I’m not from the South but I lived there for a year. I wish I could get away with using the expression in the title and its companion expression “might could” but that might make the grammar police who follow me shudder.
As it happens, a couple of comments on my previous post have inspired me to explore a tangent off that story arc. I’m pretty sure that I’m using the word “tangent” correctly – I’d hate to offend the math nerds who follow me as well as the word nerds. For the record, at least three of my followers lie in both camps…or is that lay? Anyway, it occurred to me that one result of all this “improvement” is that there are things that people no longer have to / know how to do.
Note: I’m about to play the “old” card.
This started when I was replying to Blog Woman after she agreed with an earlier reader (Ellie Rayne) that coffee makers have been improved beyond what was necessary. I realized that we might soon have a generation of people that will have never actually seen coffee and won’t be able to make coffee without a K-cup. This should be a concern.
A few years ago we had a devastating snow storm at the end of October. Heavy wet snow fell on still-leaf-covered trees and brought branches and in some cases, entire trees down on wires, causing widespread power outages. We lost our power for 10 days! We didn’t have power. Dunkin Donuts didn’t have power and Starbucks…
Actually, one of the things I like about our little town is that the single Starbucks that opened here failed after about 8 months.
Power failure or not, we had coffee. My wife was able to make coffee on the wood stove that we were using for heat.
I had been thinking about this subject before the comments about coffee makers. I was thinking about the way we used to count to 10 when we played hide-and-seek. As I recall, there were two methods: There were the people who counted “one one thousand, two one thousand” and so on and there were those of us who counted “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” and like that. I’m not sure if that choice correlated to Pepsi vs. Coke and Adams Family vs. Munster’s, but it’s my blog so Mississippi, Pepsi and Adams Family rule, however you should check out those links for Wendy’s well-researched view of those two shows.
Of course today our smart phones measure time with the accuracy required for guiding missiles and I’m sure that there’s an augmented version of hide-and-seek that utilizes Bluetooth proximity detection and phone-bumping gestures for assigning the person to be “it”.
Still, there’s something to be said about the Mississippi method. Here we were, children who, if we owned a watch probably weren’t allowed to wear it while playing outside and yet we could accurately measure time. In other words, we could measure time with a greater degree of accuracy than any mechanical device we had access to. I put in those words so that I could call attention to and put myself in the company of Galileo. I have read that when Galileo needed to measure time with great precision, he played the violin. Music notes are not only precise divisions of time, but small differences, due to the music being played incorrectly, say if I were trying to measure time with a violin, can be easily detected.
There are many other things that most children today will never learn to do. Some are good things. For example, I knew the ritual involved with starting a car before electronic fuel injection. You might pump the gas pedal one time or perhaps two times, but that’s an exclusive or, only one technique applied. Our family owned one car that my father swore required you to “pump it once and then hold the gas pedal down” and we owned another where it was “pump it twice and then take your foot off the pedal” otherwise, “flooding” ensued and you had to hold the butterfly open on the carburetor. We also knew how to jump start a car and, if it had a standard transmission, how to push start a car.
Two weeks after buying my Jeep, I was sitting in the cell phone parking lot at Logan Airport when a man asked me if I could give him a jump. He had cables. I had cables but we had trouble finding our respective batteries.
These bits of tacit knowledge were passed down from generation to generation but many have been rendered unnecessary by technology. If they are not passed down, they are lost. I submit as evidence of that last statement, the humble grocery bag. Even though paper bags never completely disappeared and, in some locations, might be making a comeback, lots of people no longer know how to properly arrange groceries in a bag. There is / was no arranging possible in those awful plastic bags so the knowledge was lost. If you are lucky enough to get a paper bag today, you might find the bread on the bottom.