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Horgan: Without a home phone, there just seems to be a void

Nothing man-made lasts forever. At least that’s been a rule of thumb for thoughtful types through the generations. Advances in technology have only speeded up that circumstance. Each iteration of the iPhone makes the previous version passe’ before you can say, “Alexander Graham Bell.”

So it’s probably not a major surprise that, after 50 years, our home telephone is no more. Our landline has been consigned to the dustbin. The telephone number has been jettisoned right along with the equipment.

The move did not come without considerable family debate and a modest whiff of angst.

The argument in favor was pretty simple: Since our new phone carrier could not transfer our old telephone number as part of a package that includes a new cable-TV/wifi system and since we all had separate cellphones anyway, what was the point of maintaining a redundant landline? What’s more, due to a phone company glitch, we were without a home phone for a month anyway and we survived quite nicely.

But officially acting to dump the home phone (and number) was a bit like losing a small piece of the family’s history. It had been with us for so long, it just seemed like part of us.

That was the number the kids memorized when they were very young. It was firmly attached to us.

So now it’s cellphones all the way. As one cynic put it last week, “Welcome to the new millennium.” It still feels odd. On the plus side, there are fewer robo-calls.

A different era

Ground has been broken on construction of a new Grand Hyatt Hotel on the grounds of San Francisco International Airport.

A previous Hilton Inn on the same site was torn down years ago to facilitate new on-ramps to SFO. I miss the Hilton. It had easy, free, unfettered access to its huge swimming pool.

My devoted son, barely into his teen years at the time, and I could park in the hotel’s handy lot, stride through a wide-open portion of the facility, borrow a couple of Hilton towels and set up shop by the pool for an afternoon’s sun-dappled exercise and relaxation. No muss, no fuss. No one cared.

That was 30 years ago, well before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 would tighten security throughout the airport’s sprawling environs.

Such presumptuous behavior would not be permitted today. Times change. The new Hyatt is scheduled to be finished in two years.

Small favors

So far in 2017, it’s been noticeably quieter along the Peninsula. Why? Because there have been no fund-raising visits to this region by the current occupant of the White House.

Which means that those loud, black helicopters have been pleasantly missing from the local skies. Prior to this year, the intrusive airborne presidential cavalcade (not to mention those traffic-snarling motorcades) made regular annoying trips here to milk the Silicon Valley Democratic money machine.

Not so with a controversial (to put it mildly) quasi-Republican in The Big Chair. So we can be thankful for at least some small favors as our republic wobbles forward into the second half of the year.

John Horgan’s column appears weekly in the Mercury News. You can contact him by email at or by regular mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.