Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Libes

It's good these days to hear about my alma mater, Northwestern University, even if it's just in passing. This past Sunday evening, I was shopping at Publix, and as I was searching for the perfect slider rolls, I overheard a conversation between a woman and a man, two friends who had run into each other buying groceries in advance of a predicted winter storm. The woman's daughter was a senior in high school and had applied to a number of colleges. The daughter apparently wanted to stay close to home and had applied to the University of Georgia and a few other area schools, all very popular locally, but her mom, sporting a Nantucket sweat shirt, obviously wanted her daughter to venture North for higher education. Apparently, she and her husband had both attended Georgia and had, in her words, "done well," but at one point, she said, "You know, she really wants to go there...they all want the name, but those places like Northwestern...you never know." I'm not sure where her daughter's "there" was, but I had to chuckle a little inside, because when I went to Northwestern from Memphis, people weren't even sure where it was or why I was going "way up there." (For those of you who still don't know where Northwestern is, it's located in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. You drive up along Lake Michigan from Chicago, and you run right into Evanston. It's a beautiful community, very Midwestern, with lots of nice architecture.)

South Campus and The Arch
The thing was, Northwestern wasn't exactly known for having a winning football team, and in the South, football was and is a very big deal. One day in 1979, after we had both graduated and were living in Chicago, Karen and I saw a group of Northwestern kids carrying a goal post down Central Avenue in Evanston. We stopped one of the kids and asked them if they'd finally won a game. Turns out that they had just broken the nation's longest losing streak, which had previously been held by Columbia. These days, Northwestern wins football games and even goes to bowl games on a regular basis, but in those days, Saturday game attendance at 55,000-seat Dyche Stadium might average around 10,000. Not to mention that it was often freezing. You get the idea.

One thing about living up North is that you don't have any trouble staying inside and studying, and that was a good thing for Northwestern students. The academic pressure was intense. Most of us spent almost every evening and many weekend days (yes, even Saturdays) at the university library. And since we spent so much time there, the library, which was more commonly referred to as "The Libes," achieved destination status. It became so synonymous with my time at Northwestern that twenty years later, when my wife and I were giving our two young daughters a Parental Nostalgia Tour, The Libes had to be one of our first stops. The girls still joke about how how "exciting" it was for them to be shown the part of the library where I studied.

In 1971, two years before I arrived for my freshman year, Northwestern opened a brand spanking new student center called Norris University Center. It featured study areas, a theater, art galleries, a large cafeteria, and even three large "listening rooms" with floor-to-ceiling windows, each of which afforded a beautiful view of the Lake Michigan waterfront. You checked in to a central desk where you requested a particular LP to be played, and the music would be piped in to the room of your choice. But with all this, Norris still took a back seat to The Libes. The university was perpetually confounded that students elected to visit the second floor student lounge in library instead of using Norris. No one had time to visit Norris, because there was always some exam or other around the corner.

Library South Entrance
Both The Libes, built in 1970, and Norris were designed in the Brutalist architecture style. (Although the term may sound somewhat frivolous, it is a real thing, and it describes a style which features function over form. The most commonly used building material is concrete.) The library structure itself was divided into three similar five-story towers, one with walls painted brick red, one harvest gold, and one deep avocado green, perfectly matched to the aesthetic of the 1970's. On most floors, shelves radiated out from a central point, like spokes of a wheel. In the centers of the wheels, chairs and footrests were provided, with individual study carrels and private study rooms located throughout the floors. One of the first things that most students did upon arriving at Northwestern was to find a favorite place in the library which could be used as an elementary GPS of sorts. For example, in my freshman year, I preferred to study on the fifth floor of the green tower, so I would tell friends at dinner that if they wanted to find me, I'd be in "Five Green." In my sophomore year and later, I branched out to Two Gold at the Core Library, which featured unique, low-slung desk pairs. This was very nice if you found yourself studying with a friend.

One of the most important traditions at Northwestern was the 9:00 Break, during which time most people would head to the student lounge (Two Green) to eat snacks, drink bad but cheap coffee from vending machines, and socialize. This was the time when you would drop the econ, the neuro, the Kafka, whatever you happened to be studying just to hang out with your friends. People would even come to the library just for the 9:00 Break, and it was amazing: at any given time from 9:00 until around 10:00, there would be no seats left in the lounge, and people would have overflowed onto the floor. All this with the spacious Norris Center right next door. After the break, we'd all return to our respective study areas and hit the books until around 11:30 PM, when we'd pack it in and head back to our dorms or residences.

I spent so much time in The Libes that I can still fondly remember so many things: the way the fluorescent lights buzzed incessantly in the Green Tower, the way my roommate and I would sit in the halls of the Red Tower and quiz each other before neurobiology exams, the classic old periodicals on the lower level, the hidden tunnel to Deering (the "pretty library"), the way I would wake up in a study carrel and realize an hour had gone by, and the enormous card catalog that must have taken up a half acre. The memories are still so vivid.

The Campus Today
I don't know exactly how things are at Northwestern these days. There are a lot of new buildings, and the card catalog has long since been dismantled, but I'm sure that The Libes are still a nerve center, and if I'm thinking correctly, they're still something of a gathering place. But I do recall that every night when I left the library, I felt like I really was "at college," that this was something worth doing, and that this effort would pay off some day. In many ways, it has. I was fortunate enough to have much of the cost of my education covered by scholarships and grants, but my parents also contributed a sizable sum on their own. I'm so thankful to them for making it possible for me to attend Northwestern and to experience a life which they never had. I could never really thank them sufficiently, but when they came to visit, I made sure to take them to The Libes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Herbert's Habits

Every afternoon at precisely 6:00 PM, regardless of the weather or planetary alignment, Herbert Evans would stop whatever he was doing and observe Happy Hour on the front porch of his home high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Herbert lived at the highest point on Big Ridge Road, and from his front porch, you could gaze out over the crest of the mountains. The view was beyond gorgeous.
When we first traveled to Herbert's mountain home in 1988 with his niece, our friend Ginna, she warned us that Uncle Herbert had some strict habits, so I was immediately fascinated, being a strong creature of habit myself. I knew that he would be a kindred spirit, and indeed, he was. On that very first visit, Herbert came out to meet us and welcomed us graciously, as if we were family, as if he'd known us for years. All of us, including our daughter Sarah, who was only three at the time, immediately settled into his home and became a part of the family fabric.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Herbert had spent his childhood in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Townshend, Vermont, and throughout his life, he maintained an identity with each of the places he had lived. He would tell stories of riding his bike in Beaufort and then, in the next breath, recall the magnificent fall foliage of Vermont. You could tell that these two places had real significance to him and had helped to shape his early years. After living in New York City, and then serving in World War II, he and his brothers John and Tom decided to open a family restaurant. After considering several cities in the Southeast, they finally opened the first Evans Fine Foods in Atlanta in 1946. Herbert served as bookkeeper while his two brothers ran the day-to-day restaurant operations. Herbert and his brothers made a good living for themselves and their families, and in the 1960's, they purchased a piece of land atop a mountain on Big Ridge Road, close to Glenville, North Carolina, where they built a home in the 1970's. It was to this home that Herbert retired in the early 1980's.

By the time our family made its first trip to Big Ridge, Herbert had it down to a science, and the kitchen especially was a strictly defined workspace. Herbert owned a vintage Philco refrigerator that had a unique door which would open in either direction. For some reason, he preferred that it be opened on one side. He wouldn't say anything if you opened it on the other side, but somehow, if you did that, you just knew that you were going against the grain. Ice cubes had to be manually evacuated from their trays in the Philco and kept in individual resealable sandwich bags. The dishwasher door, even when the dishwasher was not running, had to be closed and locked. It was not enough for it simply to be closed. I didn't know the reason for this, other than that insects might enter the machine if the door was not tightly latched. (Not that such a thing ever happens here in the Southern United States.)

Every evening, at precisely 6:00, Herbert would announce that it was time for Happy Hour. He would poll the crowd for preferred libations, then pour out a little bowl of nuts and Chex Mix. He mixed good drinks, and sometimes, we had seconds, but always only the one bowl of snacks; otherwise, we might spoil our dinner.

Dinner at Herbert's, more specifically grilling out, was a unique experience that I enjoyed immensely. Charcoal on the little portable green grill had to be drenched with charcoal lighter fluid (ah, that smell) and an electric lighter had to be placed in a certain position within the briquettes so as to provide optimal lighting efficiency. The grill had to be placed a few feet from the back porch, where there was an outlet into which the lighter could be plugged. One evening, while we were grilling after Happy Hour, we got a little too close to the house, but the important thing was that nothing was permanently damaged.

Herbert was a wonderful host, and he delighted in taking us to visit at friends' houses in the area, some of which were quite interesting. One friend had an immense wood shop in his basement, and others maintained a sizable Christmas tree farm. An Atlanta attorney and his family recently had built a spacious mountain retreat filled with modern Mexican art, and every Labor Day, we would visit their home for a huge shish-kebab festival. We generally did the driving to the friends' houses, because Herbert had a heavy foot and was not afraid to use it on the winding mountain roads. Every time he fired up his vintage International Harvester Scout with no seat belts, we felt our hearts skip a beat. Once, while Herbert and I were out for a drive in my wife Karen's new Isuzu Trooper, he led me up a mountain road which terminated on a steep ledge. We got stuck, so Herbert got out and helped me maneuver in the opposite direction, until we finally arrived back at the house, where everything was going well until Karen noticed a faint smell of burning clutch. 

In his later years, Herbert had to move to assisted living in Atlanta, because the house and its huge yard were simply too much to maintain, but he continued to be actively engaged in family activities for his remaining years, and when he passed away in December, 2011, at the age of 93, he had lived a very full life indeed.

I think there's a reason we have habits. I think they help define who we are and how we relate to the world at large. They give us a sense of predictability, which often can be quite comforting. In Herbert's case, they made him a unique gentleman who gladly shared his home with others. I treasure those days and those memories. We miss you, Uncle Herbert, every day.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sears Had Everything

The "Walton" Craftman house plan
The first news item that I read last Monday morning was that Sears was filing for bankruptcy. The news is certainly not a surprise at this point, but still, I'm a Baby Boomer, and for generations before mine, and even the one following, Sears was an institution. A jingle years ago said, "Sears Has Everything!" Even though the company was sued over this claim some years later, the fact remains that at that time, it really did stock more items than just about any other American retailer. Some people refer to it as the original Amazon. Sears even sold house plans and kits. Today's popular Craftsman style house was actually an invention of Sears (there's a fascinating podcast about this at https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-house-that-came-in-the-mail/).

Richard Warren Sears
Sears, Roebuck & Company was founded by Richard Warren Sears (we share the same first and middle names, by the way) and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1892, and for years upon years, its catalog was a staple of American households in every nook and cranny of America. In it, you could find clothing, tools, musical instruments, and home goods. It was a great pastime, and actually somewhat educational, to just sit and browse the catalog, and it seemed like everyone was on the mailing list. The catalog was the ultimate wish book: there were things in there you didn't even know existed, but the pictures and descriptions effectively constituted a retail encyclopedia of the time. It's no exaggeration to say that Sears set the stage for online shopping.

Alvah Curtis Roebuck
Sears even had a sense of humor, although they probably didn't always realize it. One day when I was away at college and on the phone with my parents, they asked if I'd seen the latest catalog. I knew that something was up, because my parents were laughing so hard that they could barely ask the question. When I replied that I'd mostly been looking at chemistry books (which was actually true), they told me why they were so amused. Apparently, on page something-or-other in the men's underwear section, a minor wardrobe malfunction had occurred with one of the models, or at least that's what appeared to have happened. Finally seeing the catalog some time later, I had to agree that the editors appeared to have been a little lax on that one. Or maybe it was just a shadow.

But Sears did not live by the catalog alone: its stores, located all over the country from small towns to big cities, were bustling centers of commerce. Its grand old buildings, erected mostly in the first half of the twentieth century, dotted the American landscape from coast to coast. Smaller suburban stores were often the anchors of shopping centers and later, malls. People would buy each other clothes from Sears for Christmas because the logic was that if the item didn't fit, you could just "take it back to Sears," the thinking being that everyone had a Sears close to their home.

A Sears nut and candy shop
The stores stocked absolutely everything, but there were a few common threads regardless of location. For one, almost every Sears store featured a candy and peanut kiosk built in one of the main aisles. This always imparted a carnival aroma to the store, and it was a uniquely Sears thing. A Penney's or Montgomery Ward would not smell like this. When you got downstairs (there were usually two floors) to the hardware and automotive departments, the smell was decidedly that of freshly molded tires. Even catalog orders had a whiff of the "tire smell." If you positioned yourself between the upper and lower floors, or in the case of single-level stores, somewhere in the middle, you would be treated to the combined essences of fresh rubber, warm chocolate, and roasted peanuts, all at the same time. It may sound a little off-putting, but it was actually part of the whole Sears experience and not really offensive.

Ad for the Lemon Frog Shop
In today's competitive clothing market, it's probably hard to believe that at one point, many of us actually bought lots of clothing at Sears. In the late 60's, many teen girls stocked their wardrobes from the Lemon Frog Shop, which featured the latest in flower-power garments in vivid colors. When I went away to Chicago for college in 1973, I pulled out my suggested clothing list from Northwestern (published for the benefit of those of us from warmer climates) and purchased almost everything from Sears. I bought red and blue plaid flannel shirts, jeans, hiking boots, and a "survival parka," one of those coats that was navy with bright orange lining. You couldn't beat Sears prices, and again, the thing was, they were everywhere. Even just a few years ago, when our daughter Hannah went to Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina, we bought her snow boots there, because they honestly had the best selection, all in one place. (I don't think those boots ever wore out.)

Major styling in 1967
I remember when I placed my first Sears catalog order. I had my own money from working at the grocery store, and it seemed like such a grownup thing to do. I ordered a zip up burgundy knit shirt (the zipper had a brass ring on its end) and a coordinating pair of knit pants in burgundy and gray plaid. I thought I was the bomb. I also ordered a very low-tech odometer for my bicycle, featuring a little strike pin which attached to a wheel spoke and advanced a small gear with every revolution, tracking miles using a somewhat approximate method which was close enough for those analog days.

Over the years, we purchased many staple items from Sears, some of which we still use. A green wheelbarrow which we bought in 1983, shortly after moving to Atlanta, still sits under our deck, and only recently did I retire my Craftsman lawnmower that I bought in 1993. It was still running, but after years of faithful service and many trips to the repair shop, I thought it best that it hand over its duties to a new Honda.

Things went well for many years, and then, something happened. The first clue I had was one day back in the late 80's when I went to buy tires for our Nissan Sentra station wagon. In those days, tires were made with one side whitewall and one side black, so that they could be mounted with either side facing out. After waiting almost two hours for the tires to be put on the wagon in a near-freezing Gwinnett Place Mall, I observed that the front tires were mounted with the black side out, but the rear tires had the white side out. Apparently, no one had noticed, but the car was returned to the garage, where after another period of near frostbite on my part, everything was made right.

Another thing I noticed some years ago was that the Craftsman tools, once the pride of every American home handyman, appeared to be made more cheaply. Handles which used to be sturdy were now covered in flimsy plastic, and the metal parts of the tools seemed to have been somewhat carelessly molded, with rough spots here and there. Craftsman hand tools always had a certain finish, but that no longer appeared to be the case. And on a summer day several years ago, I needed two tires for my Craftsman mower. I checked the model online to make sure they were in stock at our local North Point Mall Sears store, then headed over. I bought the tires and brought them back home, but they did not fit, even though the mower model number matched. Frustrated, I headed to Home Depot and bought a set of generic mower wheels, which fit fine. I returned the wheels to Sears and never went back to the lawn care department.

In 2009, fourteen years after Sears had vacated the property, the iconic Sears Tower in Chicago was finally renamed the Willis Tower. In 2014, the twelve-year agreement between Sears and Lands End was terminated. In 2017, Whirlpool ended its 101-year relationship with Sears. It's no doubt the end of an era. One thing cited as a potential issue by financial gurus is that for the last several years, Sears has reinvested only 1% of its profits into facility improvement and modernization, and in today's competitive brick and mortar retail market, that just isn't going to cut it. But who really knows all the factors that led to its demise?

Sears Crosstown in Memphis
Still, there are those grand old buildings, the ones erected early in the twentieth century in cities from coast to coast, the ones that are now being re-purposed as multi-use developments, full of shops, restaurants and upscale residential lodgings. The legacy of Sears will live on, regardless of how the company manages its holdings from this point forward. I'll bet a fair amount of money that Jeff Bezos, long before he founded that online shopping wonderland that we now call Amazon, purchased at least one pair of jeans from Sears in his youth. But I'll bet he never ordered checkered pants from the catalog. His loss, my friends.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Black Sheep

Every family has at least one member for whom conformity to the perceived norm is simply too much of a stretch. In our case, there was one quite memorable black sheep: my Uncle Clay.

Clay Wells was a Navy man who married my great Aunt Mary and thereby became part of our family. There's no denying that Clay marched to the beat of a different drummer, yet he was an upright, honorable man with a dry sense of humor and a passion for good living. But from the beginning, it wasn't all peaches and cream for Clay and our family.

According to Grandma Estelle, our family historian, her younger sister Mary had fallen in love with a man sometime during the late 1920's or 1930's, and they became engaged to be married. No one was really clear about exactly what happened, but shortly before the wedding was to take place, Mary's fiance committed suicide. Mary, gentle and kind to a fault, was devastated. Our family was close and offered constant support, and eventually, Mary's spirits were lifted. A few years later, she met a young man named Clay Wells, and they married.

Estelle's accounts of Mary and Clay's early years together made me realize that from the beginning, Clay was something of an outcast. In good Southern tradition, there was never anything said directly to either of them in that regard, but there were stories. One of my favorites involves an incident that occurred some time during the 1940's. 

At the time, Uncle Clay was selling automobiles at a large dealership on Union Avenue in Memphis. Union Avenue was, and remains, a major thoroughfare in the city. There are few times when the road is not busy with crosstown traffic. As the story goes, my grandfather Leslie, Estelle's husband, purchased a car from Clay one day, and everything was going well until he headed out onto Union Avenue on his way home. Before he had gone even a mile, smoke appeared from under the hood, followed by flames -- the car's engine was on fire. Leslie, furious by this time, had the car towed back to the dealership and gave Clay a piece of his mind. From that day forward, my grandfather was convinced that his brother-in-law had intentionally sold him a bum car.

Eventually, Mary and Clay settled into a comfortable life in Memphis. They became successful real estate agents and owned a beautiful home on North Trezevant Street in Memphis, only steps away from Overton Park, the city's lush in-town greenspace. In the early 1960's, we would visit with them often. Oddly enough, my kindergarten teacher and her husband lived next door, so on occasion, we would drop in there as well. Mary and Clay loved fishing and often would travel to Florida to pursue their hobby, always bringing back fresh catfish, which would be served with fried chicken and hush puppies at one of our favorite regular family gatherings, the back yard fish fry.

Fish fries were absolutely delightful, and once we had our fill of fish, we would retire to the living room, where one family member after another would tell stories. Clay was an excellent storyteller who just happened to possess a rather far-reaching knowledge of serious literature. Often, when just he and I were talking after a big dinner, Clay would ask if I had read books by authors whose names I was beginning to hear in junior high school, people like John Steinbeck and James Conrad. I found that I was beginning to develop a strong interest in literature, so I relished the opportunity to talk about it, and Clay always seemed to offer yet another author or book to explore.

Despite his somewhat intellectual bent, there's no escaping the fact that Clay, like all of us, had his unusual habits, and one of them I found especially entertaining. Back in the day, due to less than perfect preventive dental care, many people were fitted with dentures as they approached their later years. Clay was no exception, but his dentures did not fit well enough for him to make it through a meal without incident, so he generally opted to remove them prior to eating. The result of this was that he often mixed up the contents of his plate into a singular mushy entity, which he would consume while the rest of us methodically ate our easily identifiable meal elements. Behind his back, Grandma Estelle would say, "Honey, I just hate what Clay does with his food." But being good and proper Southerners, we never said anything directly to him; instead, we simply looked on in befuddled amusement.

The flaming car incident remained a stumbling block in the relationship between Uncle Clay and Grandpa Leslie. One weekend in the late 1960's, I was staying with my grandparents. By this time, Leslie had suffered two severe strokes and was confined to a wheelchair, where he would consume six-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola and Pall Mall cigarettes nonstop as he sat by the front window of their North Hollywood Street home. Early one afternoon, Mary and Clay pulled up in the driveway, and Leslie said to Estelle, "Maw...get my gun." At that point, it was clear to me that the feud would never end until either Leslie or Clay had passed from this earth.

Despite the fact that people always saw Clay as something of an oddball, he and Mary appeared to have lived full and happy lives. From my youthful perspective, I appreciated his eccentricity, and I think that Clay was good for us -- he brought to our family a wonderful sense of humor and tons of delectable fried catfish. Intentionally or otherwise, he provided a bit of comic relief during the turbulent days of the 1960's. I miss him, and I never see a Steinbeck book without thinking of him.

Oh, and just for the record, I have a cousin who sells cars. Several years ago, we bought one from him. It has never, ever caught fire.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I've Got My Hands Full Over Here

The cleaning people were coming to our house this morning, so I started collecting items to take with me to the coffee shop where I'm now sitting. On cleaning days, I head to the shop at around 8:00 AM and remain there until around 10:00, when the cleaning is usually completed. About an hour ago, I packed my laptop and all its accessories and then started gathering everything else: walking shoes, socks, my wallet, a pair of regular glasses, a pair of computer glasses, and a pair of sunglasses. It was about then that I realized I needed to grab my flexible nylon duffel bag, the one that I got for free at my last job, for overflow. There was simply no way everything would fit into the laptop bag. Such situations are not unusual.

About twenty or so years ago, the item known as the "man purse" came into vogue. To me, it seemed like a logical thing: a tiny backpack-like invention that could be strapped over your shoulder. I bought one and used it almost every day to go back and forth to work. Mine had compartments for phones, pens, an ID card, as well as a stretchy piece of webbing on the outside that would allow you to pack a water bottle. It was made of black leather and hung comfortably over my shoulder. During the period I carried it, both the Palm Pilot and iPod were invented, and it was great for toting those around. But eventually, the cultural male gender assertion began to take hold, and the "man purse" became a thing which was no longer cool to carry. I shook my head and acquiesced, because when you're a guy, that's what you do.

Let's take a look at the obvious here. Men's pants are made with functional pockets, but for ladies, this is not always the case. Women's jeans, for example, are made with shallow pockets that are marginally functional, unless you're carrying nothing larger than a package of chewing gum. Women often end up carrying their phones in their back jeans pockets, a practice which carries its own risks, especially considering that Apple now thinks nothing of charging over a thousand dollars for an iPhone. But women also have the option of carrying a handbag (it's not a "purse", as they used to tell us when I worked at Macy's). The handbag is a completely practical, useful item. Men are not culturally permitted to carry anything resembling one, because that would not be man-like. And therein lies the problem.

If you can't carry a handbag, where do you put the stuff that you have to carry around with you? Why, in your pockets, of course. That works up to a point, but unless you are wearing cargo pants or shorts, you're going to run out of room in short order, and guess what? Men are often chastised for wearing cargo pants. I beseech you, therefore, what are we males supposed to do?

Well, I can think of only one logical answer. All that stuff you're carrying, guys? Find a way to put it on your smartphone. For credit cards, boarding passes, reward cards, and the like, you can use Wallet on your iPhone or iPad (wait, you don't have room for an iPad). You can take pictures of things that you'd like to be carrying around but don't have room for and store them in your phone's photo album -- that way, you can look at them and think about what you would do with them if you could hold them in your hand. Need a tape measure? There's an app for that. Your keys? Well, you're on your own there, and by the way, key fobs are getting bigger and bigger.

To me, it's just so obvious that guys need another way to carry stuff, one that doesn't come with any gender-based stigma against its use. How many times have you guys, fortunate enough to have a female significant other, had her tell you, "I'll put that in my bag" while you're struggling to find available pocket space? That's crazy, because if you think about it, she already has her own stuff to carry. The difference being that her gender, savvy about such things, sees no issues with carrying a handbag; designers offer bags in a plethora of styles and colors to complement almost any wardrobe. They are practical, everyday fashion accessories. Now, that rocks. The fact that males have no equivalent is just, in a word, dumb.

It's high time that we disposed of the notion of judging that a guy is less "masculine" because he needs to carry some kind of bag. If we don't do something soon, we males will be carrying our entire lives on a smartphone, which of course will make Apple, Samsung, and others even happier than they already are. Let's put our minds to a solution -- we're the same species that once sent people to the moon. But come to think of it, I don't think astronauts even had pockets. I rest my case.