Author Archives: ramblingsfromtheleft

About ramblingsfromtheleft

I am unpublished and optimistically waiting for that one magic moment.

Part Three-Space the last frontier …

The topic for today is … the phone.

How it came to be …

The concept of the telephone dates back to the acoustic (non-electrical) string telephone or “lover’s telephone” that has been known for centuries, comprising two diaphragms connected by a taut string or wire.

tin cans



Sound waves are carried as mechanical vibrations along the string or wire from one diaphragm to the other. The classic example is the tin can telephone, a children’s toy made by connecting the two ends of a string to the bottoms of two metal cans, paper cups or similar items. Wikipedia.

And even kids today are tickled by this strange device.

Mom, you are so embarrassing …

Those words haunted me throughout my daughter’s adolescence. My son never cared what I did … on the phone … off the phone … as long as I didn’t expect him to clean his room … he was cool.

My daughter,however, was embarrassed over almost everything I did. I loved to wear what we had called “Skippy” sneakers. “My God, they are as bad as those phony sneakers in Pathmark.”

“They’re comfortable.”

“You don’t have to look like a pauper to be comfortable.”

Time was that my brothers and I didn’t even know we were poor. These days, economic status or lack thereof, is as bad as not having a wide-screen television.

About two years ago, my daughter was visiting with me in Florida and I got a call on my cell … my no frills … no apps … plain-as-a-Kansas-wheat-field-phone.

She rolled around in uncontrollable fits of laughter. “Oh my God, you don’t really use that thing, do you?”

Fine … I confess … it was a Tracphone from Walmart.

But honestly, it often takes me three months to use up 250 minutes.

My son-in-law this Christmas. “Hey, we have to buy your mom a real television.” He looked at me with more concern than he would if I were walking around with one of those portable oxygen tanks. “Does that thing actually work?”

Spear Cartoon 3874

Cartoon credit

One a dark and stormy night …

We received all our phone calls at the corner candy store.

telephone booth

Progress caught up with my family towards the end of the fifties and we got a phone. A “party” line at first.

A party line was a phone number we shared with three or four other families so that often when my parents picked up the phone to make a call, they heard someone else on the line.

“Hey, Rosa … get off the phone, I have an important call to make.”

Rosa was known not to care.

Two years later, in our next apartment, my father went for broke and paid for a private line.

That fat, black Ma Bell contraption was to be used for emergencies only. Or it could be used as a blunt object to bludgeon a victim with one swift blow.


An ad for the blunt object

In short, we had a phone that no one was permitted to use. And as for my mother’s left-handed pest … I could receive a call on occasion and it had better be a rare occasion.

Social interaction for this teen remained the actual one-on-one kind.

In my twenties two things changed. I was permitted to use the phone and I was responsible for paying the bill.

My father had passed, and my mother decided that if I paid for the phone, I could use it. Not that she still didn’t yell from the other room, “What can the two of you be talking about for so long?”

Or … “You just saw him ten minutes ago.”

A few decades later, she reversed the dialogue, “What you can’t remember my phone number?”

“You think you can spare some of your valuable time to talk to your mother?”

Moving down the road …

When is a phone not just a phone? When did technology make the phone a mini-computer, a means of surfing the internet, and a source of amusement with games?

The iPhone is a line of smartphones designed and marketed by Apple. The latest … model 7 is almost here.

My daughter waits for the newest model, orders it and then sells the old one on eBay. It’s like leasing a car … no hassle and you always have the latest model.

Children using smartphones


Cellular phones continue to evolve at such a staggering speed, it mirrors the computer world. By the time you break in one, the next one is on the market.

If you are so inclined, you can add an app to your smartphone to accommodate Instagram. My daughter, the one who is still laughing at me, uses Instagram almost as much as her expensive Nikon. She tells me, it’s the convenient way to get great photographs and not have to carry heavy equipment.

There are also conventional cell phones that lack the advanced operating systems found in smartphones and can’t run apps or other flashy features. Standard conventional phones are usually compact with smaller displays, which must usually be navigated via the keypad. 

And of course, there are prepaid phones if you don’t rely on your cell phone and only use it to make occasional calls or to send limited texts.

For the times, they are a’changin …

The so-called old ways might have worked for decades … but like the horse and buggy were replaced with the horseless wagon and the plane replaced long car travel … progress marches on. And with each step we take, progress takes a step-and-a-half ahead.

Was the fifties the last age of innocence and if so, what harm has come to us, our children, and their children through progress and technology?

No, none, never.

I believe each generation feels their own tender innocence and upon losing it to becoming an adult, looks back sadly and sighs, “Things were so different when I was young.”

Our grandchildren will no doubt tell their grandchildren much the same.

No matter if you email, post on Facebook and Twitter or blog. Whatever types of modern gadgets you enjoy and for whatever reason you have learned to rely on them …  somewhere in a dozen sterile white labs, science nerds are developing the next generation of gadgets.

Tell me if you will,
What was your life before you had a cell phone,
before Facebook or the internet?

Can you think of one thing
ou wished remained the same?

fOIS In The City


Maxine on smart phone

Maxine on the smart phone


Filed under Random Thoughts

Part Two-Space the last frontier …

Today, I would like explore the face … the space … the place … a web site that reveals all we are or might want to be. And on this incredible journey through cyber space, I peel off the layers of the most popular of all the social media … Facebook.

Once upon a midnight dreary …

Folks wrote letters. They mailed these hand-written messages in an envelope that traveled through the post to bring news to friends and loved-ones.

Before there was a telephone or a telegraph … before we had overnight or express mail … even before zip codes … there was the simple post.

letter writing

Letter writing

We wanted to send a birthday card to my aunt. Off I toddled with my mother to the candy or drug store to select a card. Once back home, my mom wrote a note, sometimes she enclosed a black and white photograph. Then she signed it, placed the card in an envelope, and dropped it in the big blue mail box on the corner.

Each week my mom wrote three letters to my two aunts and her best friend who still lived in Poughkeepsie … and each week she received three letters.

When those letters arrived, my mother would steal herself into the bedroom and read, laugh or cry, and after a while, take out her stationary to respond. The set I like the most had a little rose on the corner.

Selecting the right stationary was an important element of the process. Mom had perfect penmanship … something her left-handed baby girl never mastered. They are lost arts … penmanship and letter writing.

Those were the fifties and the notion that a letter could be sent one day, travel one day, and arrive on the morning of the third day is not a lost art … it is a dead concept.

In those days, our social interaction happened outside the house … back and forth to school … hanging out at the ice cream parlor or meeting each other in the park or on a street corner.

If you wanted to talk to a friend, you went to their door or shouted up to their window.

Something this way comes …

Be it wicked or wild … change came. The pretty stationary and perfect penmanship were gone and the age of gentility faded into history.

Our modes of communication changed. The typewriter was replaced by the computer. Computers changed … and then came the internet. You took a tiny cord, plugged it into the back of the computer and suddenly our entire world changed … we had email.



Starting with our first email in the eighties our world stood on its hind legs and like a bucking bronco … took us on the ride of our life.

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius …

We might never have gotten harmony or understanding …but with the internet we had the dawning of a new social order.

Starting in July of 2003 with Myspace, a personal on-line diary-type of entertainment was born.

party place

Myspace the Party Place

One year later in February of 2004, Facebook was launched. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University student Eduarco Saverin.

The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivey League, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States, corporations, and by September 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address. (Wikepedia)



On April 19, 2008, Facebook overtook Myspace in the Alexa rankings. Myspace, the party place has seen a continuing loss of membership, and there are several suggestions for its demise, including the fact that it stuck to a “portal strategy” of building an audience around entertainment and music, whereas Facebook and Twitter continually launched new features to improve the social-networking experience. (Wikepedia)



So what is in this place, the face of our times?

maxine on facebook

When you log into FB, your “timeline” appears as a series of images, messages, videos, cartoons, and slogans. The kids you knew back when became parents and then grandparents. Then one or more of them found you on-line and friended you, liked you, commented or communicated with you vis-a-vis your Facebook page.

Depending upon the time of day, you will see series from one person or another, those that you friended or those who friended you. Often based on the computer’s knowledge of who you are and what you “like,” you will also see organizations and their messages.

You might see the announcement of a wedding, the cover of a person’s up-coming book or pictures at writer’s conferences … all in time order with pictures of babies, cute animals, beautiful flora, funny cartoons and recipes.

You can chat and send messages … send and receive birthday greetings and post dozens of pictures or view immeasurable minutia. What someone had for lunch, what is growing in their garden, how their kitchen remake is coming along … or not.

To this there is no end. The millions of thought waves that reverberate through space flash 24/7 throughout the globe. I  think  perhaps we will one day connect to other planets in outer space … that Mars or Venus … will have a page and their inhabitants will begin to post images of other moons or a close up of the constellation Orion. Now that would be a page.

The list of the fifteen most popular social networks are among the over one-hundred social networks you can join. They include Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest or Google Plus+.

Their purpose is to expose you to others of your ilk in a variety of settings. Which ones you join depend upon which social community you have the most in common with or which segment of millions of readers with whom you wish to connect.

Each network begets another, which might also beget a web page, a newsletter or a blog. Friends and loved-ones click onto your various pages to stay connected to what you are doing and to ensure you connect to what they are doing. The timeline of Facebook can be one of the most addictive of the hodgepodge of virtual-psycho-pharmaceuticals we use to tune in and turn off.

Admit it … we have all been held captive by this amazing collection of images. Down the page you scroll … occasionally clicking the like button … sometimes adding a comment … way too many times sharing to your timeline. You can’t resist the latest of the cutest cat videos or that all-inspiring story of love, courage and just plain folks making the ordinary into the extraordinary.



Silly Facebook images

I now know who owns horses, cats, dogs and tropical fish and enjoy the difference between the posts of boomers versus gen-Xer’s. It beats the evening news and can make you cry more than a soap opera … it works faster than a pill and is a wonderful companion to that first cup of full octane.

Next to this venue of the blog, FB is my favorite. I recognize that many use it to promote their work … to have a presence on FB is to have a slew of friends trending, but I also recognize, FB is the most interesting. You can tell so much about who a person is based on what they choose to post or which post they decide to share.


And depending on how addicted you really are … you will go to your timeline and look for this message and pass it on.

To market, to market to buy …

Nope … not a fat pig.

Any series on social interaction cannot be complete without the changing face, space or place where boomers and beyond first began to communicate … the phone.

Tune in next week for the last of this series where I will discuss the height of technology … the new generation of phones. The  “i,” me, and mine of the iPad and iPhone and the social phenomenon of The Selfie.

Tell me if you will …

What is your favorite social network …

And how much time to you spend each day interacting on it?

fOIS In The City

Note:  Yes, I ended that last question with a preposition. One of these days we’ll have some fun talking about grammar rules that no longer apply and why.

maxine on facebook.02

Maxine on Facebook


Filed under Random Thoughts

Space-The final frontier-Part One …

This past Sunday, Anne R. Allen wrote a post about the various ways to avoid spam on the internet, using examples of what one should not do in the social network to annoy, badger, eat of the forbidden fruit … or what is proper on-line etiquette for writers … How NOT to be a Spammer: A Guide for Authors.

I love when my fellow bloggers give me inspiration; i.e. fodder … for one of my own posts.

Today is the first in a series of how we went from there to here … how the domino of the first social network … the now obsolete My Space … led to a cacophony of social networks … which led to an army of groups … which led us into the new age.

The language and format used … and how each of these connects to a vast network of social, educational and insane communications … not only for writers … but for everyone.

And while My Space was the first of the social networks … Google … the giant of giants in search engines … takes us to all the known and unknown planets in our universe to the stratosphere and to the ionosphere of information gathering that has no end … like a life line that never dies.

Google It ...

The blank search line that can be filled in to make an instant connection.

All of our life we make connections … we connect to likened souls, to music, a moving image or still life in art.

When boomers thought of connection … their minds jumped to groups, demonstrations, causes … either lost or found.

Then technology reared her flighty head and suddenly we were connected to everything.

Yes, every darn thing there is to see or do or read or study.

In a flash we can travel the globe or reduce weeks of research to hours.

google it

Google it !!

Before …

If we asked a parent or a teacher what a word meant they countered with … go look it up.

Ever try to look up a word in a dictionary if you can’t spell?

grumpy cat

Grumpy Cat

If we needed to do a research paper, we went to a library to peruse the stacks for encyclopedias and related books on our topic.

When we needed to find a local restaurant … we let our fingers do the walking … in the Yellow Pages.

If we wanted to know more about a famous person … we found their biography and read about them.

And if we wanted a chart of the schedule for the NCAA Basketball Tournament … we read the sports section of our newspaper.

A scandal or a tasty morsel of gossip flashed the headlines of a trashy tabloid … the Sunday papers announced deaths, weddings, engagements, mergers, acquisitions, houses to buy or sell, and automobiles available in your area.

Hundred of trees died every week to produce the ten pound wonder of the Sunday New York Times and bring you all the “news fit to print.”

After …

If a child asks a parent or teacher the meaning of a word … they tell them to “Google it.”

google it.02

Google logic

And you don’t have to know how to spell. the search engine auto corrects what you are looking for … “did you mean ??”

You can correct spelling and grammar or look up dozens of words related to other words in an on-line thesaurus.

In a flash you can find any fact, figure, image or news headline … simply fill in the blank space on Google and the search engine will spit out a million related articles.

The Encyclopedia Britannica is no longer printing actual books but is available exclusively on line.

For a fast reference to anyone or thing … any event or object of curiosity … you can use Wikopedia dot com.

Google it.03

Google humor

Where do your FB friends find funny animal videos, nature scenes or Grumpy Cat humor? You got that right. They Google, copy and past … and post it anywhere in the vast expanse of cyber space.

You can go to school from K through graduate school on-line, take classes in everything and anything and if you can’t find a quick lesson on how-to do that darn oil change … go to Youtube and find dozens of lessons on how to fix your car or find an old song or a concert you missed.

Nothing is not available. No thing is unattainable. No word or speech or group. No television episode or full-length movie. It is all out there.

All you have to do is go to the search engine and Google It.

Without a conscious thought, we go to that blank line dozens of times every week … for some … dozens of times a day.

Zillions of words and images are floating in cyber space … and when you want to find any of them … Google It!

What to do with it all …

So you’ve looked up that word or you found the perfect cartoon image to post on Facebook … you wrote that first or second book … crafted a lovely collection of poetry and someone told you … go forth young writer and network.

Fly though space and give everyone the news. But how and where? What if you are not a writer? What do young mothers do … what about the wives of the military … the animal advocates … or the just plain annoying folks who end up on your FB Timeline?

Not to worry. It seems that millions of just plain folks find social networking a fun way of communicating … and when they want to send a message or a video or they need to post the latest in political rhetoric … the first thing they do is Google It.

Tell me if you will …

What are your favorite things to fill in

That blank line?

How often do you Google It?

fOIS In The City

Note:   The social network that left My Space in the dust is the topic of next week’s Random Thoughts … that and more humor from Maxine … a true Facebook favorite.


Maxine Philosophy


Filed under Random Thoughts