Tag Archives: cellphones

Listen up: Your grandparents were right all along

Your grandparents — and, yes, mine too — were visionaries. They were way ahead of their time.

They warned us, “If you can’t say something nice to someone, then keep it to yourself” … or words to that effect.

They didn’t anticipate the advent of cell phones or the myriad other recording devices that have proliferated our society. But, man, they nailed it!

Just look at the Uber driver who has been caught recording passengers without their knowledge. Then you had the idiot at the Chicago Cubs baseball game who took a ball from a youngster after one of the Cubs players had tossed the ball to the little boy; yes, the ballpark incident was captured by TV, but you get the point.

This all happened over the weekend.

There have been instances of people cussing others out. Road rage incidents are recorded for posterity by motorists who watch them unfold in real time.

I’ve lamented before that the ubiquitous nature of these devices should make us all a lot more reticent when confronted with potential problems.

Everyone, or so it seems, has a camera these days. You say something unkind or crude, it gets recorded. You erupt in a spasm of anger, or possibly, violence — that, too, becomes part of the “public domain.” You mistreat someone, get ready for the “viral” distribution of that action all across the planet.

When will we ever learn? When will we heed the advice given to us years ago by men and women — Grandpa and Grandma — who were way ahead of their time?

Cell phone, Mr. President?

I get that Donald J. Trump wants to open up lines of communication between his office and those of other world leaders.

The president’s motives appear to be noble.

But hold on! He’s giving out his personal, private cellphone number to those other leaders? Is that what I’m hearing?

Whoa, Mr. President!

Cellphones aren’t secure. I keep hearing how they’re vulnerable to, um, hacking. People can listen in. Bad people can listen and do terrible things in reaction to what they hear.

And so the president of the United States wants to talk openly, and I presume candidly, with world leaders about the myriad problems facing the world.


If the president wants to maintain open communications with other leaders, I have an idea. Let ’em call you on the secure line in the Oval Office, or in the Situation Room.

Handing out personal cellphone numbers is fraught, shall we say, with some serious national security concerns. Don’t you think?

And didn’t the president — when he was running for the office — bellow incessantly about all the alleged security breaches created by Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state?

I am shaking my head.

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?

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.

Talking and driving is actually a gas

I’ll admit that I’m not as technologically advanced as many Americans.

That is why this notion of Bluetooth technology in automobiles is so fascinating to me.

I took a phone call the other day from my son, who called my cellphone number. I was walking across the parking lot at work. We chatted as I walked toward my car. I got into my vehicle and started it.

Immediately, the phone switched over to the radio speaker and I was able to drive off the parking lot while continuing my conversation with my son.

It knocked me out!

I told him so. He laughed and said something like, “Well? What did you expect?”

He equated my fascination with this technology — which I admittedly resisted getting for many years after it became available — to someone born in the 19th century awakening in the 21st century and finding streets buzzing with automobiles.

Maybe that’s an accurate metaphor.

What I do know is that I am still struggling with the guilt of talking on the phone while driving my car. I know city ordinances do not prohibit me from doing so. Amarillo has this law on the books that says it’s illegal to use a handheld device while driving a motor vehicle. I am grateful the City Commission enacted the law — even though I have yet to actually witness a police officer pulling someone over for breaking that rule.

I am guessing my guilt will dissipate with time. Won’t it?

Please, please, FAA: no cellphones in flight

The Federal Aviation Administration has just removed restrictions on the use of electronic devices in flight.

Airplane passengers now can play Internet games, surf the Web, send emails … all that kind of stuff.

Has doomsday just inched a little closer?

I refer to the possibility of the FAA lifting restrictions on in-flight cellphone use. I hereby beg the flight regulators to never, ever let that occur.

I am ignorant as to how the technology works at 30,000-plus feet in the air. I guess these gadgets can pick up a signal from somewhere to operate. As for cellphones, I always have presumed they run on towers back on Earth. You get too far from a tower and you lose your connection.

There’s a fundamental issue involved with allowing cellphones aboard commercial airliners. It’s called “passenger safety.”

So help me — and I’m not alone in stating this — I don’t know what I would do if I had to sit for any length of time next to a passenger gabbing on a cellphone about nothing in particular.

I hope my fear about the FAA’s next step is unfounded. I hope the regulators understand the risk that passengers are putting on themselves if the FAA allows them to gab incessantly on cellphones while cruising tens of thousands of feet above Earth’s surface.

I’m OK with allowing emails and Internet surfing. But the FAA has just reached the outer limit of what I believe is acceptable aboard a commercial airplane.

Moving more deeply into 21st century

I am proud to announce that as of today I have taken yet another baby step farther into the 21st century.

My wife and I purchased a hybrid automobile, one of those vehicles that runs on electricity and gasoline. We intend to get incredible fuel mileage from this little 2010 Toyota Prius. We’ll need to save our pennies, given that our beastly 3/4-ton Dodge Ram pickup — which we have nicknamed Big Jake — will be consuming plenty of fuel as we haul our fifth wheel travel vehicle hither and yon.

But that’s not the best part of my 21st-century journey. Oh, no. The cool thing I did today was get my cell phone programmed into this little buggy so that I can answer the damn thing while I’m driving my car.

It’s pretty simple. Phone rings, I hit the little button on the steering wheel with the picture of the phone receiver off the phone; then I talk. When the conversation is over, I hit the button below the first one and hang up; that button has a picture of a phone with the receiver sitting on it. No sweat, no strain.

Plus, I won’t be breaking the law if I try to fumble for my cell phone while driving the car. You see, Amarillo joined other cities in banning the use of hand held cell phones and other telecommunications gadgets while you’re driving a motor vehicle. I don’t know precisely how the Amarillo Police Department is enforcing this new rule, as I haven’t seen a cop pull a motorist over who’s been gabbing or texting while driving.

Whatever. No one will catch me breaking the law.

I’m proud of myself for continuing this journey into contemporary society. If they install technology, though, that allows drivers to text while driving, I’m afraid my head will explode.

‘Welcome to 2013’

The young man at the cellphone store didn’t mean to poke fun at my wife and me when he said, “Welcome to 2013” as we walked out of the place with our new cellphones in hand.

I turned to him and said I’m still stuck in the 1970s. We all laughed.

But with that, we’ve made the leap, purchasing a couple of “smart phones” that will do all kinds of things — a fraction of which we’ll likely use. But the stuff that’s included with these devices will be helpful.

I’ve appreciated the advice, recommendations and offers of help from my friends who’ve responded to an earlier blog post about the leap we were about to make. One of my sisters advised me against purchasing a smart phone, saying that “flip phones rock.” Sorry, sis. We made the leap.

We went with a Windows phone setup. I don’t need to explain this to most of the people in my life. They know what it is.

I will explain, though, that the purchase of the phones was every bit as complicated as I feared it would be. All the calling plans, data plans, texting plans, billing options, up-front phone cost variations were enough to give me a headache. And they did.

The sales rep who greeted us is a nice young man. We advised him up front of this truth: We are simple people who are not fluent in techno-speak. Our sons know this language; we don’t. “Explain this to me like I’m a 5-year-old,” I implored him, before backing off that request with the realization that a 5-year-old would understand all the jargon associated with 21st-century telecommunications. My wife then advised the young man to “talk to us like the old people we are.”

Well, the learning curve is a steep one for my wife and me. But this is part of life, I reckon. That curve will start to straighten out in due course, hopefully sooner rather than later.

You may keep praying for us.

When did phone-buying get so complicated?

I am about to make the most difficult, complex, mind-bending purchase of my life.

A new home? Nope. Already have one — and it’s paid in full, too.

A new vehicle? Did that one too recently. It was a piece of cake.

A recreational vehicle? Hah! Give me a break. It was love at first sight with our new fifth wheel.

I’m talking about a telephone. It’s the cellular kind, which you stick in your pocket and carry it around with you.

I know what you’re thinking. What can be so difficult about buying a cellphone? Well, let me tell you something: My wife and I will be able to settle pretty easily on the phone we want. It’s our sons and our daughter-in-law who are going to give us grief if we don’t get the “right” phone with the “right” calling plan and have all the “right” gizmos, gadgets and doo-dads that go with these devices.

My old-fashioned flip phone croaked this past week while my wife and I were celebrating our 42nd wedding anniversary at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. I charged the thing up one night. Turned it off, then turned it back the next morning; it was charged fully. Then during the day, it went dead — as in terminally dead. I tried to put it back on the charger at the end of the day. Nothing happened. I played “Taps” in my head.

So, with that we’ve decided we’re finally going to “upgrade” our phones. We don’t know what we’re going to do. Do we go with a “smart phone,” an “I-phone,” or are they the same thing?

Which provider do we use? I’m inclined to stay with the one we have used since we purchased these old-time flip phones.

For the record, let me state that I waged a public campaign over the course of several years to be the last human being on the planet to purchase a cellphone. I declared victory when I acquired one — although a friend of mine and at least one member of my family tell me they’ve never owned a cellphone.

Neither of them can prove it to my satisfaction … so my claim of victory still stands.

I remember the old days when my parents had to decide whether to go with a push-button phone or stay with the old rotary-dial device. Heck, I even remember back even further when Mom and Dad purchased a rotary phone with one of those new-fangled twisty stretch cords.

We’ve entered a new age when phone purchases have become more complicated than what used to be the decision that gave us the most headaches. A new home or motor vehicle? Forget about it.

I will make one vow at this very moment: I will not be caught walking and looking down at the device while sending a “text message.” Not ever. Period.

I’ll need some quiet time now to ponder the huge decision that awaits us.

Pray for us … please.