TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Study: Consumers Oppose Cell Phones in Flight

Re: Study: Consumers Oppose Cell Phones in Flight

Paul Coxwell (
Wed, 13 Apr 2005 16:09:54 +0100

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I _used to_ find flying sort of
> enjoyable. Back in the 1960's I flew on various occassions to New York
> City for weekends (leave ORD on Friday night, return on Sunday
> afternoon or evening. To me, it was a lot of fun to be at 20-30
> thousand feet, staring out the window at night in black nothingness,
> with a scotch and soda, and listening on the in-flight sound system to
> {.......}

> I don't think it is nearly as nice these days, with people being
> herded like cattle through checkpoints; having your stuff dumped out
> all over a conveyor belt to be searched, etc. And I think the
> stewardesses are sort of rude now, aren't they? PAT]


I haven't flown for several years, but I always enjoyed the actual
flight. One little story which being ex-Chicago you might appreciate
happened about 1993 when I had to change planes at O'Hare Airport.

We'd had a very good flight from London, no hitches at all, and landed
at O'Hare right on time. Then we sat waiting for the retractible
walkway to be extended. After about 15 minutes the captain made an
announcement that they were having technical problems and the city
engineer had been called. There were audible groans from around the
cabin, and a fellow passenger in the next seat said something like
"That'll fix it, we'll be here for hours."

Turns out he he could actually see his house from the runway and was
all too familiar with the problems in the city engineer's dept. I
don't know if you might have some tales of the Chicago City
Engineering, but I gather from your previous posts that Chicago
government doesn't always run smoothly.

I think it took nearly an hour in the end. Why they couldn't have
wheeled up some steps and let everybody just walk down onto the
asphalt and into the terminal building, I don't know.

- Paul.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I do not think they were allowed to do
that (wheel up some stairs) because of the labor union to which they
belong. I know that if you go to any convention or trade show at
McCormick Place, you are _not_ allowed to carry in any tools to
possibly be used to set up your exhibit. For example, a light bulb,
an electrical extension cord, a connecting cord for a printer or
monitor, etc. All that stuff is verbotin. You have to put in a work
order (and Lord only knows when it will be done) to get those things
attached in your exhibition booth. If they catch you with a light bulb
or a multiple outlet cord, etc, the union workers take it away from
you. Regards the City Engineering Department, like everything else in
Chicago, it is so full of corruption. The Great Flood, back in about
1991 is a good example: Do you recall when one of the several
underground tunnels (one of them which crosses under the Chicago
River) sprang a leak? A city inspector, whose job it is (or was, he
got fired afterward, then rehired when he appealed to the union) to
walk through the tunnels frequently looking for water leakage, etc
at the various points where the tunnels cross under the river, noted
strenuously in a written report that someone had bored a hole in the
tunnel wall, and a _small_ drip at that point was leaking, and it
needed to be patched up _immediatly, ASAP_. His report was totally
ignored; in fact he was humiliated when the 'authorities' (his
supervisors, etc) questioned his credentials to know anything about
anything. That's how they do things in Chicago; they never act on
advice from experts, they always make the expert out to be a damn
fool with an axe of some kind to grind instead. Anyway, three or four
days later the tiny leak in the wall had turned into a major flood as
the Chicago River started draining itself and much of Lake Michigan
into the tunnel system and the basements and sub-basements of every
single downtown building. (The old tunnel system years ago had been
used to carry coal around to the furnaces in the buildings, etc, and
carry garbage out; a tiny, narrow guage old fashioned railroad going
past every older building downtown had a sub-basement entrance to the
tunnel system for that reason.)

At street level you could see nothing, of course, but all those
buildings had much water (eight to ten feet high) in their basements
and many of them had underground, sealed electrical transformer units
supplying electric to themselves and other nearby buildings. It took
the city several days to find out _exactly where_ the leak was coming
from (all they knew for sure was all the underground tunnels [which
are _not_ open to the public at all] were eight to ten feet under
rushing water going into basements everywhere), meanwhile the water
kept rushing in. Every building downtown had to be evacuated, even
City Hall; all the stores had to close to protect their customers and
employees. Phone service all over downtown was disrupted for three
days; most electrical service was out; the banks and financial places
all had to evacuate all their workers, their attornies, etc. City Hall
completely lost their phone service for a few hours until they were
able to set up an emergency outpost for the fire department
dispatchers and other 'essential' workers (such as the centrex operators)
a block down the street at the Chicago Temple Building.

Finally, the _source_ of the 'leak' was discovered by a reporter for
the Chicago Tribune who was crossing the river on the Clark Street
bridge. He noticed something he thought 'very odd'; at one point below
in the water, there was a 'whirlpool' effect, much like a bathtub
would empty into a drain. He notified the City Engineering Department;
after they, and Mayor Daley had properly abused and vilified him, like
they do anyone who knows nothing about anything, they went to look for
themselves. Their maps showed them there was a branch on the old tunnel
system there, and an underwater diver confirmed that was the spot
where the river and the lake were emptying out into the basements and
sub-basements of downtown Chicago. With several tons of concrete
powder mix poured over the Clark Street bridge into the water below at
the point where the 'whirlpool' was seen, they managed to block the
leak, or at least slow it down considerably, so that underwater divers
could go through the tunnel to that spot and do the job right. Mayor
Daley went on television later that Sunday about noon to announce to
everyone 'we found the leak, and have stopped the flood.'

For the next few days, everywhere downtown was an uproar, as the
office workers came back from their unexpected week long holiday. Any
place you walked on the sidewalk you had to navigate these huge hoses
snaking out of office buildings attached to very noisy gasoline driven
pumps sitting on the sidewalks disgorging their filthy river/lake
water into street sewers. The office buildings were able to get maybe
one or two out of their bank of elevators running; all the downtown
restaurants had to stay closed for a couple of days until the Board of
Health could inspect their utensils, drinking water, etc. The subway
trains were only partially operating; over all it was a terrible
mess. Mayor Daley promptly fired the Engineering Department employee
he said had 'caused the problem' and a few maintainence people he said
were 'lazy' and 'corrupt' and had ignored the Engineering Department

All the fired city workers appealed and got their jobs back except the
one who it was alleged had bored the hole in the tunnel wall that got
the whole mess started and he got his job back a few years later when
the city was unable to prove who did what, despite a one year-long
inquiry by the city council which found several individuals in
contempt of city council for refusing to testify as to who did what,
etc. Eventually they all became friends once again; that's how it goes
in Chicago. PAT]

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