Can I get a ride?

Events of this past week have made me stop to ponder the future of automobile transportation. You may have heard that Google has managed to build cars that drive themselves. That’s really good news in light of Tracy Morgan’s recent accident involving a truck driver that was falling asleep at the wheel. Question is, why isn’t Google working on trucks that drive themselves?

The self driving car is no doubt the wave of the future. It seems to me though that the first step would be to master the self driving truck. Some companies are trying to build drones that deliver packages so why not start with the first layer, self-driving trucks?

Okay, we need to realize how that idea is going to put thousands of truck drivers out of work. But let’s face the fact that the number of fatalities in truck related accidents has risen dramatically. In 2010 there were 3,413 fatalities due to large truck accidents; according to a report by the US Department of Transportation. That number is up from 1,547 reported in 1993. That’s a 100% increase in less than ten years.

Yes, American truckers delivered over eight trillion dollars in goods in 2007, the last available report. Which of course only means in 2014 that number is much, much higher. So there’s no doubt that we’ll be putting a lot of truckers out of business by deploying self driving trucks. In the case of the Tracy Morgan accident, it would have saved lives and the health and well being of those in that particular accident.

This is a situation we need to weigh carefully. Think about it. If there was teleportation (beam me up Scotty) where we could move people and goods from one point to another instantly then there wouldn’t be any need for cars or planes, trains, buses or trucks. That’s millions of jobs we eliminate pretty fast; which would be devastating to our economy.

Here’s another great invention that can totally change the landscape of self driving cars, energy conservation, carbon emissions and so much more. A company called Iniegogo (www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml) has invented solar panel roadways. THIS IS HUGE. This idea could totally revolutionize life as we know it on so many levels. I’ll let you investigate this one on your own, however to sum all this up there is a very bright future ahead of us. However, it’s going to take some serious adjustments to make this leap.

Now, all these things may be revelations for you as you read this, but if you’re as savvy as I think you are then you’re having a Ah-Ha! moment right now just like I have this past week. There is so much to be gained by deploying these new technologies.

Global warming may not be something we can reverse, and like it or not, it is a reality and proven to be caused by humans. If we arrest this problem now by building solar panel roads and deploying self driving cars and trucks we can change the future for the better in so many great ways. But the Ah-Ha! comes down to one simple fact that we greedy consumers are not willing to face. There will be drastic changes to our economy, our jobs, and our way of life.

Yeah, I’d like to get a ride into the future to see how all of this is going to pan out. I like to be an optimist and think we’ll save ourselves from sure destruction on both the economic and environmental levels. But if history is proof of anything it is that we are destined to choose our pocket over our well being.

I’d like to close this article with a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Matrix. Agent Smith says, while interrogating Morpheus for the codes to get into their secret homeland, Zion, ” I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

While we all look for a better way to get around, this world we love is quickly rotting away around us because we fail to recognize the truth of Agent Smith’s statement. This isn’t a call to action, or any sort of rant in regards to the reality I’ve painted here. Rather one man’s cross examination of what is possible and what might be.

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Someone with great inspiration

Nothing above nothing, and I do mean nothing is more powerful in our lives than someone who inspires us.

Most of my life has been quite the opposite, and I venture to guess that many people, if not most, have had more negative influences than positive ones. As a kid I was generally told what I couldn’t do, why things were out of reach and how I needed to be realistic about my dreams. Huff! Those memories of people imposing their negativity on me has taken a toll over the years.

My first and second marriage were both disasters. I was in a place after my second where I had no faith whatsoever that I would find someone to compliment me. Companionship was still desirable but there was little hope in my heart that I would meet someone that was capable of inspiring me. But sometimes God has other plans.

I was in a crappy job, working for slave wages and putting in long hours just to keep my head above water. It was a painful time in my life.

Fortunately, I landed a new job that brought promise. It wasn’t high on the pay scale but it did give me the freedom to do more of what I love and make my own hours in the process. About that same time I met the woman of my dreams. To this day, I find it hard to welcome all the love she has for me. She is an incredible woman.

There is a joy in her that I recognized immediately. But more so I was inspired by all that she had been through to change her own life, to better herself and give her children opportunity.

She came from a small Caribbean island, a place filled with more pain and struggle than I have ever faced. Yet, she rose above all of that to come to the states and begin building a new life. Raising two boys (and we know boys bring trouble of their own) she managed to have a nice home, to eat well and dress nice by doing a job that really wasn’t what she herself had a passion to do. But that was a means to an end. The end being an opportunity to put a past of pain behind her.

She reminds me often of what she faced to make the transition and the stories I hear do not inspire me at all to visit her homeland; a place full of crime and corruption, short on amenities that I myself have come to take for granted.

She is the most inspiring person I’ve ever known. Not because of what she had been through and overcome, but her attitude about what is yet to come. She holds her head high and she forges on with courage and determination. She inspires me in that way, but she also reminds me of the trouble I too have overcome and how blessed she is to have me in her life. Funny how that rings in my head.

I worry and fret over silly things. She seems to let them roll off of her with a positive attitude that would disgust some people. But for me, it is a daily reminder of how we all can achieve so much more, become so much more and honestly don’t need to worry about how bad things could be. She faces trouble with courage and is always grateful for the blessings.

I write these things because I do so adore her spirit, cherish her determination and have come to find strength in myself because she inspires me to be strong, courageous, positive and thankful. She is my greatest blessing in life and if nothing else I want to encourage others to find that one person who inspires you.

We all need somebody in our life who pushes us to look on the bright side of things. I’ve got mine and I’m telling you to find yours. Don’t give up on that quest.

My father used to tell me that in order to reach our goals we need to first determine what those goals are. Then, do things that take you closer to your goal, and avoid things that take you away from that goal. Pretty simple formula. I’ve done my best to put that philosophy to work. But I’ll take it a step further.

Find someone who inspires you and latch onto them, and walk away from those who tear you down. The saying goes, “Think positive.” Likewise, surround yourself with positive people and keep away from the negative ones.

That’s me. I’m inspired by my fabulous wife. She is the most incredible person I’ve ever known and I intend to stick close to her for the rest of my life. She makes me look good, feel good and do good. I hope you too can find your great inspiration.

And by the way,… Happy Birthday My Love!

Swap Lives With A Stranger?

There’s nothing unusual at all about contemplating a life swap. It isn’t much of a stretch to believe that this is the primary reason why so many people follow actors and musicians and other public figures. Their lives appear glamorous and exciting in light of the typical hum drum of our own lives. When we get down on ourselves we quickly and easily find a sort of comfort in wishing we could be someone else.

This subject actually comes up after encountering an app that is designed to do just this sort of thing. People can use the app to assume the daily routine of a total stranger, to get into their shoes, go where they go and experience their life as a sort of distraction from our own. It’s all virtual and anonymous of course, but the idea set me on a thought path I had to explore a bit more for myself.

First off, I want to ask, “are our lives so boring that we need to get in someone else’s shoes to rejuvenate the excitement of living?” Sure, it sounds like fun, on a virtual level. However, after some pondering, I’ve come to my own conclusion that, while it sounds appealing, I’m not interested.

To be honest, it would be nice to have someone’s job and/or paycheck; an actor, writer, athlete or politician. But I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to swap lives. The television series, “Wife Swap” is another example of this inner desire to switch things up. Not to forget Mike Rowe in “Dirty Jobs”; when the host takes on various jobs where he spends the day working with everyday people doing what they do for a living. Reality TV has gone a long way to explore this idea of swapping lives.

What I would have to ask next is, “what makes your life so bad?” For me, I sure would like to make more money, maybe hang with celebrity friends and jet-set around the world at my leisure. Yeah, those things would be pretty neat. But let me tell you now that the only real difference is that we choose to dream rather than to live.

I’m an odd sort of fellow in some ways (more than even I know if you ask my kin). I look back on my life and see times when I could have grabbed onto a celebrity life as a musician, an actor, a writer. In retrospect, I’m really glad I didn’t. I would have lived so hard in those roles it might have killed me; literally. After all, in most cases what we want to swap isn’t the hard work and persistent determination to be one of these people, but rather to have all the perks they have.

That said, I’m perfectly happy being who I am. But I do know I’d like to be a better me. So when it’s all said and done the true reality is that I can have and be and do all these things that may be someone else’s life. I just have to adjust my life to achieve those things.

As children, many of us have heard our parents tell us, “You can be anything you want to be.” Did they make that up because it sounds nice or makes us feel better? I don’t think so. Isn’t that what the “American Dream” is all about? I tell this to my kids, and I genuinely mean it. Problem is, like me, they fail to grasp the reality of this promise.

Starting right now, no matter what your social status, no matter where you live, what your health condition is or your level of education, experience or even your age, you can still be anything you want to be. The only thing stopping you from this is you.

All day long we can read stories of people who have changed their lives, found inspiration and determination to become someone new and transform their dreams into reality. We can change our stars. But it comes down to those simple terms; inspiration and determination.

So, while we sit and lick our wounds, having our own pity party, feeling sorry for ourselves, our shortcomings and our mistakes, we are wasting time dreaming about swapping lives with a stranger. Life is what we make it.

Rather than dream about these things we need to dig down in ourselves and realize that we have the power to overcome, the power to learn, the power to change our stars. Don’t expect anyone to do it for you or hand it to you in the form of some app. Get up, set your mind and your heart and seize the day.

We can’t necessarily swap lives, but we can transform our own life by setting our mind and heart to reach for those stars. In the end, as it has been said, “it is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.” I’ll go a step further and say, if there’s something you want, go out and get it, make it happen. Don’t waste time and energy dreaming about it, do it.