Archive for May, 2010

Sometimes PostSecret makes me mad

Posted in Aggravations, Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I really like PostSecret.  I’ve visited the site every Sunday for more years than I can remember, and I own all of the books that Frank Warren has put together.

But every once in a while a secret is posted that really bothers me.  Sometimes I’m bothered because I can relate to the situation; sometimes I just think the situation is fabricated. And still other times I am bothered by a secret simply out of principle. For example, this secret was posted in most recent Sunday batch:

From PostSecret - 23 May 2010

I find the sheer selfishness of this person appalling.  They are literally wasting some poor guy’s time, for nothing more than convenience. Some people are really just terrible.

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Happy Victoria Day!

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Today is the day that we party in celebration of a Monarchy that many people think we should disassociate from.  They claim that Canada has no need for the traditions of Britain, and that the Monarchy has no place here.

Unknown source

But I don’t think most of these people realize the consequences… For starters, we’d have to give up this long weekend!  How could we justify having the day off, if we we’re against the celebration which that holiday was created for?

I say, keep the Monarchy and bring on the beer and BBQ!  If you don’t like the Queen, just get another beer and chill-out.

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Facinating urban wildlife

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Why is it that if I have a camera, and squirrel happens by, I have the inexplicable urge to capture the creature on film? I’ve probably seen hundreds of squirrel in my lifetime, but I always feel the need to take a picture anyway.

Case in point: a few weeks back, I came across an old roll of true black & white film that hadn’t been used.  So I figured I’d better use it before it got any older.  I loaded it into my trusty 1965 Nikon F and went for a walk.  I had a nice time, but most of the 24 shots didn’t turn out.  The age of the film made a lot of the images washed out and grainy – and my generally poor manual photography skills ruined most of the others.

I did get a few decent prints though – somehow the four squirrel shots were perfect. Below is my favourite, but you can see the rest on my Facebook profile.

Squirrel

Squirrel by the Canal. (Copyright Mitch Leuraner 2010)

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An open letter to Dan Packer at Student Works Painting

Posted in Aggravations, Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , on May 20, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Dear Mr. Packer,

When I arrived home from work last night, I discovered one of your advertisements in my mailbox.  The ad itself consisted of a letter addressed to “Homeowner”, in which you explained your experience running a franchise, offered to provide a free estimate, and included a number of coupons. It also included a detailed explanation of exactly what your crew would do to prepare any surface that I might need painted. As it happens, just the other day I was thinking of looking for a company to do some paint work.

However, I will not be requesting the services of your company, and I would like to explain why.

First of all, I discovered your ad in my mailbox – the one that has a sign, almost as big as the box itself, that says: “No junkmail, flyers, or advertisements.”  As a client, I endeavour to employ the services of companies that have a high attention for detail. Placing an advertisement in a box that clearly states not to, shows that you are either incredibly unobservant, or simply unwilling to respect the wishes of potential clients.  Either way, I am not sure that I want you to paint my house.

But what really made me decide that I would not be employing your services was the fact that your letter included the following line:

While I was touring your neighbourhood, I noticed that the exterior of your home will require maintenance.

Oh really! Is that right?  So you were walking by and thought, “That house could clearly use my services!”  Well, please let me give you a little piece of advice.  When you are trying to attract business, insinuating that your potential client’s house looks bad is not the most effective way to go. As I said, I was indeed looking for someone to do some painting for me – interior painting. I am actually quite happy with the exterior of my house.

I obviously don’t know how well your painters paint.  But what I do know is that the image your business presents to the world speaks a great deal about the kind of company you run. Some might claim that it is unfair to judge your company so harshly before actually seeing any examples of your work, but to that I would respond that the very purpose of an advertisement is to make a good first impression.  It should give me the confidence to allow you into my home.  But your advertisement not only failed to make a good impression, it actually made a bad one. And quite frankly, if you can’t make a good impression in a flyer that you had plenty of time to prepare, what kind of impression will you make when you are talking to me face to face?

I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, and I hope your business finds other clients. But honestly, you need to rework your marketing strategy.

Sincerely,

ML

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What does the office photocopier know about you?

Posted in Aggravations, Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I just came across this video of a CBS news report on the potential privacy risk of photocopiers.  I definitely had no idea that most of today’s photocopiers actually keep a digital copy of every print, fax and copy that is made.  It never even occurred to me that photocopiers would need to have hard drives, much less that manufacturers would purposely store images on them.

Needless to say, this has significantly changed the way that I think about copiers…

How many times have you used the office machine for personal use?  I know I’ve copied all kinds of things from resumes to my driver’s license and birth certificate.  It’s pretty unnerving to think that when my office got a new copier, the old one may have been sold to someone who already knew about this.  But that’s not even the worst of it – how many employers actually do know about it and are using it to check-up on employees?

And I don’t even want to think about all the times I have made copies of personal information at Staples and other copy shops.

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There may be hope for the world yet…

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , on May 16, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I saw the strangest thing on my way home today.  There was a group of children (somewhere between 8 and 11 years old) playing on their front lawn.  But they didn’t have BlackBerrys, iPhones or portable video games.  Not only that, but the girls weren’t dressed like 20-somethings going to the bar, and the boys were wearing pants that actually stayed up around their waists!  And what were they doing? They were playing tag. Not Strip Tag, or Tackle Tag, just regular, decent, wholesome tag.

Obviously I couldn’t get a picture for proof (that would have been creepy), but I assure you it really did happen. With any luck, these kids will grow up to be actual adults – rather than be just like the rest of the really large children that so many kids grow into these days.

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I really, really want a tandem bicycle

Posted in Dreams, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner
tandem-bike-drawing

Tandem Bike Drawing from alecjacobson.com

I don’t know why exactly, I just woke up this morning with the urge to ride one.   I’m guessing that I had some kind of dream involving such a bike – and a pleasant one at that.

I figure that I could probably buy one easy enough, or maybe just rent one. But before I do either, I should probably work on finding someone to ride it with me.

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Flashforward (the novel) isn’t terrible

Posted in Books, Thoughts with tags , , , on May 10, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I just finished reading Flashforward by Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer.  I’ve been watching the TV version of it sort of halfheartedly since it started last fall, and I was intrigued to learn that it had been based on a novel written in 1999.

Flashforward (novel)To be honest, the show isn’t great.  It’s entertaining, but as a mystery it’s just not that captivating.  The only thing that really keeps me watching is the sense of investment that I feel.  I gave it a chance and now I don’t want to walk away so close to the end of the season.

Despite my disappointment with the show, I held out hope for the original novel.  I figured that in book form the story could be more comprehensive – since TV is always worried that a cancellation may leave viewers without a resolution.

What I didn’t realize was that the novel is a completely different story.  So different in fact, that there is no need to worry about reading the novel before seeing the end of the show.

To be sure, their are similarities:  One day the whole world blacks out for two minutes and sees the future. There are also similarities between some of the characters, at least one of which actually shares a name with a character from the show.

But that is pretty well where the similarities end.  The time-frame is totally different.  The show takes place in the present and the future scenes are only a few months away.  But the novel’s ‘present’ takes place in a future 2009 (remember it was written in 1999) and the future scenes actually take place more than 20 years later.  Another major difference is that the novel’s narrative is told from the perspective of those who caused the blackout, rather than those trying to determine the cause. In fact, in the novel there is almost no question who was actually responsible.  These few changes take the story in a completely different direction.

I won’t ruin the story for anyone that still wants to read it, but I will say that I wasn’t happy about the ending.  For me, the last 75 pages or so were a let down, despite what seemed to be a very good story until that point.

In any case, it was a decent read and while I didn’t care for the ending, I’m sure plenty of people probably will.

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Books at home make kids smarter

Posted in Books, Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , on May 9, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I have a lot of books.  So many, in fact, that when people come to my home for the first time they usually say something along the lines of, “Wow, you have a lot of books.”

I don’t have kids, but I would like to think that if I did, they would grow up to love books as much as I do.  As it turns out, having a home library actually gives a statistical advantage to the educational success of children.  At least that is what a recently available study in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility is suggesting. The researchers looked at the presence of books in homes across 27 countries and determined that,

Home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment, even adjusting for parents’ education, father’s occupational status and other family background characteristics.

Apparently, the presence of 500 books will give students an average boost of 3.2 years in education – which is of course the better part of an undergraduate degree.  Obviously, this boost is more effective in cultures where education is systemically lower, but the effect is present to a substantial degree even in affluent countries. And to top it all off, parents don’t actually have to be well educated themselves.  All that is necessary is for there to be a clear respect and enjoyment of books in the home.

I’m glad to see that my vast library will be of benefit to my offspring someday.  I just hope that the effect works without regard for the type of books in the library.  I would hate to think that my future children might be hindered academically because of the overwhelming presence of science fiction novels.  Then again, I think most would agree that there is far more to Robert A. Heinlein than just spaceships and time-travel.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Thoughts with tags , , , on May 9, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Stop stumbling around the internet and go hug your mother!

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