I drew locomotives.
nineteen or so
"All bread was square in 1948."
A while back your mother asked me what “Bakelite” was. She was exclaiming over a pop song she’d found extolling “stainless-steel and Bakelite” diners manufactured in Wooster, Massachusetts. Like the one we ate in in northern Pennsylvania last fall. I told her it was the hard material they used before they devised plastics that wouldn’t melt on electric appliances. That made me wonder if you ever got the 1948 toaster glued back together. And if you’ve discovered that it can’t do bagels. All bread was square in 1948, and bagels were unknown outside New York City until the 1960’s.
I got up at 3:15 Tuesday and drove to the highway electronics convention in Detroit. Much of the Department was there. The engineering geeks are very hot for this, and you might have seen the announcement in the press that the 2016 Cadillac will have no-hands cruise control. But the change will be incremental. And there are bugs in the system: everyone who left Lansing later than I did got there late because the electronic signs weren’t working that told them the normal freeway route was closed. No one has found a way to automate the investigations by the State Police whenever someone dies in a massive wreck. The goal is for all this hardware will produce fewer wrecks by taking the driver out of the system.
I walked around Belle Isle for a couple hours. Most of the buildings are in good repair. The big fountain that is the centerpiece of the auto race had been overhauled, and almost all its lions and seashells were squirting, but with no audience. The effect was ghostly. The big boat club was utterly vacant. I watched one of my friends from the Department try to explain to a pissed-off local driver why he had to turn back, after wandering onto the road reserved for automated trucks. I got into a car with screens that displayed the raw output from the radar and lasers that “see” objects around the automated cars. Cars, people, and buildings appeared as tiny marks on the screen, cutting in and out. Programs interpret these data and label them “pedestrian” or “car.” Frequently they were correct.