Greyhounds

Oliver, looking regal
Oliver, looking regal

I have always been a dog person. Some people are cat people (up to the “crazy cat lady”), some are dog people, and some people shouldn’t do pets at all.

Currently, I have Greyhounds. Two brindle boys, who are 3 years apart, and are half brothers. Garrett is the elder statesman, quiet, reserved, and eh loves to sleep. Tate, the junior hellion, is the high energy, outgoing, engaging ambassador of the breed.

I first met greyhounds back in 1998 or so, when I moved into a condo in south San Jose. A neighbor had a pair of retired racing greyhounds, and my dog at the time, a 185# english mastiff, loved to play with them.

After we moved to Tucson, and Astro passed, we looked into a rescue greyhound.  Our first, Oliver, was a skittish ‘fraidey cat. He was spooked by EVERYTHING, including bicycles, cars, walkers, other dogs. This was definitely a challenge, but he really became a well adjusted greyhound. (It helped that his brother, a half mastiff, half hungarian greyhound was a good tutor).

When we lost Shamus (the half mastiff/half greyhound) in 2008, he was 13 years old. the void was quickly filled with Garrett who was just awesome. Not afraid of anything, low prey drive, and easy going, he was a joy, and a good companion to Oliver.

We lost Oliver in 2010 to osteosarcoma (bone cancer). He was brave and a fighter to the end, but the location of the sarcoma (right shoulder) was pretty much a non-treatable malady. Fortunately, Oliver’s departure made room for Tate.

For a couple years now, we have been volunteering for the local Greyhound rescue organization. I work closely with the communications group and I built/maintain their website (http://sagreyhoundadoption.org). It is a worthy way to spend my spare time, helping place these wonderful hounds into loving forever homes.

Has social media destroyed public discourse?

I came of age at a fortuitous time. In high school, the Apple ][ computers arrived and were in a lab that you could take a course. I learned a lot about microcomputers there, and soon saved my paper route money to buy my own (not an Apple, way too expensive, I went the Atari route – better games). I learned a lot about that system, I learned to program in basic, and rudimentary assembly language, I learned a lot of the concepts about computing that serve me well today.

Public Discourse appears to be dying in the social media age
Public Discourse appears to be dying in the social media age

After a couple of years, I got immersed into the BBS community. With the simple addition of a modem, a piece of hardware that connected you via telephone to other computers, you could share files, and trade stories. I enjoyed participating so much that I soon took the plunge and began running a BBS of my own. I made a lot of friends, “chatted” with people from across the country, and even a few international ones.

Part of the charm of the BBS culture were the message forums. These often led to animated discussions back and forth between users (and myself of course). I graduated from that to USENET, UUCP, and the various discussion venues. For a long time I hung out at rec.motorcycles.dirt where off road motorcyclists hung out, and planned excursions.

From there came the special interest forums. Truly a child of the internet age, there is a plethora of topics and communities that have evolved. From auto detailing, to dedicated forums for specific video games, to Japanese Anime collectors, there are sure to be something that strikes your fancy.

Then came Twitter. Suddenly conversations were limited to 140 characters (the size of an SMS text message). Instead of commenting on a blog post that you agree with, or dispute, it is now the norm to just “tweet” it, and leave the discussion in the Twitter universe, hopelessly buried in the noise. Blog posts that 3 or 4 years ago would have elicited a dozen or more responses, now have no activity.

I believe that this is a shame. The value of the intercourse of ideas, a foundation of intellectual pursuit, has been reduced to the re-tweet.

I for one make a point of commenting often when I come across a topic that piques my curiosity. But it appears that the ephemeral vehicle that is the 140 character tweet is destroying the practice of public discourse.