HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

How times have changed. This past week I had someone ask me when did I move to Denmark. I thought for a bit and replied, “December 1992”. After answering I then calculated how long this has been – 28yrs this coming December! Then I got to wondering where all the time had gone and how things have changed.
My brother and I are very close, so when I moved to Denmark it was very hard for me not to have the access of communication with him. Phone calls were very expensive, so I limited myself to one call a month, sometimes calling him, sometimes others I needed to contact. Next was the pony express (mail). From the time I wrote a letter to Larry (brother), send it, him to receive, sit down and write, it was somewhere around 3-4 weeks for a turn-around, sometimes longer. It was better than nothing at all and so I began to write more than I ever had.
After moving to Denmark, I transferred to the 7th Army Reserve Command in Germany, my job entailed me learning how to operate a computer, so I convinced the wife we needed to buy one. We bought the latest, greatest available. It had about a 540 megabit hard drive – big for the day. I remember Windows 3.1 came on 6 discs. A couple years later we got e-mail. When sending mail, I would first prepare the message and address. Then disconnect the phone, hook up the computer, dial up the connection and send. It was superfast for the day. I evolved right along with technology. Today I just click an icon on my computer screen, connect through a wireless connection to the internet, if Larry is home, he will hear his computer ring and we can talk just like over the phone, except there is no phone cost. Better yet, if we want, I can click on a button while talking to him and it will activate a camera in my computer, transmitting a live video so we can see each other while talking. Reminds me of a cartoon I use to watch as a kid, “The Jetsons”. They were a futuristic family who when talking on their phone could watch a video screen seeing who they were talking with. At the time, this was so “out of this world”, but fact today! If we take a look, many things in our lives have changed many for the better, but sometimes I wonder if some are not so good.
When I first started to ride the train to Germany for Army Reserve, mobile phones were not so present, especially those which could connect to the net. Then, I would read a book most of the trip or just watch the country side go by. If someone sat down beside or across from me, it was not hard to strike up a conversation (if they could speak English). Today, I notice hardly no one talks with others. First thing after sitting down the smart phone or laptop computer comes out, they are instantly connected with the world and who cares about those around them. We as a whole have become disconnected with those around us while we are connected with the bigger world around us. I notice many time when the wife and I go out to eat, so many people around us, the mobile phone is sitting on the table and most can not let it go, they must pick it up every once in a while and see who has sent a message, who has posted something on one of the social sites so many watch. It is amazing to watch people sit at the same table, next to each other and yet they are so distant from each other they hardly talk to each other. I do have to state an exception: the wife and I went to a farrier friend of mine for dinner. We sat at the table and enjoyed a good meal. About half way through the meal, his girlfriend went to the kitchen to get something and also came back with her smart phone, sitting it on the table. The first time she started to look at it, my friend reached over took it stating: ”We have guests, there is no place for a phone on the table”. Inside I smiled, thinking at least someone has good sense. There is also the flip side.
Today so many people are able to work from home because they can connect with the world from their computers. This is allowing parents to spend more time at home if they have this type of job. For me, I am able to send my bills out the same day over the net instead of writing it out, spending money to send through the mail. Then if someone is late paying, I no longer have to repeat the process costing me more money, I just hit “send” and out it goes again. Churches have benefitted from the internet as well. With this Chinese virus thing going on and members are not able to attend, many have turned to “Video” church. Amazingly enough I get to attend church in Boise, Idaho. Yea, the time difference is such that I don’t get to see the live feed, but they have the sermons posted so I can watch when ever I want. We are able to make appointments, do shopping, go places on the internet. So many things have been made easier, more accessible, easier to communicate worldwide. Those who were kids in the late ‘90s will never know a world without instant communication, unless the net goes down.
Some things which will never change internet or not. Going outside on a nice warm morning, listening to the birds sing, feeling the morning warmth on your body as you enjoy the smell of a nice cup of coffee. Standing on a mountain top on a clear summer day as you slowly turn around seeing the full scope of the world presented around you – oh yea, you can see it on the internet, but you are also limited to the size of the screen, you cannot feel the sun on your body and let all your senses sample the time and place. And just the small thing of communication. Yes, you can see someone on the video, but there is still the ability of one’s senses to sample every facet of the environment around as you converse. The internet, hi-tech is great, but unless you step outside this “virtual” world and really live life, one will never really experience life.

2020, A Different Year

What a way to begin a year! Lots of people working at home, or laid off. Most of us are wondering how long this will be, and how much can we trust what we hear. Once my Dad told me, “Believe nothing you hear and half what you see and you will be alright”. Like I told my wife, I am skeptical of what all I hear, yet on the other hand I am not going to put my head on the chopping block and see if the hatchet man can miss. I take the normal precautions while I work, am out and around, yet I realize if I get it, I will get it. Not losing any sleep over it. I have looked at the positive side of the situation.
With more people sent home to work, school out, some laid off, look at the chance to have more quality family time! In the day and age of everyone going everywhere all the time, now things have been forced to slow down and be together. What a great thing. Why not make this time quality time. Think of all the things you can do with your family, the things you can teach your kids. And just some time to sit back with a cup of coffee first in the morning and listen to the birds sing. This is the best part of a spring morning. Even though there was a cool wind blowing, I sat outside this morning for the first time this year with a cup of coffee and just watched the morning, it was great!
Speaking of the situation, I just wonder in trying to save the limb, we are killing the patient? I understand the Chinese virus is something new, we need to take precautions, but in many cases is it over kill, killing our nation (the patient)? So many states have shut down when there is no real crises – many of the areas where there is low population. Many of these places, why haven’t the State governments come in and said to industry, “Come up with a plan so you can stay within limits of contact and such so you can get back to work”. So many small businesses will not be here after this is done. So many people are out of work right now, many who could be working?
This bail out Congress came up with is like putting a band-aid on an amputated limb. Giving businesses money to pay employees, is the same. Businesses are not employment centers, they are there to make money. Yes, for a little while it will help pay the on going bills, but sooner or later, that band-aid is going to get blood soaked. The bill Congress passed had so much pork barrel spending in it, it was pathetic. Everyone who voted for the bail out should be voted out of office. Where is all the money coming from – sooner or later we the people will have to pay it back. In the mean time, the money printing machines are rolling full speed, printing almost worthless money. When I was a kid, my Dad once told me, “There will come a day when you will need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread”. So how does Congress usually finance this? They sell bonds, but what happens when no one wants to buy these bonds? Well our government buys them back. In other words, we are getting debt stacked on debt. I just read where the U.S. Treasury is thinking about coming out with a 50 yr bond, first time ever. There is also talk of zero or negative interest rates in the States. What this means is if we get negative interest rates, you the saver will get to pay the banks for the privilege of keeping your money. At the low rates now, at least you are not losing money, but this could turn around if negative rates come to the States.
We are now into May and things are beginning to loosen up a bit. I wonder if instead of locking everyone down, why didn’t they treat us like responsible people. Lay out the facts of the situation, tell us what we needed to do and let us carry on with our lives the way we see fit. I know business owners are not dumb, they would have found ways to make things work. What I can’t figure out is why it is safe to go to the big chain stores to shop, yet we can not be trusted to go to the park, the beach. Let some of the small business owners come up with their on solutions. Yes, people are going to die, this is one of the three facts of life which are: be born, pay taxes, and die. We have learned we need to take precautions for the older generations, those who have medical problems and such, but hey, let’s get real.
Actually, in a way I have found a bright side. Many churches have developed an online service. The Cloverdale Church of God uploads their services so their members can watch and listen. This is great for me, as the time difference I get to listen to the services on Monday mornings on my way to work. Tom, the pastor told my brother, who e-mailed me, let me know that even after this is over, they will continue to post their services online. So, I guess God does work in wonderful ways.
I guess no matter they situation we can be thankful for what we got, instead what do don’t have.