Lowering the Bar Once Again

I take a lot of photographs. Some of them turn out pretty well and from time to time I struggle to think about what to do with them.

The printer I have does a reasonable job on photographs but when I just want to see what it might look like if it was printed professionally I have been going to see a guy who works at a photo department of a drugstore. He is a photographer, understands what I want and does a good job.

I went in to see him the other day with my usual request. I wanted the photographs printed so that I see the full image instead of being cropped arbitrarily by the machine. I put a lot of time and effort into setting the photograph up just the way I want it so I really don't think that is too much to ask.

This time the guys response was "Sorry I can't do that any more. The company came in, deleted my presets in and reprogrammed the computer. I am not allowed to over ride the machine."

So, what have we got? A processor that is completely capable of making good photo prints in the format customers want them, a technician who is bright and skilled enough meet customer requests and an employer that won't allow it.

There are other options I know. I can get them done at a higher cost somewhere else but I always saw this place as an intermediate step so I could get an idea of how the finished product might look before spending the money to get an "art print" done.

The retail sector complain that consumers just don't have any customer loyalty anymore. It is no wonder considering that they keep lowering the bar. It just doesn't make sense.


Slow Cow Meets Red Bull

I confess that never understood the allure of energy drinks. I tried a couple but, to me they kind of tasted like a mix of Coke and Buckley's Mixture so, I just didn't see the point.

While I was in the UK a few months back I saw deals on drinks like Jagerbombs - Jagermeister and Red Bull - as well as Rockstar and vodka advertised in pubs. I remember thinking, "I can't imagine why we need a bunch of wide awake drunks rolling out of the bars at 2:00 am"

Now, I read in the Globe & Mail this morning, that we are about to see drinks designed to have the opposite effect. There are a number of new drinks about to hit the Canadian market that are designed to relax us. With names like Slow Cow, Drank and Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda they claim to be "Out to help those looking for a quick relaxation fix...an acupuncture session" I have never tasted it but someone on-line suggested that "It smells exactly like Dimetapp and looks like a melted Popsicle."

Perhaps the next thing will be bars where you can either get a kind of hyper buzz with Rock Star and vodka or order a Slow Brown Cow, kahlua, half a can of Slow Cow topped with milk then, nod off in the corner. It all kind of reminds me of "A Clockwork Orange."

Perhaps a more sinister aspect of all this is that in the southern U.S. a mix of a strong codeine cough medicine, Sprite as well as sometimes vodka, popular in Houston based hip hop and southern rap circles is called purple drank. The concoction has become hugely popular. At least a couple of rappers have died of codeine overdoes.

The new Drank about to be released in Canada is in marketed in purple cans and promoted using hip hop artists.

Hell, if they want people to relax why no just legalize the real Mary Jane?


Off to Court Again

Boy, you have to give those Harper Conservatives credit for one thing. When they don't like something, they are like a dog on a bone. There is no distracting them.

These guys don't like safe injection sites.

Set up in Vancouver when Larry Campbell was mayor, Insite in East Vancouver was approved by the former Liberal government as a way to help stem the massive health risk addicts face when injecting drugs in back alleys and in sharing needles. Study after study has shown that these safe sites save lives.

It ain't pretty but it works.

The Conservative's (remember when they were the Progressive Conservatives) tough on crime agenda has seen the Federal Government challenging the legality of Insite to operate. They have gone so far as to bully staff, threatening them with prosecution if they continue to operate the site. They continue to lose their ever shifting specious arguments in court at every step yet, they press on..

British Columbia Court of Appeal stood up to the Federal Government in early January saying that it went too far in holding the threat of criminal prosecution over those who work at or use Insite, the clinic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Don't forget this was originally set up with the blessing of the Federal Government.

This Tory so called war on drugs may fly in the Conservative heartland but it is going nowhere in B.C. Insite is supported by the Mayor of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police, B.C.'s Medical Health Officer, the B.C. Attorney General and Federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

So, in the face of medical evidence which says that Insite is saving lives and united opposition to their mission, the tunnel visioned crusaders are going to press on to the Supreme Court of Canada.

What about spend a bit of money on a harm reduction program? This so-called drug war, is being waged on the backs of the most addicted population in Canada. In doing so, it puts their lives at risk.

It makes no sense.


Live Long and Prosper

I always thought the slogan, I Love Regina was more than a bit lame. I was never sure why a decades old slogan idea was suddenly popular again so, I was more than a bit surprised when it actually was embraced by Regina businesses and even by citizens.

That branding was shamelessly copied the I Love New York slogan first used in 1977. The New York logo, using the heart to symbolize love, has been copied over and over again and every time someone in New York make a few bucks.

So yesterday, Mayor Pat Fiacco announced in his annual "State of the City" address, that Regina now has a new logo and slogan. Mayor Pat, who never saw a camera or microphone he didn't like, told the media that "This is how we will tell the world what a great place Regina is to live, to work, to invest, and to visit." Fiacco boasted that the cost of the logo was well worth it and that "...it will pay for its self in population growth and job creation."

Wow, all that in a logo. With that, it will be worth every cent of the $320,000 it cost us.

The Regina Leader Post's editorial board, never one to miss an opportunity to slather over anything Mayor Pat says or does pronounced that, "It is a measure of how far Regina has come that the slogan infinite horizons now accurately describes and promotes a city that's dynamic, innovative, full of potential and possibilities." Oh Yeah, did I mention that it was designed by a Winnipeg company?

But wait, there is more. Fiacco's announcement yesterday was just a preview. The new logo will be officially launched this coming weekend at the new Saskatchewan Olympic pavilion in Vancouver. Does that strike anyone but me, as odd.

I'll bet Vancouver residents and Olympic visitors will be pretty excited about that.

Can anyone spell boondoggle.


This Toyota Recall, Is There More to it Than Meets the Eye?

I don't drive a Toyota, nor is it likely that I will in the next few years but, that has more to do with my being quite fond of the Subaru I now drive, than any reaction of mine to the massive recall the car manufacturer recently issued.

In fact I wonder these days about all the attention being given the recall in the media. It seems that every news organization going has been whipped into a blather by the direct, hard hitting criticism directed at Toyota by the American automobile safety people. There is no question that it is their job to bring these issues to light and we are most likely all safer as a result historical role.

I do wonder however if this latest reaction has more to do with trying to even the playing field for struggling American automobile manufacturing industry than it has to do with keeping us all safe. Interestingly, media play the story has received here in Canada although the Canadian consumer protection group has not received even one complaint about the Toyota accelerator or the braking system for that matter.

Canadian media, along with their American counterparts, speculate about Toyota's survival in the face of this recall. It make me wonder if this is all a manufactured crisis.

Over the years we have seen recall after recall of vehicles built in the U.S. and in Canada by the American automotive industry. We have seen U.S. built cars that caught fire, brakes that failed, steering failures, sticky accelerators and seat belts that didn't work properly. I don't remember anyone ever suggesting the demise of those corporations until then almost collapsed last year. That had nothing to do with recalls but, was as a result of their own colossal lack of vision and fiscal mismanagement.

It makes me wonder if what we are seeing is the American media struggling to find a good news story in the face of a fiscal meltdown and speculation about the demise of a Japanese auto manufacturer was the best they could do.

So, don't hold your breath. Toyota isn't going to disappear and the Hummer ain't coming back.