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Still life with ladybug and PC

IN this part of Pennsylvania, corporate centers pop up overnight in fields that once belonged to cows and corn. It's not unusual to see a crowd of Guernseys grazing next to the entrance to an industrial park. The corporate center where I work looms over rolling greenery crisscrossed by busy roads. Although much of the natural life has been displaced, there are occasional reminders that animals adapt to man's changes. The contrast between technology and nature is disturbing, but now and then reassuring.

My workweek is spent in a five-story building that hums and clicks with mi-crochip activity. A ladybug showed up on the door to the disk drive on my PC. As I gently transferred it to a plant on a nearby shelf, the hectic pace of the office seemed less threatening. It was comforting to know a ladybug wasn't intimidated by hardware and system crashes.

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One morning as I got out of my car, I felt I was being watched. A woodchuck stood statue-still on its hind legs in a ditch across from the parking lot. He waited for me to make the first move. The morning was breezy and clear, and I'd rather have joined him. As I headed across the asphalt for my building, he lowered himself to all fours and waddled away. Knowing there was a wood-chuck going about his business made it easier for me to walk into the office.

Observing animals in a corporate environment makes them more remarkable beings. Like the cafeteria mockingbird. I've seen plenty of mockingbirds. But the one that sits on the patio outside the cafeteria and looks inside never fails to cheer me. After I have spent hours looking at printouts and glowing green-lettered screens, a mockingbird is a feast for the eyes.

And animals are good examples for the corporate world. A flock of Canada geese has taken over the lawn that is the corporate center's backyard.

As I sat at my desk one morning last week, I noticed a crowd gathering at the large windows. The arrival of a corporate bigwig? An accident in the parking lot? Neither. Several adult geese were leading their downy charges through the parking lot. The operation was one of order and efficiency, prized qualities in any office. No supervisor could have done a better job at organizing employees than were the manager geese with the goslings. They moved in a brown-gray line between rows of parked cars. They weren't distracted by human activity. These geese were goal-oriented. At the entrance to the building, they veered to the right and onto the lawn, out of sight of those watching from above.

People who work in offices and interact with machines need animals around. They need to be reminded that there is an order outside of computer programs and a world unaffected by power surges and failures.

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