(September 2019) – I’ve always been a nut about the space program. I grew up in Baltimore in the 1960s, and one of my neighbors sent me a postcard from his trip to Florida: a three-dimensional picture of an Apollo astronaut in a spacesuit floating near the moon. I cherished it for a long time. Years later, I was thrilled when my first job out of college was working as an editor at Today newspaper in Brevard County, where I could watch space shuttle launches up close.
So, when I was interviewing David Kusuma of Tupperware Brands for this month’s cover story, it was fun to hear his excitement about working on projects with NASA. Not many of us get to send something into orbit that will actually be touched by astronauts on the International Space Station. That’s pretty cool stuff.
One of the most fascinating parts of all the space research that has taken place since the 1960s is the way it comes back to be applied here on Earth. The latest Tupperware products in space might be mass-produced someday to help people grow fruit and vegetables, even if they don’t have a yard.
I started thinking about technology, the theme of this month’s issue, and how it’s designed to improve our lives. Today we can measure our heart rhythm on a wristwatch. We can view programs we record on our home TV from anywhere in the world on a laptop or tablet. We can speak commands into a box to play music for us or look up the distance from Earth to the moon. We can control burglar alarms, temperature gauges and bill payments with apps on our cell phones.
Technology is making our lives better in so many ways. So why does it sometimes feel like it’s holding us hostage?
You know what I mean. You take a day off, or spend an afternoon at a conference, or travel on a long-distance flight, and you end up with a giant pileup in your email in-box. Some of these emails are really important and require a reply or action—and sadly, these often get lost in an avalanche. Others are just to let you know something was received, or to keep you updated on an issue or project.
How about the ones that reply simply “I’ll be there” or “Thank you,” and the recipient has hit “Reply All” so now 20 people are all replying to all and you have a big mass of clutter. Or how about those people who send you eight one-liners in a row such as “What’s the status of this?” or “Did you see this?” or “Can you please handle?” They’re basically checking tasks off their lists and putting them onto the six people they’re copying. And now all six people on the email string are responding back with, “I don’t know,” “Yes” or “Should I do that, or should so-and-so?” I’d much rather have a person compose a useful email saying, “I’m checking in on the status of these eight things, and here are updates from me on four more.”
I lamented one day that I had 360 emails in my in-box after taking a break for lunch and a walk. Why do people have to send so many emails? My boyfriend said, “They wouldn’t be doing that if they had to put 360 stamps on them. ” Ah yes. So true! That took me back to the simple days, when receiving a postcard from Kennedy Space Center was such a joy. Thank you for listening to my rant.
Have a great month!