Thursday, April 05, 2012

Longing for Simpler Times

My grandparents used to say they longed for a simpler time. 
The Waltons television series was a good example of the simpler times to which they referred, even though those times included the uncertainties following The Great Depression and the anxieties of the Second World War.

My parents moved away from what is now the 5th-most populous metropolitan region in the country, nearly two decades before it reached that dubious distinction, because they thought things were getting too crowded, too complex. Now a visit here lasting more than a few days is an exercise in their patience with the rest of modern society.

This week I finally realized what the past two generations of elders had been talking about.

My bride has never been a nagger. 
She’s not shy about asking me to do things, and knows just how far she can press a point about meeting a deadline on a list of things to do. Which only makes me love her that much more.  The past few months have been quite busy, too, so when things-to-do begin to pile up, she’s got the most-deft touch in spurring me onward.

Not so the electronic prompts in our lives.
It takes two alarm settings to rouse me these days, timed ten minutes apart.

I have differently-themed chimes on my smartphone for various alerts about e-mails, Tweets, text messages and voice mails. And when a partner in an on-line game makes a play, there’s a tone for that, too. 

I also have customized ring tones for various individuals in my life, but that’s a separate thesis for another post.

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a fitness group I have joined at work. We’re wearing electronic sensors that count our steps, whether walking or running, and they automatically transmit our progress to a receiver set up in the office, silently—insidiously—uploading our daily, if not hourly progress.

The e-mail told me I wasn’t doing enough.

I get up each morning at 2:30am, and try to arrive at the studio by 4am for a 5am show start. The show now runs five hours long, after which I am engaged in various projects from writing and taping stories for the rest of the day, or arranging for new programming on the station, working with the Sales and Continuity Departments. I walk all over that station, including the new facility that’s under construction.

And I get an e-mail from a machine that I’m not doing enough.

"Objects on screen are closer than we'd like.
Please pick up after yourself..."
The vehicle I am testing this week features a sonar-camera system that displays a 360-degree view of what’s nearby. Tonight as I pulled into the garage, sensor alarms went off as they "saw" items adjudged to be too close for the vehicle’s comfort. 

I turned on the camera system to view the display…and the vehicle told me what I have long suspected: I have junky garage.

I long for the simpler times, too.

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