Wednesday, September 13, 2017

No. 1 Again

On the day after the iPhone 8 was introduced to the world, TigerBlog would like to salute something that long ago seemed to vanish from its former role, which was to simply annoy the bejeezus out of people on a regular basis.

He speaks of the busy signal.

If anything is the 180 degree opposite of the most updated version of the iPhone, it's the busy signal. Hey,  there isn't a Princeton student around who has ever gotten one.

Basically, a busy signal was a beeping noise that you heard when you called someone who was on the phone at that time. For however long that person was on the phone, you'd get a a busy signal each time you dialed that number.

The average telephone call back then - you know, those long ago days of the 1970s or so - was probably much longer than today's. People don't like to talk on the phone like they used to, not with the ability to text. In fact, people often will send a text that says "can you talk" rather than simply calling.

As TB has said before, if technology had evolved in reverse order, then you would hear people say things like "why are you texting that person when now you can actually talk to them and hear their voice?"

Ah, but the busy signal. Beep. Beep. Beep. Then you'd have to wait a minute and try again. Beep. Beep. Beep. Then a few more minutes. Beep. Beep. Beep.

You'd be trying to call your mother to say that you forgot something or your friend to make sure they're still meeting you, but someone's younger brother or sister was on the phone, talking about nothing for 30 minutes with some other little kid. And there was nothing you could do about it, other than scream at your own phone as you slammed it down, shouting "get off the @!#$!#@$ phone already."

Well, not quite nothing. You could call the operator (do they still have operators?) and request an emergency break-in call.

The busy signal was pretty much wiped out by call waiting. Early call waiting on landlines (they were just called "phones" then) didn't come with call waiting, and nobody yet had an answering machine, so the choice was to either click over to the other call or be left wondering who in the world it was, what hugely life-changing call you just had let slip away. This led to a whole different world of poor etiquette, the "yes you are important but the other line is buzzing at me and it is probably more important than you" moment that dominated those days.

Caller ID was a big invention. TigerBlog had a friend in college named Paul, and when Caller ID first came along, one of his other friends told Paul that now that people would know it was him when he called that nobody would ever answer him again.

It all seems so quaint and nostalgic, talking about busy signals and phones that didn't go with you when you left the house. As everyone knows, those days are long gone.

Hey, even an iPhone 5 looks like it should be in the Smithsonian.

TigerBlog wonders what number iPhone the current freshman class will take to its 50th Reunion, in 2071. TB mentioned that yesterday, when he spoke about freshman athlete orientation.

Those freshmen will be taking their iPhones to their first day of classes here at Princeton. Today is Day 1 of the fall semester, which starts fairly late compared to most other schools.

TigerBlog remembers vividly his first day of classes at Penn. He had a politics class in the University Museum, and he walked down Spruce Street from his dorm in the Quad on a warm, sunny September morning.

As he walked past the hospital, there was some minor construction going on, and he could smell the tar as it was being put down. Anytime he's smelled that since, it's taken him right back to that moment.

That was the first class his freshman year. His first class his sophomore, junior and senior years? No idea.

The start of classes at Princeton will bring with it a more structured routine for the fall teams that have already been competing. To this point, it's just been practice and games, without any of the dynamics that go along with the academic side of things here.

That changes today.

In addition to the news of the iPhone 8, yesterday also saw the release of the U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings. Princeton, again, was the No. 1 ranked university in the United States.

The idea that Princeton combines that sort of academic record with the athletic success it has enjoyed through the decades is something that there's an understandable amount of pride in among the people who work in this department. It's why they do what they do, to help an incredible group of young men and women have the best possible experience they can.

It's worth remembering, obviously, that neither of those accomplishments - academics and athletic - happens accidentally. When Princeton coaches recruit and say that in coming here, athletes can play the sport they love on a championship level while also getting the best possible undergraduate education, they're completely serious.

So the fall season has started in seven sports, and the eighth, the football team, opens Saturday.

School opens today.

The goal around here, as it is ever year, is to be the absolute best at both.

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