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Quiet Isn't Peaceful
June 03, 2008

I had phone call yesterday. The topic isn't memorable. My thoughts are somewhat more so. It was another one of those calls where the caller identified himself and then began to speak. I listened.

After five or six seconds he asked if I was still on the line.

This has been happening to me more and more. Is the quality of our phones so bad now and callers so frequently cut off that they routinely interrupt to inquire if I am still there?

I get the joke of the cellphone commercials, "Can you here me now?" But I thought we had finally cleared the hurdle of going in and out of dead zones in recent years.

Another part of me wondered if we have become so unused to silence that when it occurs, it is startling and unexpected.

People run around with their iPods and give their whole life a sound track like a TV show. There is no background music on my phone when I am on the line. If I am asked to listen, I do and it is absolutely quiet.

So are all these inquiries as to whether I am still there the result of erratic technology or the startling and apparently unexpected absence of sound as I listen?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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