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Before there were computers


Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, March 25, 2001

I've been feeling nostalgic about computersor, I should say, the time before computers. Most of my students at RCTC cannot remember a time before personal computers. Their eyes glaze over at such phrases as, "before there were computer", as if a lecture on colonial America is about to follow.

As dependent as I am on computers now, it's even hard for me to remember the time before computers. How did we communicate before e-mail? How did we do research before the Internet? How did we create documents before word processing?

If I think back hard enough, I can remember my first encounter with a computer. As a high schooler in the late 70's, I took a computer class at school. I can't imagine why. It was totally out of character. But I remember sitting in a small room with the only other member of the class, a nerdy guy that we'll call "Maurice". The computer itself filled another room, and made so much noise that it precluded conversation between Maurice and me.

Computers were hardly thought of as important back then. As I mentioned, there were only two of us in the classprobably just avoiding study hall. The school didn't even assign us a teacher. Dear, odd, Mr. Remsberg would come in and rattle off some assignments just before he went next door to teach his chemistry class. Then Maurice and I were left alone to develop finger cramps from our efforts to type on the stiff old keyboards. You had to log on by dialing a phone, and then slamming the receiver into some cradle gizmo. The slamming may not have been necessary, but it added drama. There were no screens: just an endless roll of flimsy, dull, yellow paper that curled to the floor like wood shavings. We seldom even looked at those paper curls because they were filled with rows of letters and numbers that mostly made no sense to humans.

It was a small school district, and I wonder now how they afforded a computer. No doubt Mr. Remsberg was an advocate for it, and he probably received no extra compensation for teaching Maurice and me. Thirty years ago, Mr. Remsberg suspected that these computers might play a big part in the future, and as such, we ought to at least attempt to learn about them. God bless him and his kind.

To pass the class, we had to actually write computer programs. These were not the sophisticated computer programs of today: they were little math formulas that, if typed in the right way, would result in a simple sort o .....
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Are You Game?

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, January 21, 2002

A quick note on the NFL playoffs which are in full swing with the Vikings sitting on the couch watching on TV like most everyone else. Look for the Rams, Eagles, Patriots and Ravens to go to the next level. The Packers ..... 
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Bluff Country Bird Festival

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, March 18, 2002

"I think of Fillmore County as my true home," says John Hockema, one of Minnesota's most skilled birdwatchers. John and I are visiting over lunch at the Harmony House. We have just come from a planning meeting for the th ..... 
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"Taming a Shrew is Highly Unlikely"

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, April 1, 2002

Despite a superficial mouse-like appearance Shrews are not rodents, the mammalian group characterized by chisel shaped incisor teeth to which mice, rats, squirrels and a host of other plant eating species belong. Instead, ..... 
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2002 Perennial Plant

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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of the Year
Virginia CooperMonday, March 4, 2002

The Perennial Plant Association has named Phlox 'David' to be the plant of the year. Each year this esteemed group chooses a plant whose character and grace deserve a place of honor.

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Another Man's Cows

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, April 8, 2002

When our neighbors go on vacation for a few days, our sons are often called upon to care for the pets they leave behind. It is rugged duty, but the boys manage. They dont seem to mind driving around the neighborhood, pla ..... 
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Margaret Mead and Gilligan

Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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Monday, March 18, 2001

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travels sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Our world has sure gotten smaller.

When I was a kid, it never seemed ..... 
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Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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To the Editor,

I am writing in regards to the April 10 referendum in Lanesboro to restore the Historic Coffee Street Bridge. This referendum is for $98,000, though this figure does not tell the whole story. It is the cost of doing nothing or ..... 
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Fri, Apr 5th, 2002
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To the Editor,

On Wednesday, April 10, the voters in Lanesboro are going to the polls to vote on a $98,000 referendum to restore the Historic Coffee Street (Old Wagon) Bridge and also to get lighting for the bass pond parking lot along with l ..... 
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