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The Slice: These days, goodbyes can be hard

Fri., Jan. 28, 2011, midnight

The Slice hears that there’s a problem with those webcam devices that allow computer users to engage in video chats with long-distance friends and relatives.

Apparently, seeing a live picture of the person with whom you are visiting makes it harder to say goodbye and hang up, so to speak.

There’s a lot of “You go first” … “No, you.”

Now sometimes, in certain contexts, it can be difficult enough to conclude an old-fashioned personal phone call. But I’m told some of those who have been visiting via webcam find it even harder to end their video calls.

“OK, let’s count to three and disconnect at the same time. One … two …”

Maybe there’s something extra-abrupt about turning off a video stream of someone you care about. Perhaps it feels dismissive or cold, like slamming a door in a friendly face.

Or maybe we have been trained by the experience of watching TV to regard turning off a picture on a screen as having a connotation of “That’s enough of that.”

Perhaps simply wrapping up the video call by saying “I love you” or “Be safe” is the way to go.

Of course, there might be something to be said for finding a way to segue to an old-timey Indian chief test-pattern.

Good news/bad news: I have friends at a couple of Spokane’s bicycle shops. Sometimes I worry about their places staying in business. I suspect they operate on pretty thin margins.

So I have been pleased to imagine the rush of customers they will be seeing when warm weather arrives.

Sure, that happens every spring. But I’m guessing that this year will produce a repair work/new parts bonanza. I foresee a phenomenal number of wrecked rims and broken spokes as a result of the condition of Spokane’s streets.

For seasonal bike commuters, though, viewing the parade of potholes through the window of a car or bus can’t help but conjure images of two-wheel trouble down the road.

Let’s hope those bent bikes aren’t accompanied by dented bodies.

Today’s Slice question: If you were a blue-chip high school athlete being offered scholarships right and left, what would you look for in a college?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail There are those who know the classic Johnny Horton songs and those who don’t.

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