You may never learn the names of any of the people you talk to in a dog park, even after many, many hours spent there with them, and many hours of conversation. But if - knock on wood - anything should ever happen to your dog, these nameless non-strangers will rally, sympathize, offer to help, and hold your hand. I know this from experience.
They will be given as gifts; books that are especially pretty or visual will be bought as hard copies; books that are collectible will continue to be collected; people with lots of bookshelves will keep stocking them; and anyone who likes to make notes in books will keep buying books with margins to fill.
I've always been afraid of video games - not afraid that I wouldn't like them, but that I would like them too much, and that after mere seconds in front of any particularly bright and absorbing game, I would abandon all ambition, turn into a mouth-breathing zombie, and develop a wide, sofa-shaped rear end.
I have long been one of those tedious people who rails against the coronation of 'student-athletes.' I have heard the argument that big-time athletics bring in loads of money to universities. I don't believe the money goes anywhere other than back into the sports teams, but that's another story.
In an interesting inversion of status, the reigning breed in the dog park these days is the really-oddball-unidentifiable-mixed-breed-mutt-found-wandering-the-street or its equivalent. The stranger the mutt the better; the more peculiar the circumstance of it coming into your life, the better.
Sense of smell, of course, is only one of those dog qualities that can't be replicated or improved upon. I've been researching dogs in warfare for my book about 'Rin Tin Tin', and I've read many accounts of their heroics: carrying messages through battle, alerting troops to enemy planes, and even parachuting behind enemy lines.
When I heard about the Microsoft Kinect, though, I felt an urgency rising in me. A game you played without touching any machinery? A chance to wave your hands around, Minority-Report style, and move things around on a screen? This sounded like almost too much fun, with gadget-y pizzazz that sounded astonishing.