Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

About five years ago, a doctor became concerned about my blood pressure. He was a substitute doc filling in while mine was on maternity leave. He was young and physically fit so he surprised me when he said he was prescribing the same medication and dosage for me that he was taking.

The pills do a good job of keeping my blood pressure at an acceptable level. I monitor my blood pressure sporadically at home with a cuff gadget and it's textbook perfect when I get up in the morning. But, by the end of the day, I've usually kicked it up a notch.

Monday morning I woke up feeling good and in a great mood. I had an enjoyable weekend that included the annual Chamber banquet, getting out in the garden while the sun shined and being Skyped.

We didn't know its name then, but Skype is technology promised to us

a generation ago. Remember when "they" talked about a futuristic

telephone that would allow you to see the person you're talking to and

that person could see you, too? Back when it was just a concept, I

pictured a telephone (land line, of course) with a TV attached to it.

Little did I know that a monitor connected to the Internet would

provide audio and video from anywhere in the world.

Saturday, the call came from Salem. The caller was my 3-month-old

granddaughter Kayla sitting on her mother's lap. It was our second time

Skyping and Kayla performed like a pro. She smiled and laughed and

cooed at the Web cam. I talked (way too loud) and kept repeating

"Kay-la, Kay-la, it's Grand-ma!" Need to work on that.

I was so relaxed and happy after that call. A shot of

granddaughter-time was better for my disposition (and my blood

pressure) than any prescription.

The happiness carried over to Monday morning.

I made the mistake of going online to check my virtual farm when I

got up. When I logged on to Facebook I saw a post from one of my farm

neighbors. This particular neighbor is someone I don't even know. She

is a friend of a friend who came highly recommended as a good farm

neighbor. Her post Monday morning was a quote attributed to Abraham

Lincoln. I read it with interest. A little history lesson before


I found the quote alarming. I couldn't picture the Abe I knew

talking this way. At best, it had to be out of context. Then I read a

comment to the post that clarified it. The words were not Lincoln's.

They belonged to Rev. William John Henry Boetcker.

Once again someone was spreading bad information via the Internet.

The people reading it assume it's true and, like lemmings, pass it on

to the next computer and the next.

My blood pressure skyrocketed as I shot off a message to my

misguided neighbor suggesting she verify her information before putting

it out there for the world to see. Try using Snopes.com, I told her.

There is so much misinformation circulating in cyberspace and

getting traction. Before forwarding an e-mail that promotes fear or

hate or sounds just a little off, check it out on Snopes.com.

Snopes.com calls these suspect e-mails "urban legends" and researches

their origin. The results are never disappointing.

If you, like me, have a tendency toward high blood pressure, my

advice is to Skype your loved ones and Snope your e-mails to stay