“The Number You Are Calling…” #socs

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

We get very little physical mail anymore. The bills are all either automatically paid or I pay them electronically, and in either case I simply receive an email letting me know either that the bill is due or that I’ve been debited. I do, however, participate in the US Postal Service’s “Informed Daily Digest,” where I get an email with pictures of my mail, so that, in the event something important is coming, I can tell Mary to bring it in, because otherwise she simply trashes it. So I’m working off that.

One of the pieces of mail I received on Thursday (the last day I got a notification) was something from AT&T in Carol Stream, Illinois, meaning it was some kind of a marketing letter. In fact, I can see “Take advantage of this opportunity – CALL TODAY” through the envelope, which is a guarantee that we won’t, whatever it is.

See, you can almost make out what the thing in the envelope says.

We have our cellular service through AT&T and that’s it. I’ve stayed with Comcast for my Internet service, more because I’ve heard lousy things about AT&T’s service, we have no need for a landline, and the last thing we need or want is DirecTV, because even if it’s satellite they’ll give us a couple hundred channels that we aren’t going to watch anyway, so I see no need to spend a lot of money for it. Sometimes they have special offers where you can get a free smartphone for opening a new line, which we won’t do because we already have two. They had a 2-for-1 deal a while back and I thought we could get away with getting the two phones without starting a new line. I called and tried to talk them into it, even suggesting that Verizon would give us two phones to move our service there (which would have been a ginormous pain in the ass), but they just laughed. Not just a chuckle or a chortle, I mean the sort of condescending, derisive laughter you get when you try to hit on a woman with your fly open.

I don’t even know why I even have a phone anymore. The only calls I get anymore are robocalls from what sounds like a 12-year-old girl, who I’ve dubbed Robotween, and phishing calls from people claiming to be from the IRS who I’m sure are closer to Mumbai than to Washington, DC…

Which reminds me of the time I had to call a client, a hospital in the western suburbs of Chicago. Evidently I transposed two digits and got the following message from an answering machine:

This is ________ and I don’t give a s— if you don’t like talking to these machines, I AIN’T HOME! And this AIN’T the f—ing hospital!

One more: my in-laws had a phone number that ended in 6643. There was a carryout place in the neighborhood whose number ended in 0043. People dialing the carryout place would mistake the letter O (which was on the 6) for the number 0, and my in-laws would get calls for the carryout place all the time. One night, after getting about a half-dozen calls for the carryout place, my father-in-law took the guy’s order and told him it would be ready in twenty minutes.

Maybe Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “boo-kay”) should have tried that…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from the Bell System, who wants you to reach out and touch someone!

A Little Bit O’ Soul #socs

I struggled a little with this prompt. Not that I didn’t have any ideas for what to talk about, just that they didn’t fit handily into one or two paragraphs. Then I thought, “when has that ever stopped me before?” So I’m going to break all the rules, as usual. This started as a stream-of-consciousness I had early this morning, so it counts.

First thing I thought of was “‘O Sole Mio,” the Italian classic. When I put it into YouTube’s search engine, this version, by the Italian trio Il Volo, popped up. I liked this one because they looked like three high school stereotypes: the nerd, the fat kid, and the guy all the girls want. Wikipedia says they represented Italy in the 2015 Eurovision song contest, and while they finished in third, they easily won the telephone voting.

Then I got to thinking about The Box Tops, the “blue-eyed soul” group from Memphis. From 1969, “Soul Deep.”

Memphis is the home of Stax Records, one of the big names in soul music. They were the home of Booker T. & The MG’s, Otis Redding, The Staples Singers, and the late, great Isaac Hayes. His 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul included a cover of Bacharach and David’s “Walk On By.”

We tended to group all African American artists into the “soul” category in the ’60’s and ’70’s, which was really a shame, because they did a lot of music that wasn’t necessarily “soul” music. “Walk On By” was done first by Dionne Warwick, Bacharach and David’s “go-to girl,” and The Supremes did a lot of pop standards. Then there was The 5th Dimension, some of whose biggest hits were written by Laura Nyro, such as 1968’s “Stoned Soul Picnic.” It went to #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart.

I love to watch The 5th Dimension, because they look like they’re having so much fun and couldn’t be happier to be standing there singing. Also from ’68, “California Soul,” written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

Good music is good music, no matter who does it or who wrote it.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now, here’s Jonathan Blake for Kent cigarettes, with the Micronite filter. Take the “Kent Carton Test,” and see what a difference Kent can make!

I think he should have mentioned that you don’t have to smoke the whole carton at once…

A Bash In Atlanta #socs

Image by Pexels on Pixabay

One of the highlights of the job I worked at for 20 years, at least when I was still living in Chicago, was the week we spent in Atlanta at the Technical Support Representative meeting. All the TSR’s from the company would get together for a week of meetings where we would learn what the product groups had in store for us and any new technical tricks we’d need to know to get our jobs done. It was also an opportunity for us to see our friends from the other regional offices and from the corporate office and to find out how they were and what they had been up to, usually over adult beverages at a few of Atlanta’s establishments where such beverages were sold. Let’s just say that we’d be in meetings from 8 AM to 6 PM and out carousing around the Buckhead section of Atlanta from 6 PM to roughly 8 AM the next morning. Thursday night was always the big bash at “The Ranch,” a house in Buckhead where several active or former TSR’s lived. It started at around 7 PM and ended when the police came and broke it up.

Looking back on those days, I’m surprised we all lived to tell about it. We only had a couple of casualties: one year, one of the guys was sent home with acute alcohol poisoning; another year, a different guy ended up with stitches as a result of injuries sustained from breaking beer bottles on his forehead.

One year, part of the education we got at the meeting was about the UNIX operating system, specifically the commands that we would need to make the machine work so we could install software on it. We were told that we’d be working within a command shell known as the Bourne shell, usually the default shell because it was the oldest and most stable one. There were other shells, such as the Korn shell and the Z shell, which were variations of the Bourne shell, and the C shell, which was based on the C programming language. It was an interesting day’s worth of learning, after which none of us ever had the opportunity to work with it. Well, as Linux and MacOS X became more of my life, that training came in handy, as both Linux and MacOS were derived from UNIX. They both used another variant of the Bourne shell, the Bourne Again shell, which was abbreviated bash. Interesting how that works…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about new blue Cheer with blue magic whiteners!

“Cele-” Sends Me Wandering #socs

So far I haven’t seen anyone talk about the 1993 book The Celestine Prophecy. I remember it was all the rage in the mid-’90’s, and I picked up a copy on an extended layover at DFW (my flight from ATL was late taking off, because it was Sunday, and my flight from DFW to TUS took off right on time) and read it all in one sitting. It was somewhat interesting, as I recall, but don’t remember anything about it, which should indicate how much of an impact it made on my life. Reading the synopsis on Wikipedia, it looks like an early work in the Dan Brown DaVinci Code genre (well, there is one now) minus the Jesuits.

When I was growing up, my family were all members of St. Ignatius Parish, a Jesuit-operated parish near Loyola University Chicago, and went to the associated school, which in the 1990’s became the Chicago Waldorf Academy. The Waldorfs have since moved into a new place, and as I understand it the Archdiocese of Chicago, who now is the caretaker of the physical plant of the church and school (the Jesuits cut and run a few years ago), is trying to figure out what to do. There have been rumors that the whole shebang might be torn down, which is kind of a shame. I mean, I received all my initiation sacraments (Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation) there, as did my brothers and most of the rest of my family, we all graduated from the school, both my parents were buried from there, at least one cousin was married there. There’s a lot of my family’s history there, and that’s true of a lot of families from that area.

Plus, we had a fallout shelter.

Source: Geraldshields11/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

I never actually saw the fallout shelter; I know it was accessible from the Holy Name Room, where they had all kinds of barrels for potable water, and that it supposedly was huge, extending under the entire city block where the physical plant was situated. I wonder what they’ll end up doing with it?

Civil Defense Water Barrel (source: http://www.civildefensemuseum.com)

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a public service announcement about CONELRAD from the United States Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense.

Monkees and PERT Charts #socs

First, I want to take a moment to note the passing of Peter Tork, a singer, guitarist and bassist for The Monkees, both during the TV series and after. The Monkees were the bane of music critics everywhere, who thought they were merely four guys thrown together to make a TV show. Only in retrospect have the critics decided that hey, they weren’t bad at all. Here’s my favorite Peter Tork song, “Your Auntie Grizelda.”

In college, I took a class in Operations Management (which was my major) where we learned a project management technique called the Critical Path Method. You make a list of all the tasks needed to do a project, decide how long each task will take and the dependencies (which tasks have to be completed before others), and decide the longest path between tasks from one end of the project to the other. This process is generally facilitated by drawing a PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) chart that displays the tasks and their dependencies. It’s also a lot more fun doing it that way.

Wikipedia tells us this is a “PERT network chart for a seven-month project with five milestones (10 through 50) and six activities (A through F).”

You might think I’m going to launch into a discussion of how this works. And you’d be wrong.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you eah week by Linda Hill and this station. Now this word from Old Milwaukee beer. The beer that tastes as great as its name!