Monday, November 23, 2009

Remembering Pap-Pa

My mom's brother, my Uncle Howitt, is in town for a couple of days, and I had dinner with him and my mom on Sunday and hubby joined us for dinner on Monday. We had great conversation about food and customer service and the legal system and how things have changed. He and mom recalled the outhouse they had when they were little, and even after they got indoor plumbing, as kids they'd use the outhouse to avoid catching their momma's eye, because she was likely to put them to work if she saw them.

He told the story of how a reporter from the paper was out visiting him one day, and Pap-pa (what I always called my grandfather) mentioned that they were in for a harsh winter. This was in 1976. The reporter asked how he could possibly know that. Pap-pa showed him the dog's coat and said if the fur doesn't thin out in the spring, it's going to be extra thick for a cold winter. He showed the reporter an anthill that was close to the ground. If it was going to be a mild winter, Pap-pa said, the anthill would be eight inches off the ground, but instead, the ants were digging deep, to be ready for a cold winter. The reporter took it all down and wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about this old country farmer's antiquated ideas about weather forecasting. Come October, though, and an early hard freeze or two and the reporter came back, to do a follow-up story about how accurate the old farmer's predictions had been.

Too often we forget or discount the old ways, but that ancient wisdom came from experience and from having to make do without the internet and live Doppler radar on the 10pm news.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What digital SLR should I get?

My mom has indicated that she will buy me a digital SLR for Christmas. She's going to get the same make and model for herself, so I can figure it out and help her. I've read good things about Pentax, plus you can use 35mm Pentax camera lenses on their digital cameras (so I've heard) and we have some of those. Big benefit.

I have also heard some really good things about Nikon and Canon models.

What do you think?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Banner Ads can be so misleading.

I was on Facebook, and I should have known better. The ad showed a couple of small pink Tupperware containers and a pink ribbon and said that the free sample offer would be ending in 11 minutes. Mm-hm. And the next free sample offer will start in 11:01.

But I fell for it. I clicked. It took me to and asked for a little basic information, including mailing address, age, and general medical concerns. The next thing I knew, I was responding to page after page of "don't you want to buy a Nissan?" and "don't you want to get 180 health-related e-newsletters two or three times a week?" questions. Grrr. But I finished the survey (honestly, I'm afraid to stop, because what if I end up signed up for something because I specifically didn't say no). Did they say that my free samples would be in the mail? Did they even mention what free samples I would receive? Of course not.

So, I hunt around and look for a way to contact the company, and when I find the form, what options do I see listed in the drop-down menu for subject? Stuff like "Complaints" and "Advertised Offer Not Available" and "Samples Not Received." A little further digging finds that this site (and other sites targeting people looking for information on specific diseases and conditions) is run by Marketing Technology Solutions." Based on their own corporate website, linked-in page, and a press release about a lawsuit they recently filed against a rival, MTS seems to be in business to put ads in front of people seeking medical information and to "generate leads" -- in other words, collect personal information from people so that pharmaceutical companies (and apparently other businesses like Nissan) can try to sell them stuff.

Now, I know there's no such thing as a free lunch, except that the reason you're giving me the free lunch is in hopes that I'll want the same thing for lunch tomorrow and I'll be willing to pay for it. Luring me into the restaurant, having me fill out a bunch of surveys, then sending me away hungry is not the way to win my trust or my business. All I'm asking for is a little honesty in advertising.

Marketing Technology Solutions should be ashamed of themselves, but they seem to have come up with a scheme that brings them in a lot of money from medical companies and that's all that matters to them. Same for Facebook. They ought to ban misleading ads, but they're in it for the money, too.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Enter to win a Kindle

Click here to enter at

I would love to have a Kindle, because I would like to read some books that are only available as ebooks, and I would like to carry the complete works of Shakespeare and some reference books with me all the time.