Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Rants and Raves

When I got home from work last night the power went out. It actually went out while my garage door was going up. The door stopped mid-risen and I immediately feared the rollers had jumped the track or the cable had tangled. I ducked under it and flipped the light switch so I could see what happened. No light. And I knew.

It's the second time this week we lost power. I know there are a couple hundred thousand without power out east since the weekend so this is small potatoes, but it was the third time in the past couple months and it set a couple thoughts through my mind. First, it made me think of my year in Puerto Rico where the power in San Juan was perpetually failing, with brownouts or blackouts being a near weekly routine. Second, it made me think of some futurist novel in which the people are told things are better than ever but when it fact they are deteriorating.

And so it made me concerned because it was easy to picture bad things about our future.

After a while the power did return, but my internet was down. The modem looked connected and the router lights were on, and my laptop itself said I was connected, but all efforts to go online came up void. This is not a good thing if you are a daily blogger.

I wanted to check my email, to research some things online, etc. and was in a holding pattern. Worst of all, we just switched internet providers a few months ago because of dropped connections and poor customer service.

I thought about the future again. We keep being told life is getting better, but let's look at a few details. The tax code, for example. For fifty years it has been complicated. Why can't it be simplified? Politicians talk about simplifying taxes but who has the will to do anything? It's all jawboning. In fifty years it will be as complicated as it is today, or worse.

And what about our roads? We developed the biggest and best interstate highway system in the world, back in the fifties but, as they say, things fall apart.... and from the mega-highways to the rural byways, it's not getting better.

And how can the economy get better when ten percent or more can't find jobs? (Is there anyone who really believes that the job numbers regurgitated from Washington reflect the real unemployment numbers?)

And then there's television. How has it come about that being tasteless and rude and mean is interesting or popular? The more outrageous the better the ratings. Television's power to influence is as strong as ever and I find this disturbing, as illustrated in this political cartoon.

And so it is that our minds don't work right when we rant, as illustrated in  Luis Buñuel's famous 1929 film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). Picture a rope going down into a dark well that is being pulled up and all tied and tangled in the rope are these various things like dead donkeys, dead priests, a piano and other random or bizzarre elements from the hole. Who hasn't seen this very thing at some point in their lives? You get angry and everything else in the closet comes flying out in the rant, every unresolved bitterness or frustration.

So, how does it end? I will tell you.

My Rave

We have a tech guy, I will call him Jason, who installed our new dish and helped get all the connections set up for our internet service. Jason gave us his personal cell number in the event we had issues so that we would not have to deal with people in some call center far away, whether the Carolinas or India or wherever. He cared about us getting good service, far above and beyond the call of duty.  Why? Because he is a good person, a person who cares.

Good people who care about others are the reason I don't have a bleak view of tomorrow. Rains come and go, but that's life. And all our accumulated goods that break or fall apart, well, you can't take it with you anyways when you leave this orb, so why worry about it?

It would have been easy to write a complete blog entry titled Why I See Bad Things For Our Future, citing our dependence on electricity, the breakdown of our infrastructure, the lack of will by politicians, our required inconveniences as technologies change, not to mention the multitude of other issues people are railing about.
But guess what? In the midst of all of it, I keep bumping into people like Jason, who are generous with their time and compassionate enough to lend a helping hand to others in need, even when not required. (He could have easily given us a tech support number and finished his job by getting us set up.)

I know some of you who read this regularly are like Jason. You have no idea what a difference you're making. You give people hope, and it's my conviction that in these crazy, uncertain times, hope is our greatest need.

Thanks. It's your move.

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