Exploring our world through technology

I graduated high school in the year 2000. The recent graduates of this year’s class of 2014 weren’t even in kindergarten when I was finished with my primary education. Even though we are now peers as college freshmen, they will never understand the technological struggles of my generation. Take for example, the dial-up modem. Can you imagine the student of today trying to do research for a paper online in 2000? The fastest dial-up speed of the time was 56 kbps. The internet speeds I’m using right now are currently around 40 mbps, which converts to 40,000 kbps. That’s insane in comparison! Even though the technology was there, most students still used books and paper materials for any information that was required for their research. Now imagine the work done centuries before the year 2000. It’s amazing to think of what was accomplished with such little technology.  It’s interesting to think of what would be possible now had our forefathers been able to access the resources we take for granted in this century.

Today, I use the internet for everything. I can’t depart towards a new destination without first looking up directions. I can’t start cooking a new recipe until I’ve found the right website to pull it from. And I most certainly couldn’t start my day without reading my fair share of online news and emails. Having seen the early stages of the world wide web, I fully understand the value of having so much information at my fingertips. The greatest benefit I get from using technology is that it allows me to explore this world. I watch copious amounts of documentaries online during my free time. Between foreign films and educational programs, I can barely stay up to speed with the blockbuster hits. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading other nation’s news articles. I love to compare how other countries present a certain news story in comparison to our country’s news agencies. I started doing this after I came home from my last deployment.

I spent the last year of my life in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. I was on a peace-keeping mission with the United States Army on a year long deployment inside of this history-rich area. While I was away from my family and friends, technology kept me connected. Not only did this bridge the gap of communication, the internet allowed my family to see an area they might not otherwise get to see. Through video, I was allowed to share this unique experience with thousands online. I was surprised how many people were interested in my videos. This is due in part to that area being such an important place to three religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. While overseas, I used the internet to help learn Arabic and to also learn about areas of the globe where my other friends were deployed. I, along with the internet, have come along way in fourteen years. I can’t contemplate what life would have been like here without the web. In another decade, one can only imagine where we will be in comparison. The speed at which technology is moving is astounding. I feel that we are becoming a better world through these innovations and I look forward to further advancements.

My 4th place finish.

I decided to run the 2012 Brickcity 5k on Friday night. I had all day Saturday to talk myself out of it. Well, as you can probably guess, I did run the race and got 4th place overall. I was happy with my performance even though I knew I could have done better had I not run on a whim. I took 1st in my age group also! Thank God the three guys in front of me were much older and younger than me.

During the race, I was thinking about how I could become faster and what dieting steps I needed to take to drop my body weight down to be more competitive. I realized later that probably wasn’t the most productive way to go about running a race. Truth be told, I was actually having a good time while I was struggling to breathe. I’m convinced that it’s the feeling after a good run that hooks new runners into this crazy sport. More to follow…..

Hypermiling 101

My first attempt at hypermiling (techniques used to increase your vehicle’s miles per gallon) has shown impressive results. I went from my usual 32MPG in the city to 39MPG in one week. The 39MPG is even better than my typical 36MPG on the highway!

Hypermiling can be defined as any improvement in MPG that exceeds the EPA average for your make and model of vehicle. For example, my 2008 Honda Fit (automatic transmission) is supposed to get 27mpg in the city/30mpg on the highway. As you can see, I was a little better than average when using my normal driving habits. Now, I exceed those number by a measurable amount. What I have changed are as follows:

1. I drive less aggressively.(ex..speeding around people and taking off from a light or stop sign.)

2. I shut down my vehicle when I’m at a stop for longer than 30 seconds.(Again, stop lights, traffic, train, etc)

3. I never drive over 60mph because research has shown that anything over the 55/60mph range is wasting fuel.(http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/speeding_and_mpg.html)

4. I rarely use the air conditioning. I instead opt for rolling down the window. Contrary to common belief, having the windows down does not affect aerodynamics very much.

There are more extreme methods (putting the car in neutral on downhills and shutting down the vehicle at certain times) which are available if you wish to research them. I recommend even slight changes in driving habits. I will continue to update and monitor my progress and I recommend you do the same.

PS: I use gas cubby app on my iphone to record my usage data.

Men do read.

I love to read. My friends also love to read. I do feel, however, that most men don’t talk about what books they are currently reading. One of the first questions I ask people when I meet them is “what are your favorite books?” I do this because I’m always looking for recommendations from other guys about books which they’ve loved or currently reading.

Over the next few months I’m going to be posting what new books (fiction and non-fiction) I’ve been reading and what I like and dislike. I would appreciate anyone who reads my posts to do the same on my blog. Thank you and keep reading.

Scott

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