Posted in Life, technology

Words for Wednesday: I’ll take a real person instead, thank you

I’m old school and I admit it freely.

Call me a dinosaur, I won’t hold it against you. Because it’s true I am a senior citizen.

It’s also true I have white hair to prove it now that I’ve accepted and embraced my age instead of paying an outrageous amount of money each year to have my locks colored at a salon.

It’s true that I know tons of song lyrics from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s but don’t recognize most of the popular recording artists of the last couple of decades.

And it’s true that I’m not the most savvy when it comes to the latest technology.

Oh, I have a smart phone and a tablet and know how to use them, but I refuse to let them suck up dictate my life. That’s why you won’t find my cell attached to me like it’s part of my body. Really, the only apps I have downloaded are very few on the tablet, even less on my phone.

I’m just not convinced that technology needs to have an exorbitant amount of influence over me or should take the place of real live people with real oral communication skills.

That’s why I only use my cell for texting and an occasional phone call. Rarely, if ever, do I perform internet searches on it and I don’t want Siri, Alexa, or any other of those AI voices to chat with me. No thank you.

It’s bad enough when autocorrect changes words in my text messages which then make no sense and, frankly, ticks me off quite often. Sometimes though as I’m calling this feature stupid, it makes me laugh…even LOL (laugh out loud, for my fellow dinos).

Now Papa, he’s of my generation also BUT he likes fidgeting with new technology gadgets somewhat. Not as old school as me, but still a dinosaur in some ways.

However, despite his age (and gray hair), he downloads this app and that on his cell. He uses that pesky gadget (way too much I keep reminding him) to do internet searches, read online articles, listen to music, check emails, etc.

One of the “perks” of his cell is when he receives a voicemail left for him by text. For any of you fellow old schoolers out there, that’s when your cell takes the audio message left in your voice mail box and transcribes it into a text message for you.

Supposedly, the upside of this is that you don’t have to listen to a long and drawn out voice message when you can just quickly read it instead. Efficiency, you know.

But oh, sometimes when Papa shares those with me, they cause me to LOL too. For example, just the other day, Papa received this voicemail to text:

“Hey ______ (Papa’s real name), this is ______ (caller’s real name). I made a steak on the table if you come back and find it again for me. Just give me a call back here at ________ (phone number). Thank you. Bye.”

Say what? Now let me just confess right here that my hearing has become somewhat deficient (it often comes with that senior citizen thing) and I’ve been known to misconstrue or mishear something someone has uttered to me.

Ask my daughter about the time I incredulously thought she told me a recipe left on the kitchen counter was for King Kong chili instead of the actual Ken’s Mom’s chili.

But shouldn’t whatever that AI thing-a-ma-bob that transcribes voice mails into text messages hear better than me? This old school gal is “just sayin’.”

“Man is a slow, sloppy and brilliant thinker; the machine is fast, accurate and stupid.” ~ William M. Kelly

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in Home, Life, technology

Words for Wednesday: book life

At the risk of sounding like a luddite, some thoughts about the differences between digital books on e-readers and a real, honest-to-goodness paperback or hardback book printed on paper pages have been rolling around in my mind lately.

Why? Because of the photo above. In a concerted and time-consuming effort, Mama has been clearing out this ol’ empty nest. We’ve lived in our country home for 21 years now and the accumulation of stuff tells me so.

So short of selling the house and moving (which always helped de-cluttering in the past but is precisely what Mama and Papa don’t want to do), I set my sights on eliminating the ever-growing assortment lurking in closets, drawers, and especially our very large unfinished basement.

What a job it was! Middle daughter contributed quite an assortment of no longer wanted items herself, so we decided to hold a garage sale or a tag sale as some folks call such an event. Sorting, marking items with prices, and setting up tables to display it all seemed like a herculean task, but I remained undaunted. We advertised our sale – where else but Facebook?

After two days of selling (and praying people would show up to peruse our stuff and take it home with them), we did manage to unload sell a good bit of our former belongings, including some bigger items. But WAY too much remained, and we hauled two very full SUV-loads to our nearest thrift shop to donate.

After all was said and done though, an observation I made saddened me. Papa and I are readers, and we own shelves and shelves of books. We decided it was time to reduce those collections, so many boxes filled with paperbacks, hardbacks, and even children’s chapter books all priced inexpensively and ready for new homes were added to the sale.

To my dismay, hardly anyone even looked at the books. Out of the scads of people who rummaged through our offerings, practically every one of them walked right by the books without a glance. I think we sold a grand total of two hardback books to an older woman and a handful of children’s paperbacks to one lady who mentioned she was trying to entice her son to read more.

What? No one wants “real” books anymore? I get it. You can download books digitally on your kindles or e-readers. But still….for me, reading  electronically isn’t as relaxing as cozying up on my couch with a nice cup of hot tea and a book in my hand. And finishing that book gives me a kind of satisfying fulfillment concluding a digital copy just doesn’t provide.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the beach, I’d much rather read from a printed paperback then haul my kindle down onto the sand.

When I get distracted by the soothing sounds of ocean waves or that seagull who keeps trying to get close enough to see if I’ll throw it some crumbs or I simply get drowsy, I can put a physical bookmark in my book and set it aside.

I don’t have to readjust my focus on reading to realize my e-reader resorted to sleep mode while I was inactive, or squint in the bright sunlight to try to read it, or shut it down because it needs recharged, or locate a safe, non-sandy spot to store it.   

I assume I’m not the only person who prefers printed books to electronic ones, but I searched the all-knowing internet just to make sure I wasn’t the only off-the-wall hermit of a real book lover still in existence. (Don’t get your shorts in a knot, I know there are still some of you out there in cyber-land.)

And here’s one of the sites – 5o Reasons Real Books Are Vastly Superior to eBooks –  I found that caused me to nod my head often as I read it even though the guy who wrote the article called it satire.

I also found a non-satirical site comparing the two that spouted good common sense about why physical books are better than eBooks. It stated that reading on a screen is more tiring for your eyes than reading printed matter. And interestingly, studies have shown that students comprehend less when reading electronically than with traditional printed books.

You know what? I have found that to be true myself. I will buzz through an eBook quickly and then not even really remember much about the storyline but with a printed hard copy, I remember it well.

Sometimes I look at the library of eBooks I have and don’t even remember reading the ones that my kindle app marks as read. Plus, to be honest, some eBooks just really aren’t as well-written as traditionally published ones.

When it comes to books, I’d rather hold a printed one in my hands, go to the library to borrow as many as I want, and enjoy reading that way.

So what to do with all of the boxes of books still sitting in our garage? I could establish a free little lending library like one of my blogging friends has done. I love noticing those and have often photographed some on our excursions.

Somewhere on Cape Cod
At a children’s playground

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never-failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

But a few things might hamper that idea – we live in a very rural area and honestly, I sincerely doubt if anyone would even utilize one here. I’m not sure placing it in any nearby towns would work well either because lately I’ve noticed a lot of vandalism. Plus that wouldn’t be purging all of those boxes of many books at one time.

Thus, I may contact a used bookstore in the city and see if they would be willing to take some of them and, more than likely, I’ll donate the books to some community libraries in our area and thrift shops.

I just hope my assumption that folks don’t read printed books, or any kind of books for that matter, is wrong because I recall a quote once made by the writer, Ray Bradbury: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Anyone interested in a couple boxes of real books? Or do any of you readers out there have another suggestion for me? There’s still lots of good reading in those books.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Posted in Life, technology

Mini Thanks

black and white blog business coffee
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So I’m not the most technologically savvy person around. I mean, I’m proficient with our desktop computer but it doesn’t have the latest operating system by far.

I have a smartphone but it is an older, close to being obsolete version and it’s a hand-me-down to boot. Since I’m too cheap thrifty to purchase a new one, I inherited one of our daughter’s old phones a few years ago. I know my way around my outmoded iPhone fairly well though.

But because its screen is larger and easier type on, I like my mini iPad better than my cell.  But again this piece of technology is an oldie. It’s still working but I have a sneaking suspicion it may be on its way to that never-land where old electronics go when they give up their virtual ghosts.

It survived one traumatic event when it started taking a nosedive off a counter and in my panic to grab it before it hit the floor, I accidentally smashed it into the handle of a cabinet.  My smile at rescuing it turned into a frown when I realized the screen was smashed. But a nearby repair shop was able to restore my little iPad to me.

I’m thankful for this little bit of technology called my iPad. It has been with me through thick and thin the last few years.

It fits in my purse and can go anywhere with me. One morning I sat alone in a local tire shop waiting room while getting our car’s wheel alignment while Papa was at work.

The television there was turned on, but the drivel of morning talk shows mostly analyzing again and again the same old political views didn’t interest me nor did the entertainment interviews on other stations.

I gazed at the magazines lying about in hopes of finding something to read.  Issues of sports, car, and hunting magazines just didn’t float my boat. I flipped through a couple of magazines geared more towards females, but they were old and not really read worthy. 

So I was happy I’d thought to slip little iPad into my purse before I left the house that early morning and it kept me company while I waited for my car to be finished.

This small piece of technology has journeyed with me on vacations and trips to visit our far-away relatives.  During the evenings, I can read an e-book on my Kindle app while winding down in a hotel room or keep in touch on Facebook.

It gives me a few minutes of enjoyment at home when Little One (our first-born grandchild) sits on the couch with me and we play games together on it. Just the other day as we moved onto the next level of a game, I commented that it would be a hard level to complete. Little One’s sympathetic response to me as she placed her hand on my shoulder was, “It’s okay, Nana. Just try your best. That’s what Daniel Tiger says.”

My iPad mini is a source of even more entertainment for her (and me) when Little One takes photos with it. I often open up the camera roll and find 10-15 photos she has taken which always makes me laugh.

The notes app on it allows me to jot down lists to remember as well as ideas and thoughts for blogging and it’s been instrumental in helping me plan this 30 Days of Thanks Giving.  

My mini iPad has proven to be one of my electronics that I’m truly grateful to have on this second day of my thanks giving month. Sure it would be nice to have a newer one, an upgrade, but instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I’d rather appreciate and be thankful for what I do have.

My little iPad reminds me that I have many little blessings in my life. I’m content with that and I’m grateful.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~ Frederick Keonig

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in technology

The party line – and I don’t mean politics

blogIMG_4460Some days I think my husband and I are dinosaurs living in techno land.

We don’t have i-Phones or i-Pads.  Instead we have basic cell phones with only the capability to make and receive calls and text.  And we only have that because texting seems to be the mode of communication our adult children prefer best.

We still own an old desktop computer and our newest type of technology is a two-year-old laptop.  Heck, we’re relics because we still have a land line telephone.

We’re not ready to cancel that service yet because cell phone coverage is spotty in our country house and we lose the signal a lot when we talk by cell, although it would save us a chunk of change each month.  The land line phone company also provides our internet service, another reason to keep it.

But the other day, our house phone provided a real throwback to the past.   The first day it happened, it was funny.  The second full day?  Not so much.

Some of you may be old enough (dinosaurs too!) to remember the days of party lines on your telephone. For those of you young’uns who don’t understand the reference to party lines, I’ll explain.

Back in the day (i.e. when I was a kid), our telephone lines were shared by more than one household.  Lines connecting neighborhood phones on one line were called party lines.  You could get a private line, but it was more expensive or simply not available in your area.

Of course a party line could be very inconvenient.  Just about the time you decided to call someone, you picked up your phone to hear someone else chatting it up non-stop.  Some people were party line hogs and talked incessantly tying up the phone for hours.  That’s when you politely but pointedly chimed in by saying, “I really need to make a call, could you please get off the line?”

The other sticky wicket about party lines was that your phone calls were never private.  At any given moment, someone on your line could simply pick up their phone and listen in on your conversation.  Of course, you might have heard a slight click whenever they picked up or background noise going on at their house, but some people developed a keen knack of picking up so quietly and eavesdropping that they weren’t noticed.

No doubt a lot of gossip got “shared” that way.  The issues of eavesdropping on the party line even was mentioned in a song by Hank Williams Sr. in 1949 called “Mind Your Own Business.”   You can listen to it by clicking  here.

Recently, I encountered a blast from the party line past.  One morning around eight, my phone rang.  As I answered it, I heard a man say, “Hello.”  I opened my mouth to reply,  but heard a woman’s voice saying,  “Hello, what are you doing this morning?”

The man answered, “Oh, just watching the tube.”

She asked, “Well, do you need anything?”  He replied no.

I hung up quickly feeling as though I was an interloping eavesdropper on my own phone!  Puzzled, I wondered why I heard someone else’s telephone conversation.   I lifted it up once more and they were still talking.  I hung up again bewildered.

Later that morning, I tried to make a phone call but my call did not go through.  Instead, I heard a very loud busy signal, a screech, and a recording,  “Your call cannot be completed as dialed.”  Huh??

It happened every time I tried to use our home phone.  That afternoon it rang, but when I answered, I heard the same man and woman having a conversation again.  What in the world was going on?

Exasperated, I attempted to call the phone company and report that my phone was goofier than goofy.   After punching in this number for that, and that number for this, I was put on hold and elevator music sounded.

I heard a series of clicks on the line.  And all of a sudden, I heard that woman’s voice again.

“I don’t understand this!” she exclaimed.  “Something’s really wrong with your phone!  I keep hearing music like I’m on hold or something.  I don’t know what’s wrong with your phone!”

At this point, I was in a quandary.  Should I speak up?  She was interrupting my call to the phone company.  Finally, I timidly said, “Um, excuse me, yes, there is something wrong with the phone lines.  I’m actually on my phone which is out of order and I’m trying to call the phone company to report it.”

“Oh!” she replied.  “So your phone’s acting weird too?”

“Yes, and it’s like phone lines are crossed or something because I heard your conversation on my phone,” I told her.

“That’s weird,” she said. “Where do you live?”

I told her and continued to tell her how strange my phone had been all day when all of a sudden she questioningly said my name.

And that’s when I too recognized her voice.  It was one of my best friends – my long-time friend of over 50 years!  Her widowed, elderly father lives about 3/4 mile or so from my house and my phone line somehow was crossed with his!

We laughed our heads off!  Then we proceeded to compare notes on the craziness of the phones all the while talking over the phone company’s ‘hold’ music.   She then decided to hang up so I could finish my call and then she too would call to report the problem.

What we discovered was that every time she dialed her father’s telephone number, it rang into my house and his.  What a mix-up! But what were the odds that my phone would be somehow connected to her dad’s line and only his out of all the houses along our road?

An automated message informed me that the phone issue should be resolved by 7 pm the next day.   My friend and I continued updating one another on the situation by cell phone and text messaging.

She texted me to warn me that she was going to try to call her dad again to check on him that evening and for me not to answer if my phone rang.  Sure enough, my phone rang,  caller ID did not identify the call, and my answering machine kicked in.   It was a hang-up call.

Then I got this text from my friend.  “HA-HA!  I just called my dad and got your answering machine.”

The next morning my phone rang.  As I answered, I heard my friend and her dad conversing.  Obviously, the phones weren’t fixed yet and I joined in their conversation to let them know.  Another full day of party line style phone service ensued.  When I called my cell from our house phone, the number that showed up on my cell was my friend’s father’s telephone number.

By dinnertime, the situation was no longer that funny and I still couldn’t receive phone calls other than those to my friend’s dad.  Finally, the phone rang and my caller ID showed a number.  I hesitantly answered hello.

The phone repairman called to inform  me the phones were repaired.  When I asked what had happened to cross two different phone numbers that didn’t even have the same exchange, he said a squirrel had chewed through lines in a phone cable box in our area.

Really?  A party line loving squirrel?  How did it chew through phone lines encased in a metal box?  And how did our lines get crossed?

That remains a mystery, but it makes a good story.  Sounds like one of those yarns spun to give an eavesdropping gossip something to talk about.   And that reminds me of a song….”let’s give them something to talk about.”

Obviously, the phone company delivered that message, party line or no party line.

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com