TOM THE DANCING BUG: A Call from the '90s


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…people still have landlines?


I’d like to add Jeff to my professional network on LinkedIn!


Sure they do, how else are you going to use AOL?


I still remember my first encounter with a cell phone in the early 90’s, and how the guy who had it was constantly on it (or, it occurred to me later, pretending like he was on it to show off his new gizmo), and how annoyed I was with the whole idea.

So this is our dystopian future.



“No, you asshole! You know that if I tried to warn them this timeline would unravel like a charity-shop sweater!”


I cut the cord four years ago when I moved to CA for grad school but, now that I’ve moved back to VA, I am having one installed again this afternoon. My cell company switched from unlimited data with voice house to data hours with unlimited voice. I’m grandfathered with unlimited data and would rather have unlimited voice for $10/mo on the land line than go to a limited data plan.

I use Waze a LOT to help me get around the traffic in the DC area and can imagine that sucking up whatever data plan I might get all on its own - let alone Facebook, Twitter and internet.

So, yeah, people still have land lines.


Well, define landline. I’ve had a VOIP for over 12 years now, but I usually use it via the house phones. (We get really lousy signals on cells no matter what service we try.) Does that count as a landline or do I get to make fun of them too?


You’d be surprised. Aside from old people. First responders are often required to have a land line, as are certain members of the military (National Guard and reserves at least) for state of emergency type situations. DAAAAAAAAD there’s a robot on the phone that says you need to go to work.

Its frustrating though. The fewer land lines there are the more telemarketing and polling calls dear old dad gets. He doesn’t even answer that thing anymore, which sort of defeats the point when there is an emergency.


In theory, we have one because VOIP and gaming ISPs for better monthly pricing.

In practice, not since the middle of 1999.


I’ve always fantasized about explaining to a person who’s been in a coma for years everything they’ve missed.


I use waze a couple hours a day and it only averages ~70 MB a month (I had a peak of ~100 MB for one month).


I remember when the big power outage hit the Northeast in 2003 – landlines were the only thing working… Problem was that everybody had fancy wireless-phones/etc that required electricity to work – after that, first responders/etc had to have generic phones that ran on the phone-line-power.


They were supposed to have at least one in the house before that. Not sure what the folks have hanging around at the moment. But for a long, long time there was this powder blue princess phone from the 80’s in a bedroom somewhere for exactly that reason. The weird thing is that these days dad usually gets a call on his cellphone before something goes off to tell him to expect the land line robo call and what number it will be coming from. Since almost noone answers that shit without screening anymore. Apparently you have to answer it and punch a number to acknowledge receipt or some one gets in trouble. I suppose after the robo call the phones could be used in the standard way to keep everything running, but they tend to distribute radios at that point and just use those. Whole thing is increasingly weird, its a bit like the emergency broadcast system.


Yes. I do. Laugh if you will.

Okay, you can stop now. It’s disrespectful. Hear me out. No, really, stop.

In 2013 in Toronto, we were subject to two major power outages, both of which, at our house, lasted 72 hours (more for many households). The second one was in late December, just before Christmas. Both were widespread enough that getting online was more than just a matter of a stroll to the nearest library or coffee shop. However, since I am a former Boy Scout who has aged into a cynical old person I have, tucked away in a drawer, a couple of old dumb phones that don’t require AC power to work. For the duration, this was our only means of communication with the outside world. It was good to be able to reach family and friends outside the area of the blackout, and comforting to know that if I started a chimney fire trying to keep the house above the freezing point I could dial 911.

I regard the monthly cost of a minimal landline service as cheap insurance.


our younger son has been to prison twice. we had to have a landline to talk to him over the prison phone system. until the last two months of his most recent incarceration the system would not let him dial a cell phone. at that point, realizing a new source of revenue, the system let us know that if we paid a $100 non-refundable deposit he could call a cell number. at that point he was so close to getting out it wasn’t worth it.


You are the only person who “gets” me. Lets be friends. ;D


You can pry my landline out of my cold, dead hands.
Cell service in my neighborhood completely sucks, and my monopolist ISP is less than reliable. And I am old. Trifecta!