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Halloween is for Kids

Halloween. I have fond memories of it as a kid, going from door to door in my costume. I also have fond memories making costumes for my kids. Pouring hours into elaborate things that were worthy of a movie set or a stage somewhere. I?ve been living in the same house for over 17 years now, and over that span have seen many a great costume greet me with the traditional ?trick or treat?. So, when this year came around I went dutifully to the grocery store & bought dozens of bags of potato chips to hand out to the creatively dressed children that I anticipated knocking on my door. Camera at the ready I awaited their arrival, thinking I would make a collage of all their costumes to post on flickr, my favorite photo sharing site.

I am?disappointed.

A witch and her baby first greeted us, cool enough, at least they were both in costume & Mum was getting into the spirit by dressing herself as well as her youngster up. We wait some more & another timid knock, it?s a bee, another youngster whose parental unit waits at the curb.

Now it gets sad. Time goes by, I?ve got a mountain of chips in individual sealed bags specially sold just for this occasion here. An hour or so later, closing in on 8:45, a group of 4 teenagers, one of whom you can barely even tell has a costume on (I think it was an inside out sweatshirt) arrive & hold out their bags. I pop in the chips & the guy in the sweatshirt turns to leave. Camera in hand I say woah, hold on there, the price for the chips is a photo. He stays & I capture the group for eternity.

9:00 comes & goes and about 9:15 another knock on the door. I?m blown away. It?s some woman easily in her 30s, and another probably mid to late 20s, both are smoking, no costumes, with a baby stroller in which sits an infant who?s only costume is a cap with ears on it. Some guy stands at the end of the driveway, a cigarette glowing in his hand. Trick or treat they go. Well, I pop a bag into the younger womans bag (for the infant I suppose, still he/she looks far to young to even be awake at this hour). I ask them to hold on while I take a snap of the baby. The guy at the end of the driveway starts to approach, the women wave him off saying that I?m just taking a picture. (Like I?m an axe murderer or something). Once done, the older woman asks me for another bag of chips for her daughter. Well, huh? Where's your daughter? Why isn't she here, in costume? I hand one over anyway(I mean, I?ve got lots).

Now, this kind of bugs me. Two obviously un-costumed adults, who make my entrance hall reek of cigarette smoke, out with an infant who is barely costumed, demanding more swag. Gimme a break. What ever happened to Halloween being for kids?


Filed under General, Nov 1, 2005


Visited Countries

Visited countries. Indeed. I came across this great utility today while surfing Flickr, my favorite photo-sharing site. Here?s a map of Countries I have been to in my lifetime.

create your own visited countries map

Cool eh?

Filed under General, Oct 26, 2005


Negative Feedback

So I?m shopping for a lens for my camera on e-bay. I find one that looks good, the same mount that my camera has, and decide to make a bid on it. The seller says he has had the lens for 6 months (I later find out this is a lie) and is selling it for the cash. If you know anything about e-bay, you know that if you want something, you may have to bid at the last second in order to win it. So, I rush home from out of town on the day in question to make my bid. It was a big deal as I really wanted this lens. It goes a bit higher than I wanted, but OK, I win the item. Yay.

This is where the story turns sordid.

I receive the lens in the mail after being charged $16 for shipping (it only cost $5.75). Well, no problem, I?m happy, I have a new lens. HOWEVER, it won?t work. It keeps on giving me an error message with my camera. I contact the seller & he refuses a refund. The guy is an e-bay newbie, very low feedback rating and although he?s bought some stuff, this is the first thing he?s sold. Well, I contact the lens manufacturer & they confirm that it will not work with digital cameras, a fact that the seller had conveniently left out of his auction description. I go to a camera store & after examination & trying it with different cameras they confirm the same thing. Once again, I contact the seller & request a refund saying I?ll happily return the lens to him because it is not compatible with my camera, even though the auction said it would fit my camera body. NO WAY he says, read the auction listing, I never said it would actually work with digital!

HUH? Any retail store or any other seller on e-bay will take care of you here. This guy was out to rip me off. It turns out (remember he lied in the listing?) that he bought the lens originally from some guy in the U.K. about a month before and ran into the same problem. He decided to rip someone else off by pawning it off on some unsuspecting sucker (in this case me) on e-bay. That's not what e-bay is about. What a scumbag.

Well, after several e-mails back & forth this jerk is still refusing to do the right thing. He even admitted to me in an e-mail that he couldn?t get the lens to work either. Unbelievable! OK, I have options here; I contact Pay Pal & file a claim. Trying to tweak the claim on line it gets inadvertently cancelled. Bummer. I call Pay Pal long distance & they say that once closed they can?t re-open it. They suggest that I go through my credit card company. No problem, I call up the credit card company & they are more than happy to help me out. I get all the necessary documentation, a letter from the camera store saying that the lens won?t work with my camera, paperwork & printouts from the auction, & fax all this stuff off to them. They have no problem refunding my money. The next step is that they go after Pay Pal to get their money back. Pay Pal disputes it, but only based on the fact that they think I no longer wish to dispute the charge. Once they realize the story, they also have no problem with the claim.

So, my credit card company thinks I?ve been ripped off, Pay Pal thinks I?ve been ripped off, but this moron starts sending me nasty e-mails, telling me to ?grow up? & ?shame on you? & stuff like that. Strange seeing as he?s the only one in the world who thinks he did nothing wrong here.

But wait, it gets better.

I receive my refund & before 90 days is up, while I still have a chance, I leave appropriate feedback for this guy so he won?t rip others off too. Pay Pal contacts me & requests that I return the lens to him. No problem, I had tried before but he had refused to accept a return, remember? Pay Pal says I should pay for the return, my credit card company said in a letter that he should pay for the return, but I do anyway because I just want this to be over. The same day that Pay Pal contacts me, I get another e-mail from this jerk admonishing me for the whole affair.

Hmmm, lets see, my credit card company thinks I?m right & he?s wrong, Pay Pal thinks I?m right & he?s wrong, yet he still thinks he?s right & I?m wrong. What is wrong with this picture? This guy has a serious problem understanding reality, not to mention right from wrong. He says he?s going to sell the lens again on e-bay. YIKES!!

To top it off, this morning, he leaves me negative feedback, my first. He said that I am "ignorant" about cameras. Hmmm, it said that it had the correct camera mount...but he left out the part about digital compatability (remember he was burned by the same thing, yet he calls *ME* ignorant). It won?t really affect me, I have over 600 positives in over 5 years of active trading, and he only has barely 20. Let?s see, 600 to 20?...now who do you think knows how e-bay is supposed to work? Still, I had to rant, this guy is a liar and a cheat and deserves more than a slap on the wrist via feedback. At least he?s out the $200+ I got refunded. There?s no way that lens will fetch even close to that not being digital compatible.

I?ve had well over 600 transactions in over 5 years on e-bay & only a few bummers. I still like e-bay, but there's no way this swindler or people like him should be allowed anywhere near it.

Filed under General, Oct 19, 2005


Restaurant Blues

So my parents come for a visit & they want to take us out to dinner. Fine, we make a reservation at a local restaurant, which I have never been to dinner there before, but the lunch I had there once was tasty & well prepared. It?s a sort of Bistro type of place; it would easily fit in on Queen Street in Toronto. Anyway, we get there & are seated. The menus arrive. I glance at the prices?YIKES!! Are they serious? I guess usually just eating out at lunchtime has spoiled me. The prices are astronomical. Well, we?re here so we may as well enjoy ourselves.

We order & get some drinks. After a little while my wife?s salad arrives, along with a tiny single slice of bread for each of us & a sugar cube sized pat of butter to be shared between the four of us. That didn?t last long. The drinks disappear, time goes on, the salad is long finished, and it?s now ? of an hour since we ordered. There?s still no food.

We snag a server and inquire about the delay. It seems that they were waiting for the salads to be finished BEFORE they started to prepare the main courses! Well, that?s strange; you?d think that they would be preparing them to be served immediately after the salad. We ask for more butter & perhaps some more bread so we don?t die of starvation and are met with an incredulous ?I?ll bring more when what you have is finished?.

What outstanding service!

We can?t believe it! We show the smear left on the inside of the espresso cup sized butter container and another single small slice of bread per person and miniscule pat arrives.

Soon after that our overpriced meals finally arrive. It?s now close to an hour after we ordered.

They were OK, I guess, but not exceptional. One of our parties didn?t like it, another thought it was very good, and two distinct mediocre. For the prices charged I expected much better.

What gets me about this is the unbelievable lack of service. A restaurant is supposed to be run to please the customer, not to make it easier for the staff. Granted they were probably short staffed, but that again is not the customer?s problem, it?s a sign of poor management.

The bill is paid & we leave, probably never to return.

Filed under General, Oct 18, 2005



Interestingness. Sooooo, what exactly is interestingness anyway?? Well, on Flickr, it?s based on some algorithm or something that says whether your photo is interesting to others or not, or interesting to the algorithm, or whatever. Some computer thing I guess.

Something interesting about this?I have a popular picture, over 400 hits, that is top of my hits list & top of my comments list (well, until this week), and until yesterday, top of my interestingness list. Heh! Just wait.

Well this particular shot was #1. Well, I posted it to this group, 300 views, and it IMMEDIATELY dumped to #27 or 28 from #1 on my interestingness list. Holy crap. OK, lets remove it from the group & see what happens. Nothing. OK, lets put it back in. BAM, down to #180 on the list!!! HOLY SHIT BATMAN!!! I tried this with another photo?same thing. Big dump. Next day another photo?same thing, this one dropped 150 spots in my interesting list just by putting it in this group. Now what?s up with that?

Go figure. Stupid computers anyway!

Filed under General, Sep 30, 2005

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