Biking or walking around Portland seems to be the preferred means of transportation. My boyfriend and I have parked the truck and are trying not to use it if possible. It results in physical exercise, as well as better personal finances. :) In fact, when I drive the truck around now I realize how artificial and out of touch motorized transportation is to the soil, the plants, the people, and the earth in general.
It reminds me of how cars were viewed in one of my favorite books, Howard's End, by E.M. Forster. In this book, that takes place in the early 1900's, an old wealthy family meets a new wealthy family and is slightly put off by their love of all things modern. The newly rich family are considered to be "just a wall of newspapers and motorcars and golf clubs" behind which lies nothing but "panic and emptiness."
Now that is an interesting thought. I am going to focus on how technology (represented by motorcars in the book) has led to "panic." How much has modern technology actually enhanced our life with true, not fake or superficial, interactions with our fellow man? Has modern technology actually made our lives easier or does it mean that people just expect more of us? For example, take the teacher. In the past, he/she had to figure grades once a quarter or so. Now they are in a "panic" to figure the grades weekly using a computer program and download them to the office at least on a weekly basis. It is expected that teachers run around in a "panic" sending letters home to the parents and responding to their e-mail on a regular basis. Some schools have it set up where the teacher has to post their assignments daily on a website where the parents can access them every night. Does this make for more effective teaching? Are the students learning more from this extra effort by the teacher in a hurried "panic?" Honestly, I do think that modern technology has helped many parents and teachers keep students on track, but in the process it may sometimes be robbing the students of learning personal responsibility.
Also, consider the incredible "panic" everyone is in to stay on top of the current programs and trends in technology. We are rushing around trying to master the new items before they become obsolete and replaced by even newer and more advanced technology.
Having said all of this I have to admit that I like my technology. I am becoming addicted to my new Blackberry, and Twitter www.twitter.com is definitely a friend of mine. I love my Ipod and feel absolutely isolated without the Internet for e-mail, information, directions. Yep, I am definitely hooked into the technology machine. I am being assimilated, like the Borg in Star Trek. In fact, I often think of the Borg when I see someone with one of those blue tooth ear pieces. It becomes an attachment to their body. I can see it now, slowly that piece of machinery will make it into informal pictures, then family pictures, and finally wedding pictures. "Resistence is futile."
So, maybe riding our bikes and walking to places is Portland's way of detaching from technology for a brief time and having a real interaction with the environment which surrounds us. Nature is so incredible and so accessible. We have to stop looking out the window at it from our heated office, close our laptops, turn off our radios, and actually walk out and experience the real that is nature. Ok, closing laptop now.