1

Don’t Wake the Children, They’re Charging

This isn’t so much of a late night rant, like yesterday’s post, but rather an observation.

Does anyone else out there feel like they have electronic children?

I have three: my laptop, my phone, and my iPad.

And as their parent, my life sometimes seems to revolve around their extracurricular activity of charging them so that I can use them at pretty much every waking moment. Sometimes, my day’s exercise revolves around this, from locating the devices to locating their chargers to finding outlets where I can put them together. And before I leave the house, I have to ask myself a) how long I’ll be gone, b) which items do I need chargers for and b) will I have access to an outlet should I need to charge, and those are all kinda scary if you think about the fact that ten years ago, I had a Nokia phone and a laptop that actually held a charge and didn’t freak out at 60% battery like this one does sometimes.

Today, I woke up with my phone on the elephant table next to my bed. It was at about 30%, but once I finished checking my email and my Words With Friends games, it was down to 22%. It was not on the charger because I’m at my parents’ house, which was built in the 1950s and therefore has a submarginal amount of outlets and iPhone cords don’t stretch very far.

As I go to stick it on the charger, I pick up the iPad. Noticing that it’s on 2%, I put it back down and pick up the laptop, which wasn’t on the charger but still has a lot of power left. I use it until the power gets pretty low, giving me an excuse to get out of bed and find the charger.

I have to finish this later, since my laptop battery is dying.

3

Welcome to the Dead Zone

So here I am, jollily making my way through several new counties (Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Washington, to be precise), and racking up geocaches (admittedly, fewer than I would have wanted; I left too late and spent too long looking for a few). Most of the time, I have no problems with the geocaching app on my phone, or my phone in general.

Driving home, however, something happened around Horicon that I noticed on the way over, too.

I had entered…The Dead Zone.

 

A dead zone is an area where even though calls and texts may go through and the maps function may still work, other apps requiring GPS/network (Facebook, Email, Weather, Safari, Geocaching) are completely unusable.

And that sucks.

Since I’ve had a cell phone, I don’t recall ever being in an area without any service. On the East Coast, you’re never far from a large city, and in Texas, there are so many people and cell phone towers that even in nowheresvilles like Schulenberg and Flatonia, service is usually pretty top-notch. This is not the case, however, here in Wisconsin.

 

I first noticed it when I went to Perrot State Park. I can’t remember when I lost it, but I went through entire counties with no service at all. I got it sporadically across the border in Minnesota, but once we reentered Wisconsin, nothing until La Crosse. I didn’t stop in Horicon, but I checked online and there are plenty of geocaches in all of those places, and I wonder how people get to them without bars. I have AT&T; it’s quite possible that U.S. Cellular and Verizon are better, but probably not by much. Still…do geocachers in those places still do old-school geocaching with GPS units and packets of paper? Or is there something I’m missing?

Further research through att.com resulted in this lovely map:

cellmap

 

Above is the map of Wisconsin. You can see that there is, indeed, a humongous dead zone that stretches across the southwestern part of the state and into Iowa and Minnesota. That’s a lot of dead air space; several counties’ worth. Oddly, even when I zoomed in on Horicon, there was no dead zone.

Call me a First-World-er, but being somewhere without cell phone service is scary. Suppose your car were to break down or veer off the road outside Richland Center or Prairie du Chien; how would you get help? Would you wait for someone to come find you? Would you hitchhike somewhere? Would you just walk somewhere? There are good reasons for being without cell phone service; if you’re camping, for instance, in a national park or something and want to be left alone, or if you’re with other people, but to be alone, in an unfamiliar place, without cell phone service is kind of freaky.

The 21st century may have crippled society, but cell phone service is a crutch that could potentially be life-saving.

I promise I’ll have a real entry about something relevant and not superficial tomorrow.

I hope.