Thursday, August 17, 2017

Advertising irony

Increasingly intrusive advertising may well go down in history as one of the greatest blights of the technological age.

Who honestly enjoys telemarketers and robocalls interrupting quality family time? Have you never dropped what you were in the middle of doing and rushed to the phone, no matter how inconvenient it might be because you were expecting an important call, only to be offered a “free” cruise?

Am I the only one to find many websites becoming nigh-on unusable due to pop-ups and overlays and auto-playing videos? It’s no longer enough to have adverts in the banners and sidebars. People have the temerity to ignore them, so they find ever more ingenious ways to force themselves into your vision and hearing, and many no longer have buttons to dismiss or pause them.

And have you ever wondered how much time websites these days spend downloading advertising compared with actual content? I wonder how long it will be before someone takes an advertiser to court for stealing their bandwidth by dumping unsolicited crap on them?

Yes, you may have guessed that I hate advertising in all its forms, which may be why I’m so stunningly bad at marketing.

And as far as I’m concerned, there is such a thing as bad publicity because any advert that makes it past my filters generally triggers a mental note never to do business with that company if I can possibly avoid it.

Which is why what happened on my way to work this morning was quite remarkable.

We are fortunate that highways where I live are mercifully free of commercial hoardings, except for one brief stretch of a few hundred meters that I drive through on my way to work.

Up ahead, a sign caught my eye ... but in a good way.

It was advertising the annual Greek Fest in Victoria, that only last weekend Ali and I had been talking about.

For once, I was ready to pay attention.

For once, and I can’t honestly remember when - if ever - this last happened, I wanted to read the advert. When is it taking place? Are tickets on sale yet? There must be dates up there but it’s still too far off to read properly.

But my curiosity went unfulfilled.

Before I got close enough to read, the electronic billboard switched over ... to advertise the advertising company that owned the sign.

Yes, they had a willing customer approaching and they chose that moment to advertise themselves at the expense of their paying client.

How ironic is that?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thought for the day

As long as you start off with sufficient credibility ...
You can inspire whole nations with powerful and resonant  
"I will do"s

Witness the moon race in the 60s

But ...
you only earn lasting respect with meaningful  
"I have done"s


What have you done today to make a difference in your world?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Family matters

What a hectic seven days that’s been!

Just last week, Megan graduated from high school. I took time off work to manage all the driving around to and from the rehearsal and the graduation ceremony. It was a long ceremony with around 250 students graduating.



No caps and gowns here, because they followed straight on with a dinner/dance, then on to the Dry Grad party until the small hours. I volunteered to help out at the latter, knowing she’d need to be picked up anyway. We got home as it was getting light at 5am!

This weekend, of course, was Canada Day, and we had friends around for a curry last night. I don’t often post pics of food in progress, but here’s a few showing the initial preparation (there’s so many ingredients involved that I like to get most of it lined up before anything hits the pan), some dishes on the go, and the final products ready to serve.




Then, to cap it all, it was Megan’s birthday. She decided she wanted to go skydiving, so a tandem jump was our gift to her. We live near the airport, and can often see the plane circling the drop zone in the summer weekends, but it was a different matter knowing our own daughter was up in that plane.



Well, after all that excitement I’m hoping for a quieter summer! How about you? And happy July 4th to all those south of the border.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

June update

My goal this year is to publish The Ashes of Home before the end of the year, hopefully in November.

There’s a lot of work still to do before then. I’ve got a group of critiquers looking at the novel in depth, but this is a long process. I don’t expect they’ll be done before the end of August, which leaves little time for final edits and multiple read-throughs.

Then I need to get the whole thing in the hands of the book designer, which from past experience will take a few weeks of back and forth before getting back the final product.

All this stacks up in terms of timelines, many pieces of which are outside my control. But I think it’s still do-able.

One thing I’m doing differently this time around is getting a head start on the cover art. Previously I went to the book designer with only rough drafts to discuss, which meant a month or two elapsed time slotted into the process while I produced the final artwork. This time I am being a bit bolder and settling on the artwork ahead of time.

I posted some drafts back in January, and the overwhelming consensus was for design #2, so that is what I’m going with. While the critiquing process is ticking quietly along, the artwork is starting to take shape.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A tabletop exercise

I recently posted pics of our refurbished deck - a big upheaval this Spring that we are glad to have completed. Trouble is, we still weren’t properly able to take advantage of it during the week or so of fine weather at the end of last month.

We had an 8-seater table with a tiled top. Very nice to look at - when it was new - but over the years many of the tiles had cracked and were lifting. We checked reviews after the fact and found this to be a common problem with this design.

We were already thinking of renewing the top at some point. It was also very heavy, and we decided there was no way we were lifting it down off the deck and back up again. So this was clearly the time to strip off the tiles, making it light enough to move while they worked on the deck, with the intention of re-tiling afterwards.

Part 1 of the plan didn’t yield the result we expected. Instead of leaving a nice base underneath, the base (some sort of resin reinforced with wire mesh) was also cracked and came away with the tiles.

We were left with nothing more than a bare metal frame. Easy to move out of the way. Not so good for eating off.

After much agonizing over possibilities and cooking up alternative plans, I eventually came up with a design and spent last weekend busy with saw, plane, and wood screws.

Our outdoor living space is now officially back in action!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Another blog

I’m still keeping this main blog going for general life and writing topics as & when the mood takes me, but I’m finding it beneficial to separate out some things into their own more focused blogs rather than mix everything in here.

I already mentioned my recipe blog, Rumble in the Tumble. After daily postings in April, this one is slowing down because we revisit favorite recipes every few weeks and I’m only posting here when we do something I’ve not already described.

Just for fun, I’ve recently been playing with another concept entirely. It’s called Land of the Rising Dumb, and takes a gentle poke at a certain administration, ‘cos - hey - you’ve really just gotta have a laugh sometimes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

All decked out for summer

Last summer we realized that we would soon need to do something with our deck. Spanning the garage and wrapping around the living room and kitchen to the front and rear, the deck is a vital part of our living space for at least half the year.

Trouble is, the railing was starting to sag alarmingly to the point where I wouldn’t have wanted to put any weight on it, and there were a few places where there was a noticeable bounce under foot. Not good.

So we resolved to put things to rights this Spring before the fine weather kicked in. A builder friend managed to squeeze us in between jobs - and in between spells of rain that dragged the process out a lot longer than it might have taken, but we’re there now and very pleased with the results.

The most nerve-wracking part of the operation was having the garage open to the weather while they ripped off the old decking and put down new plywood. We had to clear the place out beforehand and do our best to shield the freezer and shelves the that remained. Here’s how they left it that first evening. Luckily the next 24 hours stayed dry and the garage was covered again by the time the next showers hit.



And here is the finished work. We’d debated going for aluminum railings (zero maintenance) but opted for cedar in the end, and we are both happy with that decision. They were able to salvage the glass panels that were in place originally and put everything back very much like it was.



Yes, that’s our barbecue sitting lonely in the corner. I had to take off one side shelf to maneuver it through the door and into the kitchen while they worked. There was no way we were going to get it down the stairs, remembering the battle we had years ago getting it up there in the first place.
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