Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Plunging Head First Into the Twentieth Century

Last week, we tried to enter the twenty-first century. We hadn't wanted to rush into it, but it does look like it might take off. Because I'm teaching college courses in Beckley one day a week and driving home late at night on deserted roads, we decided to get a cell phone for emergencies. There's no cell service here on Droop, but people in Marlinton seem to use them, and every single shopper in the Lewisburg Wal-mart is talking to some ethereal presence, rather than watching where she's pushing that cart. Surely a prepaid cell phone (like the ones the hitmen are always using on the TV police dramas) would be a good idea.

We bought the recommended model in Marlinton, and brought it home, only to discover it had no battery. So we went back to the store and exchanged it. The second phone charged successfully, but it failed half-way through activation. We drove all over Marlinton, the south side of Droop Mountain, and all the way to Frankford, where we got a strong signal, but the phone still wouldn't activate. The nice young tech support man (in the Philippines, I think) was very apologetic, but unable to help. I'll be taking the phone back on Friday.

Today, I ordered the The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, which, I am assured, is All you need to become an Amateur Radio Operator. Our neighbors are long-time ham radio operators, and keep one in their car for emergencies. The AARL (American Radio Relay League) was founded in 1914. Clearly, we are plunging headfirst into a new century. We're just a little confused about which one.


Dave said...

Don't worry, Rebecca. You'll discover that ham radio technologies span the centuries, from Morse (CW) and AM-voice of the early 20th Century to the digital and satellite modes of today.

By the way, Droop Mountain might become quite a ham "hot-bed". We have a property on Locust Creek that we hope to build on in a few years, Social Security and TIAA-CREF willing.

73/88 de KQ3T

Larry said...

I finally succumbed and bought a cheap "Tracfone" when I realized that everyone I know, even including the poor and indigent, have some sort of cell phone.

It's a slippery slope. It's easy to justify owning one when you think "What if my car breaks down in a remote area?"

I just hope I don't come to the point where I'm exchanging inanities with friends and relatives in public places.

As a former clerk in a convenience store I can say that few things are more demeaning and annoying than a customer who tries to maintain a cell phone conversation while trying to pay for a purchase. I'd just ignore them, turn my back until they were ready to re-enter the real world.

Years ago I had a ham radio licence. The internet kinda took away the appeal for me...

Rebecca Clayton said...

Dave, you'll find there are quite a few ham operators in the Locust Creek vicinity.

Larry, I think it's a blessing in disguise to lack cell phone reception. It seems like they are a time and money sink. But it's true--they are the connectivity of choice for the undocumented and the indigent, where service is available. A friend who worked in Uganda 10 years ago told me that they were ubiquitous, even among people struggling to make ends meet.