They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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Driving Along In My Automobile

Here's 3 Hours of My Life I'll Never Get Back

Due to an unfortunate confluence of geography and economics -- i.e., where I work and where my cats live -- I am on the road 2.5 to 3 hours every day. Between 140 and 154 miles a day roundtrip, depending on which route one attempts.

I have to say that I do like driving, mostly like this particular drive, and find things to do and think about while driving. At one point I used to do a lot of dictation on the road, typing it up at night. Alas, since 9-11 it's not been easy to turn the radio OFF. No doubt that's a product of having planes crash and buildings burn (but not yet collapse) during my drive to Kalamazoo on that beautiful blue sky morning almost four years ago. Afraid I might miss something...

A Few Choices

I have a choice of several NPR public radio stations, including a relay feed from Ann Arbor which I can listen to the entire way, if I so choose. And mostly I do so in the evening. In the morning, though, Grand Rapids has a news station WOOD-1300AM which is pretty decent. In the evening, I sometimes shift to Classic Rock WLAV-97FM, which has an enormous library of All The Good Stuff.

When I was part-time, I was more likely to travel later in the morning or closer to mid-afternoon, so listened to some of the talk shows on AM radio. Vox Populi On The Air. Twice I've called in from the cellphone on talk shows, but you know, the trip is long enough I really don't need to add to it, sitting on the side of the road running my mouth.

An Interesting Side Trip

Today the Rick And Scott Show on WOOD-AM was talking about a couple of topics, which I might've argued with them if we were over at somebody's house for a party or something. The second topic was about the Fed's new Backscatter scanner which they've been working on for a few years -- it allows them to see what's under your clothes without being strip searched. One of the early versions was X-ray based and another was sonar. These guys aren't geeky technical enough so when they said "X-ray" that I was confident they really meant E-M radiation in the X-ray band. So if it really were X-rays, I'd want to know more about dose and exposure.

The point of their picking away at the topic was the images on the computer screen. Whether people would be upset by someone seeing what they look naked. Now I remember seeing some of these creepy images from the prototypes a few years ago. I really don't think too many people will get their jollies off by looking at some lumpy gray representation of where your body parts are underneath your clothes. They were surprised by the number of callers, men and women of all ages, who figured they really didn't care, that the screeners would see so many and they were so average, they wouldn't be remembered and that they were more willing to go through that in the name of airport security than the pat-down by hand. They also figured it'd be more effective than the latter.

One concern from one of the hosts was whether the images could be stored. I'll concede that some tabloid would likely pay money to print the scan from Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, or other Celebrity du jour, but these images are so ugly that I doubt there'd be much call for a scanner image porn site -- other than as a novelty item. Once.

The Perfect Model Gone Awry

This reminds me of the story I'd heard about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artists, who decided once to make a whole body nude plaster life cast of their favorite female model. Once completed, though, because she had to remain so still (and nearly died in the version I heard from the heat of the plaster and near suffocation), they were all horrified by the product, because it was a lifeless corpse -- and they destroyed it.

There's a lot of art and primping and photography magic which goes into one of those Playboy centerfolds -- not much erotic about cranky air travelers in too tight shoes and their underwear on crooked...

A Blind Spot

The other topic they ranted on about -- and again were surprised that they didn't get much support for their position and had to concede "defeat" -- had to do with a story about a blind Colorado couple who got permission from a court to open a day care in their home. Two states already allow this - Missouri and Michigan -- apparently.

Now I am very used to seeing and so for me, going blind would be very difficult. I'm always cranky when I have to change my ways (grin). But many people who are blind are very capable. And several callers pointed out they either knew someone blind, were someone blind or had a blind mom, who raised kids just fine. And why should it be so strange to think this? Just because we have a video- and image-obsessed culture which doesn't make it easy to "see" blind people every day, doesn't mean that everything is impossible.

I remember hearing an interview with a blind man on the radio once, who told of listening to the radio and a speaker going on how blind people couldn't do this or shouldn't be allowed to do that (this was years ago), and he heard a noise, rushed out to his pool because one of the kids had fallen in, located the kid in the pool, brought them ashore and revived them -- all while this doofus on the air is saying he was useless...

Perfect Aim

More to the point, in my junior high school days we had a biology teacher who was blinded in a welding accident many years before. Although I didn't have him for a class, I did observe his perfect eraser throws to those not paying attention -- he handled his students and dissection labs with complete control. And he was the faculty adviser for the astronomy club, which I did belong to. The man would read his Braille watch, get lined up to True North, then turn and tell us which way to point the telescope to see objects. It was eerie.

I can't remember his name, though -- but I'll get back to you. I found someone from my junior high in that era on the web and e-mailed him.

Tis a small world.

Dr. Phil
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