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08 April 2009
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Those Alien Europeans

Unintentional Irony

At least I think it's unintentional.  When I visit anything touristy, I usually photograph the large plaques that are scattered around the grounds.  These often take the place of guides, and are very carefully written since they must convey a lot of accurate, cogent information in only a few words.  For example, here's one with a very succinct penguin summary.  It's not "all you've ever wanted to know about penguins" but at least you get an idea. Norwalk Aquarium Penguin Summary plaque
By the same token, a park I visited this weekend (for a splendid walk in lovely kite-flying weather), I spied this plaque near an impressiveif a bit woodpecker-eaten"totem pole."   Often I'll just glance at the plaque and take a picture for later reading.  This time, perhaps influenced by the fine sunshine, I actually read it while I was there.

Which inspired me to take a close-up photograph.

Stamford CT, Cove Island Park "Native Americans" plaque
A paragraph explains how the first humans in Connecticut were roving bands of hunters, living there 40 to 100k years "B.P." or "Before Present" which nicely disposes of the religiously inspired "B.C./A.D." controversy without insulting anyone.  They left, it seems, but returned 7,000 years B.P.  Or, as the text puts it, replacing religion with insult:  "Humans returned by 7,000 B.P. and were present up to the arrival of Europeans."  Stamford CT, Cove Island Park Plaque, "Humans returned by 7,000 B.P. and were present up to the arrival of Europeans."
Knowing as I don't essentially anything about workings of parks departments, historical societies, national landmarks, etc., I can nonetheless practically guarantee that these plaques are written by earnest students and carefully reviewed and nitpicked to death by higher officials, most likely arrayed in committees.  It has got to be a badge of honor for the student to sneak a double entendre past the Elders. 

Good job!

And, From the Same Park

Stamford CT Cove Island Beach "Anchor of Hope" memorial An entirely serious monument, an entirely serious sentiment, well maintained, with flags proudly waving, both the ones at the base and the one on the pole that was too high to get into the photograph.

I'm sure that "Anchor of Hope" has the appropriate connotations, perhaps in a religious context, or perhaps in an expression of which I'm unaware. 

Even so, if I were designing a monument of hope and remembrance, I think I'd choose a symbol other than an anchor.

Stamford CT Cove Island Beach "Anchor of Hope" memorial plaque

Tragic Honesty from an Unexpected Source

A few days ago I belabored Verizon about how frustrated I was with my BlackBerry Storm cellphone.  (With which I was still able to take the photos above.)  I expected the usual platitudinous answer about how "we're sorry sorry sorry and please don't hate us, it will be taken care of."  Instead, I received this missive from a person who actually had a name.  And a Storm! 

Good Afternoon Mr. Factor,

Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless through our website. My name is Terrence and I understand you are interested in when a software release will become available for the Blackberry Storm.

I apologize for any inconvenience and can understand your interest in correcting some of the known issues with the Storm.

Richard, as an owner of the Blackberry Storm myself, I am very interested in the exact issues you have been experiencing with your particular device.  I will admit, the device moves slow at times, or may take a few seconds to initiate a command you have selected, or may even require a battery reset however; all PDA's experience these lagging and freezing issues from time to time. In my experience in troubleshooting these devices and assisting customers, often times the device moves slowly and experiences lots of issues with freezing because many applications and services are running in the background without the end users knowledge. These devices are mini PC's and require proper memory management.

I am in no way implying that you do not know how to use your device however I happen to love my Storm and have had no real issues with it once I took some time to get to learn how IT moves.

In regard to the employees in the store, I apologize for their sheepish demeanor but we have to keep a tight lip about information that has not been released publicly. I'll even admit that often times as employees, we don't get the updates regarding new products and services until they're ready to launch. It's not that we don't want you to know, we just don't know ourselves, and you can't be upset with us over that.

Also, I can admit that I believe an updated version of the OS will be released because I actually installed the version out there on the Internet. Now in no way am I advising you to load this version onto your device. I'm just saying there is a version out there, which means it is being tested somewhere. Verizon Wireless will not release anything until it has been thoroughly tested and has passed a slew of tests.

Again, I apologize for the lack of information, and I can't help but feel if more users got used to how the device moves and were just a tad more patient with using the Storm, they would grow to love it as much as I do my own. I also notice this is your first PDA. This being your first PDA along with this being RIM's first touch screen device warrants a little time for both of you to get familiar with each other.

(Two "form letter" paragraphs deleted)

I debated with myself whether to show my reply to his reply.  As you can imagine, it expressed my reluctance to acquiesce to the notion that "often times the device moves slowly and experiences lots of issues with freezing" and that this is normal and expected.  But rather than do that, I thought I'd leave his words as an unusual monument to the possibility that, whether intentional or not, "customer service" can actually provide something other than a plea of nolo.  My Storm is still terribly frustrating, often brick-like except when it's being overly sensitive, and something of a time sink.  But at least I know that there is a software version "out there" which is "being tested somewhere."  An "anchor of hope" indeed.


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TotD

"The Stinking Rose" is a garlic restaurant(!) in San Francisco.  Did you know that it's possible to grow up without garlic?  I've just made a note to tell that story some day. 

San Francisco's "The Stinking Rose" T-shirt
2009
Richard Factor

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