Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saga of a New Phone

Let me preface this by saying I am a bit of a Luddite, or at least I have been until lately.  I felt that I did not really need technology.  I subscribed to the philosophy, "The less I am attached to the rest of the world, the better."  I never wanted to be the person who could always be reached.  I measured the the responsibility in my life by the number of keys on my key ring. I guess the reality of a second child and in part my profession, have forced me to face a cold, hard truth: I needed a phone.

My wife, who constantly reminds me that I am "older", suggested I get a Jitterbug because of my technological handicap.  She said, "It's for people like you who can't text and just need it in emergencies."  I was completely on board until I realized that it was indeed a phone for old people, the telecommunications equivalent of a large print book. I told her maybe I should get a life link wrist band to go with it and a subscription to RV Monthly.  She said, "perfect."  I was nonplussed.  I told her that if I was going to get a phone I wanted one that could, "surf the net." She rolled her eyes and said she would take care of it.

As the day approached when my phone would arrive, I found myself as excited as a teenager before prom.  I had made all the necessary arrangements: I got a twitter account, I changed my Facebook status to "expecting" and  I unplugged the scanner that doesn't work in my classroom, just so the new phone would have a place to charge up and feel at home.  For two days I tweeted, with no followers, from my computer, even though it felt incredibly dorky; just so I would be ready. I tracked it online incessantly, as if it were a liver that I had been waiting around for, like David Crosby.

When it arrived I raced home from work and ignored my family for two whole days.  They are still slightly annoyed with me.  I synced my Google mail and Facebook.  I created a new Picassa account.  I tweeted as tweeting was meant to be, from a phone. And most gratifying of all, I downloaded some apps.  I started small with a nice tower defense game and some star trek noises but I quickly moved on to Tweeter Mobile and Google Maps and Skype for Verizon.  The later proved my undoing.  Somewhere between downloading and installing, Skype had killed my phone.  I felt so helpless as I watched it struggle to start, time and time again, never getting past the boot screen and endlessly flashing the Motorola insignia. I pulled the battery out and put it back in.  I pushed the power button over and over and repeated the process.  Nothing worked.  I briefly considered stomping on it until I remembered the tenderness with which I had regarded it only moments ago.  Finally I decided to take it up to the experts at the Verizon store.

I pulled into the parking lot at about 5:35 with a sense of impending doom: they were certain to be closed.  I would have to wait an entire day to satiate my newest addiction.  I was surprised and delighted to find that not only were they open, but there were three employees and zero customers.  I felt certain that one of these young people with their "techie" know how would save the day and reopen my on-ramp to the information super highway.  Much to my chagrin all I got was a bunch of disparaging remarks about my phone, including, "Wow, a Devour, haven't seen one of those in a long time."  This was followed by a, "How do you open it?" which, needless to say, filled me with confidence.  Finally after much fumbling about by the guy who seemed to be the authority figure,( he looked about 16) I was told, "Well, I don't really know what to tell you...except, maybe get a new phone." chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.  At this point I left to drown my sorrows in a bottle of mourvedre.

At home I tried to be pleasant with my children and my wife, while gazing wistfully at my useless chunk of machined aluminum and plastic.  I told myself that it was all for the best. and that I probably did not really need a phone anyway.  I slept fitfully that night and dreaded telling my students, all of whom have a phone, that I had broken mine in less than 48 hours.  I trudged to school and into my classroom where I related the saga of the phone to them.  In less time then it took the Verizon guy to figure out how to open my phone one of my freshmen had looked up how to "hard reset" it on the Internet.  She had it up and running in about 3 minutes.

Dead of Winter

It seems like every year about this time I begin lamenting the seemingly endless winters here in Central Montana.  I doesn't usually happen until the beginning of February.  There is something about February that is different than any other month.  I know it's shorter, but it's dark and cold and even though the days have begun to grow longer, they just aren't quite doing it fast enough.  The ice in my yard from each subsequent freeze and melt threatens to winter kill even the hardiest of grasses beneath it.  The cornices of ice that slide with glacial persistence from my metal roof loom above the heads of my family and friends as they enter my abode.

But for all of winter's woes and her apparent icy death grip on the land around me, I feel a sense of awe.  I know that 5 or 6 months from now the temperature could quite possibly be 120 degrees warmer than it is right now. I know that the frozen, trampled deer bed that is my garden will once again bring forth the less than bountiful but none the less gratifying fruits of my labor.  And I know that my wife and I and our two sons will move outside and build fires and create new versions of the s'more in our back yard.  We will cook in a dutch oven and float the Missouri or the Smith, camp in the Little Belts or Big Timber Canyon and celebrate our lives in the glorious Montana summer.  These are the visions in my mind's eye that keep the haints and ghouls of a frozen windswept Central Montana February at bay.