A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thank goodness . . .

. . . for the archaic telephone line-based network of low-quality printers.

Thanks for the link to both Krista and Steven.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bad Corporate Logos (And Ethos)

Not long after I graduated college, I started an asphalt sealing and striping company with a friend of mine. Neither of us knew much about it at the time. What we knew even less about was good design. We wanted a logo to go with "Permaseal," the name of our little startup. Between the two of us we came up with a seal (go figure) balancing an umbrella on its nose. Obviously, we were trying to convey a sense of impermeability. And cuteness, apparently. But why we needed the umbrella at all is beyond me: isn't sealskin protective enough?

Deluded as we were--oh, that's nice; yeah, looks great!--we somehow had the sense to ask a friend (and business major) for his vision. Here's what he came up with:
As soon as we saw it, we knew it was the right choice, and we just as instantly realized how utterly misguided our own efforts had been. The black and yellow are authoritatively "construction company," and the bold font and checkerboard pattern are simple but strong: We don't give or take bullshit, and we're not going to stop for a mocha on our way to making your driveway blacker than Dick Cheney's heart. There's almost no room for misinterpretation.

We were lucky: we axed our crappy logo before anybody but the two of us saw it. Not everyone can say that. In fact, there is at least one logo out there that defies rational explanation (but I'm betting there are many more). What on God's green earth were they thinking with this one? Clearly, it wasn't about God's green earth. This famous paint company logo has to be the most misguided, utterly clueless, hopelessly off-target logo I have ever seen. It's almost as if they didn't even hire a professional (or at least a stoned intern) to design it. Unless, of course, that professional is Montgomery Burns, and his plan is to literally coat the globe with a life-choking coat of red, eerily blood-like paint.

So, my challenge is this: can you find a more asinine corporate logo than the one belonging to this paint company? It'll be hard, not unlike the 50-mile thick layer of paint some apparently want to see crusted over the polar ice caps.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Call Me Scully

I recently had three weird things happen to me (and people I was with) that, were I more like Mulder, I would interpret as evidence of the supernatural. But I'm a born skeptic, so it's Scully all the way for me.

The Phenomena
First, Lee and I were having lunch Friday at a Mexican restaurant with Liz Rohan, who stopped by BG on her way back to Detroit from a research trip to central Ohio. About ten minutes into things, the salsa dish spontaneously moved two or maybe three inches. I thought I was hallucinating until Lee asked if anybody else saw it. And it wasn't just a casual inching; it was a sudden lurch.

Second, at the end of lunch, we all got up and Lee said to Liz, "Don't forget your glasses case." Liz said that the case, which was sitting right next to where her plate had been the whole lunch, was not hers and that, as far as she knew, it had not been there even a minute before. (I never actually saw the case, since I was by then at the cash register, but I know I--like Lee and Liz--never noticed it during lunch.)

Third, this morning around 5 or 6 a.m., the ceiling fan in our bedroom suddenly switched off, and at the same time the overhead light turned on. I thought either Lee or I was sleeping on the remote, but she reached over and found it right where it always is--on the nightstand.

Mulder: The Irrational, Fun, Fantastic Explanation
We were, and are, being haunted: Liz is doing some pretty fascinating work with the diaries of some departed souls, and the weird things started happening when she showed up. Somehow some of her strange archival mojo followed her up I-75 and into El Zarape. Then it rubbed off on Lee and me, since we were both really into what Liz had to say about the diaries and the family of men who wrote them. It makes sense if you think about it: few people other than Liz study men's diaries, even though men who keep diaries (especially diaries that are so cognizant of a wider readership, as Liz says these are) probably feel they have something to say to posterity. It's no wonder they're a bit restless in the afterlife. Or, at least, their publicists are.

Scully: The Rational, Dull, True Explanation
Scully would point out that, paranormal publicists notwithstanding, the ghosts would almost certainly have continued to follow Liz and, so, would have no interest in our bedroom ceiling fan. (What could Lee and I do to help them?) Besides, there's a rational explanation for everything we experienced:
  • There was a lot of condensation on the bottom of the salsa bowl. I suspect that, as it dripped down the sides, it accumulated underneath until it reached a tipping point that allowed the bowl hydroplane across the no-doubt-not-level table. This would explain the sudden, lurching nature of the movement.
  • I've been an adult long enough to know that even moderate amounts of stress, fatigue, or preoccupation could keep me from noticing a Ferrari parked in my living room. Just because we hadn't noticed the glasses case on the table doesn't mean it hadn't been there all along.
  • This one's the easiest of all: being remote-controlled, our ceiling fan/light defaults to a fan off, light on position after the power is cut and then restored. We simply lost power for a second or so this morning, as the blinking digital clocks around the rest of the house attested later.

Still, that's a noteworthy number of very unusual things happening within the space of a day and a half. I'm in my office now, after hours, and I'm watching my back.

After all, Scully may have had a reason for her skepticim. But she was also the one who always seemed to find herself alone, facing a bizarre and horrifying death, while Mulder made goo-goo eyes at the hot entomologist.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tasting Notes

Warning: if you don't like to read the kind of highly detailed, figurative descriptions of wine and beer that might be found in/on professional tasting magazines/websites, then this isn't the post for you. (Not that I'm a professional. I am, however, an enthusiastic amatuer.)

While we’re on the subject of wine and beer tastings (see previous post), I might as well share my thoughts on a few I tried this evening at my neighborhood store's Thursday tasting.


I tried two Carmignanos (Italy/Tuscany) from the winery Ambra. The Vigna di Montefortini (2004), a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and canaiolo, and the Santa Cristina (2004), a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, canaiolo, colorino, syrah, and merlot, are both nice but a bit young. The chianti-like, light-to-medium bodied Montefortini has straightforward and tasty cherry and oak flavors, with just enough acidity to give the wine some backbone and keep it interesting. The medium-to-full bodied Santa Cristina is more complex, with blackberry, currant, and dried orange peel and a more developed earth and oak quality than the Montefortini, though the young tannins could use a few years in the bottle to mellow.

But the showstopper—at $19.99, no less—is a wine that can and should be drunk right now. (In two to five years, though, go with the Santa Cristina). The Allegrini Pallazo della Torre (2003), a blend of corvina, rondinella, and sangiovese, has ripe, juicy blackberry and black plum fruit with oak and wet soil notes and an almost primally dark finish. The flavor arc may not be as seamless as a top southern Rhone or even a good Australian Shiraz, but it’s more than complex and interesting enough to be worth a try.


Tried two, and the only one really worth talking about is the Victor’s MemoriAle Altbier from Two Brothers Brewing in Illinois. It has a mellow, deep flavor of rich, toasty, slightly smoky malt, without being overly sweet, as is the case with many American craft beers. It also has enough hoppiness to create a clean finish that isn’t too floral or bitter (though, being American brewers, they do push both the malt and the hops right up to the edge). All in all, a beer of admirable restraint in an American craft beer market flooded with sugary malt and unrestrained hops. If you’re sick of gigantic barleywines and medicinally herbal hop-teas, check out this altbier.


Friday, July 06, 2007

One Question and Two Statements

What's up with every third person on the Food Network making the "too bad they don't have 'smell-o-vision'" joke? If you say it do you get to hang out in the executive box at an Emeril Live taping or something?

I recently tried my second wine ever from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain. It was the second one I loved.

I just finished an article. It will be in the mail tomorrow.