WBEZ | Service http://www.wbez.org/tags/service Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Earth Day event roundup http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/chicago-earth-day-event-roundup-106696 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmmarshall/3455778225/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fotp%20cleanup.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 610px;" title="Friends of the Park members lead a clean-up of Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary on Earth Day in 2010. (Flickr/Marshall Rosenthal)" /></a></div><p>Since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson <a href="http://www.epa.gov/earthday/history.htm">proposed the first Earth Day more than 40 years ago</a>, the day of environmental action has morphed into something quite different &mdash; not unlike the environmental movement itself.</p><p><a href="http://inhabitat.com/top-five-dumbest-greenwashed-earth-day-gimmicks/">Greenwashing</a> is ubiquitous year-round, but it&rsquo;s especially in bloom around April 22. Take the particularly brazen example of <a href="http://fs.ogm.utah.gov/PUB/DOGM/Earth_Day/EarthDayPosterContest-OfficialRules2013.pdf">an Earth Day poster contest in Utah</a> that asked schoolchildren to <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56024796-78/contest-petroleum-poster-oil.html.csp">sing the praises</a> of oil, gas and mining. It&rsquo;s enough to turn some off to the idea entirely, as it has for writer Marc Gunther:</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>So why do I hate <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23EarthDay">#EarthDay</a>? Stupid email pitches, companies patting themselves on the back, sustainability by anecdote.</p>&mdash; Marc Gunther (<a href="http://twitter.com/MarcGunther" target="_blank">@MarcGunther</a>) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarcGunther/status/322014915672043521">April 10, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>With the <a href="http://grist.org/climate-change/2011-12-05-the-brutal-logic-of-climate-change/">brutal logic of climate change</a> staring down society, we&rsquo;re in bad shape if environmental action remains merely a holiday ritual like pumpkin carving.</p><p>If Earth Day <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-12/news/chi-taking-earth-day-one-step-further-20130412-barr_briefs_1_earth-day-carbon-pollution-planet">compels you to do more</a> than talk, you can <a href="http://earthdaychicago.blogspot.com/">join a political rally</a> against hydraulic fracturing and oil sands pipelines. Or <a href="http://www.epa.gov/gogreen/">follow EPA&#39;s advice</a> on how to reduce your personal impact on the environment.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s still something affirming about a day of service (<a href="http://www.earthday.org/">more info here</a>), or even just a bit of time set aside for personal reflection or a hike.</p><p>Here are a few events around town:</p><p><a href="http://www.earthdaychicago.com/">Clean up with Friends of the Parks</a> in <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/humboldt-park-earth-day-/">Humboldt Park</a>, <a href="http://luc.edu/communityrelations/llnlsc/earthday2013/">Edgewater</a> or elsewhere. <em>April 20, 9 a.m. &ndash; 12 p.m. </em>Check your neighborhood park.</p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/481475695238973/">Learn to garden with PERRO</a>, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization. <em>April 20, 11 a.m. &mdash;&nbsp;2 p.m. </em>1423 W. 17<sup>th</sup> St.</p><p><a href="http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/illinois/picnic-for-earth-chicago.xml">Picnic with The Nature Conservancy</a> in Millennium Park if you&rsquo;re downtown.<em>&nbsp;April 20, 11 a.m. &mdash;&nbsp;3 p.m. </em>Millennium Park, Chase Promenade South Tent.</p><p><a href="http://www.slowfoodchicago.org/index.php/2013/04/07/preserve-garden-workday-2/">Sow seeds with Slow Food Chicago</a> at PreSERVE Garden in North Lawndale. <em>April 20, 10 a.m. &mdash; 12 p.m. </em>12<sup>th</sup> Place and Central Park Avenue.</p><p><a href="http://www.earthday5kchicago.com/">Run a 5K for Earth Day</a>. The fourth annual race partners with GreenChoice Bank, <a href="../../blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/rolling-out-green-carpet-legally-speaking-105010">the state&rsquo;s first benefit corporation</a>, and Gobi Project, a mobile DJ booth powered by solar panels.<em>&nbsp;April 27, 9 a.m., Humboldt Park</em>.</p><p><a href="http://www.nrdconline.org/site/Calendar?id=100581&amp;view=Detail">Raise a glass with the Natural Resources Defense Council</a> at a craft beer tasting to support craft brewers <a href="../../blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/midwest-breweries-lead-environmental-groups-charge-fortify-water-laws">who have pledged to defend water quality legislation</a>.&nbsp;<em>April 22, 6-9 p.m. </em>825 W. Erie St.</p><p><a href="http://earthdatacelebration.eventbrite.com/">Crunch numbers at &quot;Earth Data: A Sustainable Chicago 2015 Celebration,&quot;</a> wherein the city&rsquo;s data folk team up with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the World Wide Fund for Nature to discuss Big Data and climate change in preparation for a hackathon on April 26. <em>April 22, 6-9 p.m. 78 E. Washington Ave.</em></p><p>Here&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagoparent.com/picks/earth-day-celebrations">a list of family-friendly Earth Day events from <em>Chicago Parent</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/chicago-earth-day-event-roundup-106696 Cell phones and the cost of living in Cuba http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-07-14/cell-phones-and-cost-living-cuba-89160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-14/cuba 012.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-14/cuba 012.JPG" style="width: 300px; height: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; " title="">When I first came to Cuba in 1995, cell phone service was so scarce that, after a meeting in which an official had flashed a cell phone from the podium, I turned to Abel Prieto, then the president of the writer’s union, and asked if he had one too.</p><p>“Oh, no,” he said, “I’m not high enough to be part of the celucracia.”</p><p>The cellucracy!</p><p>In later years, of course, Abel became the minister of culture and acquired a pocketful of cells, and I began to know people – rarely connected with government – who had one too. But the stories behind their cells were always complicated and strange.</p><p>The reason was that Cuba did not allow its citizens to legally own cell phones until 2008. That’s right, 2008 – 45 years after its invention, Cubans finally got a chance to own a cell.</p><p>Prior to that, to have a cell phone meant you were either very high in or very important to the government, or you had an European or Canadian connection – a foreigner willing to get a phone and cell service in her name and let you use it. It was an exclusive club, and pulling a cell out in public elicited envy, awe, and not a little bit of fear.</p><p>After 2008, though, cell phones have become ubiquitous. The lowliest delivery boy has one attached to his belt. That is not, of course, in and of itself surprising. Like in so much of the Third World, cell service in Cuba doesn’t require the wait for a land line, which can be months or even years. If you have the right kind of apparatus, you can sign up for service on the same day.</p><p>But what is curious is the chasm between the cost of cellular service and the official Cuban monthly salary.</p><p>You see, after you pay the $30 CUCs – Cuba’s convertible peso, which is at about 8.7 per U.S. dollar – to establish a cell line, you need to buy phone cards to charge the phones at approximately 45 centavos a minute, or about 50 US cents.</p><p>This means that cell phone usage in Cuba isn’t casual. It’s about location, or getting someone to drop a key from a higher floor to open a lobby door, or to ask someone to get to a landline for a real conversation. Cell phones, of course, also facilitate texts, which has been a boon for dissidents and their responders, both groups which have taken to Twitter like an addiction.</p><p>But how, you might ask, can a Cuban earning between $15 and $20 USD a month pay such a steeply priced cell service? The answer is that, at least officially, they can’t.</p><p>And this is where the Cuban government, regardless of its staunch public posture against corruption (especially under Raul Castro), colludes with and counts on the country’s rich black market. Because, really, otherwise how can a Cuban earning $15-$20 USD a month have cell service that ends up being twice that?</p><p>Cell service is one of the many things that, prior to Raul, had been illegal but not uncommon for Cubans. In fact, many of his so-called reforms have been merely bringing into legality what had become common illegal practice: among other things, access for Cuban citizens to hotels, access to car rentals, access to DVD rental of foreign films, access to markets for individual farmers and artisans, and the ability to run a legal business, especially in sales or personal services.</p><p>In the case of the cell service, the government assumes its citizens are getting their funds from abroad or through illegal means. As a friend of mine explained, it’s Cuba’s version of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: The government agrees not to question source of income so long as the citizen agrees to pay the exorbitant fee.</p><p>Added my friend: “It’s not exactly like we have a choice anyway.”</p></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 18:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-07-14/cell-phones-and-cost-living-cuba-89160 Top 5 "scariest" service in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-scariest-service-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-October/2010-10-27/weiner-circle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-28/weiner-circle.jpg.crop_display.jpg" style="width: 486px; height: 364px;" alt="" title="" /></p><p>In honor of Halloween, thought I&nbsp;would share some of&nbsp;the more&nbsp;harrowing experiences I've had, purely&nbsp;from&nbsp;a customer service perspective:&nbsp;</p><p>1. <a href="http://www.wienercircle.net/">Wieners Circle</a><br />I know the late-night, post-bar crowd expects to be yelled at, but I've been there at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, and the servers are just as&nbsp;grumpy.&nbsp; The Tribune's Kevin Pang had a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak4fr18wn2s">hilarious bit </a>on his &quot;Cheeseburger Show&quot; showing just how abusive they can be (warning, R-rated language ensues).&nbsp;</p><p>2. <a href="http://www.geneandgeorgetti.com/">Gene &amp; Georgetti</a><br />It may be the oldest steakhouse in town, but so are the waiters - as aloof as Uncle Fester and&nbsp;abrasive as&nbsp;Don Rickles;&nbsp;don't even think of sitting down in the front bar area unless you're a &quot;regular.&quot;&nbsp;They will literally leave tables empty while you wait in the bar, just in case one walks in.</p><p>3. <a href="http://schwarestaurant.com/">Schwa</a><br />Amazing food, talented young chefs and ridiculously incoherent and absentee service.&nbsp; Danny Meyer would cringe, as the phone is left unanswered and reservation requests not even fielded. As much as I&nbsp;love the chefs doubling as servers, they add nothing more than a &quot;this is ----ing awesome, dude.&quot;&nbsp; Ask them to turn down the music and they'll likely throw you out on your ass.</p><p>4. <a href="http://www.ilmulino.com/chicago.html">Il Mulino</a><br />I'll never forget I&nbsp;brought my Italian-American friend here for dinner after they first opened.&nbsp; We waited in the bar almost an hour past our reservation.&nbsp; When we were seated, I realized why the wait: our pompous server recited every single item on the &quot;specials&quot; card, doing his best Pavarotti&nbsp;- a good 5 min. ordeal - (most of which contained white wine, garlic and olive oil) before setting down the card between us to read for ourselves.&nbsp; When I politely told them the pasta was undercooked - even by al dente standards - the dude told me I must not know what real Italian food is like, because there was no way it was undercooked.&nbsp; It was the only time I felt like a tourist in my own city.</p><p>5. <a href="http://www.kumascorner.com/">Kuma's</a><br />Very good burgers -&nbsp;slightly overrated at&nbsp;this point -&nbsp;served by a staff&nbsp;that could seemingly care less about what you'd like and how you'd like it, save for the&nbsp;internal temp of the beef.&nbsp; As for&nbsp;the comically loud&nbsp;music...by now,&nbsp;it&nbsp;comes off as if&nbsp;they're trying too hard to say 'hey yuppies, you don't like Metallica at 947 decibels?&nbsp; Well too ----ing&nbsp;bad, we do, and we're bad-ass, so deal with it!'&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-scariest-service-chicago