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BeefTalk: Three Pedals, But Only Two Feet

Current State of the Cattle Industry Current State of the Cattle Industry
The challenge is allocating time to learn how to utilize the magnificent technology at our fingertips.

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

Mistakes happen, but life goes on!

That is the stark reality when one has no way of immediately changing the previous action. It could be simple, such as locking the car door with the keys inside or accidentally giving someone the wrong phone number.

The outcome of both situations (and many other scenarios) is that one simply has to adjust one’s schedule until the car gives up the keys or you get a call back asking for the correct number. Interestingly, many of the complexities of our modern-day life evolve from efforts to prevent common mistakes.

Today, cell phones and many newer phones remember phone numbers for us. We quickly learn to utilize the call-back features.

The challenge is allocating time to learn how to utilize the magnificent technology at our fingertips. There is a real joy in helping a senior citizen learn the concept of e-mail.

For seniors, communication during most of their life took days. The concept of instant communication, outside of physically visiting someone, was inconceivable.

A picture of a newborn grandchild is sent when the baby is just a few minutes old. We once rode horses, but now we drive.

I never will forget watching my uncle teach Grandma to drive. The most amusing concept was that it had three pedals, but she only had two feet.

Grandma never did quite appreciate how smoothly one could shift. I am sure she would have appreciated an automatic, an option that did not exist then.

The technology pendulum swings. Cars can almost think for themselves, as the “locked out” episode demonstrated.

Keys now seem to communicate, not simply engage with their respective vehicle. A key can be cut, but it won't work until the key and the car are physically programmed to acknowledge each other.

Newly developed keyless systems will help your car recognize you. Gone are the days of running to the hardware store for a new key.

Today, the locked-out solution requires a shop appointment to reintroduce and engage the new key with the car's sensitive computerized system. When one is locked out of a vehicle, the thought of knowing your car is less likely to be stolen is not as reassuring as when one is resting at home knowing the car parked in the driveway is less likely to be stolen.

We need to learn. We need to move on. We need to make sure we know how to use the features on our cell phone.

We need to have the extra set of car keys accessible in case one is locked out. We soon learn the car may need to go to the key instead of the key going to the car.

These are technological advances we live with and appreciate, even if we have to redefine the term “appreciate.” Life is complex.

Some days, maybe we should ask, “Why three pedals if you only have two feet?” Well, Grandma, I don't know, but if you learn to drive, you will know.

Perhaps the cattle business is the same. A lot of what we are experiencing is a brash mix of new and old technology: the way things were, the way things are and the way things will be.

I don't think Grandma really ever wanted to drive. Grandma earned her “wings;” the car still sits in the trees and the three pedals are still there.

The important lesson is that we never get so involved with all that is around us that we forget what drives us. It is not the cell phone, the car key or the electronic identification that drives us. They all will be there and we all will learn.

The big thing is the “wings.” However, Grandma doesn't need pedals any more.

In the meantime, perhaps we will need to drive to town to pick up some ear tags.

May you find all your ear tags.

Your comments are always welcome at

For more information, contact the NDBCIA Office, 1041 State Ave., Dickinson, ND 58601, or go to on the Internet.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Kris Ringwall, (701) 483-2348, ext. 103,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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