Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Simplicity is a Lost Trait

Simplicity is a lost trait. Our world of endless technological advances continues to march forward leaving the easiest tasks in an afterthought.
Take tire monitoring systems for instance. At one time, many years ago, when you would pull up to a filling station, an attendant would come out. Then he would proceed to pump the fuel, clean the windshield, check the oil, and check the air pressures in the tires. As the filling stations began to lose the necessity of attendants, then we began to check our own.
We even changed our own oil and performed tune ups on our own vehicles.
Then something changed.  Our lives were blessed with computer systems which could be integrated into certain simple tasks. Alarm clocks were no longer a series of gears clicking endlessly towards an eventual hammer attack on two bells. Analog went digital. Our vehicles started telling us when it was time to change oil rather than us keeping up with 3000 mile intervals on our odometers.
And then the cursed tire monitor was born. It came about because of necessity actually. We forgot how to check our tire pressures. We did not know how much air was supposed to go in the tires. We did not realize the affect temperatures played on the tire pressures. And we still do not.
That little flashing (or steady on some vehicles) light that looks like a horseshoe with an exclamation point in the middle causes anxiety, stress, and outright fear when we see it now. It only comes on for two reasons. Either the tire pressure is beyond a certain threshold limit or a sensor has gone bad.
Now we have come to boat motors. This is an outdoors column after all. At one time they were as simple as you could make a mechanical contraption with an enormous amount of moving parts that held both an engine and transmission within the same body.
Don’t get me wrong, they were complicated. They had to be worked on. However, anyone with a little mechanical know-how could do at least the basics and keep the motors where they could be counted upon every weekend.
It is much different at this time. More thing-a-ma-jigs have been added so they compare in number with the bells and whistles of most commercial airliners. In doing so, it has added more stuff to break, and the ability to get it repaired nearly impossible. Trust me; a marine mechanic that can fix a boat motor is no longer worth his weight in salt. He is worth enough salt to season a year’s worth of McDonald’s fries.
I can easily count more boat motors that are not running sitting on dormant boats than boats ready to hit the water by just the turn of a key.
Even the electric motors have gone crazy in technology. At one time they were just a motor attached by wire running through a shaft to a potentiometer located in the handle. Electric current running from the battery to the potentiometer would determine how fast and in which direction the propeller would spin.
Now they have powered trim, remote controlled, gps enabled abilities that takes a third year college course to understand how to use fully.
It is a wonder the Inuit were able to stretch seal skin over a wood frame, paddle out in sub-frigid waters and harvest whales for food, tools, and other required living uses. Their only gauges were the rumbling of their bellies and bite of the Arctic air. Luckily they did not use wheels very often; those tire monitors would have driven them crazy with the cold air.


  1. Isn't it funny how the more technology advances the more society tends to forget how to do the simple things? Great post!

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