GOODIES TO GO! (tm)
June 14, 1999 -- Newsletter #32
Building the Right Environment to Support AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning
GOODIES TO GO! (tm)
June 14, 1999 -- Newsletter #32
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors...
Did you hear that...
The first Web mogul has bought a sports team? AOL president Ted Leonsis snatched up the Washington Capitals hockey team for a cool $200 million. Do you think he'll put up a fan page devoted to the team?
I live in central Pennsylvania, at least until the end of the month of July when I'll be moving to Louisiana, but that's another Newsletter. It's unbelievably beautiful here. The Susquehanna River runs south and you can drive for miles along its banks past what a lot of people believe holds the answer to the Y2K problem... the Amish.
You might think I'm making this up. No way. The Amish are doing big business lately. Everyone wants to be prepared for the computer crash on January 1st, 2000, so they're turning to those who will be best prepared. Yes, the Amish.
I actually know a little about the Amish in that I live in the same town as some of them. My local grocery store has both handicapped and buggy parking. You can get a ticket in my town for parking in a buggy space. The Amish and their beliefs are harder to explain than a simple "They don't use electricity and they don't have TVs." Different sects and different groups have different rules. I guess the most interesting thing I can tell you is that the Amish have very few rules against what food can be eaten or not eaten. It is not at all uncommon to be standing in line at the grocery store and see a young Amish couple going home with frozen pizzas and two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew. Yes, some have refrigerators. They run on gas.
Most Amish have a farm, but many also run businesses. My wife and I stop at an Amish general store to buy all manner of items baked and grown by the Amish. I'm especially fond of their molasses cookies. You can also buy quilts, fantastic hand-made furniture, and especially things that don't need electricity. This is where the Amish are cleaning up.
A friend of mine's elderly mother has an Amish woman who helps her with day-to-day chores and such. He tells me the Amish woman has been waiting to purchase a new wood stove for over six months because people from the cities have been coming in and buying them all up. Really. The Amish stores right around here have signs in the windows that they no longer have stoves, gas lights, or water pumps. Good thing about the stoves, too. Many people don't realize that a stove requires a place that is ventilated for the smoke and the local government frowns upon people simply sticking a stove on their back porch and blazing away.
I read an article that the United States's largest sect of Amish, those found in Kidron, Ohio, are making a killing. In Kidron you'll find Lehman's Non-Electrical Hardware Store. It's actually on the Web: http://www.lehmans.com. They used to claim delivery of most items within 48 hours. No more. Now you'll wait 6 to 8 weeks. People are rolling on cleaning them out.
Eli Miller is an Amish man who works at the store and has told wonderful stories of panicked people from Florida buying a stove for heat. In Florida?
A woman bought a grain mill, not actually thinking about where she would get raw grain to mill. The mill cost $565. For that, couldn't she have gone to the store and bought more processed flour than one could ever use in a lifetime?
A man bought canning supplies yet has no garden. I guess he'll buy fresh then can. Why not just buy canned?
Miller went on to say that many of the people who come into the store are looking for a Y2K Kit. Of course, Lehman's doesn't sell such a thing, but he's more than pleased to show customers around the store and watch them grab just about anything he points at.
This is humorous on the surface, but what I missed while reading was that while the whole world is showing up to buy the Lehman's out of house and home, those people who count on the store are finding it harder and harder to get what they need.
But not to worry. The Amish are a people who have gotten by before and will certainly get by this time around. George and Mary Kreps, who write about the Amish, say this is a test to them and they take satisfaction in leading the simple life without technological toys. They'll get by and they'll never complain.
You would think that Amish would see this as a financial boon, a chance to cash in, right? Nope. The Amish, contrary to what I've just written, are actually pretty tough people to give a job. They don't want it. Bigger businesses have noticed that the Amish way of life looks good to a lot of scared Y2K folks and have tried to get them on the payroll to act as consultants. Most decline to keep their calm, nonmaterialistic life in tact. Plus, they don't need the money. Their farms have been in their families for generations and are long since paid for.
...Who lives the better life? I wonder sometimes.
And so the New Year draws near. As the months increase, so does the panic level of those who are sure Y2K will bring down Western Civilization. I just can't seem to get that worked up as of yet. Maybe around November 30th, I'll begin to go bonkers. I'm just sad I won't be around the Amish come 2000. I'd love to see an Amish buggy rolling past a guy walking along the side of the street because his SUV wouldn't start. I have great mental pictures of the Amish man leaning out of the buggy and yelling, "Get a horse!"
And that's that. By the time you get this, I should be back in the States. Thanks for reading.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And Remember: Did you know that eating lemon with fish has nothing to do with taste? It was once believed that the lemon was a strong enough acid to dissolve any bones you might swallow. It's just become tradition now. Yum.
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