Words for Wednesday: tools

blogIMG_9246Tools, technology, or both.

I captured this photo of Papa (my husband) surveying an entire wall full of hand tools. The display was one of the many exhibits we viewed at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation last fall on our trip to Michigan. I found the quote from the late Steve Jobs written above the display interesting.

Papa gazed at this exhibit for a long time because Papa is a tool man. He likes tools. He likes to own tools. He likes to tinker with tools. He like to repair, replace, replenish, or build things with his hands while they hold some useful tool for doing so.  

Papa also uses technology. He uses it as a tool, sometimes to search online for help in using his handheld tools, sometimes to find suggestions for solving a problem with one of his tools.

But technology can’t and doesn’t replace utilizing our hands to wield a tool to get a job accomplished. There’s a time and place to use good old-fashioned tools and there’s a time and place to use technology.

What would happen if we abandoned using real tools for virtual ones? What might take place if we use our hands only for technology?

“If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, architect

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Charged but unplugged

blogIMG_7001You might say I’m a little charged up as I write this.

Everywhere I look there’s something that needs charged.  As I sit in our home office at the desktop computer, wires and cables snake their way around this desk. 

Electrical outlets abound in our house and most of them have some item or another plugged into them. Lamps, televisions, TV cable boxes, DVD players, and (gasp!) we even still use a VCR.  Appliances – refrigerator, stove, freezer, coffee maker, toaster, mixer, Nutri Bullet, – all of these get their juice from electrical outlets.

Then there are the electronics that need constant re-charging – cell phones, ipad, Kindle, hubby’s MP3 player, laptop computers, cameras, the list goes on and on.

We’re wired at our house even though some items claim to be wireless. 

So yes, I am charged.  But not the way you may think.

Before I explain, let me state that I am truly grateful for electricity and the ability to charge up and use our devices when we need them. All it takes to realize you’re dependent on electricity is for the power to go out. And then we’re oh, so thankful for all of those power linemen who go out in inclement weather to restore the charge we need.

So yes, being charged up is good in that instance.  But I’m charged up because I think we are overly-charged. We are too wired.  We are too plugged in and I think we need to pull the plug.

Let me explain.

This past weekend, we fortunately did not receive the nor’easter blizzard that crippled quite a large area of the East Coast.  Only a few inches of snow fell in our area – the worst was south and east of us.

So Friday evening, even though it was snowing a bit but not more than we are accustomed to, daughter and I decided to meet Papa after his work day was finished for dinner at a restaurant in the city where his office is located.

Dinner hour already in full swing, the restaurant was crowded when we arrived before Papa did.  Lots of people hovered around waiting for a table and for the hostess to call their names. We asked her how long the wait was – 30 minutes – and proceeded to queue up with all the others after she noted our name and how many were in our dining party.

No room inside, we stood in the outer entrance of the restaurant waiting our turn with several other patrons. I pulled my cell out, called Papa to tell him that we had arrived and the wait was 30 minutes, so he didn’t need to hurry too much from the errands he was running.

Then I placed my cell phone back in my purse…where it stayed. I use my cell for three things: phone calls, texting my kids and friends, and snapping an occasional photo or video. That’s it.

Call me an old fogey, a dinosaur, I don’t care.  To me, real life is more important than sticking my nose in a cell phone to read tweets, Facebook, play games, whatever.

In a short while, some seating in a waiting area inside, which was much warmer, became available so daughter and I moved to that nook of the establishment. Once seated, I do what I normally do in a public place.  I started looking around. 

I am a people watcher, an observer.  It’s what I do and you never know when you might receive some good blogging fodder.

Ah, now you might be getting my drift.

Folks kept arriving for dinner, so the waiting line continued to grow.  In the small seating area where we were, I glanced around at my fellow hungry patrons and that’s when something hit me like a ton of bricks. No, not literally.  Figuratively.

I couldn’t count how many folks were milling around the inside doorway or waiting in the outer entrance but my guess was 30-35 people. I began counting how many people were either sitting or standing nearby us just in our small waiting area.

I counted 10 human beings around me, including daughter and myself. And out of those 10, no one was talking even though some were with another person – a married couple, friends, family. No one came in alone.

I noticed immediately that the reason they were not conversing was because every one of those nine other people, including my daughter, had their eyes glued to their cell phones.  Every. Single. Person. But me.

I leaned over to my daughter and whispered my revelation to her. She shrugged her shoulders and continued to scroll through something on her cell.

Nine out of ten people were plugged into their phones. Nine out of ten! And they weren’t teenagers but instead ranged in age from their 20’s to some grey-haired folks who looked older than me.

Seriously, what is so important or so mind-boggling that you can’t be without it for just a few minutes? Our cell phones. 

Like electricity, cell phones are a great invention. I’m grateful for mine so I can get in touch quickly with family when we’re apart. They help us be safe; I can remember times before the age of cell phones when I certainly could have used one.

But just like anything, it’s how we use them and whether we allow them to take over our lives. Because they can and they do.

You know we talk so much about addiction – addiction to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography – but have we considered how addicted we humans are to that little electronic device? 

We are wired, folks. And it’s an addiction. Do we really need to be plugged into our cells 24/7? This quote maybe says it all: 

“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.” ~ Margaret Heffernan

Really?? This truly has me charged up. And vowing to become more unplugged than ever before. And encouraging others to do the same. 

We’re missing out on life, on real face-to-face conversations with ones we love, on observing and enjoying our surroundings, on so many worthwhile activities that truly enhance our time here on earth.

But instead, we stare at a little screen held in our hands.

If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” ~ Steven Spielberg

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com



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