Archive for May, 2010

May 31, 2010

Highway musings

As we were driving home on I-35 this afternoon, I spotted a few gas stations/convenience stores along the way. One of them was called “Sac-N-Pac” and the other, a few miles further, was “Pac-N-Sac”. For some unknown reason, these names irritate THE HELL OUT OF ME.

What do they mean?
Do you buy stuff that the cashier packs in a sack for you?
Or do you bring your own recycled sack into the store so that the cashier can pack your stuff in it?
Do you Pac or do you Sac first?

There is no end to the questions.

Other moronic brand names, since we’re at it:

  • Saks (the high end version of the Sac-N-Pac)
  • Pocari Sweat (WTH Japan?)
  • Teenflo (menstrual relief? no. Canadian fashion)
  • The North Face (an open invitation for “The South Butt“)
  • Gerber (in French, “gerber” is slang for regurgitation)

Feel free to add to my list.

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May 23, 2010

Re-tuning

I’m currently doing the same thing I do every week: writing a blog post for my boss to share important division news with staff.

A coworker handed this to me the other day; she thought it had my name all over it.

Things are a little bit different this week because my boss’ last day in the office was last Friday; she’s moved to lead another State agency division. So I am now writing in the name of her deputy director, the man who will carry her duties forward. After writing in her voice for over a year and a half, I’m going to have to rethink a lot of things.

  • On one hand, I want to ensure staff keep getting the news they grew accustomed to; and want to deliver them in a tone that’s somewhat familiar.
  • On the other hand, I also want staff to realize we have someone new at the helm of the ship. This is going to be a fun one.

My boss was very direct and casual in speech, so I could get away with a lot of things. Her successor is more formal. The challenge will be to convey more formality while keeping the blog light enough to be enjoyed by the readers. “Formal blog” is an oxymoron and blogging is all about shrinking the barriers between people and information. Language shouldn’t get in the way.

So maybe I could continue to write with a somewhat similar style, while inserting a few fancy words here and there. I’ve already replaced “Hello” with “Greetings”. And used the word “bestowed”.
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This is going to be a long day.

May 19, 2010

Dramatic Chipmax of YouTube Lore

Have you seen “the best 5 second clip on the Internet”? It’s right here below.

20,901,395 views as of right now. 16,359,048 of them were probably me. I’ve been laughing my head off at this clip since 2007.

Now, watch this Carmax ad. Because I said so, that’s why.

Evidently, I found this ad hilarious when I first saw it during the SuperBowl. It aired again tonight during Lost. Most of my friends giggled at the chipmunk and the parrot, but did not understand why the ad was all that. This guy didn’t get it either.

I got the reference so I think Carmax is way cool and I am now more likely to use their services because I am an impressionable consumer. My friends remain unconvinced.

Which makes me wonder: does Carmax only want to sell reports to YouTube fans and Internet addicts or do they care to cater to a wider audience? If it’s the first, they could have saved a lot of money by advertising online instead of buying TV time. If it’s the latter, I’m afraid they missed their opportunity. The dramatic chipmunk only works if you’re part of the online society with the shared memory of the startled rodent and its innocent debut in a Japanese TV show.

I shall now wait for the “Charlie bit me” inspired commercial. I bet you could sell M&Ms with this one. Or sour cream.

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May 10, 2010

A merger of equals!

5 days ago, upon hearing of the Continental/United airlines merger, I decided to send Continental a message to express my dismay:

Dear Continental Airlines,

You have always been my favorite airline to fly because of the comfort and services you offer, which exceed the ones of other airlines.
I hope this merger with United will not dilute what makes you truly special.
I have two questions for you:

  1. will your seats recline less now? I had a very comfortable flight from Houston to Tokyo on your plane and a very sucky one from Tokyo to Bangkok on United. I enjoyed the space of a queen on Continental and was packed like a rat on United.
  2. what will happen to the snackies? Continental has shown more generosity and consideration in feeding passengers than United ever has. Please tell me this won’t be the end of the snackies. Please. Snackies…

Love,
Loulia

This evening, I glanced at my inbox and noticed they wrote me back! I was excited and giddily opened the e-mail:

Dear Madam:

Thank you for contacting the OnePass Service Center.

This is a merger of equals, bringing together the best of both organizations and cultures to create a world-class airline with tremendous and enduring strengths.

We will keep you informed throughout the planned integration process. Please visit our dedicated joint merger website for the latest news and updates: www.unitedcontinentalmerger.com.

Regards,

C.J.
OnePass Service Center

What kind of half-assed answer is that? The customer service representative not only superbly ignored both my (very pertinent, mind you) questions, and also told me to go look for information elsewhere (which is the customer service equivalent of telling someone to go fly a kite). I am proud to say the organization I work for treats its customers much better than that and that place is the D to the M to the V.

I wonder if they’ll respond to my follow-up e-mail:

“I bet Austria thought it was entering a merger of equals back in 1938…”

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May 10, 2010

Kontain your excitement

Facebook not working for you? Find Twitter status updates limiting? Kontain was created to offer people a way to tell their story visually.

“Choose a photo or video from your PC or mobile device and quickly broadcast it to your friends and the world on a simple platform — it’s the new way for people to connect and share their life. (…) Kontain was founded on the belief in the power of visual updates. We love social media but we were frustrated by all the noise on existing networks, and wanted to watch instead of just read about all the things our friends and family were doing.”

Two things bother me here:

  1. People can already do all these things on Facebook – there’s hardly anything revolutionary about the Kontain concept. Even if the platform is better suited for sharing videos and photos, I doubt people will stop posting to Facebook where their networks are already established and where they can tag each other. I used to be a heavy Flickr user until I realized I could reach more people I cared about on Facebook.
  2. What’s with the name? “Kontain”? If the tool is social and all about sharing, why try to “contain” it?

I usually love signing up for any new communication tool I can find on the internet but I didn’t create a username for Kontain. I was just too put off by the constricting name. Communication is about outreach and expansion. Not about containment.

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May 5, 2010

Happy as a Bee

Is “Happy as a bee” even an expression? Not sure why it’s stuck in my head.

Brand-yourself.com, an “online reputation” management platform, allows you to calculate your Google grade. Just tried it and scored B.

6 of the top 10 google results for your name are about you. Brand-Yourself can help you improve this score.

My dad scored an A+ and he doesn’t even know how to use a computer.

My husband scored an F. With a name like John Miller, what do you expect. I personally think he’s lucky; what’s better than potential employers finding 60% of good things about you on the interwebs? Finding nothing at all! Nothing to hold against you, nothing to investigate, just pure sexy mystery.

May 3, 2010

Loophole: closed

I am all caught up on Lost and am happy to announce my return to Full Internet Bliss – I fib you not!

During the past 3 months or so, my husband and I religiously watched a couple of Lost episodes every night so we could see the show finale at the same time as everyone else. As a consequence, we had to limit our internet browsing experience in order NOT to fall prey to any spoilers. John survived that pretty well, but that was TORTURE to me. One of the things I enjoy most in life on the Internet is participating in forum discussions about things that interest me. Not being able to read the theories random strangers had about this or that episode felt very limiting.

To me, an experience isn’t 100% fun or fulfilling if I don’t get to communicate, compare and contrast it with others. After I got back from Japan 5 months ago, I spent hours reading about the journeys of other people who traveled there and looking at their photos. When I started playing the mbira, I searched for more people online who share this passion. All this multiplies the effects of the experience.

Some people told me they think I’m an exhibitionist or a show off because of the things I post online, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I used to write a personal blog before this one, on the now defunct journalspace.com. In the four years I blogged there, I met new people whose presence migrated from the comment box to being my wedding guests. I was also exposed to opposing views of the world that completely blew my mind.  I also learned to navigate the Web like a fish in water. I 0wned the place, man.

It’s simple, the key to opening yourself up to new experiences, people, ideas is to put all of yourself out there – there’s no room for compromise. Those who choose to be more discreet claiming they’re modest are  just afraid of their untapped potential.