Tag Archives: cell phones

Phone books? Pfftt! Who needs ’em?

You’re going to accuse me of being way too slow on the uptake.

I don’t care. I am going to make this declaration anyway. You are welcome to disparage me if you so desire. I’m tough. I can take it.

I have finally come to grips with the fact that I no longer need a telephone directory to find a phone number I need to call.

Yep. Just like the rest of you I am packing my “directory” on my hip. It’s clipped to my belt in the same device I use to scroll the wire services, check my daily page-view stats on High Plains Blogger and, oh, make a phone call when I need to talk to someone.

That ol’ smart phone serves the same purpose the phone book used to serve. I just Google the subject, the nature of the business and I can find it quickly. I hit the “call” button on my screen and, well, there you go.

OK, you can stop laughing at me.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I declared victory in my campaign to be the last man on Earth to own a cellular telephone. It was my mission. I was dedicated to seeing it through.

Finally, I just thought I’d declare victory. I made it! Then I got a flip-phone that worked for good while. I graduated to something a bit more, um, sophisticated. Then I upgraded to the phone I have now.

It’s a slick device.

One of the many discoveries I made about it was the using it to locate a phone number is far less cumbersome, frustrating and annoying than using a printed phone book.

You know why, but I’ll explain it briefly anyhow.

In the not-too-distant old days, I would find that the person whose number I was seeking in the phone book wasn’t listed; he or she had cut off the land line and the cell number wasn’t in the book. If I needed to look in the Yellow Pages for a business phone number, I often would get frustrated slogging through the various topics trying to find the business.

My wife and I severed our land line when we moved into our RV in October 2017 while we prepared to sell our Amarillo house. That event proved to be far less traumatic than I had anticipated.

I wrote about this notion three years ago:

Get rid of the land line? Not just yet

As my comfort level with my smart phone has grown, I have discovered — finally! — that phone books no longer serve a useful purpose.

Are you proud of me?

Trying to understand non-helmet law in Texas

INTERSTATE 35 NORTH OF AUSTIN, Texas — Normally, the sight of four women on motorcycles speeding past us in heavy traffic wouldn’t be worth a comment on this blog.

But I noticed something about these individuals when they zoomed on past: All of them were wearing helmets.

That elicited a comment to my wife and we drove along in our Prius. “You know, it seems that women motorcyclists appear to be far more likely to wear those helmets than men,” I said. It didn’t draw much of a response from my wife.

Hey, maybe it isn’t worth much of any comment.

However, it does bring to mind a couple of thoughts I want to share.

One is that women motorcyclists — and this is just an anecdotal observation on my part — are much smarter than men when it comes to motor vehicle safety. I’ll have to check some traffic studies to validate that observation. Or, perhaps I’ll just let it stand on its own.

The second thought is that I don’t know why the Texas Legislature decided in 1995 to repeal the motorcycle helmet requirement in the first place.

Legislators did that also while increasing the speed limit on Texas highways from 55 to 70 mph, a move made possible when Congress that year removed the federal mandate, giving states the option of setting their own speed limits. Texas legislators and the governor at the time, George W. Bush, jumped all over it.

I’ve seen the studies about how helmets save lives. They help prevent traumatic head wounds. Yet the state said motorcyclists 21 years of age and older need not wear them. The state would require a $10,000 insurance policy, instead. Do you know how quickly a serious injury would gobble up that amount of money? Just … like … that!

The state requires everyone in automobiles to wear seat restraints. It tells us to fasten our young children into approved safety-seat. Just this past year, the Legislature banned the use of hand held telephones and texting devices while operating a motor vehicle.

Good for them. On all counts.

Motorcyclists, though, are given the freedom to expose themselves to grievous injury or death.

I don’t get it. Nor will I ever understand that bit of so-called “logic.”

Cell phones in prison? Really?

LAKE ARROWHEAD STATE PARK, Texas — I know I am missing something, but I have to offer this rant nevertheless.

My wife and I are parked overnight in this state park. While relaxing in our RV, I heard a news report about a prison riot in South Carolina. Seven inmates died in the stab fest.

Officials blame “illegal cell phones” for the riot that became a battle over territory inside the maximum-security lockup.

Illegal cell phones? What does that mean? Oh, I guess it means the inmates acquired them through mail that had been sent to them from The Outside.

Let me think about this. If I were King of the World, here’s what I would do:

I would confiscate every piece of electronic equipment inside the prison.

I would start by ordering prison security officers to enter every cell in the lockup, strip-search every inmate, tear their bedding apart if need be and look for these cell phones.

Then I would set up a sort of “extreme screening” of every piece of mail that comes into the prison. Every package would get opened and examined for contraband. Cell phones constitute “contraband.”

These individuals broke serious state laws in South Carolina. They sacrificed most of their rights. Sure, they deserve some rights as citizens. They do not deserve to be subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment.” The deserve to live in quarters that allow them a modicum of space; Texas prisons were put under a federal court control over that issue, if you’ll recall.

Living in a cell-phone-free zone, though, doesn’t qualify as “cruel” or “unusual” in this context.

There you have it. Rant is over.

New state anti-texting law: no apparent deterrent

A friend posed a question on social media that needs an answer and a brief rant from yours truly. She asked whether anyone else “looks in their rear view mirror” when they are stopped to see if the person behind them is texting while driving a motor vehicle.

I answered “yes,” although I should have been a good bit more emphatic about it.

Texas legislators in 2017 finally approved a statewide ban on the use of hand held communications devices while driving motor vehicles. Amarillo already had an ordinance on the books, along with several other cities throughout the state.

To their credit, our local lawmakers backed the ban. It went to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk and he signed it, reversing the position taken by his immediate predecessor, Rick Perry, who vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2011; Gov. Perry offered one of the most idiotic reasons ever recorded for his veto, calling it a form of “government intrusion.”

So, then, are laws against speeding and drunk driving … if you follow Perry’s nonsensical “rationale.” Texting while driving is every bit as dangerous as swilling alcohol or speeding.

My rant follows this track. Since the enactment of the law, I do not sense a serious decline in the incidents of texting while driving. I see motorists constantly doing that very form of dual-tasking.

I curse them, often out loud and in a bellicose voice.

I haven’t traveled out of state in a while, so I cannot confirm this, but the last time my wife and I went beyond the state line I didn’t see any signage on the return trip advising motorists that texting while driving — or using hand held cell phones while driving — was against state law.

Not that such a warning necessarily will deter motorists from breaking the law, but … you get my drift.

There. Rant over.

I’ll now refer to a bumper sticker that once adorned a car we used to own — but which was destroyed in 2012 by a driver who rear-ended my wife while she well might have been texting while driving. The cops never revealed it to us.

Get off the phone and drive!

Now, let’s target ‘distracted walking’

It is generally accepted that “texting while driving” is dangerous and is an inherently stupid activity. The reasons are obvious and no explanation is needed from me.

I’ve loathed the sight of drivers conversing on their cell phones, let alone operating texting devices while driving a 4,000-pound missile in heavy traffic.

There. We’ve re-established that, yes?

How about texting while walking?

You’ve seen it, too, I’m sure. People walking through shopping malls while distracted. Their eyes are fixed on that device in their hand. They are sending messages via those devices. They run into other mall shoppers. They slam into doors. They knock displays over at kiosks.

Oh, they just giggle and pick up after themselves. It’s all good.

Actually, it isn’t.

Some communities now are levying fines for those who are caught “texting while walking” across the street. The fines aren’t steep, but they are punishing those who commit these idiotic acts.

I know that “texting while walking” isn’t as egregious as when the activity involves driving a motor vehicle. The only person endangered is the person who refuses to look where he or she is going.

I am not going to hold my breath waiting for Texas communities to follow the lead of other American cities and towns. It took several sessions of the Texas Legislature to enact a statewide ban on texting while driving; the 2017 Legislature finally acted and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law. Good for lawmakers and good for the governor.

However, if tragedy should strike and someone is seriously hurt — or worse — because he or she is texting while walking through traffic … then we’re talking about a potential game-changer.

Believe it! Texting becomes second nature!

I never in a zillion years thought I would write these next few words.

Texting has become a convenient and efficient mode of communication for, um, yours truly.

Oh … the humanity!

I continue to italicize the t-word when I use it on this blog as a verb. Why? Because I want to emphasize the way I verbalize it. I have to add a tone of derision whenever I express the term in the verb form.

Here’s the thing, though: I am finding it to be a useful form of communication.

I need to stipulate something in no uncertain terms. I do not “converse” via my cellular telephone, which has the texting app built into it. My exclusive use of this method of communication is to deliver information. Such as: “See you soon.” Or: “Got it.” Or: “I’ll call.”

I try to remain faithful to my six-word maximum limit on text messages. I have to break it on occasion, but if I do it’s only by just a little. Maybe three or four words. No more!

However, my entry into the 21st-century world of telecommunications has moved along quite nicely.

I am not yet totally comfortable texting messages when I would prefer just to call someone on the phone.

And make no mistake: I’ll continue to add that derisive tone in my voice when I refer to this communication method in its verb form. Please don’t lecture me about the tone in my voice. I’m old. and thus, I am entitled to use whatever inflection I feel like using.

Happy Trails, Part 59

I want to declare myself officially to be a 21st-century American male.

Why now? Why the declaration?

It’s been more than one month since my wife and I pulled the plug on our land line. We did so prior to setting out in our RV for points west. We ended up in Portland, Ore., where I attended my 50-year high school reunion; then we hauled our RV back home.

But the absence of the land line has been a blessing, it seems to me. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss giving it out when folks ask me for a contact number. I just give ’em my cell number, as if it’s second nature. Even that signals a victory of sorts, given that I once declared my intention to be the last man on Earth to own a cell phone. I finally declared victory and purchased one.

How about that? Are you impressed? If not, you should be. I am.

Our house is now vacant. We’re ensconced full time in our RV. We’re preparing to put the house on the market. Then we’ll hope for the best.

Thus, a land line no longer is an option for us — even if we wanted one.

Friends and family members who long ago ditched their land lines have told us how easy it is to make that transition. I didn’t disbelieve them. However, one month into the transition ourselves, I am finding the ease of it so very believable.

Happy Trails, Part 53

I’ve told you already about how adaptable I am, how it has surprised me over many years.

Never did I imagine moving from my home state of Oregon to Texas. But we did in 1984. I adapted to a new life.

Then we moved from the Golden Triangle — an area known for swamps, bugs, gators and stifling humidity — for the High Plains, which has virtually none of what I’ve just described. I adapted to that, too.

Now I am proud to declare my adaptability stretches to the cutting of the land line that tethered me for my entire life.

My wife and I made that decision just before we shoved off in our pickup and our fifth wheel RV for Oregon. We severed the land line. We rely these days exclusively on our cell phones. She has her number; I have mine.

When I get asked for a “contact number,” I now respond without thinking with my cell phone number.

I mention this only because we’re moving farther into this retirement phase of our life. The cell phones give us mobility. Yes, they only are symbols of our mobility, but that symbolism does translate to the real thing.

Being someone in my late 60s, I suppose I can be accused of being rather somewhat “stuck in my ways.” Time has taught me over the years that change is inevitable. I can react one of two ways: to embrace it or run from it.

I have chosen the former.

This cell phone reliance has demonstrated — I believe — that I am finally a 21st-century human being.

I have learned to adapt. Now I await the challenges of the next chapter of our life.

Bring it!

Happy Trails, Part 48

Not quite four years ago I wrote a blog post worrying about the potential advent of in-flight cell phone use.

As far as I know, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t allowed passengers to gab out loud at 35,000 feet into their cell phones.

Which brings me to this point: My wife and I are planning to spend the vast bulk of our retirement years tethered to terra firma traveling in our RV across North America.

Air travel has become difficult enough as it is. We have been fortunate and blessed enough to be able to travel by air over the years since 9/11: Greece, Scandinavia, Israel, Germany, The Netherlands, Belize, Hawaii.

Almost all of those flights have been pleasant. The one that will stand out for the rest of my life was the flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport while sitting across an aisle from a toddler who screamed at the top of his lungs for 10 whole hours.

I cannot fathom for a single instant how I might have reacted had I been forced to listen to some yahoo blabbing on his cell phone for that entire time, too.

I trust the FAA will keep its wits and never in a zillion years allow such in-flight idiocy to occur.

I do know that my wife and I plan to continue our travel aboard our pickup and fifth wheel RV. There will be no such nonsense to endure while tooling along our nation’s highways and byways.

Please, please, FAA: no cellphones in flight

 

The plug is pulled; goodbye, land line

It is done. My wife and I have taken a huge step deeper into the 21st century.

Our land line is all but disabled. I removed the modem that powers the land line and will return it to our service provider Friday, along with the cable TV boxes.

But this land line termination is a big deal for my wife and me.

It’s all we’ve known for our entire lives. Speaking only for myself, a telephone hooked up to an outlet that comes from the wall has been a sort of life preserver. It’s kept me grounded. It has reminded me that I have this way to communicate immediately with whomever.

That era has passed. A new era has begun. We now rely solely on our cellular telephones to talk to folks. Oh, and we have the Internet. Social media communications devices are at our disposal, too. However, I am not going to use “text messaging” as a conversational tool.

This land line termination hasn’t quite hit me the way I expected it to do.

I once declared my intention to be the last person on Earth to own a cell phone. I declared victory some years ago and purchased one. I’ve become much more comfortable with the device on my person as I go through each day of my life. I don’t break into a cold sweat, though if I leave it at home while I go about my usual errand-running.

Retirement has brought a new way of living each day for my wife and me. I’ve gotten used to waking up each morning when I damn well feel like it. I have grown quite accustomed to not reporting for work every morning. I am quite comfortable shopping for groceries in, say, 10 a.m. on a Wednesday.

Our grand relocation strategy, moreover, is beginning to take some form. The to-do list of things we need to finish at our current home is shrinking. We’re better able now to identify the tasks that remain ahead of us.

One of them has just passed. We have pulled the plug on our land line. I am feeling strangely free. I’m no longer tethered to a telephone.

I’m still processing it all. Is there any sign of initial anxiety?

Nope. None.

***

I wrote about this event four years ago. I was full of angst and anxiety then. It seems to have gone away … mostly. However, it’s still a big deal.

Why is the land line so hard to cut?