Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"whom calling" & Other Ancedotes, Amusing Or Not, From A Football Taxi Weekend

Rah rah rah! the home teams winning, the 5th ranked UW Huskies beating the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday night; with the Seahawks proving on Sunday to be the tougher bird, beating those Eagles from Philly, PA by a 26 to 15 score.  65,000 and 69,000 fans respectively meant that local cabbies too were true winners, the Husky game providing me with a $26.00 Kirkland fare which soon connected to a bunch of crazy kids going from Bellevue to Sea-Tac fare and netting $71.90.  That next afternoon the Seahawk halftime giving me a forty dollar fare to Shoreline; and in the game's declining minutes a ten dollar fare taking me to the Waterfront Marriott where I found a pleasant couple bound for Sea-Tac and another $50.40! Yea team, and teams!  "If taxi ain't about money, it ain't about nuthin!'" quips the homespun taxi philosopher.

Anecdotal Taxi

----whom calling

Calling the fare waiting at the Northgate and Roosevelt Arco I received a text back "whom calling," prompting "the cab" in response; and at the station discovering this most original character, CJ, who was  University District-bound to meet up with the he-is-going-to pay-boyfriend-taking-her-to-a-casino. Suddenly CJ decided that cash wasn't good enough for the $12.00 fare so instead I would be receiving 2 Starbuck gift cards, a $100.00 off a $160.00 bottle of wine card, and a Fred Myers gift card worth, according to CJ, $24.50.  Whether any of these cards are truly redeemable is truly an unknown, a question I will eventually answer.

Once she departed the cab I called and had her telephone number blocked, not overly pleased to be showered with questionable gift cards (the Starbuck cards date from 2015).  Coincidentally I  again encountered said CJ later that night at the same Arco and this time taking her 8 blocks north to her apartment building, netting some earphones for my short effort.  CJ might be a thief or something else questionable but having encountered for a second time around, I decided I liked her, CJ so pleasantly out-of-her-mind she is, CJ falling into the" I-give-completely-up" category. What do you do when you can't do nothing about something whatsoever?  Smile is my suggestion.  CJ is a complete "trip!" sweet and doing it in style like a very fashionable crocodile.

----lots of scallops

Sometimes it does seem "instant karma" is real because, when just minutes after this drunk young man went nuts, threatening me with "all kinds of awful things" when my meter receipt printer jammed, I found this scallop fisherman at the train station needing to go to up north to Mount Vernon.  Requesting a discount, we negotiated the estimated $170.00 fare into $120.00 and a 4-pound box of flash-frozen Bering Sea scallops worth more or less eighty dollars.  The sailor was a non-stop talker, unfortunately telling me he had two un-cashed $10,000 checks in his wallet with an even bigger one coming, making me regret the discount but hey, tonight I am making this great cognac and scallop recipe, so who's complaining, I am not complaining. Instead of bitching I will be very happily eating.

----number 38 out of 991

Amazingly I finally won a lottery, and good one at that, having the luck of being number 38 out of 55 new City of Seattle medallion (cab license) recipients.  There is a vetting process but passing that I will be transferring my new number to my current car.  I believe the yearly license fee is or was $600.00 so it means a huge personal savings, saving me over $4000.00 annually.  That it doesn't make any sense adding more cars to a completely saturated market is nothing I can do anything about--- typical, too typical of Seattle's taxi policies, nonsensical the operational word.  Before the Uber onslaught, the medallions were worth $250.000.  Now?  Maybe ten to twenty thousand.

----3 big stories brewing

One---WA State is trying to destroy Tacoma Yellow Cab

Two---The Port of Seattle is requiring much more from for-hire vehicles and taxis while potentially letting TNC companies operate illegally

Three---King County is using dismissed tickets (and the un-reporting of moving violations) as the pretext to deny for-hire license renewal.  There is much more to this, and more than one side of the story so expect a comprehensive examination soon.

taxi doggerel 

whom calling

who could it be

why it is a crazy


getting in my taxi

playing me for a


but I don't care

I operate for free

and for a million stolen gift cards more

I swear

I will take you


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Poltical Essay---The New But Jammed In Reverse America: A Quick Analysis Of Where We Are Going And Why

Personally, the news regarding the 2016 Presidential election has been deflating which is why I am in part deviating from my usual subject matter, all things taxi, and making a short analysis confronting the whys and wherefores of the surprising GOP victory, something I thought not possible simply due to American demographics. Boy was I ever wrong!

Demographics, defining the human population comprising a given neighborhood, city, county etc, is something I always preach about to fellow cabbies concerning the business logic facing us when deciding where and why to work particular neighborhoods and areas of the city and county.  Thinking I was some kind of "big shot" I applied a similar methodology to this year's election cycle.

Well, this swelled head has certainly been punctured, which has prompted me to figure out just how I got it wrong.  Being a cabby I meet "everyday America" daily, and because I am truly trying paying attention I erroneously thought I had my proverbial finger on the nation's pulse, somehow mistakenly thinking I am some 21st Century American version of the 19th Century Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville.  Call this essay then a small self-redemption.  I am unhappy having proved myself to be an idiot.  Maybe, like our country itself, I can turn defeat in something positive.  Damn I certainly hope so.

One local post-election positive for us Americans either visiting or residing in Mexico is how the Mexican peso has responded to the Trump victory, and that is to lose further value against American currency, more or less now averaging twenty pesos to the dollar.  Twice in two days we bought 4 tamale for 36 peso, or 9 peso each, translating to just under two US dollars.  Two to three tamale make a meal so this small example illustrates current US dollar buying power.  Local bus rides are the equivalent to 25 cents.  The bus ride to the La Gruta Hot Springs spa is about 75 cents.  In comparison my bus ride last Monday from Tacoma to Sea-Tac International Airport was $3.75.  Off-peak hours one-zone bus fare in Seattle is $2.50, peak hour being $2.75.

So if you are ready to escape post-election rhetoric and visit Mexico, this couldn't be a better time. I would not be surprised if the peso weakens even further in the upcoming months, politics in the USA potentially more unpredictable.  If nothing else, you will escape the usual shrill media onslaught.  One advantage I find by not speaking Spanish is not understanding conversation around me, which I feel is a blessing.  Too many times in the cab I have just wanted the fools to just shut up but there they rattle on---unintentionally sharing disjointed conversation and ideas I never, ever wanted to hear.  Here in San Miguel I usually don't understand more than a few words randomly spoken.  Hallelujah! the conversational God having set me free!

                                                 The only news I know
                                                 Is bulletins all day
                                                 From Immortality.

                                                                            ---Emily Dickinson

                                               "But my people!  We in this room---
                                               we Negros---have another mission that
                                               is for ourselves alone.  Within us there is
                                               a strong purpose, and if we fail in this
                                               purpose we will be forever lost.  Let us
                                               see, then, what is the nature of this special
                                               mission."-----the character, Dr. Copeland,
                                              speaking to an assembled Christmas party

                                              ---from "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"  by
                                              Carson McCullers

                                             The New But Jammed In Reverse America

During the 1948 US Presidential cycle, a breakaway group of Southern Democrats led by US South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond (1902-2013), formed what they called the States' Rights Party, known more popularly as the "Dixecrats."  Thurmond and his followers were similarly fundamental to the Republican Donald Trump constituency in that they objected to "Establishment politicians" who, in their view, had shifted from representing their true values and interests, thus no longer worthy of their support.

Reading the "Dixiecrats" party platform is illuminating, promulgating a racism shocking in its clarity, declaring racial segregation to be fundamental, and that totalitarianism (meaning the Truman administration) was intent on violating their constitutional rights, preventing them from keeping the races (blacks and whites) separate. In short, they were mad as hell that their country was becoming more progressive (or liberal) than tolerable, drawing a line in the political sand.  That they failed didn't mean they hadn't tried, collecting 39 electoral votes, and carrying four states and part of Tennessee, with Thurmond remaining a political irritant until his death at age 101, a remarkable if not always rational politician.

Returning back to November 2016 I see parallels to1948 and a still disgruntled America, with a large part of the voting electorate yelling long and loud their unhappiness through their incredibly flawed candidate, Donald Trump. Despite still facing serious criminal indictment, nearly 60 million voters screamed that Trump is their hero, their new symbolic figure and version of a political manifest destiny taking them to America's rightful place, domestically and otherwise, where high paying manufacturing job suddenly appear out of thin air and all the bad people (illegal immigrants, Muslims, welfare recipients) poisoning American prosperity and virtue quickly and rapidly disappear, creating a national purity unknown since 1776.

This they shout is their God-given right as true and faithful Americans, knowing better than any other citizens in American history how to correct a troubled and insulted nation.  But unlike 1948, these new rebels of 2016 actually succeeded with gaining power after chanting we shall return America to when it  was great--- Trump-ites, in their victorious frenzy, linking cultural equality and scientific-based reason and rationality to moral treason, something not unlike like the "Dixecrats" claim of totalitarian threats, a disease to be snuffed out and permanently extinguished. And by a plurality of electoral college votes, they have received a measure of validation the "Dixecrats" knew wasn't possible, Trump voters feeling that it is now their time to take control.

While personally abhorring readily assigned labels, I still understand that definitions can lead to helpful comprehension, explaining why I now offer two terms that, I don't believe, have been previously utilized, tossing the usual political monikers left and right, progressive and conservative into the cultural trash bin; suggesting instead that "stationary" and "mobile" fill-in as able replacements,hopefully providing some helpful insight to what people are saying and doing minus self-serving rhetoric and justification. Yes, new appellations countering old and unhelpful nonsense that only obstruct, but never assisting reason and commonsense..

Imagine, if you would, a stationary political approach as a pond or lake; and then view a mobile political stance as a stream or river eventually flowing down to sea or ocean. Obviously real lakes and rivers are extant ecosystems, substantial and sustaining in their own right, each containing inherent positive qualities promoting life and existence. Ponds and lakes, while often having watery outlets, clearly offering permanency of home and stability; with brooks, steams, creeks and rivers offering the fluidity of constant movement, sparkling oxygen entering the air---each aqueous entity holding embraceable validity.

                                          "I chatter, chatter, as I flow
                                               To join the brimming river
                                           For men may come and men may go
                                               But I go on forever."

                                   ---taken from "The Brook," by Alfred Tennyson

Stationary and mobile, taking the idea further, transitions into personal and cultural philosophy ultimately progressing into standardized and established beliefs, resulting even further into recognizable religious and political systems now embraced by the tens of millions, formulating societal dictates and governmental policies affecting us all, both in our native countries and nations beyond drawn borders.  Whether liking this or not, it is reality.

Again, this social phenomena I am calling mobile and stationary is then greatly consequential, sometimes benign, other times not, translating into laws and rules telling us what we do, should do, and what we definitely cannot do. Often these rules and laws are reasonable and just, but again, often they are not, either tainted by delusion or prejudice. When this happens, when the stationary becomes dictatorial, we are then literally held "stationary" or hostage by these same stationary beliefs.

Historically this has not turned out at all well, aggressive "stationary" nations like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the 1930s & 40s causing immeasurable death and destruction. And it was during this stationary period, that the Papal State, Vatican City, came into being, when in February 1929, the Italian Fascist Mussolini and Pope Pius XI sighed the Lateran Treaty, thus providing Roman Catholicism with an irrevocable  religious and political legitimacy, its diplomatic and liturgical agenda an ever expanding universe, an theological empire spreading a tenacious, doctrinal net over an ever compliant human communion.

And again, it is not to say that all stationary tendencies are all bad because they are not, but, with the election of Donald Trump as president of a country like the United States, a well-known functional and dynamic democracy, we are already beginning to see a damming of those egalitarian rivers, impeding an unfettered flow down to the rational sea, altering a democratic torrent into a sealed and obedient reservoir.  This kind of event occurs when self-preservation becomes individually tantamount, something heard repeatedly with the chants of, "Make America Great Again" when clearly that is already what America is---the biggest economic, military and cultural powerhouse the world has ever witnessed.. One might find it difficult to believe but America is more influential than the three millennium-long Ancient Egyptian Dynasty or the Roman or Inca or Mayan empires ever could be---American tentacles gripping every country and land.

But for many of America's modern voting electorate, it just isn't enough, they must have it all---all the jobs, all the natural resources, everything the world has, it must be theirs---a berserk Monroe doctrine controlling and owning not the only Western Hemisphere but planet earth itself along with the moon, and that soon to be new American territory, planet Mars. Being devotees of "Star Trek" and Star Wars," they know our known planetary system is just the beginning, the American majority longing to conquer all existent galaxies no matter how many light years away.  And what exactly is a light year?  Well, these stationary Americans don't know and don't care, devouring everything in their path, growing ever fatter and obscenely obese, eyes bulging out of bulbous, misshaped Patriotic heads, panting for new conquests hiding just beyond the next shining star.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Greetings For The Third Time From San Miguel: For The Very First Time, Uber & Lyft Overtake Nationwide Taxi Industry For Business Travel Expenses

Again I am back in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the second time this year and third visit overall. Though very tired on this election day, I am glad to be here.  Yes I voted, having mailed in my ballot two weeks ago.  Yesterday my entire journey, including the shuttle ride from the Leon airport to San Miguel, took over 13 hours.

And getting a long ride early Sunday morning set me up for 4 hours sleep that day and 3 hours of nap time Monday before entering the friendly skies---a gentleman from the Northgate Transit Center needing to make it home to Mount Vernon, Washington, essentially 62 miles north of Seattle.  Taxi never changes, always unpredictable, one never truly knowing where that next passenger is going, which is why I always advise to answer that call and find out; like entering a lottery, you might end up with an unexpected smile.

Uber & Lyft Winning

A news item in yesterday's 11/07/2016 USA edition really grabbed my attention, stating that for a recent three-month period ending September, a study conducted by Certify, a travel expense software company, utilizing  more than 10 million ground transportation receipts, found that Uber and Lyft accounted for 52 percent of them.  The article, reported by Nancy Trejos, also provides quotes from business travelers expressing frustration with overall taxi service regardless of the city or airport.  While Uber in particular has recently gotten some bad press, their business model is expanding while taxi's is shrinking.  The reasons are many but one example occurring Friday morning is telling.

Driving up on Capital Hill I saw a pedestrian approach a Yellow Cab, talk into the window and watch the cab fly away.  I pulled up and found out what happened: the customer (African-American and two friends) having requested a ride to the corner of Rainier South and South Orcas in the Columbia City neighborhood. I of course told them to "just jump in" and got the $29.00 instead.  Why the East African cabbie blew them off is something I can only guess but it is well known in Seattle Cab-land that many but not all East African Immigrant cabbies discriminate against American-born blacks.  I am also guessing that it is the same Uber and Lyft driver population that is refusing to pick up American black customers. American-born black passengers still repeatedly tell me they continue to struggle to get a cab, even expressing surprise that I stopped for them.  It is a bad story.   

And all you Seattle cabbies out there sitting wondering why you can't make any money should ask your friends just what are they doing and why they are doing it?  It is a sad tale.  And as the USA reporter made clear, we are getting are butts kicked, there is no doubt about it.

Dying Cabbie Still Requiring Monetary Assistance

Robert Stansell, the Seattle cabbie, has seen his physical situation worsen and is now hospitalized for perhaps the final time. I am told he has two weeks to live.  Expensive pain medication is now required and Rob has no means to pay for it so once again friends and supporters are asking for help.  Most probably don't know that Rob returned to driving cab for about 3 weeks in a desperate attempt to pay his bills.  How fun is that, mere weeks from death but feeling the pressure to make a living?  God help Rob and us all!

Again, his GoFundMe account is

If you have the time, Rob is at University Washington Medical Center, 4NE, Room 4262. Go to the information desk in the lobby and they will be able to direct you.

Postscript Times Two

---Rob Stansell has been released from the hospital and been allowed to return to his apartment.  His situation is dire. It is estimated he has two weeks of life left.  Again, any and all help is appreciated.

---My favored candidate for the 7th US Congressional District, Brady Walkinshaw, lost to Pramila Jayapal.  I only mention this because the media is touting her as the first Indian-American voted to Congress but the problem is, no one says whether she is from India, which she is, or of Native American Tribal descent?   You might term it the revenge of Christopher Columbus and his discovery not of America but of a shortcut to India, or at least he thought, hence his calling the first people he met Indians.

 More correctly, Jayapal is an East Indian-American or South Asian-American, given that in the USA, the term Indian is more normally referred to Native American or First Nation tribal members.  If you dispute that, then who were the Chicago Cubs playing in the recent MLB World Series?  I rest my case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Oh No! Uber, Uber, Uber Everywhere! (& Lyft Too)

Like Seattle's record 2016 October (nearly 10 inches) rainfall, Uber saturation is flooding the airwaves and physical space, reminding, if anyone needed reminding, that Uber must be, should be, and seemingly is, according to Uber, both your first transportation and now, employment choice. Tune into the radio MLB World Series coverage, and every commercial break you will hear that Uber is your ultimate "side-hustle" as they are calling it, saying even at this very moment you could be in your car both listening to the Cubs and Indians battle it out and making money, suggesting you are otherwise wasting your time.

 In a recent "The Nation" magazine there was a featured article describing Uber's efforts in promoting American school teachers as the new, ideal Uber driver, making up for income the otherwise deserving teachers are not getting.  What the article didn't say is why America's teaching core (and anyone else, for that matter) are suddenly qualified to be quasi-cabbies, inserted in a work environment where, world-wide, one million-three hundred people (1.3) are dying annually along with fifty million injured (recent WHO statistics), a work environment where approximately forty thousand Americans are included in those dire numbers..  No, nothing entertaining about these grim details---only economic gain for tow trucks, auto-body repair shops and undertakers.

Did you know a car accident occurs in America every 7 seconds?  Just for fun, look at your watch and time how long it takes you to read today's entry, then divide 7 into how many seconds and suddenly then you will understand why it just might not be a good idea to insert hundreds of thousands of amateurs into a professional working environment.  Is anyone saying that is how the teaching profession should be treated, when, just knowing how to sign your name qualifies you to teach English or Biology or American History?

And of course no one would refer to educating America's children as some kind of "side-hustle," equating teachers to  "pool sharks" hustling fools at the local billiards hall but imitating cabbies, that's perfectly okay.  I know Sarah Palin would agree with that kind of assessment, adding water and mixing allowing anyone to do and be anything, even to be president of the USA. Why not, guys and gals, why not?

Other newsworthy Uber happenings are again everywhere upon local and national and international media lips. Recently one Uber driver stabbed another Uber driver in the stomach with a big kitchen knife while both were waiting in the Sea-Tac holding lot.  Another is that both Uber and Lyft are suing the City of Seattle because they are being asked to provide the same kinds of data routinely provided by taxi associations:

---annual number of rides
---where rides begin and end
---percentage of rides originating in given zip codes
---how rides are requested
---crime reports concerning drivers and customers

Uber and Lyft claim this kind of commonplace information are "trade secrets."  A court judgment in forthcoming November 15th, 2016.

Another less than complimentary Uber & Lyft news item made the front page of today's Seattle Times and also sent to me yesterday online by the NY Times, that black (African-American) riders in both Seattle and Boston have been found to have longer wait times than white (European-American) customers.

This from a joint study published Monday by researchers connected with MIT, University of Washington (here in Seattle) and Stanford University.  The Seattle Times article (reprinted from Bloomberg News & written by Eric Newcomer) states that Lyft drivers hold the ability to cancel their call requests undetected; with the study also finding that women passengers were more likely than men to being literally taken "for a ride," just because they are female, perhaps calling it another kind of "side-hustle," women riders taken that extra mile whether requested or not.  I am guessing this "service" was provided by male but not female Uber and Lyft drivers.

Yes, yes, Uber and Lyft are everywhere, in our wallets, in our hair but taking women for an extra tour around the block, how can that be fair?  To find out the answer, you might want to call your local city and county and airport regulator and administrator.  Maybe they can tell you what you need to know but I wouldn't count on it, money, it might be said, obscuring their usually normal cognitive functioning. Yes they have a brain but since you don't represent Uber or Lyft will their response to you be the same?

Or to finish a bad rhyme, will they just be simply lame!

Postscript Nov 2nd

While Uber is certainly scary, even more frightening are the results of a poll reported in the current issue of "The Week" which said, while 32 % were concerned about global climate change, an even larger percentage, about 47 % of Americans were concerned about clowns and their potential mayhem.  All I can say, you better watch out because a clown is going to sneak into your home, turning on the bathtub faucet and flood the place, just like it is happening to some Pacific island nations in the southern Pacific Ocean.  Beware, those evil clowns are gonna get you!