Road Construction: A Video Classic

By: Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

When my sons were young, they couldn’t get enough of the now-classic video called “Road Construction.” The award-winning 1991 video by Fred Levine features 30 minutes of non-stop road-building action – from site surveys to demolition to the first car traveling down a finished highway.

This was the “state-of-the-art” addictive technology back in the early 1990s. My sons spent hours glued to watching this VHS and were most thrilled to see the construction video played backwards in rewind mode — something that has been lost in today’s ‘advanced’ digital technology age.



Road Construction: Learning to Savor Life

By Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

Leo, the building inspector for my village, knows a thing or two about Unplugging and Reconnecting. An Italian immigrant, he grew up in the Italian wine country, where he experienced a simpler way of life.

I met Leo during a road repaving project on my block. When I told him about how the road construction project was forcing neighbors to live a simpler life, albeit only briefly, he immediately appreciated how the benefits might possibly outweigh the inconveniences of having our street inaccessible for a few days.

Leo believes that, like water that flows from the freshest of mountain springs, we’re born to simplicity. The further water flows from its source, the more polluted it becomes. The same is true of our lives, he says. How we choose to maintain the simplicity to which we’re born is up to us.

As might be expected, food – especially savoring a good meal – is very important to Leo and his family. That’s why meal time is Unplug and Reconnect time in Leo’s house.

“We don’t use any technology while we’re eating,” he says. This rule also applies to Leo’s six grandchildren who, he admits, are as attached to their technological gadgets as any of their generation. “We hold onto the old ways at meal times. That’s when we discuss family matters.

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!

Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.

Once, Leo and his wife were dining out in a restaurant and noticed a couple at the next table. They were “parallel texting” on their cell phones, Leo said. “My wife pointed out to me, ‘I don’t think they’re enjoying the food – their minds are set on whatever they’re texting.’ ”

It’s true. In order to truly enjoy food – to savor a meal or a good wine – one must devote a certain degree of attention and focus on the task. The same could be said about the way we choose to live our lives.

TOMORROW — Dr. Geliebter remembers “Road Construction,” a video classic.



Road Construction: Fighting the Tar Trucks

By: Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

I think the women who led a protest movement on my street during the 1930s were quite prescient.

It was about 80 years ago that my block – currently in the process of being repaved – was initially paved and converted from a dirt road. The ladies living here at the time weren’t having any of it. Armed with their voices and the baby strollers that they pushed, these women formed a human roadblock to prevent heavy duty trucks from rolling smooth tar over the hard-packed dirt that once formed my street.

This past summer, as my street was being repaved, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to those women protesters. Eighty years ago, they wanted to protect their beautiful yellow dirt road, where horse-drawn carriages once delivered milk. They wanted to preserve a way of life.

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!

Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.


These many decades later, we were reminded of that simpler time, if only briefly, when the street-repaving project rendered our block inaccessible by car. For just a few days, we experienced life as it must have been in the 1930s. We walked to and from errands instead of hopping in and out of our cars. We saw more of each other and actually stopped to chat awhile. The pace of our lives slowed down, if only briefly.

The women protesters of that other era faced more than just a few tar trucks, of course; they were railing against the forces of a new industrial age – and they were outmatched. But if their futile protest movement sent us any message, it’s this: while progress must go forward – we must make the most of it, but we need to remember to slow down our lives and strive for the ideals of simpler times.

TOMORROW – Dr. Geliebter discusses unplugging with Leo, the building inspector.


Road Construction: Life in the Slow Lane


By: Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

When my village announced plans to repave my block last summer, many of my neighbors worried about the noise, the dust, and the inconvenience of not being able to park their cars on the street for several days.

But then a funny thing happened. We found ourselves getting out more as we walked to and from errands. In addition to getting exercise, we came into contact with each other more frequently. In fact, I saw one neighbor who had moved in two years ago more in the two days that work crews were paving my street than in the previous two years combined.

Surprisingly, some of my neighbors found that they didn’t mind the inconvenience quite as much as they anticipated. “I like life in the slow lane,” said one, a woman who found that she actually enjoyed walking to and from errands with her children.

“It slows me down,” she said. “When I walk with my kids, we actually talk. We’re not just running into the car on our way to and from the grocery store.”

Having the street repaved last summer proved to be a boon to the neighborhood. Like a block party, it brought everyone out of their houses from hibernation and encouraged them to socialize with each other in ways they

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!


Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.


had forgotten. People moved about, carrying packages and running errands — and some actually talked to each other for the first time in years.

The road construction project reminded us that the Unplug and Reconnect concept is very appropriate to our age. It taught us that we need to pause from the constant hustle and bustle and and take a break from a world in which we don’t have time for each other anymore.

Perhaps we all could use the “inconvenience” of a road construction project to get in touch with what’s really important in life.


TOMORROW – Dr. Geliebter describes an early “unplug” protest movement.

Lure of Online Media Hard to Resist

Our addiction to Facebook, Twitter and email – and work – may be harder to resist than a dependence on alcohol or cigarettes, according to a research study published in February in the journal Psychological Science.

In an attempt to measure the willpower to resist desire, the study by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business looked at the behavior of 205 adults aged 18-85, who wore devices that recorded a total of 7,827 reports about their daily desires.

After the desire for sleep and sex, study participants were more likely to give in to the desires to use online media and to work, dual desires that supplanted even the urge for cigarettes and alcohol, the study found.

The results suggest “pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations,” Wilhelm Hofmann, who led the research, told The Guardian newspaper.

“Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” Hofmann said. “With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may steal ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”

The study involved signaling participants seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days. The recipients were to message back whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes. They also clarified the type of desire, the strength of it (up to irresistible), whether the desire conflicted with other desires, and whether they resisted or gave into it.

In total, the study recorded 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes,” reported The Guardian.