My first computer was a Kaypro — I’ve said this several times before — and I was thinking just the other day about how much has changed over just my lifetime. It had a 10 MEGABYTE hard drive — you can’t even find a memory card or a USB stick with so little memory. It took days to code anything — I tried to write a complete company accounting system for dBase and it took weeks. And when it was running it took forever and a day to accomplish anything with a 64K memory and plenty of floppy disk swapping. Today we turn the machines on, they work, there’s no sweat, no strain and we take i all for granted. This is a pretty amazing time to be alive even with all the problems we face — as a nation, as a species, as a planet.
When we were in your mid 20’s we lived in Chicago — and attended church on the near North side. After church we would drive one of the other parishioners home — he was at the time 100 years old, or maybe 101 or 102, but he’d been around a long time. He moved to Chicago as a young boy. He was a professional singer, a bass, and he moved from Eastern Pennsylvania to Chicago in a buckboard. Yeah…. one of these things….
On our drive to his house he would tell us about how this place along the Chicago River was just a swamp, and how there were lovely old weeping willows lining the river. He could go on for hours if we let him but the area he was talking about looks something like this today…
His generation saw a change from human transportation from horse and buggy to men on the moon. I always thought to myself that it would be hard to “beat” that for any future generation — of course I was young and foolish at the time! And of course there were about 1/2 as many people in this country and life was a lot slower. Even when we thought we were moving at full speed!
Today the average person with a dinky little smartphone has more computing power at their fingertips than it took to send men to the moon. Our new car has more computers in it than I’ve owned in my lifetime and to top it off, this car keeps sending me monthly reports on how it’s feeling. Aren’t I lucky! I feel foolish at time owning a car that’s probably smarter than I am! And my first VW beetle had a 10 gallon gas tank but no gas guage. When we got down to 5 gallons in the tank we had a lever on the dash board that we flipped so we knew were were on the “second half” of the tank of gas. Oh, those were the days!
Today, so many of us survive in air conditioned comfort. I know last summer while South Texas was sweltering Peg and I were pleasingly comfortable (as long as we stayed indoors or inside our car) no matter the number on the thermometer. This winter — being back in Wisconsin where the thermometer goes to the opposite extreme — we have been comfortably warm with a great heating system.
We have good healthcare, we have ample food, our biggest problem (it seems) is having to get rid of possessions to keep our lifestyle to a bare bones minimalism. Such a problem we should have.
I’ve been reading about the water shortage in S. Africa. The idea of more than a million people having to cue up for a daily allotment of a couple gallons of water per persons seems crazy when we live here on the edge of one of the largest supplies of fresh water in the world (The Great Lakes) and many Wisconsinites think nothing of using more than 100 gallons of water per day. Life surely isn’t fair, but it’s better to be here than there!
They’re saying that Miami may be underwater during the lifespan of my grandaughter. Even though I personally don’t think she’ll be missing all that much if that happens to be the case it grieves me that we humans are making our only planet a treacherous place to live.
Still, life is pretty good at the moment in history. A little bit of appreciation does us all good. Keeps the heart sweet, the hubris down, and all of us a little easier to get along with! What is it about life today that makes you appreciate what you have now?