Friday, June 4, 2010
Not seein' it
June 4, 2010
“In the year 2010”
I recently made a comment that I thought would make a recent high school graduate feel the least bit hopeful. It wasn’t one of those sappy “The world is your oyster” comments. I don’t even know what means.
Nor did I tell him that he could do anything he set his mind to. That’s just not true. I had my mindset to play in the Super Bowl. Do you ever remember me bringing up the experience? “Encouraging words can make you want to, but they don’t do much to make you capable of.” (Soupy Sales 1960)
No, I said something that made it sound as if I were envious of the lad. I wasn’t, but it sounded like I might be. I said, “Oh, the things you’re going to see during your lifetime.” I probably should have used a complete sentence, but I think he understood. At least he didn’t say, “What the heck does that mean?” Polite kid.
After high school, no one said anything like that to me. I think the closest anyone came was Dad. Right before I drove off to college he said, “Son, remember to always keep a couple of cans of oil in the truck.” I fought back the tears.
Truth is, I wouldn’t care to trade places with 2010 graduate for anything. The poor sap. When you shuck down the corn, I’m not sure he’s gonna see all that much fascinating stuff. Look at me. It’s rhetorical, quit staring.
Two years after I graduated from high school, this country put a couple of guys on the moon. More than that, we brought ‘em back. Anybody can chunk you on the moon, but bringing you back is a big deal. Bringing you back ALIVE is bigger still. And, we did that. Somebody did. I don’t remember playing that big of a part.
The thing is, 40 years later, we haven’t come close to matching that feat. That’s something I would not have believed possible during my younger years. By 2010, we were supposed to be taking vacations on the moons of Jupiter. We even saw movies about it! There would be robots that look just like us. We’d have flying cars and gigantic force fields around the major cities to protect us from extraterrestrial invasion. And, doors in buildings would open automatically when we approached. Wait a minute. Skip that one.
But, no, we’ve got none of that… except for the smart doors. Flying cars? We’re still using the ol’ internal combustion engine. I don’t know how it works, but I would’ve thought someone would’ve come up with something better by now. Something that used gama rays. What a dreamer. There have been no alternative fuel breakthroughs during my lifetime.
If someone had told me that a slogan for a candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election was going to be “Drill baby drill!”, I would’ve said that we must’ve had a global war somewhere down the line and all the smart people got killed.
And, had someone told me that there would be an oil leak in the Gulf that would be continuously leaking for a month and counting, I would’ve said that the U.S. was apparently no longer Number One, and that Brazil was the new super power. Just like my ninth grade World Geography teacher predicted.
If you had told me that one of the plans to cap the well was to shoot golf balls and pieces of tires into the pipe, I would’ve guessed that I had become head of the Dept. of Energy in this new third world nation.
Yes, I just expected to see some better stuff. Of course, I don’t want to leave the impression that nothing of a scientific nature has been accomplished during a big chunk of my life. Did I mention that we have the self-opening doors? And, that’s not all.
I may not have seen flying cars, but I have lived long enough to see the self-service pumps. That was big. Bigger still was the advent of pay-at-the-pump! You don’t even have to remember your license plate number when you use your card! Just your zip code. Oh, yeah. That’s another thing. Somebody came up with zip codes. We’re even up to nine digits!
We have some pretty neat computers, too. We’ve got some handheld ones that can take pictures and tell us what’s showing at any theater in the Free World. Our kids can now send hundreds of weirdly abbreviated messages every day. Even some of our smarter adults can text.
Oh, and we’ve got skinny TVs that you can hang on the wall. Speaking of skinny, none of us are. But let’s not talk about that bit of progress. Let’s speak of the advances in medicine. Doctors can do almost anything nowadays. They can stick a camera inside you and yank your gallbladder out through a little incision in your gut. Oh, and they can inject bacteria in your lips to make ‘em look real puffy. I mean way-out-there puffy.
There have been a bunch of other innovations since my high school graduation, but after the thought of lip enhancement, I’m out of the mood to continue.
Bottom line, I’m a bit disappointed in our progress over the last few decades. I just expected more. It’s one of those 150-TV-channels-and-nothing-to-see things. I want to witness more. I’d like to fly in a car, and see a few of my acquaintances go to one of the moons of Jupiter.
But, that’s not happening. Likely not even in the lifetime of any recent high school graduate. Especially not if our best and brightest are considering chunking golf balls and pieces of old tires in a pipe to plug an oil leak.
Anything we set our minds to? I’m not seeing it.