I haven't been able to make it home for many holidays over the last ten years. My job keeps me on the road, and every year my husband and I have to make the painful choice: do we take off for Thanksgiving, or Christmas? Do we spend it in Kansas, or Alabama, or Indiana, or with some other branch of our far-flung family? This time of year is a stark reminder to us of all the family that we so rarely get to see. For my family especially, a huge, close-knit clan, this Thanksgiving was especially poignant - my Grandma Peebles passed away earlier this year. As one of my cousins described the family gathering this year:
"I so love my family. It was a little bit of an emotional day though, the first Thanksgiving without Grandma or Grandpa. I think you could feel the emotion in everyone today. What a great feeling to be part of a group where you know everyone there knows exactly what you are feeling even without saying anything!! I have been so blessed to be part of this amazing group called the Peebles family!!"I honestly don't understand how we, as a nation, have let huge retail stores hijack our holidays. We should be disgusted by the blatant commercialization of such special days, not bloodthirsty participants in the destruction of our own culture. If you are reading this, I urge you - stay home this Friday and spend time with your family. Don't be a turkey plucked for the table of big business. Remember, instead, what is really important in life, and if you aren't sure what that is I'll give you a hint: it doesn't involve waiting in line at the mall.
I know I haven’t updated this page in ages, and this is quite a topic shift from the norm, but this hit me so hard I had to share. Not a big thing, just a profound realization of the paradigm shift the world has already undergone, a shift that has incrementally snuck up on us.
Back when I was in college I unwisely spent a large portion of my time playing role-playing games, to the detriment of my grades. One of the games I used to play was a GURPS based game called Cyberpunk. Set in a dystopic, techno-noir future, and inspired by the works of authors such as Philip K. Dick and William Gibson, it was fun to play a cyber-augmented street mercenary, or wise cracking hacker with the net plugged right into my brain. My friends and I battled crime syndicates and heartless mega-corporations for fun and profit every Friday night.
This was back in the early 1990’s, before smartphones, when people were only just starting to realize the potential of the internet. This was pre-Google, even. We loved the gadgets – like the pocket secretary, which was like a cell phone - only it could get online and could store information and play music, and even run programs (sound familiar?).
Ok, so there I was, standing in a run-down, under-ventilated Otis elevator in my hotel, holding my swipe card room key, my debit card that I had just swiped at the vending machine to get two cokes, the old-fashioned ice bucket, and reading an article about LulzSec Hactivists on my smartphone with the sound of a news report about a flood endangered nuclear power plant in Nebraska floating down the hall as the doors pinged open – and I realized that I was there. I was in the future. That moment, in the hallway of a run down hotel with swirly carpet designed to mess with the heads of drunks and tired businessmen, so totally noir, and peppered with techno gadgets that were considered science fiction only 15 years ago – I felt like I’d fallen into a William Gibson novel.
Ok, so maybe we don’t have black market cybernetic upgrades, and the mega corporations don’t quite rule the world (yet), and you can’t plug the internet directly into your brain (yet), but we do have ‘pocket secretaries’, and transparent multi-touch interactive connected devices, and electronic money, and Anonymous hacker collectives fighting the man.
I don’t really have a point here, I just had to share my slightly disorienting and totally awesome moment of realization (I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, nowhere near that profound).
Now, I’m going to go listen to my Billy Idol “Cyberpunk” album – on my cellphone. Maybe I’ll download Nuromancer to my Kindle app and re-read it, too.
Oklahoma has got some of the worst roads in the country. My eyeballs try to vibrate out of my head every time we cross that state, and it doesn’t mater which highway we are taking. There are some smooth spots, and I’m hoping once all the construction is done there will be more smooth spots. But, with the economy in the state its in, I don’t have high hopes for continued road maintenance.
In fact, I expect most of the roads in the country to get quite a bit bumpier. And I mean that in both the literal sense and the figurative. They say we are in a recovery, but I don’t see how when every month’s numbers are worse than the month before. If people don’t have jobs, they aren’t going to buy stuff, if businesses aren’t selling stuff they have to lay people off, or go out of business altogether. That means less people have money, and the cycle repeats. The less money people and businesses make, the less tax revenue the government gets to pay for things like unemployment benefits or road repairs.
The most optimistic news reports and blogs are calling for a stalled recovery, or a double dip recession. The most pessimistic for a Greatest Depression, or even complete economic collapse. If those are our options, I’d say we’re in for a rough ride over the next few years.
Or, maybe I’ve just been reading too many gloom and doom reports lately.
Maybe things will get better.
But I’m pretty sure they will get worse first.
On a lighter note, Mike had his hernia surgery and has recovered nicely. The three week break from driving was nice, too. But we’re back out and rolling as usual.
We got a few days off to visit with my folks down in Alabama, and that was fun.
Blogs I Read
- ► 2009 (15)