Thank You, and Thank You!
By Larry Schrader
First of all, I would like to thank the kind editors of “The Gazette” for honoring me as March’s “Birthday-of-the-Month.” I remain somewhat uncomfortable with the placement of the birthday announcement directly next to an advertisement for “Funeral and Cremation Services.” But, thank you for thinking of me!
Second, a big thank you to two islanders who never miss my monthly “Listen to Larry” column, perhaps my biggest fans. Joan Booker and Mack McCann celebrated my recent birthday with an impromptu celebration, setting up chairs and a portable bar in front of my West Shore cottage. They were kind enough to send me a short video wishing me a “Happy Birthday”!
Listen to Larry
By Larry Schrader
News, Views and Comments from a South Bass Cottager…
I often hear comments, even compliments on the monthly, “Listen to Larry” column. There are texts and emails, posts on Facebook, even an occasional snail-mail letter. And of course, people I see on the ferry and around the Island usually have something to say about the subject of a recent column.
Just last week, I received a fairly long email from a young lady that went something like this: “Larry, How do you do it? I almost feel like I know you, reading about your cottage, your family and your busy Island life. It is a wonder you ever have a minute to take a break in that well-known, ‘Old Green Chair by the Shore’! I’ve seen you around the Island, on your bike, walking, off on your boat for a sunny-day’s sail, or off to the mainland for a little golf. You’re out in the yard, cutting grass, washing windows, cleaning gutters, tending to the gardens, pruning, weeding, trimming – seemingly in constant motion. I’ve read about the many projects you have tackled over the years, always fixing, repairing, building something new. And you entertain those cute grandchildren, fishing, swimming, wiffle ball and washer toss – whatever it takes to keep them smiling. There seems to be an endless parade of guests, entertained by your gracious hospitality. And you even cook! Most everyone knows of your famous, balsamic marinated lamb bones, always sprinkled with fresh cut mint from your garden; those smoky ribs that you seem to cook to perfection without even looking at the grill; and the garlic drenched, rosemary chicken, a family favorite. Most every evening, the smoke from your old Weber wafts over the West Shore, perfuming the lake breezes with the aromas of the day’s dinner. I can go on and on, but please, just tell me how you do it; all of this and more, and still, every month you crank out another Pulitzer-worthy column. So tell me Larry, what is your secret?”
Well, me dear, it is no secret, no hidden magic, no tricks, no super-powers – quite simply, I’ve learned to use technology. Yes, technology! Even though by many standards I might be considered an old codger, early in life I embraced the computer and all it can do to make life easier, more efficient, working smarter. Probably before you were even born, way back in the early 80’s, I was tapping away on my creaky Commodore-64. It probably had less memory than today’s crock pots, but I recognized it as a perfect tool to simplify life and become more efficient, faster, to help me make time for the things I wanted to do.
You can see it everywhere in today’s world: There are computer-controlled vacuums that keep our floors clean; all kinds of ovens, pots, and other kitchen gadgets that practically cook dinner themselves; coffee pots that have our morning brew ready before we even get out of bed; cars that drive themselves, TV and music that turns on and off and even knows what you want to watch or hear; robo-advisors to invest our savings; why, my phone even reminds me when Mrs. Larry’s birthday is approaching, when it is time to go to the doctor, and tells me how to get to wherever I want to go. Drones, robots, AI – all there, ready to do most anything, often better than we could do ourselves!
I can go on and on, but I think you get the point. I simply embrace the technology that simplifies life. And I know what you’re thinking already, my column, “Listen to Larry” – that too! Yes, technology takes care of that too. For years, I have used a robo-writer to crank out my monthly column. Each month, my computer will suggest three or four topics, ranked by anticipated popularity (based on data, collected and updated constantly, on reader preferences in similar island communities). I simply select a topic and push a button – BINGO! Column complete! I don’t even need to read it; the program automatically sends the finished product to the “Gazette” editors for publication. If I am feeling particularly creative, I even have the option of entering a few key words that I would like to have included in the column – I can add words like “walleye,” “bisque,” or “lemonade stand” and my robo-writer will take care of the rest. Old columns are constantly scanned to maintain Larry’s unique writing style (including his love for birds, sunsets and relaxing in his chair by the shore), as well as data and news from national media sources to keep the columns topical, popular, the best that you have come to expect.
Every year or so, I actually sit down and write a column and scan it into my computer, just to keep those little microchips on their toes. The robo-writer usually spits back some sort of cynical criticism, but I think it is mostly out of jealousy, not ready to accept the fact that robo-Larry is not quite as good as the real thing!
So the next time you read “Listen to Larry,” ask yourself: “Is it Larry, or is it … ?”
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.
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