Friday, April 8, 2016


                                                              Alan Perlis

     I have been using the research and writing of a book in order to help pass the time in a useful manner while I deal with some health issues.  Of course the subject I have chosen will not have a wide national audience because of the regional nature of it.  And the subject matter is such that it is very difficult to find the stories on each subject.  The book is on little known facts about Kansas.  Those people, places, things, happenings, and folklore that have not made it into the mainstream history books.  Subjects that are not well known even in the places that they happened.
     So you should see a level of frustration in just the research.  But I love the stories and that is not as frustrating as the methods that have to be taken to get the information.  In many sources I find a mention of something else that sometimes leads me to another fascinating story, and then another, and another. 
     In the many things I have done in my lifetime and the many interests I have there have been stories told to me that was great to know about.  Thus the idea for trying to track down these stories was a natural for a book.  But along with all this comes frustration.
     Frustrations come in many forms.  I have been working along each day making some progress.  My goal is 500 stories.  I am at 83 now.  Sometimes I can hack out the research and do two stories a day.  Then there are the stories that the research gets bogged down and frustrating.  
     The recent fire has taken me away from getting much done on the book.  That is because of the mass of information happening, our proximity to everything, my interest from being a retired firefighter, and working on some ideas that I hope helps the community. 
     Then there is the countless emails that I send people and organizations that may have the tidbit or vital information I need for a story.  The frustration is the amount who never reply with at least an acknowledgment that they even read the request.  This builds frustration.
     Some frustration comes from someone that sends me a great story and no companion information on the subject or where they even know about it comes from.  Some give the subject and figure it is up to me to track down what they already know.  Just give me a little more direction!
     Some of my subjects come from people who clip newspaper articles and pass them on to me.  One lady is always sending me interesting things and she has where and when the clip was published.  Others clip articles so close they give no indication as to which newspaper they came from or when.  When I need to credit all my information this is a very frustrating thing.
     But what is my biggest frustration?  MY COMPUTER!  The very thing that makes research available when you are unable to travel personally to hunt down each item, gives you the ability to cut the endless hours spent in my library, and speeds the process up to 21st century proportions, is the source of endless frustration.
     If you believe everything we are told on TV, in the news, and by computer geek admirers, you would think that when you go to a search engine that all the information on a subject would be there at your request.  Well it is not that way.  When I put in the name John Milton Cross/ Bush Pilot, you would assume that the Kansas boy that became one of the most famous Alaska bush pilots would pop up on numerous sites.  Nope, after a couple hits the search engine starts flooding me with information on an attorney in New York by that name, John Milton the poet, and endless sites for the Bush presidents and families. AHHHH!!!
     For all the vast amount of information that is supposed to be online it is amazing how this faceless, soul less machine can load so much useless information on it.  And the most frustrating is the images for the subject which puts up hundreds of non relating pictures and some that border on pornographic. 
     So why put up with all the frustrations?  Maybe some computer geek will find a way to be our next billionaire by inventing a search engine that works.  My mind is forced to work beyond what it would setting around absorbing useless TV programming, so that has to be good.  I have made contact with some very friendly people who have gone out of their way to help.  My library is growing with all the books I am ordering.  And I hope the end result is something entertaining that is informative.
     A friend of mine in Wyoming calls his infernal machine the "confuser", I totally agree with that.  This confuser has cause a lot of heated moments and (when I hit something wrong) a lot of money.  So as I finish this on my 'confuser' lets hope that I will find that magic keyword that will make the search program actually work.
     Now that was good for me.  My rant helped with my frustrations, this morning.

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