"Changes and More Changes"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011

I often write about changes that affect our lives and stand out. I also often wonder how we are expected to keep up with them.

Many changes occur in the automobile industry. They begin right on the assembly line. The first change noticeable is the number of employees it takes to construct a vehicle. It appears to be about half or less employees to complete the running of the line. With all the spot welding machinery and lifting equipment used the job requires a lot less brawn. Less intelligence is required since all ones needs to know is when and how to push a button.

Another change took place on the next step after completion of a car on the line; transport to the dealers.

This operation was once handled by car carrier trucks moving up to five cars or small trucks at one time. With smaller cars being produced and car carrier transports getting larger, many more cars can be handled by one hauler. Shipment by rail has not been changed and is still utilized.

Once a dealer puts the new models on display, the toughest objective facing a perspective buyer is what color and style to choose. Other challenges are choosing the power supply and options which can number in the high double digits.

When I bought my first car automatic transmissions were only available on a few cars and they were not very popular because they required a lot of maintenance. The floor shift or manual shift on the column plus an extra pedal for a clutch didn’t seem to be a problem once one became accustomed to using them. In those days a manual transmission was standard and the automatic drive was an option that often had to be ordered. The change; today most drivers can’t drive without an automatic transmission and manual shifts are special order.

Today — even on small trucks, power windows, brakes, seat positions, seat heaters (even on back seats), radios, CD players, speakers all around are standard when once they were all options. And how about a car that can stop in time to avoid an accident without the driver touching the brakes and there is the car that can park itself. I like the feature of pushing a button inside your house to start your car to warm it up or cool it off. Funny the car thief’s haven’t got on to that helpful feature.

It’s amazing that a car can be programmed electronically by a global positioning system to guide you on a trip - of a mile or clear across the country with a single setting. Here is a new feature; a sensor that knows when you had an accident. It unlocks your doors, shuts off the engine and turns on the flashers, even if you are incapacitated.

The auto industry is not the only one experiencing changes. Electronics change almost daily; television and video equipment is near impossible to keep abreast of. At one time, rabbit ear antennas were replaced with roof-top antenna. They soon went from a few tubular arms to what looked like a monster on the roof that could turn in any direction and changed reception from 3 or 4 channels to dozens.

Today — changes are hard to describe entirely because they keep morphing into something else.

Roof top antennas have been totally discontinued. Those in remote areas must subscribe to a signal supplier to receive any image at all. The same applies to standard radio reception although there are still airways that carry radio waves without extra charges. Look for that to change in the future.

Large screen TVs that just a short time ago took up half a room can now be hung on a wall and only stick out 5 or 6 inches. Additional electronics; computers, telephones — cell and hard wire, printers, copiers, i-Pods, blackberrys and a host of other devices also change almost daily.

Many of the changes that bring new devices are helpful; some even life saving but how can we be expected to keep up with them when those we acquire today will be obsolete before we can pay for them?


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