Two stories are catching my attention this morning. The first is the report that Americans spent 2 billion dollars on line yesterday on Cyber Monday, and the admission by the engineer on the New York State Amtrak train that he was asleep when the train entered a sharp curve at 82 miles per hour in a 30 MPH zone.

The Cyber sales at 2 billion dollars which is 30% of the total expected sales for the holiday season this year should be sending a strong message to retailers that there is a major shift going on with the consumer. I liken it to the shift in the late 50’s and early 60’s when shopping centers started to appear in cities drawing shoppers out of downtown. It took a long time but was decisive and turned downtown into entertainment centers rather than shopping centers, and stays that way today. Now the shift is moving to iPhones, iPads and computers with delivery at home or pick up at stores. When the numbers on the fourth day of a four day shopping spree hits 30% of the season expectation, it tells me that shopping point of sale is electronic. The WHY?….. is probably traffic, parking, rudeness, clerks that are unaware or inexperienced, and general craziness shopping in a mob environment. We may be seeing a tipping point here which could change shopping habits for many years in the future.

The train accident in New York State, North of New York City last weekend has now been blamed on the engineer falling asleep at the controls allowing the train to seed up to 50 miles above the limit as it entered into a curve demanding the train be slowed to 30 MPH. These trains used to have a switch on the engineer’s chair that had to be depressed every few seconds or the train would slow to a stop. Where was the button on Sunday? There were stories when these buttons were originally required that engineers would purposely defeat them because of the requirement to be attentive to the switch which was annoying. This was, I believe, a requirement when they got rid of firemen in the cab as a cost cutting measure some years ago. Sleep at the wheel is a major problem. We have seen disaster after disaster with Bus, Car, and truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel and their speeding vehicles go out of control and crash killing passengers and others. Lets not forget the sleeping pilots that flew several hundred miles past the destination airport a couple of years ago. Caltrans recognized the problem several years ago and allows truckers to pull over anywhere and sleep without penalty. It will be interesting to hear the political take on this accident. Also the question should also be answered why these high speed engines are not equipped with electronics that would sense speed zones and automatically trigger a slowdown on these trains. They are fully electronic controlled in the cab and extending it to the rails and ground should only be a matter of time and money. If we can hit the moon with an electronic driven space ship, land an Airbus with 300 on board on a 100 foot runway, or a fighter jet on a bobbing aircraft carrier in the Pacific, I would guess we could slow down an electric train on rails without a lot of development. This automation of trains can be demonstrated just down the road at Roseville. They move switch engines assembling long freight trains all day long with no engineer on board. Lets take the technology forward to save lives.

Have a great day, be kind to yourself and be happy!

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