Friday, June 24, 2011

I loathe cell phone shopping... bring on the bathing suits

I am extremely finicky about my cell phone for several reasons, as folks who spend any time with me in face-to-face interactions tend to find out. OK, I'm extremely finicky about anything I spend more than about $10 on, especially if it comes with recurring expenses, truth be told.

I'm also rather annoyed that AT&T is buying T-Mobile. I've liked T-Mobile, we've been with them (well, with the company they were before they were T-Mobile and then with them) for seven years, since we moved back to Cleveland. They've given great customer service, the cell reception has been pretty much flawless unless I'm in an area where NO ONE gets cell service (and I often get it even where others don't, somehow), and their pricing structure has been quite good. I have not heard such glowing reviews from friends who have had AT&T, plus AT&T does lots of not-so-great things politically that I really don't want my household's money going toward, so I've been looking at alternatives.

And now we run into the problem. The problem isn't so much that other companies are charging too much for their service. Really, none of them has a plan that fits the way we use phones in our family well. We are heavy on the text, light on data - my mother is the only one of the five of us on the plan right now who even has data service - and VERY light on the phone conversations except for my mom and mother-in-law. We could seriously get by with all 5 of us on a plan with 1000 minutes shared as long as there were free nights and weekends. Toss in with Sprint that free nights start at 7 (I think that's what the girl just told me at the store?) and you can call any mobile number in the USA, any carrier, for free and we could actually probably get by with about 500min between all of us, and that's with my mom using her cell phone as her primary phone number. But they don't offer a plan with less than 1500 minutes that has data, don't have non-smartphone that meets my needs (and only one of the smartphones even really does and I didn't really like the way it felt in my hand), and the cheapest family plan would cost us nearly double what our current Tmo bill is.


Considering going pay-as-you-go with Boost or Virgin, but then I still am stuck with the phone-not-meeting-my-needs problem, though I think we would at least save money monthly, possibly. My father-in-law really doesn't need a phone with monthly minutes at all, one that we have to pay for every minute would be fine since it's just for emergencies and Boost lets you do that for 10 cents/minute from what I saw on their website. My mother-in-law only needs voice since she isn't English-literate enough to text if people WERE using proper English instead of txtspk (seriously, she calls us EVERY TIME we send her out to get toilet paper to spell out the name of the brand and make sure she's getting the right one.. Q-U-I-L-T-E-D N-O-R-T-H-E-R-N). My mom is addicted to her iPhone and likely isn't following us if we leave Tmo anyway from the last I heard (tho the Sprint girl said they're getting iPhones this fall so who knows).

So why am I having such a problem with phones? Ahhhh... here comes the REAL rant.

There are no effing mom-phones! I can get mom JEANS, mom UNDIES, mom BRAS... mom MOCHAS in won't-burn-the-kid-if-you-spill-it-on-them temperatures... holy crap the new 2011 Honda Odyssey seems like it may actually have been designed by an entire TEAM of mom-engineers, it's like the wet dream of any mom with 3 or more kids, I swear I had a little momgasm crawling aroud that thing in the fall when my 2007 Odyssey was in for a recall repair. LOTS of other aspects of the commercial world that CLEARLY have a little thought into at least SOME of the options that demonstrate "a mom of small children had some say in how this product came out". KUDOS to all of them. Cell phone manufactuerers? As far as I'm concerned, across the board FAIL at the moment and for the last several years.

Why? What would a mom phone have that is lacking in pretty much every single phone on the market right now?

A.) Don't make us sacrifice the goddamn QWERTY keyboard layout to get single-button-push speeddial. I do NOT mean push-button-to-speak voice recognition speed dial. How well do you think THAT works when you've got a toddler shouting for a fruit roll-up and the baby crying in the background? Yeah. Wonderful. I need to call my husband and ask him, in the space between the baby's shrieks, to please pick up an extra pack of bandaids on the way home. With the vast majority of phones on the market right now, to do that I either sacrifice QWERTY to have just the basic numeric keypad or I have to tap a crapload of times on a screen or slide-out keyboard to get to his entry in my addressbook (assuming that I have no yet had the braincells to rub together to think to put him at the top of the addressbook by putting a number before his name... why he won't be FIRST in the addressbook appears below). I sent fewer than 10 text messages in the NINE YEARS I had a cell phone before I got a QWERTY phone. I have been a touch typist since I was 16, my brain does not think ABCs when I'm trying to spell out a message, particularly when sleep deprived and covered in various forms of goo from my offspring.

B.) WHY THE FUCK CAN'T I HAVE A QWERTY FLIP PHONE?!? There have been, as far as I am aware, essentially THREE flip phones made in the last SEVEN YEARS that have QWERTY keypads: the LG Lotus (there were a couple different versions of this, I forget how many), the Blackberry Flip, and (currently the only one on the market and I *think* still being manufactured) the Blackberry Style. Why am I so obsessed with a flip form-factor? Multitude of reasons.
  1. I close it and I know I hung up on the asshole that I currently want to strangle while I bite my tongue HARD to keep from dropping repeated f-bombs in front of the little featherless parrots flocking around me at every waking moment. The primary screen and keyboard are also protected as I throw the phone in a full-out Momtrum when those moments are REALLY bad. On my more calm, rational, sane days, the flip action protects the phone's main screen & keyboard from damage from being in my pocket, or used as a teething toy when I don't get it out of the baby's reach fast enough (or he just outright picks my pocket without my noticing it - his brothers act as distraction decoys quite well).
  2. The pacifier in my pocket does not randomly decide to make a social call on whoever happens to have a name that starts with A in my address book (and as someone with an A name and the 2nd letter being earlier than most other A names so I wind up at the top of most of my friends' address books, pocket/butt dialing is rather a big pet peeve of mine). Sure, I COULD key-lock the phone, if I remember... or I could set it to automatically key-lock really quickly (which then annoys the shit out of me when I'm trying to use the phone amidst the distractions of aforementioned small children and take too long to dial the next number in the phone number I'm trying to read off a paper/computer screen and have to do key-unlock THREE TIMES in the process of trying to make ONE GODDAMN PHONE CALL - yes, this was my life before I switched to flip phones, and I made the switch when my eldest was barely a month old). For anyone reading this, regardless of phone type, a suggestion a friend gave me and I BEG of anyone with me in their phonebook to make: make the first entry in your address book named 1111 and enter your own cell phone number into it. At least then if you pocket-dial (or let your kid play with your phone - I don't let my little gnawers TOUCH mine but I have friends that apparently have better replacement plans on their phones who let their toddlers play with the devices, which results in my getting a lot of preschoolers breathing deeply in my ear) you're just annoying yourself with long somewhat intimidating sounding voicemail messages from your pocket contents. Keep the lint fairies happy and they won't threaten you with a shiv, that's my experience.
  3. More mundanely, the sound quality on flip phones had generally been better than other phones, particularly for those of us who can't go around constantly wearing devices that are simultaneously electronic choking hazards AND diminishing our ability to track the suspicious little sounds of our kids causing chaos around us. I have to hold my phone to my ear when I'm using it, or use speakerphone (which I do when I'm driving, it's also why I have a different ring tone for pretty much every single person who calls me on a regular basis. If my general ring tone rings while I'm driving, it doesn't get answered. If I know who is calling, it depends on traffic conditions and how much that individual has annoyed me in the last week). I've tried at least half a dozen different bluetooth options, not a single one functions well enough for me to wear for an entire day while with my kids.
C.) Why the hell is it, when any phone even comes CLOSE to meeting mom-needs, it gets slapped with the crappiest camera of the entire line the manufacturer is putting out? Come ON! A mom-phone needs more than 1.3 effing megapixels. Don't be a jerk, cough up the 5-ers. I'm so damn tired of carrying around a separate camera. Since my iPod Touch is only a 2G, I have three electronic devices for a day out -cell phone, iPod in case the kids get bored or [insert sound of choir of angels] all three of them fall asleep at the same time in the car so I can get a little pleasure-reading in via the Kindle app, and the point-and-shoot camera. I'm actually waiting to see what the iPod Touch 5G has to offer in the way of a camera, if it's halfway decent (my husband has a 4G and I'd like better than that camera, thankyouverymuch) I will actually spend money on an Apple product for myself for the very first time in my life (and I've been a full-on techie sometimes employed in the field since 1993, no n00b here).

D.) I've never seen this one, but if some engineering folks at a cell phone manufacturer (or even just programmers) happen to read this and the above criteria were satisfied... an ability to LET my kids play with the phone when doing so will prevent them from sounding like a pack of rabid banshees while we wait in line at the post office that also locks them from all the other features of the phone would be WONDERFUL. I have an iPod Touch (which I got for free for opening a bank account last summer - I'm really not a fan of Apple after being a computer repair tech in the 1990s when they were proprietary-EVERYTHING and the bane of my existence... and I still pretty much hold the opinion that Macs are great computers only for people who can't be bothered to learn to actually learn to use and maintain a REAL computer... that's not a disrespectful thing, I understand that others live lives that keep them too busy to learn to defrag and such, and out-sourcing basic tasks via surrendering to having many fewer options in hardware and software with the tradeoff of that being that they've gone through more rigerous testing, that's totally our call. Me? I find going into the innards of my machine and cannibalizing it a very gratifying experience and I know how to set up software to run the maintainance tasks on a schedule without my having to think about it. And I prefer to be able to access a shitload more software, including more shareware and open-source stuff, and would install a Hackentosh if for some bizarre reason I needed to. Instead I triple-boot my main desktop with Ubuntu, Win7, and WinXP... it's usually logged in on Win7 since that's what we've got the most software for more family members running under). I would love an iPod preschooler-friendly app (or even *gasp* baby-friendly one... yes, I let the 13mo play with the Tesla Toy app on my iPod) that requires touching the screen in a specific sequence to get back out of the app. Pretty Please? Available on Android too? And can I get an Android phone that meets all of the above requests?

Some manufacturer make this phone and you will not be able to keep them in stock. Don't be assholes and keep it locked to a single cell carrier or we may hunt you down to do many unpleasant deeds. It can even be the ugliest phone ever made, since we're generally all about the plastic protective covers anyway (pretty sure that's the only reason I've NOT had to replace my phone every six months or so, I'm OBSESSED with keeping the protective cover and screen protector on my devices). Don't even bother making them in multiple pretty colors. Glow-in-the-dark keys? Yeah, that'd be PRIME, since we use the phone to call the doctor at 3am and don't want to wake the baby by turning on a light to see the keys. Nice bright screen that works well as a flashlight - also a plus, similar reasons (our cell phones become flashlights for finding the baby in the dark nearly every night, particularly since the blackout curtains went up). Oh, and water-resistant... yeah... and durable to being teethed on, without little pieces that are likely to come off quickly and go down a baby's gullet.

Is all this REALLY too much to ask? Surely you can do it, for us, the loving moms of the world? You know, those people who tend to be the ones who make sure the cell phone bill actually gets paid in a timely manner?

Any other moms have features that would be in their dream mom-phone? And no, I don't think dads have quite the same criteria in phones, from what I've seen. I'm totally cool with getting clued in on what FATHERS would love to see in phone design too. All you iPhone fanatics who value form over function - uhh... go shove a sock in some orifice and twiddle your touch screens. I heard enough of your ranting about teh uuuuhgly of the Blackberry Style when it came out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Birth (original poem by Ahmie Yeung)

I thought I had posted this ages ago but a search of my blog is not pulling it up anywhere. I had also meant to share it on the anniversary of my eldest's birth 3 weeks ago, then got distracted while looking for it on my hard drive. Today isn't any particularly special day - my 2nd son's birthday is in a week and I'm posting this now so I don't forget then. Just went looking for something else to do while my computer works on uploading wedding pictures I took for my friends on Saturday (almost typed "yesterday" then looked at the clock and realized it's after 1am so it's Monday now). The numbers at the end are my time stamp for when I finished it - (approx). Hopefully it's readable, it's posted as an image because the formatting doesn't translate to web otherwise and the alternating of straight against the margin then undulating in a somewhat random pattern was the way I experienced my labor (I never fell into a regular pattern... not in 3 unmedicated, intervention-free births. Just not the way I roll ;) ).

Copyright is mine, yada yada yada... don't be an ass, ask first before reposting and don't try to claim it as your own.

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