"Some Changes Not For The Best"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012

Over the years, changes in our lives have been continuous. Some have made big differences in the way we live. The cell phone is a good example. Before it arrived, there was no way to call home and find out if a stop at the grocery store was necessary unless you stopped at a pay phone. The cell phone took care of that dilemma but before it arrived, we did not have life-taking accidents caused by those driving while talking on a pay phone.

Perhaps in answer to fears of brain cancer, texting was added to the cell phones capabilities. It only takes two thumbs to text a complete message. You don’t need a pen or paper but the problem is; you have to take your eyes off the road to send some messages and to read any of them. I believe very few people were ever injured while sending a written message from their desk.

Computers are right up there when it comes to changes; believe it or not, PCs have only been around since the late 1970s when 48,000 were sold. Currently that number is over a billion and growing by the second. We were told the computer would be a great time saver. It would be even a greater one if we only knew where that saved time is. My wife just spent over an hour trying to find out what medications should not be taken when eating grapefruit. Google finally provided a list of all possible medications and they were given in their chemical name — not brand names we recognize like; Advil, Tylenol, etc.

Note to Readers: if you are not aware of the possible dangers of mixing your meds with grapefruit look it up or check with your doctor. I am not being funny; I knew my blood pressure med could not be taken when I ate grapefruit or grapefruit juice, but did not know I had to skip it for two days. I was also surprised to see some cholesterol medications listed to avoid taking while enjoying your grapefruit.

The Internet is of course the result of the computer use explosion, which presents another big change. It has definitely hurt the print business as newspapers and magazines are folding all over the country. The post office is perhaps the hardest hit service we use impacted by the growth of the Web. As we lose more and more postal services, we will begin to recognize just how valuable they were to us. There actually are those who still like to communicate with pen and paper using skills (the first of the three R’s) we were told by educators would be necessary to go through life.

Perhaps you may be one of those who enjoys sitting in a straight-backed chair for hours on end to read the newspaper or a magazine, but I am not. And, no, I do not want to sit with a laptop computer in my lap either.

Another item which has brought a big change (said to be a big asset) to our lives is the GPS (global positioning system). These systems vary in their ability and versatility. Some just show a map and arrow pointing in the direction you’re supposed to turn. These provided some help, but if you came to a detour you had a problem. Sometimes the system would correct its mistakes or just show a U indicating you needed to U-turn. Some systems give oral directions (ours is named Emily). They too can be confusing. One time we are told: “Take the next right turn.” Then we might be told: “Prepare to turn right.” That right may be three or four turns up ahead.

Not to worry, if I make a wrong turn, Emily will say insistently: “Make a U-turn when possible.” If Emily had not alerted me to prepare to turn right I probably would not have made the wrong turn. Why can’t they use a normal message, such as “Turn right at the next street?”

Although confusing at times, a GPS is helpful on trips. If you find your fuel tank is almost empty, push the right button on the GPS and you learn where the next gas station is located along with how many miles you need to travel to reach it. Some GPS systems will even tell you which brands of gas — if they feel like it. I once noted my tank was low on the Pennsylvania turnpike and asked the GPS where there was a fuel station.

At the next exit I was told. I took it and then I traveled 10 miles down a country road. Now, I was sure I needed gas and after I scared the chicken out of the driveway, I entered the store to pay ahead as requested.

The counter person refused to take any of my credit cards, even the one for the brand of gas they sold. I was told cash only. I handed them a large bill and was told they could not make change. I put five bucks in and continued down the country road and got to a station just in time. After filling up, I had to drive the 20 miles back to the turnpike. And, yes, the very next exit five miles down the road had two fuel stations and two restaurants. Thanks to my GPS, I had fueled up but spent time and fuel doing so.

As I see it, if you rely on a GPS, also carry a map or pre-plan your directions and stops just in case the GPS gets lost. Should that happen, perhaps you can punch the right buttons and help it find itself.

Erin Go Bragh and Top O’ The Mornin’ to Everyone!




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