Saturday, September 24, 2011

Here’s why I love my new smartphone (take that, George Clooney)

This is the new phone I got recently; I’ve been pretty pleased with it, it’s not just smart, it’s smart looking.  The receiver shows the date & time, and it can be programmed to work as an alarm clock.  Oh and the base isn’t just an answering machine, it’s a speakerphone too. 

(It even came with a spare phone & charger that I can set anywhere in my house because only the main unit needs plugged into a phone jack.)   But I think my favorite feature is the ‘no texting’ function—you have to talk into it.

Y’see, last week a little secret of mine was exposed, and since then I’ve gotten my share of teasing remarks about it.  I was going to let the matter drop, but then yesterday I eagerly read an interview with George Clooney (and I only say eagerly as we’re both in the ‘1961 Club’ and this is George & mine’s year for hitting the big 5-0). 

He has a few months on me, so what life experiences or pearls of wisdom was he ready to share that can help me prepare for this half-century milestone?

“By the time you hit 50, you know who your friends are.”  (Er…okay, that makes sense.)

“I began subscribing to AARP magazine and it’s surprising to see some of the people I know.”   (George I’ve been on the fence about this!  Okay, what else??)

George is 50“I still love a good prank.  My friends used to change my outgoing phone message all the time. This was the old days, when you had a phone machine. They would change the message to something horrible and there was nothing I could do to change it back. That was always brilliant."   

“The old days”?   You mean before cellphones and voice mail?  George I’ll have you know I’m not a total Dodo just yet, I have a cellphone too!  I just don’t like carrying it around with me 24-7. 

And truth be told, I’m a lot more inclined to check my messages when I come home from work and see that flashing red light on my machine—that damn cellphone could be hiding anywhere!

Anyway, getting back to my secret--it began last Friday at the office; we had a major system installation planned for the weekend and one of my coworkers suggested that the project manager send a text message to everyone’s cellphone when they were ready for us analysts to report for duty.   So a ‘test-text’ was sent out & what followed was a flurry of email responses:

  • Erin:  Got it.
  • Steve: Got it, thanks!
  • Candace:  Got it too. 
  • Mia: Got it! 
  • Jamie: Got it. 
  • Kathy: Holla, got it. 
  • Gwen:  Thanks, got it.
  • Me:  um...I don’t have my cellphone at work with me. 
  • (Silence)
  • Me:  It’s at home, I think I left it in the glove compartment of my car.
  • (Silence)
  • Me:  Or on my dresser.  I don’t think it can send or get texts anyway. 
  • (Silence)
  • Me:  OKAY, I don’t know how to text on it!
  • Kathy:  Doug, you’re funny.

And that’s my big secret—I HAVE NEVER SENT A TEXT MESSAGE.  I’m not about to either, I type enough already!  I know that recent polls show 40% of us prefer texting over talking, but what secrets of the universe need to be shared so immediately that they can’t wait to be read in an email?  

Look, if someone needs to talk to me THAT badly, then they’ll have to do just that—talk! 

sitting on the basement steps to talk on the phone...

Now if you really want to talk about phones in the ‘old days’, here’s me in 1979 trying to get some privacy on the basement stairs; that damn cord only stretched so far!

Okay, I know this is much ado about nothing, but from what I gather it’s no worse than half of the text-messages flying over my head right now as I type this:  “WHT R U UP 2”  “NOTHNG, WHT ABT U”  “NOTHNG”

I will say one thing about the whole texting phenomenon that I find fascinating; my 6 year old niece Sophie has been practicing her ‘text typing’ since the age of 4, as if it were part of the natural process, like learning to walk. 

Last summer I watched her holding a Hanna Montana makeup compact with both hands and deftly tapping it’s lid with her thumbs--when I said “Honey what are you doing?”  she said “Uncle Doug let me finish this thought first.” 

I’m not joking!

When I showed Sophie my cellphone (with it’s little hideaway keyboard) and confided to her I’ve never texted anyone and didn’t even know how, she looked at me like she’d just seen a ghost.   When (& if) I’m ready to learn, I’m sure she’ll show me how.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just got my draft notice from the AARP (well, that’s what it feels like)

Do you remember that scene in “Superman: The Movie” where Clark Kent & his mother have just buried Pa Kent, and Clark informs his now widowed Ma that he has to leave (to go to Metropolis & become Superman)?   All his poor mother can say is “I knew this day would come.”   

Well, that’s pretty much what I thought when I got my mail recently, and saw this fat white envelope with that infamous red logo—my induction into the AARP.  Yes I knew this day would come, but I thought I still had a couple months before Big Brother let me know I was officially an old man.  So I open the envelope, and there’s an application, a temporary AARP card until my official one arrives, A SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY FORM FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIT-DOWN WITH BETTY WHITE (I’m not joking, visit their site right here)  and finally, a warm & fuzzy letter welcoming me into the fold & reminding me that life doesn’t end at fifty—“for many people, this is when the real living begins.”  Woo-hoo! 

Seriously, I could go for some real living.  

“Betty White invites you to join the AARP now!”  Y’know, I love Betty as much as the next person, but I’d rather have Helen Mirren inviting me; now THAT’S a silver fox! 

(Oh dammit, Helen’s not American.  Ok Betty, bring it...)

When I informed my friend Candace I got my induction notice, she said “Doug now you can get a discount at IHOP!”  Well, I haven’t been to one since 2008 when my younger sister lived in West Virginia, but I suppose that’s something to consider.   When I googled “what can AARP membership do for me”, I got a hundred discussion forums with people saying an AARP card will get you hotel discounts and another hundred people saying you’ll get a better discount if you show your AAA card instead. 

So what else, besides a mailbox full of junk mail for AARP-endorsed insurance plans and Life Alert services?

The official AARP Magazine!

As much as I like Dustin Hoffman & Michelle Obama, I wasn’t sold until I saw Sally Field on the cover—she can still kick it.  Waitaminute, there’s an article on the AARP site of words and expressions you should stop using after you turn fifty:

Words to Ax After You’re 50 according to AARP:

  • Panties
  • Smashed, overserved, or hammered
  • “That’s sick!”
  • ”Whatever...”
  • “I’m like...” 
  • Hot  (except when referring to the weather or habaneros)
  • Kick it  (marginal even for those 50+ in a rock band)

Whatever!  It also recommends that after fifty, you stop wearing skinny jeans, gold chains & novelty t-shirts—oh fudge, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.  I recently found a place that sells cool t-shirts on the cheap & I’m in the process of updating my casual wardrobe.   (C’mon, I’m gonna be fifty years old--I’m not about to let anyone tell me what I can & cannot wear now!)  

Walgreen’s & IHOP discounts be damned, I’ve just decided I’m not ready to join the ranks of this senior crowd just yet.  Betty White, come back and see me in ten years.  Or better yet, send Sally.  

Until then, I’m going to kick it.  Smile

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I’d rather end the summer on a warm note


Doggone it, I’ve been in a real funk this week.  I’m pretty sure it began with that incident last Friday (when that crazy-ass dude threw me up against a wall & gave me that lecture about killing me) followed by all this chilly wet weather. 

(Hmm...maybe subconsciously I am somehow manipulating the jet stream to match my own blah mood-- why should I be the only one with a cloud over his head?)  Yes I know, that’s crazy-talk... it’s been going around a lot lately!  Ok enough of that--the thing is, I just didn’t want that (see previous blog) to be my last blog of the summer. 

So when my sister Shawn sent me this photo of my beautiful 6 year old niece Sophia doing her monkey bit at a playground this past Sunday (she was attending a birthday party, hence the skirt—oh wait my sister just informed me it’s a “skort”) I knew I had to share it here, and end the summer on a high note.   This trapeze artist can cheer me up without even trying!

So...for now all I have to say is that I’m looking forward to fall (my favorite time of year) and not so much looking forward to Halloween (which also happens to be my 50th birthday—cripes) and finally as long as I’m blathering away here, I’d like to give thanks to all the people in my life who always manage to make my days just a little bit sunnier—I hope you know who you are.  And also a special thank-you note to the visitors of the teepee who take the time to read my foolishness (and sometimes even respond to it). 

If you want names, I’d be happy to oblige.  Smile  



Sunday, September 4, 2011

It did not last long, but it lasted long enough


Friday morning I was attacked by a total stranger.  I wasn’t robbed, and no real violence on my person occurred other than being shaken up, but it’s odd that I could brush it aside so easily right after it happened, and now, two days later I keep replaying the sequence of events in my mind.

It was a typical morning much like any other Friday morning, aside from the fact that I was going to work an hour later than usual.  I was the one scheduled to work “the box” that day, the person designated for responding to system issues and various IT requests; you’re required to stay an hour later than everyone else, so you start an hour later than usual too.  

So after I hurry up the street in front of my apartment building to get to the ‘main drag’ (where the bus stops are located) I notice a man about ten steps ahead of me, wearing a light jacket & ballcap and walking a bit slower than me.  I can only see his back, but he stops a couple times and cocks his head, and I think something’s not right with him, I hope he doesn’t know I’m a few feet behind.

And so we keep walking that way (it’s still too early for any real foot traffic other than a jogger and his dog across the street from us, going in the opposite direction) and just when I think well here’s my bus stop, the guy suddenly swings around and runs up to me and pushes me up against the wall of a flower shop, his hand planted firmly in the center of my chest.  He is very strong, and I can see him very well now, he’s 3-4 inches taller than me and looks to be in his late twenties/early thirties.  His eyes are a very clear blue and his lips are pulled back in a snarl.  He gets up really close and rasps “I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING—YOU’RE LUCKY I DON’T KILL YOU!”  and his breath is very hot on my face.  

Very quickly the thoughts “schizophrenic” and “drug user” go thru my head.  One or the other, maybe both.  I say quietly “I’m going to yell for the police now.”   His face is red and full of rage.  “YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE STILL ALIVE!”   I turn my head to the right and yell “Police... POLICE!”   Right away the doors to the bakery next door open and two women step outside.  One says “What in the world??”  and the guy lets go and takes off running down the street.  The other woman says “Mister are you ok?”  and I shake my head, yes.   And as if on cue, my bus pulls up and I say “Um, this is mine, thank you” and climb on.

By the time I finally got downtown, 40 or so minutes had passed & I was feeling a lot calmer.  I was just anxious to get upstairs, get settled and see how many emails were waiting for me.  After catching up with things, I walked over to the other people in my group and related what happened earlier.  I wasn’t surprised at the reactions I got:  “Oh my God!”  “Doug you need to move to a better neighborhood!”  “Next time kick him in the b-lls!”  “No—you want to jab him right in his Adams’ apple, that will bring the strongest man down, I guarantee it!”   Okay…

I walked back to my desk and thought “I’m not shaken up, I’m not angry or anything.  I’m just tired.”  I called my borough’s local police.  A woman answered.  I said “I don’t know if this is worth calling in, but there’s a dangerous guy walking around there, he came up to me this morning on Main Street while I was getting ready to catch the bus downtown.”   She said “Did he demand anything?”  “No.”  “Did he make any threatening remarks?”  “Yes, he said I was lucky he didn’t kill me.”  

She continued.  “Do you know him?”  “No.”  “Was there any physical contact?”   “Yes, he pushed me up against a wall.”   “That sounds like an assault; can you give me a description of this man.”  I said I could, and I did.

When I got home from work, I called the station again, and they informed me that no one had been seen matching my description, and asked if I knew the two ladies who had seen what occurred, no, I didn’t.  They asked if I would identify the suspect if something turned up, I said yes, and would I be willing to fill out a form and press charges.  I said definitely and he said “that’s good, it doesn’t help us or you if complainants don’t follow through.”

Monsters in the streets—who needs them.   (Sorry for sharing this, I had to get it—like that wacko’s hand—off my chest.)