Land Line Telephones

Recently, my wife and I upgraded my phone/television/Internet service.  Well, upgrade may not be the most accurate term, because we cut back on a lot of television channels that we never watched (how many channels dedicated to cooking does one really need, anyway?).  Since our three services are bundled, we got a “new” digital telephone service, with a whole lot of bells and whistles that we’ll never use anyway: Call Forwarding, Call Blocking by number, you know, stuff like that.

Telephone

Telephone (Photo credit: plenty.r.)

In the process of the upgrade, our voicemail with the phone company was reset, so to speak, and I had to reinitialize it.  OK, no problem.  Log into the website, click the FAQ, click the “Call my voicemail” button.  Really, all I wanted was to set up the voicemail – who’s idea was it to require a website logon?!  Anyway, I clicked the button, and my phone rang.  It was the voicemail lady, “Please enter your password, followed by the pound sign.”

Blah, blah, blah… I follow the prompts and hang up the phone.  Then the website prompts me for more setup options.  OK, at least I don’t have to listen to the voicemail lady tell me to press this number, or that symbol, or to speak the command in Ancash to continue.  Websites are generally the superior interface for these sorts of things.

Then, one of the options presented to me is something like Simultaneous Ring, which, despite sounding like a wedding-day custom, didn’t really appeal to me.  Its purpose is to ring another number at the same time someone calls your home number.  So, if someone were to call my home, it would ring at, say, my cell phone at the same time.  Without hesitation, I kept that feature disabled.  There is no way in God’s green Earth that I would want that.  The only people who call my home are pests who want to sell me something, pests who are asking for donations, and, especially here in the United States at this time of year, pests who want me to vote for them.

It was at this moment that it occurred to me – my home phone is pretty much useless now.  It has devolved into a marketing tool for other people!  Despite my registering on the Do Not Call List, I still get these calls.  Now, here’s the kicker, and the thing that really gets my goat: I’m paying for this – literally AND figuratively!  I use my cell phone for all my calls now.  My friends and family with whom I care to speak have my cell number.  Any time a phone call comes in to my land line, I let it go to voice mail for immediate screening.

Before I go off on a rant, which I’m really close to doing, I’ll close with a question to you, dear readers.  If you have a cell phone and a land line, do you use your land line for anything else other than a screening service?  Are the only folks, or a large majority of them, who call your land line those who want to sell something?  Would you cut the phone line permanently, if you haven’t already?

Let me know in the comments below.

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The Wrong Pillow

Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...

Recently, I stayed at a place that wasn’t my own.  It was only for one night, and I had been there before.  I will refrain from naming this place, mainly because I like to respect people’s privacy, but also because I’d rather not cause any static.  Not that what I’m about to say is a secret, or that it insults anyone.

Anyway, while I was there, I was reminded how important one’s pillow is, Continue reading

Silly Things People Say

I love words.  I love language.  I love linguistics, although I don’t really know much about it other than language families, dialects, and other simple, basic concepts.  Any linguists out there who are reading this now are thinking to themselves, “This guy doesn’t know anything about linguistics!”  Well, they’re right.  Oh, well – save it for the comments below, Mr. or Ms. Linguistics-Person.

Anyway, some things that people say, self included, don’t make a lot of sense.  When I hear them, I wonder if they really know what they’re saying, or if they just say it because they’ve heard other folks say it.  Here are some idioms, phrases and words that come to mind:

I could care less.

People usually say this to mean I don’t care at all.  But, that’s not what it says.  What they are actually saying is that they do care, and that there is some amount of care that is less than they currently feel.  What they really mean is I couldn’t care less.  See, now it says that they care so little that they couldn’t possibly care any less than they do.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Say what?  Why can’t I?  Let’s say I sit down and am helping myself to a piece of cake.  Now, I’m not a big cake eater – it’s OK, but I don’t have a sweet tooth.  Anyway, let’s say that, as I’m eating my cake, my wife calls out to me, “Hey, Stud, what are you doing?”  (OK, she never calls me Stud, but this is my story, just go with it.)  I’d answer, “Well, Sweet Mama (again, I don’t call her this), I’m having cake!”  See!  I’m having cake.  AND I’m eating it, too!  What do you say to that, huh?  Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do!  In fact, if I don’t have the cake, I can’t eat the cake.  It’s at this point that my wife would say, “What?  You have cake, and you didn’t get me any!”  Uh-oh, now I’m in for it.

Bite your tongue!

People say this usually to mean, “Be quiet!  Don’t say anything!”  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I bite my tongue, I am anything but quiet. Usually, I cry out loudly, followed up with a string of not-so-nice words.  So, I just don’t get the saying.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Really?  Is there?  If so, how the heck did you come about this knowledge?  Wouldn’t the SPCA or PETA hunt you down for doing this?  I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in many states and municipalities too.

Flip the bird.

Extending your middle finger to a person looks nothing like a bird to me – at least, not any bird that I’ve ever seen in real life or pictures.

Buy One, Get One.

I don’t get this, not at all.  If I buy one item, I dang well better get one item!  Sheesh!  What would I do instead, buy two to get only one?!  It’s all in the marketing, I reckon.

Great minds think alike.

Excuse me, but I think that mundane minds think alike.  Otherwise, we’d be buried in a plethora of great ideas.  No, I believe that Great minds think differently.  That’s what makes them great.

Plain vanilla.

Plain vanilla?  Really?!  Have you ever tasted vanilla?  It’s anything but plain!  Every vanilla flavored ice cream tastes different from the last.  Vanilla is a fine flavor, and one of my favorite.  Honestly, it’s chocolate that’s boring – it’s just chocolate, the same flavor over and over again.  Sure, add sugar, or cream, or salt.  But, it’s still just chocolate.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

Well, duh.  It either is this thing, or it is not this thing.  This isn’t rocket science here.

It’ll be in the last place you look.

This is another duh statement.  Who the heck keeps looking for something after they’ve already found it?

Your guess is as good as mine.

No, mine is better, because I’m smarter than you.

How about you?  Are there any phrases that strike you as odd, ridiculous, or just plain wrong?

Death To The Penny!

OK, let’s get serious here, folks.  I want to propose something that’s been on my mind for at least 20 years now.

I want the United States mint to stop making pennies.  I am dead serious about this, too.

Impractical And Inconvenient

When you go to the store and pay with cash, your change almost always includes those coins that are 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper with a value of one one-hundredth dollar – the penny, the cent, the Lincoln head.  Now, what do you do with those pennies?  Do they even make it out of the store, or do you throw them into the little “Need One, Leave One” tray at the counter?  If the former, once you get them home, do you put them somewhere where you use them again in a future transaction, or do they just go into some container where they’ll stay until they get too numerous forcing you to bring them to a change counter somewhere?  I took a scientific survey* which shows that 91.3%* of people don’t ever use pennies for a purchase unless they happen to have the right amount on their person to avoid receiving more pennies.

So, pennies are a nuisance, for the most part.  They have no value for purchasing.  Go to a store – any store.  Look around for a product you can purchase that costs one penny.  Go ahead – I’ll wait here until you return…

So, what do you have?  What’s that?  “Nothing?”  Thought so.  There’s even no more “penny candy,” at least not for as long as I can remember.

Now, how about another experiment?  Go to a city.  Walk around until a person asks you for some spare change.  Hand them a penny.  How did they react?  I’d bet you a nickel that they were angry to some degree.  Once you wiped the spit off your face, did they seem grateful at all?  Probably not.

Here’s the thing – inflation has rendered the penny all but useless.  People not only can do without them, but also don’t really want them.  They’re used simply because they’re here.

The Penny

One US Cent

Cost More Than Their Value

So, aside from their impracticality, why else get rid of the penny?  How about cost?

According to the United States Mint, in 2010, the cost to mint one penny was 1.79¢ (Click the link and look at the first table on page 29).  Think about that for a minute… to make a penny, the US government spends almost 2 pennies.  In 2010, the US Mint shipped 3,487,000,000 pennies (Page 28 in the last link).  That’s three billion, four hundred eighty-seven million of them!  So, US taxpayers (of which I am one) spent $62,417,300 to make pennies worth a market value of $34,870,000!  I know that’s a lot of zeroes, folks, but stay with me for another minute.  We wasted $27,547,300, over 27.5 million dollars!  That’s right, we just threw it away, for a coin that is impractical and, really, unwanted.  We can add “unnecessary” and “wasteful” to the list.

So, if we get rid of the penny, what changes with our spending?  Well, not a whole heck of a lot, really.  If we can’t slice the dollar down to its hundredth portion anymore, we merely have to round those pennies to the nearest twentieth dollar.  That’s the nickel, my friends.

Rounding Numbers

Every time I discuss this with people, I get a funny look, and the question, “How can you do that?”  Simple, really.  You know how to round to the nearest ten, hundred, thousand, etc., yes?  Well, it’s the same thing, only in divisions of five.  To make it easier, I’ve made this table:

If The Cent Is: Round:
0 Nothing; keep the same
1 Down to the nearest dime
2 Down to the nearest dime
3 Up to the nearest nickel
4 Up to the nearest nickel
5 Nothing; keep the same
6 Down to the nearest nickel
7 Down to the nearest nickel
8 Up to the nearest dime
9 Up to the nearest dime

This is simple, really.  If a sale comes to $27.32, it rounds down to the nearest dime, or $27.30.  If a sale comes to $2.77, it rounds down to the nearest nickel, or $2.75, and so on and so forth.

Learning From History

This wouldn’t be the first time the US has changed its currency in this manner.  You may have heard of the hay penny, also spelled ha’penny.  It was the half-cent.  The US minted them from 1793 to 1857.  Why did they stop making them?  Because the value of a half cent became worth less and less, and its continued use became impractical.  In other words, for pretty much the same reasons I am using to make my case to kill the penny.

Penny For Your Thoughts?

What do you say, folks?  Do you think the time has come to kill the penny once and for all?  Let me know in the comments below.

* – By “scientific survey,” I do not mean scientific in any way at all, nor a survey by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m really just stating my own personal opinion, agreed upon by a few of my friends.

** – Uncertainty of -91.3%/+8.7%

Common Experiences

A short post today, consisting of a reaction I had earlier.

It occurred to me that there are so many things that divide us as a species.  Every one of us can look at another human being and easily see what is different.  We so readily define others as “What I am not.

Gender.  Gender ambiguity.  Racial identity.  Sexual orientation.  Religion.  Faith.  Religious denomination.  Economic status.  Nationality.  Political affiliation.  Sports.  Sports teams.  Diet.  Body shape.  Physical ability.  Physical disability.  Eye color. Eye shape.  Sickness.  Health.

All of these, whether apparent or not, are ways that we, as human beings, separate other human beings from ourselves.  I believe this is the source of many conflicts between us.  “You are different from me!”  Anger, loud words, war, oppression, and many other evils arise from this sense of “other,” or “unlike me.”

But then, I thought of two things, only two things, that we all share.  No matter the divisions between us, we all can claim them as our own.  This is part of our human condition.  What unites us.  What no one human can deny.

My Youngest Daughter, 2 Minutes Old

Birth.  Every human has a birth.

Death.  Every human will die.

Every human will experience joy at experiencing the birth of someone close to them.

Every human will grieve for the death of someone close to them.

As the two universal experiences, I go out of my way to acknowledge them with anyone.

I will purposely stop and wish someone a Happy Birthday when I know their birthday is near.

I will purposely stop and offer congratulations to someone who is expecting or has had a birth in their family or close circle of friends.

I will purposely stop and offer my condolences to anyone when I know they have lost someone dear to them.

I will purposely stop and offer a sympathetic ear to anyone who is near their death.

I try to focus on what we, as humans, have in common.  From there, I believe, we can build a better relationship with all people.