“Meet the Artist”

I didn’t participate in Artomatic this year, mostly because I didn’t have the time to prepare for it and felt that it would end up with me doing something that I wouldn’t be thrilled with (and probably feel was more half-assed than normal). I like Artomatic a great deal, and I’ve enjoyed participating in the past. But when we went on Saturday night, it was “Meet the Artist” night, and I was reminded of one of the few things I did not like about participating, and one was that very event.

When I’d participated my two other times, I skipped Meet the Artist entirely the first time, and the second time I went but instead walked around and met other artists rather than staying in front of my own space. I know you might think it’s a little silly, but today I read Julia Wertz’s latest comic strip about exhibiting at comic book shows, and it was nice to see that I am not the only one who sees the following unfold far too often:

And that is why I do not miss that particular little event one bit. No doubt if I’d participated this year, I would have once more avoided it like the plague. I’m already my own worst critic, I don’t need others to try and prove me wrong.

Another Reason I Hate Telemarketing

While I was brushing my teeth this morning, the phone rang. Thinking it might be work, I spat out my toothpaste and rinsed quickly, then hurried to the phone… where it turned out to be a telemarketer. I picked it up, told them no and to not call again, then hung up and gathered everything up for work.

It wasn’t until I was halfway to work that I realized that thanks to the interruption in the schedule, I had not taken my allergy medicine or vitamins. Grrrrr.

(Ironically, the telemarketer was from a magazine that I like, offering one of those “we’ll send you this best of book, if you don’t like it you can send it back and the postage is on us” and it’s a book I wouldn’t have minded. But I have a firm “I will not buy anything from a telemarketer” policy in place. No exceptions. I just hate the practice, even when the people on the phone are perfectly nice and pleasant.)

On the bright side, allergy shots in general are definitely doing something right. (As are the pillow and mattress covers that I finally bought, which among other things block dust mites.) I would have been majorly stuffed up and feeling distinctly unpleasant by now, two years ago. Instead, just a tiny bit stuffed up. But still.

And on a different note, as this is my last year in running the Ignatz Awards, it has been a wonderful feeling to clear a lot of the stuff connected to it out of my office this week. Between that and getting rid of some other stuff on my own, it is almost completely presentable. Yay!

So Long, Freecycle

Thanks for becoming useless, Freecycle.

When I first heard about Freecycle years ago, it was fairly brilliant,  a way to offer up things that you don’t need, so that instead of throwing them away someone else will come and take them off your hands. No payments, just giving things away to someone else who wants them. Over the years I’ve given a lot away on Freecycle.

For the past few years, though, the DC-area Freecycle groups have become slightly… well, draconian. They were splintered into lots of smaller groups, which made sense. But suddenly they started demanding that people prove that they were in that small geographical focus, something I always found silly because does it really matter if I live on one side of a town line or the other if I’m going to keep things from being thrown away? This is an area with enough communities and towns all up alongside one another it’s not like I’m in Topeka signing up for things in Chicago. I had to actually fight to get onto the group where my office is; it’s easier for me to have people pick up things here, based on location and hours, than where my home is.

Today, the group for where my office is located sent out a note saying the following:

The Freecycle Networkâ„¢ made a structure change from groups serving large geographic areas to local groups serving local communities several years ago. This “local focus” helps us create a close-knit, local giving community of neighbors helping neighbors that makes a real impact.

In an effort to maintain our local focus, we need to reserve membership in this group for folks who live in McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, and Merrifield.  Local charities are welcomed (and encouraged) to join. Working here isn’t enough to qualify, you *need* to live here.

If you don’t live within the community we serve, we need to ask you to unsubscribe from this Freecycle list and join the Freecycle group where you live. This will ensure that you are participating with your neighbors, and building community there. Over the next several weeks, we moderators will be doing a clean up, and in the process, might actually take care of this for you.

It’s nice to see this local group go completely opposite against this statement from Freecycle’s “About” page: “The Freecycle Network is open to all communities and to all individuals who want to participate.” In an area where the majority of people work and live in different areas, this message is loud and clear. “We don’t want you. Throw away things rather than try to give them to us.”

Well done, Freecycle. Every time I see a landfill from now on, I’ll think of you.

Totally Awesome News

The best kind of news article? I’ve decided it’s the kind where there’s a hidden surprise halfway through. It’s like one of those movies with the surprise twist halfway through, just when you think you know where it’s headed. (Although hopefully better than the last few M. Night Shyamalan movies. The only surprises left there are how much you’ll feel like you overpaid to see the film. But I digress.)

Take for instance, this lovely article from DallasNews.com.

Veteran Dallas County jail guard fired over comments
07:26 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News

A veteran Dallas County jail guard has been fired for making offensive comments about his religious beliefs to co-workers, including his contention that gays should be “put to death,” sheriff’s reports show.

At this point I’m thinking to myself, “Oh look, another boring article.” And as I read along, at first it seems fairly run-of-the-mill. Hates gay people, hates non-white people, and pulls out the whole “the Bible says slavery is all right.” Now to be fair, I am impressed that he pointed to the Bible’s pro-slavery passages, because normally people just go for the anti-gay stuff in that section. (Funny how no one ever goes for the “God says you may beat your children” and “mixed fibers are a sin” passages, but that’s another story.)

But then? Suddenly, with no warning…

“I believe that all dinosaurs were born of Satanic angel who has sex with woman and the animal kingdom that created ungodly reptilian creatures none of these were on the Ark,” Johnson said.

What the?!?!

As if to make you think you just mis-read that paragraph, the next two paragraphs are back to boring anti-gay, you’re-going-to-get-fired everyday material. But then we go back to the motherlode of awesome.

“He continued making statements which included his belief that God had sex with angels, and that dinosaurs were destroyed because man had sex with them, as well as his belief that the Devil had sex with humans,” the report concluded.

This is now, officially, the best news article ever. Also, I am going to write up a book proposal involving God having sex with angels, humans having sex with dinosaurs, the Devil having sex with humans, and Satanic angels giving birth to dinosaurs. I will sell a billion copies. Possibly more.

Also, I want to know just what it would look like to see a (Satanic) angel giving birth to an apatosaurus (the dinosaur formerly known as brontosaurus). Maybe someone could please computer animate this for me? If I ever have children, I am fairly certain I could show it to them to make them do… well… anything I want. “Brush your teeth or this might happen to you.” “Clean your room or you’ll give birth to a dinosaur.” Just think of the possibilities.

When Search Engines Go Horribly Wrong

At my job, when we put together training there are often still images used to accompany the text on the screen, to help get the idea across. Rather than shoot all of these images ourselves (although we do that at times, plus depending on what the course is about we often get photos directly from our clients), sometimes we go to stock photo services. One of these places is Photos.com, which back in the day used to be a huge boon to our work. They had a great photo library and we found a lot of good selections.

Now, I’m not saying all the photos were good. Even back then there were some rather questionable images. But we’ve noticed lately that some images don’t quite fit what you’re asking for. (I won’t even get into the nudity that crops up when you least expect it. I think we’re all still a little dazed by the naked guy holding a bunch of bananas next to—but not in front of—his crotch.) Take, for example, today. I typed airplane and eating into the search box, told the website that it had to match all of the search words, and clicked on submit. What I wanted was a photo of someone (preferably a family, but I’d take what I could get) eating food on a plane. Perhaps even a meal provided by the airline. What I got… well…

Ok, which of the three do you think showed up in response to the words airplane and eating?

A shirtless man holding a bottle for a baby?

A pile of crabs?

Or a hummingbird eating nectar from a flower?

Continue reading When Search Engines Go Horribly Wrong

Overheard in the Post Office

While waiting in line to buy stamps this morning, I watched the woman in front of me bring a large Flat Rate Priority Box up to the counter.

Postal Employee, weighing the box: Do you want to use a different box? This is so light it will actually cost less if we put it in another box.
Customer: No, I want to use this box. It needs to get there this week.
Postal Employee: We can use another Priority Mail box but with the weight…
Customer: No.
Postal Employee: After insurance and tracking it comes to $12.55.
Customer, angry: Why is this so expensive?
Postal Employee: That’s why I was saying we should put this in a different box.
Customer: You’re over-charging me! I’ll take this to the McLean Post Office and they’ll charge me less.

I’ll bet you anything the customer has no idea what the phrase “flat rate” actually means. I wish I could have overheard what happened at the other post office, for an encore.