It’s official. November in Arizona was the one of the hottest on record. Tucson’s Thanksgiving holiday was the warmest 4-day weekend on record.
PHOENIX – We just finished up the second warmest November on record in Phoenix. The records go back more than 100 years to 1895, when there wasn’t much around here except a few homes and ranches and lots of desert.
November 2012 featured an average high of 81 degrees and an average low of 56 degrees. In a nutshell, we saw temperatures average about 4 degrees above normal all month long.
Could this be related to – oh my – global warming? The heat is continuing into December. (December 5 the high was 80°.) Yesterday I saw a red-headed college-age guy jogging in just shorts and running shoes. Last week saw a guy on a bicycle shirtless. Also an old guy in the neighborhood jogging without a shirt, sweating profusely, but with a band around his chest, to keep track of his heart rate?
An advantage of the shortened days of fall is that sunrise comes late enough so most of us can see it. 7:13 am today, an edge of the yellow dawn on the lightening blue sky. Last week, when we had wisps of clouds, stripes of a vibrant pink and blue, almost defining the colors of babies’ clothes.
To continue the discussion on eating bugs1, last Sunday’s NY Times Travel section, in a page on Lijiang, China, mentioned a restaurant that served deep-fried dragonflies:
Behind this unassuming façade [at 88 Wuyi Street] is the best restaurant in town for Naxi fare. The adventurous can try deep-fried dragonflies, which taste like especially crunchy seaweed. (Dinner, 110 renminbi for two, at 6.15 renminbi to the dollar.)
Don’t say eewh if you’ve ever eaten oysters. (Someone had said that he wouldn’t eat anything that looked like it came from a cow’s nose.) Or pickled pigs’ feet (called trotters in Jamaica), or Mountain Oysters. (I’ve had Mountain Oysters at El Corral and they were quite good, but my son, in junior high at the time, freaked.)
I often wonder what we can possibly do with those throw-away students who shall never graduate from high school. Used to be that we could give them a menial job, repetitiously bolting on the same part on an assembly line or sewing blouses in a sweat-shop, or picking fruits and vegetables. But no way will those students pick strawberries or apples. They’d do anything but the hard labor their ancestors did. The repetitious factory work is now done by robots2, and the sweat-shops are in third-world countries. Are there any other choices for a young person without even a high school diploma?
When machinery took over farming people worked in factories. When machines took over the factories people worked in service industries. Now machines are taking over their jobs. My mother had been a telephone operator in the 40’s. You’ve seen pictures of women moving cord connections. That job has evaporated.
Halfway through my time at IBM everyone was given a PC. (Previously we had terminals linked up to the main frame.) First-line managers lost their secretaries, but were given Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and so on to do their own letters, presentations, reports. (The secretaries were encouraged to study computer programming.)
I no longer teach in front of a classroom; the computer program teaches my students the lessons at their own pace. I’m there to aid the computer!
I tried to picture plumbers or A/C repairmen being replaced by machines. Or nurses, or truck drivers. Well – Jerry Brown, the governor of California, signed into law a bill that will allow driverless cars on to his state’s roads from 2015. So much for the truck drivers.
For several years, Toyota Prius hybrids that have been specially adapted by the company’s engineers have been driving the roads of California. To date, they have logged 300,000 miles with only one accident – caused by a human-controlled car that ran into one of them. And they have now logged 50,000 miles without a human having to take the wheel. 3
So I googled machines and nurses. Yup – some nurses are being phased out:
The Ontario Ministry of Health just announced a new pilot project to replace bedside nurses with robots as a cost-cutting measure. 4
One Alabama hospital is testing whether the machines could eventually be used to help alleviate the nursing shortage… “We can drive the robot to the patient’s room, and then we can communicate with the patient through the robot,” said Carolyn Williams, RN, MSN, a nurse manager at USA. “It really lifts their spirits, and they really enjoy Sam coming into their room.”
The robot’s name, Sam or Samantha depending on the driver, grew out of the acronym for South Alabama Medicine. 5
Japan, which is the current leader in robot nurse production, has several robots that address different needs in the medical community. One such robot is called RIBA, which stands for Robot for Interactive Body Assistance. RIBA can lift a person up to 135lbs from a lying or sitting position and move them to another location. RIBA has strong arms with advanced tactile sensors that prevent slipping. It is also equipped with two cameras and two microphones so it can follow cues from an operator. RIBA looks like a big teddy bear, which is meant to calm patients, but could also be unsettling to some…6
‘Baxter’ The Humanoid Robot Could Be Your Future Co-Worker8