Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tis the Season

'tis the season for really bad jokes at the expense of rival sports teams. Since I live in the area of the country colloquially referred to as the "armpit of Nebraska", the Nebraska CornHusker teams are an obvious target of coffee shop innuendo and jokes. With that in mind, here is one of the better ones floating around right now:

A: "Have you heard about the two Nebraska players declared ineligible for the bowl game?"

B: "No - What happened?"

A: "Seems they both were failing the same class. The coach talked to the professor and got him to agree to give them a retest yesterday. If they passed the test, they could play in the bowl game, otherwise ..."

B: "How did the re-test go?"

A: "I heard it went like this:"

The players walk into the room and are handed exams. They have one hour to finish. They get settled in and start riffling through the test, occasionally writing and erasing furiously.

  • Player #1: Psst! Hey Psst!
  • Player #2: What do you want? You know we aren't supposed to be talking here.
  • Player #1: But I'm really stuck on question #3.  Can't you give me a hand?
  • Player #2: Let me see. (Flips pages to question 3 which reads "Old MacDonald had a _____") That's obvious - the answer is farm!
  • Player #1: Thanks.
  • Player #1: Psst! Hey Psst! Psst!
  • Player #2: Now what?
  • Player #1: I'm really stumped here. How do you spell farm?
  • Player #2: Come on man, you know that! e-i-e-i-o.

Now you know why the Nebraska players remained ineligible.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Joy of Youth

The other day while walking in the park, Molly and I were passed by a young lady all of two or three years old. She was being chased by her somewhat older sister in the unseasonable warmth of the day. Her sister would catch up to her and she would stop. Then she would give the most mischievous grin to all around, look at her sister and grin even harder, then take off toddling at break neck speed once more, looking back over her shoulder with a look of pure joy.

This tableau continued for the next 20 minutes or more. Each time Molly and I came to that end of the park, the two girls were playing tag while their parents sat at a picnic table.

Seeing that motion induced look of radiant joy on the little girls face actually made me a bit jealous. It was clear the whole process of motion and the freedom it brings was new and brought nothing but pleasure to her. So why did I feel the twinge of the green eyed monster? Because she was still young and inexperienced enough not to have concerns about falling and running into things? Because she hadn't experienced the aches and pains of life? Because she didn't hurt too much to enjoy running and twirling? Because the simple pleasure of running and twirling and playing with her sister filled her entire being with joy, unfettered by fear or thought or experience? Maybe it was all of the above as I remembered those feelings with envy.

In the end I left the park smiling. The little girl and her reminder to me of the joy engendered by simple things left me smiling, just because it is impossible not to be infected by the unfettered joy of youth. May you find your joy and smile too.

(Pictures courtesy of the University of New Hampshire archive.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now I Know

One of the great secrets of the universe has eluded me for years. I have never figured out how to lose and keep weight off with ease. Losing weight can be easy, but if I don't practice ceaseless vigilance it comes right back. I can picture myself turning onto a 400 lb. gorilla, stealing all the bananas in the zoo.

Food seems to jump onto plates in front of me and thence into my mouth with no conscious effort at all. And then the other day whilst reading my daily dosage of bloggery, the answer came to me. The problem is that I have metal fillings in some of my teeth.

Sounds like a good explanation to me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Back ...

... after spending a few days running around like a headless chicken trying to catch up. At one point I was harried enough to have my polo shirt on wrong side out for hours, only noticing that something was amiss when I kept trying to put my pen into the pocket that was on the inside and inaccessible.

Part of the reason for running around like mad was that I was indeed selected for the jury and so needed to make up some time. However my record remains perfect - I have never entered jury deliberations. Every time I have been seated on a jury, the defendant has decided to plead guilty. In close to 40 years of jury eligibility, I have been called for jury duty somewhere on the order of 25 times and have actually been empaneled on the jury 3 times now.  In all three of those cases, the defendant has decided to plead guilty before the end of the trial. In two of the cases, it was within minutes of the the start of the trial.

This time the plea came in the second day of testimony when the defendant suddenly took a plea bargain. I understood why he did so. He was up for three counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon and had prior felonies - thus he faced the possibility of 63 years with no possibility of parole if convicted. But the DA had no choice but to offer a misdemeanor assault plea and a year of jail after the star witness suddenly lost his mind and memory on the stand. It  wasn't overly surprising that he did so since he was the victim of the assault and also the brother of the defendant. I think that he had second thoughts about being the one to send his brother away for that long. So after a day of gory medical testimony featuring the bashed in skull and broken jaw and teeth of the victim and then another half day of the disaster that was testimony for the prosecution (3 of 29 scheduled witnesses), the DA and the defense came to the plea agreement and we were excused.

I'll leave you with the following question: what are the holidays like in a family where the brothers practice deadly assault on one another with a rock, avoiding murder by about a sixteenth of an inch according to the medical testimony? Would they trust each other enough to let the other carve the turkey?

On a completely non-factual basis, I think the whole thing was triggered by a monetary tiff over the proceeds of a drug deal gone wrong. Absolutely no evidence presented to support that thought, but it sure seemed that that was what was going on.

Sometime before I die, I hope to finally reach the deliberation stage of a trial. After all, I figure that I must look really mean to induce all those people to plead guilty. {*grin*}

Monday, November 29, 2010

Huff and Puff and ....

The wind howled today, at times hitting 50+ mph and the temperature never got above freezing. Right now the mercury is dropping and the wind chill is in the 9 below zero range. I think it is safe to say that fall is officially here.

In contrast to the cold and wind outside, I spent all day in an overheated courtroom.
All day from 8:30am to 5:30pm and there is still no jury empaneled. I hope to find out tomorrow if I am on the jury or not. There is nothing like the maneuvering of attorneys in a multiple felony case to bring out the worst of the jury selection process. Thus my new theme song:
Hi ho, hi ho
It's off to court I go
Defense to the right of me
Prosecution to the left of me
And the judge in the front of me 
How low can we go

So off to court I venture in the morning.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today I Rant For Tomorrow I ...

Today I wasted yet another two hours of my life sitting through a meeting of a committee I got volunteered to serve on. It seems that in spite of having a paid facilitator, we run in circles week after week. Mostly because there are too many players with personal skin in the game, all trying to act like they don't. I just wish that we could somehow force everyone to stand up and declare their real interests so we could move on to solving the problem at hand without all the posturing and protectionism and hidden pushing and shoving. Oh well, probably much too sane and logical to have happen in a room full of pols and idiots ...

Then to make matters worse, the weekly meetings have been moved to a room in a historically restored court house.

 The meeting room has 18 foot high tin plate ceilings,
hardwood floors,
and absolutely no sound absorption. So the meeting is like sitting in a echo chamber with a jet revving for take off at one end. No one can hear anyone else and that includes the recording system for making the official notes. And so it goes ...

At least there was a football game on the TV when I finally got home.

Odd Thoughts

Yesterday I caught a bit of dialog in a teaser for a TV show that made my day.
"You're building a time machine. Right? So what's the rush?"
Talk about an amusingly deep thought! If you ever succeed in building a time machine, you can always go back to any earlier time with it so that if you have ever built it you already have it now.  If you don't succeed, it will make no difference and you will have no machine ever. I always dreamt of having one of these
ever since I read H. G. Well's novella "The Time Machine" in my childhood. I still wouldn't mind having one, but by the above logic I don't have a snowball's chance in ....

In other completely useless information, it is forecast to get up to 60 degrees today and have highs in the 50s until ... wait for it ... next week around Thanksgiving when the highs will be around freezing. Sort of figures. Wait until the time when everyone has time to wonder about outdoors and then make it turn cool. Oh well.

Time to get on with it. Don't do anything I wouldn't.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do You ...

Do you ever have a particular taste in mind when you decide to fix or order a dish only to have the actual dish not live up (or down) to your imagination? I do.

Sometimes I come across a recipe and think "Boy, that sure sounds good." But many times the actual taste bears little resemblance to my mental picture of how it should/would taste. The same thing happens from time to time with old favorites. Then I always wonder if I have made the dish wrong. After all, I seldom follow a recipe to the letter. I am more a bit of this and a dash of that type of cook.

The other day the topic came up in a discussion with mom, since it happens to her as well. Her thought was that it might be related to aging and the associated changes in taste abilities and preferences. My thought was that it might be reflective of the different nutritional needs at the time. After all, when I was a teenage football player, every bit of food in the universe in any combination looked good and tasted good. Now? Not so much. We left the topic hanging that so we could go eat. {*grin*}

I was also reminded of how taste and cravings for certain foods can change due to other environmental factors. For example, one of the drugs I took or a couple of years to treat a chronic condition left me with an insane desire for grapefruit. Not citrus fruit, but grapefruit specifically.
I'd peel and eat a couple of grapefruit a day and they tasted absolutely sublime. Then I changed to a different drug regimen and the desire for grapefruit faded. (Not to mention that they taste no where near as good as I remember them from the drug period.)

Now I am left to wonder if my current fascination with scrambled eggs
drizzled with Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
is an artifact of my current drug regimen, a development of aging taste buds, or is just a passing fad for my taste buds. After all, I used to not care for scrambled eggs in any form what-so-ever. That is certainly not the case now.

So what foods do you find you crave? And which ones no longer live up to the taste in your imagination?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Drear and the Darkness

The last couple of days have been dull and dreary with clouds and occasional skiffs of snow, highs in the low 40s and lows in the teens. Typical fall weather for around here. Because it has been staying above freezing for the daylight hours, the snow is now mostly gone and we are back to the dull drear of fall in the period once the leaves have fallen. There is still a hint of green in the grass and the sagebrush is turning brown, but that too will soon fade. Somewhat like this:
(Picture from UC Collection)

L went skiing for her inaugural run of the year yesterday. That means she was both happy and stiff and sore last night when I talked to her. (Ibuprofen was invented for aging baby boomers. {*grin*}) The interesting point was that it was blowing and snowing up there - pretty much the standard weather in the mountains from now until spring. Right now, it is both colder and snowier in the mountains than out here on the plains. L proclaims that it is now winter in the mountains in spite of what the calendar says. At least it can look pretty:
(The glow of Breckenridge in winter.)

Which brings me to one of the things I dislike about this season - the decreasing amount of daylight and advancing time of darkness as we approach the winter solstice on December 21. Sunset is already at 4:35pm and will get progressively earlier as time rolls on. I really dislike the coming weeks when it is dark by 3:30 - it is depressing. It is even worse in the mountains where the valley walls cut the sunlight off even earlier. I often wonder how people who live at far northern (or southern for that matter) latitudes handle it. Days with no hours of sunlight seem like they would be really hard to endure. On the other hand, the shortening days seem to be ideal weather for soup. {*grin*}

Time to get on with real work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hip Hip Hooray for Fall

It was close to 80 degrees this weekend. Truly unseasonable weather for this region. L loved it since the ski areas in her neck of the woods are already open or will open this week. Coming home to nice warm temps in the upper 70's is a bit like taking a tropical island trip in the deepest darkest days of winter - something to be enjoyed and treasured.

With the oddity of our balmy October and November, a major topic of discussion has been "when will fall really arrive?" Last year we had several snow falls in October and a full on blizzard in late October. This year? Not! No snow and no temperatures conducive to snow. Even some debate with myself as to whether I was wise to have shut off the water to the sprinkler system a few weeks ago to avoid freezing pipes.

But this morning! Ah this morning. What did I find when I let Molly out for her morning frolic? This:

Fall has well and truly arrived at long last. Nothing whispers fall better than a soggy, just below freezing, huge flake, dump of wet and wild snow.  I love this kind of weather!
The sky is grey and filled with white flakes, the trees and wires are coated in a rime of lovely white, but it is still warm enough that the streets and sidewalks are mostly clear. In fact, I took these pictures moseying around outside in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Hip Hip Hooray for Fall!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Miss Feynman's Wit

I was reminded yesterday of one of my favorite quotes from Richard P. Feynman, the late Nobel prize winning physicist,bongo drum player, artist, and personal idol. It exposes the deep inner feeling of most physicists in a way that anyone can understand. Without further ado:

Physics is to mathematics what sex is to masturbation.
-- Richard P. Feynman

Any dyed in the wool physicist will not only agree but cheer wildly for the aptness of the quote.

I was reminded of the quote because of an afterward on an Abstruse Goose cartoon that presented the quote and then supplied the rather tongue in cheek mathematicians answer - "And your point is ..?" Now anyone who has spent much time with me knows that two phrases that I use often are "Are you done blithering yet?" and "And your point is?" The cartoon struck me as great because it used a favorite quote from one of my heroes and poked at my own foibles. What more could one ask for from an afterward to a good cartoon?

I will leave you with a few other Feynman quotes that only get better with time:

  • Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.
  • I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.
  • There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.
  • If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part.
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Halloween That Was

Like most things in my life for the past few weeks, this post is a bit late. It should have been posted on All Hallows Eve, but instead you get to enjoy it now. At least Pink Floyd's Time is playing in the background to make sense of the utter disregard for chronology this blog shows. So play this as you read. {*grin*}

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but Halloween here was a bit lower key than normal just because of the day.  Since the merchants and the city and the nursing homes all ran their celebrations on Friday, there seems to have been less incentive for the little tricksters to be out and about on Sunday for the official event. Normally we see between 40-70 trick or treaters at the front door before we shut the lights off at ~8pm. This year we only had 31, somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the normal total.

There was also a discernible difference in the composition of the visitors. Most years we see a fair number of teens and tweens in groups of 4 or more interspersed with a lot of sibling groups of 1 or 2 under the age of 10. This year, it was almost all youngsters in various sized groups with the parents standing out at the street watching. When Molly the wonder dog and I would answer the door, it left a lot of them in shock. It took them a few moments to remember that they were supposed to say trick or treat. Some just wanted to pet the doggy, some just wanted to hide from the doggy, and some were heard to say "dad, he gave us snickers!" as they departed for the next house. At least I didn't have to put this sign up to excuse Molly's behavior this year:

The smaller crowd also means that I have several bags of candy left over. It should make L happy when she journeys home this weekend. I'm just happy that it is all in un-opened bags so that it doesn't tempt me!

Time to go vote. Make sure you do too. Vote that is, not go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Wind ...

True fall has finally blown in. Yesterday, as L left for the mountains, it was turning cool and windy. In the mountains, it was snowing and blowing, which made the ski areas happy, but which didn't overjoy L. {*grin*} Reports are that it continued snowing this morning in the mountains.

In any case, it finally (barely) frosted here last night. I see some blackened leaves on the lilac bush which is a pretty good indicator that it dropped below 32. I haven't gotten over to the garden to see if the few remaining zucchini plants have turned black or not. (Zucchini are very sensitive to freezing. About the only thing known to man that stops a zucchini in its tracks.) Ye olde lilac as a two toned shivering bush:

Today the wind is howling outside like a banshee and the temperature is not going to reach much above 50. The wind is running a steady 25-35 mph with gusts above 50 mph. What more could one ask for to herald the arrival of true fall weather? After all, nothing says fall like cold and bluster. The forecast is for a hard freeze tonight, dropping into the 20s. Of course, in the tradition of this oddly long mild year, the temperatures are headed for the 70s later in the week.

Tonight I need to attend the city council meeting since the second reading and public hearing on the master contract to build the new humane society facility is on the docket. At long last, after more than 6 months of delay, we may finally be on the way to getting the building started. So I'd better get back to work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The weather here has certainly been odd this fall. We have yet to have a hard freeze. Most of the corn is already in the cribs and silos and it has yet to freeze. Many years the question is when the snows will come, but this year it is when will the freeze arrive.
The average date of first frost here abouts is Oct. 10. So far it looks like we may even make it into November before it freezes here. Odd.

I can still tell that it is fall in spite of the late season warmth. The angle of the sun has increased to the extend that what I call the "reflective" season is upon us. Everything in the midday sun has a white-ish sheen that makes some things darn near impossible. Finding errant golf balls for instance - not that I would ever know about that. {*grin*}

Another hint of fall is how fast it is getting dark. I dread the beginning of daylight savings time as it exacerbates the effect. It is already getting dark around 5pm, a world of difference from the 9pm or later in the heady days of summer. I hate the days of December when it is dark by 3:30pm. (Assisted a bit by the infamous "fall back" time change.)

Well, I should get prepared. I am serving as the moderator of a panel/discussion/forum tomorrow from 10am to 4pm. The Northeast Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is hosting to let people get answers to their disability questions. That's what I get for being a staunch supporter when I was mayor. {*grin*}

Lest I forget, mom's birthday is tomorrow. Since I know she reads here (and thinks I forgot):

Happy Birthday Mom!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poop Carrier

Now that I have recovered somewhat from putting on the first annual Logan County Humane Society 5K Run and Pet Walk, maybe I'll be able to post in a more timely basis. No promises, just a fond hope. {*grin*}

Oh,  are you wondering about the title? Well ... last Saturday when I got the 5K runners on their way and then the Pet Walk people off and going, who should decide to poop within steps of the start? Yep, Molly the wonder dog, as walked by the ever beautiful L. So as I was getting ready to head across the park for the finish line, I heard L yell for me to come and take this.

This was a bag of Molly poop. L didn't want to carry it for the next half mile to get rid of it, so I was pressed into duty as a poop carrier. You can now add poop carrier to my long list of titles. I think next year I am going to recruit some volunteers to line the course and be poop carriers. They'll have to be young or they will be too wise to accept. Either that or they will have to be spouses of the Pet Walk participants. It's amazing the things you will do when you are married!

Here are some pictures from the event. This is what the main site looked like early in the morning before we started setting up:

And here we are just about mid-way through decorating:

But now let's skip over to the start of the 5K. The undistinguished future poop carrier in the green shirt is me explaining the rules and getting ready to start the 5K runners.

They're off!  The young man in black led the 5K from start to finish with a time of 19:40. Probably not surprising he is on the high school cross country team. {*grin*}

But in the meantime, notice Molly stopping to leave the gift of poop in the middle of the walkers?
Yes, that is Molly pooping on the right edge of the picture.

In any case, a good time was had by all the runners and walkers. Here is Molly, L, and friends as they near the finish line:

Then it was time for the silent auction and fashion show. Note how the decorating added class to the pavilion.

I'll close with a couple of pictures of the models strutting down the improvised runway.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Too Much Information

Many years ago when I was a teenager ... Whoops, wrong kind of TMI.

I speak of the TMI from information overload foisted on the buyer by some online ordering systems. When you order online, most sites give you a tracking ID so that you can check the status of your order. Those tracking systems often include a lot of useless information that skirts around the one piece of information I want to know - when will the item(s) I ordered arrive in my hot hands?

For the most part I don't care what day your warehouse finally handed the item to the shipping company. I also do not care that it then languished in Bumf**k, Georgia for a day or more, for example. Nor do I  truly want to know that your truck driver averaged less than 40 mph travelling cross country to a meaningless warehouse in the highlands of Colorado. And I really question the reason it took 36 hours to leave the rural warehouse to head out here to the plains.

What do I really want to know? Plain and simple, the only important fact is the day the item is going to arrive on my doorstep. It is not like my knowing all the other details will change that date. Nor will I feel empowered just because I know all those odd routing details.

I just want to know with certainty the day it will arrive, especially since you invariably ship it in the colorful display box advertising the contents
and then simply leave it on my front door step for all to see without even ringing the doorbell. This gentleman follows your truck around for a reason.

So how do you feel about shipping TMI?

(None of the images are mine, nor do they the local version of reality.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Must Be Fall ...

... because my musical taste is migrating towards "fall" music.

I don't know about you, but I tend to undergo seasonal modification of my choice of listening music. Summer leads to a preference for springy and funky music, akin to this Mungo Jerry classic:

But in the fall and spring, my taste turns to heavier and more cathartic music like these Jefferson Starship classics:


Of course, come the hard days of winter, there is only one possible salvation: the full 17+ minute version of In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly. (Unfortunately, the YouTube time/bandwidth constraints only allow mutilated short versions of this classic to be posted. Trust me, the full version is worth searching out and puts the poor pale mutants to shame.) Here is the full song split into two videos. If you want the full experience. put both together in a YouTube playlist and they will play as one full length song. (It helps to have dropped some serious hallucinogens before seeing the original video circa 1969 contained herein. {*grin*})

Anyone who can listen to the full song and not feel rejuvenated and renewed must have grown up in the wrong generation. Or maybe they were just not exposed to enough hallucinogens early in life. {*grin*}

So how does your taste in music gyrate with the seasons?

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's Your Tipping Point

Over the last month I have been contemplating a purchase, one that is more $$$ than what I consider as trivial but less $$$ than what I consider a major purchase. So I researched and agonized and finally decided on the size and manufacturer I wanted. Then it was time to select a vendor, since it was an item not carried locally.

I narrowed it down to two vendors, one that I had used and liked before, W, and one that many people swore by and many swore at, Y. Y offered the object of my purchasing frenzy for about 6% less than W. But then I looked at the shipping and handling costs - W's was less that $1, Y's greater than $10. Even with the shipping and handling added in, Y was marginally cheaper than W.

I waffled back and for for a moment, teetering on the slippery slope of deciding on Y due to a less than 1% difference in total cost. I fairly quickly decided to go with W because of my past experiences with them.

In physics, a tipping point is the point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new, different state. Like adding another coin to this stack:

 In those terms, the difference in price (including shipping) between W and Y was not enough to exceed my experience based tipping point. I really haven't been able to figure out what my tipping point is for this particular transaction, but I suspect that if Y were another 3% cheaper, I would have slid down the slippery slope and tried them.

So what is your tipping point. When does your loyalty due to past experience give way to financial differences? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Have Proof ...

that having a kid causes gray hair.

Let me present my case, step by step.

Let us begin back in the days of yore circa 1988, before L and I had the Son. Here we are with my brother's two oldest kids:
Note the nice dark hair on my head and face. I was Josh's (the one in my arms) favorite uncle because I was one of the last adults able to lift him up (and because I am his only uncle, but ...).

Then a few years later the Son was born and not much had changed:
But note the lightening already starting. (The flowers in front were from one of my clients in celebration of the Son's birth.)

About a year later and look at how the gray side-burns were coming forth:

Add another year or so and look at the gray as we played on the floor at mom and dad's:

Add another bit and see how the hair on top is turning gray and starting to thin:
I think it was because of all the toys I got to fix. {*grin*}

From there on out it just seems to go faster and faster. Here we all are a few years later:

By the time 2000 rolled around, we were still up for a good dress up occasion, but the white was running rampant:

Of course, the teen age years were yet to come, and with them came still more white (and the Son got a lot taller!):

In the same time frame, here is a better view of the gray taking over. (And no, I don't know why the Son is pointing at the ceiling.)

I'll leave you with this shot of me in my office a few years ago. The thing I am holding is an original art creation sold to benefit the local historical society - I called it "Thing-a-ma-boob".
Notice how gray and sparse the hair on top is? I do from time to time. And it sure seems to correspond with having kids. {*grin*}

(I'm kidding of course - the Son had little to do with the changes in my hair.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Oddness of Current Living

(Or how I learned to love the phone ... with apologies to Dr. Strangelove.)

I just got off the phone from a 90 minute call with a marketing madman in Russia. Let me put that a different way - I just had a Skype video call with a person about software development and marketing who happened to be located in Russia. Nothing odd about that except for handling the 10 hour time differential - the call started at 10pm my time, 8am the next day his time.

But, ... (You knew there had to be a but didn't you?)

My memorable telephone experiences began with a phone little different than this:
You turned the crank and asked the operator to connect you. Heaven forbid that you actually wanted to call outside of the local switchboard. Then the operator would have to arrange the circuit and call you back to connect the call.

But life went on and the dial phone arrived.
Do you know how much of my life that the idea of a 90 minute long distance call was petrifying for fear of the size of the bill? I remember when I was a kid and people didn't even talk on the phone much since there were *gasp* local message unit charges. By the time I was in high school, the local message unit charges were gone and most people had a private line rather than the party lines that preceded them.

Then came college and I was thousands of miles from home (and from the college L was attending). Calls on weekends and late nights were made for the incredible bargain rate of $1.25 for three minutes. I could sometimes afford to call once a week! People locked phones in the dorms by the simple expedient of a dial lock in the 1 hole. That prevented dialing any number or even O for Operator.

But some were clever enough to tap the pulse code the dial generated on the switch-hook, beginning the whole new enterprise of phone freaking.

After graduate school, calls were down to $0.30 a minute and the nascent idea of a cellular phone was hatching. Still, a 90 minute call would have been a true luxury. Not to mention a budget breaker. And the touch-tone phone started to become the norm and the surcharge for having a touch-tone phone on the line disappeared as well with time.

Then came the internet and cell phones and the break up of the AT&T monopoly.

Suddenly there was competition and phone costs began a long decline. Until today we think nothing of fixed price unlimited calling and free or nearly free calls. So my 90 minute video call? Cost me nothing per se.

We sometimes forget about the silent revolutions happening around us all the time. Having a video call with someone was the stuff of dreams and Bell Labs when I was young.

Now it is so common that my shock is not that I talked so someone half a world away on a video call, but the fact that it cost me nothing beyond my already existing internet connection.

Viva The Revolution!
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