December 2007

Monthly Archive

We’re gonna need a bigger glass of milk… (WARNING: lotsa pics)

Posted by Office-Bob on 16 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: General Craziness

Every year at this time, the Hyatt Vancouver sponsors a gingerbread house display. Schools and companies submit “entries,” people vote by donation and all proceeds go to a local charity. I have pictures of some of this year’s entries; click on any image to enlarge it.

(you might want to go to the bathroom or perform some other task while you wait for the images to load.)

Enjoy!





























BONUS REALLY, REALLY BIG PANORAMA PICTURE:



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Dear Telemarketers

Posted by Office-Bob on 12 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

I grew up in a family environment in which phone calls were rarely made or received after 10 pm, and only then if the circumstances were important enough to warrant it. As a result, any time the phone rings after 10 I automatically assume, right or wrong, that something bad has happened and that I’m being called with bad news. Fortunately, my friends understand this quirk and are good about not calling that late so it’s usually not an issue.

I remember an instance many years ago where I was receiving calls late in the evening for an “escort agency” whose number was one digit off of mine; it got so bad that I unplugged the phone and let the answering machine take everything, only to find out as I played back messages the next morning that one call was from my mother, informing me that my grandfather (her father) had just died.

As you can guess, I’m of the firm belief that nothing good has ever come from late-night phone calls.

Recent events have only reinforced this belief and because of said events, I am now going to post An Open Letter to Telemarketers.

Dear Telemarketers:

I understand that there are jobs out there which people do not approve of, and yet “must” be done (for the record, I class telemarketers in the same “necessary” category as carrion-eaters, leeches and river flukes).

I understand that technology has made it easy to automate certain things, such as dialing phone numbers.

I can even understand the desire to use recorded messages in order to achieve the maximum amount of potential customer contact.

I don’t even mind (well, not much) getting calls during the “dinner hour” as it’s my choice to answer the phone or let the answering machine take the call.

HOWEVER.

Let’s get a few things straight, shall we? Here are my Rules for Telemarketers:

1) If you’re going to use an automatic dialer combined with a live person, design your system so the person trying to waste my time is there as soon as I pick up the phone; I’m tired of answering a call only to be subjected to dead air while your minimum wage drone finally realizes there’s a warm body on the other end of the line.

2) If you’re using an auto dialer with a recording, invest in technology that will terminate the call if an answering machine is reached (and if there is no such technology, start looking into developing it). At first glance it may seem pointless but think about it…every call that’s stuck on a machine is taking up valuable time that could be spent calling another number and bothering that person, and the law of averages would indicate that more calls = more potential sales.

3) Don’t be offended if, when you call me, I hang up on you whether or not I first politely say I’m not interested…on second thought, scratch that as I really don’t give a damn if I’ve offended you.

4) Last but not least, to whoever was using 604-270-7289 to call me at 3 in the morning to simply beep at me…IF I EVER FIND OUT WHO THE HELL YOU ARE I’M COMING OVER TO YOUR HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AT WHICH TIME I WILL BE TAKING YOUR TELEPHONE, SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASS*, THEN REMOVING IT, SETTING IT ON FIRE AND SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASS A SECOND TIME WHILE YELLING “BEEP!” OVER AND OVER IN YOUR EAR AS I LAUGH HYSTERICALLY AND WATCH YOU WRITHE IN AGONY.

*Of course, I’ll be wearing rubber gloves during this process as I believe in safe, sanitary fun.

Popularity: 44% [?]

THE NEXUS: RESOLUTIONS

Posted by Office-Bob on 08 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized, General Craziness

As discussed in a previous entry, I planned to take advantage of the NEXUS lane when I traveled to Seattle this past weekend.

I didn’t bother going to one of the NEXUS-equipped border crossings on the way down because I didn’t expect there to be enough of a lineup during a Friday morning to make it necessary; considering that it took me 20 minutes to get through the lineup, and that was at a lesser-used station, I may need to rethink that strategy the next time I head south.

Anyway, life goes on.

I finished my weekend revelry and prepared to head back to Canada, but first I had to fill out the Traveler’s Declaration Card. If you don’t remember what it looks like, here you go.

First, you must decide if you’re going to report the value in US or Canadian dollars – exchange rate jokes aside, it made sense to fill it out in USD as that’s what I’d purchased everything with and I didn’t feel like dealing with currency conversion. You also have to mark which exemption you qualify for based on how long you were out of the country.

Next, determine if the majority of items you purchased were made in the US or “Other;” forget shopping with no thought of the consequences – now you have to carefully check the labels or packaging to determine how much of your hard-earned cash has gone to foreign sweatshops and how much stayed at home with the US sweatshops.

Now, let’s break everything down by category so, should there be duty owed, they know how much to charge you. Fortunately, the book of TDCs comes with a list of categories and what items fall under which category. Unfortunately, sometimes a specific item isn’t listed and you either have to make like Sherlock Holmes to figure out how to claim it or take the easy way out (wimp!) and class it as Category 4, “miscellaneous goods not elsewhere specified.”

After this you must fill out the total dollar amount (including taxes) for each category and enter it in the appropriate field(s)…and then mark in the little bubbles the dollar value, rounded up or down to the nearest five dollars.

Booze and tobacco are so special that they get their own separate section – isn’t that precious?

Sign and date the card - but be careful not to colour outside the lines because, if you do, you might be assessed for booze or smokes you don’t have. Considering how much money the government brings in with “sin taxes” that’s a good reason to watch what you’re doing.

Got that? It’s easy – but you’d better have it done before you get to the border because the idea is to drop off the card in “the blue box in front of the NEXUS booth” as you go through and I’d imagine they’ll take a dim view of somebody holding up the line because they hadn’t completed their paperwork. If you owe any duty or taxes it will be charged to the credit card number you supplied during the enrollment process.

As I neared the Blaine, WA border crossing (one of the few with a NEXUS lane), I realized that the separate lane is close enough to the border that if there’s a sufficiently large backlog you’re still going to have to do a fair bit of waiting before you can escape from the herd – still, it’s better than nothing.

It’s a good thing there was someone in front of me so I, a NEXUS virgin, could watch them…wave their hand outside their car? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It took me a few seconds to realize there were sensor pads mounted on a post and that the driver was holding his NEXUS card in his hand but when my turn came to move forward I did the same thing. I wasn’t sure how long I had to hold the card out but I must have done it long enough because, when I got to the booth and warned the Customs official that I was new to this, he told me I’d done just fine. I had also been worried that I hadn’t seen a box to stick my TDC in but he asked for it there so I guess the Blaine crossing doesn’t use the boxes – that, or the flyer I was given during my NEXUS interview wasn’t accurate.

Since we’re talking about government bureaucracy, I’ll leave that alone for now.

With the TDC handed over, my re-entry to Canada was complete and I was able to go on my merry way.

All in all, the process of crossing the border seemed rather anti-climactic considering the hoops I’d jumped through to get to this point, but at least I have done a land crossing without incident. I have my annual fireworks convention coming up next February which will be the first time I’ll be doing the iris scan, so we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.

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