Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Authentic by Design

I create a flier/poster for the Library each month named "Check It Out". This will usually showcase a few titles (books) that have a similar theme and offer a quick, one or two sentence synopsis of the book. There are usually seven or eight books that are reviewed each month.

We offer this as recommendations for users (Library patrons) that might need a starting point for a new book to check out. An example is last months Check It Out for June 2009;

We have to scan each of these book covers, clean them up a bit and then lay them out in our publishing software along with the textual descriptions.

Mike has been scanning them for the last few months and I do the layout. He showed me an unusual book cover for the upcoming July flier for a book named "9Tail Foxes", a sci-fi murder mystery. The cover he scanned in had a few worn edges and stress folds in it, which Mike started to clean up a little until he noticed that the book was printed that way. There were no folds or worn edges, it was an effect that the publisher had printed on the book to help it appear as if it was an older, worn, used book.

I thought this was unusual, but in reality, its been done before but with a different product. Blue Jeans are almost never found "new", they have been washed, faded and put through a few processes to appear worn-in. Thirty years ago, jeans were dark blue and people would have to earn that worn look, by actually wearing them and washing them several times.

Now we are seeing this with books. An old book, like old jeans, have character, they have been used and enjoyed several times over and this has an implied value, like a worn copy of On the Road by Kerouac.

I wonder if this has translated into a few extra sales for this book?

I'm Not Trying To Sell You Something...

If you hear this statement, run. Or tell that person that you are not stupid and walk away if you can. This person, no matter what they just said, is trying their hardest to sell you something.

I was at the Shell station today filling up my car. I noticed that some guy was helping a woman that was getting gas next to me at the adjoining pump. He seemed very helpful since she was signing something as part of a transaction, which I initially thought was for full serve. I saw her get into her car with three spray cans of something, but it didn't hit me as to what was happening until...

Some guy comes around the pump with a spray can of that same product and says, "Would you like to hear about this..." and I stop him and say "No."

He says, "I'm not trying to sell you something." and I reply, "I 'm not interested." and he sulks as he walks away.

In his mind, he wasn't actually trying to sell me something, he was just going to pester me about this great product and then offering a great price, at which point I could buy it, if I was inclined. No selling at all.

This tactic is used with telemarketing people sometimes, they say, "I'm not trying to sell you something." This would be illegal, because I am on the do not call list and everyone except desperately lonely people hate telemarketers. Heck, telemarketers hate telemarketers. Its a sales tactic, if you can allay the fears that prospective buyers have by removing the fuse to their fear, you have their ear for about a minute, until they figure out that they are being told a sales pitch or they decide that they don't need the product.

A few people fall for it because they don't want to seem rude and listen to the whole spiel, most will just find a good interruption point and say they aren't interested. It only has to work a few times.

I really resent these guys, who have started their sell technique by basically lying to you. Its like they don't actually care if you aren't satisfied with the product or if you even need it at all.

Don't fall for this tactic, unless you want to see a lot more of it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Wonder... well these are selling?

Spotted at TJMaxx next to the checkout. I just can't see a product doing well with the words "Crab" and "Nuts". Did someone run this by the Marketing office or did they call a audible on this and go with their gut? Probably the same guy that came up with the brilliant move to put these in a discount clothing store as their main distribution channel.

Methinks that they may have swung and missed on this. Or maybe they didn't go far enough, maybe they should just leave out "House" and play on people's curiosity or market their snacks to the thrill-seeker crowd.

I didn't even know crabs had nuts. Next someone is going to tell me that Moths don't have balls... really? You're kidding.

Good Visit

Karen came into town and stayed for the weekend, it was good to see my sis again. How many times did we go to Starbucks this weekend? Too many or not enough, depending upon who you ask. I did get to go to "Rosemary & Thyme", which has some pretty decent pizza, so I will have to keep that one in the mental rolodex for artisian wood-fired pizza.

Spent some time throwing the ball with the dog in the back yard and trying to get the boy to hit the baseball, he's getting closer to actually holding the bat and taking a swing, but likes to act like a pitcher more.

The Courtyard Marriott is niiiiiiice. We went inside and they have this 50" screen that displays local restaurants, maps, weather info (all local) and you can touch the screen to zoom in or out. Kate says they have one at Headquarters an is hooked-in to the same thing. Why don't more hotels do cutting-edge stuff like this and be like Marriott? Cause they're not Marriott.

We got Karen into twitter and I think she may start using it. Before she was like, "I'm no twenty-something, besides, it looks stupid". Ten minutes later, she is open to the idea and another ten minutes later, she is signed-up and posting a tweet. Welcome to Web 2.0, Karen.

We tried to watch a movie, but the Netflix movie they sent couldn't get past the FBI warning and kept just playing it over and over. It was caught in a loop and just couldn't make it around that, which was frustrating because I have had this movie for the last four weeks, so its like I had something invested in finally getting around to watching it. Yes, I did take it out and polish it to make sure a stray hair wasn't on the disk causing to to loop. I even tried it in a different DVD player, to no avail. So maybe I don't need Netflix anymore.

BTW, The FiOS is up and working well as far as the TV goes. My computer is connected to the net (obviously), but I had to hard-wire it via ethernet instead of wireless since my computer is a bit old.

Enough about technology, Karen left today and flew back to Hotlanta, had to get back to the boys who I am sure, were missing her. The drive was easy considering we didn't run into any doofuses on the way there. (OK, on the way back I did see someone cross four lanes of traffic to make his exit, but that is almost par)

Had a great time with you, Karen, stop by and visit anytime, and bring the boys next time and we can do touristy stuff like the Washington Monument or the Zoo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We have some of the stupidest drivers around here, let me give you a few examples lately: last week I went to Wegmans to meet Kate for lunch and while walking through the parking lot, I see this. I don't have a problem with the guy parked on the right, its the guy on the left who initially fouled-up his parking and everyone else has to compensate for that one guy. Why not make a commitment and just take up both spaces instead of leaving just enough room to make it tempting to park? The lines on the ground are a guide, all you have to do is park in between them and you are good. Naw, some people just can't manage that simple instruction...

Example #2:
I went to Dulles Airport to pick up Karen on Thursday night. I went to hourly parking and meandered to get to the ticket machine, which spits out timed tickets so they know how long you were there and charge you accordingly. I just followed the signs to get there, no fewer than three separate signs directing you to the hourly parking. I am the fourth person in line to get a ticket and the girl up front in her Mini Cooper decides that, after making it all the way to the front, she doesn't want to go in hourly parking. Her reverse lights are on and she is waiting until four cars behind her back up so she can bail out. Everyone was much too nice to this dolt who couldn't follow some simple directions and now wants to bail out. I went to a different line and as I passed her, said thanks. I didn't stop to see how she was going to back up into oncoming traffic to get back to the turn-off point several hundred yards back. At least she was out of my way.

Example #3:
After I picked up Karen, we got to the car and headed off, we get to where you pay to get out and the I get into the cash line. The line does not move for almost ten minutes (I kid you not). I get out of the car to figure out what is the holdup. Its some guy in a white Range Rover (very expensive car) with the license plates "MR QTAR" who is filling out some paperwork. He apparently has no cash, no ID and no credit card. He also had no ticket. I would have called the police to checkout Mr Qtar since he was driving without a license, but I don't work there. He finally finished his business and we got to move along, but man, what is wrong with people these days?

My solutions? If you screw up, you are in the wrong lane or just plain ignored the signs, eat it. You made the mistake, don't make everyone else pay for it. Don't inconvenience your fellow drivers because you did something stupid and compound the problem. Just go through and find a way to turn around later. That's the great thing about driving, the roads are all connected, so rarely do you go somewhere where you can't turn around and go back.


We went to dinner at Sfizi (which is italian for "little treat") the other day and it is good authentic italian food, so authentic, its made by actual italians!

Sfizi is located right next door to Dolce Vita, which is practically legendary for its food around here. The parking lot overflows each Friday and Saturday night into our neighborhood. Sfizi is more of a market, with a variety of olive oils, pastas, fresh cookies, prepared meals, pizza, wines and a cappucino machine. It even has outdoor seating so you can enjoy a nice dinner (or lunch).

The food is great and the service is too. The owner, Lino, is a friendly guy who talks with customers and takes a lot of pride in the food and service and it shows. If you get a chance, stop by and check out Sfizi. Jack liked it, too.

The New Coupon Booklets Are Here!

The Summer Reading Program (SRP) is a huge deal for the Library each year. It was developed to provide incentives for kids to read over the summer, when school is out. We also have special programs like animal shows, science entertainment programs and even a drawing program
(yes, that one is mine).

The coupon booklet is a key component in this because it is given to those who sign up for the SRP and read 10 books (for teens) or 15 books for those 12 and below. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't. Any book will do. You can even read to your kid if they can't and that counts as well. We read two books each night before bed each night, so I will make the quota pretty quick.

The coupon booklet has coupons for a free ice cream cone, $5 off at any Book sale, Coupon for Borders Books, Free tickets to a DC United and Potomac Nats game and many more.

I made the coupon booklet and the Calendar as well and we printed at least 45,000 copies this year and another 35,000 of the booklet.We also had to create and print the book logs I am just glad that the printing part is over and now I can concentrate on something else at work.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Polaroid Picture

A girl I work with stopped me today and said that they just found an old Polaroid camera in one of the closets at work and there was a packet of film as well. She said since I was a "techie/artsy" guy that I might be interested in it.

I jumped at it! How cool is that - like going back in time with my first camera, a Polaroid One Step. When I got home I took a picture of Jack with it and then had an idea. What if I record the picture as it develops and then fast-motion the movie.

So here is the movie, complete with a snippet of Jack saying how he wanted to see it:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Um, Ma'am, You Dropped Something...

We went to Noodle for dinner tonight because Jack and me loooooove to go there, its fairly economical and its relatively healthy food (The magic food trifecta)

After that we stopped by Starbucks so Kate could get her fix. As we were walking out we crossed the parking lot and a woman was walking from the Walgreens toward us. She dropped a wadded up piece of paper, I thought it was a napkin, but it was a receipt. We both spotted it and said, almost in unison, "you dropped something", to which she stopped, looked down and then kept walking. She walked past us and said "Oh, that's OK", dismissingly.

Kate said, "but that's littering", but by this time the lady was several steps away and she turned and said something belligerent but I couldn't really make out what it was, but it was like, .."really, who cares"?

I said I would just keep it, it probably has some interesting financial information on it to which did make her stop for a second.

People are Ass-Hats, sometimes.

I read the receipt and it did make some interesting reading. The first two products she purchased were 3 "W PRM DIAP SZ5 26S 1A" (Womens Adult Diapers) and 1 bottle of "LSTRN GOLD 8.5OZ (Listerine Mouthwash).

This woman was approximately 40-45, Brunette with shoulder-length hair and maybe 150 pounds. She also has bad breath and a weak bladder, but maybe I just read too much into this.

Happy 3rd Birthday Celebration

Jack's birthday was today so we celebrated this weekend by having a party over at Reet and Jims since Kathleen and Tino were in town and our house is small. Reet made the cake (actually, two cakes) and they cooked hot dogs on the grill.

Joe, Lisa, Joe Jr. and Beckett attended as well. Little Joe had lots of advice for his cousin on what to open first. Apparently, he wanted the gift that they got him so he was anxious for Jack to open it so he could see it. I think I know what to get him for his birthday.

Jack started unwrapping his presents and loved everything he got. We got Lego's and racecars and a baseball stand which holds the baseball while you hit it, complete with sound. Lots of cool stuff. Did I mention the lego's?

Opening presents

Little Joe giving Jack a few pointers

Blowing out the candles

Jack and his Birthday Hat, sent from GG and Papa John

Yeah, That's What I'm Talkin About

Out of the mouths of babes...

People have been warning me about how they pick up stuff, one day they will repeat something you say out of the blue and you just do a double-take. This was one of those occasions. I just figured it would be, "C'mon Grandma, the gas pedal is on the right".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Sign

I was driving home from work yesterday and stopped at a light and spotted this gem. Its an offer that just seems too good to be true. Apparently you can make a minimum of $120,000 a year and maybe as much as $240,000 as a Sales Rep.

This is why I took the picture, so I could remember that magic phone number scrawled onto the sign half-hazardly, trying to make it seem like it really isn't the magic number that will free me of my financial burdens and fulfill every dream I have ever had.

This is art; how else could you explain the psychology of this; the hand lettering and poor layout, daring you to look past this golden opportunity and dismiss it as just another scam, or fly-by-night operation that just wants your money and is so willing to fill you with thoughts of financial freedom. The undersell on this opportunity is absolutely genius. Only this could appeal to that special person who can see that one special opportunity and that person was me.

No, this one seems real, almost too good to be true, but it isn't. I was so sure, I called my boss when I got home and left a message that I had quit and decided to pursue this opportunity that would bring me riches. Adios, so long suckers, I was off to make my millions! Kiss my ass!

...or I just drove past the light, got home and made some dinner.

1 out of 537

Every day we get an email that is sent out by the PIO department, PIO standing for Public Information Office. Governments LOVE the acronyms. I overheard a guy saying just the other day he was needed to go take a WIZ.

Anyway, we get these emails that run down everywhere that Fairfax County was mentioned in the local papers or online. I read the police blotters because its always interesting stuff. A few days ago I found out my former next door neighbor was picked up for shoplifting at the local K-mart. You can learn a lot about your neighborhood when you read these things.

Again, I digress. I was reading this email and one story I came across was how the Fairfax County Police had initiated a sobriety checkpoint in McLean, a well-to-do neighborhood in the northern part of the county. The story says that, according to police, they set the checkpoint up from 11:30 pm until 2:30 am and had 537 motorists pass through. They netted one arrest for driving while intoxicated. (Another was given a summons for a miscellaneous traffic offense).

That's 536 to 1.

I reread the quick article looking for some lost piece of information. Maybe I missed something. I didn't, the first time I read it it was correct, 537/1. The article did also state that eight Police Officers and six auxiliary Officers participated in this exercise, for three hours.

I am not a fan of a police dragnets where they stop perfectly innocent citizens, even for a brief moment, so that they can get that one person off the street that has no business being on the road. I think its lazy police work. Its not like fishing and waiting for a fish to bite onto the hook, its like throwing out a very wide net and catching 536 eels and one fish. I would be all for it if they were trying to catch eels, but they aren't.

Now I am not without a solution, or at least a better idea. Next time, split up the eight Officers and park them outside eight different bars spread geographically across all eight districts within the county. I bet that they could net more than one measly arrest for a DWI. At the least, they wouldn't be disturbing 536 innocent citizens.

Here's a link to the original article if your interested: