Lost among the horrible headlines this week, the stories of disaster, homicide, war, politics and other tragedies, a couple of notable things have occurred.
It was on August 23, 1991, that British computer whiz Sir Tim Berners-Lee introduced something he called an “information management” system. No, Al Gore did not invent the Internet. Instead, Sir Tim’s product became the World Wide Web that has obviously mushroomed way beyond what he or anyone else thought possible.
Back in the day, those of us who fancied ourselves on the cusp of all things cool jumped all over it, getting that dial-up system (remember all the croaks and screeches on the speaker as it ‘synched’?) that seemed to take forever so that we could check out this new-fangled connection.
In its early stages, it would have taken, oh, a week and a half to download a music video on that WWW. Now you can do it between keystrokes (for those who still use keyboards and don’t just poke screens).
Technology has taken us to communicative heights that few really appreciate and most just take for granted. There are adults among us who think all television and computer monitor screens have always been flat. They’re called “millennials,” because, of course, we have to call people something these days or we’re not ‘hip’ or ‘with it’ or ‘cool’ or whatever the latest buzzword may be.
How many of you remember when @ meant ‘and’ and your cell phone flipped open?
But enough about that, since I’ve probably reached the attention span limit of most web surfers.
For the many of you who now seek escapes from the techno world, the other anniversary should be right up your alley: it’s the 100th year we have been able to enjoy America’s National Park system as we know it.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to President Woodrow Wilson, the Virginia Democrat who created the National Park Service in 1916 so that the then-existing park system wouldn’t ultimately be consumed by those bent on mining, drilling into or otherwise developing the nation’s beautiful natural expanses.
Thanks to Wilson’s foresight, the U.S. has 58 pristine national park preserves that enable the masses to escape into worlds that might otherwise have become little more than memories.
The most-visited of these is the half-billion-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park that encompasses the legendary Appalachian Trail that stretches from Georgia north to Maine. The largest is Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias preserve, featuring some 8 million acres of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Of course, there’s also the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Zion, just to name a few of the most unique places on earth.
Coupled with the many state park systems, it’s safe to say that all of you are within a short drive of some kind of paradise that doesn’t show any bars on that phone.
It would be prudent to note that, in recognition of the National Park Service anniversary, all of the parks are offering free admission for a little while, so power down that device and get away for a while.
Enjoy the bliss of at least a few hours of ignorance.
Note to readers: Thanks for stopping by. I may be dropping off the radar for a little while. Pays to take one’s own advice from time to time…