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Subject: A short musing on over-dependence on modern conveniences rss

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JessA
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This weekend I was enjoying my morning coffee when someone pounded on our front door. It was a man, about my age, he identified himself as the father of our neighbor.

The house next door to us is in a perpetual state of rental and we can't keep track of who is living there since it changes so frequently. I thought the house was currently empty.

Anyway, he had stopped by his son's place and he got stuck in the driveway. His iphone was out of battery, he didn't have the charger and he had no way of contacting anyone. He decided to spend the night thinking that the son would come home, but he did not. This guy lives on the other side of town and his wife was out of town. He was really worried about his dogs who had been stuck in the house since the day before. He was now at my house asking to use the phone.

The problem was that he didn't know anyone's number. They are all stored in his phone. He couldn't use the phone book to look up anyone's number because everyone uses a cell phone.

He took a guess at his wife's number and it was wrong, but he got it on the second try. Unfortunately she didn't answer. He spent some time trying other numbers, leaving a couple message - finally he asked if he could borrow our shovel.

TomA got up and I filled him in on the situation. We were discussing getting around to go help the guy dig out when he came back to the door. The car was apparently beyond digging out.

TomA offered to give him a ride home and he gratefully accepted, he said it wasn't necessary to take him home, he had another car at his place of work and we could just take him there.

Then he said where it was.

It's less than a mile from our house.

And here is where I am confused. He had a nice parka and winter boots on. He had gloves. He had a hat. He seemed to be in good health, digging and shoveling, etc. Why couldn't he have walked?

Earlier he made a joke about how he felt like he was stranded on an island with no way of contacting anyone. He spent the night and most of the morning dealing with this huge inconvenience and yet he had a car less than a mile away.

Yes, the roads are snowy, yes it's cold here, but it wasn't THAT cold.

Anyway, I was baffled. TomA and I had a chuckle after he gave him a ride to his shop.
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Kelsey Rinella
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My guess: without his phone, he couldn't check the map to learn how far away it was, and he's so dependent on GPS that he has only a rudimentary mental map.
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When I was his age, I walked uphill in snow....


...kids these days with their ipods and rock and roll music.

-DK
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JessA
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rinelk wrote:
My guess: without his phone, he couldn't check the map to learn how far away it was, and he's so dependent on GPS that he has only a rudimentary mental map.

This is probably the best explanation. He is new to the area but it still seems like he'd have to know how far away his son's place was. He said his son worked for him.
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Andy Andersen
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DKahnt wrote:
When I was his age, I walked uphill in snow....


...kids these days with their ipods and rock and roll music.

-DK

Young'uns
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Isaac Citrom
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DKahnt wrote:
When I was his age, I walked uphill in snow....


...kids these days with their ipods and rock and roll music.

-DK

No, ridiculing the argument doesn't wash.

The guy's car was less than a mile away, for pity's sake.

If the man truly didn't understand where his second car was because he is so dependant on GPS, I think it's a valid point. I've seen it several times before.

[Just happened to me]

"I need you to follow me in your car to [some out of the way place]."

"Well, no, what if we get separated? (He lost me literally pulling out of the driveway where he made the light but I didn't.) Just tell me how you got there yesterday, and I'll take the same route."

"I don't know how to get there. I just follow the verbal instructions of my GPS device." My friend doesn't at all know the road network even to a couple of blocks radius from his home.

I got him to give me the address. I went inside and located the place in Google Maps (it might as well have been by old road atlas). I looked at the map, and said to myself: Oh, OK, highway 15 North to the 640, then West on the 640 until exit 2....will get me there.


What I was after was an understanding of what I was to do, my context, as opposed to simply understand how to use device X, Y or Z that does it for me.

Perhaps the topic is the definition of a tool, and it's implications. Does a tool help us? Or, perhaps, does a tool do the task for us? And, what does this mean. I think they're important things to discuss.


I'm frankly embarrassed that if push came to shove, I wouldn't know how to start a camp fire. I love my information technology conveniences. I'm not anti-tech. But, it gives me a measure of self-confidence that I can get things done on my own, like walking a mile to another car if I had to.
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Reminds me of a news story I saw I think about 10 years ago. A guy sadly died when his car was trapped in a blizzard on a little-used road; I think this was in the Pacific Northwest. He was trapped there for days, and kept a diary, where he (being religious) wrote prayers to God hoping to save him. Finally he either froze or died of some other unpleasant trapped-in-a-car type death.

And the reason this reminds me of your story is that just a couple hundred yards from his car was a plowed road with cars going by on a regular basis. If he had gotten out and tried walking a little bit he would almost certainly have been rescued.
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Mike Jones
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You always hear about people getting stuck in snow and leaving their car only to get frozen to death.

Maybe he was just heeding the warnings. whistle

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wmshub wrote:
Reminds me of a news story I saw I think about 10 years ago. A guy sadly died when his car was trapped in a blizzard on a little-used road; I think this was in the Pacific Northwest. He was trapped there for days, and kept a diary, where he (being religious) wrote prayers to God hoping to save him. Finally he either froze or died of some other unpleasant trapped-in-a-car type death.

And the reason this reminds me of your story is that just a couple hundred yards from his car was a plowed road with cars going by on a regular basis. If he had gotten out and tried walking a little bit he would almost certainly have been rescued.

On the flip side of that, if you get stuck in similar situations, the normal wisdom is that staying with your shelter (assuming anyone will notice you are missing) is the best bet.

I recall a similar news item about someone getting stuck on the way to a party (was that sombody's story on here?), and getting out to walk to the house, which was a short distance away. They got lost, injured, fell into a river, and almost died, but were fortunately found by others.
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I wanted to high-five her.
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Wendell
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isaacc wrote:

"I don't know how to get there. I just follow the verbal instructions of my GPS device." My friend doesn't at all know the road network even to a couple of blocks radius from his home.

I read somewhere recently that following GPS instructions like this has a demonstrated negative effect on learning your way around a given place. I believe it.
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isaacc wrote:
DKahnt wrote:
When I was his age, I walked uphill in snow....


...kids these days with their ipods and rock and roll music.

-DK

No, ridiculing the argument doesn't wash.

The guy's car was less than a mile away, for pity's sake.

If the man truly didn't understand where his second car was because he is so dependant on GPS, I think it's a valid point. I've seen it several times before.

[Just happened to me]

"I need you to follow me in your car to [some out of the way place]."

"Well, no, what if we get separated? (He lost me literally pulling out of the driveway where he made the light but I didn't.) Just tell me how you got there yesterday, and I'll take the same route."

"I don't know how to get there. I just follow the verbal instructions of my GPS device." My friend doesn't at all know the road network even to a couple of blocks radius from his home.

I got him to give me the address. I went inside and located the place in Google Maps (it might as well have been by old road atlas). I looked at the map, and said to myself: Oh, OK, highway 15 North to the 640, then West on the 640 until exit 2....will get me there.


What I was after was an understanding of what I was to do, my context, as opposed to simply understand how to use device X, Y or Z that does it for me.

Perhaps the topic is the definition of a tool, and it's implications. Does a tool help us? Or, perhaps, does a tool do the task for us? And, what does this mean. I think they're important things to discuss.


I'm frankly embarrassed that if push came to shove, I wouldn't know how to start a camp fire. I love my information technology conveniences. I'm not anti-tech. But, it gives me a measure of self-confidence that I can get things done on my own, like walking a mile to another car if I had to.
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isaacc wrote:
I got him to give me the address. I went inside and located the place in Google Maps (it might as well have been by old road atlas). I looked at the map, and said to myself: Oh, OK, highway 15 North to the 640, then West on the 640 until exit 2....will get me there.


What I was after was an understanding of what I was to do, my context, as opposed to simply understand how to use device X, Y or Z that does it for me.

This is my MO as well. GPS is great but I want to have a reasonable mental map when BLANK happens, because BLANK will happen.

But it's like swimming against a strong current; few of my peeps understand why I'm not content to plug an address into my phone and turn off my brain, and as a result I feel like I'm being "difficult" a lot of the time.
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Jatoha wrote:
The problem was that he didn't know anyone's number. They are all stored in his phone. He couldn't use the phone book to look up anyone's number because everyone uses a cell phone.

[ snip ]

And here is where I am confused. He had a nice parka and winter boots on. He had gloves. He had a hat. He seemed to be in good health, digging and shoveling, etc. Why couldn't he have walked?

Earlier he made a joke about how he felt like he was stranded on an island with no way of contacting anyone. He spent the night and most of the morning dealing with this huge inconvenience and yet he had a car less than a mile away.

It's the "technology trap" that James Burke talked a lot about in the first episode of his series "Connections" (now called "Connections 1"). We have become so reliant on technology to do things in our lives that we often don't know what to do when technology fails us. My family has been watching the series and the kids find it interesting, and seem to be learning something about the history of technology.
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Michael Carter
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This is an issue in the software development world. It's so easy to use Google to find solutions to your problems on Stackoverflow.com, but there isn't any need to internalize those solutions.
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Lord_Prussian wrote:
isaacc wrote:
I'm frankly embarrassed that if push came to shove, I wouldn't know how to start a camp fire.
Dangit! To be funny, I was going to reply with, "oh, it's so simple, just use a paperclip to short your cell phone's battery..." I had no idea that actually worked, though...

Also, what I got from that bit is, if you don't happen to be carrying a survival knife, get your buddy to bite the battery open.
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kuhrusty wrote:
Lord_Prussian wrote:
isaacc wrote:
I'm frankly embarrassed that if push came to shove, I wouldn't know how to start a camp fire.
Dangit! To be funny, I was going to reply with, "oh, it's so simple, just use a paperclip to short your cell phone's battery..." I had no idea that actually worked, though...

Also, what I got from that bit is, if you don't happen to be carrying a survival knife, get your buddy to bite the battery open.

mmmmh lithium...

zombiezombiezombie
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No one asked the 2 most important questions?

1. are the dogs OK?

2. Did the father drink his own urine?
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wifwendell wrote:
isaacc wrote:

"I don't know how to get there. I just follow the verbal instructions of my GPS device." My friend doesn't at all know the road network even to a couple of blocks radius from his home.

I read somewhere recently that following GPS instructions like this has a demonstrated negative effect on learning your way around a given place. I believe it.

For some reason a talent I have is maps. I can generally look at a map to get somewhere and get there no problem without needing to look at it again. My wife meanwhile can't get places even with a map. She is the worst map reader I have ever known. I actually considered putting on a family tracker app on her phone because every year or so I get a call from her where she's going "I'm lost and I can't get home" and I have to try and navigate her back home.

I finally did come up with a solution however that I think should work. I put a shortcut on her smart phone to her navigation app. The shortcut simply says "home" and when she presses it the navigation comes on and tells her how to get home.

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Some people have mentioned starting a campfire. If you haven't tried it, you should definitely attempt to start a fire without matches or a lighter. It's a hell of a workout. I haven't been successful (yet), but I've come very close. It's one of the most humbling things I've ever tried and failed at doing.

Basically, what I'm saying is that if you're stuck with me on an ice floe, I'm going to have to eat you raw.
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futhee wrote:
Some people have mentioned starting a campfire. If you haven't tried it, you should definitely attempt to start a fire without matches or a lighter. It's a hell of a workout. I haven't been successful (yet), but I've come very close. It's one of the most humbling things I've ever tried and failed at doing.

No matches or a lighter, but what else do you have on hand? I assume you're trying to start a fire with sticks only, but that's not the only other way to start a fire. If it's sunny, you can make a lens out of all sorts of things (plastic sandwich baggie, ice, even a coke can and some chocolate).

But I agree, you should try to do many basic tasks from "scratch". Spin yarn, knit, kill and cook your own food, making things. To me, it's less about survival, and more about understanding the basic elements of how things work, which helps you to understand the newer technology better.
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Wendell
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futhee wrote:

Basically, what I'm saying is that if you're stuck with me on an ice floe, I'm going to have to eat you raw.

Mmmm, sashimi.
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wifwendell wrote:
futhee wrote:

Basically, what I'm saying is that if you're stuck with me on an ice floe, I'm going to have to eat you raw.

Mmmm, sashimi.

It's only sashimi when you pay $40 for it.
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Well that did not go where I was expecting it to (I thought this was gonna be a rant about how people rely too much on their cell phones and how people should know number and stuff).

To answer your question, maybe he didn't want to walk in the cold, being sad about his dogs and his son. He probably could have walked, but maybe he was under a lot of stress and didn't want to. Honestly, the most baffling part of this story is that the fact that he didn't want to walk baffled you.
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mrbeankc wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
isaacc wrote:

"I don't know how to get there. I just follow the verbal instructions of my GPS device." My friend doesn't at all know the road network even to a couple of blocks radius from his home.

I read somewhere recently that following GPS instructions like this has a demonstrated negative effect on learning your way around a given place. I believe it.

For some reason a talent I have is maps. I can generally look at a map to get somewhere and get there no problem without needing to look at it again. My wife meanwhile can't get places even with a map. She is the worst map reader I have ever known. I actually considered putting on a family tracker app on her phone because every year or so I get a call from her where she's going "I'm lost and I can't get home" and I have to try and navigate her back home.

I finally did come up with a solution however that I think should work. I put a shortcut on her smart phone to her navigation app. The shortcut simply says "home" and when she presses it the navigation comes on and tells her how to get home.


My girlfriend is awful with maps and has no sense of direction. She can't even navigate a map in a video game.
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