Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Laser Pointer From Hell

Back in the day, amidst the pine studded hills of Ruidoso, New Mexico my friends and I used to know some people that knew some people that had heard of folks that may have done a small amount of graffiti around our little town. Those vandals! I can only imagine what mischief they may have gotten into had they technology like this!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Computers Will Take Over The World

Being that I spend all day on the phone talking to people, a great many of the people I speak to are older than myself (mid 20s). In fact, I would reason that a majority of the people I speak to are older, like 20+ years older than I.

Most of these people are not familiar wiht the internet or computers, or if they are, it is only in passing. Many of them print their emails out daily and read them, or have their secretaries do so. This practice makes very little sense to me (redundancy of effort and a waste of paper, if nothing else), but I think people get set in their ways and are reluctant to change them. Fair enough, I suppose.

Many people, even after I have established with them that I offer a service or product that they will benefit from/are interested in, are still reluctant to give me their email address. I can't tell you how many people have requested that I mail them something, or FAX it to them. At first I tried politely to indicate that this was not our SOP, but after awhile I thought to myself "Look, doofus, I'm trying to sell you a website, why don't you go on the web to see the actual thing?!" and now I'm a little more sardonic when I tell them that we're a paperless office and the best way to see a website is through the web.

It occurred to me that many people are afraid that their web address will fall into "the wrong hands". Surprise folks: your web address is no big secret, there's not much people can do with it once they have it, except send you things there; and what's the worst that happens then? You either read it or you don't. Oh no! 2 miliseconds of your life wasted on that decision. Unless you're truly indecisive, in which case it will take you longer to decide yay or nay on a random email. Plus, factor in that most email addys have Spam filters nowadays anywho, and you cut the chance even further.

This is why I think that computers will take the world over. People jsut can't keep up. They're like computers having to deal with more and more complex programs but they can't have their processors upgraded, they can't get more RAM. Thus, they get scared and act irrationally when confronted with what is essentially a very easy situation to navigate. Then again, we could always become cyborgs. Oh yeah! Resistance is futile.

My Job, Made More Difficult

As much as I love the Intertron (dude, nobody calls it the Internet any more ...) it is by its very nature fraught with trouble and disappointment. {Greek Philosopher voice} This is the nature of life ... and even more so with machines ... {/Greek Philosopher voice} Of course, when you work for a tech firm (like I do), then this is just part of the programme.

Lately our phones have been crap-ola (see below) and now, today, our Intertron connection is flaky. This is almost worse than the phones being sketchy, as it completely undercuts any pitch you're trying to get off. How can you sell someone a website that doesn't exist (or at least won't load)? It's like trying to sell someone a car that when you get in doesn't start. The deal is basically dead in the water there.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bad Connections

As a business decision my superiors have opted to run a VoIP calling center. For those of you not familair with VOIP it is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or through any other IP-based network. It's neat stuff, but not without it's problems.

Considering my whole job is to call folks up and pitch them a high tech product (professional websites) you would think that one of our main focuses would be to come across as professional on the phone. Now, obviously, a big part of that is me. I have to come across the line with dignity and professionalism, keeping the firm respectable and worthy of the client's time & attention. This task is seriously much more difficult when the phones do not cooperate.

Sadly, this happens much more than I would like. I'll be calling and all of a sudden the phone just freaks out, and suddenly I'm talking through a fan ala Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. What's worse, I can't tell, and it's just their end of the conversation that experiences poor phone quality. I can only speculate as to how many sales or potential sales that I've lost due to this problem. It certainly doesn't portray us well, and if nothing else is just frustrating. No one likes to get a cold call, and certainly no one wants a cold call with poor line quality.

It begins to anger me when we're talking about the money I am to be making (because I do make a commission) and consequently losing as a result of this setup. To compound matters, I do have certain numbers I am to hit in order to keep the company afloat, and I get chewed out when I don't hit them. Fair enough, but if a quarter of the dials I make in a day are more or less a waste because the firm's credibility is frail from the outset due to the phone situation, that's not really my fault, is it? My bosses understand (I hope) but it's still no fun for any of us.

I guess the worst thing is that there's nothing to be done. We can't do anything on our side, and who knows what, if anything, our VoIP provider will do. Basically, I can call the tech team, have them come up and run a few diagnostics, maybe reset our router, but that rarely settles things. Most of the time I have to just wait it out and post to my blog. :P

Friday, February 23, 2007

Money is Time, Time is Money

So I had a lead today, it was a guy I had spoken with a few times before, he seemed interested in getting a website. Cool. I'm your guy.

I call him up, he's in Jersey, and we start talking. Well, immediately I can tell he's an older fella, and he starts going off on little tangents. Due to his age, I let him take a few of these, as 1) he's older and older people tend to ramble from time to time 2) lawyers love to talk and 3) when people are talking they are comfortable and that ups the chances for a successful sale.

So this guy is talking a little, and I'm keeping him on track with the website stuff here and there, while still indulging his stories about what types of law he practices, experiences, he's had, yadda yadda yadda. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that Mr. Jersey doesn't seem to have steady employment and/or income and I ask in a kind way "So, $95 is out of your range?" To which he replies, "Oh yes, I'm still being hounded for a $70 doctor bill from several months ago ..." and then he resumes his ramblings.

Right here I know our conversation is now costing me money. I indulge him a little longer, thinking that eventually he'll have the sense to get off the phone so we can both get back to making some money and stop wasting each other's time. Alas, I was wrong, and at about 10 minutes into our conversation when he began talking about how he was a senior citizen and how his wife was trying to start a film career and how difficult it was I knew I had to make the cut.

As he was rambling I did the old "You're cutting out on me, Bob" line. Followed by a few "Hello? Hello, Bob?"s and then I hung up on him. I felt a little ashamed for not just being forthright and telling the guy I couldn't talk to him any longer, but I also feel I kind of let him off softly. Of course in the back of my head I could hear my manager's mantra about requalifying leads before you go into a pitch. Ahh, sales.

Basic BART Etiquette

On a daily basis I use the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, otherwise known by the keen acronym BART. BART is much like any other urban mass transit system, basically your typical subway system. You've seen it before, and if you haven't you're probably not reading this blog anyway since you have no access to computers or any sort of post 1863 technology.

I don't know what it is about some people, but they just don't seem to understand what I consider to be basic, almost intuitive knowledge of how to get on and off of a subway car. It's a fairly simple process, and yet it seems to elude some.
  1. Train pulls into station, slows, and comes to a stop.
  2. Doors open.
  3. Passengers waiting on the platform part, allowing passengers in the subway car to exit.
  4. Platform passengers enter train.
  5. Door closes, train resumes course.

The first 2 steps are automatic, and the passengers have no input, so that's a no-brainer (literally -- unless you're a jumper, in which case you throw yourself in front of the subway car, in which case it's still a no-brainer, I guess).

It's steps 3 & 4 that foul people up, and it's these steps that, when not adhered to, annoy the shit out of me. I absolutely hate it when the passengers waiting on the platform bum rush me to get onto the train. I mean, come on, man. I know my stop is coming, so I'm standing at the door of the train when we arrive at step 2. You can see me through the glass from the platform, and yet you insist on trying to get into the train before I can exit. What are you in such a rush for? The train is not leaving without you, sir. IT JUST GOT THERE.

When this occurs I look defiantly at the offending platform 'sooners' (if you will) and mutter something to the effect of 'douchebag'. The basic rule is: let the people inside get out before you rush in, easy enough. I've also seen this sort of thing happen in elevators, which I believe are subject to much the same protocol. So please, next time you're at a subway, any subway, or waiting for the elevator, when those doors open -- for the love of g*d -- let the people inside get out before you rush to get in there. It's just courteous, and you'll still get to where you're going.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Friend Angie

I don't know why, but today my friend Angie Kresge crossed my mind. I miss the hell out of her. She passed away a few years ago at the tender age of 21 from cancer. I think about Angie from time to time and it really puts my life in perspective. She was so smart, and so vibrant, and so full of life; to not have her now to talk to is a real void that I deal with.

I suppose what I take away, the impact that she made on me, is that you should value each moment in your life, and every person in your life; I know Angie did. She gave me something to smile about every time I talked to her.

You don't get a lot of time on this planet, and you certainly don't get a lot of people that you can hold onto while you're here. Treasure the one's you've got, and enjoy the life you're given. It's not always peaches and cream, but you play the hand you're dealt the best you can.

If any one has any pics of Angie, please send them to me and I'll post them. The only one I found online was too pixellated. Thanks.

America, Inc.

I saw this article and it instatntly reminded me of so many conversations I've had with business minded folks about the state of this country. Most of the time these conversations came down to what really matters -- dollars and cents, i.e. the budget. Often times this discussion took a political philosophy turn and we discussed how Bush, despite all his posturing, is as far from conservative (at least on the economic front) as one could get. Richard Hofstadter would call him a pseduo-conservative.

If Bush were CEO, he'd be fired, says business executive

Comparing the United States to a troubled private corporation, a business executive in Salon this morning says that if President Bush were the CEO of a private company, its board would send him packing.

Warren Hellman founded Hellman & Friedman, a private equity investment firm, and was the youngest employee ever appointed partner at Lehman Brothers. Noting that Bush is the first president with a Master's degree in Business Administration, he writes in Salon that "if the United States were a company, it would be a troubled one," pointing to Bush's shortcomings in managing the national budget, its poor warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other crises.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tim Hardaway has a right to feel however he wants to, that's his business. I thought this response from George Takei and the Jimmy Kimmel show was particularly hilarious. It highlights through hyperbole the absurdness of Hardaway's homophobia.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chinese Ant Breeding Scheme Goes Awry

When I first saw this article I was taken aback. Ant breeding? To the tune of $385 million? You wacky, wacky Chinese. Welcome to the world of capitalism, my Occidental brethren. Next thing you know snipe hunting trips will be all the rage. Still, though, sentencing a guy to death for a scheme? They don't eff around in China. Life is cheap there, though what with over a billion people. Click below for the details.

China Sentences Man to Death in Ant Case





BEIJING (AP) -- A Chinese business executive was sentenced to death for swindling $385 million from investors in a bogus ant-breeding scheme, a court official said Thursday.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This Breaks My Heart

I used to live not too far away from John's Grill where this took place, and I would go in there from time to time for lunch, dinner, a drink, whatever. It wasn't the cleanest place ever (I once saw a cockroach on the wall upstairs during dinner) but it had character. Beyond that, you can't let one ubiquitous insect ruin a place for you.

I also love San Francisco. It's a very unique city, very European, and I like that. To top it all off I love books, language and literature, so this whole affair has me in arrears. Well, not really. But it is disappointing (and slightly comical at the same time, given the plot of the story).

Maltese Falcon stolen from restaurant

By Michael Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Where's Sam Spade when you need him?

Thieves have stolen a copy of the bird statue at the heart of "The Maltese Falcon" from the San Francisco restaurant used as a setting for the 1941 film classic starring Humphrey Bogart as the rough-and-tumble private detective.

The small, black figure was swiped over the weekend along with 20 vintage books, including copies of the 1930 Dashiell Hammett novel on which the film is based.

John Konstin, whose restaurant John's Grill bills itself as the "Home of the Maltese Falcon," said the thief broke into the case displaying the statue over the weekend. Konstin is offering a $25,000 reward for the replica's return.

While the statute is not the original movie prop, Konstin said he was offering such a big reward because this copy of the Maltese Falcon was signed by a cast member from the Bogart film.

"We want it back because of the historical and literary significance," Konstin said in a telephone interview. "It means a lot to us."

The novel is considered the most famous example of hard-boiled fiction and was a major influence on writers like Raymond Chandler. The movie helped define the film-noir tough-guy hero of the 1940s and 1950s.

In the story, Spade sets out to track the killer of his partner, Miles Archer. In doing so, he meets up with a colorful cast of liars, cheats and crooks ready to murder to get their hands on the statue, which they believe is made of solid gold hidden by black paint but turns out to be a fake.

Richard Layman, a Dashiell Hammett expert who has published six books on the former detective-turned author, noted that Hammett refers to John's Grill in the book and Spade goes there for lamb chops before being sent on a wild goose chase after a girl.

He also said Hammett likely ate there in real life because he lived near the restaurant and the Pinkerton detective office where he once worked was also nearby.

"The irony is that it is a copy that people are so upset about," he said in a telephone interview. "I'd go after the fat man and the pretty girl," he added in reference to two of the story's villains.

Irony and Bad Luck = Comedy Gold

Again, from Cruel.com, a fantastic story. I really have to wonder about the universe's sense of humor. What are the chances?


(February 13, 2007) — NAPLES — Wayne Schenk was diagnosed in December with inoperable lung cancer. Doctors at a Veterans Affairs hospital told the former Marine he might live for another year or, if he's lucky, 18 months.

Five weeks later, Schenk bought a $5 scratch-off High Stakes Blackjack ticket at a drugstore near his home in Ontario County and hit the jackpot. But there was a catch: The $1 million prize pays out in $50,000 annual installments over 20 years.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all," said Schenk, 51.

Schenk, a lifelong smoker, bought the Orange Inn tavern on Main Street a year ago after decades of working odd jobs.

He has no need for a new house or a fancy car. What he's hoping to buy is a little time — at a Pennsylvania hospital that specializes in advanced-stage cancers.

"I understand money can't buy everything, but money can prolong things, you know?" he said.

Schenk recently cashed his first lottery check — $34,000 after taxes — and is scrambling to find a lump-sum arrangement. He's been offered a lump sum of more than $400,000, but after taxes he'd only be left with a little more than $200,000.

For the treatment he's exploring, Schenk needs $125,000 up front and $250,000 in reserves.

"We're incredibly sympathetic," said Susan Miller of the New York lottery. "But we're not able, because of our rules and regulations, to just write him a (lump-sum) check."

Honey, I Was Kindnapped (Well, not really ...)

I found this story via Cruel.com, and sorry to say, I can sort of understand where this guy was coming from. I've never crashed a car on purpose to avoid the wrath of a female lover, but I can certainly understand his flawed logic. Defray, defray, defray. Men ... we are bad, aren't we?


Man Allegedly Fakes Kidnap to Hide Crash




SAN RAFAEL, California (AP) -- A man who allegedly faked his own kidnapping to keep his wife from finding out he crashed her new car could face criminal charges, police said.

Jorge Alberto Mejia, 35, told police two kidnappers held him up at gunpoint at a San Rafael bar Saturday and ordered him to drive to Santa Rosa, California, where he purposely crashed the car into a wall to escape.

Under questioning Monday, Mejia admitted to investigators he made the story up, including detailed descriptions of the nonexistent kidnappers.

"As far as we can tell, he was alone in the car," police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

Mejia was actually heading to a casino in Sonoma County, California, when he accidentally crashed his wife's 2007 Ford Focus and was worried about how she would react, Rohrbacher said.

Police were still considering whether to file charges against Mejia for making a false report.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I LOVE Tecmo Bowl. This is a great video. It made me smile.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Oly Beer

I had a few cans of Olympia Beer this weekend at an awesome bar, Doc's Clock. I totally Yelped it highly, as the place was a lot of fun. Anyway, they served Olympia Beer there, which is totally awesome. I did my undergrad at The University of Montana and this beer (along with Hamm's) was a regular at rugby drink-ups and other booze related affairs that I attended. It was cheap, it was ubiquitous and it got you drunk. Unfortunately, since I've left the Pacific Northwest I've yet to see any more Oly, until, lo and behold, Doc's Clock had it. Which sparked a little research interest in me, which led me to the finding that Oly had been bought out in 2003! But it's OK, 'cause Pabst (another fave of mine) picked her up. Go PBR!

So anywho, I found a neat little article about Oly and the saga it went through, courtesy of the nice folks at Kelley Advertising & Marketing. I posted it below. Enjoy.

Olympia Beer

A Good Campaign Accelerates the Death of a Brand

Olympia was a pale lager with a light taste, not unlike Coors.


In 1980, Olympia came to Chiat/Day, where I was working, to compete with several other agencies in creating a campign to help with their failing brand. Olympia Beer was brewed in the Western Washington town of Tumwater, and had been a local favorite, but was losing ground both to Budweiser and Miller and a local beer, Rainier, which had been running an inconsistent, irreverent, humorous TV campaign based on pop culture parodies. Meantime, Olympia's advertising was bland and ordinary and did nothing to overcome its image as 'my dad's beer'.

It appeared that there were no fundamental problems with the product, so the marketing communications challenge appeared to be simply to make Olympia 'okay for younger beer drinkers'.

We felt that humor would provide the best approach, but we didn't want to copy the Saturday Night Live humor of the Rainier advertising.

We were pondering a communications strategy when I suggested a brand personality based upon an entity--the Artesians. My feeling was that they could be an 'underground' group of free spirits that played pranks. But the Creative Department felt the Artesians should be more like leprechauns or elves, and that the humor should come from the lack of credibility of the people claiming to see them.

We were chosen by Olympia to produce our 'Artesian' campaign, and launched it a few months later.

The campaign was a resounding success. The brewery began to get hundreds of letters a month. the Artesians entered the popular culture locally, and both awareness of the Olympia brand and trial rates for the beer soared.

But ultimately, the campaign failed.

Why?

At the same time the Olympia Brand Management was selecting a new ad agency, they had given the assignment of redesigning the packaging of Olympia to Bright and Associates, an outstanding L.A. design firm. Bright came up with new designs that, as the client requested, emphasized the lightness Olympia was known for.

When the advertising did its job, and got beer drinkers to try Olympia again, they anticipated drinking a light-tasting beer.

Unbeknownst to the product managers, the brewmasters had, at the same time, reformulated the beer to a richer, more 'European' taste. They did a great job. This newly-formulated beer was a clear winner in double-blind taste tests against all the major American beers.

The result was disaster.

Buyers of Olympia--especially those trying it out for the first time--expecting a light beer, tasted something else entirely. They judged the new Olympia as a "bad light beer" instead of the objective judgement: a "rich tasting beer".

This mis-communication destroyed Olympia Beer's tenuous hold on market share, and resulted in the brewery being sold, and the loss of many jobs. (Though several micro breweries were launced by departed personnel.)

The moral of this case history is that you have to understand what your product is to the consumer. The product is more than you say it is. It both "is what it is" and it also 'is what it was'. And even good advertising cannot save a product that's mis-marketed.



Also, I thought I'd add a few YouTube commercial clips. Enjoy further.





Friday, February 09, 2007

Jewish/Chinese Success In China

I'm not a Jew, but I'm told i have a very Jewish look about me. Go figure. Also, I'm not Chinese (nor do I look Chinese in any way, for that matter), but I live in San Francisco which has a very substantial Chinese population. I stumbled across this article in the SF Gate and thought it was pretty ridiculous, really. As the author points out, mainland Chinese culture makes no bones about broad, racist stereotypes which we in the West have not necessarily ruled out, but at least frown upon publicly.

What I love most about this article, though, is that towards the end it is revealed that the authors behind these books promoting the "Jewish success" are neither accurate (many of their success stories do not involve Jews at all), nor are they even penned by the supposed authors at all. Basically, some enterprising Chinese have decided that the best way to hoodwink your fellow man is to assume a Western name, adhere to some old Western stereotypes and push literature out. That's a recipe for success any day. God/Yaweh bless capitalism!

Jewish 'success' sells big in China

Boom in books purporting to reveal business secrets

Friday, February 9, 2007

(02-09) 04:00 PST Shanghai -- Showcased in bookstores between biographies of Andrew Carnegie and the newest treatise by China's president are stacks of works built on a stereotype.

One promises "The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish."

Another title teases readers with "The Legend of Jewish Wealth." A third provides a look at "Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives."

In the United States, where making broad generalizations about races, cultures or religions has become unacceptable in most circles, the titles of some of these books might make people cringe. Throughout history and around the world, even outwardly innocuous and broadly accepted characterizations of Jews have sometimes formed the basis for eventual campaigns of violent anti-Semitism.

In Shanghai, which prides itself on having provided a safe haven for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe since the 1930s, some members of the city's small Jewish community are uneasy about the books' message.

These Jewish success books are very dangerous, said Audrie Ohana, 30, who works at her family's import-export company and attended China's prestigious Fudan University. "What they say -- it's not true. In our community, it's not everybody that succeeds. We're like everyone else. Some are rich, but there are others that are very, very poor."

Nonetheless, in China, a country where glossy pictures of new billionaires have become as common as images of Mao Zedong, aspiring Chinese entrepreneurs are obsessed with getting their hands on anything they think can help them get an edge on the competition.

In the past few years, sales of "success" books have skyrocketed, publishers say, and now make up nearly one-third of the works published in China. And perhaps no type of success book has been as well marketed or well received as those that purport to unveil the secrets of Jewish entrepreneurs. Many sell upward of 30,000 copies a year and are thought of in the same inspirational way as many Americans view the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

Among this booming genre's most popular books is William Hampton's "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom." It comes packaged in a red and gold cover, and a banner along the top brags that it was a "gold list" best-seller in the United States. Among Hampton's credentials, according to his biography: "Business Week editor," part of the "pioneer batch of Harvard DBAs," "professor in business strategy and philosophy" with "many years of experience in Jewish studies."

China is the fastest-growing book market in the world, with 130,000 new titles published in 2005. Sales reached $8.3 billion that year, a 50 percent jump from 2003, according to China National Publications Import and Export's data research arm.

Several of the business success books, despite their covers, focus on basic business acumen that has little to do with religion or culture. But others focus on explaining how Judaism has ostensibly helped Jewish people's success, even quoting extensively from the Talmud.

Practically every book features one or more case studies of the success of the Lehman brothers, the Rothschilds and other Jewish "titans of industry and captains of finance," as one author put it.

Some works incorrectly refer to J.P. Morgan, an influential Episcopalian leader, and John D. Rockefeller, a devout Baptist, as Jewish businessmen.

Most Chinese people have never met a Jew; they number fewer than 10,000 in a country of 1.3 billion people. But several of the most successful businessmen in the nation's financial capital, Shanghai, were Jewish. The Sassoon brothers, for instance, were real estate moguls of British descent from Baghdad who constructed the landmark Peace Hotel.

Positive stereotypes about Jews and their supposed business prowess have given the Jewish community iconic status in the eyes of the Chinese public. The cover of January's Shanghai and Hong Kong Economy magazine wonders, "Where does Jewish people's wisdom come from?"

Jewish entrepreneurs say they are bombarded with invitations to give seminars on how to make money "the Jewish way."

When asked for contact information for William Hampton, author of "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom," a representative for the book's publisher, Harbin Press, said the company obtained the manuscript from a translator and had never met the author.

A search of international ISBNs -- the 10-digit codes that identify books published in the United States and other countries -- pulled up no hits for books by a William Hampton with a title similar to "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom."

Harvard Business School has no record of a William Hampton in the first class of its doctorate of business administration program. Officials at Business Week magazine said there was a former employee with that name. William Hampton publishes an automobile newsletter.

Reached at his home near Detroit, Hampton said he was a former bureau chief and auto writer for the magazine, working there from 1977 to 1984, but had never served as an editor.

Moreover, he said he had no idea where the book came from.

"I can confidently tell you that this is not something that I did," he said. "This would not be a topic I would be knowledgeable about in any way. It would be helpful to be Jewish, for one thing."

Fun With Phones

I call on the phone all day. That's Sales for you. Consequently, I end up having some very interesting encounters with people on the other side of the line. Most of the people I call are considered, and I would wager consider themselves to be, what's known as a professional. You'd think that moniker in itself would dictate a certain decorum. I have found this assumption to be completely wrong.

One time I called and introduced myself and my company then apologised for intruding but explained that I just wanted to introduce my firm to him and then told him my firm's name. He barked out: "What was your firm's name again?"

I took this as a possible sign of interest, in that at least I had him talking. People like to talk, and among lawyers this is certainly the case, so I repeated the name.

"Oh yeah? Well you can take your company and shove it up your ass!" Then he slammed the phone down.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Language Barrier

Saw this linked from cruel.com, and felt that it was post-worthy here. Wild story.

Thai woman tells of 25-year detour after catching wrong bus

by Rapee Mama Thu Feb 8, 2:55 AM ET

DUSONGYO, Thailand (AFP) - A Thai mother who was lost for 25 years after catching the wrong bus home has spoken of her ordeal after being reunited with her family thanks to simple song.

The last time Jaeyaena Beuraheng saw her seven children was in 1982 when she left south Thailand on one of her regular shopping trips across the border to nearby Malaysia.

She never returned, and police later told her family that she had apparently been killed in a traffic accident.

In fact, Jaeyaena had simply taken the wrong bus home -- an error that would have been easy to fix except that she only speaks the local dialect of Malay known as Yawi, according to officials at the homeless shelter where the 76-year-old has lived for two decades.

"I didn't tell anybody where I was going on that day, because I went there quite often," she told AFP, crying as she spoke.

She was heading home from her shopping trip when she mistakenly hopped on a bus to Bangkok, some 1,150 kilometers (700 miles) north of her home in Narathiwat province.

In Bangkok, unable to read Thai and speaking a language few Thais can understand, she again took a wrong bus, this time to Chiang Mai, another 700 kilometers (430 miles) further north.

There she ended up as a beggar for five years, until she was sent to a homeless shelter in the central Thai province of Phitsanulok in 1987.

"I thought I would die in Phitsanulok. I thought about running away many times, but then I worried I would not be able to make it home. I really missed my children," Jaeyaena said.

Officials at the shelter told AFP that she was known as "Auntie Mon," because her speech sounded similar to the language of ethnic Mon living along the border with Myanmar.

But still no one could understand her, until last week when three health students from Narathiwat arrived on an exchange program to research the problem of homelessness at the shelter.

She sang a song for the visitors, one that the staff at the shelter had often heard but did not understand.

"She sang her same old song, one that nobody could understand until those three students from Narathiwat told us that she was sing in Yawi, a Malay dialect," the official said.

"So we asked them to talk to her and find out if she had relatives," official said.

Jaeyaena told the students that she had a Malaysian husband and seven children, recounting her entire story of the bus and how she had become lost in northern Thailand.

Her shocked family sent her youngest son and her eldest daughter to meet her and bring her home on Tuesday, the official said.

"She remembered all of her children's names. But at first she couldn't recognise her youngest son, but she recognised her eldest daughter," said the official, who was at their reunion.

Her children took her back to their family home in Dusongyo village, in a remote corner of Narathiwat, where her children and grandchildren were still hugging and kissing her two days after her return.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Chinatown


Was walking through Chinatown last night and saw this huge ad on the side of a building. Had to laugh, and had to take a photo of it (with my cell cam, apologies for the poor quality), if for no other reason than when Thorin and I were running around the city last year I kept repeating that line to him like every 10 minutes. I thought it was very funny to say it in Chinatown. Yeah ... sake and Tsingtao will do that.

For those of you who don't get it, please go here, here, here, and/or here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mr. Nice Guy

Walking down Mason street the other afternoon and I noticed a cell phone just lying there in the street. Picked it up, it was working. It was still on. I browsed through the recent call list and started dialing the folks. The first 3 didn't pick up, but the 4th did.

Them: "Hey Sugar Shack, what's up?"

Me: "Um ... hi, this is Wes, I found the phone I'm calling you from. I was hoping I could return it to the owner ..."

Them: "Oh my God! Where are you?!"

Me: "Mason and Jackson."

Them: "I'll be RIGHT THERE!"

Twenty seconds later a little gay Asian boy with a faux-hawk runs out of the building behind me and nearly bowls me over. I swear, I though he was going to pee himself, he was so excited.

So yeah, that's me getting some karma my direction. Good vibes, good deeds and all that.

Laser Rocket Arm

Does anyone else remember the Payton Manning commercial where he wears the 'stache and talks about himself in the 3rd person (as if the 'stache made him look like someone else, a disguise, if you will)? He refers to himself having a "laser rocket arm" in that commercial, which I jsut htink is hilarious. So, lo and behold, the Colts up and won the Super Bowl. Yeah! Go Laser ROcket Arm!

To celebrate, I am posting this link I found.

http://laserrocketarm.com/

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Simpsons Voices

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Amazing Hand Painting

Found some amazing pics while surfing the net. Check it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Your Site's Good, But It Needs More Cowbell . . ."

So here ya go, Thorin. More cowbell.





Thursday, February 01, 2007

Weak People

Without a doubt, one of the funniest situations I deal with daily are people that I call whom don't have a secretary that answer the phone and then act as if they are not themselves.

The conversation typically goes like this:

Me: "Hi, this is Wes Temby, is ________ available?"

Them: "Um ... who is this?"

At this point its a given that either a) the secretary is a dumb ass or b) the guy is trying to screen his own calls.

Me: "This is Wes, is _______ available?"

By now I've taken a little bit of a tone so that if they are a secretary they'll know I mean business and they'll put me through.

Them: "Um ... what are you calling about?"

It's so damn transparent. I know you're not the secretary, man.

Me: "Hi _______, this is Wes calling from the XXXXXX Corporation, how are you today?"

Them: "Um ... he's not here ..." {hang up}

I lose a lot of respect for these fools. If you don't wanna talk, fine. Just say so up front. Don't act all cowardly and hide from me over the phone. How old are you, 12? Seriously. Even 12 year olds are more ballsy than there pussies, they at least come out and identify themselves. Eff you, pussy man, eff you and your lack of dignity.

The Economy Is A Strange Thing

As anyone who knows me is aware, I have a pet interest in economics (pun intended?). So when I saw this article I had to post it. Funny how the cyber world is so advanced, or rather it's denizens are so accustomed to the idea of 'credit', that they easily convert the idea from one realm to the other. Commodities, left and right. In this instance you're not digging ditches all day to get paper from Boss Tweed that you turn around buy good/services with, but rather you're killing Orcs and Dark Elves for virtual gold that you then get your paper for. Fascinating.

Ebay bans online auctions of virtual game booty

Tue Jan 30, 2:59 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Ebay said that it had banned auctions of virtual gold, armor and other booty amassed in World of Warcraft and other online computer games.

The San Jose, California-based Internet auction house decided to bar sales of what was essentially computer code representing riches, swords and other items in games due to "legal complexities" regarding ownership.

"We decided it was best to just not allow sales of them," Ebay spokesman Hani Durzy said of virtual game goods.

"We are not saying they are legal and we are not saying they are illegal."

Ebay continues to allow auctions of items from virtual societies such as Second Life, where people represented by animated figures called "avatars" buy and sell homes and other "property" made of computer codes.

"Right now, Second Life is not considered a game so we are not applying the restriction to it," Durzy said.

In massive multiplayer online role-playing games such as Warcraft gamers represented by avatars wage battles and undertake quests, gathering gold, weaponry, armor and other virtual goods along the way.

Enterprising young gamers have earned livings playing Warcraft and selling their booty online to those willing to pay to advance quickly through the different levels of the games.

Durzy compared the ban on Ebay auctions of virtual game goods to the firm's decisions to bar sales of alcohol or tobacco, which are lawful products controlled by complex governmental regulations.

Ebay removes auctions of virtual game items found on its website, Durzy said. The policy was put in place within the past few weeks.

"Remember, our policies are ever evolving," Durzy said. "We will change them if the communities, state of the culture, or laws dictate such."

Ebay would not disclose the volume of sales of virtual game items it had recorded on its website, which reported 53.5 billion dollars worth of online auction trades in 2006.