It's hard not being on the cutting edge of technology sometimes. It's even harder being on the back end of technology all the time. We are the few. We are the owners of the dumb phone.
Dumb phone talks, and it texts. You can save your contacts in it, and even use it as a stop watch. It stores images very poorly, and transmits them to other users sometimes depending on the size of the file and the cell connection. It flips, or slides and you have to press buttons in order to call or type something. It costs about $50.
And that's the way we like it.
Being the owner of a dumb phone is like being in a special club these days. I may run into another member once in a while and share in the delight of how crappy our phones are. There are so few of us around that people actually look at you funny if you are in the club. How in the world can you function without a smart phone? How do you live?
See, there are a few reasons us dumb phone users stay in the club. In a way it's our way of rebelling, not being like anyone else. It's like a tattoo before tattoo's became cool for everyone. It's a statement that says we know how to get where we are going on our own, we don't need tools to tell us how many calories a hamburger has in it because we know there is a lot just by looking at it, and we actually put an emphasis on interacting with the people around us.
We like owning a phone that is just a phone. We made it this far with one, we can make it further.
As with the dinosaurs of yesteryear we are thinning out quickly. And I myself am getting the tug. I want to post storm photos instantly. Dumb phone can't do that, smart phone can. Internet is so entwined in our lives now, having it everywhere is almost a requirement, especially if your business depends on it (like mine!). Dumb phone doesn't allow it. Smart phone does.
I really do enjoy being in the dwindling numbers of folks who own dumb phones. I'm doing everything I can to resist changing teams. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out, but for the moment I love being a dinosaur.
Tonight the Nat Geo Channel unveils it's followup to the 80's - The Decade That Made Us with a series about (of course) the 1990's called The 90's - The Last Great Decade? that will be a mostly serious look at the trends and newsworthy items that took place and helped shape where we are today. Or did it?
Ending the "Last Great Decade" with a question mark says a lot about the decade. The world and its outlook changed mightily in the span of 10 years whether it was music, commerce or even world power.
I think of the 90's as basically two smaller half-decades, split right down the middle in 1995. The first, marked by recession; reflecting the struggle of average Americans in music, fashion, war and a complete reversal of the 80's. The second boosted by a stronger economy, a stronger place in the world and a changing cultural demographic.
The first half can be summed up like this: The late 80's bubble bursts, carries early into the 90's. Recession abounds, and a search for "realism" takes place and takes hold in the form of "Grunge". Nirvana ushers in a brand new style of music that has a purpose, followed by Pearl Jam and other Seattle bands. Very quickly, the world catches on because they relate, then Grunge gets popular and everyone becomes alternative. The first George Bush loses the '92 election to Bill Clinton, and Clinton's policies start to show a light at the end of the tunnel. The world is wearing flannel, everything is serious and should have deep meaning.
The second half can be summed up like this: The economy starts to roar, Grunge has transferred into being alternative, and every bit of music is "alternative" by this point. People begin to get tired of alternative, and other types of music begin to take hold, but one doesn't dominate. Boy Bands, Latino (think Ricky Martin), A form of 40's Swing music (thank you Brian Setzer), and teen girls like Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera all take their place in pop culture. Selling out was no longer considered a bad thing, and big budget high profile movies became the rage. Computers were now in everyone's home and information was delivered to users in a more personal format, and people now talked to random strangers by way of the chat room. The Cold War was dead, and the U.S. was left standing as the only world power after the Soviet Union collapsed. The late 90's was all about the new found confidence and
So, that's how I sum up those 10 years, and that's my interpretation of why there is a question mark at the end of the decade. As a child of the 80's I'm pretty partial to the decade before, and the first five years. The second five years I couldn't relate to as much, I'm sure because I was well into adulthood by that time and leaving behind pop culture, or maybe it left me behind. I will probably watch tonight because to me it is the last great decade of my youth, and most likely to be the last decade (at least the first half) I will look back with fondness.
What did you think of the 90's?
We've all seen them online. In fact, we see them everyday. Constantly. By strangers, friends and even family. They seem innocent enough in the beginning, but take off like wildfire and next thing you know they are everywhere. Time to take a look at five of these trends and kick them to the curb as soon as possible.
1. The Selfie. - Maybe one of the most obvious and abused trends alive today. The selfie has taken over the internet from celebrities to your next door neighbor to your 8 year old. It has somehow become cool to take a million photos of yourself and plaster them to your nearest social media wall for all to see.
But what it really looks like (especially in great numbers) is a grab at attention. "Look at me!". Humility has been thrown out the window at the chance someone might "like" this selfie and provide a small boost of self esteem juice. And if this one doesn't work there will be another chance, very soon, and then another. We get it you are a big fan of yourself, and we are too, but step away from the smart phone and have someone else take it.
2. Online Quizzes Telling You What You Are. - "I just took this quiz and I'm a cat! What member of the feline species are you?" These are everywhere on Facebook these days, and people just keep taking them. It's a pretty clever way for a blog to get visitors. Create a bunch of random questions, have some set list of answers and create a simple algorithm in the background and voila! These quizzes tell you what member of Gilligan's Island you are, what Civil War General you would be, or even what kind of kitchen appliance you are. It's obvious people like to be told they are a Ford Focus (What kind of car are you?!!) based on a set list of questions. I'm just not sure why.
3. Using the Phrase "Wow, Just Wow!" - I'm sure the first time this was used it was very effective in expressing outrage, or disbelief, or both at the same time. The second time, and every time after that, not so much. Now it just looks like a tired, recycled and uncreative way to express outrage and disbelief. If you are using this phrase, please make it stop, just stop.
4. Loosely Using "Prayers" - Online culture has helped make things more compact, from transactions to expressing one's feelings. Something that has gotten a little more convenient but probably shouldn't, is expressing thoughtfulness with the word prayers in it. This can come in several different forms, including "Prayers going up!", "Praying for you", and even the simple term "Prayers". Now, there is nothing wrong with this as long as you are, or will actually pray for them. But, if you are using this term in passing and simply using it to express thoughtfulness and not spending the extra time actually praying for them you are inherently lessening the impact of what you are telling them. I have actually done this before and I feel a little disingenuous when I say it, so I don't say it anymore unless I will actually think or say it in the act of praying. More appropriate may be "thinking of you", or "thoughts are with you" if the extra time is not intended to be spent.
I love my Canon 7D. When I take photographs and sit down and process them, I come up with a photo how I saw it and want others to see it. Not just for what it was, but for what I feel and want to express. When I'm out storm chasing I see beautiful things. Skies, clouds, countrysides that are not only jaw dropping but they bring you back to a time when everything seemed new and the world was a simpler more quiet place. This is where my camera comes in, and the glass that comes with it of course. It builds a world that makes me feel what's in it.
Here's what I wish it could do. DSLR's are being caught up to very quickly by the smartphone market. It seems like every six months a new phone is released and it has an upgraded camera that takes panorama 40 megapixel shots and can be instantly shared with an audience on Facebook, Twitter, or social media of your choice.
My camera takes photos, then I have to get home or wherever I stop for the evening that I have to get the images off of the camera, then I have to upload them for processing, then process, then release. In storm chasing and in journalism in general there is a small window of opportunity to get a photo out quickly. A tornado touches down, someone who can get a quick decent shot with a smartphone has it out to the masses instantly. I have to wait and release photos after the fact. By that time, my photos have become old news. Many that I process will be lasting images that will stand for many years to come. But, there is a need to be able to snap a quick photo and share it. This is what I wish my DSLR could do.
So, camera makers, if you are reading this please start moving in the direction of the instant share. I believe there is a market for having both a professional DSLR combined with the capability of taking an unprocessed photo and connecting it to a cell phone tower or Wifi and sharing instantly. I understand some of the new cameras are capable of Wifi, but the ability to share that photo instantly still doesn't exist. Cameras can and should be integrated to be social media compatible.
I know the question you are asking. Why don't you just use a smartphone to take the photo, then use the Canon for the real photography and be happy with that? Well it's the same reason that I had a phone that could talk and worked just fine, but someone figured out that if you put a camera on it, it increased it's functionality and longevity. Like I said, I love my Canon 7D. But, I'm also sure there were people who loved their Poloroid just as much and we know how that turned out.
We are two days away from meteorological spring, and twenty two days (or so) away from the official start of spring. So here are some thoughts about where we are as storm season approaches.
I spent the better part of the day during Sunday's outbreak in the Midwest sitting in my chair watching information roll in almost in real time. Between Twitter, Facebook, my radar and the Weather Channel I was well informed with everything going on, watching storms move at super speed developing hooks, and wincing as the storms approached communities in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
Among everything that happened that day I was amazed at the amount of information coming in and how far we've come in storm coverage and chasing in just a few years. Pictures were rolling in almost instantly as snapshots uploaded to social media took off like wildfire, meanwhile video was rolling in quickly afterwards from bystanders who had the unfortunate luck of being in the storms way. Shortly afterwards, damage photos from the storms blistering path came in giving us an initial idea that these storms meant business and we should all be paying attention.
As the day wore on the reports kept coming in. Washington, IL was hammered by a tornado initially rated and EF-4. Soldier Field in Chicago was evacuated and the game suspended for almost two hours. Storms near Paducah, KY were producing tornadoes. Such a wide region affected it took effort just to keep up with all of it.
But, the most important defense we had was the information.
SPC had this event pegged a few days out. Chasers notified their legions of followers on social media that this was going to be serious. Watches were issued just enough beforehand, and once the storms started firing and moving at warp speed tornado warnings were soon to follow. For folks downstream in Eastern Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky there was plenty of coverage to allow for preparations and plans to be made. Sadly, even with all of the information out there, at least seven people died and dozens of others were injured. These storms were brutal and so fast moving once they came upon an area there was little time to react.
There has been a ton of progress made the last few years in improving warning times. Social media has enabled not only the government but scores of other sources help get the word out, helping the public to prepare for upcoming weather events. There is still room for improvement, but as bad as things may get all of the information out there helps keep things from being a lot worse.
As someone who has grown up in rural areas on the Great Plains I can attest to the emptiness and lack of obvious scenery of the rolling hills and flat lands of the central U.S., where nothing stops the wind except maybe a clump of trees here and there planted in the 30's during the Dust Bowl and lots of barbed wire. So, when the large wind mills came about 10 years ago, it was quite a sight to see the massive monoliths standing tall on the prairie catching its ever-present wind. Modern day had hit the plains, an idea was in place to generate clean energy, and it looked good doing it.
Over the years, the wind farms began cropping up here and there, usually in some rural area off the beaten path. A few were set up along major routes such as I-40, visible to all and sometimes became a reason to stop and take a neat photo for those from the east or west coast. This was quickly becoming the energy of the future, creating jobs and helping to do our part to fight against the growing problem of Global Warming.
As I was driving to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma a few weeks back, I noticed a wind farm had been put up on the north side of the mountains, basically on the opposite side of the northern border of the park. It got me to thinking about all the places I have been in the Great Plains and how they have changed over the years. No longer was there a clear sight to the mountains looking to the south, forever replaced by the hulking wind mills and spanning across the visible landscape. At night, the blinking red lights would resemble an alarm clock that had been reset at midnight blinking on and off incessantly, as if waiting for someone to change the time.
Other places maybe not as scenic to everyone began to see them as well. The small town of Putnam, OK along highway 183 lives almost in the shadow of them these days. Places in Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas that used to be home to untouched landscapes are now dotted with large numbers of wind mills, taking away a little more of the wildness that made such places unique and special. Over the years, at least to me, the wonders of man had become more of an eyesore and a reminder of the shrinking world we live in.
This article isn't to bash the idea of wind energy. It has a positive impact on energy, and is a clean alternative to coal and other "dirty" energies. It is an economic boon to the farmers and land owners on the plains, and it creates jobs in places where jobs previously couldn't be found. What I do get concerned about though is the amount of space it takes up and as it grows it will only require more land, more vistas gobbled up. There are other issues as well that have been expressed by others who are affected by them. I read an article the other day where meteorologists were concerned about the wind farms and how they affect storm visibility on radar. Another issue brought up elsewhere is the concern about the impact they are having on wildlife. Birds and bats are dying at an alarming rate, either being attracted to or just not able to navigate the large turbines.
As this form of energy grows, it will require more and more space. This space won't be taken up in urban areas, it will be in the sparsely populated areas where fewer people live. This is great for the masses, but slowly but surely takes out a little piece of America's wildness and what makes it great with it. My hope is that somewhere along the way we figure out how to make a smaller footprint upon the land and still achieve the energy production we need to realize to meet the world's needs. Others may not agree, or may not even care how much space is taken up. "There's nothing to look at anyways if they weren't there." I believe there are places in this world where a little less impression by man is a good thing, and without it you can see everything.
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