Columns

2012.04.25 A dog will beg today

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

Send me some news via e-mail and I’ll cut and paste it into my computer, edit it and place it on a page in the next newspaper. That’s the way it’s often done these days.

When I started killing time humanely at the Observer in 1980, the U.S. Postal Service was still the way to go. People would deliver news by telephone and through a personal visit, of course, but the bulk of material came every morning from the postal carrier.

The process of opening the mail was an important part of the day. There was always a large stack of letters, often addressed to Observer Religion Editor or Observer Farm Editor, etc. We would take turns serving in these important roles. Eventually, the recycling center opened and the title was changed to Observer Paper Recycler.

Probably the majority of the letters arriving contained information that would never make it into print. You had to be pretty desperate to run a story about Michigan’s Apple Queen or the promotion of a bank president in Detroit. I was always baffled that companies would waste time and money to send out “news” to small papers that didn’t have the room or desire to publish their stuff. Didn’t they know better?

These days, Mailman Mark might come in with just a newspaper from another city and a check or a bill, and that’s it. There are still a very few letters with news that arrive during the course of a week, but the job of Observer Paper Recycler has been banished, as far as the mail is concerned.

Now it’s just a matter of clicking on the “delete” button when the Michigan Soybean Association sends us a new tofu recipe or Rev. James Snyder relates his latest adventure (“My Wing-Ding-A-Do at the Wing House”).

So that’s the way-back version of news delivery and the contemporary version, but there’s also the in-between and that’s something that’s still hanging on for some people. I’m talking about the facsimile machine. We still get some faxes.

It’s interesting to read about the early wired fax machines from the 1800s and the early wireless versions from the 1920s. Somewhere in the 1980s is when “everyone” had a fax machine—at least everyone but the Observer.

We never bought one of those things that spew page after page of vacation offers and health insurance breakthroughs. We didn’t become faxish until sometime in the 1990s, I suppose, when a common Macintosh computer could accept a fax. Rather than print all of that garbage about basketball camps in Detroit, we just view it on the computer monitor and delete it.

As I said, we still get some faxes. Sports news, ads and even dog horoscopes are sent by fax. My colleague Kim almost deleted that last one recently, but she first asked if I was interested and I decided that I was. 

“Attn: Publisher

Re: Dog Owners Love Reading…Dog Horoscopes!”

I can buy a dog horoscope for only $1.99 a week. I can find a local advertiser to sponsor it and I can make money!!

I have a phone number to place my order by the April 30 deadline. After that date the offer will probably be available for only $1.99. I’ve tracked the phone number to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., but that’s all the closer I can get.

Here’s a sample. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth $1.99 a week. “Gemini: Your dog demands long walks several times a day. They may also misplace their favorite toy. Libra: Headaches are often a problem people may have, but today it could a problem for your dog.”

I’d rather go with these free ones from astrology.com. These actually speak to the literate dog. “Gemini: Don’t waste time with generic begging. You need to be clear about what you want and how to communicate it. Otherwise, just stay in your basket and put it off for another day. Capricorn: If your owner enjoys art or music, you can use that to your advantage. There is more than one way to communicate. Begging is but the most primitive among them.”

I don’t mean to sound as though I’m begging, but are there any potential ad sponsors out there? Sit up and speak.

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