And so the conversation went like this:

“Another email address John?”
“Yeah, pretty fancy eh?”
“But what’s this business all about? Did you buy another domain in a half-baked social-manipulation money-making scheme?”
“Well, kind of. I suppose it’s called government. Unfortunately, someone already beat me to the punch and the market is saturated.”
“Is that suppose to be some kind of political statement?”
“Yeah, I suppose.. forget it.”
“Okay.. But seriously, what’s the deal? I call, I write, nothing. What are you up to? I mean it is raining every day after all. You can’t be all that busy with bees and gardening.”
“Well, since it started raining and, you’re right, the bees are tucked away for the winter and the flowers are all soggy, so I’m trying out this new thing.”
“Oh? What’s that? Is it some kind of martial art?” (with skepticism)
“Noo” (understanding the reason behind the skepticism.. after all, I wouldn’t put it past myself to learn to disable a 280 pound man with a shotgun)
“I started working.”
“No! Get out.”
“No I mean.. regularly?”
“Yeah.. well 4 days a week to start, but eight-thirty to five-p.”
“Doing what? Are you pushing?”
“Well, I suppose you could say that.”
“Really? Cause I’ve been looking.. and prices aren’t so good after they found those grows up in the Sierras last week…”
“NO. But kind of.”
“Well, what then?”
“I got a badge though.”
“Ooooh you’re a cop? Do part-time cops get a shotgun?”
“No and I assume so”
“No what?”
“I’m not a part-time cop.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
“Yeah.. only because that means I don’t get a shotgun.”
“I know. Bummer.”
“Serious bummer.”
“What were we talking about?”
“Oh yeah.”
“So here’s the scoop.”
“Give it to me”
“I work on the Nth floor of a building in downtown Oakland, __ Broad__ to be exact.”
“Go on.”
“And I use my badge to get into the office, otherwise Tony has to open the door for me. Nice guy.”
“Sounds like it.”
“Right? I only started showing up last week. This is day five? yeah, day five.”
“Yeah. So I’m working for the, ready for this?”
“Yes. – Well, hold on a sec I’m chewing an apple… makes it harder to hear.”
“Okay, ready.”
“The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) Division of Communicable Diseases Control and Prevention (DCDCP).”
“That’s a solid acronym.”
“You’re telling me, but that’s not all.”
“Nope. Within the ACPHDDCDCP I’m in the Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorisim Unit (EPB)”
“So you’re telling me if I were to write you a postcard it would go to John M___, C/O ACPHDDCDCPEPB, # Broad___, Oakland CA?”
“Uh.. kind of. Don’t forget the Nth floor in there someplace.”
“So, John Mizell, C/O ACPHDDCDCPEPB, Nth floor, # Broad__, Oakland CA?”
“I guess. Though I haven’t really checked that out. So I don’t think I’d waste a stamp on it.”
“Yeah.. cause with twenty-eight cents I could buy some dirt off a third-grader.”
“Exactly. Then plant a tree in that dirt.”
“I don’t think I’d get enough dirt.”
“Well, maybe enough to just wet it’s whistle.”
“Wet it’s whistle for twenty-five seconds?”
“Sure, why not?”
“I’d rather see how far I could huck it off the W-hotel’s balcony in Minneapolis.”
“Yeah. You been?”
“I was just there. Not a bad town.”
“I know, right?”
“Nice sculpture garden.”
“I liked the wind chimes in the trees.”
“Those were cool.”
“So, going to work now. Right on.”
“Yeah, it’s all right. Gotta wake up early.”
“Like ten-thirty?”
“Naw, real person time, seven-fifteen.”
“Such is life. Good news is it’s right next to the BART station.”
“Anyway, that’s why I’ve been slacking on el-communication-es”
“No worries. Once you’re settled into your new routine, you’ll learn to slack and spend eighty-percent of your day emailing friends.”
“Maybe. My current job is to ‘stream-line’ their processes’ so I can’t imagine being inefficient as I’m asking the office to become More efficient.”
“Wait, aren’t you the guy who was pushing hammocks as a way to become more efficient?”
“I see.”
“Hmm… You make a good point.”
“That’s because it is your point.”
“I make a good point.”
“Seriously though, I’ll get you my real address so you can send letters. I work in Bioterrorism after all.”
“Haha.. don’t tempt me.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Send letters to Kira full of sand. She’ll decode the ingredients for you.”
“Sweet. Now That sounds like a challenge.”
“Oh, it is.”
“Anyway, time to get back to it.”
“Do it.”
“Right. Adios.”
“Peace out.”

(Or something like that.)

Telecom John

Without fail, even if your standing on our deck, waving your hand in the air, standing on a box, wearing an tin foil hat, if you’re using your cell phone, your call will be dropped.  It is one of the most frustrating parts of my day.  As I look at one of the country’s largest cities I can’t call Kira to say hello.  And this isn’t a passing thing.  This isn’t a bad day, or a fight with a neighbor that passes as the seasons do and soon I forget and move on.  It’s every time I make a phone call, or find a voice mail waiting for me with no indication of a call.  I’m enraged.

So I get online to think about how I can figure this out.  I look at AT&T’s website and it just ends in terror.  Below is their coverage map.  It’s wrong.  I’m confused.

But then I look closer and I find it is indeed NOT wrong.  My  mistake.  They’ve created a map, of the United States, colored with blue and orange and with roads and cities and you can even find your own street if you wanted to.  And it might be covered in a color.  There is even a key at the bottom, telling you what colors mean.  And then there’s a small ‘learn more’ link that really should be clicked on.

And so as of today I’m selling cell service to anyone who would like it for just $1 a month.  I offer the best coverage and speeds in the nation, better than anyone else AND I’ll even offer an unlimited package for just $2 a month.  See MY map for coverage. Welcome to the new Telecom-John!

I’m Still Looking

I’m searching, but I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for…

A month ago I walked into the Rainbow Sandal Factory in San Clemente, California and felt my heart break and a deep resentment settle into the pit of my stomach.  Rainbow Sandals, forever made in my local burb of San Clemente, had finally completely sold their soul and began producing the bulk of their products abroad.  I couldn’t believe it.  As they moved their products onto boats we found their home grown customer service of friendly, casual, surf-reporting sandal sales people had also been shipped out and replaced with a haughty, arrogant, ill-informed, and generally distasteful bunch of hooligans who cared little for the vitality of life.  I declared I would no longer buy the simple home grown sandal ever again.

As Dan and I cycled through South East China this past August, we saw mills and factories that poured out water in colors you couldn’t imagine possible, we breathed in smoke and fumes from industries that we Americans buy from every day, and we suffered physical injuries from this degree of heavy environmental pollution. While I’ve long believed that a global marketplace is the only viable option to international peace, this imagery and sensation has provoked me to yearn to buy from manufacturers who produce goods which adhere to standards of not only quality, of which we experienced very little while abroad, but also of responsibility.

Buying American is all well and good, but often we find ourselves stuck in some trap of buying only gigantic vehicles or worthlessly regionalized nic-nacks.  Buying Responsibly can perhaps expand your options and massage your soul.  Further, we see tags and stickers on our products that proudly proclaim “Made in the USA.” However, we don’t know how deep that extends, and I would venture that it typically does not include the textile, the plastic, or the components, rather it includes the manufacture of the end product, the assembly, or simply the design. While this is supportive of the American economy and beneficial to many, pushing jobs here and there isn’t the pain that I experienced, it was pushing the pollution, pushing the problem.  I would like to seek out a collection of businesses whom derive all their parts, components, and pieces from places with environmental standards, believing that my dollars go to producers, companies, and firms that use prudence in manufacturing.  This, for me, is best done by evaluating the nations which maintain strict environmental policies and regulatory groups who are competent at reporting and enforcing those standards and policies.   I don’t support endeavors that pour paint down the drain in the US and I don’t support them abroad. I am challenging myself and others to consume little and consume responsibly.

More Information on the Subject:

*I am truly interested in finding outdoor companies who use appropriate materials in their goods and have found few that do.  Brands including Patagonia, Smart Wool, Black Diamond, Marmot, Mountain Hardware, and North Face typically manufacture their products abroad in countries with very loose environmental regulation, unfortunately.  I hope to find some good manufactures (or lists others have compiled) soon and then add them to this very short and incomplete list.

Airline Collusion

It’s not enough that the government’s TSA is a bunch of fear mongering, power hungry, jack-asses, who recently mandated I preregister my name, DOB, and gender with airlines in order to “cooperate with the TSA to introduce Secure Flight, a federally mandated program designed to help enhance the security of domestic and international commercial air travel through the use of improved watch list* matching.”  A benign program that effects my life little, but affects my psyche greatly…

… But once again, the major airlines are coordinating their price increases and policy changes in a manner which is harmful to the consumer. En mass, they’ve added ‘fees’ to high traffic travel days. That, to me, feels a whole lot like collusion.
AP Article
While this isn’t new news per se, it is just one more example of a sick sector of business.  While I can’t support a general socialization of the industry, I can’t believe that these companies are functioning under honest practices and someone should effectively bitch-slap them, be it government or consumer.  I suggest the latter. You don’t need to fly, and it’s just one more reason why I’ll refuse to fly.  Instead get to where you’d like to be comfortably and without hassle, fly Amtrak.