Thursday, August 15, 2013

What's In Our Future and the Future of our Grandchildren?

I wasn't doing anything unusual for a Wednesday afternoon.   I walked into my utility/laundry room and took a load of wet laundry out of the washer and transferred it to the dryer.   I tossed in a fabric softener sheet and after pressing two buttons, the machine sprang to life and began tumbling the clothes inside.   In less than an hour, they were dry, smelling fresh and clean and ready to fold.  But that is not anything too spectacular or out of the norm around here.    I do this no less than 5 or 6 times a week and sometimes more than that.    I would go so far as to say I take these labor saving devices for granted. 

Which brings me to my next thought.    In my grandmother's day, doing laundry was a big deal.  It required a lot of hard labor for the better part of a day and maybe more than that if it was for a large family.    There was water to be heated, sometimes over a fire located outside.    There were washboards and harsh soaps and a woman was lucky if her hands were not sore and red after doing her family's laundry.    I remember my mother telling me that it was very common to wear things more times than just once....understandably so, given the labor intensive methods used to do the laundry.   

As time went on, machines to do the wash and then wring them out before hanging them on a clothes line came to be the norm for many families.    My mother often told of getting an automatic washer, the kind that had a round window in it so you could see the clothes agitate, when I was born.  With a newborn baby and disposable diapers twenty years away, a washing machine was her idea of heaven on earth!   Twenty something years later, when Larry and I moved to Mobile and bought our first house,  we also got a brand new, avocado green, matching set, Kenmore washer and dryer.   I was thrilled, having done laundry next door at my mother's house and hanging the clothes on the outside clothes line for nearly 10 years.

1948 Westinghouse Washer
I mention all these things to say it's an amazing world we live in.   When I consider the world my grandmothers lived in,  I'm know they wouldn't recognize the digitized, computerized world we live in today.   Our cars all have black boxes and computer chips that control everything from communications to parallel parking.  Many of us carry around portable telephones that are capable of calling just about any place on the planet and can instantly connect us to the internet.   A large portion of us conduct our lives via these small boxes including paying bills, buying everything under the sun and communicating with anyone and everyone.    They don't call them "smart phones" for nothing!  

Imaging the difference between the world I live in today and comparing it even to the life I led as a child is like night and day.    We take it all for granted and our day to day existence is impacted  by the things that inhabit our world from the moment we wake up until we nod off at night.    So it is only natural to wonder---what's next?   Will our world continue to change as much as it has in the time I've been alive?   

Well, I say it sure looks like it will!   A few days ago a young man named Elon Musk,  a truly amazing guy with an imagination that must give him some wild dreams, introduced the world to his latest idea.  Musk is famous for founding Tesla Motor Company and a thing called PayPal, that many of us use regularly to make our purchases safely and easily on the internet.  His idea is called a Hyperloop,  a futuristic concept for transporting people via a high speed tube system between Los Angeles and San Francisco.    It takes the notion of high speed rail and pushes it up a notch or two.     On first read of the 57 page document that outlines his concept, one might be tempted to think he is way out on limb and that it's something that far eclipses our ability to execute.    A capsule inside a tube that hurtles people at 700 mph between cities?   Surely this is the stuff of science fiction?   

Elon Musk's Hyperloop


In a word, NO!   It is out of the mind of dreamers like Musk that we got all of the things that currently inhabit our lives.    The first airplanes, automobiles, computers and microwave ovens all had to go through the phases of people thinking they were not serious concepts.    I am sure the first people to actually go airborne in an airplane went aloft with their hearts in their throats.    And so it is with Musk's plan to reinvent how we travel whether it's from one city to another and even to how we will move around the globe....or dare I say it?  Across the galaxy?!   With his plan one might consider that a trip to Australia, currently a 24 hour plus ordeal of planes crisscrossing continents and oceans will be reduced to a few hours in complete comfort and with little or no stress.   We will be able to go there as easily and conveniently as we go to see our Granny  who lives a state or two away from us.   

Gavin at the microscope.
I think it's safe for me to say that the world I live in today is apt to change just as drastically as the world did for my Grandmothers.   We tend to think we live in the epitome of high times and forget that the dreamers and inventors of today are no less curious and imaginative than the Thomas Edisons and Wright Brothers of yesteryear.      The potential and possibilities are endless.

Luci reading & thinking.

So keep your eyes open and pay attention to what's coming.    When my grandchildren look back at how their world has changed, they will view today's best inventions with the same impression we think of the Model T and the washboard and  lye soap.    It will all look so primitive to their eyes.    I hope that the news of Mr. Musk's  plans for the future sparks their imagination, too.      I'd like to think that one of them is thinking right now of something new, unheard of that will change their world in ways we may not be able to fathom.    I sure do hope I live long enough to see their ideas come to life. 

Ben and Brian inventing.

Happy Trails and to my Grandchildren~~~keep on dreaming and thinking of how to change your world!
Marcia AKA Grammy


  1. Every once in a while I think about stuff like you wrote about and feel grateful that I'm old enough to still think of them as miraculous...and I also think about how little I really understand most of them. I remember reading a little story from some highly educated person talking about a recurring nightmare of his. In it, he's walking down a street and Leonardo da Vinci--possibly the most brilliant thinker in human history--magically comes back to life and is walking next to him. As they walk, he points out all the things everyone takes for granted--cars, planes, electric lights, and things they see in stores like electric lights, automatic door openers, air conditioners, computers, phones, refrigerators, and so on. Leonardo is of course astonished by everything, and finally he says "These things are wonderful!!! You must tell me how all of them work." That's when the narrator wakes up in a cold sweat.

  2. And its amazing how much your life changes when you don't have our current inventions for even a week...(i.e. air conditioner) cindy

  3. AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely the best thing since sliced bread. Take that away and 90% of us would die in July. I remember observing my Aunt and Grandmother doing the laundry--it was referred to as "Laundry Day" and that's how long it took Since they lived across the drive from each other my Aunt would use an old wagon to transport the clothes. Always aware of the weather, they would hang the wash on the line and hope it didn't rain. Our grandchildren (and great-grans) will think we came from another planet. Carol G

  4. Wonderful post, Marcia! Boy, can you write! I was talking to one of our granddaughters this morning about the fact that Abba grew up without TV and listened to the radio for entertainment. She was somewhat...shocked, I'd say. Then we talked about Abba getting 25 cents to ride the subway to the movie, get his ticket, buy popcorn, and ride the subway home. Now think about entertainment today!


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