Steve Skinner

Here we are on the 50th anniversary of the moon shot. I'm old enough to remember the moon landing. July 20, 1969. Apollo 11. Two summers after the Summer of Love. My father pulled over in the family station wagon near Monterey, Calif. We sat in silence listening to the to the landing live on the radio. I was only 10 and I thought this kind of thing was what people did.

And the radio? I could hear every wood uttered by astronauts 238,900 miles away. Now that's what I call a connection! I can be standing next to a Verizon cell tower today calling someone a mile away and chances are they will not be able to hear my words. Supposedly I have more computing power in my little iPhone than the lunar lander but you wouldn't know it by how well it works.

They say that 1960 technology was primitive but I'd beg to differ. We should go back. The best communications system we ever came up with was the rotary dial telephone. The phone plugged into the wall. The receiver itself weighed a couple of pounds and the whole unit doubled as a formidable projectile, solid as a rock and weighing close to 10 pounds. Indestructible.

When you picked up the receiver on one of those bad boys and literally dialed a number you really felt like you were doing something. And when someone picked up on the other end you could hear them clear as a bell.

No one makes telephone calls anymore. It's so old fashioned. Your best bet is to text of course. Unfortunately texts are often misunderstood and unless you check them over closely before hitting send the autocorrect may change your words and intentions, turning them into offensive messages.

For example, try typing “caliente” into a message. Autocorrect changes it to “clientele” every time. When I'm showing off my Spanish skills and letting someone know that I think they're hot it's a bummer to see that I have in fact informed them that I am looking for a client lover. Dictating a text sorta works but again autocorrect will often butcher your words and intent.

Texts are still the preferred method of communications and everyone is doing it all the time. The addiction is pure and I have to use all my powers of concentration just to keep from checking my messages while barreling down the highway.

I'm convinced that if we had cell phones in the 1950s we would have never made it to the moon. The scientists would have been so busy staring at their phones that there would not have been enough time for designing and building rockets, capsules and lunar landers.

I live in Redstone. No cell phone service there so I have the old school land line. Works great but still costs way too much for the few phone calls I make. I know what you are thinking: Use voice over internet protocol (VOIP). That might work if we had a reliable connection to the information super highway but we don't.

It's not just Redstone. Cell service is pitiful in the Roaring Fork Valley and it's not just Verizon. Going online and reading reviews for all the providers reveals that all offerings are spotty at best. At least they are expensive. But don't take my word for it.

Reviewers on said it best:

It’s pointless paying so much money for something (AT&T) that doesn’t work. I never get calls anymore except from scammers and marketers.”

“Too much money for not good service (Verizon).”

“From Carbondale to Aspen I get no data service (T-Mobile). I drive the Roaring Fork valley daily and if I'm using ANY apps, I lose them... .no pandora, no Google maps, no Uber... ..nothing. Very disappointing and has me looking for a new carrier.”

So, it's not just me folks. It's everyone all the time since the beginning of time. We have devolved and are now stooped over tiny screens sending messages complete with autocorrected words and frantically checking every message, even if it comes in while driving a minivan full of schoolkids as the tires hydroplane on Highway 82.

Thats one back step for man and a giant leap back for mankind. And you can quote me on that.


Soiled appears on Tuesdays. Reach Steve Skinner at