Behind the technology curve

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that my Sweetheart-for-Life and I must be considered hopelessly out of step with today’s world, particularly when it comes to technology. I’ve already revealed how we cling to our antique flip-top cell phones and how we use them only for (shudder! gasp!) making and receiving telephone calls. Oh, these devices are capable of handling text messages but, among other drawbacks, the keypads are very small and the keys have three or more letters associated with each so using that feature is very difficult. There are other options such as maintaining a calendar we don’t use either, but we’re satisfied with conversations and voice mail.

Okay, readers may recall our eldest son gave me a “smart” phone in an effort to drag us into the modern cell phone era, but frankly, despite efforts by younger, more tech-savvy family members, I have advanced only slightly into the wonders of its capabilities – but I digress.

We are also well behind the technology curve when it comes to motor vehicles. We currently have a 17-year-old Honda Odyssey minivan and a 13 year old Toyota Prius hybrid – both of which we bought new. They each have a tad over 100,000 miles on the odometer, have no rust, and both run quite nicely. We have carefully adhered to the regular maintenance schedule and, with the exception of replacing the water pump on the Odyssey, have had no other mechanical problems with either vehicle.

We get around 40 plus mpg driving locally and close to 50 mpg on the road with the Prius – the Odyssey doesn’t do nearly as well, but its mileage is acceptable. All in all, these vehicles meet our needs nicely. By the way, we gave away our 1991 Chevy pickup a couple of years ago. The “new” owner tells us that, with right at 200,000 miles on the odometer, the truck still runs well and handles its job of “hauling stuff” quite effectively.

OK, so what’s the problem? Well, we have been advised we should replace one or both of our current vehicles because neither has modern technological features — they’re kinda akin to our dinosaur-like flip-top cell phones in that respect. For instance, we don’t have automatic, computer-driven hands-off parallel parking. If we must parallel park, we use the time-honored way – backing into the parking space until we feel a slight bump and then alternately pulling forward and backward until the vehicle is parallel to the curb and out of traffic.

We don’t have automated collision-avoidance braking, rear view television, blind-side monitoring and warning, inadvertent lane-drift warning and correction, built-in GPS for voice activated trip planning and location monitoring, and hands-off, voice activated smart phone connections with all kinds of options. These are features I’m aware of but there are undoubtedly lotsa others.

I’ve had a taste of driving “modern” cars equipped with these capabilities in that both a son and a daughter permitted me to “try out” their vehicles Frankly, I was a bit apprehensive, particularly when some display popped up or a sound came on and I didn’t know what they signified. I was either told to ignore the disturbance or my youngun co-pilot pushed a button or touched the display to get rid of the annoyance. Kinda felt like I was a trainee in the cockpit of a modern fighter plane with all the optical displays and computerized stuff.

You know, if I’m having problems adapting to my new smart phone, I’d hate to think of what I’d face learning how to cope with all these new-fangled capabilities – and their distractions. When it comes to safe driving, in over 65 years behind the wheel and probably several million miles on the road, I have never caused an accident and I’ve had only a single “moving violation” ticket — that was 30 years ago when I got caught in a speed trap. I suppose I could learn enough about one of these new “safe” cars to drive it, but I don’t think that change would improve my driving record – and might even jeopardize it.

Oh, I’m aware that one of these days we’ll likely have to replace one or both of our vehicles – after all cars, like people, wear out. But, also like people, minor problems can often be remedied, and even major ones may also respond to corrective procedures including replacing parts. In the meantime I figure we’ll continue with our reliable – if out-of-date – vehicles. They may last longer than we do. At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at