Wednesday Roam — On Being Linked In

I bought a new — never before used — vinyl record yesterday. First, let me say that I’m not a Luddite — at least not a card carrying member. I like a few of the modern electronic conveniences. But — from where I stand…or sit, I’m often taken by how much people around me are constantly connected to some sort of electronic device. I know — it’s a common complaint.

I’m halfway through my 60s and can member the first time I saw and heard a transistor radio– some kid smuggled it in to grade school and it was a primitive thing by today’s standards….or by standards of 30 years ago, for that matter. I’m not a complainer….just an observer….but it is hard to carry on a conversation with someone who can’t take their eyes off of a four inch green.

In the midst of this connective-ness, I have recently become aware of how much I have gone down that road.  Oh yes…it is a slippery slope, brothers and sisters… Just in the last few months I’ve joined the ranks of the electro-masses.

I have a lap-top and a tablet and an MP3 player and a few other things. I got rid of the steam-driven desk-top computer — the Mother Ship — at my last move. I’ve been on the internet (Lordy!!) for more than 30 years— long before GUI…if you know what I mean. So, in a way I was there all along. In the beginning, where I worked, I was the gatekeeper for the internet access. You had to come to me to get a password and authorization to have the privilege of gaining access to the WWW. We had no microcomputers. Access was through a labyrinthine set of portals and commands on the mainframe computer. It was like a secret compartment in the “big box” and I had the keys.  People were very nice to me then but there really wasn’t much reason to be on the internet. It was mostly academics and scientists and a few tech savvy people communicating in dull text messages or posting lengthy documents that few people read. There was no commercial content. Even getting an image of something was a novelty.

I’ve had a cell phone for ten years or more but it was a mobile phone and nothing more. It was an old flip-phone and it served me well. I once tumbled 30 feet off of a cliff and landed on the flip-phone in my hip pocket and we both survived. We were a little worse for wear but we were OK and the phone might have kept me from getting banged up more than I was. Later, I fell into my goldfish pond and the flip-phone tried to die but I was able to resuscitate it and it went on for another year or so as if nothing happened. It was a good friend.

In December of last year I got hearing aids…something I needed for a while. Here was an electronic gizmo that worked fine and did what it was supposed to do. But wait…as they say on TV. I can have more than just a hearing instrument — in fact I did have more. I can be wired for sound. The hearing aids come with a discreet little gadget that hangs around my neck concealed under my shirt that has several buttons and a microphone that controls the programs in the hearing aids. Yes, they are programmable. They also will talk to my mobile phone using Bluetooth so that when I get a phone call all I have to do is push a button under my shirt and I get people talking to me through my ear pieces and they hear me through the little microphone…all hands free (almost). So now you can see me wandering around the mall or grocery store talking to myself. But wait…that’s not all! I can listen to music or podcasts, too, or get an app that checks my batteries and controls the programs even better… but not with my flip-phone. I need an iPhone.

For several weeks my little old flip-phone was trying hard to live up to expectations but it would overheat during telephone calls. It got so hot that I could barely touch it and it finally passed out…ending the phone call. OK…it lived a good life but it was time to step up and get the iPhone.

It was a frustrating month when I got the iPhone because it really didn’t work as planned. While it was great in theory, it was a mess in everyday usage because the new app and Bluetooth were picking up signals and chatter from the iPhone and feeding them into my ears every 45 seconds. I think they call that instability and I was becoming more and more unstable as time went on. Finally we (I had four other people trying to figure it out) accidentally found the solution. It had nothing to do with a hammer or a flushing toilet. There is a little known setting on the iPhone that changed the way it communicated with the hearing aid app and the associated Bluetooth connection.  All is well…mostly.

So here I am now…  If I was having an out-of-body experience and looking down on myself, say in my local coffee shop, I’d see that I’m probably staring at my tablet screen with my iPhone sitting on the table and my thingy around my neck monitoring my ear pieces and telling the iPhone what the status is while waiting for your all important phone call.

Oh…That vinyl record I bought is Annie Lennox singing some old songs…some vintage Patsy Cline, some Hoagy Carmichael, Billie Holliday, “I put a spell on you”, “Summertime”….yes, very nice. And it plays on a turntable with a stylus and I can hear it fine…without the iPhone.

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