Thursday, January 15, 2015

10 Things I'll do if I can get my hands on a Time Machine.

I'm really surprised it took me this long to get to this subject.  So before diving into this obviously titled 10 list.  Here are the ground rules.  There IS NO butterfly effect.  That is to say, nothing I do in the past will have any unintended consequences towards my own future all future effects are anticipated and intentional.  In fact, everything I would do would work out perfectly like all of the other plans I have made in life.  Also, when I travel time, I will return to exactly a moment after I had left in my time without having aged.  I will chalk that up to relativity, or quantum goo, or carbon nano-tubes or something.  Anyway...

Go see the future - All this talk about time machines has most people zooming to the past to right some wrong or to make sure something happens that you didn't really think you could change but now you might have the chance.  That's crap.  I want to go to the future and see how certain things turn out.  Will I be able to rely on social security?  Does nuclear war start?  Is soylent green made of people?  I will know the answer to ALL of those questions.  It would be so cool.  Of course the tragic thing is that I can come back after going to the future and all I would do is sit around depressed that I don't really live in the future because all of the cool stuff is there.  Don't think so?  Think about being a King in medieval times.  The KINGS life back then sucked by today's standards. If he had come to our time for 1 hour to taste a McDonalds Hamburger and a shake, he would have gladly traded his kingdom to be temporary seasonal help at Costco.

Put a little away each month... - This one seems obvious, but it's not.  Put some money in a bank account for me to pick up later after it's grown to elephantine proportions.  But which bank?  I need a bank that would survive several decades in order for me to be able to collect my savings.  I would also need to figure out a way to withdraw that money without seeming like a greedy time traveler.  The further in the future you go, the more curious a bank would be about the nature of a large, up till then undisturbed, chunk of money suddenly going out to some stranger claiming to be it's owner.

Find my stuff - All through my life I've lost things or suspected them stolen.  If I could travel time, I would go back in time and spy on myself.  See what happens to the ton of stuff that I've lost over time.  While I'm there, I'll get a more objective view of what was happening to me and if I remembered family events correctly.

Stop someone other than Hitler -  Sheesh, EVERYONE is going to go back to kill Hitler.  Germany in the 1940's is going to be so crowded it will look like a time travelers Disneyland on Christmas Day.  Best not to go there.  Besides, there are LOTS of despotic dictators that seem to do horrible things that I could kill or at least dissuade from doing their evil deeds.  Probably be better to not kill them because they would just be replaced by some other crazed power hungry megalomaniac.  There are lots of people that probably should be stopped.

Give myself advice about skiing -  I really tore up my ACL skiing when I was young.  It's affected my ability to exercise and play tennis ever since.  I would tell myself that skiing isn't worth it.   I would probably take my own advice as long as I could...then I would wonder why I would bother coming back in time to talk to myself unless there was something in it for future me.  Why do I wanna help that bum?  Who knows if I would take that advice.

Prove to myself that it's working - I'm not going to just take any advice.  In fact, even if it LOOKS like I can time travel to the past, it's no free ticket to sculpting the perfect Marty McFly life outside the constraints of fate and destiny.  I would really need to know that I am safe and really benefiting from my future me's advice.  I don't trust me, I might be lying to myself.  I'd go back further in time and leave a note in a book on a shelf of a public library and direct me to check out the book and find the note to be very specific and factual about where something I had lost was.  This would prove a lot to younger me because I lost all kinds of stuff.

Rewrite History -  This isn't what you think.  I'm not going back to change history, but rather to get a better view of it.  I'll go back to the historical times that I know about and see if they really transpired in the same way that I was told.  I have often heard that history is written by the winners.  I want to see if that is correct or not and if not, what loser has been writing history.

Get really smart - If you can travel time, you have a LOT of time on your hands.  You could go back in time and go to school and learn pretty much everything that life has to offer.  Jump back in time, learn stuff and things.  Jump back to current time to just a moment after.  Yes, I would still have to do the work, so it might just be easier to jump far enough into the future to have all the experience of a really smart guy downloaded into my brain.  Yeah, that would be the ticket.  Nothing but trouble in the past.  Go to the future, that's where it's at.

Pretend to be Dr. Who - Seems like this is obvious unless of course my time machine doesn't look like a tardis.  If it didn't, then there might be a problem in that most of the time you would be spending, you would be trying to right space wrongs and fight non-existent daleks.  Lets be serious, with all the other stuff on this list, I would probably just go to the future and get something that seems like a sonic screwdriver and redecorate my ride to look like an English Bobby's call box.

Cult of the washed hands -  If I'm going in it for the saving lives game.  I'm going back to the dark ages during the plague.  I would establish the cult of soap and washed hands.  Since this is before science, It would be miraculous how my followers would be living on average much longer than non followers.  As my cult's numbers would increase, more would see the benefits of cult rules.  Wash hands with soap 3 times a day and do something nice for your neighbor.  By the end of the dark ages, I will have saved so many people through my cult that Europe would probably not have to worry about Hitler.  Someone that ended up surviving the plague eventually gave birth to an opposition party member that ended up defeating Hitler in early elections.  Later, science would prove the effectiveness of the Cults beliefs and it would be deemed as prophetic.  Win Win.

If you got into a time machine and flew 15 days into the future, you might see the next blog post.  If I in fact have written it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

10 Things we don't have to worry about anymore

It seems that as the years go by there are more and more things that are quickly becoming anachronistic.  So many things are just not practical anymore where once they were a mainstay.  Kind of like the Hotdog Cooker, wow that thing was great.  Always fascinated with that device.  Anyway, I digress.  The more technology we get, the more we seem to lose a little bit of the past that we used to rely on.  Lets look at a few things that we just don't really worry about anymore.

1 - Weather - For some reason, the weather seems like one of the favorites on TV.  What is the weather going to be like tomorrow?  Well thanks to weather apps and computer reminders, we constantly have weather updates.  Do people still watch the weather report?  Of course!  Do they need to?  No, not in the least.  There are so many sources for weather reports that you would think people live most of their lives outside.  If they do, they probably don't get weather reports.

2 - Maps - When you were going to any place outside of your immediate neighborhood, you would go to your trusty car map.  In fact comedians would joke about how you could never get your map folded back together the same way you had bought it and it would get laughs because it was a common experience shared by all.  If you were going on a vacation, then a trip to the local filling station would be in order not only to get your car a tune up but to purchase some maps that would direct you and your car to the destination city.  It might require several maps and if you were daring, you would only buy the more distant maps that routed the interstates and find your way to your destination when you got within city limits.  Along with this,  you would make advanced reservations at hotels along the way and plan out rest and points-of-interest stops.  Now, all of this is on our smart phone.  We use them all the time and we don't even think about it.  Our biggest complaint is when the phone sometimes guides us into a lake or is out of range of a cell tower,  but really that's a small price to pay.

3 - cursive - I recall the good old days in school when the size of pencils where inverse in proportion to your size and you had to learn cursive and good penmanship.  At the time in 2nd grade, so much was riding on the slant and consistency of your lettering.  THIS was a basic and necessary part of training on the long road to becoming an adult.  Now I'm afraid that this 'skill' has become the sole domain of art.  If you want to make fancy fonts or perhaps an artistic word design, then knowing cursive is still important to a point.  It is not by any means necessary for communication.  Soon, you will have cursive historians that look at handwriting in the 1900's that will be able to decipher what was being written.  Capital Q looks like a 2?  Really?  It's a wonder it lasted as long as it did.

4 - Newspapers - In their own cute little way, newspapers are still around.  More of a boutique business anymore.  news is in the hands of the gossip mongers and the heresayers.  More people wonder about something, they look it up with the web search of their choice, usually I think.  Then BANG!  As much as you would want to know about the latest sports scores, crimes committed, celebrities being pedestaled or pilloried.  It's all there and much more than you ever wanted.  Newspapers?  That's old news.

5 - Family Reunions -  My family was never big on reunions.  They rarely happened and seemed almost to be more of a cry for help than anything.  But most people had family reunions where family members from out of town would come in, usually around the 4th of July to take advantage of the day off, and get together for a large scale pot luck.  Now this part probably doesn't change much, but what happens afterwards does.  During these reunions people would sit and visit and catch up on what everyone else is doing in the family.  Now, everyone knows.  It's like they all live next door, or maybe in the next room.  Everything on social media tells people more than they ever thought they could know about their kith and kin.  Now the only reason to get together once a year is to trade recipes that you have to taste in person to decide if you want.  That's going to go soon once being able to print food is more mainstream.  Yes they are already doing it.  I'm just not sure how good a big mac is going to taste if it's made with hp-food-grade-printer ink.

6 - Yellow Pages - Yeah, the internet has made this just a sad little (and I mean little) book that shows up on your door step every... I don't even know how often it shows up because I just throw it away.  There was a time when local service lived and died by the Yellow pages.  it was THE advertising of first resort.  Everyone was supposed to let their 'fingers do the walking'.  Bold entries, fancy artwork, pages so thin they could only be in competition with pages of scripture.  Yellow pages had what you needed.  Now?  What they have is a direct route to the recycle facility where they are recycled into more even smaller yellow pages.  One of the great things about the phone book was it was supposed to be a feat of strength to be able to rip a phone book in half.  Now it's a demonstration of readiness to be released from the hospital after an operation.  The yellow pages do have a website somewhere.  I've never actually been.

7 - Full Service (Oregon, don't read this one) - There was a time when you would trust your car to the man who wore a star.  There was a time when gas was dispensed and the windshields cleaned and the oil checked by your friendly service station attendant.  Back then they called them service stations and the row of pumps were called full service because you got service on your car. Sometimes there was another row of pumps that were called self service. NOW we just don't do that unless we live in Oregon where it's against the law to pump your own gas.  In this nutty bit of legislation, gas stations must hire a gas station attendant to pump patrons petroleum properly and promptly.  I think that last alliteration was actually a part of the law, I'm not sure on that.  Anyway, the rest of the country we get out of our cars and pump our own gas.  We don't for a minute think about the good old days of full service.  Unless you live in Oregon, where the good old days are still old if not good.

8 - When/Where are we meeting - You are going to meet friends for a movie or perhaps to some event.  When we would worry about this kind of thing, we would arrange, very carefully, the place we were all meeting and the time we would expect to see each other there.  If this was a friend you had not seen in some time, you would also probably explain to each other what you were wearing or what you would be holding so you could identify what was going on.  The conversation would go something like this:  "Ok, I've already talked to Fred and we are going to meet you at the south end of the Mall right by the fountain on the GAP side.  We'll be there at 5:30 but Fred might be late, but I'll be early.  Ok?  5:30.  We'll see you then" hang up.  Now, we just use cellphones to say 'Hey, are you there yet?'  Better yet you can use some apps to track friends via GPS to see exactly where they are.  Did you know that the NSA is your friend?  Oh yes, they are a very, VERY good friend.

9 - Librarians - There was a time when the Dewey Decimal system ruled the roost of informational archives.  Librarians were the google before google so maybe altavista, but even before that.  The librarian would be asked how to find nearly everything in the library.  They would also be asked strange questions because the assumption was that the librarian had in fact read all of the books that they guarded with their shield of silence.  Now, the library and librarians are another strange artifact of an archive that is just aching for a massive global power failure.  The librarian secretly longs for the day that the printed page reigns supreme again.  They complain about the brightness of technological displays and revel in the perceived comfort they  feel in turning dried pressed pulp between their fingers.  Anymore, people just want things faster and if they don't have to leave their houses, so much the better.  There are still libraries of ancient tomes in Universities (that will be on this list in another 50 years) that are guarded by the earnest librarian and there will always be some place for bound books.  But the mainstream just doesn't think about them as much anymore or how they are organized.

10 - Who is calling/Busy Signals - Do we ever think about the busy signal on phones anymore?  I'm not even sure they exist unless you are trying to call a Radio Station to win some free concert tickets to the Bread reunion tour.  The worst that can happen when you call an individual is that you are given a voice mail prompt.  If you call a company you will of course have to navigate the electronic gate keepers to eventually be given voice mail or possibly an automated customer service rep, but you will never hear a busy signal.  On the other side is that feeling of dread you had when the phone would ring at a strange hour of the day.  You would wonder with some trepidation who it was on the other end of the line that wished to talk to you at that time.  Now, caller ID is everywhere.  You will get some places that refuse to show you who is calling.  That's a very good indicator of if you should answer the phone at all or not (Answer: not).  We now can answer the phone directly with hello Fred because you see that Fred has called you on his cellphone.  Kind of takes the wind out of that 'guess who' that someone might pull to see if you remember the sound of their voice.  That was always annoying anyway.

There are some things that we just don't think about much anymore.  If you still do, you won't for long.  Thanks for reading!  Happy New Year!