Beau June 26th, 2009
Today may be the hottest of the week as temperatures have soared. I heard a swimming pool in the region brought in 20,000 pounds of ice to cool it down for a swim meet! I remember growing up with temperatures over 100 degrees for quite some time, but we just seemed to make do. “Dang it boy… when I was young…!” No, we enjoyed air conditioning (and a cool basement!), but a lot more folks made do without. We spent a lot of time working outside none-the-less, and just drank lots of water. But we didn’t think about it- everything was “local” back then, and weather was a lot more mysterious to the lay person without digital radar updated every few seconds. We tried to find out what the weather was like in a few cities to the west, and guessed at cloud formations. The forecasters were often as wrong as they were right- a lot less accurate than today. Of course we didn’t have internet, email, or cell phones- but it’s more than that. Because of our networked world today, we have instant-on news and information from nearly every part of the world.
With that data-centric awareness we can always be “plugged in” but our minds can easily be filled with extraneous and brain-consuming information. I use the computer every day, and love technology for the productivity it can bring to our lives. Yet sometimes I wonder what we miss or give up to stay so connected. They say that folks aged 16-24 are “texting” around 50% of the time while on the road driving… that amazes me. And that about 20% of adults are texting on the road. I’m sorry but that is a dumb thing to do. It just isn’t necessary- why risk your life or someone else’s to have a conversation with your fingers?
I don’t like the idea of state laws dictating what we can or can’t do in a car, but can you imagine being responsible for an accident while texting (or even talking on the phone)? The problem is that it doesn’t relate directly to operating the vehicle. Even voice converstations can be so distracting- I’ve talked on the phone while driving, but it takes a lot of concentration. It’s just not a natural thing to do for most people, and because it doesn’t relate to the physical activity taking place, it is a separate activity.
There’s a reason the FAA has rules for airline pilots that prohibit “small talk” unrelated to cockpit duties while the aircraft is below certain altitudes… so they can concentrate on operating their aircraft. I flew a couple jet aircraft in the navy- incorporating some amazing technologies. Sometimes our hands would operate dozens of near-simultaneous command inputs while flying- usually without voice actions inside the cockpit. But tons of voice information would come into the cockpit at the same time. I can tell you it’s very difficult to concentrate on the mission- but just about everything is related to that mission. And there’s a ton of training that takes place. Texting and talking while driving is not related to the actions of driving- it’s a distraction, and it’s usually a distraction in an incredibly dense operational environment. Anyway, it’s an issue sure to grow, I would think especially in legal realms.
It’s more than just driving. I was in the grocery store a while back- stuck behind a woman in the aisle. I thought she was trying to choose something from the shelf… then after a couple minutes I realized she was texting! Sheesh… for some people it’s like their brain turns off. She was embarassed when she realized she was blocking the aisle, lost in her digital world.
Sometimes I yearn for those days when our world seemed so much smaller at home, and bigger far away- we just didn’t know everything, hear everything… or wonder or care about everything. I think it’s important to get outside, slow down and take the time to detach… for me, a rural lifestyle provides that balance but it’s a choice. Real life matters.
Two icons of pop-culture passed away yesterday. I remember growing up admiring the Farrah posters that I would see in stores or at friends houses- and yes, I even watched Charlie’s Angels a time or two. Seems like yesterday, and we all have our time. And the musician. I remember wondering what the point was of a tv music channel that was on every day… until I spent a summer in college studying physics. Then I would take a break and watch MTV at a friends place, amazed by it all. Watching Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video the next year… what an amazing musician and performer. But I never watched a lot of MTV. Real life mattered more.
That long range digital forecast says it will start cooling down this weekend, with a cooler week coming up. That sounds pretty good and I hope you stay cool too.