to make coffee, look no further than the “net” and you will find a 6 step tutorial with pictures and countless videos. You are in for a treat when you sit mesmerized watching a 2-minute video on eHow.com learning the ins and outs of clipping your toenails. Finally, a young man has graced us with sportsmanship and wonderful entertainment encompassing the easiest way to pick up dog poop and it is summed up in a 3-minute video involving a golf club, a nice swing and the waste matter landing on a neighbor’s front lawn. Well, isn't that creative? I most assuredly never found anything like teeing off dog poop in either my school or public library.
MY ENLARGED SANDBOX OF KNOWLEDGE
In the sandbox of life, we have choices. Do you want to build a castle based on knowledge and technology or are you content to just plow through the dunes of time leaving only monotonous paths that have no beginning or ending? There are abundant resources at our disposal to expand our brains and grow as individuals. “Yes” the old standards are still present, but if you want to weed through 18,000,000 results on how to mop your floor, then I suggest you pour a favorite beverage and sit back while exploring the “Web.”
Written By: Dennis L. Page