Posts Tagged ‘cell phones’

Remember in the old movies when people always took the train or the bus to places? So romantic, right? Well, that’s coming back. Public transportation is the way of the future for the big cities and even not-so-big cities. I make no secret that I am in love with the Tube in London. You can be across the city in just minutes: no parking, no traffic, no problem. Sure, it can be crowded and even hot, but the trade-off of not having to hassle with a car is fabulous.

After spending the last few days using public transportation again, which is a wonderful thing when done right (Way to go, Chicago!), I have a few tips for when you ride that bus or train to or around one of our great cities. These are also useful hints for airplanes.


  • Have a long cell phone conversation. Trust me when I say that no one wants to hear it. If you have to answer your phone, keep it short and sweet. Your fellow passengers will appreciate it. Better yet, just text.
  • Watch videos on your phone without earbuds. Maximum irritation. Just don’t.
  • Lace your conversation with profanities. I’m no angel myself, but when you’re out in public and around other people, especially in an enclosed environment, have a little class and watch your mouth.
  • Put your feet on the seats. You know that they don’t clean those very often, if at all. Don’t make it worse.
  • Eat a feast. Snacks are fine, usually, but leave the meal at home.


  • Be nice. So many bad situations can be avoided by not being a jerk.
  • Keep your conversations at low volume. Our entire train car had to listen to two early-twenty-something young ladies broadcast their Chicago weekend plans for an hour or so on the way in, punctuated with annoying vocal fry (look it up) and “like” about 500 times. There was nothing wrong with their plan, I just didn’t care to hear them. I know that I was probably just as silly at that age and I will now apologize to every person that I annoyed then with my nonsense talk. Please forgive me for being an airhead.
  • Bring something to do that won’t disturb others. Phones with earbuds are good, a BOOK is a nice thing, an e-reader. Heck, bring a coloring book. Pacing up and down the aisle will not make the trip go faster, I promise.
  • Share the seats.
  • Know how to get off the vehicle. We almost didn’t get off the train at the right stop yesterday because the outside doors on our car weren’t open. I don’t know if we messed up or if the doors were supposed to open, but we almost ended up in South Bend instead of Michigan City. Next time, I’ll check on that before it’s time to get off. Lesson learned.

Obviously, having great public transport is a wonderful thing. If you are fortunate enough to have a good system where you live, use it. Enjoy it. It cuts down on pollution and traffic congestion, making it a greener option when traveling. I really wish that Detroit had reliable buses and trains; we’re moving in that direction, but it will be a long time before we’re up there with Chicago, London, New York, Boston, and others. I would give up my car in a heartbeat if there was a safe train or bus that would take me where I needed to go.

As the use of public transportation is coming back, our need to remember the manners of the past becomes more important. We live in a very “me” oriented world, which can get sticky in a public situation. Be nice, be respectful, and enjoy the ride.

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Youngest Child wants a phone. Badly. How do I know that? He wrote a 12-page manifesto on Post-It notes a few weeks back, explaining all of the reasons why he should be allowed to have one. Some of the reasons were quite good, such as he wants to be able to contact us in an emergency. I get that. He also doesn’t want to look uncool in front of his friends, which kind of makes me mad at parents who buy expensive cell phones for 7th graders. What 12-year-old needs an iPhone, really? It’s like those parents whose Tooth Fairy gives out $20.00 or more for a tooth. Seriously? Topic for another blog.

I’ve been a kid, I understand the desire to fit in with your friends, but I’m not sure if I want to go down this road this early. When he first approached us, Marty Man and I gave him the same answer we gave his brothers: he can have a phone when he has a job and a girlfriend. (The girlfriend was Marty Man’s idea. His reasoning is why else would you need a phone?) We think that our kids shouldn’t have everything handed to them. If they want something as expensive as a cell phone, they’re going to have to pay for it and the bill. I know so many kids who are extremely privileged, have no chores, and are routinely handed expensive things just as a way of life. They have no concept of a work ethic or what it takes to actually earn something and I don’t want our kids turning out that way. I don’t want anything just handed to them, or to still be supporting them when they’re thirty. They’ve always had chores and allowance as soon as they were old enough. When the older two got their jobs, they bought their own phones and refill their accounts every month, the same as Marty Man and I do. They are responsible for keeping them up and both have done a fabulous job. Youngest Child can’t get a job yet, but he has been saving his allowance and birthday money, a remarkable accomplishment for him. Money usually burns a hole in his pocket, the closet full of Legos and Pokémon cards attest to that, but since he’s had this phone idea in his head, he has barely spent a dime, which is a good thing.

Impressed with his self-control, I began looking around online for phones, with no promises to him, and that’s where I hit a sticky point. I wanted one that could be programmed with certain numbers that he could call and receive, but no data. No twelve-year-old needs to have unsupervised access to the internet. Have you seen the internet? One wrong search word and there are things that one can never unsee, and therein lies my problem. I cannot find a phone plan that does not include access to wifi. Marty Man and I don’t have data, we’re not huge phone people, although I have gotten rather used to using my phone for pictures and for checking in on Facebook and mail. Before our smartphones, we had the same prehistoric cell phone for almost ten years. We also don’t buy new cars, preferring to run ours into the ground and to keep home appliances going for as long as we possibly can. (I admittedly cave before he does, though. Current case in point, our stupid upstairs toilet that is CLEARLY on its last legs, but Marty Man keeps making adjustments to it. I keep threatening to just go to Lowe’s and buy a new one,) Anyway, the point is that if Youngest Child is to have a phone at twelve, it would be to call and/or text us and other numbers we approve, not to surf the internet.

This is new parenting territory. Most people reading this will have grown up the same way Marty Man and I did: there were no cell phones. If you were a teenager in any decade earlier than the 2000s, you probably contacted your parents on a payphone. There are still payphones around, but they are few and far between. I remember trying to find the right change to call home, $ 0.20 when I was in high school and I was mad when it jumped to $0.25 when I was in college. I have no idea how much it costs these days. Anyway, we didn’t have direct access to our parents anytime we needed it. They didn’t have cell phones, either, and yet, somehow, we survived. I know it’s a different world today, as Youngest Child’s manifesto reminds me, but is this just another way of helicopter parenting? I must admit, it makes me feel better to know that my older boys have a way to contact me immediately if something happens, but on the other hand, I want them to be able to solve their own problems. I had to, and I learned. I worry that if I give Youngest Child his own phone, he will rely on calling us too much for small things and expecting us to rescue him. that he won’t develop a good sense of self-preservation. (Mine was honed to perfection by Ericka Osen and Rob Martin. Ask them sometime.) Today’s kids are in no more danger than we were. Violent crime, with the exception of school shootings, is actually much less than when we were in school. The dangers that today’s kids face are much less than when their parents were growing up. Mainly it’s a matter of convenience. I want my children to have a sense of self-reliance.

At this point, I am still undecided, torn, actually. Youngest Child has shown some maturity in this decision and I want to encourage that, but I don’t want to give too much. And if anyone out there knows of a cell phone plan that does not include data, could you pass that on, please? In the meantime, I’ll keep looking.

A presto…

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It has been quite the week, so I’m blowing off some steam today, on the less serious side. Well, some of them are kind of serious when they happen. It’s sometimes hard to forget that they are just that: pet peeves. Still, they’re annoying as heck. Here are some of my biggest ones.

Not using a turn signal when driving. You are not James Bond. You are not evading or tailing a super spy. You do not need to hide your movements. I promise that I will let you over (unless you’re driving like a jackass) and I’d much prefer to know that you are moving into my lane rather than be surprised. This turn signal thing also bugs me when I’m waiting to turn onto a street and I’m waiting for a car to pass, only to have the car turn a few blocks before it gets to me. Super-annoying. My time is wasted and now I’m irritated, thank you very much. Really, how much of your time does it take to flip the little lever on your steering wheel? Sheesh.

People who talk during any kind of performance. As an actor and as a mom with kids who are involved in school performances, I see this a lot and it’s really rage-inducing. If your conversation is important, TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!! I want to hear what the performers have practiced for weeks or months, not a random conversation on someone’s extended family. It’s really, really, rude, not to mention distracting, to talk during a performance, whether it’s a band concert, a community theatre play, or a movie. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bicyclists who ride in the street but don’t follow the rules. This really burns me and it falls under the serious category. This is DETROIT, not the Tour de France, although one would think so from how these folks are dressed. You do not need to be aerodynamic in the city. If you are riding in the road, you MUST stop at stop signs and lights. It’s the LAW. I once sat at a green light while a 50-bike blob decided to go right through their red light like they were a funeral procession. A fast funeral procession in neon spandex and pointy helmets. Look, folks, this is Outer Drive, not the French countryside. I hope, I hope that a police officer caught up with them at some point and gave them all humongous tickets. Look, I’m all for bike lanes and giving bicyclists a wide berth. I wish I could ride to work. It’s great for the environment, it’s healthy, and it’s fun, but follow the frickin’ rules. It’s just not safe, in fact, it’s downright arrogant, to zip through a red light and assume that traffic will stop for you. Plus, the spandex looks stupid. (Sorry, but it does.)

And while we’re on the topic of driving…

Driving under the speed limit. Oh. My. Gosh. We have places to go. If something is wrong with your car, turn on your hazard lights and get thee to the nearest service station. Otherwise, drive the posted speed (at least), especially during rush hour.

Loud, obnoxious swearing in public. I’m no angel. I swear on occasion, but it’s not terribly often and very rarely in public. I’m not talking about that kind of swearing, when one is with friends or in the heat of anger. I’m talking about the people who swear like they’re twelve years old and out of earshot of mom, who think that every other word in public should be a loud f-bomb or something similar. Really, it makes one sound uneducated and ridiculous. There is a time and a place for such things and Target or your local family diner is not it, especially when there are kids around. Manners, folks, manners.

Parents who yap on their phones instead of parenting. Another serious one, I think I blogged on this at some point. This makes me crazy, especially when the child is being a hellion and no discipline is happening. Hang up and stop your angel from wreaking havoc in the restaurant or on the playground. It makes me sad when I see a parent pushing their baby in a stroller and all they’re doing is talking on the phone. Talk to your BABY! A baby’s brain is primed and ready to soak up knowledge. It’s amazing how they respond to you. Studies show over and again that talking to you baby promotes language development in the brain, it teaches babies how to read facial expressions and how to interact with other humans, and increases literacy potential. Those baby and toddler years are so precious and go by so fast, please don’t waste them on the cell phone. Really, who is more important than your child? Be a parent.

Using all of the toilet paper on the roll and not replacing it. My children. You know who you are.

And last but certainly not least,

Memes on Facebook that tell you to share this in the next twenty minutes and you’ll get money, share if you love Jesus, if you love God, share and you’ll have good luck, etc. God doesn’t care if I share a Facebook post and I would venture to say that Jesus doesn’t either. Not one friend who has ever shared these posts has ever suddenly become rich or lucky. Just saying.

That’s all for now. Of course, there are more, but people who complain too much are also on the list, so I’ll end here. Until next time.

Peace and love.

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Oh, it’s been a long time since I blogged. The only reason has been my insane schedule of late. To make a long story short, I auditioned for a show, got a role in the show, continued to parent, teach, and do everything else that I have always done. I thought about blogging, several times, but just couldn’t find the time necessary to devote myself to it.

One thing that’s been on my mind for the past week or so has been the increase in random shootings across the country. This is not going to be a debate about Second Amendment rights. There are so many opinions as to what the right to bear arms entails that it already fills up countless comment pages on any article about the subject. People are so incredibly divided on the whole gun rights issue that we aren’t doing what we need to do the most: come together to find a solution to all of this.

Let’s look at the facts. We, as the United States, have the highest number of gun violence incidents in the world. This does not take war into the equation, only violence committed on other people living their lives. We are arguably the most powerful nation in the world, yet we cannot stop this tide of violence that has been correctly reported by President Obama as happening, on average, once a week, beginning in December 2012. Elementary schools,universities, movie theatres, even a pizza joint, have all been the locations of random, senseless shootings. Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, police officers, kindergarteners, teachers, have all been massacred. Why? What has happened to make this a normal event in our modern world? I’m not going to pretend that violence in the US has never existed. There has always been random violence in the world, no matter where one is, but the increase in unprovoked, random assassinations has increased. This is not an increase in gang or street violence, this is an increase of shootings in places where we should be safe, schools, pizza parlors, movie theatres. Who sends their five-year-old to school in the morning with a kiss thinking that they will come home in a body bag? No one! Yet, it’s happening more and more.

One partial theory that I have about all of this craziness, certainly not a scientific one and definitely not the only cause, is that some of these kids that snap may not getting noticed at home very much. As all teachers know, children crave attention and if they’re not getting positive attention, some of them will try to get attention by making negative choices, but some will hold it in and let it fester. No one listens to them, no one seems to care that they’re hurting. Eventually, those feeling will spill out, sometimes in depression, sometimes in violence. That being said, there are plenty of kids who have real mental disorders and our mental health system makes it darn near impossible for them to get the help they need. I’m not talking about those kids, which is another topic entirely. I’m talking about average, mentally healthy children who are ignored on a daily basis. It adds up after a while. It kills me to walk by a park and a mother is pushing her baby in a swing or pushing a stroller while yapping away on a cell phone instead of interacting with the baby. Toddlers play, not always kindly or safely, while parents scroll through texts. This generation of parents makes me wonder if we’re not raising a generation of children who are not able to successfully connect with people because their parents choose to spend more time in the virtual world than with them. Maybe if we spent more time with our kids, we’d notice if they were feeling sad, mad, or left out. Maybe we’d notice when a middle school student has a small arsenal hidden somewhere in the house.
What I notice as a teacher is that some parents simply don’t want to take the time to know their kids. It’s too inconvenient, it’s too hard to be consistent with the rules, or they have more important things to do. Kids need and want adults to give them boundaries and to take an interest in them. One of my students, a boy, would try to use his entire reading lesson to tell me about his life. I jokingly asked him if anyone ever talked to him at home. His face grew quite serious and he said that no, no one actually did.
Let’s try something, shall we? Instead of fussing and fighting about laws, let’s PAY ATTENTION TO OUR CHILDREN! Yes, let’s put down the cell phone, put down the tablet, and pay attention to our kids from the time they are born until, well, forever. We’re all guilty of it, at least from time to time. If I have a lot of work to do or if I’m taking a long time catching up on Words With Friends, I know it bothers my kids, especially if they’re trying to talk with me. That’s my cue to turn it off and give them my full attention.
None of us are perfect parents. I’ll be the first one that steps up and raises my hand as someone who needs improvement and technology, with all of its updates, is here to stay. What I’m saying is let’s recognize that we have a problem. Let’s show our kids that they’re more important to us than Facebook or that text conversation that we’re having. Let’s shut our phones off at bedtime to give our babies our undivided attention during a story or feeding time and resist the temptation to check our status while on the school field trip. Let’s listen to his day at school or what happened to her at the park. There will come a day when they stop trying to tell you. You may not have a school shooter on your hands, but there are always other negative behaviors they may indulge in. I saw a saying once, that as my kids grow, I find to be more and more true: Parenting is not for wimps.

This subject bothers me. I send my boys to school every day. They go to the movies. They go to pizza joints. Will they be in there one day when someone decides that they never felt loved and have to take out the whole class because they don’t know what to do with the pain? Who will teach them to talk it out, write it down, deal with it in a way that they feel they are loved and secure? I’ll give you a clue; it’s not Siri.


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