Phoning It In

I had planned to write about adventures in aquiring a new cell phone, but got sidetracked briefly by my local Audubon Society newsletter. I’ll try to bring these two disparate subjects together by the end of this blog, but I request understanding if I fail.

Both subjects require spending money. What endeavor does any American undergo without putting down cash? Or credit?

First, the phone.

My iPhone 6s is venerable and, until now, always reliable. However, even Apple follows the economic principle of planned obsolescence, and so alas, the battery is finally beginning to fail. Also inevitably, according to the Verizon salesman who sold the husband his new phone, the call sound quality deteriorates because of dust, dirt, and probably skin mites, in answer to our complaints that is was hard to hear on the damn things. (But, also, we are old.)


I have gone in envy of the husband’s iPhone 11 and now have the delightful excuse to get one of my own. While the husband prefers to make such purchases in person, my preference is always the web. And email, and chat rather than talk to someone on the phone. The Verizon website is more than happy to assist me with an upgrade.

Eyeing the iPhone 12, I briefly perused its features—stunning speed, camera and all that. Always checking the star rating, I saw that none of them had been given the full five. The reviews warned me that, unless you have the sought-after and greatly touted 5G speed available in your area (we don’t) the phone just does not work that well with anything slower. The website generously provided a map of coverage, and NO WHERE in the Pacific Northwest has Verizon established 5G cellular capability. NOT EVEN SEATTLE. San Francisco, check. Los Angeles, check. (Verizon’s official headquarters is in New Jersey). Albany, Oregon, where we live, is hanging on with meager 4G Lte.

Due to pricing, I finally settled on the same phone the husband has: the iPhone 11. With the dual camera, not the triple. Even though I am an avid amateur photographer.

Into the shopping cart it went.

Then, for a case. Verizon was thrilled to offer me a clear case (I ordered the red phone, tee hee) for $45.00. Um. No. Small type in the window suggested other cases and after scrolling into the site’s cellar, I found a similar clear case fo $17.00. Into the shopping cart it went.

Then for protection. Ho ho, this was fun. The first choice, pre-selected for me, was $50.00 per month, with access to your own personal technician or something like that. When I clicked on the next level for $27.00/mo, an ominous warning sign flashed onto my screen, informing me of the disasters that would unfold should I decide not to choose the $600.00 per year price. Quailing, after several attempts at alternatives, I almost decided no protection was better than anything else, until I discovered again the small link suggesting other options.

There I found a basic plan—screen replacement, battery and lost phone protection. $11.00/mo. Bingo.

This entire process took one hour and 45 minutes, but again, I’m old.

The phone is on its way. While I do have a great digital camera, I use my phone camera ALOT, mostly for convenience. Today’s Audubon newsletter published photos of birds visiting a member’s garden, taken by her. Robins and Grosbeaks were busy in her hawthorn berries.

I want to learn how to photograph birds without tripods or telescopic lenses—well, the telescoping lens if pretty necessary, but I like small, hand-held cameras that fit in my pocket. Leica makes a beautiful one but $$$$$. So I have a Samsung—all my safari photos and videos were taken using this cute little thing. It has a 21X zoom. On a cruise to Glacier Bay on a catamaran with a Park Ranger narrating the wildlife, we scored on two grizzlies fishing in a stream as it fed into the Bay. When my sister saw this photo, she nervously asked me how close we were. Gotta love it.

Of course the bigger segue from that was to the member’s efforts to plant a bird-friendly habitat. I am by nature a sucker for this scheme, and actually know a bit about it. Again, I clicked a magical link. It brought me to an Audubon Society page where I could select bird (and beneficial insect) friendly shrubs and ground cover. Our garden is a W.I.P. which can support many more floral inhabitants, as long as they’re not apt to grow any higher than 19 feet. Trees we have aplenty. Pruning shrubs is always an option.

I am never one to make resolutions. I used to, but they always failed. However it’s impossible not to be in that habitual state of mind at the beginning of the new year. Getting a new phone. Signing up for a class in bird photography. Purchasing only wildlife-friendly plants this year.

Doable? One is already done! Sustainable? Far easier than cutting calories for the rest of my life. Satisfying? Definitely!

Here’s to the New Year. May your 2021 be sane, hopeful, and healthful!



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Phoning It In — 2 Comments

  1. My iPhone is a 6S+, I’ll probably replace it next year. We got my wife an iPhone 12 as soon as she could try all 4 models, replacing her iPhone 7. We don’t want to be paying for two phones at the same time, and I’m saving up to replace my computer.

    The way we use our phones we have found no reason for speed. I think most of the “speed” stuff is stuff we do on our desktop computers where we have big screens and full-sized keyboards.

    The main reason we bought a 12 instead of an older model is that we’re willing to spend more to not have to go through the upgrade process as often.