Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Cell Phone

Why yes, that is my cell phone.
Back in the winter of Two Thousand and Nine, it was decreed that I would, henceforth and forthwith, be exiled far from my abode in a land far, far to the north of my home.

Alright, far is subjective, to me living in Little Rhody as I do (37 miles wide and 48 miles long), 100 miles is a haul. This, mind you, coming from a fellow who used to think nothing of loading the family unit into the mobile, gasoline-powered, four wheel conveyance to drive from Nebraska to Louisiana for to visit The Missus Herself's kinfolk. (Yes, she has sisters who make their residence here in the US of A.)

A hundred miles! In Little Rhody such a trip is unheard of, that's for folks from somewhere else, like Vermont. (Where I was born and raised. No giant herself, The Green Mountain state is a humongous, by Rhode Island standards, 80 miles wide and 160 miles in length. Yes, yes, I know, I'm sure there are counties in Texas that are bigger. I'm sure the Texans will comment upon that in, where else, the comments. Yes, Juvat, I am looking at you...)


Where was I? Oh yeah. 2009, December, exile, got it...

In January I went north. With me I carried the family cell phone. The Missus Herself and I shared a phone. I saw no need for one, the feminine units of the family decreed otherwise, "Mom shall have a cell phone. Yes, Dad, if Mom says you can, you may use it too." So the phone was "jointly" held. (No, not really.) But when I went north, The Missus Herself (far wiser than I) thought it would be smart if I took the phone with me, being on the road and all that. (No, nothing like Kerouac.)

So I had a cell phone, sort of. It was most confusing, the feminine component of the progeny had not been informed, so they would call and ask why I was answering "Mom's phone." As in they couldn't believe that I had the temerity to use the Matriarch's personal cell phone.

That went on for a couple of weeks. The daughters were getting annoyed, The Missus Herself was annoyed at not having her personal communications device at hand. So I suggested perhaps that another phone might be in order, with me being on a "remote" assignment, all alone in a hotel, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

So to the purveyor of small personal communication devices we went to see what was on offer. I explained to the sales staff that I wasn't really interested in a multi-million dollar purchase and what, by your leave, was the cheapest thing they had in the store which would serve as a phone. Just a phone, no camera needed, no fancy Web of World-Wideness needed, what can I get for under 20 bucks?

After we all stopped laughing at the "two tin cans and a crap ton of string for long distance" jokes we got down to brass tacks, to business, as it were.

"Well Sir, we have the Go Phone."

"Where is it going?" Again, much hilarity ensued (mostly on my part, all the others tried not to look at me funny).

In all seriousness, what I got was a wee flip phone, much like this -

Very cheap, very practical.

Until I discovered that the little beastie actually had a built in camera. And the capability of sending and receiving text messages. Well, photos as well, the progeny could send me photos. I thought, this is cool, very cool. And it was small, easily stowed in a pocket, but of course I had to get a little carrying case thingee to sling the wee beastie from my belt.

Which led to me saying this, almost immediately.

Yes, the whole utility belt thing. Yes, I got carried away.

At any rate (remember what that means), I carried that little phone for many a month. The progeny liked to overwhelm me with text messages and photos. Lots of photos. I quickly discovered that the memory in my wee little phone was good for about ten photos.



So I'd get a new picture, have to decide which of the pictures on my phone I needed to delete, then open the new picture. Which would turn out to be a photo along the lines of "What do you think of my new shoes?"

"Sigh, I deleted a photo of a cool tree I saw so I could see your new shoes?"

"Oh sorry Dad. Meant to send that to Mom."


This went on for a couple of years, until one Christmas The WSO gave me a gift card. One of those "use it anywhere Visa is accepted" kind of cards.

"Nice, how much is on this?"

"Uh Dad, that's so you can buy a real cell phone."

"I have a real cell phone, after all..."

"Mom, you're going to make Dad buy a nicer cell phone, right?"

Well, they discussed it as if I wasn't there, like I was out of the room, like I...


So off to the purveyor of small personal communication devices we went.

When I pulled out my little flip phone the guy behind the counter starting explaining Go Phones to me. Before I could slaughter him, tear the building down and then salt the ground upon which it stood, The Missus Herself gave me The Look. Everyone knows The Look.

Well, all guys know The Look.

"My husband needs a bigger phone, his Go Phone [suppressed chuckles from the sales staff] is on our current plan, basically he wants an upgrade."

After an explanation of how we'd need an Act of Parliament, thirty forms of identification, and the complete lyrics, in clear English, of Jumping Jack Flash and a deposit in the amount of...

Before I could grab the guy by the collar and say...

...The Missus Herself jumped in and completed the negotiations.

We walked out together and I had a brand new cell phone. Which could take and hold hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. Hell, I could watch freaking videos on the thing! I felt so, I dunno, 21st Century!

I've had that bad boy a long time. What prompted me to write of my cell phone was the fact that I, all by myself with no assistance whatsoever from The Missus Herself or the progeny, went on-line, to Amazon no less, and purchased not one, but two, count them, two, batteries for my cell phone.

Okay Sarge, what's the big deal, okay you bought spare batteries. Why?

Ah, I'm glad you asked. The old battery was dying rapidly. I mean a battery will only last so long, my working inside what is essentially a Faraday cage drains the poor beastie even more as he's constantly looking for a signal.

Well, just turn it off until you get to a place with a good signal. Ah, I tried that, here's what I got...

"So Dad, why aren't you answering your phone?"

So I figured new batteries. Give new life to the old phone. Besides which, they're only six bucks each. Shipping was free.

So we'll see how this goes, will the new battery power the Sarge's phone throughout the day, even though the wee beast is constantly seeking a signal?

Stay tuned sports fans.

We shall see.

(What's even more amazing is that I actually changed the battery all by myself. Without breaking anything. Keep in mind, I used to work aircraft maintenance. One of the tools in our tool box was a big rubber mallet. We were also supplied with a pair of vice grips. They didn't call us WCS gorillas for nothing.)

I really enjoy saying, "I'm Batman..."


  1. If I had the technological means and acumen to do it, I would take a photo of my Motorola Razr, which is, a Star-Trek like device. I flips open much like Capt. Kirk's did. However, Scotty has never beamed me up. I don't understand!
    Anywhat, our two sons, daughter in law, and now granddaughter all wonder aloud why we don't upgrade, get a "plan", text, data, and other wondrous and exciting things.

    And here I thought Alex Graham Bell invented the telephone for to talk to someone...

    For $10.00 plus tax, I could get my top cover's screen replaced. Perhaps I might this year or next.

    1. I know this Razr of which you speak, it is very Star Trekish.

      I used to be in the "it's for phone calls" mode, now I admit it, I'm spoiled. The beast is also handy for navigation on the highways and byways of places I am unfamiliar with.

      I want to keep my S3 running as long as I can. Though I like technology I am also cheap. Very cheap.

    2. One of the bennies of living in Rhode Island is you can use it for navigation. Rhode Island doesn't have expanses where there IS no signal at all or is so poor as to be useless. There are plenty of areas like that here. I call them, "Heaven".

    3. Yes, there are areas out West where the cell signal is minuscule to non-existent. The WSO lives in such an area. Second floor of her house has an adequate signal, first floor is a crap shoot.

      So yes, I am familiar with that concept.

  2. Just to fulfill your prophecy....
    Counties?? Heck Fire, Houston is bigger than Rhode Island. Roughly 50 x 50. It actually is, I started out pulling your chain, then got to wondering, pulled out Google Earth. Katy to Baytown is 50.36 and Woodlands to Pearland is 51.8. Always wondered why transiting Houston took so flippin' long. It's one Rhode Island worth of traffic.
    Well, as they say, Life is too short to live in Houston!
    Have a great day wherever you are, Batman!

    1. It's my job Juvat, feeding you straight lines and story ideas.

      I recall that it takes 4 days to drive to Denver from Vermont, takes 3 days to go from Amarillo to San Antonio. I've done both, in retrospect I think I was going too slow in Texas.

      I have not heard much good about Houston.

      I'm Batman.

  3. Ah, great cell phone post. I had a flipper too, and before that one of those non-flippers that was always calling 911 from inside my pocket. I was never, under any circumstances, going to be one of those yo-yos with a smart phone, living life in a tiny screen of world connectedness. Then I got one, and now I are one. Kinda. I have a belt rig for it which mostly gathers dust. I got the thick rubber Otter case and installed a black ice screen protector and the phone lives in my shirt pocket.

    Now I'm not from Texas, but I might mention that my county is about 36x26 miles, 950 square miles or so, so a little smaller than Rhode Island. It also lacks beaches, oceans, islands, ships, boats, lobstah and clams. There are crawdads in the crick though.

    1. As you might be able to see in the lead-in photo, I have the Otter thingee as well. The rubber part helps it stay ensconced in my shirt pocket. The Missus Herself has gifted me with a number of jackets and coats over the years, lately they all come with this vertical zippered pocket on the chest to the left of the zipper. I remember asking "What the heck is this pocket for?" To be told, "It's for your cell phone Dad. Duh."

      We in Little Rhody revel in the fact that we are the smallest state in the Union. Sorry Delaware, you're bigger.

      As I recall, Nebraska is pretty big. The biggest New England state is Maine, at 35,385 square miles. Double that and add a bit, you've got Nebraska at 77,354 square miles. Ayuh.

  4. Work required a "smart" phone. Constant irritant. When I need tech advice it costs me a $6 Red Bull espresso blah blah blah. Yearn for the days of a flip hone and Cafe Americano.

  5. I'm on cellphone #4 now, the second smartphone.
    It started out as an "if there's an emergency" device.
    Now it a necessity and, if I must say so, convenient for any and all sorts of little tasks.
    It only get expensive when there's no wi-fi connection available.

    Distance doesn't seem to bother me too much except when it comes to driving the ten miles up the road because I can't get what I want here.
    When I lived in the Bay Area (roughly the size of and an inverted, Li'l Rhody) I thought nothing of a 30 - 50 mile one way jaunt.
    Now, it isn't Texas but there's some long hauls just to say hello.

    1. Well, California is pretty big by New England standards.

      My cell phone is pretty convenient, the camera is not bad at all.

  6. Ah, the cell phone . . .
    I do believe that the females of our species come pre-wired to use and revere them.
    Back in the stone age, when cells were a new product, I was sitting with my 5 year old granddaughter, Grace, munching on french fries while Grandma shopped. We'd bought a cell phone. (Reasoned that because I had a bad heart, having the means to quickly call 911 was a good idea.)
    We's only bought the one. On this day, Gracie was finished with her fries and getting bored. She asked me to call Grandma to hurry her along. When I told her that we only had the one phone, and that it was in my possession, she looked at me like I was crazy. Then began the strange experience of being lectured by a 5 year old on the benefits and safety of owning two cells. And "Was it because we couldn't afford a two-phone plan?" "There are bargain plans out there and when Grandma gets back we should go look at phones." Here's the rub . . . I couldn't argue with her. Every point she made was true. We bought a new phone, and new plan, that very afternoon.

    1. I do have some experience with 5-year old granddaughters, too clever by half and there's no arguing with them. Well, I can try, but in my experience I usually lose.

  7. I knew I was in the right place in the blogosphere when I noted that the phone you show as ancient technology is exactly the same phone that I carry, and love, and my daughter and friends mock. But then I’m the same kid that was happy with the party line we had where we could listen in on the Paulson’s behind us. I guess we didn’t have TV yet.
    Non sequitur: I visit here daily and after doing some research on the pilots in your header panel I became interested in Robin Olds. Last night I finished his book, “Fighter Pilot: the Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds” What a great book, an amazing man and an exemplary American. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for having created my interest.

    1. Coincidentally I started rereading that this week. (I'm looking for a specific quote). It is a great book.

    2. Why thanks Lou, I'm glad to have you aboard as a reader. One of the FRaVMotC as I call them (Frequent Reader and Valued Member of the Commentariat).

      I value tech that works, doesn't have to be the latest and the greatest. Heh, I still miss MS-DOS.

      I love that book. Robin Olds was a real American.

    3. I am all atwitter to see where you're going with that quote Juvat. A future post title perhaps?

      Concur with your assessment. I wish I'd met the man.

  8. One way you can improve the battery life, if you have email on your phone, as most of us do, unless it's time critical, is to decrease the frequency of times your phone fetches email. That can suck a lot of juice. (That's the technical term for it.)

    1. I shall have to research that Mike. Thanks.

      (And I have a new technical term to bandy about. Heh.)

    2. Mike's right. We advise our users that 1 every 15 minutes is the most frequent and 1 per hour is what we recommend. But then, they're teachers, we sorta feel like they outta be...teaching.

    3. Oddly enough I don't check my email all that much on my phone. I could probably just turn it off.

  9. I am very impressed. I rely on Mrs C or the nearest teenager for such things. I will only enter the 21st century kicking and screaming.

    1. The Missus Herself is no fan of technology. As long as her iPad functions and she can see pictures of the grandkids (and plot with the daughters) she's happy. We have no teenagers available, so I need to be semi-up-to-date. So to speak.

      I was dragged kicking and screaming into this century and it ain't as bad as I thought it would be.

  10. Still got my old Nokia phone. No camera, no apps except the one that lets you talk to people, no custom ring tones. The built-in "Top Up" feature doesn't work: you've got to call Virgin Mobile's robo-maze.

    During the Two Months of Snow from Hell last year I got home one night and had to shovel out the mouth of the driveway to park. The next morning I had to shovel myself out again and found the phone's keypad. Hmmm. Got the sand sifter. Shoveled the new snow through it until I found the main body, front case, back case, and battery. Left it disassembled on the stovetop for a few days, reassembled, recharged, and it worked like a champ.

    1. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

      Great story Bruce.


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