Telephones, Computers, and the Like


And We Wonder Why Everyone Is Getting Fat
by James Glaser
January 29, 2012
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I remember living in Northern Minnesota and having a phone that was for only calling out. Yes, people could call me, but I had turned off the ringer and had no message machine. Back then you needed to buy a machine you attached to your phone in order to receive messages.

I don't particularly like phones, and I never listen to messages. I like talking to people face to face. Sure, I call my children back in Minnesota often, and they call me, and I like that a lot. But I don't like people calling asking for any extra money I have to donate. Like I have "extra" money in the first place. I don't like sales calls, political calls, and we sure do get a lot of wrong number calls.

I have written about this before, but I will again. When growing up, if I went for a ride with my Dad, we were totally out of reach to my Mom. Yes, I suppose dad could have stopped at a pay phone and put in a dime and called every so often, but I can't remember his ever doing that. Long distance calls? Forget about those unless somebody died, or they had a baby, or it was a birthday. Regardless, you can be sure those calls were short. Even when long distance calls became part of the phone package and were free, I had a hard time keeping my mom on the line. "Well, Jimmy, I know this is costing you so I should write all of this in a letter," she would say. Then I would say, "No, Mom, the call is free." "Nothing is free Jimmy," she would remind me.

Oh, and so far I have only been talking about land line phones. Cell phones drive me crazy. First off they are a hazard when used while driving. I do, and I know it is bad. I haven't a clue on how to text, and that is a blessing. For me the worst thing about a cell phone is how worried you become if you leave your phone at home. Right away you think, should I go back and get it? "What if I have a flat or Wanda wants me to pick something up, or somebody is trying to call me? Lack of your cell phone puts stress on you. It has moved from a convenience to a necessity.

I have no phone in my shop. I wouldn't hear the ring anyway with a tool on, and when the tools are off, I have wonderful uninterrupted thought time. No way am I putting a phone in the tree house, and when I am walking in the woods, a phone call is the last thing I want. Admittedly it would be nice to be interrupted while weeding the garden, but I'll pass on that, too, and get a lot more weeding done.

And don't get me started on computers. They are another story. Wanda says she has a love-hate relationship with them. They are wonderful for so many things. Research, game playing, reading, music, and on-line chatting with friends, even if you never met that computer friend. You can get lost in the computer and sit there for hours on end, and the time flies by without you even knowing it.

Ahem. Sitting there, did you catch that? You can sit away all your free time at a computer—every evening and all weekend, too. You can pass on the yard work, the bike can sit on the car port for months at a time, and the garden can go to weeds, but you are so up on current events, and your game prowess has gone through the roof.

I had to buy a Kindle this week because I had started to monopolize the one I bought Wanda for Christmas. What a great reading tool! I can read with the page white or cream with black letters or have the page black with white letters. Like the computer, a great tool for the mind, but you don't even get to burn a calorie turning the page. The one redeeming thing about a Kindle is that you can read quietly in bed or in a waiting room, and if you want, you can download several books and choose the one you are in the mood for. No need to have a big book bag. Book bags can get heavy, but a Kindle loaded with twenty books or more weighs in at less than a pound.

All these new electronic contraptions are great, and they can save us a lot of time, but they also can take time from us. In fact, they can take loads of time from us. We don't even have to get in the car or ride our bike to the library. We don't have to write and mail a letter, and we don't even have to get out to meet new friends.

We can spend hours and hours, in fact days and weeks and months glued to the electronic gadget of our choice. We can do that, but after a while we notice that we have gotten soft, and we have become bigger people than we were when we started out. That is the problem America is facing today. We are no longer in the industrial age where people worked and sweated many hours a day every day and spent their off-time recovering.

Today, we spend all week sitting at a keyboard of one form or another, and then we do the same to relax in our time off. We all wonder why we have an obesity crises in America today. Maybe we should look it up on the computer, read about it on our Kindle, or text somebody in the know to find out why.

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