On the road

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

My previous post was written from Flagstaff, Arizona, where Diane and I are temporarily stuck. Yesterday we had planned to drive to Zion for a week of hiking and sightseeing. South of Flagstaff the car overheated when all the antifreeze leaked out from below. Calls to insurance got a tow truck, which got us and the car to Flagstaff. Hopefully it will be fixed quickly and we will head out to Zion later today.

During this unplanned adventure I could not help wonder at how, in this case, satellites and smart phones have made life much better. In the past getting stranded on the side of the road in a remote place could mean hours of waiting. Unless the highway patrol saw you you had no way of contacting anyone. Yesterday however we immediately called our insurance’s roadside assistance, who arranged a tow truck. I then used the car GPS to local a hotel in Flagstaff near the car repair place and then used the phone to call them to make reservations. We were at the hotel, with the car in the shop, only two and a half hours after we had been forced to pull off to the side of the road. And we did this from a spot on the interstate miles from anything.

If only smart phones did not come with other baggage. Sadly they do, since no gain is ever truly one-sided. One must take the good with the bad, while trying to minimize the bad as much as possible.

Posting shall continue all week, though the timing might be different than normal.



  • Chipotle

    Having experienced something similar, I would point out that, in addition to the improved communication, having any needed part(s) FedEx’d overnight to where you are stuck is also a modern blessing.

    Good luck!

  • Max

    “If only smart Phones did not come with other baggage… ”
    Like this?
    Were Google and other companies admit they can change your preferences in settings to what they prefer. (you own the phone, but not the program settings or the software) user agreement specifies that the phones use is voluntary, any data derived from its use, or those near you, is private property of the phone manufacturer, service provider, app providers, chip manufacturer etc. (resistance is futile)
    Reminds me of a Michael Crichton book about a man with an unusually strong immune system that can cure other peoples diseases. His blood and genome was patented by a drug manufacture and he soon found out that he no longer had the rights to his own body.

  • wayne

    Good stuff.
    >1982, 13 miles outside Rhinelander, Wisconsin, a Saturday afternoon on a 3 day holiday weekend = burned out a water-pump. No cell phone, but Federal Express was able to ship a replacement arriving Monday am.

    I use a prepaid TracFone, that’s about as ‘smart’ of a phone as I need.

  • Col Beausabre

    “Standin’ on a corner in Flagstaff, Arizona, such a sight to see
    Lookin’ for a ride up to Zion, it’s our own Diane and Bob Zee”

    I know, I know – don’t quit my day job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *