The Home Team / How onerous it would 'bee' in a world without O's

My training sessions with Tim are always marked by an elevated level of philosophical discourse. Except for when I'm grunting, groaning, or passing out.

Recently, he was telling me about a client of his who is, of all things, a beekeeper. Tim said now his own son, too, was thinking of raising bees. He then began recounting for me the horrors in store for the planet Earth if we keep killing our honeybees. He'd learned all this in the "Time" magazine cover story, "A World Without Bees."

Tim told me we could thank the Western honeybee for one in every three mouthfuls we'll eat today. Bees, he said, pollinate crops like apples, blueberries and cucumbers, and are the glue that holds our agricultural system together. But honeybees are starving to death, it seems, and if we don't do something about it, there may not be enough of them to pollinate valuable crops, and we could well wind up with a permanently diminished planet.

That's bad, I agreed -- a world without bees. But not as bad as a world without the letter "O." And that's the world that was waiting for me back at my desk when I finished with my gym routine.

My workday had started out fine, and normal. Check some email ... have a look at Facebook and Twitter ... start working on a post for my Beagle Man blog. But out of nowhere, as I attempted to input my password on the Blue Chip Pet Care site in order to line up a Nashville dog-sitter for my coming cross-country road trip with Ricky the Beagle, nothing happened. My password wouldn't register. I kept hitting the "o" key, but the box remained blank. (Okay, now you know my password begins with "o." Just 74 gazillion combinations to try and you'll have it!) I was going to call The Amazing Sam, our household IT guy, and scream for help when I happened to type beyond the "o" and realized the rest of the characters were appearing, as they should, in the password space.

It was only the "o" that wasn't working. How strange.

My first instinct was to avoid the problem. I could live without "o's." Of the five vowels, "o" ranks fourth in popularity, for crying out loud. "E's," "a's" -- that would be a different story. But I wasn't going to screw up my workday and call The Amazing Sam over the "o."

So I went ahead and typed the beginning of my Beagle Man post:

All right, I think it's abut time I admit it. My annual September rad trip acrss America with Ricky the Beagle is n lnger about driving the belved family dg ut to see ur pr hmesick by in far-away Califrnia.

Not so good. The missing "o's" were distracting. Annoying. Kind of stupid.

So I gave in and typed an email to The Amazing Sam:

Mini-crisis here: The letter is nt wrking n my cmputer!!! Can't d much withut it!!! Help!!!

He wrote back, Did you try shutting down and restarting? (As you can see, his "o's" were working just fine.)

We went up and back a few times, and then I noticed, as I wrote Will do to one of his suggestions, that my "o" had reappeared.

Though Sam suggested a few more steps for me to take to prevent this from happening again, I did what I always do when a computer problem recedes: Nothing. If the problem resurfaced, I'd just call The Amazing Sam again.

In the meantime, I learned an important lesson. With all due respect to crops and pollination and Mother Earth, I'd rather live without bees than without "o's."

Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, can be followed on his blog "Beagle Man" on the Westport News website -- Hank can be followed on Twitter @BeagleManHank and reached by email at