Posts Tagged ‘cell phone’

11th October
2010
written by Randy

I just got home from my incredible 5-day trip through the beautiful natural wonders out west. What an eyeful! I knew there would be some beautiful sights when I planned the trip, but I didn’t know that every mile would be so stunning!

The plan was to fit 1,500 miles into 5 days, but thanks to an adventurous attitude, it actually came out to over 2,000 miles. Along the way, I found out I was not far from Antelope Island, Devil’s Tower (from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind), Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway, Snake Canyon, and the Perrine Bridge, so I made detours to see them.

Of course the point of the trip was to see some famous sites. I chose my route in order to see Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument, and Yellowstone National Park — especially Old Faithful. And I did.

In spite of being far from completed, Crazy Horse was impressive. I could see his face over trees and mountaintops from several miles away. By comparison, I was rather unimpressed with Mt. Rushmore, which pales in comparison. In fact, Mt. Rushmore isn’t even visible from the road — its view is almost completely blocked from anywhere except the paid visitor parking area. For a national treasure, that’s kind of a shame.

What America has become

But the shamefulness at Mt. Rushmore doesn’t end there. I went in the gift shop to get a postcard and magnet (the only souvenirs I collect) and I saw a lot of signs and stickers on merchandise saying “Made in America”, which is a good thing to see when visiting an American treasure, right? Based on that sticker, I bought a shirt as well. But the next day, when I was putting it on, I noticed the tag said “hecho en honduras” — made in Honduras. That’s just awful. It’s for reasons like this that my disappointment with America continues to grow.

There’s more. Many times during my trip, I stopped along the side of the road to take photos, and I was really disappointed with how much litter I saw. While you’re driving, you can’t really see it. But every time I stopped, I looked the ground and saw garbage. We don’t deserve this beautiful country.

By the time I reached Yellowstone, I was surprised to notice that it seemed pretty clean. And I’m glad for that, because it’s a stunningly beautiful landscape everywhere you look. I went early in the morning, which allowed me to get some great photos, and also to see everything I wanted to see before the place grew crowded with families.

I’ve seen so much in the last few days that I honestly feel a bit overwhelmed. A person could spend weeks in any one of the places I visited — months or even years, in the case of Yellowstone — and still never see all that they wanted to see.

Doing it without a phone

You may recall that I recently decided to give up my cell phone. I’ve never been much of a talker anyway, but this was my first time traveling without the assistance of mobile internet, maps, and GPS in my pocket.

It wasn’t that big of a deal. I had my MacBook Pro and my iPod Touch with me, and I found that at almost every highway exit I was able to get online, often at whatever gas station I was stopped at. Sometimes, I had to go sit in the parking lot of a MacDonalds or a hotel to get internet access, but it wasn’t much of an issue. I also found internet access for free at the airports in Denver and Salt Lake City.

With regular access to the internet, I was able to check maps and directions, find additional sights to see, locate hotels, check emails, and even listen to voicemails on my Google Voice. Oh, and also keep up with Facebook and Twitter, of course.

Being without a phone while I travel made me more aware of just how tied to their phones everyone is. Nobody is paying attention any more. They’re all wandering aimlessly with that digital parasite stuck to their heads. Walking to the left while looking to the right, talking into their phone and running into me. Driving too fast or too slow, changing lanes without signalling, one hand busy pressing a phone against their head. I can see that life is going to be much more interesting for me without that distraction.

It was a good trip

All in all, I enjoyed myself, and I saw a lot. I saw several national monuments and national parks. I visited five more states that I had not previously been to, putting my count at 39 now, and leaving only eleven states to visit with two-and-one-half months left to do it.

I made a new friend on the flight out, with whom I’ll keep in touch. In my evenings at the hotels I made some serious progress on the e-book I’m working on. I shot some amazing photos. And I saw bison, elk, antelope, horses, and bears in the wild, literally just a few feet away from me.

27th September
2010
written by Randy

For the past two weeks I’ve been lightly experimenting with going phoneless, and I think I’m ready to make the commitment. I’m going to give up my cell phone.

First, some background.

I’ve been making very heavy use of Skype this year. I know it works. I’ve also been a heavy user of Google Voice for close to two years. And recently, Google Voice added the ability to make phone calls from your computer, right inside of Gmail. I’ve tried it, and it works well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, all of this is free.

That got me thinking and wondering to myself, Why am I paying $100/mo for my iPhone, just to be stuck with a service that can’t make phone calls as well as these free services?

And that’s when I got the idea to get a new Google Voice number, and experiment with giving people that number instead of the one to my phone. I played with it for a few weeks and found that I it’s not bad. In fact, it’s better than my cell service, both at home and at work — the two places where I spend the most time.

So I decided to make an experiment of not using my phone, except when it’s possible to do so over WiFi. And that has been quite liberating.

On buses and trains, while everyone is standing with their heads down, looking at their phones while they text or tweet or read Facebook, I feel like I’ve broken away from the Matrix.

In business meetings and social gatherings, I’m more focused on the people I’m with, no longer tempted to sneak a peek at my phone. And I don’t have to interrupt the company I’m in, in order to answer a call.

Without a phone in my pocket, my pants fit more nicely and more comfortably, and there’s no need to pull it out and set it on the table or bar when I sit down.

It’s still too early to say, but I also expect the leg tremors to stop. You know, those little muscle and nerve vibrations you get in your leg that make you think your phone is vibrating, so you have to pull it out and check?

So I think this is going to be a very positive development, and if I have success with it, maybe I can convince a few others to join me and make the move toward a less connected life!