One Cent Cheque

Hey, remember my One Cent Credit story? Well, 43% of you said I should contact American Express and explain the situation. The people have spoken, so that’s what I did. I telephoned the 1-800 number and informed American Express that they could keep the one cent, that I was willing to make the sacrifice if it meant they’d stop sending me statements with a one cent credit.

Here is the result:

a cheque for one cent

Apparently, that’s the only way to get it out of their system. The agent I spoke to found it as amusing, but as he said, every penny needs to be accounted for. So there it is. One cent. Fully accounted for.

Pilot Project Fail

The STM is running a pilot project at the Berri-UQAM Metro station. On the platform for the Côte Vertu-bound train (orange line), they’ve put some markers on the floor to indicate where the doors for the Metro cars will be when the train comes into the station. The idea is let to you know where not to stand, to enable people to get off the car before the waiting throng pushes its way on.

Here’s what it looks like: on the left is a door location indicator. On the right is a sign explaining (with jaunty typefaces) what it’s all about:

STM pilot project Berri-UQAM

A close up of the sign:

STM pilot project Berri-UQAM

Translation: Avoid the confusion. The yellow markings on the ground indicate the location of the doors. Thanks for leaving this space free in order to facilitate the departure of passengers. Your opinion is important. To respond to the survey: www.stm.info. Pilot Project.

Nice idea. There’s only one problem: This is Montreal! A city notorious for its self-absorbed, mindless public transit users. A place where people regularly push onto the cars without waiting for those inside to get out first. Where guys wearing huge backpacks take one step into a half-empty car and come to a full stop, preventing anyone else from boarding. A place where people sprint across a crowded platform, knocking people over, so they won’t miss that rush-hour train – even though another one will be along in (literally) two minutes. (Dave spells it out rather nicely, here.)

This project has FAIL written all over it. Let’s be clear on something: in Montreal, to point out where the Metro doors will be and then expect people not to stand there is like writing NO MOTHS on the bulb that lights up your patio. FAIL.

How I Waste My Time (#238)

I like Flickr. There is lots of good stuff on Flickr, and I’m not just talking about the photos. There are interesting discussions, cool tools, fun mapping toys, and of course lots and lots of images.

Flickr is one of the original “social networking” sites that came about before “social networking” became “a thing” (a thing which some of us have HAD IT UP TO HERE hearing about, by the way). It works because it is well thought out, nicely designed, and has a lot of interesting people on both the front end (the users) and the back end (the people who make Flickr). What it doesn’t have is a big stupid “hey everybody! I’m social goddamn networking!” flag flying over it. But I digress…

One of the great things about Flickr is that the Flickr experience is made by the users. For example, pretty much anyone can start a “group” (a collection of contributed images by people who share an interest). Unfortunately, by now there are far too many groups to even comprehend, so they don’t have the kind of cohesive sense of groupiness that they used to have. (For example, if you like pictures of black cats, there are dozens of cat photo groups that you can belong to.) But still, it’s a nice aspect of the Flickr package.

Overall that “of the people, by the people” is pretty cool, and it is reflective of the way social networking used to be before it went corporate and start-upy. But it also means you have to put up with a lot of dopiness and stupidity, because “the people” are, by and large, pretty dopey and stupid.

Your best photo’s what?

Tonight I found a Flickr group called “My Best Photo’s” (sic). As some of you might know, the plural (photos) does not take an apostrophe. “Photo’s” is the possessive; it means something belongs to a photo. So “My Best Photo’s” is incomplete. Your best photo’s what?

  • My Best Photo’s history?
  • My Best Photo’s asking price?
  • My Best Photo’s pet rat?

I fully acknowledge that anyone can make a mistake. Loyal readers know that this blog is peppered with more typos than a blood bank. But when I see them, or other people point them out, I correct them.

But “My Best Photo’s” has been running for at least 15 months. It has 3629 members and 28,533 photos in its group pool. Did none of those people think to correct the grammatical error in the group’s name?

So I sit here contemplating joining the group for the sole reason of pointing out the error. However, I’ve been around the Web’s blocks a few times, so I know how ultimately futile that would be. Instead I will simply bitch about it here, on my blog.

An award I could do without

I should also note that many of the images in the group are really outstanding. There are some great photographers on Flickr. However, even if I wanted to put an image forward as “my best,” I simply could not bear to do so in this group. It is so fundamentally wrong to have something that you consider your best defaced by such a glaringly obvious grammatical error; especially one that no one will step up and fix.

So I remain unacknowledged. My best photos end up on my photo blog, thank you very much, and my photos on Flickr continue to limp along, as they should, since they are not my best. They’re just there, happy to be looked at, but possessive of nothing.

New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals

It is well known that people rarely keep their New Year’s resolutions. That is primarily due to the fact that the concept is generally ill conceived and poorly executed.

A “resolution” is something you “resolve” to do. Yet the motivating factor behind most New Year’s resolutions is simply the need to anchor some desire for change to a particular date. “I resolve to quit smoking” or “I resolve to stop hitting on my sister’s friends.” Regardless of the resolution, all it does is reveal a latent desire to do something (or stop doing something), but with no plan of action associated with it. As such, once you’re a few weeks into January, New Year’s day is but a fading memory and so too is the resolution.

You’ll do far better to think in terms of goals. Goals, if properly conceived and sincerely desired, come with an action plan. You don’t just decide to do something (or stop doing something), you plan how and when you will achieve the goal. You fix it in your mind that you will feel great when you achieve it or you will feel like a big stupid loser if you don’t. Now you have a goal, a plan, motivation, and a reward/punishment system.

I generally hit about 50% of my New Year’s goals but this year I’m aiming higher, as the goals I’ve defined are even less “resolution-like” than were those of previous years. I’m not going to list them all here, but they include things like taking care of some dental work that’s about 20 years overdue, fixing some other lingering health defects, and some goals for learning and getting my photos organized. The action plans for some are already drawn up, and I hope to draft the rest of them over the next few days.

There’s also one other thing I would like to fix, but I know I won’t, so I’m going to keep it in the category of (bound to fail) resolutions: I resolve to stop getting riled up over other people’s stupidity.

There. I said it. But I know it is in my nature to be that way, so I’m not going to set a goal to be different. I will, however, try to moderate my annoyances, and to perhaps achieve catharsis by continuing to blog about some of the stupidity I see. But I doubt I’ll be able to just plain stop getting worked up over it.

Oh, you want an example? OK, here you go; a few nights ago I was looking through Flickr and I found a photo of a prominent Montreal building that was incorrectly identified as a building in Longueuil. I had spotted this error a few months ago and had left a comment that correctly identified the building and it’s location, backed up with links to the building’s location on Google Maps and its Wikipedia entry. No problem; anyone can make a mistake like that, but I corrected the error and moved on. So that should be the end of it, right?

No. Someone else comes along and completely ignores my brief but accurate comment and follows it up with a comment that correctly identifies the building, but completely mislocates it when correcting the “Longueuil” error.

What? Hello! What part of my Wikipedia and Google Maps links do you not understand?

It would be somewhat forgivable if the photo had twenty or thirty comments to mow through, but mine (with the links) was the only comment before dumbass came in with her incorrect corrections! (The person who posted the image and made the original mistakes didn’t even bother to acknowledge my corrections, but that’s a whole other issue.)

OK, one thing; the original caption on the image was in French, as was the dumbass follow-up comments, while my comment was in English. But the English comment comprised two brief and uncomplicated sentences – including the correct location in French, plus the link went to the French version of Wikipedia and even the most unilingual Francophone on earth will understand a link that says “Google Map.”

I had the misfortune of seeing this just before going to bed, so I can honestly say I lost half an hour’s sleep over it. So yeah, I would like to resolve to stop being bothered by stupidity, but I know the resolution would fail, so why bother?