One thing about cycling is you have time to reflect on the surrounding environment and current events. During the ride yesterday, my group came upon a train crossing the road we were traveling. It appeared to be long train, maybe 50 cars. At first, I was seeing stacks of vehicle frames going by, probably making their way to the Ford plant. Cars filing by then were loaded with containers that appeared to have come off of ships. I read about the large trade deficit with other countries and this brings the realization home. If you go to Wal-Mart and start looking at where things are made, it becomes very obvious that the United States is importing a huge amount of manufactured goods. All those shipping containers I saw just gave me another solid item to attach that deficit number to.
Another thing that I realized on the ride was our mortality and the how older people reflect back. The young tend see what is coming up and where they can go. Older generations reflect back on what was and who is gone. Older riders in the group reflected on where they had grown up as we passed houses in their old neighborhoods. One woman told me her grandfather had lived in a spot now rebuilt with brick townhouses. I would hear stories from the ride group like "this is the house I earned money in high school cleaning" or "there is the church I attended as a youth".
Last, our society has made high technology disposable. When I started using computers decades ago, equipment was somewhat rare and very expensive. So you valued the electronics and hobbled together things to make computers do some limited tasks. Today, all this is very common place and computers are orders of magnitude more powerful. As I was riding, I came cross a pile of discarded items on the side of street. I counted 3 monitors that were either 17" or 19" in size waiting to be hauled off. It is amazing that technology has permeated through our society where once expensive devices are not even attempted to be fixed but just thrown in garage heaps.