My Volt Died but Life is Good





Oh, woe is me, my Life is Good LG Volt phone went into a vicious restart cycle and I was unable to manually factory reset it after reading a thousand and one solutions to the issue including putting it in an icebox, scraping the battery leads, dismantling it to fiddle with the start button mechanism, slapping it repeatedly against the palm of the hand, and depressing the down volume button and start button at the same time to reset it and so on, so I emailed Steven, a longtime executive with Sprint: PLEASE HELP!

Steven had changed my life when he sent me the Volt to replace a Samsung phone much lower on the totem pole. The Samsung phone became obsolete less than a year after I bought it. I was fond of it because of the full mechanical keyboard that slid out for the convenience of those of us who are amazed at how nimbly nimble-fingered kids can type on touch screens while we curse with almost every word mistyped or wrongly corrected. On the other hand it had a primitive little screen with no apps.

Steven forwarded my email to Donnetha, an Executive Service Analyst with Sprint’s Executive and Regulatory Services Department. Lo and Behold, the next day Fed Ex was at my door with a Certified Pre-Owned LG Tribute 5 device. Life is still good for the time being.

The fact that it is a “Certified Pre-Owned” replacement reminds me of the line of automobiles I received on the Big Island of Hawaii from Hawaii Auto Center, “Home of Pre-owned Cars.” The engine of the red Ford burst into flames as I drove up a mountain, so Sammy, the owner of the used car lot, replaced it with another Ford, and its transmission failed, except for reverse, three blocks away, so I drove it backwards to the lot, and got another Ford that lasted awhile after some maintenance, and then I traded that in for a Mark IV Lincoln Continental, which cost me a bundle in maintenance before the transmission dropped, which meant another transmission had to be obtained from a Mainland junkyard, so it seemed true back then that “Ford” meant “Fix Or Repair Daily.” Sammy, a former Ford sales director, threw in the towel and gave me a Chevy that lasted until I left the island. Sammy was good. He stood by his deals, and it helped that I was his accountant and lobbyist. Sometime later, by the way, the bartender at Don Drysdale’s Club 53 in Kona was bragging about the great car he had been driving for two years—it was my refurbished Mark IV!

Now since I have mentioned two low-end phones it is obvious that I am either poor or frugal, probably one of those prepaid phone people, someone that may someday own a refurbished high-end phone if he is extremely lucky. Anyhow, just because a person does not have a thousand dollars or more for the best of all possible phones at the moment does not mean s/he is not influential enough to get first class executive service, and that is what I received from Sprint via Steven and Donnetha.

As for the Tribute 5, it has its virtues and faults like everything else in the world including people like me who generally like to harp on the negatives to perpetuate innovation that will land us on a higher plane of existence, that is, a planet with better people and products including communication devices.

All friends have faults yet we keep them because they are friends even when they do not like each other, and the Tribute 5 is user friendly enough right now, its main faults being, as far as I am concerned, several in number.

Sometimes the music takes forever to play, if at all, even with Wi-Fi, and that is most disconcerting.

It does not have a call block function on the Calls Log. Several steps must be taken to block nuisances: go to the Calls Log: copy the number; go to Apps; go to Setup; go to Call; go to Reject Calls; paste the number.

I could not get rid of the Android upgrade notice after I upgraded it twice. After I left it to upgrade automatically at night for two nights in a row, the annoying notice disappeared.

The slender, wide body felt uncomfortable in my hand. It felt better, however, after I put it in a heavy duty EVOCEL carrying case, and it looked more substantial too. So much for going around naked with all the risks that entails.

The images taken by the camera are inferior to the ones I enjoyed with the Volt because there are not as many pixels nor does the aperture let in enough light, much to my chagrin for I am a frustrated photographer.

I could not find a microphone input on the keyboard that loaded with my new used phone. The SWYPE application with the microphone input is no longer available no matter what kind of phone you have; SWYPE went coincidentally kaput just before my Volt went on the blink. I got ahold of the LG Company and I was instructed how to change the board to Gboard, and I must say it is functionally superior to the moribund SWYPE board.

I must say that the web pages look better on the larger Tribute 5 screen. I hope the glass is the same kind as on my old one because it did not scratch.

The buttons are on the back of the Tribute 5, and I like that because side buttons can be accidentally depressed with undesirable results.

I heard on the Internet grapevine that the Tribute 5 is inferior to the Volt, so it seems I have been downgraded. What can one expect for nothing when a warranty runs out just before something dies? Almost everyone was badmouthing the Volt, but I liked my old friend. I had no problems with it until it did the vicious restart cycle, and I miss it. I am, however, growing fonder of the Tribute 5. If you live with an ape long enough you may learn to love him or her.

The fact of the matter is that I do not like change no matter how often I am told to accept someone else’s change. I feel like my body died and I was given another one. Well, at least I can remember who I am. Anyway, I shall not complain if I get an even better phone before I meet our maker.

Bad things happen in bunches, as I first learned as young hospital orderly when a certain wing of a floor would have a slew of deaths on the same night and I would have to wheel the bodies to the basement.

It just so happened that at the time my Volt died a friend of mine had been abusing me to no end as if my brand had grown psychologically obsolete for her. I felt I was invited for dinner only to be beaten like a dog, and to that end I was not allowed to share in its cost.

I think it was Buddha who asked a beggar, “To whom would food left out belonged to if a mendicant did not take it because of abuse?” “To the proprietor of course, and, likewise, the abuse would belong to proprietor as well, and, to make matters worse, a friend would be lost.”

The last straw came after I emailed her the news that steering wheels are coming off the latest Ford Fusions. She had already had a serious battery draining issue with her Fusion, which she loves dearly. Are we back in the USSR? The battery issue was resolved, and I thought she would want to know about this new problem. She said that she listens to the news all day and did not want any news from me, then ordered me not to communicate with her. Done, albeit sadly, mostly because she is an unhappy bird. I had a dream this morning that I was telling her “I am your prayer,” but she responded cruelly, and said I had no license to help people, so get lost.

My sorrow naturally moved me to consult the I Ching for advice. I tossed the coins instead of sorting yarrow stalks. I came up with Hexagram 63, After Completion, which advised me to be patient and not to look back. After Completion changed into Hexagram 10, Treading, as it were, on the tail of a tiger, I was advised to be pleasant while discriminating between the high and low roads.

The advice not to look back is well put because if I dwell on the past I may turn into a pillar of salty tears, not a good thing to do given the fact that big boys are not supposed to cry. And being courteous and pleasant during troubled times is wise though not easy to do. Sometimes the sheer traffic of the city makes me so anxious I wonder what sort of drug might take the edge off, and I think of having a pint of Fosters Ale while watching Leaving Las Vegas.

Now what about the high and low roads? Does that mean I should find better friends and phones and let go of the rest? But if I abandon the friends and phones that I have, I would be left alone, incommunicado, even more unlikely to get on the high road where I might have one of those thousand dollar phones with a little pen. I might as well be dead and gone, for a man is good for nothing without friends. He might imagine he is not lonely, that he is merely all-one in the One, but then he would be an incomparable nobody if not nothing.

Sometimes Customer Service is the only shoulder available to cry upon at any length. It is usually a rather cold, “professional” or robotic shoulder. Customer Service, please remember that we were born helpless and secretly yearn to go home again to be picked up and coddled for awhile.

Coincidentally or not, at the time my phone died, I was virtually retracing the steps of a linguist and trekker named Csoma de Koros from Hungary to Tibet. He was obsessed with going home again to what he thought was the origin of his kind of Hungarian people, somewhere in Siberia or Mongolia. He was dirt poor, a virtual monk, an almost barefoot scholar headed for the ancient Silk Road. He met an East India official by the name of William Moorcroft along the way. Moorcroft got him a contract to compile a Tibetan dictionary to facilitate the economic goals of the British Empire. Csoma proceeded with the project in Tibet, with the help of a lama, in bitter cold quarters in Zanskar, a province once within the ancient Guge Kingdom in Western Tibet, now in Ladak, North India. That led to his employment as a librarian in Calcutta for a few years, and then he ventured up to Darjeeling with the intention of finally going to Lhasa to resume research on the fabled origin of his ancestral race. Alas, he came down with a fever and died, going to the final resting place of all things material, the Better Place that might be Utopia or no place at all. So it was the means to his goal and not the goal itself that benefited the human race.

Of course my research into the physical and mental trekking of Csoma included studies of his translations and discussions of Tibetan Buddhism. Scholars are sort of monks naturally influenced by their studies. It occurred to me that Csoma had become a Buddhist monk.

I myself was called a Buddhist some years ago by photographers involved in a proposed revival of Life Magazine. I had abandoned my professional career and the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii to take up the study of dancing, the foundation of all the arts, in Manhattan. Of course I was soon reduced to impoverished circumstances and had to take a day job to pay for classes and a tiny room on the Upper West Side. The photographers encountered me at a studio in Carnegie Hall, and that resulted in extensive photo shoots in Central Park and in my small but cute room. “You are a Buddhist,” I was told.

So here I was in South Beach studying Buddhism, how the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path evolved, pondering the essential concept of dependent origination and its identity with karma. I arrived at the tentative conclusion that the goal, Nirvana, was death, that Buddhism is a form of virtual suicide, a nihilistic process of going home again forever after making an infinitesimal mark in infinity. The saving grace of Buddha, I thought, was his compassion and moderation. Come to think of it, Buddha and Jesus have much in common, and I dared to say that to the Watchtower ladies selling Jesus in my apartment building, undulling angering one of them.

And then, in the midst of a morose contemplation, my Volt died! I had a sinking sensation, like I had the time my father, who often spoke of voltage because he was an electrician, died up north as I was reading Kafka on the beach. Without my Volt in my left pocket I felt the Void that I am without communication. Excuse me while I put on Holtz’ Ode to Death because I cannot stand to think about Nothing without the choir.

Yes, it is true that everyone is suffering, even when they are laughing at loud. Even beauty makes people cry. The expression on the face is the same. Try dropping some acid with Dr. Timothy Leary if you do not believe me. On second thought, just say no. You do not want to know. Do not read Aldous Huxley or Carlos Castaneda.

In any event, existence and not being is the problem, and the solution is inevitable.

Suffice it to say that I was profoundly depressed with the loss of my Volt and my best friend, with the growing imminence of the living end without a phone to die for, the dark enlightenment shed by the existential core of Buddhism, and Socrates’ statement that philosophy or the love of wisdom is a preparation for death, and so on.I had been crushed by the All Mighty. Thankfully, the All Mighty is merciful as well as cruel. Sprint’s executive service reached out with a new phone for me to cling to. I began to gradually recover from my profound depression, like one of those amazing little flat frogs that rises and jumps when water is poured on it.

I have never been a goal-oriented person myself although I have advised others on how to have and achieve goals. I tend to lose my miserable self in processes: in play, in thinking, in dancing, in writing, in acting. Ironically, I am a financial conservative as a result of being penniless on several occasions, hence the low-end phones. So I beg your pardon for being a fool in art, that is, someone without a goal, for not being rich and famous.

My dead LG Volt and my LG Tribute got me to thinking about Existentialism again, and how Albert Camus found meaning in meaninglessness after realizing the vanity of goals. Just feeling the Sun on one’s face and the sight of kids playing with a ball is delightful no matter that everything comes to an end. I went for a walk and happened to notice the plants the kids had grown in the yard at the charter school, and, behold, there it was, that red sunflower! Life is good enough for now.

I had gotten the impression from Buddha that death is better because the suffering comes to an end; that is, until I read that the key to good and evil is how one thinks because like follow like. I am beginning to like the Tribute 5 better than the Volt, that’s for sure. Still I wish I had one of those phones with the little pen.