Renewal Notice

July, 1999



Greetings to all you demographics!

     I feel slighted. Last week, Wendy (my wife) was invited to take part in a marketing study, where she earned $50.00 for just giving her opinions about certain products. Nobody asks me to do marketing surveys anymore. Nowadays, on those rare occasions when I visit the shopping mall, when the survey takers see me coming they tend to hide behind the nearest potted plant or cheap jewelry kiosk. I must be blacklisted by the pollsters. Was it something I said? 
      I like taking survey polls. I used to work for a large Japanese corporation that gave out marketing surveys to all their American employees once a month. It got to be a lot of fun filling them out, especially the essay questions. They would ask questions like: What small appliances make the most noise in your kitchen? Simple answer: Coffee pot, microwave oven, drill press, electric mixer & stone crusher. Which small appliance do you use most often to prepare meals? Answer: the telephone. ( I was single back then.) What tool do you use most often when making home repairs? Answer: First aid kit. At the bottom of the survey form there would be the inevitable final query. "Please list any product ideas that you think our company could market in this country." I had to think here. I put my mind to work on new products that could sweep the world markets. I could only come up with two: an air conditioner that you could operate from a TV remote, ( they came out with that product the following year ) and radio-controlled luggage. ( I am still waiting for that one, I think it would be great to be able to drive your suitcases around the airport terminal, instead of lugging them. Besides that, it would be fun for the air traffic controllers and the airport security people to have all those radio signals bouncing around the terminals.) It seems obvious that the consumer electronic manufacturers don't share my visions for the future. 
       There are plenty of new products that our society could use: Bullet-proof shoes, ( for people who keep shooting themselves in the foot - especially politicians.) a robot coffee mug that fills itself and returns to your desk, or a child's high chair with a built-in vacuum cleaner-( to clean up the area after the food spills.) I'd go out and buy a hand-held lie detector, but it would probably overheat and explode during the next election year. I don't need caller I.D., but I'd definitely have a use for caller I.Q. ( I don't care who calls me, I'd just like to know their intelligence level before I pick up the phone. It's just a guess, but I would imagine that the I.Q. of a telemarketer might rank dramatically lower than that of a doctor or lawyer. Then again, maybe not.)  

     By the way, I have discovered the secret of how to deal with telemarketers. Ask them about their product using questions like: Is this indoor or outdoor aluminum siding? Do you sell bullet-proof replacement windows? I heard that your credit card contains asbestos. It this true? Two or three "questions" like these will put the unsuspecting would-be salesperson into a hopeless tail spin. But the best ploy for short-circuiting the long-distance phone company solicitors has to be done with a serious tone. When this dinner assassin launches into your phone service, interrupt the schpeel by saying, "Thank you, but I'm not interested. I don't have a phone." This stops them dead in their tracks. I could do ten minutes onstage about the reactions I've gotten to this one. But I digress. 
      The point is that we Americans are inundated with polls. Exit polls, opinion polls, reaction polls, market surveys, Internet surveys, telephone and mail surveys, "instant" polls and on and on..... Well--- in spite on my opinions on polls and invasion of privacy---every year I do a survey of my own, polling you, the reader of this newsletter. I could ask you some political question like- "If the Presidential election were to be held tomorrow, would you go outside and turn handsprings tonight?" Or a physiological question- "Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?" ( they might do that after an evening spent listening to Ted Koppel and Barbara Walters interview each other.) A financial question would be nice- " In the event that part or all of the projected federal budget surplus actually exists - should it used as prize money on 'Wheel of Fortune?' " But instead I have opted for the same question I have asked for the last five years----- 


I ask this question every year not due to the fact that I have an ego the size of a water buffalo, but because people move and change their E-mail addresses, and this letter can bounce around the web trying to find them at places that no longer exist. I don't always get a notification of a changed (or deleted) address. This is the only way I can make sure that I am not littering on the information superhighway. Also, there is another reason for this question, a reason that I don't like to think about. Perhaps you no longer want to receive my Digression Digest, the Read and Delete Newsletter. (gasp!) 

The way to renew is simple. The way to cancel is easier still. If you want to renew, just send me a reply to this letter. That's all. That way I know you still exist, and that you want the newsletter. You can include a note if you want, or just a blank reply. If you want to cancel, don't reply to this letter. (Ignore me and I'll go away.) Every address that I don't hear back from gets dropped from the list. All of them. It doesn't matter what continent you are on, or how often you correspond with me otherwise. You could be a member of the U.N., or work in the media, politics, the mission field, or live in a vacuum. It doesn't matter if I see you at the car wash every third Tuesday, or if we both were speakers at the Macon County Testosterone Festival last year. I have to hear from you, or you will be dropped next month. (I hate having to weed out the garden like this, but every year I need to do it, as a matter of responsible use of bandwidth. Besides that, I have definite views on "spam e-mail" and I won't be a hypocrite about it.)

Sorry to end on a serious note, folks. I'll make up for it next month, when the topic will be-- The HMO Victim's Survival Guide, or how to get a doctor out of (your) pocket. It's going to be good.

Gotta go, I need to check my e-mail. 


P.S. Don't include a copy of this message with your reply. I've already read it.