Right around this time forty two years ago the Webner family moved from Akron, Ohio and made Columbus our home. The first person I met the day we moved in was my neighbor Paul King and we became friends from the beginning. He later was one of a number of people who roomed at my condominium in Rittenhouse Square.
Twenty five years ago he asked me to be a groomsmen in his wedding and tonight I was invited to celebrate his marriage to his beautiful wife Karen along with their family and friends. They are two of the happiest people I have come to know and have raised two of the most respectful children, Chris and Katie I have ever been around.
Paul and I still get together a couple times a month to have lunch and sometimes if we are lucky Karen will join us. As one gets older you reflect on the many friendships you have that have lasted through the years and I am fortunate to be blessed with the friendship of both of them. So Happy Anniversary Paul and Karen, wishing you many more years of happiness to come.
I’m up in Minneapolis for meetings and was scheduled for a lunch at Crave, a restaurant in the Mall of America.
The restaurant was fine; the Mall of America was . . . too much. Too much noise, too much colorful eye-catching signage, too much over-the-top indoor amusement park activity, too much of just about everything. I sat at a sticky table in one of the food courts recharging my cell phone battery, listening to the shrieks of kids on roller coasters and smelling the sickly sweet odor of food court ice cream and soft drinks, and thought: Here is America, under one huge skylight, in all its excess and glory.
I must admit that the giant Lego Transformer and Lego helicopter were pretty cool.
Tens of thousands of years ago, both humans and Neanderthals walked the Earth. Humans, obviously, survived. Neanderthals — except to the extent they mated with humans and left their genes behind — didn’t. Why did one humanoid species thrive, and the other fail?
New theories posit that the domestication of dogs was a significant part of the secret to success for humans, because dogs helped humans procreate more rapidly and crowd the Neanderthals out. Paleolithic excavations show significant interaction between humans and dogs, and even indicate that early humans engaged in ritualistic canine worship that included special burials of man’s best friend. Dogs also helped hunting humans identify and take down their prey and served as beasts of burden, carrying packs as they accompanied their human masters. All of this allowed humans to eat more, carry more supplies, and survive to reproduce. Under the laws of natural selection, that gave the humans an ultimately dispositive advantage.
Although the linked article doesn’t mention it specifically, I imagine that the special emotional bond between humans and dogs also was an important part of the humans’ secret. It’s not hard to imagine dogs helping to keep ancient humans warm at night, providing early warnings when predators approached, and giving the kind of happy companionship that makes people feel good — and makes life a bit more worth living. It’s one reason why companion dogs have been so successful at hospitals and retirement homes.
It’s hard to imagine Penny and Kasey as pack animals for early hunter-gatherers, but they would have liked the canine worship part.