Siri – The Voice with a Smile?

Welcome home Mac! The first Mac Pro to be Made in America will be unleashed in December. This news got us to thinking about all things Mac and we zoomed in on Siri because the real voice of Siri was recently uncovered.

Siri Speaks!

Exactly two years after Siri made her auspicious debut on October 4, 2011, the mystery woman’s identity can now be revealed. Apple’s voice activated virtual assistant never quite took off in popularity the way Apple envisioned her, but the closely guarded identity of the oft time snarky Siri has been widely speculated.

According to CNN, she is an Atlanta based voice over actress named Susan Bennett.

Though Apple is being cagey and won’t confirm it, the sleuths at CNN found audio forensic experts to back up the actresses claim.

Would You Repeat That Again?

Staying connected with the assistance of a disconnected female voice is nothing new.

Once upon a time, the alert, courteous voice of the telephone operator was known to everyone who used the telephone. Siris’ snippy voice and quirky personality stands in contrast to the golden age of telephone operators who possessed the “voice with a smile.”

The Voice With a Smile

Bell Telephone Ad 1940

Vintage Bell Telephone Ad 1940s The familiar "Voice With a Smile' operator

Telephone operators were known for their courtesy. “It’s nice to pick up the telephone,” ads would point out, “and hear an alert friendly voice come over the wire.”

“The voice with a smile” was the familiar AT&T slogan used from the 1930’s through the 1950’s . The ads visualized the cheerful sound of the company’s female operators painting a pretty face on the happy voice of the phone worker.

The speech of operators was firmly regulated through strict codes of appropriate responses enforced by supervisors listening unannounced on operators line.

“Operator ~ May I Help You?

"The Bell system appreciates your patronage, and tries to deserve it"

From the beginning, the occupation of switchboard operators was almost exclusively female. Women were valued not only because of their gentle voice, and nimble fingers , but as an added bonus, they worked for lower wages.

According to Lana Rakow in “Women and the Telephone.” an article in The American Telephone Journal of 1902 explained why female operators were desirable: “The dulcet tones of the feminine voice seem to exercise a soothing and calming effect upon the masculine mind, subduing irritation and suggesting gentleness of speech and demeanor, thereby avoiding unnecessary friction”

What Number Did You Want?

Vintage Bell Telephone Ads

From the 1930’s through the 1950’s AT&T recruited female employees through popular women’s magazines such as American Girl, Senior Prom and True Story, appearing next to ads for weight loss, feminine itch relief and bust creams.

Ads emphasized how important women were to the telephone industry. “170,000 women are employed by the Bell system,” one ad stated. “More than half of the 315,000 employees of the Bell System are women. They are your friends and neighbors- living in the same section of the country. They average length of service is about ten years.”

Perhaps courtesy and manners have gone the way of the telephone, which itself is beginning to feel rather antiquated.

 

Do Family Farms Still Matter?

Gaining Ground This article first came to our attention from our friends at I Support Farmers Markets, but originally published in Parade. We wanted to share this remarkable journey taken by author/farmer Forrest Pritchard.

As my friends headed off to graduate school, I pointed my dusty pickup toward the farm. My college advisors shook their heads with well-meaning disapproval. “Go ahead,” they admonished. “Get your hands dirty for a few months. But when you’re ready to decide on a career, the real world will be waiting for you.

But this is the real world, I insisted. It’s a world of sunshine and rain. It’s a world of physical work and sweat, and the sweet satisfaction of nurturing life from the earth. A few weeks back on the farm, I was sunburned and filthy and utterly blissful. Most importantly, I was certain that I had made the right decision.

I projected our bills for the coming winter, and knew that we needed ten thousand dollars to carry us into spring. That summer, we planted the farm with corn and soybeans, abandoning our traditional cow pastures for the quicker financial return of grain. The meadows were killed off with herbicide, and the rolling hills cultivated.

In October, trucks whisked away our glittering corn and soy. I was so proud of what we had accomplished: We had saved our family farm. Later that week, I received our paycheck and tore open the envelope.

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Unite Against Bullying

October hosts a number of national observances including Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Our friend Chris Gagliardi, who is featured in the Fall issue, has experienced bullying throughout his life. Born with autism, Chris has faced life with courage and is believed to be the only person with autism to have run for public office in the United States. Check out our Fall issue to read Chris’s story and be sure to sign his petition “Give Youth Rights for Justice Against Bullies.”

The NEA (National Education Association) encourages family and friends to pay attention.   “There are many warning signs that may point to a bullying problem, such as unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed personal items, changes in eating habits, and avoidance of school or other social situations. However, every children may not exhibit warning signs, or may go to great lengths to hide it. This is where paying attention is most valuable.”

“if you see something – do something. Intervene as soon as you even think there may be a problem. Don’t brush it off as “kids are just being kids. They’ll get over it.” Some never do, and it affects them for a lifetime.”

A Rhapsody in Blue, Red, Orange & Yellow

Central Park in Autumn

I don’t know why, but George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue has always reminded me of Fall. Watching the season’s colors burst forth in a dazzling array, while the temperature drops and the sky exhibits a dichotomy of gloom and brilliance all at the same time. The Fall season is a time for fresh starts, almost similar to New Year, with much less pressure; and also a time for the beginning of hibernation and introspection.

I love Fall. I love the clothing of Fall, the warm snugly sweaters, the scarfs, the jackets. It all seems so much more stylish than shorts and tank tops and flip flops.  I love the routine of Fall, no one is going on vacation – they are concentrating on work, school, business (or so it seems). I love the crisp air in the morning and evening, the shuffling sound of the leaves underfoot, and the cacophony of the geese above, flying south. I love the crackling sound and smell of fireplaces, oh how I love wood-burning fireplaces!

If only Fall could last forever! Enjoy this video by Gilda Tabarez with music from the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, directed by Leonard Bernstein. It is amazing!