Monday, July 11, 2011

three topics

Less control might be better sometimes

I read about one or more towns in Germany, Holland and other places removing traffic lights and traffic control signs.  I wasn't sure how it would be.  Evidently, London has tried some of that, too. The other day, I experienced something related.  I live near the biggest shopping center around.  Small by metropolitan standards, but large and busy for us. The road in has several lanes.  Nearby construction required the traffic lights and other electrical devices be turned off for a while.  In the meantime, stop signs were put up.  Normally, the lights have two lanes of cars, about 20 or more, waiting for their signal.  Without the lights, cars moved more quickly through the main intersection.  Each driver reached the road edge, noted which cars on other sides of the intersection were there already, and waited for them to move through.  The flow was smooth, steadier and faster than with the lights.  Notably so.  

Forgetting what I like

During my life, I have repeatedly been surprised that a book or a food or a friend that I like very much can slip from my mind.  I didn't think I could be as enthusiastic about something or someone and at the same time, forget.  When Lynn took my usual car for a week, I went out of my way to be sure I had everything out of it that I use regularly.  Still, when I went to the gym, I forgot my precautions and decided instead to assume I had failed to move my gym pass to the other car.  I thought the gatekeeper at the counter might be a stickler for the rules so I took the precaution of bringing the necessary fee for a single use drop-in.  I was right.  The counter-keeper could not see her way clear to admit me based on remembering me from other days.  I produced the required $5 and she happily admitted me.  Thinking, my usual tool, about the two vehicles and my oversight, I remembered how carefully I had removed what I usually use.  I went out and checked the trunk of the car I still had.  Yep, there was the pass I could have used but had forgotten.  Don't blame my age.  I was fully capable of such forgetting as a 4th student 62 years ago.  I proved it at the time.

Shorter and better

I wrote about my friend getting me interested in text messages on phones.  They may be quite abbreviated but abbreviation, condensation, compactness are my middle names!  Thinking about shortened things, including me, I began recalling ideas and hopes for brevity I have run into.  Like many others, I am a fan of "Father Guido Sarrducci".  The comedian's routine about covering a 4 year college education in five minutes relates to trying to condense and speed up the acquisition of knowledge. You can see a benefit of such attempts right off: one examines everything carefully and with a critical eye.  Can anything be omitted, still keeping the value of the whole, while getting to something shorter, faster and less expensive?

People are wise to be wary of condensations.  The shorter version of a novel or an opera might go by faster but be terribly less gripping, moving, attractive.  A great meal gulped down in a hurry is a horrible perversion of what it could have been.  Still, I'm on the lookout for good shortcuts.

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