Friday, February 27, 2009

For Whom the Door Bell Tolls

I'm still recovering from a foot surgery that involved bone reconstruction, so walking to the door is sometimes a challenge. Lately I've noticed a rise in traffic at my front door. Sometimes I get as many as three people a day ringing the door bell trying to sell something. They sell everything from super environmentally friendly cleaners to chocolate to Jesus. Now if they bring a chocolate Jesus I may spare a few bucks.

Once there were two young men in white shirts, ties and khaki pants selling Mormonism. When I finally convinced them that I wasn't buying they asked if I needed any work done around the yard. Eventually they got on their bikes and left, but they seemed really bummed out. I actually felt bad for them. A few weeks ago I had an older woman and her grandaughter wanting to convert me to Baptist. Now, I am a Secular Humanist and proud of it, but I still think we should have the freedom to believe whatever the heck we think is best for us, but dangit, please don't shove it down my throat. It took me a while, but I finally convinced them that although I respected their right to their beliefs, I didn't share them. I don't think they knew if they should be appalled or what, so they just left. Magazines, house cleaning, oh yeah my fave - meat from the back of someone's van, jeez... I've just about had it.

Today was different. I had the mail carrier and a girl with a spray bottle wanting to demonstrate something in my house. I respectfully declined. Nothing unusual there. Then a couple of hours later the door bell rang again. I could swear it sounded different. My door bell rings a consistantly happy Major 3rd. But in my head I heard an ominous minor 3rd with a creepy fade. Immediately my scalp started tingling and I swear I developed Spidey senses. From where I was sitting I could see the front door and a figure through the frosted glass next to it. I could see that it was a rather large man and he seemed to be shifting uneasily from one foot to another. He rang the bell again and then I saw a light. After a second I realized it was a flashlight and he was shining it through the glass trying to look into the house. Even with a flashlight, the only thing you can see through that glass is an unidentifyable shadow, but he tried for what was probably only 30 seconds. To me if felt like an hour. I sat there and watched him and finally he walked away. I didn't hear a car door or anything indicating it could be say the meter reader or high school kids raising funds for a trip. It just didn't seem right and I was all flushed and my goose was totally bumped. I have no reason to assume there was a danger, but this was the same feeling I had the day I left my grandmother's house to go to the store, and half way there turned back for no apparent reason other than I had a strong feeling that I needed to be there. When I got there I found my grandmother in the middle of being scared out of her wits after she surprised an intruder in her own house.

I have the total heeby geebys right now. Guess I'd better get my cat those ninja classes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mother Smurfing Cell Phone Companies!

The other day I was trying to find a text only device I could give my sister as a gift so that we could send eachother the silly random thoughts that one forgets at the end of the day. It would be like being kids again and we wouldn't have to worry about racking up a phone bill and still feel connected. She has her reasons for not wanting a cell phone, and she's so busy she doesn't have time to sit at a computer every day.

In my search I found a couple of things. The Sony Mylo looked pretty darned cool, but it depends on the availability of a hot spot. If you're not near one it doesn't work. Plus it's over $200.00. Most cell phone companies have text plans, but only in addition to a regular plan and a two year contract. T-Mobile had the best idea - a SideKick for around $200.00 with a text only plan for $30.00 a month. Again, it came with a contract. I hate contracts. Isn't it enough that you're buying a device and paying monthly to use it? I mean, if you don't pay they cut you off. It's not like you can buy any phone and use it with the provider of your choice like a home phone, but it should be. You have to take the company that comes with the phone you're in love with - kind of like inlaws. And if you decide after a year that it's just not working out, you get slammed with a high cancellation fee - like a bad divorce. You actually have to pay to stop paying. Even if I eliminate the voice plan on my LG Env I still have a $30.00 unlimited text plan, and I got rid of the unlimited internet plan because Verizon hiked it up to $60.00 for 5GB a month or $0.25 per MB! Are they getting advice from Exxon? Cause it's as if my cell phone ran on gasoline. Mother smurfers!

Then I came across the OGO. What a cool little device. Sturdy clamshell, large display and a comfy qwerty keyboard (say that ten times!). Text, internet, IM, all things data and no voice. A teenager's modern dream. AT&T had it briefly for $100.00 with a monthly plan for $18.00 - unlimited usage. For that price I'd marry them in a heartbeat and send one to both of my nephews as well. Then Cingular Wireless took AT&T over and the OGO went the way of the DODO. No doubt because they couldn't squeeze enough out of customers with only $18.00 a month. The Cingular marketing genuises devised a sneaky plan to make it seem as though no one liked the OGO, so it was disposed of. Turns out the OGO was hugely popular among parents with teens who texted more than they spoke on the phone anyway. The deaf and hard of hearing community loved it, and were very aliented when it was taken off the shelf and not replaced with anything even remotely similar. Considering there are about 32 million deaf or hard of hearing Americans, that was a really sucky move.

Enter Swisscom. This Swiss company originally launched the OGO in 2005, and it turns out the OGO is alive and well in Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, France and England. It's so popular you can get one at any Swisscom shop for 49.-*. The latest version has all kinds of features. So why can't we get one here? Verizon is in international business cahoots with Swisscom. They also happen to be my provider. It doesn't seem like rocket science to get the OGO back to the States. Don't these phone companies even know their market? Not only that, in this insane economic flushing toilet we're stuck in, wouldn't it be a great thing to offer people who simply can't afford a cell phone for each family member? I wrote to Verizon asking them just that. They told me they were sending my message to their marketing division. I'm assuming it's a room filled with "can you hear me now" clones talking to eachother on cell phones about how amazing it is that every grey jacket comes with a free helicopter thanks to the generosity of their enslaved customers.

All I wanted was a simple, affordable, fun way to keep in touch with my sister, who I happen to miss very much and lives very far away. I guess I'll just keep searching, but really, all this just makes me want to find a phone booth, fill it with all the old stupid cell phones I've been accumulating since the 90's and send it to the White House with a note that says "Talk is cheap my ass".