Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shadows And Clouds

  "You can't teach an old dog new tricks!"  I always thought that was narrow minded thinking.  There is always something new to be learned.  I think most everyone knows that.  Following that line of thought, consider this; you can always learn something new about yourself.  Or perhaps you can accept or even improve an aspect about yourself that you probably knew all along.
  I have noticed a behaviour pattern about myself.  It is probably a very common characteristic among many people but I find it interesting to try and step out of myself to observe it, figuratively speaking.
  How I feel about myself, my surroundings, my work, my leisure time and other people not only depend upon me, but also depends on many external influences, some which I can control and some which I cannot.
  I can go through my day and everything is going swimmingly and then an event will take place that will put a kind of shadow or dark cloud over my head for the rest of the day.  Ever have that happen to you?  I never really stopped to think about it until yesterday.  I think what brought it to my attention was having multiple events happening together.  Most of the day went okay until late afternoon.  A neighbour came to the door which set of my dog into a barking fit.  That caused me to be cross with my pet.  Shortly after that, there was a barrage of ringing on my door bell, I suspect a kid in the neighbourhood pulling a prank.  Of course, that set my dog off, again.  This short tirade of events caused the following to happen:
  1.  I yelled at my dog, and felt bad after doing so.
  2.  I was embarrassed to have my neighbour witness me berating my dog.
  3.  I felt violated because a prankster came onto the property and rang my door bell.
  Simple events, however, I had a gloom with me the rest of the day.  I think it all comes down to my being disappointed in myself for not controlling how I reacted and for what others thought of me.  It is simple human nature; for example, you get complimented by the boss and you are walking on air or you get chewed out and you are bummed out.  Simple self-esteem mechanics.
  So that's it.  My self-observation lesson, today.  I think the better we can understand ourselves, the better we can understand others.  After all, we are all in this together!

The human mind can bear plenty of reality but not too much intermittent gloom. - Margaret Drabble

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surreality

  Since my last entry, work has given me the opportunity to drive around in some of the places that were hit hard by Hurricane Irene.  Driving through the areas was something similar to watching the aftermath of a disaster movie or seeing news footage from Hurricane Katrina.  But actually being in the middle of it takes on a whole new meaning.  A couple of my supermarket accounts had been flooded by almost three feet of water in their stores that had the consistancy of milky coffee.  Consequently, they had computer equipment that was damaged, not to mention many other things.  It was my job to assess the damage to the computer gear that we maintain for them.
  The towns of Windham and Prattsville were severely flooded being so close to the rivers.  The high rapid waters made toys of everything in it's path.  I was told that ten homes along the river in Prattsville, were washed away.  Fortunately no fatalities. 
  Roads and bridges were washed away or badly damaged from erosion.  Homes, trees, sidewalks and lamposts were uprooted or toppled.  Farmland turned into mudland and crops were ruined.  Cars were floated and found in different places when the water went down.
  The power of the hurricane was impressive, but the way everyone pulled together when it was over was more impressive.  The owners of the stores I spoke of, went right to work, smiling all the while.  They were well aware of the financial losses, but their primary goal was to get open as soon as possible because they knew the local folks depended on them.
  After all is said and done, I have realised how lucky I have been in my life (so far!) to escape harm from natural or man-made disasters.  I hope I haven't broken the magic spell after saying that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting Caught In The Pinions Of Progress

  Even though I am older and more matured (sometimes people may want to debate with me on the later), I am still learning.  Often times learning is comprised of proving what I already suspected to be fact.
  Case in point:  As we all know, Hurricane Irene made it's way up the coast to the northeast on Sunday, August 21.  At my location, we were essentially unaffected except for wind, rain, and leaves and twigs scattered about.  It wasn't until I started traveling around the state that I really noticed the impact.
  Okay, so where am I going with this?  Well, we all use the interstate system frequently during our travels and take it for granted that it is there.  We don't think much about it except when we wonder why there are tolls collected in the East and not in the West.  Anyway.....I started traveling down one of our interstate roads, assuming, in good faith, that I would reach my destination.  I drive for about a half hour and there is a sign on the road saying the interstate is closed ahead and everyone gets off at the next exit.  WHAT?  Not even a sign of warning at my entry point.  So I and everyone else are in line at the toll booth so we can pay them for the pleasure of this major inconvenience.
  At this point, I need to interject some information.  Prior to 1956, there was no interstate system in the U.S.  Everyone traveled via the state highways.  As far as I know, we managed just fine.  With the advent of the interstate, we could travel to our destinations faster, both in time and speed.  As time goes by, more and more vehicles are on the road.  No problem, the interstates are multi-laned and have also been expanding with time.  In 1956, when the construction of the interstate system commenced, there were 65 million vehicles on the road.  Prior to that, it could be assumed that the state roads could handle something less then 65 million vehicles.  Fast forward to today;  the number of vehicles on the road has quadrupled and we are doing okay.  Now throw Hurricane Irene into the mix....the hurricane caused flooding on several parts of the interstate making them impassable in some areas, hence the closure.  At the point where I was forced off, I was still some forty miles from my destination.  There were two alternative ways to go, the state highway that ran roughly parallel with the interstate, but that was closed to flooding, too.  The other was to swing wide taking rides onto far flung roads that ran on higher ground.  Here was the rub;  ALL of the multi lane traffic that was being carried on the interstate was now being funneled into single lane roads that frequently went through busy towns and villages.  The result was very slow moving, stop-and-go traffic.  The next time you are out and about, take notice of how many trucks are around you.  My guesstimation is one third to one half of them will be trucks.  So what was to be a three hour cruise, no, wait, that was Gilligan's Island.  So what was to be an hour drive each way, turned out to be a five hour drive each way.  Boring!  Though it was interesting to really take notice of the countryside around me while I was sitting in traffic.  One area was populated with  Amish folk.  I am sure, as they looked at us floundering in our machines and going nowhere fast, they thought us very foolish.
  So my point is, we can become very dependent on our modern conveniences, but sometimes they can turn against you.  There is not much we can do about it, just go with the flow and grin and bear it.  With everything comes a price.  Happy motoring!

There is no reason that the universe should be designed for our convenience. - John D. Barrow