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    Everything's Changing - Part 1

    When I was living in Los Angeles, I'm very glad to say I had call waiting on my telephone. I only wish they had caller ID back then. I mention this because the phone just rang as I was starting to dictate this column and Herman let the machine get it, because when he looked on the caller ID readout it showed "Private name, private
    number" meaning the caller has blocked the caller ID feature. No message was left, so we don't know who called, but don't care either. We are both at the point now that if someone doesn't bother to leave a message we won't scramble to get the phone.

    Call waiting was available when I lived in California, but no such thing as caller ID. I literally had dozens of calls a day from telemarketers and others I didn't want to talk to. The main difference was that the calls were more about Hollywood items and possibly from my agent, so I didn't dare miss calls.

    Seems to me everything is turning digital. We even have a digital long distance line over the Internet with no charge for calling. It is equipped with a separate phone number so Herman and I can both be using the phone at the same time. There is a small fee per month of $15 for 500 minutes a month. The salesman tried to talk us into
    unlimited minutes for $25, but 500 minutes is over eight hours of talking and I can't imagine needing that much time. I mostly use the Internet line for talking with my mother in Cleveland. One thing about the Internet line is even if someone doesn't leave a message, we get an e-mail with the caller's phone number so we know who called.

    This service comes through Vonage, but we still keep our land line because if the power goes out, so does Vonage. Herman and I have one phone that is hard-wired on the wall in case the power is out and can't run the wireless or Internet lines. Then of course there is the ever more popular cell phone. When I first
    met Herman I had a cell phone hard wired in my good old white Ford Tempo. I got this because if you recall I spoke about "the boyfriend" years ago who got this for me in case I ever got stuck on the road. I think he really just wanted to be able to keep tabs on me.

    All the cell phone plans were a lock-in for two years at a monthly fee back then. The cell phone we use is a pay by the minute Trac Phone. We bought minutes last November and are still using them almost a year later for much less than any monthly plan would cost. What I don't get about this is that Herman always carries his cell
    phone, but 90 percent of the time it isn't turned on, so I get his voice mail most of the time.

    He says there are so many dead spots where he can't get reception and when he is riding his motorcycle, he also can't answer the phone. My version is he doesn't want to run the battery down. Suffice it to say, I can rarely if ever catch him on the cell.

    If he looks at the readout on the cell phone he can see I called and calls back. Herman's feeling is cell phones are more for making calls than receiving them. There are too many times when the distraction of answering the phone while driving can cause an accident. In comparison, 90 percent of the time I call my mom she answers on the cell phone. I am more likely to get her on the cell than at home anyway as she's always on the go.

    Most recently she was gardening in her backyard when she answered. I had tried to call her home number and got the machine so called her cell.

    Seems to me the more gizmos we have for communication the less communication we have.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com