The telephone call experiment

religiously

Roger.cartoonDirectly as a result of this March 13 video by vlogbrother Hank Green, I decided on the telephone call experiment. It was to call two people a day, every day. I started on March 20, the first full day of the vernal equinox in North America.

And I did it religiously each day until Memorial Day weekend when it was too complicated. That was the first night since before COVID that I stayed overnight anywhere other than my own bed. It was on a visit to my mother-in-law’s house. I decided then to cut it to one call per day.

As it is usual with me, I had lots of rules. I never left a message because I did not want to obligate someone to call me back. If I didn’t get someone, I’d go on to the next person. Interestingly, several people DID call back, but I never counted them in my one or two calls. In fact, one Friday in April, after I had completed my two calls, three people returned calls. This meant I was on the phone a lot that day.

Being on the phone was an occupational phenomenon for me in my working days, far more than for my colleagues. Sometimes, I just needed to call The Person who knows stuff.

Randomly methodical

The lists I worked off were three: my church roster, an address book from c. 2006, and some random phone numbers I took from my emails and put in my Google contacts. I worked them in no particular order. Sometimes I’d see someone’s birthday pop up on Facebook and I’d call them. The exercise was a variation of something I used to do in the 1980s and 1990s, pick up my address book and unexpectedly call someone.

The responses were usually enthusiastic. Some were to people I hadn’t actually spoken to since 1998 or 2004 or 2006. The church folks, on the other hand, were folks I had seen two months earlier but I had gotten used to seeing each week. A couple wondered why I was ringing them. “You’ve never called before,” one said, and that was true enough. Then again, I never had the need to before.

The calls ran from four minutes to well over an hour. Some were people I missed terribly, yet our conversations picked up as though almost no time had passed.

I suppose the next iteration of the telephone call experiment will be me leaving messages with people. Some folks just don’t pick up their phones and/or the calls go automatically to the recording.

Signs in the 518 AND the 838

“As Christians, we are committed to stand with all who are oppressed, marginalized, or persecuted and to do all in our power to protect and defend.”

The primaries in New York State are over. I must admit a fascination with all the yard signs in people’s lawns‘ we have three in ours, a new record. How do they do their designs so they don’t look like everyone else’s? A lot of them use red, white, and/or blue.

Generally speaking, I give points to anyone’s signs that didn’t fall in that category. Although: a candidate for city auditor named Susan Rizzo had an orange sign; from a distance, it looked red to me, and one doesn’t want red in a sign for someone in charge of the money. Her opponent, Glen Casey, had a picture of himself with a pale orange background, which, also from a distance, made him look as though he had clown hair.

I came across this state manual Municipal Control of Signs. Interesting geek reading. “Sign controls applicable to residential areas must therefore be carefully drawn to respect free speech while protecting the community’s appearance.”

The Capital District and north got a new area code in the 518 this summer, which is 838. It’s an overlay, which means that the new area code would cover the same geography as the old one when new numbers are assigned. Some folks are whining complaining that now they have to dial 10 digits rather than seven, but it is no big deal to me.

This is MUCH better outcome than if they had split the area code, with everyone in Albany and Troy, e.g., having to get new phone numbers, which would mean new business cards, new signs, and the need to spend advertising to promote that.

My church got a new sign, welcoming immigrants and refugees, around Labor Day. It fits in with the position of our Session, which is the local governing board, adopted at its meeting on Tuesday, September 19:

“As Christians, we are committed to stand with all who are oppressed, marginalized, or persecuted and to do all in our power to protect and defend. We boldly assert that God’s creation is universal and is a reflection of God’s own self, those of every race, color, ethnicity, of every gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity, speaking every language and born in every place, following every religious tradition. Every one of these is created in God’s own image and rejection of any is a rejection of God. We especially invite those in positions of leadership and power to restrain any injustice and to avoid at all costs any pandering or use of prejudice for political gain. We seek a world as God envisions, a world of justice, mercy, and love.”

September rambling #1: chugging cognac, and Flowers on the Wall

If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment.

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My friend Steve Bissette wrote, and I totally agree: “Sure bet: If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment. It’s not peevishness or pique, it’s just how it is.” Chuck Miller had a similar experience: Panera Bread and kiosk mentality.

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I hear dead people QUESTION

I have some old cassette tapes (remember cassette tapes?) with my father’s voice – he died in 2000.

The phone is ringing at home, and the caller ID says it’s from Gertrude Green in the 704 area code. That’s interesting in that my mother died over two years ago. As it turns out, it was my sister, Marcia, calling on her cellphone. She didn’t understand why our mother’s name popped up, as the phone has always been in Marcia’s name, but I was not the first person to tell her of this phenomenon. It was kind of weird/disconcerting.

This led to a broader discussion – at my dentist’s office, of all places – about how long you keep a deceased person’s voice as the voice on an outgoing answering machine message. Some will find it comforting, while others will find it creepy. I tend to be in the latter category, although I know most of us in mourning can’t/won’t rush to change it.

Whereas I have some old cassette tapes (remember cassette tapes?) with my father’s voice – he died in 2000. Those I find oddly comforting. AND I can play them for my daughter, born in 2004, who never knew her paternal grandfather.

What sayest thou?

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?
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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”