“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cell Phones

Cell phones are like automatic weapons fire.  You don't need it often, but when you do, you REALLY do.

We have four of them.   My daughter and son have cell phones you can use the internet with.  They live in a city and it's helpful for them to be able to look up directions, check their email, and the like. My wife and I have basic phones that we essentially use for text messages and phone calls. That's it.

If you live way out in the country, and you have to do a lot of driving through sparsely populated countryside, a cell phone is nice to have.  Calling a wrecker beats walking 15 miles to the nearest gas station to do so.  Everybody knows that in an emergency where the Sheeple are flooding the phone grid with long, rambling conversations a text may get through where a regular call won't.  That's nice.

I can also get on the computer and locate any one of us by using the AT&T family map system. That has come in handy a time or two, such as the instance where my son got routed off the freeway by a closed bridge, and was wandering around in "the bad part of town" trying to find another way through the city.  I was able to guide him back to where he needed to be by using the computer and the "birds eye view" of Family Map.

There's also the fortunate aspect that if the cell phone in my truck bag isn't ringing, I know no one is having trouble of one kind or other. Between the land line and the cell phone, my family can reach me if they need to, and I can reach them.


If you live in the mountains, you will have terrain masking issues.  I do.  I can't use my cell phone at home (hence the land line), but if I need to, I can walk out of the main house, go up slope to the apartment, and I get  a good clear signal on the porch of the apartment.  In most places on the road, as long as you are in the mountains, you may not be able to carry on a moving conversation. However, you can wait till you find a decent spot, and pull over. In the worst case, you can just start going up slope and you'll eventually find a signal.  Cell phone communications here have improved significantly over the last ten years with more towers and better technology.

I have been paying AT&T $175.00 a month for four lines. That gives me 750 minutes of talk, with 12 month carry over, and unlimited texting plus internet access for my son and daughter.

Now AT&T has a new plan, $100 a month for four phones, unlimited text and voice, and a hefty allowance of internet time.  I switched to that.  So I will actually have a better plan for just about half the money.  As long as I am leaving the house and going through the mountains, and as long as my family is scattered around, it's a good investment.

14 comments:

  1. Our cell phone signals can be dropped pretty easily. Especially during inclement weather. We have a mountain behind our house that is likely the cause of this. But for the most part, they do the job.

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    1. Cell service in mountainous terrain is always tenuous. I keep a land line for redundancy and because it usually works (not always) even in bad weather.

      If you can get by with just a cell it's cheaper, so that's a good thing that your location lets you do that.

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  2. Where we live the wireless company can barely support a voice call. We had 2 cell phones but dropped one. No landline either. The second cell is kept as an emergency 911 only phone. We pay about $40 a month - no data, no texting. To me a phone is just a device for voice calls.

    We don't worry about lack of a reliable 911 connection. It would take them about 20 minutes (in good times) to several hours to respond. Whatever the problem is will be over by then. The real emergency response is neighbors - in line of sight is an EMT, and the fire department volunteers live scattered about town. So the county 911 is just for cleanup and report writing.

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    1. You're in good shape. I don't have any neighbors, and in truth if we didn't have two kids living in a city, we would probably just buy a couple of those use and lose phones, for emergencies only. My kids live in Cincinnati and there's never been any real potential for disaster there that I know of, but I like being able to contact them if need be. I pay for a land line in my son's apartment because I have read that land lines may sometimes still function when cell towers fail for lack of power.

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  3. I'm with you, Harry, on the texting aspect. I can clearly recall 2 different occasions when the only way I could contact individuals was through texting. Once due to awful cell reception and the other due to the phone lines being jammed when we had that 6.0 earthquake about 3 years ago.

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    1. Matt, I've read that in several books by reputable authors, so it seems a good back up to me. Have you ever seen a low budget, little heard of movie called , I think, "In your own back yard."? it's about a terrorist chemical bombing in some city in California, and really illustrates the difficulties with communications in such an event, and how lack of communications with family makes it so much worse.

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    2. My only issue with texting is the ability that TPTB have to shut the system down if they desire. This happened, I think, in San Francisco either last year or the year before, I don't remember the reason for them doing it. But this could leave you in a spot.

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    3. Almost any form of communications has drawbacks. I try to "layer" my communications procedures, so that if one fails, for whatever reason, I have some alternative to fall back on.

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  4. I purchased my first 'car phone' in 1993 and have had a mobile phone ever since. I use it a lot less, I value human interaction and communication, luckily work picks up the tab or I'm not sure I would have one for more than emergency calls.

    I've seen the movie you are referring to in Matt's response, I thought it was pretty good. If I'm thinking of the right movie anyhow, where it shows that sealing your house up isn't the brightest thing to do in the end... I think that's the one, and I don't want to cheat and look it up.

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    1. Neither was trusting the government...... That's the movie.

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  5. I have a basic cell phone. My husband has a smart phone. The more bells and whistles, the higher the rates are.

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    1. One of those phones that do internet and all that would be useless here. Even if I go up to the apartment porch to make a call with my cell phone, the signal isn't strong enough or constant enough to do the internet. I have the lap top and a Kindle that will hook into my little home "hotspot" and that's working ok. You're right, the price of service can be very stiff if you have one of those more advanced phones.

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  6. I know what you mean about "dead spots." We have one for about a mile after we come down off of the ridge on the way to the bigger town. If you needed the cell phone in that area for an emergency, you're out of luck. We stay with AT&T because they are the only cell service in our area that works. We chose to live in the Boondocks, so can't complain too loudly!

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    1. Scooney, that's why I have AT&T. They have the only towers here. And I like their AT&T family map service. I think as time passes, and we get more towers scattered around the mountains, terrain masking will become less of a problem.

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