Musings

Every time I call a phone and get voice mail these days, I find myself suspicious of how long it takes to get to the beep. How long have we had voice mail? Or even answering machines? Does anyone not know how to leave a message? So why the long list of instructions?

One theory of mine involves minutes. Mobile phone minutes. Since all wireless phone companies round up, if they can get you to stay on the line for just over a minute, they can charge you for two. In other words, if the voice mail message is simply, “leave a message after the beep,” you can say, “Hey Jo, it’s Billy, give me a call back.” Under a minute easy.

However, if after, “Hi it’s Jo, leave a message after the beep,” that your friend recorded, in addition you get, “to leave a message, press one now, or wait for the tone. To leave a call back number, press two now. (Pause) At the tone, please record your voice message. When you are finished, hang up or press one for more options,” you have easily spilled past the one minute mark regardless if your message is simply, “It’s Billy. Call me back.”

How many of us bother to press one now at the first prompt? No, we wait until the entire pitch is finished. And we use two minutes to say five words. If you’re a phone company you’ve just doubled your money without lifting a finger. Ka-ching.

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I saw the Kooza edition of Cirque du Soleil last night. I took my friend Ali who had never seen Cirque before. It was fun. She actually didn’t know where we were going. It was a surprise. We were at a lovely dinner at Carnivale beforehand when a friend of mine and her daughter passed by our table to say hello. She told me they were going to see Tom Petty at the United Center. So after dinner when Ali and I jumped in a taxi and I said, “The United Center,” she looked at me with a somewhat puzzled, “We’re going to… Tom Petty?” she haltingly said.

When I said no, she put it together. Cirque du Soleil had set up their tents in the parking lot of the United Center. “No way!” she exclaimed. Very funny. Quite a people watching coup with the Cirque crowd heading to the same place as the Petty crowd.

It was, as always an amazing performance. Cirque du Soleil really know how to put on an incredible show in that big top of theirs. Beautiful sets, insanely talented artists and great music all combine to take you to another world. I’m still shaking my head at what we saw.

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For the past year I’ve been listening to the debate on immigration ratcheted up to a hysterical pitch. The loudest protests seem to come from lower populated areas where fear of immigrants is probably stronger than actual experience with them. Talk of disease and crime. Sounds to me a lot like arguments against Europeans immigrating to the US a hundred years ago. English, Polish, Irish, Italian… we’re all immigrants.

I went back even further and did a Google search on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. See if any of this sounds familiar. Just substitute Mexican for Chinese and you’ll see how foolish the current arguments are for building a 700 mile, $49 billion wall along the 2 thousand miles of Mexican border.

Beginning with the most menial avocations they gradually invaded our industry they gradually invaded one industry after another until they not merely took the places of our girls as domestics and cooks, the laundry of our poorer white women, but the places of the men and boys, as boot and shoemakers, cigarmakers, bagmakers, miners, farm laborers, brickmakers, tailors, slippermakers, etc.

In the ladies’ furnishing line they have absolute control, displacing hundreds of our girls, who would otherwise find profitable employment. Whatever business or trade they enter is doomed for the white laborer, as competition is surely impossible. Not that the Chinese would not rather work for high wages than low, but in order to gain control he will work so cheaply as to bar all efforts of his competitor. But not only has the workingman gained this bitter experience, but the manufacturers and merchants have equally been the sufferers.

The Chinese laborer will work cheaper for a Chinese employer than he will for a white man, as has been invariably proven, and, as a rule, he boards with his Chinese employer. The Chinese merchant or manufacturer will undersell his white confrere, and if uninterrupted will finally gain possession of the entire field. Such is the history of the race wherever they have come in contact with other peoples. None can understand their silent and irresistible flow, and their millions already populate and command labor and the trade of the islands and nations of the Pacific. . . .

Raise your hand if you think Chinese immigrants destroyed America. Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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$5.00 for a gallon of gas by August? It could happen. Admittedly, since I use my feet and my bicycle to get to where I’m going most of the time, it doesn’t affect me much, but that’s why I live where I live. It was a choice.

So I experienced a bit of schadenfreude after reading how the big three US automakers in Detroit are losing money because they can’t move their giant SUVs off their lots. Did we learn nothing from the gas crisis of the 70s? Even at $5.00 a gallon of gas, Americans pay a lot less than our European counterparts who learned long ago that smaller cars are smarter.

So here we go again. Big American cars aren’t selling as there becomes a waiting list for more fuel efficient Japanese cars. Hello 1975.

I know the arguments. Smaller cars are more dangerous when they get hit by big SUVs. Well, not if we’re all driving smaller cars. It’s time to stop driving selfish.

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And since you’ve read this far, a bit of eye candy for your effort. This is from a recent shoot with a new model called Karolina.

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