Summer News

Bill Veazey

This weekend at our lakehouse retreat was most productive. I took down a fifty-foot oak tree which was essentially dead with just a few branches and foliage at the top. Bud Jordan had taught me the right technique in 2001 and his expertise stood me in good stead. I cut a wedge low on the side in the direction it was to fall and then I made the cut above the wedge from the other side, causing it to land in just the right place. Limbed and cut to fireplace lengths in less than an hour, I took time for lunch. By nightfall it was split, open-stacked for drying and the area raked clean.  

The next morning was cool enough to make a mellow fire feel welcome along with some restful reading after the labors of Saturday. That, of course, required a visit to the supply of old newspapers, which I call 'starting-papers', that always delays the setting of the fire as I peruse for treasures that may be found there among the musty pages. Sure enough, there was one, Portsmouth Herald, dated, June 23, 1998, page B2,  Is online world as big as some say it is, or is it just hype? by Thomas E. Weber of the Wall Street Journal.

It was a fascinating article, exploring the rapid growth and who were the users of the internet, while... “Marketers are trying to figure out whether it’s worth spending advertising dollars on the Web, while publishers are struggling to figure out how to build businesses based on the future potential of the advertising.”

To me, the numbers seemed astonishingly low by today's standards, as the article indicated that there were about 45 million users in 1997 representing about 17% of US households.  Roughly translated into numbers we can understand, it would indicate that only about 350 homes in Rye used the internet in 1997.  That is only ten years ago, can you believe it?

In highlighting the rapid growth of the internet up to that point, the article went on to make a comparison to the New York Public Library and its 18 million volumes noting that… “In a span of just a few years, the Web has grown to the size of one of the biggest libraries in the world.”

Today, according to recent Neilsen/Net Ratings there are close to 150 million home-users in the US and nearly 340 million home-users worldwide. Meanwhile, other studies show that the number of people using the internet as a news source has increased - exponentially, in some cases.

It seems as if the years fly by so fast that we have little realization or awareness of the changes that are occurring daily in the world around us. We tend to live two lives; one in which we fear change, and maintain our control by the routine of our day-to-day activities; and, another life that is shaped by outside events like credit card machines to buy a cup of coffee or feed a parking meter, cell phones, picture phones, text messaging, email and the internet, all of which whirl around us incessantly. The internet is all-encompassing. Everything one would ever want to know is on it. Enter your name on Google and see what comes up!

Getting back to the simple world of a tree and firewood; I was glad for the exercise, the wood for the fires this fall, the treasures of the starting-papers in the old copper bucket, and the moments to sit and reflect on a world we can barely keep up with.

September, 2007