High Desert Hoofbeats
Planning by app…

My smart phone is making me dumb. While it can help me with day-to-day planning, it too often leads me astray. The little device, like so many other modern conveniences, has a way of importing alternative facts into my brain whilst my gut instincts fade away. I blame the apps.

How about that for a word, “app”? I remember just a few years ago asking someone what an app was, and now it’s common jive. New apps are developed all the time to help us get by, applying all sorts of aids to our lives. This week I’m frustrated by my weather app. The weekend didn’t unfold quite how the weather program on my phone told me it would, and all my plans went haywire. Had I simply watched the evening news on television, or looked at a Doppler radar picture, or simply cast an eye to the west, I might have been better prepared to know when the rain was coming and when the sun would shine.

My phone had been telling me for a week that we’d have storms on Saturday and Sunday, but that the rain would be petering off by Sunday afternoon. So I girded myself for the worst and didn’t plan to garden, hike or ride on Saturday. When that day dawned and the skies were just overcast, I felt like I’d received a gift of free time outdoors. I felt sort of liberated, having expected to be shut away. But then the weather wasn’t so bad after all.

My second surprise was Sunday when I continued to think that the weather forecast on my phone would be true to its predictions. I mentally banked on a stormy morning but figured I’d be able to get outside by the afternoon. Wrong. The morning was a little drizzly but I was able to feed horses, muck pens and take a jog without needing a snorkel. Glancing at the weather app on my phone, it continued to guarantee a cessation of rain by 3 p.m. But wave after wave of precipitation washed over my Sunday afternoon plans, leaving me grouchy and irritated about what my phone had told me would occur, juxtaposed with all the things I wanted to do that could not happen.

I look at the sky a lot. I notice when sun dogs appear, and when little cotton-ball clouds scud from west to east. Mare’s tail clouds, like the cotton balls, often foretell a storm, but not very precisely. Still, who looks at clouds anymore to plan what they’re going to do day after tomorrow? We look at our weather app for that.

In the desert it’s sacrilege to decry rain. We take every drop we can get, though sometimes we grumble inwardly about inclement weather. After all, we are accustomed to having sunshine on our shoulders, and having sunshine stream into our windows, and even having it stream into most of our Saturdays and Sundays. That is unless our smart phones tell us it won’t. The gospel according to our apps can’t always be trusted.

As we “progress” as human beings, we’re definitely becoming more reliant on outside sources instead of what our guts say. Socially, we can get our beauty parlor news updates every minute of the day via Facebook instead of every six weeks at the hair dresser, which in some ways elevates the gossipy, snarky elements of our natures. We can enjoy games like chess and Yahtzee without even having to find friends to play with. Music apps can suggest what tunes to play, and eliminate the need to ever visit a record store again. (I know, we don’t have record stores anymore.) Health apps tell me what foods to eat, while also chirping how much and how long I should exercise. Sometimes the only thing I need to think about is how to use my smart phone, which can tell me in oh so many ways how the world is turning.

Back to the weather. My phone is calling for snow on Thursday and a low of 26 degrees, but for sunshine on the day prior and day after. I think I’ll plan to work on taxes that day, and if the forecast doesn’t come to fruition I’ll have an excuse to delay my bookworm for a while longer. Sounds like a smart plan!

ByBy Sena Taylor Hauer