Monday, June 21, 2010

Celling Out

The Guys Perspective had a post on Sunday about multi-tasking, which got me thinking about the primary method we use to multi-task throughout our day.  By the time I finished my comment, I knew I had a post in the making.  Ahem

Am I the only one annoyed by the current obsession with cell phones? 

I am sick of all this cell phone bullshit pervading TV, media and our lives.  It’s like every other commercial is touting some new doohickey for your phone that you need to have right fucking now or you’ll be a social pariah.  What’s next, an I-Paper app that wipes your ass for you, checks the fiber content, then contacts your primary care physician with any anomalies?

Remember when these things first came out and they looked like a brick with buttons?  And you’d have to actually plug them into your car?

It’s funny now when you see them show up in older movies.  They were such high tech things then… little did we know where they were going.

I remember there was a company that used to market a big faux cell phone that had a little red light on it.  The purpose then was so that you could be seen with it, even at night, which was much more important than actually making a call from the road.  I’m not sure that has really changed.

Obviously over the years, the size has come way down and the uses and functions have skyrocketed.

I also hate those Bluetooth headset things.  Time was when you saw some doofus walking down the street talking to himself, you knew he was a whack-a-loon and knew you should probably cross the street. 

OK, that part hasn’t changed.  I’d still cross the street, just so I don’t have to listen to some guy whose central message is “I am a very important guy and I can’t possibly walk down to the Burger King without negotiating a mega-business deal along the way.” 

This is probably the same guy that’s still yapping away in the bathroom stall while I’m trying to have a pee in peace.

I was very late to the cell phone party.  I was sure I was the last grownup in America to get one back in 2006, before I finally caved.  And the only reason I consented then was because otherwise, I’d have been forced to carry a pager.  Talk about the most useless piece of 2010 equipment…

Anyway, I figured if I had to have a cell phone, I’d get a good one that could do everything, even if I never wanted to take advantage of all the functionality.  You never know.  So I had a good phone for about 10 minutes before the I-Phone was released.  Instantly, my new top of the line phone became just another piece of shit.  (Albeit a piece of shit that’s still in pristine condition.  I haven't even taken off that piece of protective film from the outside window.)

My phone suits me for several reasons.  First, I like the flip-out style.  It adds heft to it.  I don’t trust those short phones that just come to your cheekbone when you hold it to your ear.  It doesn’t seem like they’d be able to pick up your voice from so far away, so I’d overcompensate by speaking in that WAY TOO LOUD CELLPHONE VOICE that we’ve all heard and loathe. (Not mine... I mean in general.)

I also like a slim phone, so I can slip it into my pocket without leaving a big obvious lump.  (OK, another big obvious lump.)  I have a little phone case but I don’t use it much because it screams "Hey everyone!  I have a cell phone!"

But I won’t give it up until I have to.  It does what I need it to do… make occasional short phone calls if I’m running late, arrange a meet-up on the fly, or make a call from the store when I don’t know what kind of beer Pinky wants.  I have a plan that gives me 200 minutes, with free weekend minutes.  I use about 2 or 3 minutes and me bill runs around $30 a month.

I also avoid the unlimited plans for texting or Internet.  I send maybe 5-10 texts a month, and often less (at .20/month).  The only time I tend to text is when I’m waiting a bar for someone and going “Where are you?”  I also text a lot of “Wooooooooo!” if I’m watching a game I know someone is watching elsewhere.

You’ll note I avoid the usual texting shorthand.  I’m afraid if I start abbreviating all my words, it will start to seep into my other writing areas.  Don’t think that’s true?  Look at the emails you get from your teenage kids.  Or look at their English homework.

But I should cut corners, though, because I am so hopelessly slow at texting on my non-qwerty keypad that by the time I get my thought out, it has become irrelevant.  (As in the intended recipient shows up at the bar, or another big play happens in the game.)

I also don’t use the Internet much on the phone.  I figure, that’s the reason I have a home PC and work PC.  If I need to know something, it can wait.  Plus, I don’t see where my occasional need would outweigh the cost of the plan.  Same with picture mail.

I can take pictures with my phone, but in order to actually DO anything with them, you have to sign up for an expensive monthly plan.  Screw that!  I’ll just use my regular camera, thank you very little.  It’s like that with all the apps… in order to actually use all the shit your phone can do, you have to get roped into some kind of plan, so unless it’s something you need to do all the time, (and it rarely is) you get boned on the bill.

My phone is off about 98% of the time.  As with the PCs, I have a phone at home and a phone on my desk at work.  I am in one of those two locations for most of the day.  The rest of the time, I’m in transit to and from.  Half of my trip is spent in a subway tunnel where there is no signal.  So do I really need to boot up my cell for those 20 minutes each way where I can get a signal? 

Answer:  I don’t freakin’ think so.  I am not so indispensable that whatever it is can’t wait until I reach my destination.  And I do not use my cell to call people so I can amuse myself.  I actually hate chitchatting on the phone in general.  Because we live hundreds of miles apart, I talk to my parents about once a week to catch up.  But other than that, I never call anyone without a specific reason.  I’ve always been like that… I don’t know why.

When I’m on the train, I read my daily paper on the way to work, and my Sports Illustrated or Newsweek on the way home.  And I never forget to wear my MP3 player, primarily so I don’t have to listen to everyone else amusing themselves by blabbering on their cell phones!

“Can you hear me now?”

“Yes.  Now PISS OFF!”


  1. I do not have a cell phone. Would you like a picture of me? I look like your final pic in this blog. Yes. That's me. "PISS OFF"

  2. The way I see it phones are communication devices. I tell the dude who tries to sell me additional apps/functionality/and other money wasting bullshit, "I want to talk on here when I make a call. And I don't want the God damn call dropped. I want to text on here in case I'm in a place I can't talk and still want to communicate. That's it. Fort Pitt."

    Now my buddy Still A Fan, he's got everything on his phone. Unlimited calling, texting, GPS, Internet, Music, Camera, Games, Bluetooth with a hyperbaric earpiece called HBOT,and a hookup to his car stereo. Everything but a radar detector apparently.

    I hear he's working on an phone app where you can dial up a blow job. Rumor was Big Ben was supposed to be doing quality assurance on the prototype. But I think the attorneys have put that on ice for now.

  3. Mary Ann,
    You don't need a cell because your favorite son calls you on the grownup phone.

    I figured Fan to be a major phone geek. Comes with the territory, I guess.

    I'd have loved to see those Big Ben commercials.

  4. Hubby won't get me internet for my phone... He's a Nazi like that!

  5. CB,
    He knows that not only would you be on the phone while you're flying down the highway, you'd be shopping on it too.

  6. I have a phone. Yet, I never EVER know where the damn thing's at. Ever. Never. Claire does, however.

    (PS, I needed this funny blog today. I have already written tomorrow's blog and it will post at midnight. It's NOT happy one.)

  7. Cassie,
    Claire probably has a whole secret circle of tiny little friends that she keeps in touch with, to discuss cartoons and stuff.

    I'll look for your post first thing in the morning.

  8. I always kmnow where my phone is. I call the number and it rings. I listen,and somewhere in the house I hear it. Actually I don't really care where it is. If somoene wants to find me,they know where I am.

  9. My bills ARE expensive...and she DID make me download "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga as a ringtone... I think you're on to something, Bluz.

  10. Sure! Just follow the rings.

    But chances are, there's no one calling that I want to talk to in the first place.

  11. Cassie,
    That's the one thing I like about cell phones... downloading songs as ringtones. I only have 4 though...
    "It's a Long Way to the Top if you Wanna Rock and Roll" for most calls.
    "Scuttle Buttin'" by Stevie Ray for all text messages.
    "LaGrange" for my Dad (cuz that's the song that got him to like rock and roll)
    And of course "Cinnamon Girl" for Pinky.

  12. OK, I'll admit I'm totally addicted to my cell phone. I feel naked when I've misplaced it. I experience the shakes when the battery's running low.

    But you're spot-on about the texting thing. I sit on two university scholarship committees, and you'd be amazed by the students with a 4.0 GPA and nearly perfect ACT/SAT scores who still can't manage to capitalize or fully spell out words in their essay...

  13. you know, I'm totally OK with NEVER EVER using shorthand on the texts. In fact, a guy and I had a whole conversation about it. As in, OMG, he is my HERO because he has the shorthand texts BLOCKED FROM HIS PHONE. How awesome is that?! I would marry him for that. Mr. Glasses us all 'u' 'r' etc. Drives me bonkers!

    My mom got her phone in 2007. Only because I moved away and she didn't want to be stuck in the middle of NOWHERE texas on the drive to see me and be without a phone. Probably shoulda told her you can't get cell reception there. She said she likes to stay "out of touch". Now, if I get a text from her or her hubby I flip out.

    Also, I have to say this... you know normally I would never say anything rude in a comment - or in general... but... for a man who types most of his blogs in a word doc, I was very disappointed in the spelling errors. :(
    Would you please please pretty please fix them for a grammar/spelling nazi like me? Obviously I'm totally OK with typos and lowercase - like a half e e cummings thing
    but... it made me sad. You are usually so spelling AWARE! lol

  14. and yes, I know... I'm a total bitch for asking :(

  15. Tom and I gladly gave up the cell phone world when we moved from Dallas to the more rural WV. We now only have a TracFone that stays in the car and is used for, "Honey, I'm home, come help me with the groceries!" type calls. VERY happy not to be on that train anymore.

    p.s. About the lj thing, yes, I think you do (Sorry. :/ ), but the basic one (which I use) is free. All you really have to do is come up with a name.

  16. Lol.. I can see your point, but I NEED my cell -
    All the other adults in my kids' world are incompetent, so they have to be able to call me for every little thing.
    We don't have a home phone, and the work line is recorded.
    I have internet because I would shoot myself at work without it.
    I text because I don't want to have to talk to everyone.

    But the biggest reason is - I'm a chick. We need our phones.

  17. Cell phones have become a necessity when traveling, no other use. BUTT I like your idea of an I-Paper app; it should include a Roid Report to indicate whether light colored shorts would be appropriate that day. Dad

  18. "Crazy or Bluetooth?" Great game.

  19. HAHA. I agree with DG.

    Like you, I refuse to use text shorthand. My friends make fun of me, but I don't want to get into the habit of ritn lik dis & lukn lik a ful.

  20. I have a bluetooth somewhere--it may be in the junk drawer.

    Rod loves all the gadgets on his phone--like the alarm clock, the ring changer, the calculator, the reminder, blah, blah, blah! I still can't remember how to backspace when I am entering contacts. Rod has numbers for people he hasn't seen in YEARS, and who may have forgotten who he is!

  21. Sherry,
    See, I don’t have a problem with people being addicted to their phones… it’s just the unrelenting media assault about it... plus people talking entirely too loud for the room when using them. I had one behind me on the train today… I had to jack up the volume on my MP3 to an uncomfortable level, just to escape.

    Holy crap, there are errors?

    I know I banged this one out pretty quick… I’ll look into it when I get home…

    Pinky uses a TracFone, pretty much for the same… just basic, primitive service.

    Jennifer Juniper,
    I wonder how chicks survived before cell phones could fit in a purse.

    I understand that having kids changes everything, cell-wise, and I haven’t been “blessed” like that. Like I said to Sherry above… it’s the constant hype that bugs me more than anything.

    And these A-holes I hear on the train are NOT talking about anything constructive… it’s just chitchat… LOUD chitchat…

  22. Dad,
    I don’t know how I could have missed that angle on a whole different kind of Roid Rage. Thanks for picking up the slack!

    Guess wrong on "Crazy or Bluetooth" and you have to go up and talk to him.

    Bachelor Girl,
    Sometimes if I’m in a hurry, I’ll use the 4/for or 2/to, but that’s really my limit.

    Regarding DG’s game, I was just having lunch at the illustrious BK Lounge (The King says ‘hi’), and right off the bat, a crazy guy sits down a couple seats from me. At least I was assuming he was crazy… he didn’t look like he could afford a headset, but I didn’t want to look his way for too long. A met gaze only generates two things:

    1. Do you have any spare change?
    2. What are YOU looking at, m-er f-er?

    To me, the best part of having my friends programmed into the phone is attaching their picture to the listing. That’s really all I can do w/ my in-phone camera.

  23. I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of texts and such. We 86ed our land line because I wasn't paying two phone bills, considering we hardly ever use the phone.

    I'm resisting ring tones. Only use the ones that come on the phone.

    It's a brave new world. Now get the hell off my lawn!

  24. Bagger,
    I considered chucking the land line, but decided against it. I like the security of having that permanent line that has its own power source in case the lights go out, and is not dependent on cell towers functioning. (which can get blown down or overloaded in times of crisis.)

    Also, like I mentioned, I don't like the feel of talking on cell phones... too small. I like the heft of a traditional phone.

    So I have a very bare-bones home plan, to go with my bare-bones cell plan. Maybe one day, I'll consolidate.

  25. Ahemmm, Unlimited calling - not true. unlimited texting - true, GPS - true, Internet - true, Music - has the capability but i dont use it, Camera - true but what phone doesnt these days, Games - jsut texas hold'em, Bluetooth with a hyperbaric earpiece called HBOT - ive used it once and i hate it and dont want to wear it,and a hookup to his car stereo - well that comes with the car. RE radar: LOLOLOL that would be awesome!!!!

    im thinking about a droid this year. mine is so beat up.

  26. i should say, the internet comes in very handy while at 2 hour swim practices, car line pickups at

  27. I don't have a clue how to do that! I still don't know how to get the pictures I take with the camera phone into my computer!!!!

  28. Yes, it's hard to blame cell phones, but it's easy to blame the people using cell phones. Since when is it OK to talk very loudly while waiting in line at the store, or at the post office? It's pretty annoying.
    But it's certainly easier to spot the douche bags now isn't it?!
    Thanks for the props.

  29. I don't take the plastic off of anything I own, either! The fact that the Kindle makes you peel the protective cover off before you can begin using it almost made me sick to my stomach.

    When I worked at a science museum in college, people would come up to me at the information desk and hold their finger up to me to tell me to wait while they struggled to finish up telephone conversations. Or worse, they'd try to ask me questions while still holding the phone up to their ear. And those people were ignored.

  30. So many of us can relate to you on this. And like some of your other commentors, I seldom know where my phone is so I have to call from another to hear my own ring. So far I refuse to text. I have to say, your Dad's comment was hilarious! Thanks, bluz, for another great post.

  31. Whew... long day at work. Just getting home now, about 9-ish. Now then...


    Yeah, I can see where factoring kids into the equation changes everything. I’d sure be looking for stuff to keep me occupied in those situations. Especially with swimming practice… I mean, it’s not like you can really participate physically or verbally. What can you yell from poolside?

    “Swim faster?”
    “Don’t be so spashy?”
    “Pull your suit out of your butt?”

    Still, I’d probably lean toward crossword puzzles.

    I believe you have to sign up for a service that lets you email pictures from your phone. My service (Sprint) either charges a monthly fee that’s too high for the frequency I’d use it, or a charge per kb of the file you’re sending. (again, which is more that I’d care to pay for some grainy picture.)

    If I had some kind of emergency where I needed a picture from my cell, I’d use my camera to take a picture of my phone with the picture on it, then blow it up with Photoshop.

    As for connecting them to your contact list… I just went by the directions in the manual that came with the phone. Also, on mine, when you take a picture, it asks you what you want to do with it… I just choose “Assign” and it brings up a list of your contacts. I select one, and “done!”

    Yeah, it’s like there’s a giant flaming arrow pointing to them from overhead. Busses, trains, airport gates… everyone knows who the douchebag is…

    And thanks for providing such a stealalbe idea in your last post…


    I have zero patience for that kind of “I need to ask you something but you have to wait until I finish asking my mate what they had for lunch” BS.

    “Sorry, Douchebag, perhaps you can regain my attention once you get off your goddamm phone. But I wouldn’t count on it.”

    It kind of makes sense to have to take the film off a Kindle doesn’t it? I mean, doesn’t the glass function as the interface? (My phone is far too primitive for that.)

  32. Cher,
    That's one thing I rarely have to worry about. I always know where my phone is. It's turned off, in my work-bag.

    Yes, Dad has his moments.

  33. I had the same phone for years - it had been dropped a million times and was being held together with scotch tape. But it worked. Eventually the battery went and I discovered that buying a new battery would cost as much as getting a new phone so I upgraded. I'll probably have this one just as long.

  34. Woman,
    Funny how common annoyance can us all together.

    That’s what I plan on doing… using this thing until it no longer works. (which will probably be because the battery will go.)


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