It's been stinking hot the last couple weeks and now the dog days of August are about to settle in over the Tri County region. Like Thornton Wilder stated in "Our Town," "It's so hot that the dogs are sticking to the sidewalk."

Well Ol' Morgan hasn't yet seen a canine in that extreme a condition, but it's been hot. With the turning of the calendar, the ol' one turned to that compendium of folklore and enlightenment that he cherishes so much, The Old Farmer's Almanac. Will the dogs be sticking to the sidewalks this month? Could happen.

Funny thing how the Almanac seems to be more right than wrong in its prognostications. It predicted that the summer would be hot, "with half the normal rainfall." The glass seems to be more half-empty than half-full. "Expect hot temperatures in early to mid-June, mid-July, and late August." That seems to be about as right as rain (when we do get some). "Drought conditions will prevail." Seems that we are still in a drought. About 50 days from now: "Expect soaking rains in the first half of September." Let's hope so.

The ol' one strolled over to the new playground over on North Avenue in Morgantown the other morning. It's an impressive sight what with swings, monkey bars, and the like. One structure really got the ol' one's attention to the point where he was almost tempted by the kid in him to try it out for himself. The ol' one doesn't know what to call it. One minute, it resembles a tree house; the next, a fort; and the next, a castle. What a way to have fun and to give a little shaver's imagination a real work out!

Speaking of imaginative workouts, it will be a year come next week that the ol' one jump-started his imagination with the acquisition of his Gateway computer. And what a cyber year it's been!

If the ol' one can get comfortable with a computer, anybody can.

Even if you start out by using a library's computer, you'll find that the question MicroSoft asked in their advertising, "Where do you want to go today?" is not just hype. "Today" can be anytime. The ol' one has been

seen going out on the internet even in the wee hours of the morning. And, he's not bothered a single soul. What's out there on the Internet is an incredible wealth of information. Oh, it can be overwhelming at times, but it can also be satisfying.

For example, the ol' one got to thinking one evening about ol' Scottsbluff, 1,700 miles away in the panhandle of Nebraska.

In a few clicks, the ol' one was at the website of Scottsbluff County. With another click or two, he was at the website of Caernarvon/Berks County. And, as the clicks kept coming, he was scrolling down the website of "A Prairie Home Companion."

And, talk about messages. The ol' one, in all due respect to Don Ameche, has left and received his fair share of e-mails. Again, it cannot replace voice contact, but, for some strange reason, e-mail has a convenience factor that permits the sender to send at any time and the receiver to pick up the e-mail whenever. The ol' one has even "chatted" back and forth with a friend or two via the computer.

The one drawback is that putting the computer through its paces can become addictive. Already the ol' one has his eye on a train software package that puts you right in the cab of a locomotive and your mouse on the engine's throttle. The ol' one realizes that some self-control is needed.

However, he can easily imagine how those video computer games can hypnotize young shavers and hold them for hours in front of the screen.

And, now, having a computer in school is similar to the ol' one and his generation carrying pencils and erasers to school in a pencil case: It's a requirement.

Over the wireless came news of a myth that college freshmen put on 15 pounds in their first year, due to a hefty intake of pizza and the like. That generation does spend a lot of time at the computer, so the ol' one guesses it doesn't take much to order a late-night pizza or just go for some "yummy snacks."

Hmmm. What if the ol' one clicked onto a healthy website, ate some berries smothered in low-fat yogurt, and had a tall, cold glass of water to wash it all down? Wait a nanosecond! The computer can't replace exercise. See you over at the playground.

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