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Friday, January 16, 2015

High Tops & Hoverboards

There’s been a lot made recently of the technology in the movie Back to the Future Part II (1989), which was set—in part—in the year 2015.

courtesy Back to the Future Part II
The big news last week was that Nike plans to release self-lacing shoes like the ones Marty Jr. wears in 2015 in 2015. Pretty cool.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the sequel follows “Doc” Brown played by Christopher Lloyd and Marty McFly played by Michael J. Fox 30 years into the future and then the past, 1955, where—or is it when?—they have to clandestinely stop future Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) from giving a sports almanac bought in 2015 to his past self. Really ... it’s easier if you see the movie.  I’ll wait.

The whole point of this Back to the Future story is to tell you that I recently took a trip back in time to 1971. Regrettably, my time travel didn’t require a Mr. Fusion or even include a DeLorean sports car. All I did was open the yellowed pages of a booklet published by the Joint Maricopa County Civil Defense and Disaster Organization titled Desert Survival: Information for Anyone Traveling in the Desert Southwest.

While not nearly as cool as self-lacing high tops or hoverboards, the booklet does talk about quicksand, butchering a porcupine and preserving raw meat by burying it in the sand. It might work. I don't know. But word to the wise, fellas, stick with surf and turf or restaurant reservations for Valentine’s Day.

There’s also a recipe in here for “survival rations,” which are made with corn flakes, powdered milk, sugar, honey, water, flavored gelatin and salt. Sounds like fodder for a future blog.

In spite of its general obsolescence, the Desert Survival handbook does make some points consistent with our contemporary understanding of emergency preparedness. For example, the author talks about storing nonperishable foods that “have high energy value, long shelf life and [are] light weight” (p. 15); foods like canned fish and soups, dried fruit, juices, peanut butter, and instant coffee, tea and cocoa.

What’s the moral of this story? Maybe there isn't one. Or maybe it’s that emergency preparedness is as good an idea today as it was 44 years ago.

Other noteworthy stuff that happened in 1971:
·         On Jan. 17, the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V.
·         On Feb. 5, Apollo 14 lands on the Moon.
·         On March 28, CBS airs the final episode of The Ed Sullivan Show.
·         On June 18, Southwest Airlines offers flights between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio
·         On July 15, President Richard Nixon announces his trip to China in 1972
·         On Oct. 1, Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, Fla.

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