Monday, October 27, 2014

Conservation of a Sort

My lovely wife believes in conservation.  She waits until she has several errands in town before climbing into her Prius, thereby minimizing fuel use in the already miserly machine. She makes similar suggestions of me, making me aware of the waste of fuel and time involved in making multiple trips to our True Value Hardware store in order to complete a project.  My explanation that I'm not sure what I else I might need until I reach the next phase of said project, holds little sway in her efficiency quest.  All this is admirable, as are our composting, recycling, re-purposing, and reusing efforts.  But, there are conservation methods that I'm not exactly ... sure I buy into.  Let me explain,

She appears to be firmly entrenched in the belief that conservation includes things in daily use, e.g. hinges and switches.  She will switch on a light when entering a room then leave without switching it off - her rationale "I'm going back in there, soon."  Soon, may be a minute,  an hour, or more.  Similarly, she will open a cabinet to extract something and leave it open with the thought that she might need something else from there, soon. Finally there's the stove - maybe this one's a bit different conservation-wise, you be the judge.  Often she will turn the burner on (electric stove i.e. heats up very fast) and then search for the pot or pan she needs.

Do these miscellaneous foibles negate our conservation efforts in other areas?  I have no answer to that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Limited Personal Awareness is Like Limited Access Highways

Limited access highways are generally a boon to travelers who want to drive from point A to point B without any interest in the points between.  It makes the destination the sole reason for the trip.  Well isn't that the purpose of traveling, to reach a destination?  Of course, but there's often so much worth seeing between A and B, so much we miss by isolating ourselves on these strips of concrete and asphalt that take us through an area rather than into and out of it.

On my twice yearly trips to the Outer Banks, I eagerly anticipate the point in Delaware where I leave the sameness of these tracks and can enjoy the traverse south through the Delmarva Peninsula to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Another short stretch around Norfolk and I'm free of limited access for the remainder of the trip. I get to see places, not highway signs advertising them.

Our personal electronics yield a similar experience in the sense that they provide us a way through our day rather than into and out of it.  Living in a college town, I get to observe the way young folks operate, and what I see is ear buds, headphones, thumbs flying on cellphone keypads, and eyes glued to tiny screens.  I see joggers exercising on our quiet town road with wires from their ears to devices strapped to their arms, people walking in the village talking on cell phones, and a couple of nights ago a young woman with headphones on riding a bike down the middle of our busy Main Street.

It seems like people are so busy going through places that they miss being in them.  I wonder if they will look back on their lives and think about what they missed?