Archive for July, 2011

I’m probably the last one on the block to do so, but I finally got a smartphone.

I’d resisted because I’m one of those people who has never had to pay for a cell phone. Whatever the free model was at the time my old phone wore out was usually good enough for me.

I’ll admit when the iPhone first came out, the thought did cross my mind to get one. But the $400-$800 price tag stopped me. That’s more than I made in a week when I started in the news business and somehow going from a free phone to a $400 phone just didn’t seem right. $800 for a phone? Yeah. Right.

I wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, I was what marketing folks call an “early adapter.” My first computer came in 1978. I had a car with a digital dashboard and push-button door locks in 1980. If it was the latest gadget, I had one.

Working in the oil patch in the late 1970s and early 1980s gave me ample cash to get whatever toy struck my fancy at whatever time my fancy was stricken. I once bought two VCRs because it was a new technology and they were on sale for $1,600 a pair. I gave my parents the other one. (They never learned to program it.)

And then Ronald Reagan deregulated the oil business and Chevron used its drilling budget to buy Gulf Oil and I was out of a job.

When I got back on my feet, I was a newspaperman. And while the job was much more exciting than what I’d been doing in the oilfield, the pay was, shall we say, a bit less. That’s when I discovered that if I waited for a few months, technology would make the gadget I’d just eyed cost a lot less because they just built a faster, bigger, more expensive model.

So when everyone bought a 486 computer, I built a 386, with money left over for beer and supper. I upgraded to Windows 98 in 2003, if you get my drift.

I’ve known for a couple of years that I would eventually get a smartphone. My wife got an iPhone a couple of years ago and it came in handy on trips. But my simple web-enabled free phone got me info I wanted, too. It just took  a little longer and the screen was a lot smaller. But the phone was free and the data plan was pretty cheap and I was on vacation, so it’s not like I was in a hurry.

So last week, when I got a tax refund check in the mail and AT&T offered an HTC Inspire 4G for $99, I said why not and got one. My monthly bill will go up about $9, but other than only having one charger (I had 4 for my Pantech 630) things won’t be that much different.

OK, so maybe things will be a little different. I added the Nook app to the phone on Saturday and downloaded two books that cost $1 each: Walden by Thoreau and the King James Bible.

Despite my long-standing desire to build a little house in the woods, I have never read Walden. And I have been looking in bookstores for a year and they don’t have any in stock. Now that it’s on my phone, I’ll get a few pages in during those slow times of the day, such as during lunch, or waiting to meet with someone who is late. I know I’ll read it on my next camping trip.

The King James Bible is the version I learned on. And I’ve noticed that it’s sometimes harder for me to grasp what more modern translations of the Bible are trying to say to me.

So this past Sunday, while the lecturer read from Genesis about Jacob getting duped by his uncle/father-in-law, I fired up my phone (in airplane mode, of course) and read along in the version I am most familiar with.

And I didn’t think twice about using 21st century technology to read 16th century literature because I think I’d be comfortable living in either period.

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There aren't any Flippen Peaches!

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Close to home

Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Reelfoot Lake in northwestern Tennessee is about as close to being in Louisiana as I have ever been in Tennessee. No wonder my dad loved to fish there when we lived in Halls, Tenn. in the late 1950s.

Cypress trees dominate. Great herons and snowy egrets abound. (We call them “grosbecs,” big beaks, in Louisiana and I’m told they are quite tasty.) I even saw a pouldeu (but they called it a “cormorant” and totally blew my illusion of being in Louisiana.) And there are lots of fish, including sac a lait (they call them crappie), perch (bluegill) and bass (bass, hey we agree on something).

I didn’t get any of the fish to bite on my line, but it was late afternoon when I tried and I’m not sure I’d have really wanted one if it had. It was really nice sitting on the bank and casting out around the cypress knees, just like back home. (I didn’t get my line tangled in the knees, either.)

A three-hour tour ...

The lake was once a swamp next to the Mississippi River. A series of earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in 1811 and 1812 caused the swamp to sink and the creeks in the area quickly formed the lake. You’ll find websites with Indian lore about the name and the lake but they’re all full of bull. While Indians did hunt and fish in the area before the earthquake, so did Davy Crockett.

The Reelfoot Lake State Park Welcome Center has a really great 3-hour boat tour of the lake. It costs $9 per person and is worth every cent. The boat leaves daily at 9 a.m.  They recommend that you make reservations the day before but I was able to get a spot walking up an hour before the boat left. If you go, bring a camera and binoculars, wear a hat, use sunscreen and carry a large bottle of water with you. Also, go before you go, if you know what I mean.

An osprey lands on its nest

The tour takes you around one of the islands and gives you an overview of the wildlife and plant life that are native to the area. The cypress trees in the water were there before the earthquakes, which is really cool. One fish species that isn’t native to the area is the asian carp and if you’re not careful, one could jump out of the water and smack you a good one.

Probably the most impressive part of the trip was watching the birds. Aside from herons and egrets and cormorants, there were hawks, vultures, osprey and even a bald eagle. This trip was well worth the effort and I will return soon.

American lotus

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