Outrage! I mean Outage!

National Landline Telephone Day

outrageSometimes, when I see a certain word, I read it as another. For instance, I read the word Outage more often than not as Outrage. I wonder if it’s because many folks are outraged when there is an outage – there’s a blackout after severe weather.

Sometimes, it’s warranted, such as after the Maui, Hawaii fires of 2023, which cost people their lives.

I’m sure the massive AT&T outage in February 2024 was problematic for some. But I felt more outrage when people called 911 to check if their cell phones worked.

I was also puzzled by media stories suggesting that those with cell phones—97% of Americans—should have some redundancy. Were they suggesting we should have…. no, it can’t be that… landlines? Either that or walk to your nearest fire or police station in case of emergency, we were told. I’m only a block and a half from the nearest police station but I can imagine several scenarios where walking for help would be inefficient at best, impossible at worst.

This article had some interesting statistics:

  • 34% of homeowners still have a landline. Only 15% of renters have a landline.
  • There is a big geographic difference in households that only have cell phones… The states with the lowest percentage of homes that only use cell phones are New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. The whole northeast has fewer homes that rely on only cell phones than the rest of the country.

We’re Both Of The Above people, New York State homeowners with both cellphones and a landline.

Missed the holiday

Related: March 10, 2024, was a holiday. “Let’s take a step back in time and celebrate National Landline Telephone Day with our activity, The History of the Telephone. This activity introduces students to Alexander Graham Bell and shows the impact of his invention – the telephone – on the U.S. population and how phones have changed since first introduced in 1876. For added fun, encourage students to make a list of people they know who still only use landline telephones.”  Fun for your favorite seven-year-old.

In case you have forgotten, this was how you dialed your telephone in 1936 and 1954.


Regarding the March 5 event, I laughed quite a bit when people marked themselves Safe after the Facebook and Instagram outage. I understand folks tried unsuccessfully to reset their passwords multiple times, and that certainly would have been extremely frustrating. Somehow, I had missed it altogether until someone emailed me. Elon Musk was experiencing WAY too much glee over it.

In the outrage category, a friend I’ve known IRL since the 1960s noted they disputed a few Amazon claims they didn’t recognize. Amazon immediately locked them out of their account, disconnecting the Fire TVs,  Alexa, AND access to Kindle. So they couldn’t turn on any of the lights in the house, watch TV or read. All of these devices/media were items they purchased! Amazon shouldn’t be able to disable them. This DID get resolved, but it’s rather Big Brother.

This got me thinking about the vulnerabilities we experience, from technical glitches to bad actors hacking into governmental, educational, and medical facilities. Those outages do generate outrage, especially the ransomware attacks. Do you ever wonder if the technological networks we’ve built our lives upon could come crashing down?

“TMI, mommy!”

“Mommy, everybody on the bus can hear you!”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

As someone who takes the bus at least part of the way to work most days, I am regularly reminded why I hate listening to other people’s cellphone conversations, and why some public conveyances thankfully ban the use of those contraptions.

I’m sitting across a woman and her daughter, about ten, give or take a year, on the CDTA (local) bus. The mom is on the phone talking to her friend, and I’m not paying attention, until she says: “Do you know what I really hate about Eddie*? He comes into the bathroom when I’m trying to pee and s###!” Then she goes on about how, when she closes the bathroom door, he pounds on the door and demands to know what she’s doing in there. And she repeats her intentions.

At this point, the daughter says, “TMI, mommy!” She actually used the initials, rather than “too much information.” But either the mom doesn’t hear her or feels the need to continue with this important telephonic conversation.

The girl is sitting right across from me and looks at me with this exasperated gaze. I give her the “what can you do?” shrug. She says a little louder, “Mommy, everybody on the bus can hear you!” This was probably true.

But the mom continues. She said, on her phone, just before I got off, “You know, we were going to get married today. Well, THAT’S off!” And I know TMI, so I nod affirmatively to myself.
Sidebar: I went to the Tulip Festival on Mother’s Day weekend. As soon as he sees me, the guy at the CDTA booth immediately knows me by name. The one thing he noted is that, in my LAST blog post about CDTA, I mentioned a crazy woman on board. I’m sure he’ll love this one as well.

*Not his real name.
Thanks, XKCD

Telephilia/telephobia QUESTION

Periodically, I’d pick up the book, leaf through it and note that I hadn’t had spoken to X for awhile and I’d call him or her up.

There was this article in Salon a while back, Nobody ever calls me anymore, with the subtitle “I feel like the last person who still likes talking on the phone. Why did we give it up, and should we reconsider?” And it’s not that Sarah Hepola’s friends are merely using instant messaging, e-mail, texting, and the like. “A lot of people I spoke with despise the phone and have for a long time. Why would they use it if they didn’t have to?… A voice call… demands too much attention… ‘Maybe it’s that there are too many distractions (TV, folding laundry) and I am guilty of giving in to them OR it’s that I can hear the other person doing the same thing. There just never seems to be a good time to sit down and speak into the void.'”

Don’t get me wrong; I use e-mail a lot, especially when it involves a lot of detail. But for a real conversation, I still like the phone. I call one sister and ask if she’s heard from the other sister. Generally, they’ve been texting back and forth. I have not warmed to texting, maybe because most of the people who I know who text seem to miss the point, that someone will back to them as necessary, when there’s a chance; some folks retext or even call to ask, “Did you get my text?” Then again, I don’t use my cellphone except when it would not bother other people; I’ll pull it out while waiting for the bus, but not on the bus, unless it’s really short, such as “I’ll be late for work.”

I was reminded that, back in the 1980s, I had something called an address book, where I kept people’s addresses and phone numbers. Periodically, I’d pick up the book, leaf through it, and note that I hadn’t had spoken to X for a while and I’d call him or her up. I had this girlfriend who saw me doing this and chastised me for it; “You should call people you want to call without this crutch.” I totally disagreed. It was like randomly wandering through a library, picking out a familiar book, and reading a chapter.

Even at work today, I am more likely to pick up the phone than any of the librarians, all of whom are at least a decade younger than I am. For one thing, I’ve collected a lot of contacts over the years. Also, there’s so much that’s NOT in the databases or the webpage, nuances that can only be discerned by talking to the right person. But more than that, I LIKE talking to (most) people, which our youngest librarian, about half my age, disdains.

What is your relationship with the telephone?
Dustbury quotes someone whose experience is very similar to mine.
How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships– “The mere presence of a phone affects how you relate to others”


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