Jay Beeler

The first order of business is to thank the many dozens of readers, friends and elected officials who wrote, called and otherwise expressed their condolences over the loss of our reporter, Sean Belk. He’ll never know how many verbal and physical hugs I’ve received from those persons who knew him and appreciated his work. The letter below from City Auditor Laura Doud is a sample of the many who have reached out.

But life goes on and we’re lining up a few interns to fill the editorial gap until such time as we can find another reporter who was as good as Sean. It’s doubtful that will happen, but we’ll try.

Only after his passing did I learn that Sean was a friend of my daughter, Mindy, while they attended Wilson High School together. It’s a small world, after all.


We’ve all heard the expression that [something] is the best invention since sliced bread. This Christmas my daughters presented Roomba to my wife and I. We really needed it because my wife’s vision is limited and I’m prone to turn a blind eye toward vacuuming versus a non-domestic task.

Roomba is a robotic vacuum cleaner about the size of a bathroom scale, is circular, it slides easily under most elevated pieces of furniture and wanders wherever it pleases as long as the doors are open. Maybe it doesn’t slice bread, but it does a very good job of picking up dirt on the three mornings it gets programmed to do so. Unfortunately it does not do windows.

After about an hour, when Roomba’s rechargeable battery gets low, it heads back to its base for recharging. The only interface that I have with the device is to empty the dirt collection tray and occasionally free it from getting trapped in the living room chair that has a curved, chrome base. It has a voice alert that says something like “Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up” … or some variation of that.

These days – when you have an appliance like Roomba or the very popular Ring security system – it involves using your Android or Apple cell phone to communicate with the device. This, in turn, means you also need a Wi-Fi connection at your home.

Even though the Roomba – typically costing a few hundred dollars – was a gift, it meant spending a similar amount to upgrade my Android cell phone so that it could communicate on the same level as the new wave of electronic toys on the market.

My son had an extra 65-inch digital television, that needed a home a few months ago and I gladly accepted it to better view sports with those tiny score boxes. It too communicates with the Wi-Fi and the cell phone, which has an endless list of “apps” to make our lives easier.

The Android is great in its main purpose: being a telephone. Over the past few years I’ve gradually accepted its use for getting emails, directions and for Googling topics of conversation to impress others of my vast knowledge of facts and figures. The newer models take great photos, videos and audio recordings, but can be challenging to use unless you are on the lower edge of the age scale.

The key to using these toys – or tools to some – is learning when to turn them off. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to use a knife when your objective is to slice bread.


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