There’s a lot of talk in our area at the moment about texting and driving. Californians, it seems, particularly the 18-24 age group, are still doing it in record numbers. Even though it is a ticketing offense if caught doing it while behind the wheel, it doesn’t seem to be doing much to deter people from continuing the practice. A man and his eighteen year old son were bicycling in Sacramento over the weekend when hit by a thirty-three year old man distracted by his latest text message. The father was killed and the boy is now fighting for his life. Wow. Really? On some level I could understand if the text read, “Your family is being held captive. Get me a helicopter and a million dollars in an hour or their lives will be in danger”. The reality is, the text he looked down for was probably something far less earth shattering and inane. Couldn’t these social messages wait until you’re parked to read them? My daughter and her family enjoy bike riding on the weekends. Even though they have helmets and are careful I worry a lot about them when they’re on the roads. Truth is they are one unread text away from harm, and that makes me nervous. People charged with driving public transportation are even getting tagged for this, causing accidents because their eyes are distracted instead of focusing on the road. Whew.
Every day I see drivers pass me looking down at their cell phones. Yesterday we were nearly sideswiped by a guy not paying attention who kept coming into our lane. If not reading a text they’re talking with the phone to their ear. For the man who hit these two people, I’m sure this unguarded moment is something he’ll carry with him the rest of his life. I can’t imagine if you asked him, he would feel whatever was in that message was worth the price paid to read it.
Patti Lupone, an actress presently appearing on Broadway, took a stand last week by stealing, if you will, a cellphone from an audience member texting during the show. Really it is rude. Aside from the light emitted, the constant keying it is annoying to people around you. When interviewed she asked, “why do these people buy a ticket”? No kidding. Tickets on Broadway aren’t cheap. Why would you sit and look at your phone during the entire show? I don’t get it.
Not long ago we went to the movies. Two kids in the seats several rows in front of us played video games during the entire first half of the movie. Several times they were asked by people in adjacent seats to stop. Finally, an employee had to come and ask them to leave. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no gripe with cell phones, I have one. However, as with everything there are limits and manners involved with using one. As I used to assure my children, not everyone in the world was put here for the sole purpose of making sure your day goes well.
Sometimes it is good to be disconnected, even not to be entertained. Babies left to their devices, no binky stuck in their mouths to make things better, or no adults clucking and cooing after their every need, will use their minds to entertain themselves. Fingers and toes will become fascinating, the mobile spinning over their crib, or the glistening lights on the ceiling made by the sun’s reflection on the pool water outside the window will become more interesting. Learning to soothe oneself without benefit of outside stimulus is an early lesson and, I believe, an important one.
A friend of mine recently went to a basketball game. He won the tickets on a radio station, but the face value of the ticket was $250.00. People all around him, so he tells it, spent most of the game taking pictures on their cell phones rather than actually watching the game in progress. Now I love to take pictures, as would be obvious by how many of them are peppered throughout this blog. However, the fact remains no photograph of a cup of steaming hot freshly brewed coffee will ever equal the actual aroma emanating from the pot while its brewing. Nor will a picture ever mirror the taste of that first sip. As lovely as a picture might be of your child it will never be as good as the warmth of their small hand tucked in yours, or the “feel” of their small body in your arms as you carry them up to bed. Living virtually, in this humble bloggers opinion, will never surpass actually going through the visceral process yourself.
They were discussing on a talk show the amount of screen time children are logging, some upwards of six hours a day. A psychiatrist speaking to the subject said they are actually considering classifying extreme dependence on devices a mental illness. He suggested putting a power bar in a central room in your house. Before going to bed each person, including the adults, must plug in their devices before turning in for the night. Having the phone in the bedroom while you sleep or whatever else you might be up to in there is distracting and the time after you retire should be time to rest your brain not offer it stimulation.
For me, I think we need to be aware of how much time this is stealing from our lives every day. I can’t imagine it’s going to get better as devices morph and provide more sophisticated options. What you do with your time is your business certainly, but when you are on the road and doing behaviors endangering others around you it becomes the business of the people who’s lives you potentially may affect.
On a lighter subject, these potatoes are an excellent side with a rich Mediterranean flavor. Yum.
5 medium sized red potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 small can of drained black olives
1/2 cup Feta cheese
Cover potatoes in water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to med.-low. Simmer until nearly tender. Remove from water and cut in quarters.
Heat oil in large skillet over med. heat. Add onion and green pepper to pan and cook about 6 mins. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings to pan. Simmer covered for 6 mins. stirring frequently. Add cooked potatoes and olives and stir well to coat. Continue cooking another 10 mins.
Remove from heat and stir in Feta cheese. Serve immediately.