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Author Topic: Ponderings 7  (Read 2069 times)

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Magispook

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Ponderings 7
« on: November 06, 2005, 04:47:28 PM »

Early Wake-up Call - Last week we had a freak snowstorm here in north central West Virginia.   It was a wet, heavy snow which broke tree limbs consequently downing power lines.  Schools were closed for a few days not because of road conditions but because there was simply no power.  Thousands were without power for a week including half of my neighborhood.  My side of the neighborhood lost power for about three whole minutes cumulatively.  A power outage would not affect my family much other than we lost cable which meant we lost TV and high speed internet access.  We are prepared for power outages (I look forward to ‘em!).  Others in the neighborhood, however, were not as prepared.  After determining the power was not going to go back on for days (listened to the radio), I went out to find how much of my neighborhood was without power.  The homes here are all-electric and those that use propane still need electricity to power the blowers.  That’s the reason I heat with wood and can run my pellet stove off solar panels.  The closest home without power was a family with four kids.  My daughter goes to school with three of ‘em.  I went over there to see if they could use my generator and noticed as I was asking the unmistakable sound of a generator running in their back yard.  They are preppers more or less and they were only inconvenienced.  They use wood as backup heat too.  Another neighbor, who happens to be my wife’s client, complained he would have to travel up to north PA to find a generator as there were none to be found locally.  He had no idea I had one until I lent him ours.  He confided when the power came back on that he had $6000 of food in his freezer and would have lost it without that generator.  Don’t ask.  I have no idea what kind of food is worth $6000.  They are business people and don’t keep much food at the house–they do order food from one of those food companies that bring frozen meals to your home.  Other than the electric heater I loaned them, they had no heat.  They eventually got a motel room for the last two days although they still ran the genny 24/7 to heat with that little heater and keep the freezer and refrigerator going.  Lessons to be learned there.  As I took a walk in the no power part of the neighborhood, I noticed a few things.  First, there were lots of generators running.  Either folks had ‘em stored for use or managed to get one from family or friends.  Also, I noticed something we here in the state are very proud of: neighbors helping neighbors.  There were extension cords going from homes with electricity to homes without electricity.  The cords crossed the road and carpets were put on top of them to reduce accidental snapping of the cords by vehicles.  I plan to do the same if it happens to our part of the neighborhood.  I will ration three hours to each neighbor residence including ours.  We have three elderly neighbors, one family with kids, and two other residences where both couples work. Neighbors checked on elderly or infirm neighbors.  There was no community crisis meeting.  We just did what was necessary to help others and lived our lives.  And, although fish and visitors smell in three days, we would have invited those without support to stay over if push came to shove.  Preparedness and individual responsibility are the hot topics on the local talk shows at present.  I hope they stay on the front burner for a little while.  I believe the snowstorm here brought home the fact that hurricanes down South aren’t the only reason to prep.  So we got an early wake-up call.

Attitude Adjustment - The power outage caused me to rethink a conclusion that I have for some time derived an illicit satifsying “holier than thou” attitude from.  My teenaged niece and nephew were without internet for about a week due to the outage.  I thought I would see serious withdrawal but they seemed to take it in stride.  My nephew has a gazillion comic pages and games stored up on his computer and my niece did some personalizing to her computer.  They slept a lot.  My daughter read and practiced her music.  Kids seem to multi-task so many things nowadays.  They never focus on any one thing.  They always have to have music or some noise in the background.  Constantly having lots of things going on at one time.  Baby-boomer that I am, I need to focus on only one thing at a time.  I do whatever that task is and I do it as close to perfect as I can.  I go out of my way to reduce distraction.  And so I conclude that the kids will have a rough time of it should things get bad.  They will have to focus on one task at a time and do it well rather than the seeming “good enough” attitude necessary to multitask at present.  Well, maybe not.  Perhaps I could multitask with the best of ‘em if only I would change my attitude.  If things get bad, there won’t be much call for specialization.  Not much call for focus and perfection in our everyday life.  A “jack of all trades” ethic may be the better way to go.  Yes, I will do whatever task requiring my hands or calling up life experience much better than they could do.  But they will probably manage to get by.  If disruptions are short term, we can eventually go back to specialization.  But if they are long term, I, and lots of my contemporaries, will find it necessary to make an attitude adjustment.

Been there, done that. - I talked with a guy with a life background similar to mine.  We both were the first of our line to graduate high school.  Both completed college.  Both grew up disadvantaged.  Both can work with our hands.  Both been “the working poor.”  Both served our country during war.  Both have been blessed by the process.  Why?  As I remarked to him, we have been in the down and out range and we have succeeded despite it.  If, for some reason, we were to lose the stuff we now have, we have the confidence and experience to regain our situation. We would definitely not like being down on our luck but we know and have already proven we can make things better.   Those who were born privileged do not have that advantage.  My wife’s sister and brother-in-law for example: when they were married they received a completely furnished condominium, new car, thousands of dollars in funds, etc. as wedding gifts.  Their present net worth is ten times my annual income.   They started out with a leg up so to speak.  If they lose it all or just a significant part, they will not know how to live in rough low income neighborhoods, how to stretch a dollar til it screams, when to keep their mouth shut, how to deal with frustration, how to deal with those in higher socioeconomic classes who distrust those of the lower class, and how to work around the systemic obstacles placed knowingly or unknowingly by those same upper class folks to impede advancement.  It will probably take time for them to learn the poor man’s revenge tactic of passive aggression.  You know, I stopped typing a moment ago and stared at my hands.  They show a lot of years on them.  They have done a lot of things.  I would call them “experienced.” What a blessing!  I doubt the government will be there to help me much if things go bad.  But I do have that life experience. Much, much better than leaching off others, I believe.  Down on luck.  Been there.  Done that.
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Kay

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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2005, 05:19:23 PM »

Spook, your writing as usual is thoughtful and through-provoking, and during the whole time I read this installment, I couldn't help but compare your situation with that in "Alas, Babylon," the classic novel of post-apocalyptic survival by Pat Frank. You are Randy Bragg, my friend. I can see Bill and Lavinia McGovern in the couple with the expensive food in the freezer. You have it all together, know it but don't revel in it, you just do what needs to be done and get on with it. I believe the term is quiet competence. I salute you.
 :thumbup
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Magispook

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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2005, 05:30:03 PM »

OK, now you've personalized it.  I'm now gonna have to search out and read that book.  I've read so much about it. Last time someone said I was like a character in a book, it was the bespectacled kid who was killed in Lord of the Flies.  My whole high school English class including the student teacher had drawn that conlusion and I was clueless.  Just goes to show you that others don't quite perceive you as you yourself do.  :giggle Sorry for not writing more. I have more work coming in (hooray!).  And I kind of wait around for something to write about.  I'll try to do better.
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Kay

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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2005, 05:37:07 PM »

"Try to do better"? Is it possible? I think not.  :)  PM me your address, buddy, and I'll lend you my copy of "Alas, Babylon." It would be my pleasure to introduce you to this novel.
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RiJoRi

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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2005, 11:40:24 AM »

Just a coment on "multitasking." As a programmer, I've known for a LONG time that mutitasking accomplishes several things apparently simultaneously, but each task takes more time. And there is a danger that the processor will have a stack blowup. (The operative word is "blowup.") The shrinks are finally catching on to this.

An example is this: You want to paint a room. You buy your paint, 4 brushes, 4 rollers, 4 extensions, 4 step-ladders. You place 1 setup in each corner of the room. You go from ladder to ladder, painting for a little bit, then moving on to the next ladder. If a video was taken of the process, and played back fast, it would look like all four walls are being painted at the same time. BUT! moving from ladder to ladder takes time, and picking up the brush/roller and reloading it takes time. This is called "overhead," and is the reason doing the job wall-by-wall would be faster. Moving from ladder to ladder will drive you crazy, and you'll soon give up the job. This is like the "stack blowup" -- you'll blow your stack!

--Rich
Monotasking is more efficient.
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Kay

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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2005, 12:15:12 PM »

:lolred   If it takes one man 40 minutes to dig a hole, would it take 40 men one minute to dig the same size and shape hole?
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Magispook

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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2005, 08:54:41 PM »

Monotasking.....I like the term and concept. :)
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