Truthful Tuesday — Interruptions

Melanie, of Sparks from a Combustible Mind, is back again as our host for the Truthful Tuesday prompt. This week, Melanie wants to know…

How polite do you find it to ignore the doorbell and/or the phone, especially if you’ve just begun to eat dinner or want to just veg out all by your lonesome? Why do we feel obligated to do either thing in the first place? One of my greatest peeves is the idea that I ought to be tied to the damn phone 24/7. Your honest thoughts?

I guess I’m not very polite. I have a Nest doorbell camera, so if someone knocks at my door or rings the doorbell, I can see who it is on my iPhone. I can even speak to the intruder upon my privacy through my Next doorbell/camera and tell them to go away or that I’m not interested in whatever it is that they’re selling.

As to phone calls, I keep my iPhone on silent mode, so whenever an incoming call comes in, my iPhone vibrates but does not ring. The caller’s number and location shows up on the screen and, unless I am familiar with the number, I won’t answer the call. I figure if it’s a legit call, they’ll leave a voicemail message and I can call them back when it’s convenient for me.

So, as you can see, I do not feel obligated to, nor guilty about, not answering the door or a phone call. Thanks to today’s technology, I can respond or not at my convenience.

And those are my honest thoughts.

FFfPP — The Meter Reader

Alex had been reading meters for the electric company for 35 years. It was a plumb job, not like some of his coworkers who had to go from single family home to single family home checking meters. They walked their asses off. But Alex’s assigned route was mostly at apartment buildings. All the meters for the individual units were mounted on a large metal board and arranged in columns and rows. All he had to do was stand in front of those meter arrays and jot down the readings on his clip board. He could read hundreds of meters in the time it took some of his peers to read dozens. And with very little walking, by comparison.

He’d heard the rumors, but yesterday, the day he had been dreading, had arrived. The electric company was going to start replacing all of the old meters with new, state-of-the-art “smart meters.” Once installed, these smart meters automatically updated the central computers at the electric company, thus making the task of having employees physically go out to read and record the meters unnecessary.

The notice said that the smart meter swaps should be completed by the end of the month, at which point all meter readers would be laid off. Per the memo, the terminated meter readers would receive one week of severance for each year of service with the company.

At first Alex thought that was pretty generous. He would continue to get paid for about eight months after his last day. But then he read the fine print:

One week per year of service, up to a maximum of twelve weeks.

Alex had only three months to determine what to do with the rest of his life now that technology has made him obsolete.

Written for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Photo credit: Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash.

Throwback Thursday — Technology

Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude, alternate hosting Throwback Thursday. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Maggie chose the topic of “technology influences.”

1. What kind of technology existed around your house as a child?

Keep in mind that I was an early Baby Boomer and in my early years the only “technology” we had was a 10” B&W TV console and a Victrola record player that played 78 RPM records. We also had a land-line telephone with a “party line,” which meant that multiple families shared the same phone number.

2. What technology do you remember coming into your home for the first time?

I think it was the late Fifties when we got an RCA color TV console and a Telefunken HiFi record player that had three speeds: 78, 45, and 33 1/3 RPMs, and an AM/FM radio. I also got a small Zenith transistor radio (AM only). We also got our own phone line.

3. What kind of televisions or radios did you have – post pictures if you can find them.

See answer to number 2.

4. How did music technology change in your lifetime? When was the last time you purchased music? In what form was the music?

It evolved from 78 RPM records, to 45 RPM “singles” and 33 1/3 RPM LP albums. FM radio stations took over radio for music, 8-track tape and cassette tape players came along and the Sony Walkman was the portable tape player everyone got, except for those who got off on boomboxes, the bigger the better.

Then music CDs supplanted vinyl records, but that was shortly replaced by downloadable MP3 format songs and the Apple iPod player. Now there are all kinds of music streaming options, like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. I think the last time I actually purchased either a single recording or an album was on iTunes for my iPhone maybe a few years back.

5. Did you have a home computer? If so, what was it? Did you have a webcam? Did you stream content with it?

My first computer (circa 1982) was the original IBM PC, with a blazingly fast 4.77 MHz 8088 chip and two 5 1/4” floppy disks (i.e., no hard drive), and with a Princeton Graphics monochrome monitor. Shortly after I got it, I added a 10 MB hard card, figuring that would suffice for the rest of my life. My next addition was a Hayes 300 baud dial-up “Smartmodem.”

My initial connectivity experience was with so-called bulletin boards that, if I recall correctly, I accessed through CompuServe. It was all text-based and rudimentary. Eventually I upgraded to a faster computer with a larger hard drive and a 1200 baud dial-up modem. Woo hoo.

At some point I discovered Prodigy, the first of the early-generation dial-up services to offer full access to the World Wide Web and to offer a graphical user interface. Then America Online (AOL) began giving away floppy disks and soon, with its email, instant messaging, and chat rooms, it displaced Prodigy as the internet access point of choice. It, too, was primarily dial-up.

None of these early computers had broadband connectivity, webcams, or streaming functionally. Those were all 21st century technologies.

6. What kind of phone did you have? Do you have a landline today?

Back in the early Fifties we had party line phones and then single family lines. As adults, we had landline phones up until around 2010. Now we rely solely upon our mobile phones.

7. Did you have toys with integrated technology, robots, automation, etc?

Only video games like Atari, Sega, and then the Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and now the Oculus Quest VR headsets.

8. What technology ‘blew your mind’?

The World Wide Web.

9. When did you get your first cell phone? What brand and model was it? Did you carry a pager?

My first cellphone was an old Motorola “brick.” After that it was a flip phone. Then a BlackBerry, and since 2010, iPhones. and yes, before I got my BlackBerry device, I had a SkyTel pager for work.

10. Is there any current technology you refuse to own or have in your home?

Are DVD recorders and players considered to be current technology, because we don’t have any in our home? Other than that, I can’t think of any technology that I would refuse to own or have.

E.M.’s Sunday Ramble Prompt — Just Imagine

It’s time once again for E.M. Kingston’s The Sunday Ramble. Her prompt is based upon a certain topic about which she asks five questions. We are invited to ramble on about that topic however we wish. Today’s topic is “Technology and The Future.”

1. Are there any applications on your mobile device, tablets, etc. that you cannot live without?

WordPress, texting app, gmail, Google. camera app, weather, banking app, newsfeed, Kindle, Amazon, solitaire, and more. I live on my iPhone.

2. Do you prefer Apple or Android?

Apple. I’ve never owned an Android device.

3. Windows OS or MacOS?

Windows, although I hardly use my laptop anymore. So the OS I use most often is Apple’s iOS for the iPhone.

4. What do you wish that you would have placed in a time capsule 15+ years ago to have access to now?

Hmm. That would haven been 2007, right? My “smartphone” device back then was a BlackBerry. It was a marvelous device in its day, but I’m not sure that I’d need or want to have access to it today. Or much of anything else from 2007 for that matter.

5. When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes?

To be honest, I have my doubts that the human race will still be around 50 years hence. Between how we’re destroying the environment on our home planet, diseases and viruses that keep cropping up, wars being waged by megalomaniacs or in the name of God and religion, and societal norms collapsing, I’m afraid the end is near.

Photo credit: Sharad Kachhi on

#WDYS — Four Generations

She was his great grandmother and he was now in her care after her daughter, his grandmother, and her granddaughter, his mother, had both succumbed to COVID-19 last year. Her own husband was long gone, and was her late-daughter’s husband. Her late-granddaughter’s husband, the boy’s father, had skipped out on his wife and son shortly after the boy was born. So it was up to her to take care of him.

She lived in a relatively rural setting and there was no school nearby to send the child and she felt she had to do whatever she could to prepare him to survive in the trouble world around him. But she had to do it quickly because she was very old and didn’t know how much time she had left.

She used most of her savings to buy the boy a laptop, hoping that he could use it to learn things that would help him in the future. She wanted him to understand how to use technology and to discover all he could before she left him on his own.

The boy was smart and she was amazed by, and very proud of, how quickly he absorbed information. And he was thrilled to share with her all of what he discovered on that laptop.

One day she sat with him on the wood deck outside their small cottage. She told him that she would soon be moving on and that he should, even after she was gone, continue to educate himself. He cried and promised that he would not let her down.

“I know, my dear child,” she said. “I will still be with you in your heart and in your mind and I know that you will make my spirit very proud.”

She passed a few days later and the boy took some clothing and his laptop and went out into the big wide world, feeling confident that his great grandmother had put him on the right path.

Written for Sadje’s What Do You See? prompt. Photo credit: Sasint @ Pixabay.