Last weekend, The New York Times published an article titled, "Technology Leads More Park Visitors Into Trouble." On reading the headline, I envisioned someone plinking away at a smartphone while they unknowingly walked toward the edge of a cliff. But the article seems to imply people aren't necessarily as oblivious as they are whiny. Having a smartphone with you may seem like a good thing if you're in a wilderness jam, but some people are using them to request rangers bring them snacks or a guide.
This may be a sign of the times that being plugged in has cost us the ability to be entertained by our surroundings for more than a few moments.
I felt the full brunt of this during a recent trip to Vancouver. After spending half a week bathed in the everlasting Internet of the Seattle area, it came as quite a shock when AT&T's service in Canada was about as widespread as a mid-August snowstorm. In other words, my iPhone was little more than an expensive pocket watch.
As a result, Vancouver was a little, well, boring. I'm sure I wouldn't have found that to be the case a couple of months ago had the trip instead been taken with my old flip phone. After all, they did have the Olympics here, so it's not like there are a lack of attractions.
You only really notice something when you don't have it. Had I quit the Internet for the entire trip, maybe I wouldn't have felt so lost when I had an extra five minutes to catch up on work e-mail, which is par for the course these days. But with the Internet everywhere you go nowadays, it's easy to reach new levels of tackiness when you find yourself checking in on Foursquare while visiting Bruce Lee's grave.
Now there's something to tell the grandkids.
We brought you the latest news from the campaign trails, including updates on the punches thrown between former lawmaker Jonathan Paton and political rookie Jesse Kelly in the Congressional District 8 race, where Paton unsuccessfully tried to summon the spirit of Sarah Palin to come to his rescue; linked to tales of Democrat Rodney Glassman's many campaign woes as primary day approached; and shared many reasons that no one should vote for Republican Andrew Thomas in the Arizona attorney general's race.
We let you know that Gov. Jan Brewer rejected Democrat Terry Goddard's call for a half-dozen debates; linked to a profile of John McCain, which included his assertion that "I don't change my positions"; commented on the Goldwater Institute's concerns about administrative costs at universities, as well as skeptical responses to Goldwater's research methods; shared a Gulf of Mexico dispatch from the Center for Biological Diversity's Keiran Suckling; and embedded Stephen Colbert's Word on Joe Arpaio's suggestion that the U.S. Border Patrol could do a better job if they started patrolling Mexico.
We celebrated Tucson's birthday; told you that Southern Arizona vineyards had been hammered by freak hailstorms; let you know that the National Geographic Channel has been filming at Biosphere 2; informed you that California Pizza Kitchen was coming to Tucson Mall; and encouraged you to try locally laid eggs from Hickman's Family Farms.
Most importantly: We launched a new app for your mobile phone that will guide you to happy hours all across our fair city. Download yours today!
"I am generally not in favor of tearing down old signs and this one is even more significant to me in that my father used to own the shop directly across Rosemont back when Kinney was still there. This sign is so very different than what it used to be, though. In its present condition and location I don't think it has much historical relevance and I would not object to it being torn down."
—from TucsonWeekly.com user "Gonzo Sorcrachi" in response to last week's story ("Save This Sign?," Aug. 19) about the historical value of an old sign on 22nd Street.
Didn't get a piece of birthday cake at this year's celebration of Tucson's 235th birthday? We've got you covered with our short documentary (read: YouTube video) on this year's party.