September 2016

Technology Helpful, but Live, Play Smart and Safe

Pokémon GO

Ok. I admit it. I know a little about Pokémon GO.  But, I don’t know as much as my 14 year-old son Parker or some of my co-workers. My wife Debbie and I remember the Pokémon character Pikachu from our 26 year-old daughter Amanda’s younger days, but we had no idea about Pokémon GO. So, one evening we learned about this new smartphone-based augmented reality game that sends players to real world places to catch Pokémon. 

Debbie and I played Pokémon GO long enough to get an idea as to what was occurring and why it could be addicting. One of the goals of Pokémon GO is to catch at least one of every Pokémon available. Plus, the Pokédex will keep track of every Pokémon you've seen and which ones you've caught. In the end, we learned that you have to actually walk to play. The game tracks your movement using GPS, not a pedometer. So, using a treadmill, riding in a car, etc., does nothing to help catch or hatch Pokémon. A player has to walk, which is one reason I am sharing this with you. Please remind your Pokémon GO players to stay away from electric substations, power plants and other electric equipment.  Don’t climb utility poles, enter a substation or touch power lines. Pokémon turn up everywhere and electric utilities can’t control where the Pokémon appear. Let’s play, but let’s be smart and act safe.

Road Trip

As a teenager, my parents took me on two great road trips. We attended the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and in 1984 we were able to visit the Royal Gorge Bridge near Cañon City, Colorado. In both cases, I remember that we drove and we drove and we drove. I might have had a book, but not Pokémon GO or other electronic devices. In those days, we played the license plate game – a game where you see how many different license plates you can find on your trip and check them off your list. Ever since those trips, I have played the game – sometimes only mentally so as not to write and drive – and can recognize several state license plates from a distance.

Debbie, Parker and I took a road trip in late summer to North Carolina. Before we left southeast Missouri, we set an over/under of 42 states. I thought this may have been aggressive, but we roughly had five days on the road to achieve our goal. Parker wasn’t much help as there were other entertainment options compared to more than 30 years ago, but we got off to a fast start by spotting 20 different states in the first three hours. Suddenly, a horn honked. What? I looked over at Debbie and she found a free smartphone app that tracked the number of plates seen, days since last plate seen and distance to the farthest plate. In addition, each time you tapped on a new state the app would sound a horn and provide a quiz about the state. It would ask the state capitol, the state bird and the state flower. It was simple, but educational. The app made the game more interactive and fun. As the trip went along, we continued to spot different plates. It took us four more days to find another 20. Within four hours of arriving home, we finally spotted New Hampshire and Oregon to give us 42 different license plates. Whew!

As I think about the use of technology to play Pokémon GO or the license plate game, it seems technology – smartphones, tablets, watches, etc. – can help us be more efficient and be more knowledgeable. Technology helps Team SEMO provide enhanced member services, marks locations on a map, allows power to be turned on remotely and gives real-time information during crisis events. However, it requires input from real people for the technology to be powerful, helpful and engaging. There is no replacement for face-to-face interactions with friends, family and co-workers to create lifelong memories during road trips, birthday parties, family reunions and work events. Perhaps you have a few memories of your own? So, as you play Pokémon GO or use your technology be sure to look up and smile. You never know who or what you might see.


Book of the Month

“Individuals don’t win races; teams win races. The reality is, alongside every winning driver is a team of men and women who are on board, working tirelessly and pursuing excellence together. It’s the melting pot of talents and wisdom, experiences and gifts coming together that creates winning race teams.” Darrell Waltrip – The Race

Be smart. Act safe.

Sean Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative.

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