Monday, August 26, 2013

Stick Shift

Someone posted to my FB wall a picture of a car with a gear shift, on the steering wheel. Times, like gears, have changed. I learned to drive on the proverbial "stick shift." Actually I am told that many people, who have trouble learning to drive with automatics, do better on a stick shift. The idea being, if all else fails, you just let go of everything and the car stalls!!

There is a lot to be said for progress, but there is also a lot to be said for knowing the basics.  I will never know the basics of the internet or computers, because, although I grew up with DOS and Edlin, I did not grow up with Binary and Fortran. My brother-in-law worked in computers in the early '60s and in fact culminated his career by assisting the Vatican in putting their library on-line. He grew up with the early computer languages and has problems with those who program in secondary languages without knowing the primary ones.


But I digress, I have posted a few blogs lately about diminishing values. The watering down of what was and the acceptance of what will be, if we don't fight against this erosion. I am not a great reactionary and I know that progress means giving up somethings in favour of others. However, we must be vigilant in determining, what we are losing, in exchange for seeming progress.

Enter the "stick shift." Certainly for some the automatic transmission is not only a convenience, but also, a solution, especially for those who have trouble coordinating foot, clutch, gear and brain to get from A to B. The problem, though, is that there is a great danger in accepting the "automatic shift" solution to everything that permeates our daily lives.

Some company makes it easy to do "something" and we say "Oh wow" this is great, without ever asking what have we lost. There is progress and then there is blind acceptance. By all means drive an automatic, just make sure that you know, who is in control!!

The picture? The microwave, when it was first introduced, seemed like an amazing convenience. Now some consider it a health hazard.

Have an easy day!!


  1. "He grew up with the early computer languages and has problems with those who program in secondary languages without knowing the primary one." - I agree, and then again I don't. The computer language structure is a ladder of levels rather than a simple "human text goes to binary" structure. Next time he talks about this, ask him how many times in his programming career he enters the "shift" command. I had a class where we had to program not in binary, but in the underlying, true primary language. I only had to do it once, and that made me so very helpful that the simple routines have been incorporated into the commands of Basic and, later, the clicks and drags of visual languages.

    All that said, I agree wholeheartedly with your premise. I think there is a trade-off in everything we do.

  2. I completely agree with you! Things are too easy for this generation. My oldest is 14 and a half and he already knows he's learning on a stick shift, my 1969 VW Kharmangia. In addition, he also knows he will have to work to save money to buy his first car, cause we're not buying vehicles for any of our kids.

  3. I agree with you, we should be vigilant about what we are losing! My dad owns a vintage car that ruson any fuel, leaded or unleaded. I bought a modern car that could not move forward or bac for 2 days because they downloaded its operating system off the net and the server crashed...

  4. To the other Stephan King, what did you learn when you coded using ASCI? I know a man who had to keep up with languages because he was professor and had to.

    Carol, I grew up learning on an automatic and changed to a shift when I had to. I hated being stopped on a hill. I don't know how many times I stalled out. My automatic knows better. It neither rolls back when I'm stopped and it doesn't shut down the engine when I try to go.

    However, I do have a touch of nostalgia for the old days. Things were simpler. People were nicer. Even in big cities, there wasn't the feeling of having to rush to get somewhere.

    Would I go back? No, I make my living using my computer and two screens. We eat all our meals cooked in the microwave. I have landline cordless phones throughout the house.

    There has never been a way to go back that wasn't catastrophic. For kids now is going to be their nostalgia when they are our age.

  5. OK, I am sure you meant well, but consider the full extent of that statement, Carol.
    Do you want to guy the steer, so you can cook the meat?
    Do you want to churn your own butter?
    Do you want to handcrank your car so it starts?

    No, we need to understand the basics and the theory that underlies what we do. Then, we can fully appreciate the actions we employ.

  6. Interesting post.

    I also believe it is important knowing how to do what some may consider out of date. Driving a stick shift should be a basic survival skill. You never know when you might run across a manual transmission car and have to drive it. Same thing with GPS'. Many people have lost or never had the ability to read a map. You never know when yours may just decide not to work anymore.

  7. Interesting job your brother had. What a contrast of technology and history. Cool. I hate stick shifts. I marvel at the people who juggle a stick shift, cigarette and a cup of coffee. While on the phone too!

  8. I have never driven anything other than a stick shift and have never owned an automatic. The few occasions I have had to drive an automatic (mainly in the States) it freaked me out the way that it just took off as soon as I took my foot off the brake. No thank you, never again :)

  9. I learned to drive on a stick shift and have been driving an automatic for many years since. My husband bought a stick shift and I'm afraid that I will forget it's a stick shift if I drive it, so I avoid having to take that wheel. I think there are many things lost with progress, but also many things gained. There is always a compromise of sorts, I guess.

  10. Ah, progress...I am always amazed with all the new technologies, equipment, etc...that said, what about human progress? Have we really changed? I don't think so: we even read philosophers who wrote essays 3000 years ago.