Tag Archives: cell phones

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?

Happy Trails, Part 44

A big moment is approaching rather rapidly for my wife and me as we progress farther into our retirement journey.

We’re getting close to pulling the plug on our landline, our home telephone.

Is this a big deal? It is! For me.

You see, I once declared my mission in life was to be the last man on Earth to own a cellular telephone. I resisted purchasing one for as long as I could.

Then I declared victory and purchased a cell phone. I haven’t been without it ever since. My wife has one, too. We have different phone numbers.

But we’ve kept our landline, or as we used to call it in the Army, our “Lima Lima.” 

We’re preparing to move eventually to the Metroplex. We still have some work to do before that day arrives, but the to-do list is shrinking.

When we vacate our house, hopefully soon, we’ll notify our telephone provider that we no longer will need the number. We’re going to rely exclusively on our cell phones.

I am well aware that for many folks and readers of this blog, that is no big deal. Our sons are landline-free. Many other younger members of our family are, too. We have friends who are roughly our age who’ve made the leap. They’re happy with it.

I reckon I’ll be just fine, too, when that day arrives. But still …

I grew up with landlines. They’ve been an integral part of my life. I actually can remember every single phone number I’ve ever had dating back to the house where I lived beginning in 1953. I know. It’s  a sickness that needs a cure.

The advantages of cell phone use are well known. You take the number with you wherever you go. We intend to be on the road a good deal in the years ahead. I’ve mentioned already about intention to visit as much of North America as we can before we’re no longer able to do so.

However, we cannot be without our phones. Thus, the cell phone becomes our singular mode of communication.

Sigh. Wish me luck, please, as we prepare for this big step. I’ve noted to friends and family that everyone should have one big challenge awaiting them before they check out. Ours is coming up quickly. It involves pulling the plug on our landline.

I’ll keep you posted.

Still looking for cell phone ban sign at border

I was hoping to see something the other day next to the “Welcome to Texas” sign that greeted us on our way back from a long-weekend trip to Colorado.

It would be a “No cell phone use while driving” sign.

I didn’t see it when we re-entered Texas from New Mexico along Interstate 40. Dammit, anyway! Where is the warning to motorists coming here from elsewhere that they need to put their cell phones away while they’re driving on Texas highways?

The Texas Legislature this year approved a cell phone ban while driving bill. Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law, which took effect Sept. 1.

Most states have laws that ban cell phone usage while driving; even more of them ban texting while driving. New Mexico has a “local jurisdiction” ban, by the way; Colorado bans cell phone use if the driver is operating on a learner’s permit. Colorado also bans texting while driving; New Mexico has no such statewide ban.

My point is that states that ban this act of sheer stupidity should be sure to let motorists know it when they enter those states.

I’m proud of our Legislature for agreeing to implement a statewide ban; I also am proud of Gov. Abbott for signing the bill into law, doing something his predecessor as governor, Rick Perry, declined to do in 2011, citing a ridiculous notion that such a bill was too “intrusive” on drivers’ private lives.

The state needs to take the next step and erect those signs at all its entry points that warn motorists: Keep your cell phones put away while you “Drive Friendly, the Texas Way.”

Internet can be addictive … you know?

SALLISAW, Okla. — My name is John and I am addicted to the Internet.

There. I said it. I admitted it. Is that the first step toward a cure? I have no earthly idea if that puts me on my way. I’ll deal with it.

We came to this place near the end of our latest two-week sojourn in our pickup with fifth wheel in tow. We had spent a miserable previous day getting a major repair done to our RV, so we decided to pull up to a municipal park just north of this quaint eastern Oklahoma community.

We wound our way back into the woods, found Brushy Lake Park. Set up our RV site. Paid the fee. Then I sought to open up my laptop to write a blog about, oh, this and/or that.

Oops! No cell phone service. No service means no Internet. No Internet means so surfing the universe of information and opinion for grist upon which to comment.

For the briefest of moments, I felt — how do I say it? — a bit lost. I love writing this blog. I love doing so from different locations where my wife and I end up. I was unable to do so for an entire evening.

I got over my Internet separation anxiety fairly quickly. I figured, “What the hey?” I’ll get back into The Game as soon as we depart and return to within some cell phone service network — and I’ll reconnect with the Big Ol’ World of Internet.

I’m savvy enough about the Internet to know that I should take every single thing I read on it to the proverbial bank. I know a lot of it is merely someone else’s opinion.

However … I did experience a bit of withdrawal until I was able to return to what passes in this day and time as The World.

Oh, the park where we spent the night? It was beautiful, quiet and full of peace.

Still relying on time pieces


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Take a good look at the watch you see in this picture.

I’ll have more to say about that in a moment.

I’ve decided that I likely will be addicted to knowing what time it is even after I enter full retirement mode. My reasons are simple and quite justifiable.

For nearly 37 years — as I toiled in daily journalism — I performed under deadline pressure. As a reporter I had to get stories turned in by a certain time — or else face the editor’s wrath. As an editor, I had to oversee other reporters’ deadline performance. As an opinion page writer and editor, I always had to get my work done by a certain time every day.

I lived by the clock. I looked at my wrist constantly. Am I late? Do I have more time?

This morning, I awoke to discover that my battery-powered Citizen watch — a nice watch, but nothing gawdy — had quit overnight. The battery croaked. Oh my goodness! What to do?

I thought about it for all of about 5 seconds. Then I went to my drawer and pulled out the watch you see in this picture. It’s a very old Bulova. It’s one of those self-winders. I set the time, strap it onto my wrist, jiggle my wrist two or three times and off she goes — the watch, that is.

Mom gave it to me in 1980 after Dad died. That was more than 36 years ago, which makes the watch old just by that measure. Except that Dad wore the thing for as long as I can remember before that. He wasn’t wearing the watch when he died suddenly in a boating accident all those years ago.

Mom wanted me to have it. I accepted it with great gratitude — and I cried like a baby, too.

It still works. It keeps perfect time. I took it to a jeweler here in Amarillo to see about having it cleaned. He removed the back of the watch, took one look at it, and put it back together. Then he said the watch’s innards are too delicate, too old to mess with. “When it stops working, that’s it,” he said. “You’ll just have to retire it.” It’s been semi-retired ever since, sort of like me.

I don’t see myself going without a watch on my wrist. It’s who I am. Sure, I could tell time by pulling my fancy-shmancy I-phone out of its holster. I’d rather not do that.

I know a lot of retired folks who no longer wear watches. What’s the point? they ask. Why do I need to be anywhere? Members of my immediate family are like that. My sons don’t wear watches, either. They rely on their big-time telecommunications devices to keep them on schedule. My granddaughter — who’s all of 3 years of age! — already is becoming tech-savvy. Will she ever wear a watch? I, um, doubt it.

I’ll stick with the old way of telling time. It’s worked well for me for more than six decades. Why change now?

In need of an intervention

Touchscreen smartphone with Earth globe

I never — not in a zillion years — thought I would say this, but here goes.

I need an intervention because I left my cell phone at home today while I was at work. I felt oddly disconnected from the world.

Some of you who’ve read this blog for some time know the drill. I had vowed to become the last person on Earth to own a cell phone. I waged a public — and passionate — campaign to that end.

Then I declared victory and purchased my cell phone. My wife bought one, too. Our first phones weren’t of the “smart” variety. They were those flip-top phones that didn’t work very well.

Then we upgraded to smart phones.

I still don’t use many of the functions built into the thing, but I do rely on it for some useful things: e-mail retrieval, reading news services come immediately to mind.

I left the thing at home today. I couldn’t check my e-mail, which arrives regularly during the day. I couldn’t keep up with the news and commentary.

For a good part of the day I was adrift.

I felt oddly out of touch.

Then my work day ended. I went to meet someone for lunch, only the friend I had planned to meet had sent me a Facebook message — which I also can read on my phone — asking if we could reschedule for another day. My friend has a sinus infection and needed to see a doctor.

Had I had my phone with me, I would have known that fact and would have avoided making the trip across town for a lunch date that never materialized.

What have I become? Am I now addicted to this geeky technology?

I need help!