Category: Pets

The Future of Kids & Pets

Kids & Pets

Two generations from now, children will no longer need human contact. At least that’s what one futurist predicts.

My question is: If that’s so, will kids still want the comfort of a furry pet? I’m betting they will.

In “Lo and Behold,” a documentary about the Internet, filmmaker Werner Herzog interviews a wide array of  web pioneers, technologists, sociologists and visionaries, as well as experts in artificial intelligence and robotics.

They talk about the history of the World Wide Web and its current effects on culture and society. As for what they see in their crystal balls for the future, it may be amazing — but it’s also scary.

For instance, that forecast about children two generations down the line not needing human touch. If that turns out to be the future, I’m glad I won’t be around to see it.

On the other hand, maybe that dreary prediction is coming sooner than predicted: Toyota has a new mini-robot, a pocket-sized guy that understands kids’ questions and answers them in Japanese. (English is coming.) Who needs real parents?

If children do evolve to no longer need contact with humans, will words such as “cuddle” and “snuggle” fall out of use? My hypothesis is, no — they will still be spoken about live, furry creatures.

No matter how technologically advanced the human race becomes, I think kids will always need the comfort and companionship of puppies and dogs, kittens and cats, bunnies and ponies and horses, guinea pigs and hamsters. Even pet rats.

The photos posted here are of my four granddaughters. Over the years, they’ve had a wide variety of furry friends. They have cared for them, played with them, and turned to them for solace when life got hard.

And even though my girls are teenagers now, their love affair with pets goes on. May it always be so!



Reflections on San Rafael

Reflections is the name I’ve given to a series of photographs I’m taking of shop windows in downtown San Rafael, my current California home. Here is an example:

I love San Rafael. I’ve had a lot of “hometowns,” but San Rafael is one of the best.

This city is old. It has authentically interesting architecture. Its downtown and neighborhood streets are lined with trees. It nestles in the surrounding green hills of Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and a few miles up Highway 101. And if you’re standing in the right spot, you can see the peak of iconic Mount Tamalpais.

This town is not upscale, thank God. It’s not a tourist destination, like Sausalito or Tiburon. And it is more diverse than most Marin County towns, which I appreciate.

Fourth Street is San Rafael’s mile-long main drag. It’s a “walker’s paradise,” according to, which gives it a walkability score of 96 percent, based on the ease of walking to such everyday destinations as banks, post office, markets.

The downtown area draws pedestrians year-round  to do business and shop in its stores, many of which are family run. Like shops in Europe, they tend to specialize. On Fourth Street, you can find a shop for everything from fresh-made sourdough bread to sports cards, from comic books to lacrosse gear, from classic billiards to classic cars.

It’s a good place to walk your dog. Most of the shops have doggy water bowls in front. “Guide Dogs for the Blind” has its headquarters on Fourth Street, and trainers, clickers, and future service dogs are everywhere.

Coffee? Food? There’s a Starbucks, of course. But on Fourth Street, independent coffee shops are alive and well. So are an amazing variety of places to eat: Italian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Japanese, French, Korean, Thai, Burmese, Middle Eastern, Californian, down-home American. And such local favorites as House of Bagels, Johnny Donuts, Double Rainbow Ice Cream, and Pizza Orgasmica: “The Original Sin.”  Not a fast-food franchise in sight.

People actually come downtown at night, meeting friends, having dinner. Every Thursday evening, all summer long, several blocks of Fourth Street are closed to traffic and taken over by the San Rafael Farmers Market. Locally grown fruits and veggies are the big draw, along with stalls selling roast corn, fresh oysters, fried-chicken-and-waffles-on-a-stick, homemade tamales, Himalayan sandwiches and Polish “dawgs.”  Live music for the adults, pony rides and giant inflatable slides for the kids.

Of course, San Rafael has its problems. Including the homeless, more numerous here than elsewhere in Marin. Balancing their needs with those of the town’s citizenry is not easy, and the search for answers is ongoing. My little church is involved in the effort, along with other churches and organizations.

As for the Reflections series, I have certain rules: First, the window display must be interesting. Second, the reflection must show layers of neighboring buildings and the passing scene. I’ll post more of these photographs in the future.

The Reflections image at the top of this post was taken at D’Lynne’s Dancewear, which sells costumes as well as tutus and tap shoes. Reflected in D’Lynne’s window, behind Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty, is the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Theater, a restored Art Deco movie theater that focuses on foreign, art, classic, and documentary films. It is run by the nonprofit California Film Institute (of which I am a member).

And here’s a favorite place on Fourth Street:

Double Rainbow Ice Cream




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