Something to Read When You're Bored


More Fun With My Car
February 29, 2008, 12:24 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

The check engine light came on in my car yesterday morning as I was on my way to work. At first it freaked me out because it was flashing and I know just enough about cars to know that a flashing check engine light means you should immediately stop driving and call your mechanic. So I had already started going into a controlled panic and was pulling my car over onto a side street when the light stopped flashing. If I hadn’t already been in that semi-panicked mode it probably would have occurred to me sooner that the light just always flashes at you a bit when it first comes on, which it turns out is true but I didn’t learn that until that afternoon at the mechanic. So I immediately called my mechanic, which was easy since the number is programmed into my phone (a good indicator of just how reliable my car is), and I made an appointment to take it in as soon as possible. I pretty quickly figured out that I had overreacted to the light but figured it was a good idea to get it fixed promptly anyway. The whole mechanic thing was pretty routine and generally dissatisfying – one big-ish problem and lots of little things that might be causing it. So they fixed a bunch of little things and told me that it may or may not solve the big-ish problem but at least the light is off again – I really hate driving around with the check engine light on, it makes me edgy.

With a car like mine I figure it’s mentally healthier to take these things in stride, so I’m not wasting time worrying about the car or freaking out about the money, but I was truly disappointed this morning when I was deprived of one of the few redeeming qualities of the whole ‘broken car’ experience. There are two things that actually make me happy when I go to the mechanic – bulking up my REI dividend by charging the expense to my REI credit card and getting a free car wash (and sometimes a third when I get to telecommute from Cupcake Royale a few blocks away from my mechanic). I was actually excited enough about the car wash that I specifically asked my mechanic when I checked in my car to make sure it would get cleaned before I got it back (my car hadn’t been washed for months and it was insanely dirty). So this morning after paying for all the little repairs that may or may not have fixed my car (adding $6.20 to my dividend!), I was eagerly waiting for them to pull my car around the corner looking all sleek and shiny again, reminding me of why I bought the stupid thing in the first place. I was pretty crushed when it appeared just as covered in muck, maybe even more so, as it was when I dropped it off. Of course by this time I was already an hour late for work and really felt that it would be ridiculous to go back in and ask them to take my car back and wash it. So I sucked it up and climbed into my dirty car, which of course didn’t feel as nice to drive as it would have if it were shiny, and drove to Everett feeling pretty sour about the whole thing. So now I’m left wondering if I should just sell my car before it falls apart completely, and whether my mechanic would give me a free car wash if I go back and ask.

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Don’t Talk Back to Darth Vader!
February 27, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: Entertainment | Tags: ,

Star Wars according to a 3-year old:



Awesome Staircase
February 26, 2008, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Design, Neat Stuff | Tags: ,

Apparently I have a thing for integrating bookshelves in creative places. (Remember the Bibliochaise?) I really love this staircase that was designed for an apartment in London (or flat, I suppose). You can read all about it and see a few more photos here.

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Spam Update
February 25, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: Life | Tags:

My Spam folder just hit a new record of 1900!

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I think that hitting the 2000 mark is definitely feasible. Meanwhile, here are some more entertaining spam subject lines…

“If your love warrior is too small, you may lose this war!”

“Men, this vibrator makes the perfect Valentines gift”

“Give her a ride on your ROCKET”

“Your new schlong will win more prizes!”

“The trophy can now be in your pants…”



It’s Official!
February 22, 2008, 11:36 am
Filed under: Life

My company sometimes has a funny way of doing things. I found out a few weeks ago that I would be officially joining the Research and Strategy group at Teague, leaving my former job title of Industrial Designer (in the Industrial Design group, amazingly enough) to become a Design Researcher (or something like that, we haven’t decided yet exactly what my title will be). While it is an exciting step, and definitely a direction I want my career to move in, it hasn’t really changed things much at work since pretty much all of the projects I’ve been doing for the last year, maybe even longer, have been doing design research work.

So the official switchover was brought to my attention this morning, in the surprising and inglamorous form of an email informing me that I was mistaken in submitting my timecard to the usual aviation studio server and that my timecards should now be directed to the product studio office. That and a subsequent e-mail with notification that my employee number has changed from 562433 to 702420 clued me in to the fact that my switchover must have gone through. I chose to interpret the e-mails as ‘Congratulations! You are now officially a member of the Teague Research and Strategy Group!’ This means I get a really delicious cake on my birthday, one of the many exciting perks of being on the R&S team, and that I no longer get paid for overtime. Woohoo! In the end, I’m really happy about the switchover (and okay with the overtime thing) and excited about research and strategy really becoming a strong competency at Teague.

Oh! I’d just finished writing the above when our new department director came by and gave me my official notification letter. I guess the timing was just a bit off. Still no congratulations on the letter, but they did buy a really nice ‘welcome to the group’ cake when they told me I’d be joining the group (glazed fruit tart with a dense marzipan flavored cake layer underneath). Hmm, cake instead of overtime, makes me feel like this career direction nicely resonates with my personal life philosophy.



Becoming a Trend Junkie
February 21, 2008, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Interesting

I’ve been doing a bunch of trend research at work in the last day or so, digging up compelling examples of trends and movements we’ve been analyzing and documenting, and I love it! I’ve learned about so many fascinating things going on all over the world, my mind is just spinning with tidbits about all sorts of things.

I just learned about a company that’s taking in-car navigation systems to the next level by replacing voice commands with a visible line projected on a heads-up display so all you have to do is follow the line to get exactly where you need to go (check out the video!):

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There’s also a site where you can design your own customized sleeping bag online (I think they may only serve customers in the UK though):

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And a site to consolidate all your various online travel reservations into one itinerary just by forwarding them your confirmation e-mails. They even do an automated search to add maps, driving directions, and other useful information to your final travel packet. (In europe there’s also a site where you can pay to have them automatically check-in for you online if you can’t get to a computer and still want to ensure you get a good seat)

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There’s a genetics-based online dating site, where they actually match people up based on their genetic compatability, how crazy is that? (Apparently compatibility correlates with immune system dissimilarity – according to the site, couples with differing immunes systems are more likely to have a more satisfying sex life, increased faithfulness, higher fertility and healthier children) You send in a cheek swab for analysis, but it evidently doesn’t work if you’re on the pill or were not raised by your natural parents.

Japanese people think it’s really great to get a bag of rice with their baby’s face printed on it (it’s a very popular gift for new parents), and the latest thing is to order customized bags where the weight of rice exactly matches the weight of the baby:

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In Amsterdam a business travel services website tried out a new offering – having a motorcycle taxi rescue business travelers who are stuck in traffic on their way to the airport. They even have a second driver who will drive your car the rest of the way to the airport for you. What a great idea.

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And there’s so much more too, paying for car insurance by the mile, donating a few cents to a good cause when your cell phone accidentally places calls from your pocket, restaurants where you just pay as much as you want, and cell phones that let you share extra minutes or money via SMS! Isn’t the world a fascinating place? I think there may be more postings like this coming…

 

 



A Cool Way to Contribute
February 21, 2008, 9:54 am
Filed under: Interesting | Tags: ,

It feels good to donate money to a good cause, but the experience can be a bit of a letdown. Basically your money disappears, you have some vague idea of the general purpose it went to and you wonder exactly how much of your money will really be used for your intended purpose (in some cases more than others). The website DonorsChoose.org offers, in my opinion, a much more satisfying philanthropic experience. The site is devoted to helping schools get the supplies and funding they need for specific projects (which, coming from a very education-appreciative family, is a cause that I can really get into). Here’s a good description I found of how the site works:

Teachers submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need in order to learn. Volunteers at the not-for-profit site screen each project proposal and verify that the teacher and project meet set eligibility requirements. Citizen philanthropists can then fund the student projects of their choice—in whole or in part—and are emailed immediate acknowledgements for tax deduction purposes. DonorsChoose.org purchases the student materials and ships them directly to the school along with a disposable camera; the teacher then photographs the students participating in the project and writes an impact letter to the donor, while students write their own thank-you notes. DonorsChoose.org sends all that feedback to donors who completely funded or contributed at least USD 100 toward the project.

I think several things are awesome about this system. First, that you get to read about exactly what your money is going to accomplish for students and only help support programs that you really feel are valuable. The site also lets you search for projects in a specific area and shows you the percentage of low-income students at the school so you have a better sense of how much they can use the help. Plus you get something back from the process, a story about how you actually made a difference to kids’ lives. And the transparency of being able to see exactly where your money is going just seems… right. Maybe it is a selfish approach to doing something selfless, but I think that if this system inspires more people to contribute, then hooray for being selfish!