Dear Japan: Absolutely not.

December 8, 2009

But if I did this at home I'd be late.

This Japanese poster campaign is asking commuters not to do certain “annoying” things on the subway.

Here’s what I think is annoying on the subway:

Wearing knapsacks at rush hour


When two friends sit on either side of a stranger and talk over them.

Brushing hair when there’s a person sitting beside you (flake shower, grode)

Standing in the doorway, blithely blocking passengers from exiting. WHAT IS THAT.

Smoking crack into a napkin (I actually saw a guy do that on the TTC, just once. I was really confused about what he was doing until I told a more worldly friend, Hey, I saw a guy light up and inhale off something hidden in his hand, hold the smoke for about 40 seconds, then exhale into a Starbucks napkin, and what he exhaled smelled like sulphur, and my friend said, Uh, that was crack. Huh. Cracky McGuy was about 70 years old, nicely-dressed, not a tooth in his mouth. Summerhill Station. Who knew. Also, to be honest? Not really annoying, and actually quite fascinating.)


Here’s what I do NOT find annoying: Applying makeup. Why would that be annoying? A woman applying makeup has her elbows tucked into her ribs as they should be. She’s not flaking body parts onto anyone. She’s not being loud or getting in the way. If anything, she’s being entertaining and educational because I get to watch her make a painting of her own face, and also I get some tips on how to curl my lashes or whatever.

You know, if you curl them twice- once at the base, once halfway up- you don't get that crimpy look? True story. I learned it at Osgoode Station. And that person on the side giving her the stinkeye? That person is OUT OF LINE.

Subway Makeup Wimmin is going to arrive at her destination on time and looking polished. It’s a real boon to the workforce, actually. If anything applying makeup is practically a public service. She should be rewarded, not scorned. I salute you, Subway Makeup Wimmin.

So dear Japan: In response to your subway ad about not putting on makeup in transit: I respectfully reply, NO. I will NOT not put on makeup in transit. And you can’t not make me not do it.

However, Japan, those other things you asked commuters not to do? Totally fine. Especially this nonsense.


Via Copyranter, Via BoingBoing.

Air Miles are jerks

September 26, 2008
Am I seeing things, or is that happy face totally mocking me?

Am I seeing things, or is that happy face totally mocking me?

I’m not gonna even tell you how long I’ve been collecting Air Miles, both on my Air Miles card and on an Air Miles credit card. I have never redeemed any miles. And this amount of miles- collected over a period of YEARS- is about enough to trade in for a $20 yoga mat. I don’t even think I could fly to Rochester with this piddling dribble of miles, let alone somewhere good. Air Miles are jerks. I need a new loyalty card. Maybe one that will give me a free bag of popcorn every five years, that would be a step up.

Freelancers and money: don’t get too excited.

August 17, 2008

I’m writing this post in response to a couple of recent conversations I had with friends who, like me, work freelance.

From experience, I know that when you have a corporate job, your earnings are on a pretty predictable ladder. You negotiate your salary on entry and thereafter come the delightful wee annual raises. After exemplary displays of workplace acumen, you can of course get merit raises, but even they tend to be based on a ladder- you might get a raise that pays you like an employee of four years, for instance, even though you’ve only been at the company for two years. It’s all scaled, and it’s pretty easy to make sense of where you should fit in the pecking order.

Plus, in an office environment, it’s easy to guess what your coworkers make (or snoop it out, you naughty naughty admin assistant). Besides, you know what to ask for because you can actually observe others on the job and gauge your value to the team relative to theirs. Once I worked with a team member who, during a workday, updated his Facebook status to “….is drunk at work!” At any rate, in a structured workplace, because you know the raises are coming, it’s easy to relax and wait for the ten-year Timex to come ticking your way.

Freelance work is not like that at all. Sure, there are union scale rates, but outside of that, a lot of freelancers make money from teaching, consulting, and guest appearances, and it’s really hard to know what to charge. I do a lot of gigs like this. Because there’s nobody else to compare myself to, I never really know how I measure up. What is my contribution as a consultant or guest artist worth? How on earth do I quantify it? And am I supposed to raise it 3.5% every year? Or add 10% to my invoices forever after I do a show that kills? It’s a blobby little jellyfish, the freelance salary, and not easy to grab a hold of.

I know what some of my friends charge for their freelance creative services, and I think they tragically lowball themselves. They provide entertainment or insight in exchange for what amounts to a sparkly pebble or two, even though wouldn’t lose clientele by asking more. Yet they agonize over raising their rates, gazing into the distance over dinner and worrying that they just aren’t worth it, after all, they only have Grade 12 piano, 10 years’ teaching experience, two university degrees, a sparkling personality, and good hygiene. (I know that sounded really specific, but that specific list of qualifications actually applies to SIX of my acquaintances.) And off goes the hoodie-clad freelance army, hustling all over town to make gigs and rustle up contracts, working harder than most to bank inconsistent amounts of cash. Why?

I thought this article by personal development writer Steve Pavlina had some interesting insights into what causes people to lowball themselves, and how to address the problem. Here’s an excerpt:

…. I watched a poker tournament on TV where Daniel Negreanu (one of the “winningest” players on earth) got knocked out of the final table. His prize money was $60,000. The top prize for first place was probably around $1 million. In the exit interview, he was asked what he was going to do with all the money he won. He chuckled with surprise, as if to say, “Money? What money? I lost the tournament.” Then he said something like, “I dunno. $60,000? What can I do with that? Buy a car maybe? [sigh].” He clearly had the attitude that $60,000 was a small, almost negligible amount of money. It wasn’t a serious sum.

It was as if the interviewer had said, “Daniel, you just won a dollar! What are you going to do with it?” And Daniel replied jokingly, “I dunno… buy a soda maybe? [sigh].”

While some people might see Negreanu’s attitude as haughty, arrogant, or elitist, I think it’s a reflection of a wealthy mindset. This may help explain why his tournament poker winnings exceed $10 million to date. Since $60K represents a small amount to him, he’s a vibrational match for earning and holding much larger sums. If $60K was a lot of money to him, he probably wouldn’t be able to win even that much, and even if he did win it, he’d have a hard time holding onto it.

Worth a read if you’re wondering whether or not you should raise your rates.

Random Craigslist post: An open letter to the Minotaur who lives above me

August 15, 2008

First off, I must say that I admire your courage. It must be hard living in the world today as a lady-beast. Society judges, oh lord do they ever.

With that said, let’s get down to business. Over the past year, we’ve had a funny sort of relationship, you and I. When I first moved into the place, it was rather peaceful. It was an exciting time in my life, as it was the first time I would be living by myself. Then came the day that I first heard it. What did I hear you ask? It was sound of your hooves galloping across the hardwood floors of your living room. At the time I thought, “No big deal, surely it can’t always be like this.” Oh was I wrong. It turned out that every time I was at home, you would be up there, stomping around, like the wild lady-beast that you are.

After a few weeks, I determined through a process of elimination, that you are in fact, a Minotaur. It only makes sense.

Artist's interpretation.

Artist's interpretation.

FACT. Minotaurs have hooves, and that’s sure as hell what it sounds like is hitting the floor when you gallop around.

FACT. A Minotaur posses great strength, the kind of strength that can be felt by a guy laying on his couch, trying to get into a good book. The kind of strength that shakes the dishes in his cupboards. The kind of strength that can wake a guy out of a dead sleep, EVERY FRICKIN MORNING. I didn’t even need to set an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. Instead I wake up to THUMP THUMP THUMP. THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP. THUMP THUMP THUMP. I’m not a light sleeper by any means; I sleep right through the viscously loud police, fire truck, and ambulance sirens every night. I was lying there one morning, frustrated, counting the trips you took between your bedroom and your bathroom. 17. 17 god forsaken trips between the bedroom and the bathroom. Really? Are you kidding me? What could you possibly be doing?

FACT. Minotaurs are half bull. Bulls are aggressive when taunted. Apparently, the time I went upstairs, politely introduced myself, and asked you rather nicely to please quit stomping around, was a taunt. That’s when you got aggressive. You called the landlord and told him that I was complaining about your noise. When he told me about this, he said his response to your complaint was, “Quit making so much noise then.” Brilliant. Go Mr. Landlord! I tried keeping him out of this, but you felt it important to drag him into it.

After a few more weeks of you recklessly stomping around, I made another attempt at a civil confrontation. It failed. It failed because you stomped your way to the door, and you didn’t open it when you saw who was standing there. I know this because I heard your hooves clippity-clop their way to the door. Way to avoid confrontation.

To my surprise, the stomping ceased the next day, and I awoke to peace. “Amazing,” I thought, “It must be a midsummer miracle!!” A few days passed, and I ran into my landlord in the entry way. He mentioned that he received another angry phone call from you. Said that you felt threatened by my confrontations, said I scared you. Strange, since not once did I ever raise my voice or try to be anything but civil. He then mentioned that he told you to buy some slippers to wear around your apartment. Genius! It freakin worked!! Hell yea, Mr Landlord! High five!

Fast forward 11 months. The stomping has returned. No doubt in my mind the hooves have worn through the delicate fabrics of the slippers and are now, once again, banging against your hardwood floors.

Please, for the love of sweet baby jesus, run down to the local Target and purchase yourself another pair of hoof mufflers. I know you can run with those strong legs of yours, probably real fast like! Target downtown is all of 10 blocks away. Go Minotaur, go! Overcome the odds, society is watching! (and judging)


Flash webpage animation: the best application I’ve ever seen

July 29, 2008

I do not like Flash-animated webpages. They load slow, they’re never as clever as they’re intended to be, and the individual pages are unlinkable- so if I want to refer someone to a specific item- you know, disseminate information, thus using the interweb for its original purpose- I can’t, because all the information is floating around on some clever design concept, instead of sitting in one place with a URL that lets me capture it. What, am I supposed to say,

“Hey fellow bridesmaids, I think I found an affordable dress in the bride’s chosen colour palette that would look nice on all four of us, score! Wanna see it? Just go to this website and then wait 3 minutes and 24 seconds. There’s some opening animation of flowers and vines and stuff, just wait that out. Then some shoes walk by for a while. Yeah, they just walk past with no feet in them, no it’s not MAGIC, it’s Flash animation. Then there’s a bunch of belts undulating like snakes, yeah, more Flash, yep, that website designer sure knew her Flash. I know you wanna see the dress but I can’t link to it, it’s Flash– never mind, not much longer now. Uh, well, first there’s a ballet of pantsuits, and then the dress, oh no wait, more vines- ok, now. See those 22 dresses square-dancing all over the screen? No, BEHIND the vines. I’m talking about the blue dress on the left, uh no, the other blue one, the one that just did a doe-si-doe, and now it’s gonna curtsey and… it’s gone. Didja like it? Uh… oh. ‘Kay, just press “reload” and call me in 3 minutes and 24 seconds.”

Nothing makes me lose my mind faster than a Flash site. They impress designers and nobody else. “Oh hai, you’re a photographer? Cool! Can I see some of the photos you took, or did you want me to first look at an inexplicable Flash animation of an empty wheelchair slowly rolling through a scrolling animated streetscape? Where is that, Cuba? Cool, ok. Oh look, still rolling along, huh. I’m just gonna go eat some expired yogurt, call me when the porfolio comes up.”

Um, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, Flash websites. Well, usually they’re a waste of everyone’s time. But not this time! Here’s a site for German Dutch department store HEMA.

Best use of Flash ever. Except, then, after the Flash is done, the site just sits there shaking. Ok, so maybe this whole site is just a (very) clever portfolio for some German Dutch Flash designer. Or maybe that’s the entire extent of the functionality of yet another non-navigable Flash site. We’ll never know, will we.

Well yes, a stapler is a rather neat machine.

Well yes, a stapler is a rather neat machine.