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Too much focus on the trivial


Automatic weather alerts via the cell phone are handy.

I mean, who doesn’t want to know when tornadoes are going to start tossing cows and tractors at us or icing highways in a way that turns semis into Zambonis?

Clearly, the alerts have added benefits as well.

For one, they stimulate the economy by encouraging us to pull off the highway to get gouged by gasoline prices that have shot up 90 cents overnight. In addition, they temporarily protect the driving public by interrupting people who are texting and driving.

That’s only a temporary benefit, of course. Because as soon as the message is read, there’s yet another compelling reason for drivers to ignore the tractor-trailer rig slamming on its brakes in front of them to text their friends about the weather.

That leads to yet more texts that say: “OMG! Can’t believe how huge license plates are up close. Soon as I text my insurance agent, I’m rushing home to post picture on Facebook.”

Which is why I’m hoping they’ll develop a new app for my cell phone: One that alerts me that something truly important is about to happen in my life.

Over the years, I’d have benefitted from such reminders.

Even in the days B.C. (before cell phones or, in the snooty New Age B.C.E., before the cell phone era), we had plenty to distract us.

Our heads, in fact, have long been filled with ongoing drama, much of which belongs in OMG category.

We are constantly imagining perfect comebacks to our supervisors, whether at home or work, and being told that because of our righteous thinking we’ll never again have to do mundane tasks like putting paper in the copy machine or cleaning hair out of the bathroom drain at home.

If not, we’re busily burning up our scant time on earth by trying to remember the name of a kid in our fifth-grade class who looked like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.

What’s more, we often do this kind of deep thinking while operating chain saws or something else that might maim or disfigure us. Texting and driving is just the latest.

And God only knows how much time we’ve wasted during pondering just how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck really could chuck, well, you know.

There is some compensation in knowing he’s had to listen to the sermons, too.

The fact is that, taken as an invention, the brain itself has a lot in common with television, cable, computers, cell phones and even the written word.

The very thing that once seemed to hold such promise for human beings has ended up being a device used to create infomercials for manliness powders or to write scripts for law firm commercials that promise large cash awards from class action suits. (Sue by midnight tonight, and we’ll send you a powdered wig and a not one but two free CDs containing Black’s Law Dictionary translated into Hindi.)

Until there is the kind of app I so sorely need, we have but one alternative available: the New Year’s Resolution.

Mine is to try to focus on what’s important and real – at least as best I can given the brain I’ve been dealt and the amount of time I’m being allowed.

Join in if you want. The more the merrier.

Send emails for this reporter to bytomstafford@gmail.com


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