No cell phones allowed in Green Bank, WV

Can you imagine a place with no cell phones? It is harder and harder to find. You almost have to go to a remote island, or a place with no cell phone reception (see these seven locations where you can escape the Internet). Last week I was traveling for work, and while in the airport waiting for a flight, I saw on the news a mention of Green Bank, West Virginia, and that cell phones are not allowed. They are part of the “National Radio Quiet Zone.” See the picture in the link — the zone is enormous.

Intrigued? I was. It is often hard to imagine a place where cell phones do not exist. Green Bank has a population of 143. Why no cell phones? The Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The GBT is part of the reason that it is a law in Green Bank that you cannot have a cell phone. The GBT is the largest, fully steerable radio telescope in the world. This excerpt from a National Geographic article explains it a bit more:

“Because of its vast size and sophisticated design, the GBT is exquisitely sensitive to even the faintest radio pulses coming from space. For the same reason, it is also extremely susceptible to electronic interference. Any device that generates electromagnetic radiation—a cell phone, a television, a wireless Internet router—can skew its data. And so the people who live in these parts must, by law, forego some of the gadgets that most of us take for granted.”

Would you want that kind of life? Maybe for a vacation, but could you handle it 365 days a year? I am addicted to information and I am not sure how I could go without the Internet. A phone – yes, I could probably go without a phone, but not the Internet. Check out the National Geographic article for more details on all the discoveries that have been made due to the GBT. Oh, and they need another 9 million dollars if you are interested.

Seriously, a phone ATM?

I got the strangest email from Redbox over the weekend. I actually thought it was a delayed April Fools message. Basically it was announcing “EcoATM.” No it is not a new form of an ATM machine, it is a kiosk that allows you to sell your old cell phone back. Complete with videos that show how you are given a sticker, have to put your driver’s license into the machine (and hope it does not get stuck), place the sticker on the back of the phone and they will proceed to send in your phone and confirm the amount you get paid. If you want, you can allow the proceeds of your phone go to the charity of your choice.

Why does it seem so strange to me? Sure, I am grateful that it is another way for folks to be paid in hopes that their phone does not end up in a landfill, but would you go to a kiosk and submit your phone (while also returning your Redbox movies at the neighbor kiosk). It just seems very unlikely. It feels rather cheesy actually.

It looks like all the local kiosks are in very strange suburbs. Ones that are not on the normal beaten path, almost as though they have purposely launched in obscure locations. You can even “price your device” by selecting your model and phone provider and they will let you know the range of what you can expect to receive back.

I still think it is odd. Maybe because Chris and I have found that we can make so much more selling our old phones on eBay. I am not sure if the “sell your phone” kiosk is a sustainable business model. I suppose we go through phones much faster than we used to. So if they can cover picking up phones and clean up of kiosks, and then sell them for 50% more, then maybe it is sustainable. I guess we have gone from kiosk movies, to coin exchange, to selling phones. What is next?

Would you use it?

Timeout for our addictions?

How many of you would benefit from a safe in your home that allows you to put an item inside and not be allowed to have it back until the timer on top lets you back into the safe? How many of you would benefit from being blocked from the sweets, candy, or beverages in your home? Maybe it is not about being blocked from sweets, maybe it is Candy Crush on your cell phone, or your Wii remote? I recently found this cookie jar/kitchen storage bin called: The Kitchen Safe. The lid has a digital timer on top that allows you to lock up any item and only be allowed in after a certain number of seconds, minutes, hours, or days. (It will lock up to 10 days).

The idea originated as a way to control junk food cravings, and has led to controlling many other household/lifestyle cravings. The Overview page on their website shows a variety of items locked away, toys, video games, credit cards, cigarettes, and cell phones to name a few. It sounds like The Kitchen Safe is just the product to allow for timeouts on our favorite addictions. For kids and adults. At the moment only the clear bin is available for purchase on their website. The white version is out of stock until Summer 2014. A clever idea to offer both options. I imagine the white is out of stock, because if you do not have to look at what is locked away, while you wait to be able to open the safe it may be much easier on you (or your kids and family). The clear safe encourages a bit of self-control, because what is stopping you from smashing it? The $49.95 price tag. A high price to pay for a little bit of discipline.

Controlling temptation is hard to master. Hopefully The Kitchen Safe will help along the way, that is if you have not taken a hammer to it first. Here is the video from their website to show you how it works: