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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Fax of Life

There are two basic approaches to life.

Many of us love anything new and different. The future brings hope and improvement; we look forward to technological advances even more impressive than plasma TV, the iPod, and blogs.

On the other hand, some of us hang on to the past with as much zeal as Tom Cruise hangs onto roles that make him younger than his actual mid-40s. Untested novelties bring danger; security comes from the familiar.

We know where Canton, Ohio’s Ester Strogen comes down on this question—she has rented two old-school rotary telephones for nearly 50 years. Until this summer, she was still paying her phone company more than $100 a year to rent the phones that most of us barely remember.

Yes, that’s right—she has coughed up thousands of dollars over the years to avoid touch-tone phones.

Her family is upset that the phone company appears to have been taking advantage of Ester and other aging folks who simply don’t think through the ultimate cost of renting equipment versus buying it.

So what about other supposedly obsolete communications technology?

The Pony Express. Horses and mail are one hell of a combination. Why did we ever get rid of this? Mounted mail delivery makes sense—especially when you’re driving along, minding your own business, and a motorized postal vehicle pulls out from the curb, right in front of you, almost causing a damn wreck and killing you! (Not that this would happen, of course.)

The letter. Maybe there’s no need for the mail anyway. People used to write letters to each other; now my mailbox fills up with credit card offers and Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20% coupons. Let’s bring back the art form of the letter and get rid of quickly written and often useless e-mails.

The fax machine. Jammed paper, slow delivery, fuzzy documents … the fax machine may be one of the worst inventions since Scientology. In a world of scanners and e-mail attachments, why do we still have these miserable creations?

I’m still waiting for the day when we can communicate by thought alone. All those science fiction stories and Star Trek episodes I enjoyed while growing up had me convinced that by now we’d have telepathic skills, flying cars, and gorgeous green-skinned women.

I haven’t seen any of these. I’m more likely to see a rotary phone.

Speaking of which, if you are still renting equipment from your phone company, I suggest that you buy yourself a cheap phone and send the company a note telling them to stop charging you.

Make sure it's a letter—not an e-mail. And don’t send it by fax.

41 Comments:

At September 19, 2006 7:50 AM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

Hey! Send me some of those 20% off Bed bath and Beyond coupons...by Pony Express! ;)

 
At September 19, 2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

I thought we could all communicate by mental telepathy! I guess I should see someone about the voices in my head that I'm always having conversations with.

 
At September 19, 2006 10:02 AM, Blogger Jenna Howard replied to my musings ...

There's a black rotary phone down in my parents' basement. It still works. Think she'd like it?

The yellow one (identical to the 70s show one) finally crapped out a few years ago. Yes...rotary.

We're so cool.

 
At September 19, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Kid Jacque replied to my musings ...

I loved using a rotary phone but being so young at the time when I did use it - I would get confused on what number I was on. I would get too caught up in watching the dial move around....

I'm so old...

 
At September 19, 2006 12:27 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

You mean I have to stop the ice man from delivering ice to my house! How in the world will I enjoy cold beverages?

 
At September 19, 2006 1:07 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

Am I the only one who thinks that Ester Strogen is a stage name? Kinda like a guy named Testo Strone? OK, ok, that's a stretch, but still...

 
At September 19, 2006 2:07 PM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

I think the phone company should just let them have the rotary phones.

 
At September 19, 2006 2:15 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

I picked up on the same thing as Bruce. E. Strogen? Maybe she was too hormonal to switch phones.

I liked rotary phones, but you could never win concert tickets with that shit!

 
At September 19, 2006 2:20 PM, Blogger Paige Burns replied to my musings ...

Guess I'm in the "love technology" group. I have started writing my books longhand, or at least parts of it when I'm not around my laptop.

Think about all the information they put in letters, Billy-Bob's engagement to Sue, the roses Tilly planted are finally starting to bloom, etc...things that happened over weeks, months, because communication was that slow. Nowadays, because communication is so quick, if I wrote my siter a letter it would be a few lines. "Went to the store today, saw Billy-Bob necking with Tilly in the produce section, guess I'll have to IM Sue. Talk to ya tomorrow."

 
At September 19, 2006 2:40 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

I am all for the pony express making a comeback. As long as the mailman cleans up after the pony.

 
At September 19, 2006 3:49 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

DaBich: I get at least one a week, it seems. I'd break the pony's back.

Mike: Maybe you've simply evolved to the next evoutionary step before the rest of us.

Jenna: Rotary phones must be making a comeback. Maybe it's a retro thing.

Jacque: I've used them, too. Did you ever get your finger caught in the turning dial? That hurts.

Cube: Perhaps you can chill your beverages by putting them in front your TV as you play your old tapes of Vanilla Ice. Dat's cold.

Bruce, OMW: Now that you mention it, I do wonder if this is one of those fake stories planted to trick us. I'll check it out.

Angel: Agreed. They should have let them own them about 20 years ago!

Paige: Exactly. The ability to write and communicate more quickly has led us to write ... fewer things. Hmmm.

Mimi: That's a good point--at least the delivery trucks don't leave deposits behind. Well, except for air pollution.

-- david

 
At September 19, 2006 4:24 PM, Blogger Jenna Howard replied to my musings ...

Nooooo!!! I'm too young to be retro!!! Take it back, David. Take. It. Back!

 
At September 19, 2006 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

I love the sound and feel of a rotary phone...I'd totally go back to one if I could. I think they're sexy.

Scarlett :)

 
At September 19, 2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Beth replied to my musings ...

What about that fake rotary-looking phone with push buttons from Target? Maybe that would be a nice transitional piece for her.

 
At September 19, 2006 6:05 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

How about a major global corporation that calls itself, "American Telephone and Telegraph"?

Or Western Union--a company that wires money by satellite, and their logo is...a stagecoach...

I would say more, but you never know who is listening in on this Hooterville party line...

 
At September 19, 2006 6:13 PM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

The other day on Days of Our Lives they were talking about party lines. Does anyone really have those anymore?!

Then again, maybe these are just the type of people who still watch...Days of Our Lives, too:)

 
At September 19, 2006 7:53 PM, Blogger Grafs replied to my musings ...

Ester Strogen? You're kidding, right?

As for snail mail, I'm fitting my mailbox with a direct chute to the trash can as we speak.

 
At September 19, 2006 10:59 PM, Blogger Alex replied to my musings ...

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Pony Express would actually deliver mail quicker than the USPS. And the packages would get to their destination in better condition. And the riders would get to fight outlaws in the desert and stuff.

Okay, too many Clint Eastwood movies.

 
At September 20, 2006 2:05 AM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

I couldn't agree more with the Fax Machine and yet it seems that I have to use it way too much.

 
At September 20, 2006 6:35 AM, Blogger Ben replied to my musings ...

Shit, I'd better get in touch with the phone company and ask them why I'm still renting this Telex machine.

 
At September 20, 2006 7:32 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Jenna: Don't worry about it, retro is cool no matter how old you are.

Scarlett: I've never thought of rotary phones as sexy. The sound was distinct, though.

Beth: That's kind of like making a light bulb in the shape of a candle, which we see all the time.

ZW: Such companies only exist in your imagination.

Janet: So you watch the show, eh? A dangerous thing to admit.

Grafs: I'd say spam makes up a good 60% the e-mail I get on my blog e-mail account--which I don't even have posted up on the profile anymore.

Alex: The way you describe it, I think I'll sign up.

Jeff: I find ways to avoid it, like scanning in signed documents and send them as attachments.

Ben: While you're at it, it's probably time to give up that abacus, too.

-- david

 
At September 20, 2006 8:21 AM, Anonymous Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I was going to suggest eliminating 24 hour news networks and bringing back the town crier... but then the thought of Nancy Grace running up and down the street screaming about Natalee Holloway at the top of her lungs is rather nightmare inducing so I think that idea will have to be scratched.

 
At September 20, 2006 8:55 AM, Anonymous fred charles replied to my musings ...

The day we can communicate through thought alone will be an interesting day. There will probably be more violence on that day than any other day in history!

 
At September 20, 2006 11:11 AM, Blogger Jay replied to my musings ...

Clever post, but it was the title that really won me over.

 
At September 20, 2006 11:50 AM, Blogger erika replied to my musings ...

Poor Ester!

I remember when I had a TV and I actaully had to get off the couch to change the channels and there was only 7 stations.

 
At September 20, 2006 1:31 PM, Blogger Cinderella replied to my musings ...

The whole knowing what one another is thinking purely by thought is a scary one...btw, pull your zipper up already! Sheesh!

 
At September 20, 2006 6:16 PM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

I still use my fax machine - not everyone has a scanner, dear. Including some business's, like the doctor...

 
At September 20, 2006 8:55 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Mike's voices have started talking to me as well.

 
At September 20, 2006 10:25 PM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

what, no love for the 8 track, Beta or Super TV?

 
At September 21, 2006 12:02 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

Funny David,
but watch those jabs on Scientologists. When the evil overlord Xenu comes to wreak chaos and havoc, who is going to save us but Tom?

 
At September 21, 2006 12:07 AM, Blogger Death Warmed Over replied to my musings ...

YOu would think this would be a rare occurrence but as a Bellsouth installer I have run across it now again. Usually, the 'victim' is elderly and doesn't even realize they're still renting the phone. The rental doesn't go to bellsouth but back to At&T. What amazes me even more are the people who have touchtone phones but have never converted their service to touch tone. So you push the buttons and then listen to the phone click for five minutes. And its been that way for years. Another example of how easy it is to get so set in your routine that you don't even realize how behind the times you really are.

 
At September 21, 2006 3:05 AM, Blogger CT replied to my musings ...

they just need to get rid of phones and develope ESP!!! lol

 
At September 21, 2006 6:43 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Perplexio: I'm not eager to hear the town crier--it's hard enough to sleep in these days.

Fred C., Cinderella: Knowing what's going on in my mind, I'm not sure I want to read others' thoughts.

Jay: Thanks. I try to come up with decent titles; I guess this one worked.

Erika: Ahhh, those dark days before remote controls. How did we survive?

Lisa B.: I got a scanner/copier/printer/fax machine for less than $200 a few months ago, and i have yet to use the fax once because the scanner/e-mail option works so well.

Fuzz: That's an interesting idea, maybe evryone hearing voices is really just hearing Mike's mental musings.

Ray: The 8-Track has a special place in my heart because that's how my mother had her Barry Manilow and ABBA music. (I said "special," not "good.")

GW: I'll take Xenu over Tom.

DWO: I guess it's true--you get used to what you have and it's easy not to change.

CT: I wonder if we think about phone numbers really hard ... can we make someone's phone ring?

-- david

 
At September 21, 2006 9:32 AM, Blogger Maggie replied to my musings ...

Bring back the letter!! And parts of Montana still use the Pony Express. Just in the winter, he's on a snowmobile. No kidding!

 
At September 21, 2006 1:30 PM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

I’m still waiting for the day when we can communicate by thought alone

Now THAT'S a scary thought...I'd hate to "accidentally" broadcast that I think the copier guy is hot! ;)

 
At September 21, 2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Minka replied to my musings ...

My e-mail fill sup with offers for Viagra of late.
I am 29. I am female and I don´t remember signing up for sexually boosting information. How do tehy get my mail?
I do tsill write letters and postcards adn stuff...how old-fashioned am I?

 
At September 21, 2006 8:49 PM, Blogger Trundling Grunt replied to my musings ...

Ooh, somewhere I have a letter post draft that I must dig up. Thank you for reminding me!

 
At September 21, 2006 11:07 PM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

No I dont watch Days anymore though I used to as a teen. I actually tuned in this week for nostalgia's sake with 2 of my old faves leaving although it's been years since I watched faithfully. What can I say? Some habits are hard to kick completely. :(

I also wanted to let you know your guest post is up!:)

 
At September 22, 2006 2:11 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

my aunt untile last year was using one of those phones, and she has never had an answering machine or voicemail still doesn't! :) nor does she have air condition which sucks. We still use fax machines at our work, but it's been years since I sat down and wrote a letter.

Betcha duke won't lose sat, since they are off! haha :)

 
At September 22, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Maggie: I had no idea about Montana. I guess you do learn something every day.

Stacy: The copier guy already knows you feel that way--he told me all about your leering at him.

Minka: I wonder the same thing about spam. Do the spammers really think we'll reply to notes with the subject line "$%@*H*))"??

T-Grunt: Glad I could help.

Janet: The durability of soap actors amazes me. And thanks for letting me guest post!!

Phats: Maybe you shoudl write a letter to your aunt and ask her to get A/C.

-- david

 
At September 22, 2006 2:45 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

my dad offered her 100$ to turn it on last time we were there haha she is cheap

 

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