gee, haw…

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your
heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away
every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales

(a pair of Belgium working horses on Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

My husband and I hopped in the car the other evening, as we were getting ready to
head over to Atlanta to see our son and daughter-n-law…
and I don’t know what brought it up, but we got off on a small technology tangent.

Most likely what got us started was my wanting to turn on the seat warmers.
Temps had not reached above the freezing point all day, and now the sun was quickly
setting sending temperatures plummeting.
Needless to say, I’ve been mostly cold for the last two months.

My husband said, for no one in particular, “technology left me years ago…
it left me back with gee and haw…”

“GEE, HAW???!!!!” I practically shout before bursting out into full laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar with such words, Gee and Haw are the two words used with
working animals such as mules, draft horses, and even sled dogs.
Gee means for the mule, horse or dog to turn right
Shout ‘Haw,’ and the animal turns left.

My husband can remember as a little boy visiting his grandparents up in north
Georgia with his grandfather using mules to plow the fields.
He’d shout “Gee” then “Haw,” and those mules knew exactly which way to turn.
That was probably in the early 1950’s as rural Georgia was just that, still very rural.

We had actually heard the same terms used recently, this past summer when visiting
Mackinac Island as there are no vehicles on the island—only draft horses doing
everything from acting as the taxis to delivering UPS.

Low tech.
And I must say, I for one, found it somewhat comforting.
It was actually really refreshing.

I know it, being technology, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but instead will only be advancing…
And sadly so…
for technology has, if it hasn’t already, gotten entirely out of hand as well as a disaster
just waiting to happen…

This insatiable need of ours to see, to know, to hear, to tell everything instantaneously is a very dangerous false need.

It has created a very dangerous sense of profound falsehoods that most of us don’t even
For we are a people who are greatly dependent upon our technology—for even life
and death issues…

But let’s look at a couple non-life-threatening examples of when technology goes
awry…or perhaps just more of an irksome trouble.

During the busy Christmas shopping mayhem season, my husband’s internet randomly went out at his store. His is a busy retail
business, so when there’s a technology issue and his register goes out, or his credit card machine goes out, he loses money as people will walk out the door.

We spent hours on the phone with AT&T trying to find a person who was actually
“stateside” as we continued narrowing help down to Georgia, then down to our individual town.
That took hours of waiting and frustration. All the while the store is full of people
who want to be waited on and checked out.
We were told it would be days before they could get someone out to check out our problem.
Days was not an option.

In the meantime, we had to pull out the old-timey credit card swiper….remember
those low tech little machines?

A customer would lay their card down on top of a triple carbon copy slip
while the clerk swiped the little lever over the card and carbon paper. The
customer’s card info would be swiped and imprinted onto the carbon ticket.
The customer would then sign the swiped carbon slip as the clerk would then pull off
the customer copy while keeping the store copy…
then off went the happy customer with their purchase.

The old-timey swiping machine worked perfectly fine as we waited for the AT&T technician
to eventually make the trip to the store.
Turns out the internet was out for unknown reasons randomly in the shopping center…
the next time it went out, a week later, the technician sent us out get a new cable…


Last evening we went to neighboring town for supper at a Craker Barrel.
I often crave Cracker Barrel’s simple homey fare offering of
good ol’ southern prepared food.
Chicken and dumplings, fried okra, spicy collard greens, southern style green beans…
or even their offering of breakfast for supper.
Plus they had a roaring fire going and we were fortunate to snag
a table by the fire.

When we’d finished our meal we took the bill out to the register to pay.
The line snaked all the way back into the dining area.
We figured they were low of help at the registers…
but that was not the issue.
Their card machines weren’t working probably and weren’t reading folks
debit or credit cards correctly.

Finally, as we made our way to a cashier, we told the manager we were going
to pay with something very novel…real money.

The manager was grateful and said he wished he had one of the old-timey
credit card swiper machines but since he was the oldest one on staff, he was the only
one who even knew what such a machine was…

Low tech.

Those are just a couple examples of small technological issues
of when things don’t work or go wrong.

Now let’s consider a bit larger trouble.

Saturday, a statewide alert went out in Hawaii, alerting the public that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Islands.
It was one of those Amber style alerts that went out on everyone’s phones.
It was not a drill and everyone needed to seek immediate shelter.
For those in Hawaii, it was the end of life as they had known it.

With North Korea’s 24/7 threats, threatening to send a nuclear warhead
in the direction of Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, or Alaska…well its all had everyone
a tad bit nervous…so Saturday, it seemed that the unthinkable was actually happening.


The issued warning alert was in actuality incorrect.
It had been issued by mistake.
There was no missile, no need to duck and cover.
No need for immediate Last Rites.

I wonder how busy the ER’s were following the correction with those feigning a
possible heart attack?

So it should come as no surprise that we’ve gotten really good these days at lamenting,
“technology, it’s great when it works…not so much when it doesn’t…”

And yet I rather miss our low tech dealings during these waning days of ours…


Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psalm 146:3

19 comments on “gee, haw…

  1. says:

    Our pastor had a thought on technology that really hit home to me yesterday. He said that our children are so used to getting instant information, they will soon lose their ability to imagine. Hard to believe, but so true. Our current generation will lose the ability to be creative, to pretend, to soar. Sad that something that was intended for good has gone the way of most inventive things.

  2. Elihu says:

    I put my kids in public school this year after homeschooling for several years and the teachers all said they were doing great… except they were behind in technology. I replied, “I know, but I wanted them to learn how to do things the analog way first.” My 8 & 10 year old used the dictionary daily, had to flip through books to find info, write their assignments by hand etc. The teachers nodded, but I think they thought I was doing them a disservice. I grew up alongside the developing PC. I remember black and amber screens, dot matrix printers, VHS, records & tapes. I learned to use Word & Excel by playing with them on our home computer. I didn’t have email access until 1998. I learned how to build a PC IN 2000. Both manual and digital are of value, but our kids should learn the “manual” way in case of a glitch!

    • I think that having kids know how to do tasks that we now simply take for granted…tasks which are done by technology, is a great idea. Old school—- so in a clucth, all is not lost.
      It’s as if we’ve raised a bunch of deer in headlights—a generation of youth who panic and freak out when something goes awry with theirs, or that of the greater good’s, technology—
      As a teacher I can remember the day they brought in computers for each of our classrooms—large clunkie things that had to be put in just the right spot in the classroom where they could run the proper wiring as our school was circa 1963—mine was just at the door so those opening and closing the door ran the risk of hitting me. This was long before a web was avaialbe so we just had a grade book program along with a dot matrix printer—
      I remember the administration getting so mad when teachers would tell the parents, “well I don’t know how the grade turned out like that—the computer did it!!!”….with the exasperated administration trying to explain to teachers that the computer did not “do it”—as we were the ones who had to have assigned the correct percentage and weight per catagroy!!

      Til the day I retired, I still kept a hard copy gradebook becasue I can’t tell you how many times the system would go down right at report card time or at conference time—or when kids, those smarter than their educators, hacked the system and created a plethora of stellar grades where stellar did not exist….
      Old school backup is never a bad idea 🙂

  3. chomskyweb says:

    nice quote by St. Francis de Sales

  4. I just read an article in the Biolan that described the work of an alumni with a Ph.D. in Psychology who has done a study revealing that because of Google, people tend to think they are more knowledgeable than they truly are. Just another example of the disadvantages of technology. Excellent post as always, dear Julie!! ❤

    • I’m probably one of the dumb as a rock newly misguided intellects 🤣😂

    • Citizen Tom says:

      This quote does not just apply to liberals.

      It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so. ― Ronald Reagan

      Access to information is highly useful, but it is only step one. What a good education involves is helping students gain wisdom that includes both knowledge and understanding. We require access to information to gain knowledge. Knowledge allows us to recall a pertinent set of facts from memory. When we understand, we know how those facts relate to each other. Wisdom requires ability to use what we understand to do what is good instead of evil.

  5. oneta hayes says:

    I went to a Dollar General store to get three or four items. Registers went ker-plunk. I had cash and could easily see what I had in hand was less than ten dollars. I asked them to write down what I had and I would pay cash. They said they couldn’t because the had no change to give back. I told them that was okay – just take the ten. They said they couldn’t. So I went out without my stuff. I guess that would have made some “thievery” possible but I longed for the good old days as I went on to Walmart. But I have not experience the time I wanted to go back to oxen or horses for my transportation, although I guess my dad might have a time or two!

  6. A very timely and important message. We need to be very aware and concerned about the impact of Technology on education and our children. 🙂 ❤

  7. dbp49 says:

    It seems the first mistake for many in our species had to do with rejecting God’s care in favor of self-reliance, and now that self-reliance has been shifted onto something even less reliable than the people themselves. Unless we start (as a species) relying once again on Someone we know who is absolutely Reliable, I fear it will not end well.

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