Monday, January 11, 2010

649 The Isolation Booth

649 The Isolation Booth

It's probably more like an isolation office tower, stocked with people with worlds that don't extend beyond their walls and people who believe the same of you.

This is how we get instruction manuals for our iPods or cell phones and especially our computers. The guys in the booth write instructions in a way that makes it seem that your full time job is learning how to use that gear. If you isolate yourself like the tech writers and spend a week with their book and your new whatever-it-is, you'll probably be expert in its use. Meantime, everything else you want or need to do will have fallen by the wayside. Someone in Techno Land must have figured this out some years ago and that's why most electronic items come with "quick start" or "getting started" pages that lead you through the basics. No one with a quick start cheat sheet goes beyond it unless they have no life.

This kind of isolationism can be avoided, although it can be tough. But here's a similar situation that can't.

As the year starts -- any year -- every price goes up. The people who raise prices are careful to make the increase small, at least most of the time. The oil companies, the grocers, the school district, the workout gym, the town or county or city, the sewer authority, the electric company, the water company. "It's just a little bit," they'll tell you. But these people are in their isolation booths. They have no idea what the guys in the other booths are doing.

So everyone's doing it. And taken together, most of us have just had a wonderfully thorough pay cut.

You'd think these iso-lees would get together and try to figure out how to be as gentle as possible on their constituents or customers, since each of them also is a customer or constituent. But that never seems to occur to them.

Each December, all of these guys should get together in an auditorium and announce their plans for the coming year. Then, maybe, we could tone down the death of a thousand increases.

That probably violates some law -- antitrust or something. But if no one finds out, it'll work just fine. Always has.

Either that, or force these guys back into their isolation booths and make them spend a week becoming expert in the trillion applications on the iPhone.

Shrapnel:

--A recidivist speed driver in Switzerland has been fined a record $290,000 for his or her latest offense. The speeder's name has not been released. Can you imagine authorities in this country withholding that name?

--Digital TV is so confusing. Many stations don't give their channel numbers anymore because they no longer have them. But many others DO give the old ones -- and also don't have them.

--When you fill out a form for anything, there's always one scrap of necessary information missing. Fortunately, in the digital age, you always can find it on some computer. Except, of course when you have switched computers or the hard drive crashes or you don't know where to look.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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