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.

What Parents Should Know about Social Media

Parents are not nearly as aware as they should be of the impact social media sites have on their children’s lives, according to a new study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study identified social media sites as including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, gaming sites like Club Penguin and the Sims, and video sites like YouTube and blogs. They’re extremely popular with teens and pre-teens, say researchers, who cited a poll showing 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day and more than half log on more than once a day. Further, 75 percent of teenagers own their own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% for texting, and 24% for instant messaging.

There are benefits to using social media, the researchers note, including enhanced communication with peers, social connection, the development of social skills, the opportunity to participate in homework circles, and more. But there are also problems – among these are cyberbullying, privacy issues, “sexting” and sleep deprivation associated with Internet addiction.

Parents may lack the technical knowledge to keep pace with their children’s online activities or fail to understand how important an extension of their children’s offline lives social media has become.

Online Dangers

Here are some dangers parents should be especially watchful for:

  • Cyberbullying – using digital media to communicate untrue and often embarrassing or hostile information about another person. The most common online risk for teens, cyberbullying can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and even suicide.
  • Sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages or photographs – is a growing phenomenon. One survey found that 20 percent of teens had sent or posted nude or seminude photographs or videos of themselves. Risks include legal problems and school suspension for perpetrators and emotional distress for victims.
  • ‘Facebook Depression’ – Researchers defined this new phenomenon as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend too much time on social media sites and begin to display the classic signs of depression.
  • Privacy Concerns – Preteens and teens may be unaware of the digital footprint they are creating when they post too much information about themselves. They often fail to understand that “what goes online stays online,” which could later haunt them.
  • Targeted Advertising – It’s important to understand that many online sites use behavioral ads, which operate by gathering information on the person using the site and then target that person’s profile to influence purchasing decisions.

Parents can do two basic things to address these concerns, researchers say. They can talk to their children about their online use and discuss the specific risks they may face when they use online sites. They can also work to become better educated about the many technologies their children are using so they can better monitor their children’s online behaviors.