I got the “moving-my-kid-into-college” blues

I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to move my hostdaughter into her University of Kentucky dorm room last Saturday morning.

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This has been a very event-filled summer for Pam and I as hosts of high school exchange students for the past five years.
For reasons good and, in one case, tragic, this summer, four of our five hostdaughters have returned to their Kentucky home for a period of time.
Because Pam and I have no children of our own, we have a tendency to form strong bonds with these young women and have worked to extend our relationships beyond the exchange year.
Our efforts, apparently, have paid off.
Iris, our first hostdaughter, has spent the entire summer with us. She is doing a work internship until the end of September.
Lea, our youngest from Switzerland, completed her school year at Nicholas County and returned home.
She has vowed to return, and I believe her.
Lotta came back for a week to wish a dear friend rest.
But with the beginning of the new school year, Pam and I are taking a break from hosting a high school student. That does not mean a quiet household, though. Maria, our hostdaughter from Norway, enjoyed her time in Kentucky so much that she has enrolled as a freshman at UK.
If I examined this closely, I think this is a thing Pam and I hoped would happen with one of our hostdaughters eventually. However, on even closer inspection, my wife and I may have wanted this to happen for different reasons.
At least that is the impression I have when I reflect on my unanticipated reaction when we were packing the car Saturday morning to take Maria to her dorm.
It began when Iris and I were figuring out the best way to pack Maria’s dorm stuff in the back of my Ford Escape. Stacking cardboard boxes on top of each other, I found myself recalling how I managed to fit five wooden crates of records, a stereo system and a whole dorm room’s worth of other junk into the back of my Nissan Sentra.
I even bragged to no one in particular about how there was only room for myself in the driver’s seat when I finished.
Arriving on campus, we followed the signs guiding us to Maria’s dorm, unloaded her belongings to a long table, then moved everything in. My first thought upon entering the room was how I would decorate ….
No, wait, that’s not accurate. My first thought was that of a middle-aged curmudgeon thinking about how easy kids have it today, what with a room already equipped with a kitchen sink, microwave oven, stainless steel mini-fridge with attached freezer, and its own full bathroom. And a private bedroom with a mattress that wasn’t a lumpy back hazard!
But my impulse afterward was to start suggesting the best way to lay out the room – the way I would do it. A tapestry across the ceiling, some cool posters, maybe a futon…
And, if she was smart, what she should do next is … at which point I have to give myself credit.
I suppressed that impulse.
In the end, I did the smart thing. I got the heck on back home.
It still didn’t stop me wondering what she was doing, who she was meeting, wishing I could be there to warn her against all the mistakes she’ll make, and being jealous, too. How I’d love to experience the fear and uncertainty that comes with being young and on your own for the first time.
(Okay, I just wish I was young…)
These were my feelings for a young lady I have only known for two or three years. I can only imagine how parents moving their child … sorry, kids, I can’t think of a better term … into a college dorm or apartment for the first time.
Like I said, I didn’t imagine how difficult it would be to keep my mouth shut and let this experience be hers — not mine.
How I would love to be her college guide so that she makes the most of her years at the University. But there is a point where I have to let her make her own mistakes …

That’s going to be hard.

Machines are too smart to take over: they’d rather just mess with us

Some mornings … well, let’s just say that there are mornings that can start so badly that its better to have tea in the office  than coffee.

<div class="source"></div><div class="image-desc">Josh Shepherd</div><div class="buy-pic"></div>

Josh Shepherd

Though I probably could have used a light tranquilizer as a chaser last Wednesday morning when the transmission in my Ford Escape decided to go kaput.
It was on Walnut Grove Road at about 5 a.m. I had just veered off US 68, which was teeming with early morning traffic, to head toward Cynthiana when, with no warning, I heard a sickening clank of metal parts. My engine revved to 200 rpms with no corresponding sense of acceleration.
In fact, there was movement at all.
I used the car’s momentum to carry me safely off the road, then reluctantly turned on my hazard lights.
I realize the wisdom of taking that safety precaution, but its also an invitation to be gawked at by nosy rubberneckers as they pass me on their way to work. I know I do it often enough.
But what timing! It couldn’t happen on a busy highway. Like every bad horror movie ever made, I had to breakdown on a dark and narrow country road.
My Wednesday calendar, normally a busy time anyway being deadline day for the Democrat, was particularly full.
I did not have time for THIS!
So I did the thing everyone does when their machines break down. I pretended that my transmission would magically fix itself by turning my car off and on again. It works with my computer, after all…
You can imagine how effective that was.
You may label me paranoid, but here lately, I have had just a bit too many of those moments.
Some call it bad luck. Others claim it’s Murphy’s Law, “That which can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time.”
But at the moment, I am not inclined to buy those explanations. I don’t want to pass this off as mere coincidence.
There are plenty of stories out there about sophisticated machines achieving their own brand of consciousness; their own sentience. And in becoming self-aware, they rise up against us.
We dismiss these stories as “science fiction.” But only hours removed from the breakdown of my car, I’m halfway convinced that we’ve passed the fictional boundary of this scenario.
Not only do I think my car broke down on purpose, but far worse, I think it did it just so it could enjoy watching me throw a fit on the side of Walnut Grove Road.
Now, I have no rational argument on which to base my suspicions and its only been a few hours since this event. But the timing bothers me.
And the fact that I also imagine, if my delusion is true, that if machines did become self-aware, they’d rather toy with us for their personal amusement rather than take over the world.
It doesn’t my help my paranoia that I watched nine-year-olds at Southside Elementary school program a Lego robot to move on its own through a classroom a few days ago.
Man those kids really knew how to tell a machine where to go.
It was for a story I write about Southside Elementary’s first robot camp. It’s featured in this week’s Cynthiana Democrat.
When I wrote the story, it was from a sense of optimism about our children’s future. It talked about how this camp will introduce young people to a completely new frontier of discovery.
I even did a Google search about other robot camps and how drone and robot technology is the hot new thing in schools and universities across the country.
I was amazed at what drones and robots are doing at this very moment!
Let me tell you, it’s more than just military strikes and home deliveries for Amazon.

The personal flying car? Folks, it’s coming.
For a brief and wonderful moment, my mind was opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
What a difference a few hours, and a busted transmission, makes.
Think what a nightmare world my imagination conjured when broken down on a dark and lonely country road with only the flashing of my emergency lights to keep me company.
I may have kicked my car a few times to show it who was boss, but it did nothing.
Once I finish paying the repair bill I may consider forgiving my car its poor taste and sense of humor.
But before I do, I’m going to introduce it to some sharp Harrison County school students and let it see what they can do, if they set their minds to it.
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