Saturday, 16 April 2011

The End of a Generation

If you had suggested that interest in soap operas would have fizzled out eventually....most folks would have laughed.  This week, All My Children and One Life to Live.....were given their termination notices.  And they won't be replaced by new soap operas, but rather, reality shows.

At one point in the mid-1980s, I briefly got into soap operas.  For about a year or two, I followed along a storyline and had three favorite characters on one soap.  Then I simply got to a peak and asked myself why Doctor Bob had to leave town now, and the strange mysterious Buffy had arrived to cause trouble.  It was a hook....nothing could stay the same....things had to evolve and evolve and evolve.  I eventually lost my interest. Kinda like the way that the show Lost went, except it simply got flushed at the end with a bunch of freaked-out nonsense with the half-dead or wannabe zombies.

I pondered upon this.  Reality shows and these bogus interview shows....are all mostly hitting their peak right now.  Within three or four years, most folks are going to admit that they've had enough.  My guess is that we will eventually return to soap operas in five to eight years.

Future soap operas would likely be more revolutionary....existing in Milwaukee instead of Bay City.  Doctor Bob might be this trans-gendered guy who lives with his sister Mary, the cafe waitress who'd like to quite the cafe but stays on because the owner Toby just says to stay on.  We'd probably have a midget or two as central characters....maybe a researcher into laxatives.....and we'd toss in some farmer from Arkansas who just quit farming one day and became a community organizer in Milwaukee.

Evolution....yep, that's what we need.  

The Lack of Sleep

Over the past month or two...several FAA incidents have occurred with control tower folks sleeping.  They all occur at night, of course.  Customers are upset because they think it's a pretty screwed up thing, and the government supervisors can't imagine a guy not making it through a 8-hour shift from ten at night until six in the morning.

I sat and pondered over this.  Throughout my Air Force career.....I kept getting put into shift situations once or twice a year.....going through an entire evening shift and trying to survive until the sun came up.  There's usually three standard tricks that I utilized.

First, the massive caffein trick.  Between coffee, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew....I drunk three or four times the normal amount for myself.  I tended to bring in a six-pack and gulp the whole thing down over the shift.  Yes, it was fairly unhealthy but came to realize you didn't have many options.

Second, I kept a big bag of peanuts and would toss back a handful every twenty minutes.  That probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world but it worked.

Finally, I had the TV running and probably watched a movie or two around 2AM....hoping to boost me a bit.

I came to realize that the best way of overcoming this....was to take my lunch-hour around 1AM and simply nap for an hour.  It was comical because you can't nap anywhere around the operations area or the work-center.  So you went out to the car and set up an alarm.....and slept there.  That one hour came to fix up your problems and you avoided all the maximum use of sodas and coffee.  

I doubt very seriously that the FAA will come to agree on napping for an hour.  The curious thing here....up until the 1950s.....we weren't exactly a society that ran twenty-four operations.  Diners might have ran until midnight but then they closed.  Bus stations were typically closed by midnight.  Train stations typically closed around midnight.  Cops in major cities?  We didn't really talk about round-the-clock police operations until you got to the 1950s.  

So we've only been talking about this 24-hour situation for about sixty years.  It's a curious thing.....we really haven't learned much about this concept.  We know that people do stupid things when they've run through a 12-hour shift at night.....but we seem to accept that as normal.

So if you were planning this great cheap vacation trip....and the plane has to land at 3AM in Salt Lake just might want to ask yourself if it's really necessary to plan the existence of your life around an exhausted air traffic control guy and the pilot on your plane.