Tag Archives: texting

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.

Cell phone law: How goes the enforcement?

I posted a blog item five years ago this month wondering about the enforcement of a citywide ban on cell phone use while driving a motor vehicle.

The Amarillo City Commission imposed a ban. Then I noticed at the time that the use of cell phones by drivers seemed to diminish so very little since the enactment of the ordinance.

Anti-cellphone law tough to enforce

I hoped in 2013 that the Texas Legislature would enact a statewide ban. It took four years, but the 2017 Legislature did what many of us had hoped: It passed a bill that bans cell phone use while driving throughout the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law. I applauded the Legislature and the governor for doing what I consider to be the correct thing.

But the question is as pertinent today as it was five years ago: How are the police enforcing this law?

Even since enactment of the statewide ban my wife and I continue to spot motorists driving while holding a cell phone to their ear. I haven’t been privy to any stats on the matter, but I would be most interested in knowing how the cops are handling this issue.

I suggested in January 2013 that the city might want to consider launching an intense public relations campaign to alert motorists of the anti-cell phone ordinance. The city didn’t take my advice. Imagine my (non)surprise.

So, how about a statewide campaign?

Signage at every highway entry point into the state might alert motorists coming into Texas. As for those of us who live here, public service announcements telling Texans of the penalty associated with cell phone use would be appropriate.

I continue to support wholeheartedly the state’s decision to ban this idiotic behind-the-wheel behavior. I have admitted to waffling a bit on this issue until I decided that a mandated ban was the right course to take.

I also continue to believe that government — state and local alike — can be more proactive in alerting motorists that they are breaking the law when they insist on talking on a handheld device while driving a 5,000-pound missile.

Texting and driving? It’s illegal in Texas, man!

I want to present a portion of an editorial that appeared in today’s Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, where I used to work before I gravitated in early 1995 way up yonder to the Texas Panhandle.

It comes from a regular Saturday feature called “Bouquets and Brickbats.” The Enterprise tossed a Brickbat thusly at: Southeast Texans who continue to text and drive even though that has been illegal since Sept. 1. Most local police and sheriff’s deputies have not been writing tickets for this offense because of Harvey duties and to give residents time to become familiar with the new law, but they say that will change soon. Statewide, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers issued four citations and 46 warnings for texting in the first 12 days. Texas Department of Transportation officials blame texting while driving for more than 3,000 vehicle crashes in Texas last year. The new law prohibits drivers from using their phones to “read, write, or send an electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.” Violations can lead to a fine up to $99 for a first offense, with costs rising for subsequent offense.

I want to call your attention to this pearl of wisdom because it could apply at this end of Texas as well. Motorists seem to be ignoring the state law that took effect at the beginning of September.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this statewide ban. It took some guts for the Legislature to approve it, given that a previous Texas governor, Rick Perry, vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2011. Gov. Greg Abbott saw the wisdom of signing this bill into law.

Are Texas Panhandle drivers any more obedient than our fellow Texans way downstate? Hardly. A day doesn’t go by without my being able to spot someone yapping on a handheld device while driving a motor vehicle. Just the other day I watched a young man doing that very thing while driving past Windsor Elementary School in Amarillo; I should note that Amarillo enacted an ordinance years ago banning such activity in school zones.

I want to make a request of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which does a good job stopping drug traffickers moving along Interstate 40.

How about turning your sights with equal intensity on the yahoos and morons who ignore state law by texting and gabbing on handheld cell phones while exceeding the posted speed limit on I-40?

‘Texting’ becomes second nature … more or less!

I am going to brag just a little.

I’ve been quite dismissive and downright derisive of many aspects of “social media” over the years. Texting is one of those aspects that has drawn my most serious level of scorn. Some members of my family have heard me declare that I cannot say the word “text” in its verb form without adding a certain level of derision in my voice.

Indeed, I pepper this blog with such references when I use the term in that form.

Why the boast? Well, it’s that I am getting fairly proficient these days at texting. I once imposed a six-word limit on messages sent via this medium. I must confess here and now that I routinely go beyond that limit, but not by much.

I do, though, find that I’ve achieved a certain comfort level in communicating in that fashion when I have something of importance I want to say to someone. For instance, I sent a message to a gentleman informing him that my wife and I will be taking our fifth wheel RV on an extended trip soon. This fellow pulls it out of its parking slot in the garage where we store our RV. I needed 12 whole words to convey the message.

Also, I want to stipulate that I will never, not ever, converse with someone using this medium. At my advancing age, I find myself still relying on more conventional methods of conversation, such as picking up the telephone and calling someone. I also have been known to go to someone’s place of employment or even their home to converse with them, face to face. I do know individuals who like to “chat” with someone using their texting device.

No conversational ‘texting’ will be done, promise

I suppose this is my way of acknowledging that I am advancing farther into the 21st century, along with my sons, my daughter-in-law and my grandkids. I hear jokes all the time about how smart others’ pre-school grandkids know more about modern technology than their elders do. My wife and I are rapidly approaching the realm of those who have such technological wunderkinds in their family; little Emma — our 4-year-old granddaughter — is showing the faint first signs of being able to solve technology problems for us when they occur.

As long as I stay within my comfort zone, though, I’ll be all right. I plan to cling tightly to it as I text friends and family members.

Here’s the deal, though: That comfort zone seems to be expanding.

Who knew?

Telecommunication lingo creates a curmudgeon


I’m going to make an admission.

A certain English word — it comprises exactly four letters — has become, speaking proverbially, a four-letter word.

I refer to the term “text.”

My son and I have concluded that I no longer can say the word text without adding a glaring tone of derision in my voice. Indeed, whenever you read that word henceforth on this blog, you will see it italicized, as if to highlight the utter disgust, disdain and derision I’m feeling as I write the word.

Texting is a verb. So has the word text become a verb. It’s that activity people do when they send messages to each other using their cellphone. It drives me batty in the extreme even to hear others use the word as a verb. It’s not that they are merely sending a message, they have to declare they are texting someone.

I have become so disgusted with the word I cannot even use the word as it’s meant to be used — as a noun — without adding that inflection in my voice. E.g.: “Let me read the text you’ve prepared for presentation tomorrow.” See? Even when I use the word properly, I feel compelled to let you know how much I detest the word.

This is what has become of me in my older years.

It’s not that I am a precise wordsmith. I don’t consider myself to be an eloquent speaker or writer. George Will I ain’t, man.

But the way we’ve perverted some of these seemingly words simply drive me nuts.


I can’t say it any form any longer. Nor can I even write it without editorializing about it.

What’s happening to me?

Walking and texting pose hazard

This isn’t a flash to anyone, but I feel the need to share it anyway.

This morning my wife and I did a little grocery shopping at a store in southwest Amarillo. We were backing our car away from the parking stall when my wife noticed a young man walking behind us.

“He’s texting and walking, not even paying a bit of attention to what’s going on out here,” she said.

I grumbled. She rolled her eyes.

The young man walked past us into the store, never once looking up from the device he was using.

My question is this: Who’s liable — the driver or the non-attentive pedestrian — if there’s a car-pedestrian collision in a parking lot?

I totally get that individuals are addicted to their, um, telecommunications devices. I struggle a bit with that form of addiction myself, checking emails that roll into my cell phone. My wife is far from addicted. She’s a lot smarter about using her cell phone than I am — occasionally.

This yahoo, though, walking through the parking lot might have needed a nudge from a car to wake his sorry backside up and alert him to the hazards of walking through traffic while engrossed in whatever message he was sending or receiving.

It’s another distressing sign of the times.

Would I be totally wrong had I given this young man a slight bump with my car?

Texting draws violent response

Time for a shameful admission: I’ve wanted to physically harm people I’ve witnessed sending text messages while sitting in a movie theater.

I’ve never acted on that impulse … thank goodness.

But a 71-year-old retired police officer did just that the other day and he now is facing the prospect of spending perhaps the rest of his life in prison.


Curtis Reeves is being charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Coulson, who was sending a text message to his daughter while the film “Lone Survivor” was being shown.

The men argued. Then it escalated. The confrontation ended when shots were fired, killing Coulson.

Wesley Chapel, Fla., authorities are investigating the case. Prosecutors have leveled charges against the ex-cop.

Given what we’ve witnessed about Florida law in recent months — e.g., the George Zimmerman acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin — there’s no telling how this case is going to turn out.

However, it certainly sends a message to those who would choose to ignore theater messages flashed on screens prior to the start of a film to put telecommunications devices away — or else.

In this case, the “or else” proved deadly.

I’m taking the hint.

No conversational ‘texting’ will be done, promise

Now that my wife and I have joined the race to catch up with the rest of society in the Telecommunications Age, I feel an overpowering need to make this declaration.

At least one of our new “smart phones” — and likely both of them — will never become devices to be used for what I call “conversational texting.”

I can speak only for myself and will let my wife speak for herself. But I declare right here and now that “texting” will occur on my phone only for specific and pertinent reasons.

Let me stipulate as well that I detest the term “text” when it is used in the verb form. I almost without fail add a derisive inflection in my voice when I even utter the word. Members of my family and some of my friends know what I mean. I’ve actually gotten a couple of my nieces to follow my lead — at least in my presence. They are good enough to add that tone of voice when they use the verb-form use of the term.

I also detest the sight of people walking through the mall, or across the street, or in the grocery store — anywhere, if you want to know the truth — with their heads pointed down at their hands that are holding some kind of telecommunications device. These folks generally are oblivious to their surroundings and most likely are engaging in some meaningless conversational “texting.”

My wife and I recently returned from a week’s vacation in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. We noticed — more than once, I should add — something quite galling. It was the sight of young children cavorting while waiting in line for an exhibit while Mom and Dad were “busy” sending “text” messages to God knows who. The parents were paying little or no attention to the kids, which made us wonder: Why aren’t Mom and Dad enjoying the moment with their kids?

But I digress …

“Texting” has many functional purposes. I can send a message to my wife asking her what I should get at the grocery store. She’ll answer with instructions. She can send a message telling me if she’s been delayed up at an appointment. I’ll acknowledge that message. We can “text” our kids to give them an estimated time of arrival if we’re en route.

You get the idea, yes?

None of this mindless cyberspace chatter for this old-timer. If I need to chat with someone, I’ll call whoever I need to talk to — on my new cellphone.