Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A General Message

In the taxi new computer generated world, a general message is something that comes across my MDT (taxi computer screen) a few times daily, reminding that the roads are wet and other sometimes less vital information. Consider this then one of those general messages whose mission is to inform and remind.  Coming from me of course it will be slightly more detailed or, depending on your perspective, long-winded.  This message is about the dispatching experience from the driver's perspective.  A policy review meeting is scheduled on somewhat appropriately Pearl Harbor Day.  But instead of bombs away I am hoping for friendly and insightful discussion concerning daily taxi operations.  The overall goal is efficiency on all levels.  If there ever was a symbiotic endeavor it is taxi, especially when it involves over 550 taxis and nearly 1500 drivers. It is essential then that we are all  on the same, as much as conceivably possible, taxi page that is both legible and coherent. It might be fun to think about a chaotic and crazy taxi world but it is far less entertaining when bedlam is your working environment. One problem is that everyone has become inured to the madness, accepting dysfunction as normal and some might say necessary.  But clearly there must be alternatives to inefficiency.  The term deficit implies that there is a void waiting to be correctly filled.  It is then all about measurements, not all that different from following a recipe.  A pinch of this and a dash of that is sometimes all it takes to create a successful dish. Taxi ultimately is an easily put together recipe, requiring few ingredients beyond common sense and a very light touch. What follows can be taken as guidelines to a rational cuisine.  Everyone knows the discomfit indigestion gives.  Taxi dining should be pleasant minus of course the glass of vintage wine.  There will always be time later for the relaxing coffee and dessert, and if so inclined, the hand-rolled Dominican cigar.

The following is a quick inventory of fares that I have had over a seven day period beginning Monday November 19th and ending Sunday November 25th.  What you find here are a handful of representative examples backing my contention that an examination of the kind scheduled for December is both necessary and helpful toward reaching a comprehensive overall efficiency. Remedy, my friends, is what is required here, not rancor or acrimony or denial.

 At one in the morning I get a bell, a time call in zone 165 (top of Queen Anne Hill) due at 1:15 AM.  I am literally at the address in two minutes.  I end up waiting the full time or even sightly past when a young woman requests to go down the hill to 1st West & W. Mercer which is roughly a $6.00 fare.  When I asked her why did she make her fare a time call she responded, "What is a time-call?"  What happened is simple. When she called dispatch she said she needed the car in 30 minutes. You should understand that she, along with 95 percent of our customer base understand next to nothing about taxi in general and Yellow Cab in particular.  An experienced customer would have understood that one, Yellow is the largest taxi company in the region, and two, at one o'clock Monday morning your taxi would arrive instantaneously because the fleet would just be sitting around doing nothing, just like I was, bored, bored, bored. What an experienced call-taker would have done (especially during the voice-generated era) was say "call back when you are ready.  We have a hundred cars at the moment doing nothing whatsoever."  Instead the inexperienced call-taker made the INDEPENDENT decision to make it into a time-call, that is, minus a direct request from the passenger. A better approach in these circumstances is to tell the person to call back when they are ready.  The young woman, embarrassed, apologized for holding me up "for fourteen minutes" and gave me a good tip.  After that I gassed up 478 and was done for the weekend, always pleased to end my taxi day!

The next three examples occurred Thanksgiving Day, three honorary turkeys reserved for that special day.  All three originated in zone 152, which is a sub-zone presenting that very busy University Hospital & Medical Center.  They all held in common lead times of fifteen minutes which is about the time it takes to make it to Sea-Tac if you hustle. My average arrival time was two minutes.

The first bloated bird was a time-call originating from one of the wards.  They have this trick of calling in advance for patients while they are in the process of being discharged and collecting their final prescriptions. Anyone with a quarter if not half a brain knows that those combined tasks often hold lengthy delays.  And sure enough fifteen minutes evaporated and still no sign of my passenger.  Twenty minutes elapsed before there they were apologizing because of some pharmaceutical snafu.  "What time-call? " they said.  "We didn't know it was a time-call?"  The mother and daughter combo went to 12th NE & NE 43rd for five dollars, giving me ten for my troubles as the "Orange driver in the morning nearly killed us!"  and I was "so nice!"   I told them that he was angry, that's all, expecting something a bit longer at five in the morning.

2:30 PM rolled around and I was getting hungry, prepared to join my taxi comrades at our annually sponsored Pilgrim feast.  I get a HopeLink time call worth over $30.00 going to West Seattle and near the restaurant. O My Lucky Day! but not quite as the passenger never showed up even though I had him paged.  Another twenty-five minutes down the taxi drain.  These kind of incidents are similar to the numerous trees falling hourly in your local forest, there being no witnesses to these lonely deaths.  As I always say, welcome to taxi!

After my most amazing meal I am again in the University District (zone 150) and get yet another HopeLink time-call at the hospital.  Another 30 dollar plus fare but again I never find the customer, a repetition of the earlier call.  Shall we do the math?  20 plus 25 plus 25 minutes adds up to 70 minutes divided by an actual gross of ten dollars. I did end up making some money that day but I certainly would have liked that extra 65 or so dollars in my pocket.  I did everything by the book, just the way it is demanded currently by dispatch and what happened?  We know what happened.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and the dispatcher is pleading for a taxi account customer (probably HopeLink) in zone 470 which is the City of Auburn located about 25 miles southeast of Seattle.  Desperate, the dispatcher was promising that whoever picked up the fare could have first-up anywhere they wanted in greater Yellow Taxi-land.  I kept wondering where she got the permission to begin giving illicit gifts?  Perhaps she got the holidays confused and though it was Christmas.

Finally, finally I got a time-call to the airport (eighteen minute lead time, I arrived in six) in zone 500 (greater White Center & Arbor Heights), with the passengers coming out 2 minutes past the appointment giving me twenty minutes of wait time.  Coming back from that trip I got yet another airport time-call, this time in zone 452 (greater Skyway).  The address was located off of S. Norfork & MLK Jr South at the 9800 thousand block of 40th South.  The location was an industrial belt I was unfamiliar with, which is saying a lot.  Though enjoying the unusual locale I disliked the no-show. No one answered the telephone and it just appeared to be a badly botched call.  The dispatcher commented that the earlier shift doesn't know how to take time-calls.  That appears to be true.

Later that day I got a call in zone 150 sending me to 808 NE 53rd Street.  Wrong as I called the passenger and instead it was 808 NE 63rd and a "Zip-Car" parking space.

And lastly for your pleasure it is now 11 something Sunday night and I notice two fares sitting in zone 265 (deep West Seattle) and no-takers.  I head that way and, lo and behold, my favorite kind of unexpected fare, a late night bell to the airport.  It was a time-call for 11:30 and I wasn't close.  Still I arrived only 6 minutes late proving the point that a time-call guarantees you nothing whatsoever.  So much for the wisdom of time-calls, just another version of taxi potluck. The passenger, a gentleman named Peter, was both smart and gracious.  Having once worked for a courier company, he knew all about dispatching.  He made two telling comments.  One that he had difficult hearing the call-taker and two, he could hear someone guiding the young lady through the process of taking the call.  When a cab didn't arrive precisely at the appointed time he became alarmed that something had gone wrong.  I did get him to Sea-Tac in plenty of time so in this case, as is often said, no real harm, no foul except maybe one that gobbles occasionally.

And there you have it, hopefully speaking (or gobbling) for itself.  There is a reason this is called real Seattle taxi.  It is the true taxi experience in all of its tainted glory. Hopefully we will be able to come up with some effective and lasting solutions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Good Food The Best Incentive

Food is the taxi fuel propelling me down the road.  Food, good and delicious food is key to maintained cheerfulness which is a taxi essential.  And what day is more synonymous in America to flavorful cooking than Thanksgiving, that day of culinary excess, breaking the belt and initiating early naps upon the appropriately overstuffed sofa.  Again the Yellow Taxi sponsored Thanksgiving was delicious, three versions of chicken praising that noble fowl, the traditional turkey no where to be seen or tasted.  Thursday's theme appeared to be Mexican leaving me pining for Iranian oriented meals of Thanksgivings past organized by a major BYG owner from Persia.  Those dinners were simply outstanding, grilled meats and gravies ladled over potatoes and vegetables.  But no complaining, blackened chicken its own November Mardi Gras celebration.

Perhaps even more than the food, it is always a special occasion sharing tables with fellow taxi wolves solitary in our daily prowling, all of us enjoying the rarity of complete and utter comprehension, something normally absent from our usual day.  I suppose it is similar to a pack patiently sharing a downed elk.  And there were even countless pecan pies, a dessert not found in mountain and forest.

Afterwards, sated and somnolent I could barely drive but a subsequent $95.00 hour awakened the taxi beast, whetting the appetite for more, the taxi canine ravenous and forever focused upon the hunt. Though hoping this is my last taxi Thanksgiving I will attempt to remember the best and file away the worst, savoring slices of pie served
after the burnt offerings, sweet after the sour never concerned with the sometimes darkened hour.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How It All Returns to Itself

Rereading my last entry it is obvious internally I am the same, meaning my attitude toward taxi remains what appears permanent, I don't like it and I want out.  Of course there were many details from from the weekend which might be considered both interesting and entertaining but twice having three "no-shows" in a row diminishes enthusiasm. At least during my second hour Saturday morning the no-shows were followed by an eighty dollar hour, this weekend the true epitome of the taxi roller coaster.  Further souring my attitude is my now $240.00 weekend single shift lease, up from the previous $200.00.  Given the linkage to Labor & Industry coverage and the transfer of state sales taxi liability to the driver it was expected but still the twenty percent increase was a shock.  The financial changes are tied to the clear economic reality that costs keep increasing in the United States minus real wage improvement across the cultural board.  The  expanding inflationary universe gobbles up gains leaving the unprotected with empty pockets and punctured dreams.  Once taxi was a secret safe haven allowing the lucky individual to rake in a relative treasure completely unobserved.  Those days are long gone as prying eyes peer into our world, extending eager fingers into our wallets.  The operational costs are eating everyone equally, both owners and lease drivers prominently listed upon the menu of the day, dead trout upon a chilled platter awaiting the sizzling grill.  Personally the monetary incentives remain but as I have stated I am both disinterested and bored, bored, bored. Working ever harder for the same dollars seems stupid.  How can I look into the mirror and pretend I have accomplished something?  Self-delusion is a fatal illusion leading to a final imprisonment solitary and suffocating.  Even if that cell is a Ford Crown Victoria, it is becoming impossible to justify the time and commitment to an imaginary mobility, sitting locked in stasis while traveling at 65 miles per hour through incessant rain.  My brother Steve says it is all a plot he calls "Universal Anarchy", a malevolent power ruling and influencing all of our lives.  He just might be correct.  Rarely does he mention benevolent gods bestowing blessings upon the earthly populace.  I can certainly understand why!  Punitive reality is never mentioned during the typical primary school hour.  ABC, what do I read and see?  And just what will I grow up to, and can I, be? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Scared Myself

There is a song dating from about 1971 or so by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, "I Scared Myself" and indeed I did while searching for a particularly elusive email pertaining to the release of the "for-hire" vehicle licenses.  My search took me all the way back to August 2007 which is where the trail ended.  What frightened me were the literally hundreds of emails that I have either received or sent concerning all these issues regarding the Seattle & King County taxi industry.  I believe I am underestimating as  the real figure is probably over one thousand and perhaps far more than that.  What I was viewing was my life devoted (or wasted) upon something that remains static, immovable.  It certainly spooks me when four years ago I was stating that trust was at a premium, tiring of all of the suspicion and paranoia. It scares me that I have inserted myself into a quagmire and there is my head disappearing beneath the quicksand.  It is apparent that many in this business do not see how dysfunctional they are.  That is all scary too.  Instead of Thanksgiving it is perpetual Halloween.  All this firms my resolve to quit in the ten months or so I have left upon the taxi commission.  Being a martyr is reserved for the saintly.  Since so many regard me as a taxi Satan I should descend to my dark dominion  and roast marshmallows over the burning coals of Hades.  It is definitely chilly up here on the surface, battling ever persistent innuendo and rumor.  I should even send myself an email reminding that madness is truly optional. There are alternatives, like eating burritos in San Francisco's Mission District.  Or wandering around the Berkeley Botanical Gardens with "she-who-can't be-named."  Yes, speaking of Hell, the Hell with it, and be done, be done with it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Wednesday After (Definitely Not The Morning)

After writing my analysis of a troublesome issue I thought it would generate an immediate response.  That is what I get for thinking because I know the taxi world all too well.  Jumping up and down and shouting and yelling is great exercise but when it comes down to serious discussion most are not interested.  There unfortunately remains a huge gap between the first emotional response and  necessary effective action.  Quite often that second phrase never occurs, or in the case of the Sea-Tac drivers, they let someone else do it for them.  For me this explains the lack of response from the "for-hire vehicle" industry for essentially the majority of them are all former taxi drivers.  They too wait for others to do the hard work for them.  They hired a lobbyist who is still in the learning phrase about both industries. And now it seems they are waiting for December and the City Council to make everything better.  As I told their lobbyist in an email today, depending upon bureaucrats to solve your issues is like expecting "an arsonist to help you put out the fire."  To me it is an extremely naive approach.  And a very dependent position to be in.  The very folks who refuse to be led are instead led "by the nose."  It is this now inherent industry contradiction that makes every issue so distorted and confusing.  There is this wonderful  word with an Australian origin, corroboree meaning a large and noisy crowd.  That certainly describes us as a group.  Warlike can also be part of the definition. That I hope is not true.  I certainly know that cabbies are not particularly trusting.  Many appear to feel that I am not genuine which is unfortunate. Authority figures they understand and embrace but validating one of their own kin is another story.  A very sad story.

Following up some thoughts from yesterday, I find the City's treatment of the "for-hire" industry abhorrent, punitive and unfair.  Even though I am appalled every time I see a "for-hire" car illegally picking up, sometimes taking the very passenger that is rightfully mine, I have come to the conclusion that the blame lies solely with the very poorly considered decision to release these licenses in the first place. It was ill-conceived and everyone else must both pay the cost and spend the time cleaning up the mess. Yes I want a solution and hope for a quick and lasting one.  But being realistic and knowing all of the parties involved all I want to do is leave Seattle permanently and forget all about it. Must be my prime unconscious reason for buying all those lotto tickets.  I never win but I pray for release from this bedlam, this asylum,this madhouse.  Amazingly I am suddenly religious.  Now that indeed is a miracle.

I can not close without mentioning one delightful but slightly irritating fare from this past weekend.  An older woman (early 80s) stepped out of Vera's Restaurant in Ballard and wanted to go sixty miles south down the road to our capital city of Olympia.  Her response to how was she going to pay the nearly 200 dollars was display invisible money.  When I told her there was nothing in her coin purse she snapped that I needed glasses. Yes I do agree that indeed special glasses are required to see what isn't there.  I loved her smile, simply given minus guile.  As I like to say, rhyme reduces the crime. I can only hope that she safely arrived where ever she might have been heading. Another gentle soul lost upon the streets and earth.  I see too many is all I can say.  Such again is taxi as I know it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Analysis Of A Situation: Taxis & The For-Hire Vehicles

Frankly I have been avoiding writing about the problematic situation involving the for-hire cars because at this point I would rather discuss anything but taxi and its related issues though given the nature of this blog it is clear a rational discussion must commence.  A decision Friday by the Seattle City Council to finance new Office of Consumer Affairs inspectors from general funds instead of raising fees says to me that I must insert myself into the ongoing dialogue before it is too late to add leavening to an already incendiary issue.  Though certainly not displeased that I and everyone else won't be paying $250.00 (up from $45.00 in 1987) to simply renew our for-hire driver licenses I am very concerned that a cash depleted City of Seattle is only forestalling the inevitable.  This most recent development occurred Friday when I was in San Francisco "avoiding" my taxi responsibilities though I did spend two hours on the telephone listening in on the commission meeting.  Effective lobbying by the Teamsters and the driver bloc servicing Sea-Tac Airport convinced the council that a new direction was necessary.  All this maneuvering appears to sidestep the compelling issue at hand, and that is just what should the taxi industry response be to the newly created "for-hire vehicle" industry?  Should they be embraced as equals, only another version of taxi?  Or instead, as many favor, harassed out of existence?  I believe we are reaching a juncture, a collision of two opposing forces.  The preference must be for a just and peaceful and equitable solution if one is possible.  Given the chaos created by the City of Seattle nothing short of a lawsuit directed at the City could be required though I for one am not recommending it. At least the Seattle City Council recognizes that a problem requiring remedy exists.  That is a small beginning to a long journey.

A short history of this saga is as follows, at least as much as I know of the narrative. If I am missing something, please tell me.  I will always admit that despite my 25 year long immersion in this taxi madness, I remain upon the periphery.  I don't see that changing.

It must have been about four years ago during a City Council hearing that both expanded taxi licenses and these odd animals called "for-hire" licenses were discussed, revealing that 200 or so of these never before known or used licenses were available for anyone interested.  In the ensuing proceedings it became clear that though a theoretic number of taxi licenses might one day be released, many in the audience were launched into action by these ersatz "taxi" licenses.  For many it seemed to be a legitimate option when none other existed.  Official encouragement only further enhanced interest.  Perhaps this was all about dissuading interest in real and actual taxi licenses as the City & County continued (and the practise remains) to issue for-hire driving licenses to individuals who hold no realistic possibility of ever owning a taxi.  Issuing the for-hire vehicle licenses instead answered a pent up demand for the genuine article, allowing the City & County to sidestep the issue. 

Thus began what we now see today, a new industry of 250 plus for-hire cars with no practicable business model mimicking the existent parallel taxi industry.  As Kipling said upon a different subject, East is East and West is West and Never Shall the Twain Meet.  NYC knows this story well, with the recent conflicts concerning the livery (car service) taxis. Unfortunately the release of these new licenses did little to satisfy those committed to them, suddenly evident that these new entities were a mirage, more confined to the active imagination than palpable reality.  After their initial investments these new business owners were shocked to discover that they had been conned into buying something that didn't quite exist, that without years of product investment there was scant opportunity to succeed.  Fees generated by these new licenses benefit and continue to increase City & County coffers which might have been the true incentive of this "shell game" from its very inception. With new mandates stating that the licensing agencies be self-supporting, this monetary incentive fueled the continuation of something benefiting the few while beleaguering the majority.  Similar to my reaction to much of the new art work at the San Francisco Modern Art Museum, it is not a pretty picture, abstraction taken to absurdity, making unsubstantiated claims to the naive.  As I have found all too frequently, the bureaucratic mind is not interested in accuracy, just what is waiting around the next taxation corner.

Meanwhile the new for-hire licensees suffered, not knowing what to do.  Though their response was neither legal nor appropriate, their desperation took over, prompting a decision that has brought us to the current conflict.  Designing their cars to mimic taxis they took to the city streets disregarding restrictions regarding the picking up of passengers directly minus prearranged appointments.  This decision originated from at least two logical percepts.  One, given that King County had no restrictions regarding street pick ups, the activity could be transferred to Seattle itself.  And the other was that the largest taxi market in the county, New York City, was planning, with the blessing of Mayor Bloomberg, to open the outer boroughs to the livery cars, giving them the unprecedented permission to directly pick up from the streets. Potentially the thought and hope locally was that if it was good enough for NYC, why can't it also occur in Seattle?   That the NYC plan remains on hold says much about local ambition.  Its implementation here then grows less likely.  And irritation and resentment from the taxi industry continues to build.  Other than shouting what can be done to sooth tempers and introduce civility and commonsense into the discussion?  My first suggestion is a truce agreed to under these potential conditions.

 Most truces mandate a return to original borders, in this case translating into a cessation of picking up upon the streets within Seattle's city limits. Though stopping this activity places a burden upon the for-hire operators, I suggest the City of Seattle responds in turn by immediately suspending all City of Seattle re-licensing fees related to their industry.  This would take some of the initial financial pressure off of the operators and transfer it to the party who caused this mess, the City of Seattle. I would also like the City of Seattle to reconsider their policy of fining the for-hire drivers.  A suspension of licenses might be a more effective response, eliminating the more egregious offenders.  As I see it, it is long past time that the City of Seattle takes clear and ultimate responsibility for the situation that they alone created and perhaps might even want  to apologize to everyone concerned.  Along with that gesture, the City of Seattle should then consider its next step.  One important question that must be answered is whether the for-hire vehicle concept is a viable business model.  That has never heretofore been addressed.  If the conclusion is that it isn't, then what direction should the City of Seattle take to satisfy the folks who have invested sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in Seattle's version of waterfront property located clearly in the middle of a miasmic swamp?  There are all those potential taxi licenses theoretically sitting there.  Could they be part of the final equation?

But if the City of Seattle decides that they are viable, then part of the solution could be broad financial assistance providing the guidance necessary to create a business model based upon the original premise, of a service that is dispatched or appointment-based.  It is also clear that like the local taxi industry, the for-hire business owners must be required to join an association eliminating the one car companies, understanding that the single operator is an erroneous and ultimately unsuccessful business model.  My premise is that if the for-hire industry is to flourish and grow, the City of Seattle can not keep treating it like an orphan child or even worse an odd version of indentured servant and begin providing real assistance and direction.  Much of what I am suggesting would ultimately be far cheaper than a class-action law suit from either industry.  In other words, real answers for real problems need to be found.  In "wishy-washy" Seattle that may be difficult to comprehend but the usual turning round and round in circles can not be condoned or seen as acceptable.  Again, acrimony serves little purpose, with nothing gained.  Dialogue and understanding will take all involved to where we need to go, and that is to a yet unknown resolution.  I invite all interested parties to join the conversation.  War only creates ruin.  Let us all instead search for peaceful resolution.  I don't see any other option.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eighty Degrees In San Franciso

Greetings again from San Francisco, having left the deluge that has been Seattle to instead bask in the unseasonal Bay area beaming sunshine that is a joy to behold let alone stroll in.  "She-who-can't-be-named" is off to the "Tenderloin" for ping-pong lessons so I am sitting in a flat located at Church & 28th instead of my usual Kuan Yin seat in the Wallingford.  Climbing up the steps at the 24th & Mission Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station and ascending into the din that is the Mission District it is clear that there is more than just a difference of temperature between the two cities.  San Francisco is a resurrected Lazarus and Seattle is the prone unresponsive corpse.  When passengers tell me that Seattle reminds them of this city I know that their judgement upon anything is suspect.  Hills do not the city make, simplistic comparisons being just that, doing an injustice to both burgs.

As I keep telling anyone who bothers to listen, I prefer either a "real" city (San Francisco, Paris, Chicago, NYC) or nothing at all (eastern Washington, Baker County, Montana, Death Valley, southeastern Utah).  Seattle back in 1973 definitely held some "down & dirty" urban qualities. Now we have the newly created South Lake Union neighborhood containing "Tom Douglas" restaurants and upper-class new kind of superior trash.  Give me burrito joints and rubbish-strewn streets. At least you know somebody lives, loves and dies in San Francisco versus the bloodless crowd insisting proprietorship over everything including the immediate sidewalks supporting their footsteps.  The irony is clear as I know nearly every inch of the Queen now Emerald City.  If I were truly a taxi driver I would move back down here, jump in a hack and finally immerse myself into a local writing environment.  I am tempted even at my nearing fifty-nine years of age.

Tomorrow again will be in the low eighties.  We will be touring the local art museums.  I feel refreshed though having only 2 1/2 hours of real sleep.  I nodded off on the flight down, awakening upon the descent into the Bay area.  Shockingly another jet liner was parallel to us mere seconds from landing.  Always something new and scary on this our shared existence.  If you haven't already, be sure to vote tomorrow.  One to two supreme court appointments hang in the balance.  Life isn't a joke or some comic-book reality like some would like you to believe.  When one or more bozo (clown) says that the consequences of rape are preordained by their GOD you know all of us are in real trouble.  There are many versions of insanity. Driving a taxi, that cultural smorgasbord,  will confirm that for you and that, sisters and brothers and cat and dogs is without a doubt something you can believe in that is undeniably true.  This past weekend the drunk wife had to stop her even more inebriated husband from making a true fool of himself.  Maybe his God (Pan maybe?) was telling him that I was deserving of a fisticuffs redemption.  I guess I could use some sense knocked into me.  Why not?  I'll email Romney and tell him to send his son Tagg over and have him rearrange my nose.  It's too long anyway.  It would be a public service more ways than one, and Tagg can say he did it all for the Son, and simply because Joe Blondo is a bastard and a heretical son-of-a-immoral gun. And I even don't have 47 wives.  For shame, for shame upon me!  Or is it 60?  Where is the woman who wants 40-100 husbands?  What is the name of that Mormon planet?  I do know that there is a place in Mars where the women smoke hand-rolled Cuban cigars and the men drive around in Chinese -made Jeeps, or sorry I meant Fiat cars!  I learned those facts of religious life way back when in Toledo, Ohio, 1959.  It is completely true that my father once worked on the Willys assembly line.  And vow for the fact that he was Hungarian.  My father was a Magyar, not a Han.  But he did introduce me to chow mein when I was ten and I have been using chop sticks ever since.  What would Confucius say to that?  Never mind!