A fresh coast of paint

There really isn’t anything so inexpensive that changes one’s living space so much as a fresh coat of paint. I have officially given up on white and moved to any other colour but white. Our living room is now a two colour room, one large wall of a strong yellow and the rest a reddish brown. I forget what colour the yellow was (its too strong for Canary and more like Amber Light or Canadian Draft) but the brown is called Georgian Brick. You have to love the names of some of these colours. Our kitchen is light green – Pistachio. As painting doesn’t rank as the all time favourite of pastimes anything to make it easier helps. Here buying the best really helps. We have been using Benjamin Moore and though it is costs a bit more it just rolls on so nicely and you don’t get that roller spray. A good brush is important. When you are cutting those tight corners a brush that has all its bristles together is nice. Now I can sit back in this “new” room and count the little mistakes that no one except my painting friends will ever know.

Here is a question but no bets please – has summer finally arrived here in the Lower Mainland?

Powerwashers on Sunday

Nothing is more relaxing than spending your Sunday afternoon on your deck, good book and all, with the cacophony of the Sunday power washers. Their undying mantra – “must clean, must clean” is spoken throughout the neighbourhood. Suburbia at its finest. Now if tomorrow morning at about 6:36 a.m. I start to play Bach’s Christmas Cantata “Sehet, welch eine Liebe” at about 150 decibels do you think they will understand?

Summer seems to have arrived in Vancouver. “Seems” is the key word here as the weatherman has been fooled on numerous occasions recently. This next few weeks look like scorchers. Great time to be ending your holidays huh. It should change back to a normal wet summer in three weeks when I begin my next batch of non-working days.

A dead language

Something interesting occurs when you begin to write, be it blogs, letters, books or whatever. You sense the power of language and all of its interesting attributes. But there is a language that is used by many that is devoid of human expression and feelings — the languge of business, the PR language, the language that we hear so often that leaves us confused as to what is it that is really being expressed. This is the dead language that seems to continue in our society. Toni Morrison describes a dead language as “…a dead language is not only one no longer spoken or written, it is unyielding language content to admire its own paralysis.” How can expressions like “bottom line, change drivers, strategic implementation, empowered…” be considered anything other than words that seemingly are written and spoken to admire themselves? They have a shine of saying something but with further exploration their meanings are conceptually lacking any human experience. But their constant use tends to make us look upon them as key to understanding some remote concept. They are like a plastic veneer. Maybe we should use the minds God gave us and express what we really mean, in 25 words or less.

PR at its best – Spam

Gnomedex had an interesting session with Steve Rubel and his client Weatherbug. During the session you got the funny feeling this was a prepared pitch and had little to do with PR and blogging. Darren Barefoot questioned out loud what a lot of us were thinking. His point didn’t make much of an impact in the answer he got back from Steve.
Russell Beattie has posted some interesting post events concerning Steve. Like how Spam originates in this instance.

We need to begin to find some means to protect our inboxes because if you are like me I get over 100+ Spam that need wading through everyday. There are the tricks of the trade like getting a few more “secretive” e-mail address but if you have had e-mail for over 10 years and have handed out your address to a ton of people you are going to miss that attempt at contact by that person you would love to hear from. There is no algorithm to speak of that will fully keep the drawbridge manned.

First day of holidays

Finally, 10 full days off with no real time set for meetings, project planning, HR, business e-mails, telephone calls and general work issues. Maybe it is the age because holidays this year were something I actually looked forward to. At the end of these 10 days I will be roaring to get back to work. What does that say for one’s view of “retirement”?

Stil waiting for the sunshine here. The forecast looks good. Maybe just maybe summer is about to arrive.

There is an extemely interesting article in today’s Globe and Mail (Saturday issue) the Review section – Citzens of the world, report! It discusses the role of role of bloggers and citizen journalists as complementing main stream media on stories like the recent tragedy in London. Here is how Meil McIntosh assistant editor of Guardian Unlimited put it “…It’s very complementary in that I think the blogs look to us to get immediate news and we maybe look to them to get a little bit of the flavour of how people are reacting outside the four walls of our office.” They also discuss the difference between this with the news media in the U.S.

But if you read between the lines there is still a hesitation on the part of the major media to accept that a person’s view of any event is as valid as that of a newspaper article. They seem to deem only themselves as the official voice. And it is worrisome that there stamp of approval is all that is needed to make any viewpoint valid. Things change, ever so slowly.

Music

Listening to Glen Gould playing Bach is always refreshing and when it comes to music these thoughts seem to unfold.
– music always captures a mood.
– it can present a memory as concise as a forgotten scent.
– music evokes an emotional response, sometimes quite rapidly.
– some music can be disliked or maybe that should read not appreciated as much as other music.
– it is sometimes quickly liked or it can be liked in greater amounts with prolonged listening.

With every generation music changes on the “outside” but it always remains the same “inside”.

Please, Tom

So Tom Cruise is now an expert on depression. What happens with these guys in Hollywood? Do their egos inflate to a size of a Zepplin? Why do they think making movies makes them that much smarter than the general poplulace? There is an overwhelming amount of ignorance about depression and some solid research is now beginning to augment and broaden what we already are aware of. Tom’s “expertise” only diminishes the discussion.

Tom–stick to the movies.

Gnomedex 5.0 – Impressions

This is the second conference I have been at that is filled with technical people and laptops. The big difference is that they are all connected to the internet. (Well not everyone was connected until the bandwidth got increased.) They need to come up with a name for this type of conference as it is unique in the sense that all the information that is presented is documented by the listening audience on a real time basis. Text, pictures, audio, comments, etc. is available during and within minutes of the closing of each presenter. You begin to see differences in how various individuals present information. It seems we all have these “filters” that create our own perceptions of what has taken place. Your own view of what has been stated is appreciably enhanced by viewing the posts of others. It really is amazing, like reading 20 newspapers about an event that you participated in. No two are completely alike and yet each adds to your own experience of what happened. Couple that with a podcast (audio) and the dimension grows further. A novus dimension conference?

Next – some of the topics…

Summer already?

I just finished a blog entry and lost it when trying the spell checker. Sometimes you forget what a word processor should be used for.

Our 3 hanging baskets are growing like weeds. We never had trouble growing weeds before just growing flowers. This year we purchased 2 shady and 1 sunny moss type hanging baskets. They need water everyday but they really are much better than the manufactured plastic pail fuschia buckets. The buckets seems to last all of 2 weeks before the flowers start dropping off. It pays to get something so you can enjoy it ALL summer.

Supper time. What to make? It really doesn’t matter because the younger set in the household will always prepare their late afternoon snack at the same time you make supper because they are starving and probably won’t make it to the mealtime which is only 45 minutes away. Funny how the definition of starving has changed over the years.

Public Transit

Yesterday I took the Skytrain and bus down to BC Central (South-west end of the Burrard Street bridge) instead of driving through the nightmare on Broadway. With 12th closed between Nanaimo and Fraser, Broadway is a parking lot.

The trip was enjoyable. Of course there was the solicitation for change and the standing due to no seats but you could really feel part of the city that you don’t when you are stuck in traffic in a car. And the people were so varied and different. It is a pretty remarkable system to get from A to B. The only complaint was the Skytrain. Why don’t people at least make an effort to move away from the doors so that people can get off the Skytrain instead of standing in front of the door when it opens? You are forced to push through with all the grace of a 300 pound gorilla just to disembark. A big suitcase would be handy to use as a wedge to get through the crowd.

A recovered Monday

Yesterday when we went shopping there was a large choice of hot sauces on the shelf. A hot sauce company located in Salmon Arm, Denzels, seemed to have the right ingredients. So we picked up Gourmet Habanero. Well last night I had the biggest heart burn for the longest time because of this bottle of dynamite! This stuff is HOT and not for the weak tongued. They have it rated 6 out of 8 on their heat level. This morning went back to get something a little less tangy – Lil’ Smokehouse (2 out of 8) made from smoked red jalapeno peppers. Excellent! Even mixed just a smidgen of the Habanero with it to bring it up the spice ladder. This product is as good as it gets. Take a look at Denzels site.

What is with golf?

Today I was all prepared to have a great game after the 93 last week. Should have known better. At the clubhouse the cashier had an opening “If you can get out there right now”. So you hurry up to the teebox looking for the glove, ball, tees, etc., tee up the ball and away you go. But you didn’t even have time to find out what kind of ball you hit! From there it got worse with the low point being the marshall telling us to hurry up. Sure buddy. We are a walking foursome and the two guys in front of us have a cart. No problem in keeping up with them. Well with the back nine I finally settled down and got a few nice pars in but the final score was a disasterous 103. Yuck! The good part, and that is what really makes the game, is playing with 3 pretty nice people. You always get to meet people you would never meet otherwise. Now if I could just get to meet my golf ball sometimes!

The Saga of the pick-up trucks

Seems these posts get fewer and farther between.

In the last few weeks it has become apparent that there is a new type of driver hitting the asphalt. Last week a large pickup truck passed me on the freeway. Yessirree passed me on the freeway. I was in the slow lane, a car was coming up in the fast lane and the pickup track passed on the right hand side using the shoulder as the driveable highway. That is the second time that has happened in over 10 years of daily freeway drving. I wonder what driving school he went to.

Today was a typical incident. Driving in the slow lane with a number of vehicles coming onto the freeway. You can’t move into the fast lane due to traffic so you keep you speed constant allowing those coming onto the freeway to adjust either a faster or slower speed to merge. Typically the pickup truck must have expected me to stop to let him on the freeway because he had to slow down instead of me. Looking in the rear view mirror was the proverbial finger. Then the fast approach on the left hand side with the wife-beater T-shirted passenger shouting obscenties, leaning out the window with his arm and middle finger held high, sort of a salute to the gods of ignorance. What do you do? Shake your head and wonder. Yes these young bucks own the road, they have paid their fair share of taxes (like about 2.43 years) and they drive a leased and certainly not fully paid for truck. Pillars of the transportation elite. Oh to be a law enforcement officer for 5 minutes!

Old Vinyl

On Saturday went up to Apollo Records on Austin in Coquitlam. They were having their semi-annual “lets sell everything in the store” sale. There wasn’t much in the CD bins. My friend was bound and determined to go through them all so I looked through the LP bins. Unbelievable! Everything there was for $1.00. After 45 minutes there was the grand total of $17 spent. That is less than the cost of a new CD. Do you remember?

Leon Russell and the Shelter People
Al Stewart – Time Passages
The Mason Williams Phonograph Record
The Lilac Time – Paradise Circus * been looking for that one for years
Elvin Bishop
Dan Reed Network – Slam * another rarity
Jeff Healy Band – See the Light
and 10 more – Genesis, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, The Grapes of Wrath….

And at this point no noticeable scratches. You seem to appreciate the music when you have to get up every 20 minutes to either change the LP or turn it over.

The odd bits

Came across a real neat comic book program. www.plasq.com Comic Life. It is so simple and the results are pretty neat. I sent a quick creation to my kids and they were impressed. Mac only though.

Darren Barefoot
had a very interesting post about blogs being defined as advertising, campaign that is. What a wonderful world we live in huh.

With all this recent rain you have to think of the positives with all the water we get. Of course everything is green and we tend to have mild weather because of it. The water out of the tap is usually as good as what you buy in a bottle (there could be some disagreement here) and much cheaper. And those that travel will notice the lack of soap suds in the shower in most other places. Living here does give rise to fewer sundances though.

Fountain pens. I have been writing with a fountain pen occasionally for the last 15 years. The people in a previous workplace bought me a beautiful Waterman Lemans which is just a joy to write with. So I happened upon the Vancouver Pen Company on Hastings across from the SFU campus which has a fantastic selection of pens. They have a new Lamy graphite fountain pen (comes in 4 colours including black) and a variety of nibs that are just a pleasure to use. Writing is effortless and isn’t as fast as typing but it gives you a chance to use that right side of the brain when “drawing” each character. You really can’t go wrong with one of these. Inks are for another post.

What you loose going faster

For the past few months I have purposely been slowing down on my drive to work. You know you are going slow when EVERBODY is passing you. It seems one begins to notice the environment and world around them much more. The people in the cars passing become interesting. The trees and buildings on the roadways seem to become much more real. When you begin to focus on the world around you, going faster isn’t important. When you focus on yourself…speed becomes a priority.

It works!

Our SMS/e-mail messaging product (MemberNote) is really taking off. I just noticed that our transaction counts for the month have climbed. It would seem that people will use their cards more if they feel secure. The other interesting comment from users is they love the messages because now if they loose their slips they still have a record. Taking it one step farther think of the paper that could be saved if you didn’t need that slip.

What is also interesting in the feedback are the ideas for added features.
– balances. What if you could push a message, for example just call a number, and have a text message with you current balance. We had thought about this but didn’t realize people REALLY want this.
– payroll deposits. Checking with the staff they say on certain paydays there are a lot of calls asking if their paycheques have been deposited. Why not just get noticed by SMS when it was deposited?
– postive option. It is something that larger institutions demand, the ability to accept any items that are attempting to clear their accounts. They want the final say. It is more a risk management thing to prevent fraud. But what if that was available to anyone when they wrote a cheque? You could be notified of the item and asked to authenticate it within a certain time frame with a unique passcode.

At this years meeting of all the credit unions in the province there were a number of credit unions asking about MemberNote. I work for one of the smallest credit unions in the province so having these humongous ones take notice of something like this is pretty nice. Hopefully others can get involved in using something like this. More than anything it needs to be a vehicle for creating what people want with technology they have.

The Vancouver Sun had a colour banner across the business section on Wednesday April 13th. That was a huge surprise. We were expecting nothing to be picked up by the press and if anything two small sentences on page 83 lower left hand corner.

To anyone with a Mac, the Tiger upgrade is well worth it. Spotlight finds everything you lost.

EOBR – end of business report

May 1st – Labour Day

Well not here in North America, in Europe. I remember getting this day off when working over there. The interesting part was that it was only for half of the day, the afternoon. You couldn’t get the morning off. It always seemed strange. This was the day those red labour flags were noticeable.

April is gone and May is upon us. Am listening to the Crooked Fingers “Dignity and Shame” CD. Excellent melodies, especially the piano playing. It isn’t classic rock and could definied more along the Indpendent rock them.

Mac OS 10.4 Tiger is installed and working well. When I bought the system disk yesterday in Vancouver the computer shop had two tigers (real big tigers) at the back of the store for promotion. These were definitley alive and well. The salesperson asked if I wanted my picture taken with these large cats. Given my inability to have any relationships with cats I declined. Over the years cats have not liked me, at all, and the feeling is mutal. It seemed very probable that these two large tigers might possibly clue into my lack of a having any type of bond with cats and take it upon themselves to show me the error of my ways. Thanks but it was too close to lunchtime.

The Atlantic article

The Atlantic Monthly has a very interesting article America in Foreign Eyes by Bernard-Henry Levy. As this year marks the bicentennial of Alexis de Tocquerville’s birth, the magazine has asked a French philosopher/writer to retrace the route and comment.

He has some wonderful insights into the American culture.

On the “living” museums –
The whole idea is not to preserve but to reconsitute a false truth and celebrate it as such. Defeat of the archive. Triumph of kitsch.
…and…
The self-generation of culture that wants to be descended from its own handiwork and, accordingly, rewrites its great and small genealogies. An American neurosis?

There are some remarkable statements in the article, that as a Canadian, bring to light a newly defined perspective. When you live by a country such as the US your own perception of American culture gets clouded by the huge amount of American influence. This European challenges these old ideas.

There are to be a number of articles by this individual in the next months. The article is worth the price of the magazine.

Generous people…

Today it was actually hot out in the Fraser Valley. The fragrance of the blooming flowers was fantastic. It looks like all week will be like this. A nice time to take a weeks holiday.

My oldest son is garnering pledges for this weekend’s 8 hour skateboard-a-thon. He is one of the leaders of a local church skateboard club and the money goes to getting all the kids to a week long camp this summer. He was going over his pledges (now over $500) and it was remarkable the number of people who have donated. I am pleasantly surprised by their generousity. The youngest son was interviewed and published in a local grafitti magazine. He’s happy. What did I get today? The MasterCard bill with the payment due on April 30th. I guess it just depends on who you are as to what you get.