Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 11, 2002 Herald
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Automated politicians making phone calls


Somehow, somewhere, a highly paid political advertising executive stood up and shouted "Wait! I have the BEST IDEA EVER!"

"Why don't we:

· continue making our annoying political telemarketing phone calls, but instead of using a real person, substitute an automated voice system.

· call the same household over and over, in the hopes of irritating them endlessly."

"That's a great idea!" shouted the other political campaigners. "We should have done this years ago!"

Yes, the brightest bulbs in the political campaigns thought it would be grand to bug us in our homes with the added twist of using computerized voices.

So, right before the election, our house received a flood of phone calls from political hopefuls (some automated and some not; although the automated ones particularly bugged me).

The first automated one happened when I came home from church, just after I took my coat off.

"Please hold for an important message from Norm Coleman . . ." said a female-like computer voice.

Amazed, I immediately hung up.

Someone has to be a little daffy to think I have enough time to sit through an automated message that interrupted me at home.

But hanging up on the automated female-like voice didn't work.

Over the weekend, the phone rang again. And again. And again.

My husband came home from work and the phone rang.

"Oh," I told him casually. "That's Norm." He looked at me with a baffled look on this face because the only "Norm" we "know" is Norm Coleman.

I answered the phone ­ and this is the truth ­ it was someone calling on behalf of Norm Coleman!

"See!" I said. "I told you it was Norm!" Even the female Coleman campaigner on the other end of the phone laughed.

I handed the phone to my husband, who hung it up.

Mental note: call the "no call" list and get our phone number on that list. The "no call" list is kind of helpful, but doesn't eliminate all of the calls.

Those interested being included on the list may dial 800-921-4110, or go online at the Minnesota Department of Commerce web site at www.commerce.state.mn.us.

Unfortunately, this will not end political solicitations either because it is one of many exceptions politicians gave themselves before they passed the "no call" list.

Perhaps we should call our legislators (no pun intended) and give them an automated message asking them to remove ALL the exceptions to our "no call" list (no meaning no, right?!)

I am sure they have more time than we do to sit and listen to automated messages.

And in the next election season, I can look forward to being dragged away from whatever unimportant thing I was doing at home to be bugged by some automated political person again.

I will hang up, of course.

A 'Barbie' that I can understand . . .

Finally a Barbie doll I can relate to. At long last, here are some new Barbie dolls to coincide with her (and our) aging gracefully. These are a bit more realistic. . .

1. Bifocals Barbie. Comes with her own set of blended-lens fashion frames in six wild colors (half-frames too!), neck chain, and large-print editions of Vogue and Martha Stewart Living.

2. Hot flash Barbie. Press Barbie's bellybutton and watch her face turn beet red while tiny drops of perspiration appear on her forehead. Comes with handheld fan and tiny tissues.

3. Facial hair Barbie. As Barbie's hormone levels shift, see her whiskers grow. Available with teensy tweezers and magnifying mirror.

4. Flabby arms Barbie. Hide Barbie's droopy triceps with these new, roomier-sleeved gowns.

5. Bunion Barbie. Years of disco dancing in stiletto heels have definitely taken its toll on Barbie's dainty arched feet. Soothe her sores with the pumice stone and plasters, then slip on soft terry mules.

6. No-more-wrinkles Barbie. Erase those pesky crow's feet and lip lines with a tube of Skin Sparkle-Spackle, from Barbie's own line of exclusive age-blasting cosmetics.

7. Soccer mom Barbie. All that experience as a cheerleader is really paying off as Barbie dusts off her old high school megaphone to root for Babs and Ken, Jr. Comes with minivan in robin-egg blue or white and cooler filled with donut holes and fruit punch.

8. Mid-life crisis Barbie. It's time to ditch Ken.

Barbie needs a change, and Alonzo (her personal trainer) is just what the doctor ordered, along with Prozac. They're hopping in her new red Miata and heading for the Napa Valley to open a B&B.

9. Divorced Barbie. Sells for $199.99. Comes with Ken's house, Ken's car, and Ken's boat.

10. Recovery Barbie. Too many parties have finally caught up with the ultimate party girl. Now she does 12 Steps instead of dance steps. Clean and sober, she's going to meetings religiously.

11. Post-menopausal Barbie. This Barbie wets herself when she sneezes, forgets where she puts things, and cries a lot.

She is sick and tired of Ken sitting on the couch watching the tube, clicking through the channels. Comes with Depends and Kleenex.

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