I use a smartphone to make phone calls … I am obsolete.

My husband and I have Blackberry Smartphones. These days, I have the Torch (it was on sale), but Garry still has the Curve. He uses it for email, to track appointments, and to make phone calls. The reason we both wound up with Blackberries and not iPhones was simple: iPhones have pathetic voice quality for making phone calls. So do most smartphones. Blackberry is the only one that seems to care whether or not you can actually hear the voice on the other end.

No one, apparently, makes phone calls anymore, so phone manufacturers aren’t interested in telephone voice quality. Everyone is obsessed by apps. They want to know what apps they can use. They text, play games, take pictures …. but they don’t use the phone as a phone.

In this household, the only thing for which we use our telephones is to communicate and keep our schedules. That’s it. I lack the pointy little thumbs that make texting convenient for younger people. It’s a genetic adaptation I don’t have. My thumbs do thumb-centric things like grasping tools: they are not good for typing except touch typing where they are fine for whacking at the space bar.

Why would I want to do all that stuff on my phone when I have a desktop, a big laptop, a net book, and a tablet? If I want to take pictures, I have two Olympus PEN camera bodies plus 4 high-quality lenses, as well as a small superzoom point & shoot Canon that I keep as backup in my purse. My telephone is good for three things: making and receiving phone calls, synchronizing with Outlook‘s calendar (so Garry and I know who’s going to which doctor and when) and email. He uses it for email a lot more than I do. I prefer a full-size keyboard.

I use a camera for taking pictures and a computer for most everything else. I know that my Torch has a ton of capabilities I never use and I don’t care. I don’t want to use them. Twice I have used my phone to take a picture because it was the only thing available. Otherwise, I like cameras for photography, computers for computing, GPS units for navigation, and telephones for talking to people on ….tada … the telephone.

Unless you are on the road all the time without access to WIFI, what possible advantage do you get by running your world from this tiny device? Why do you even want to? Is it the only mobile device available to you? You mean you don’t have a laptop, netbook, or tablet?

I genuinely don’t understand why anyone feels a pressing need to use a small inconvenient device to do things that are so much easier to do on a bigger device … which they probably already own.

How well do I understand my phone? Enough to do what I need to do. It has good audio for telephone calls! It’s a telephone, you know?

One day, people will discover that they are doing everything the hard way. This is likely to occur when the younger generation starts to hit their late 30s and 40s and discovers they can’t see tiny little objects without special glasses. It happens to everyone and nothing you do will prevent it.

At that point, like a thunderbolt from Zeus himself, an entire generation will realize that it’s a whole lot easier to type on a keyboard, edit graphics and format text on a monitor large enough to see more than a few words at a time and bright enough to tell whether or not the photograph is in focus (what a concept!). They will be shocked by the discovery, thrilled to realize they no longer need to squint at a tiny screen when they could see the whole thing on a big bright high-definition monitor! It will be an international epiphany of epic proportions!

Not only that, but maybe people will remember how nice it is to hear the voice of a loved one, not just see a text or email. We might even rediscover (be still my heart) intimacy. You never know. Human relationships may come back into fashion!

I’m already there.

Young Photographer At Work

This is the off-season for pictures in the northeastern states. The bright gold of early sprint has long passed. The flowers and lush foliage of summer is just a memory. Golden autumn is past and winter, with its white icing, has not arrived. It is not a photogenic time of year. It’s a challenge to find things to shoot. Nonetheless, Kaity and I hit the road.

Kaity

She has her learner’s permit now, so now she drives and I sit. Neither of us has any sense of direction. We are lost most of the time, only to discover that when we next turn, we are really just around the corner from home. Still, we always find someplace we’ve never been before. Today we discovered Skull Rock Locks, another piece of the ubiquitous Blackstone River. We didn’t see the locks, but found the river. It’s never far away.

Pensive

When a grandchild shares a passion for photography with you, it is a wonderful gift. It can be very hard to connect with teenagers unless you are one. When they hit their teenage years, as often as not they want nothing to do with you. You are just one of the old people and vaguely embarrassing as they try their wings and discover independence. Eventually, most of them get past that stage and ultimately realize you aren’t a total loser after all, Maybe you even have something to say. It doesn’t mean they’ll listen, but there’s hope.

If your teenage child or grandchild genuinely enjoys doing something with you, that’s special. In sharing an activity, you get to meet as equals. In this case, the meeting ground is photography. She has stuff to learn … most of the technical aspects of photography are still mysterious to her, one of the big disadvantages of the easy availability of fully automatic modes on all cameras, but also because she shows a definite lack of enthusiasm for technical stuff. She will have to learn it and she does know it. She’s just delaying it as long as possible.

Still, she loves taking pictures, has a good eye and a unique viewpoint. When granny suggests going out and doing some shooting, if our schedules can be synched up, we’re out there, getting lost on back roads, discovering new areas of the Blackstone River as it winds through our valley.

At work

I think we are both surprised at how many little parks and boat launch sites can be found throughout the valley. Today we found the Skull Rock Locks, a piece of the Blackstone we’d never heard of and may well never find again.

We took pictures. Since this was the first outing for my new portrait lens, I took pictures of Kaity as photographer. Usually she declines being photographed, but I did point out that I had a portrait lens and she was the only person to be found, so she gave in.

More shooting

This is the first time in a quite a while I’ve had a portrait lens, and the first time in years I’ve worked with a fixed focal length (prime) lens. I kept trying to get it to zoom, which of course, it won’t do. Fixed focal length mean that your zoom are your feet. You want to get closer? Walk or run, but the lens won’t do it for you.

The lens also turns out lovely landscapes. Good lens, glad I bought it.

You can see Kaity’s pictures from today on Kaity Michelle’s Photo Page on Facebook.

You really ARE responsible.

Presenting yet another gem from the heartland of the InternetFacebook.

This is classic irresponsible bullshit by people who figure that they have the right to shoot off their mouths, write drivel on public forums, and bear no responsibility for the results of their actions. These are the same people who would probably think shouting “fire” in a theater was funny and if people panic and are injured or killed, it’s not their fault.

FYI, I made a good faith effort to find a synonym for bullshit and discovered there really isn’t any. If you find a good synonym, I’d like to hear it. 

Here’s what I think.

You are responsible. For what you say and for making sure you are understood. For what you write and how you write it.

You are morally required to make a good faith effort to speak and write the truth in such a way that others can understand it. You need to be sure what you say makes sense. If you aren’t responsible, who is? If you write a pack of lies, or half-truths, or rumors —  exactly who is responsible but you for whatever misunderstanding will inevitably result?

Everyone is responsible. You may not be able to 100% control how others understand, but you can make your best effort to be honest, to double-check facts, and explain what you mean as clearly as possible.

The casual, widespread attitude that it’s okay to say or do anything and if other people don’t like it or “get it,” too bad for them is the definition of what is wrong with our society. We act irresponsibly, refuse to admit mistakes. Like little children, we blame everyone else, then wonder why we can’t trust anyone.

If all of us refuse to accept responsibility for our own actions and statements, why should anyone be more trustworthy than we are?  If “it’s not my fault” is going to be our national motto, when you hear that flapping sound, it’s your chickens coming home to roost. The result will be that we will live in a world where nothing anyone says or does can be trusted because honesty has been replaced by bullshit.

It really is the writer or speaker’s responsibility to communicate. It is not the responsibility of your listener to decipher your poorly written and badly expressed language.

It’s not a heartwarming thought.