I am currently writing this on a laptop computer, when I finish I'll email this word document literally all the way across the country without leaving my couch, where I sit watching "Bugsy" on a streaming Netflix feed using a wireless modem to watch the flick through my PlayStation3. My cell phone is on my coffee table.
If I want to check the weather forecast for upstate New York, I can find that information out in a couple of minutes. I can watch home video footage shot in Seattle, shop for truffles picked in northern Italy, and gamble illegally. Despite all this technology though, what I can't do is fly wherever I please, because no matter how advanced the human race becomes, we are all still subject to the whims of Mother Nature.
The travel fiascos of the past week probably demonstrate more forcibly than natural disasters just how vulnerable we are to the natural world than any other weather event possibly could. It's relatively easy to downplay how powerful an F5 tornado is, because such an incident only affects a very small portion of the country. Even hurricanes and earthquakes, floods, and fires are simple to dismiss unless they happen to you, or near you, or to someone you know.
As much as wildfires might worry people in California, I don't give them much thought because they are pretty rare in Florida. I'm sure the same is true the other way around; I'd be surprised to meet someone who's from and still lives in California who could tell me when hurricane season stops and starts.
But toss a snowstorm grenade into holiday travel plans, and everyone in all four corners of the country gets involved. It might not be snowing in Tampa, but I know people who had flights cancelled here because they couldn't get into Atlanta and points beyond. You probably know someone with a similar story, except they couldn't get into New York, or out of it, or Washington D.C., etc., etc.
Despite the prevalence of technology, which we are becoming increasingly reliant on (how many kids graduate from high school even knowing how to actually look something up in a real encyclopedia?), it is somewhat refreshing to know that no matter how far advanced we become as a race, we are still subservient to something as innocuous and beautiful as snow. Sometimes getting reminded of your place on this planet is as nice of a Christmas present as an iPad.