Telephones -- 12/02/07
Okay, here we go with This is my entry number two! It could be that I write too much in comments on other Web sites because sometimes I am certain that I've recounted a particular anecdote on my own pages and yet when I search for it, I can't find it and then I think that I probably told that story in the comments area of someone else's journal or blog. On the other hand, maybe I did tell it here and just missed it in my search.
In this particular case, however, I discovered (eventually) that I was correct in believing I had (in this entry) discussed the "olden days" of telephones back around mid-century in upstate New York, when you only dealt with one phone company -- you said "The Telephone Company" and everyone knew what you meant -- and phones were black and had no dials because you picked the receiver up and waited for the operator to say "Number please." You told her the number and she would make the connection for you. (I use the feminine pronoun because operators were women; I never heard a man's voice in that job until I was trying to place a long distance call in my sophomore year of college. It was so unusual that I was startled by it.)

When I was a kid we had one phone.. by which I mean one physical telephone, wall-mounted. At some point (and I was a teenager by this time) the operators were replaced by dialed telephones, and party lines went away, and we got a second phone. No, not a second line, just an extension phone (probably because at that time Dad had became responsible for overseeing snow removal at the IBM plant where he worked and would get middle-of-the-night phone calls in bad weather to come in and make sure the plowing contractors properly cleared all of the parking lots and walkways).

Now I have many phones. Not just physical phones, I mean phone numbers. That's partly because all four cell phone numbers are under my name (one of those family-share plans with multiple phone lines). Also, we have two home phone numbers. We switched our residential service to Cox Communications (the same company that supplies our cable television and our Internet connection). With wireless home phones, I'm not sure without counting just how many physical phones there are for that line (although there are only two base-stations. However, I also have another land line, this one from Verizon, here in my den, so that I won't have any phone conflicts with our home phone. (I am in at least one hour-long conference call each week and I have had a few weeks where I ended up spending several hours on the phone over the course of the week.)

The other day I finally got around to picking up a new cell phone. I have had my old phone for about five years, ever since I opened this particular account. Jeremy was in high school when I got this phone... and he is probably on his fifth or sixth phone in that same span of time.

I guess my philosophy is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." My old phone worked, so there was no need to replace it.
New phone in back; old phone in front.
But Jeremy needed a new phone. His wouldn't hold a charge. (Our theory, actually, is that metal shavings and filings from one of his auto body hands-on lab courses got inside the phone. It certainly looked as if that were possible.) And I decided it was time for me to finally get a new phone.
The problem with my old phone was not -- despite my children's claims -- that the Smithsonian Museum was going to come take if from me for a history of telephone technology exhibit. It was simply too big. It would not fit comfortably and securely in a shirt pocket; the top third would stick out and it could sometimes fall out of a shirt pocket (fortunately, it was darn near indestructible). Also, all of the buttons were exposed on the front of the phone and often the ON button would get pushed while it was in my backpack and then a few days later I would take it out to use it only to discover it had been on for days and the battery was almost fully discharged.
New phone flipped open.
I'm actually not quite sure why I bother with a cell phone... except when driving. A few years ago, when I was doing lots of business travel, it was very comforting to be able to keep in touch with home. Now, the only business travel I have done in the past four years or so has been an annual week-long technical conference in Las Vegas and three or four day trips, mostly just up to Boston. More and more I find that weeks can go by without me making a single call. Well, this phone seems to have more power or better reception, so maybe I will be able to phone home from the supermarket to ask if we have enough milk. (With my old phone, I would have to stand near the supermarket entrance to get enough of a signal to get through.)

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