Denver’s getting a new area code next month!
No, I’m not short on blog topics – stay with me here.
“983” will be added to 303 and 720 because Denver’s rapid growth means they’re running out of new phone numbers. But it’s not our state’s fifth area code itself that has my attention (by comparison, California blows us away with 36). It’s the 25 years “983” is expected to last before Colorado needs a sixth area code. Seriously? Will we even have phones in 25 years?
“Area code” feels like an old-fashioned term. I associate area codes with the physical act of “dialing” (also an old-fashioned term). Sure, we need area codes to establish new numbers the first time we get smartphones (as preschoolers?) but then they become more labels than three-digit numbers, don’t they? Think about it. If you need to call someone these days, forget about their area code because you already have it in their profile. You either tell your phone to call the person or you pull them up in “Contacts” and simply touch the number on the screen. In other words, your phone dials the area code but you do not. Not anymore.
Before smartphones, area codes had more prestige. They were required to make “long-distance” phone calls, which meant you had to dial an extra three digits. Outside of toll-free numbers, area codes conjured up exotic destinations, as if dialing halfway around the world instead of somewhere else in your state. Area codes made you feel like you were calling someone important. Today, they’re just labels.
If I really wanted to date myself, I could be talking about telephone exchange numbers instead of area codes. KLondike, WRigley, and TEmpleton all referred to the central offices of telephone exchanges, with every phone number in an exchange starting with the first two letters of the central office. PEnnsylvania 6-5000 was a memorable example because it connected you with the famous Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, and Glenn Miller made the number into a popular swing jazz tune in the 1940s. I wasn’t around in the 1940s (or even the 1950s), so enough with this topic.
Let’s flush “dialing” out of conversations about phones, shall we? Nobody “dials” anymore. Dialing (for you preschoolers) hearkens back to a time when phones were phones. You picked up the corded “handset” from the “cradle” on the “base”, nestled it against your jaw so the “receiver” lined up with the ear and the “microphone” with the mouth, toggled the “switchhook” for “dial tone”, and placed a call by spinning the rotary dial once for each digit in the phone number (got all that, kids?) The dial would rotate back to its original position after each digit so you could dial the next one. The whole process took 30-45 seconds, followed by a long pause, and then the “ringer” sounded on the receiving phone. With that in mind, do you take the ease of your smartphone touchscreen for granted? Of course you do.
[Author’s Note: The mechanics of rotary phones (base, dial, ringer, handset) made them HEAVY. You can find movies from the 1940s or 1950s where a character uses a rotary phone as a weapon simply by clocking someone over the head with it.]
Dialing eventually gave way to “touch-tones” (thanks to the invention of the transistor). The rotary dial was replaced with a grid of plastic pushbuttons, one for each digit. Yes, we still “dialed” area codes but with buttons instead. The buttons then migrated from the phone base to the handset. The handset then went cordless. Finally, the base disappeared altogether, and voila! – you had the first “mobile” phone.
Area codes make me nostalgic because I associate them with actual phone calls, one voice talking to another. Today we’d sooner text than talk. Delivered mail to your box on the street isn’t long for this world. One of these days it’ll be curtains for phone calls as well. Which re-begs the question about Denver’s latest area code. Do we really need bright and shiny-new “983”?
Phone calls of the future may simply be mind games where we’re able to “ring” each other brain-to-brain. A little far-fetched, you say? Probably, and the idea of thought control makes me squeamish anyway. Call it old-fashioned, but I hope we’re still talking about area codes in 25 years after all.
Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.
Lego Grand Piano – Update #19
(Read about how this project got started in Let’s Make Music!)
Today’s section of the symphony was short and entirely predictable. Bag #19 – of 21 bags of pieces – assembled the rest of the piano’s top lid, shown completed in the photos below. I simply picked up where I left off from last week’s Bag #18, continuing to build up the “wall” of the lid until it was complete. It’s a repetitive process using pieces of similar sizes and shapes. Now, all we are left with – my patient audience members – is the support structure of the piano lid (so it can be raised to its very elegant angle when open), and the free-standing pianist’s bench.
Today’s build took less than twenty minutes. (I could’ve built Bag #20 as well, but why change my weekly pace this late in the game?) As I was finishing the piano lid it occurred to me using Mr. Instruction Manual is a lot like using sheet music. You shift your eyes between the manual and the piano itself constantly as you work, step-by-step-by-step. Just as you would when playing the piano from a sheet of music.
Running Build Time: 13.3 hours. Musical accompaniment: Brahams’ Violin Concerto in D. Leftover pieces: None again!
Conductor’s Note: Johannes Brahms had to be included in the list of musical accompaniments for my Lego Grand Piano build because, well, he’s one of the “bigs” in classical music. His Violin Concerto in D Major sits on Germany’s Mount Rushmore of violin concertos, beside Beethoven’s, Mendelssohn’s, and Max Bruch’s. You, however, know Brahms best for his beloved lullaby “Cradle Song”, which starts “Lullaby, and goodnight, with roses bedight…”