Pull the plug

July 1st, 2016 | tags: , , , ,  |

Mum: can I switch my computer off while I’m away?

Wendy: yes, there’s a button on the side…

Mum: No, I mean can I just pull the plug out of the wall, I want to use the socket for a timer and side light?

Wendy: Yes, that should work

Pull the plug
2 votes rating 5

Lunch in America

June 5th, 2016 | tags: , , ,  |

St Pauls International Children's festivalSt. PaulsDotted around the international children fair were food vans featuring varied cultural delights. As I waited for my pseudo Cornish pasty to warm by this one, I watched another couple waiting patiently. Her arm loosely draped around his waist. She murmured a few words occasionally glancing up to meet his eyes

They looked very much in love

Lunch in America
1 vote rating 5

Breakfast in America

June 4th, 2016 | tags: , ,  |

 Egg cups
Do you have any of those things that you put a boiled egg in to eat it?”

I have about 15 egg cups

Do you cut up bits of toast and dip them in the egg while its in the cup

“Yes

(Laughter) “why not put the egg on the bread?”

That would be a completely different experience… equally edible

Breakfast in America
4 votes rating 4

1614 Stakeholder Mapping

May 15th, 2016 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

John Speed atlas of Britaine front piece. Estate sales in the USA are rather like having an open house to sell your house contents. An Estate Sales company manages promotion and financial logistics and people come fro all over to buy anything from cutlery, screwdrivers to dining room suites. They seem to happen as standard for middle-class-wish homes. A way of downsizing before moving into retirement homes, following an elderly person’s death.

I picked up this 4ft x 2ft scaled-up reproduction of a front-piece to a 1614 map by “John Speed” for $20. Bargain! The glass and fame are probably each worth more than that!

The border shows heraldic symbols for key Stakeholders in a United Kingdom of Great Britain, from top left, clockwise:

Romane Empire
Heath Britaines
Chritha Britaines
Kentish Britaines
Heathe west Saxons
Christa west Saxons
First Saxon Monarks
Later Saxon Monarks
Norman Kings
Andegavion Kings
Kings of France
Kings of Scotland
Kings of Ireland
Welsh Princes
Later Kings of Wales
First kings of Wales
Cornith Kings
King of Man
Danith Kings
Northumberland
Mercian Kings
East Angles
East Saxons
South Saxons

1614 Stakeholder Mapping
3 votes rating 5

Purse pack

May 15th, 2016 | tags: , , , ,  |

Not a wallet so full that it’s packed. A purse is a handbag. A pack is a package. A package made to fit in a handbag. I am still learning words here in the USA and still using old world words in the wrong place

Wendy called my yard a garden!” a colleague gleefully announced. What’s the difference between a yard and a garden in the USA? She had plants carefully placed, a rocketry that would have impressed the knights that say “Ni”,  it was sculpted, not just a space with a boundary measured in feet and yards.

Purse pack
3 votes rating 2.67

Amongst the jolly chatter

May 5th, 2016 | tags: , , , , ,  |

That night in the Turkish bar Mumzie made some witty quip that reminded me of how clever and entertaining she can be in the most unexpected way. Impulsively, I leant over, hugged her, and gently kissed her neck. She whispered

That’s what I miss

I knew she meant dad. We had barely talked of him. At that time, 6 months after his passing, I hadn’t even seen her cry. Not even at the funeral. I was amazed by her stoicism. I’d burst out in floods of tears as soon as I saw the coffin and couldn’t stop until it disappeared from view. Some people were disturbed by mum”s lack of emotive expression, some thought it meant she didn’t care. I didn’t think that. We talked of practical things, of all the bureaucracy, furniture shifting, and belongings sorting that follows a death. We worked our grief through engaging with things and doing.

American Swedish InstituteHere, in Minneapolis, almost a year to the day after his death, I first saw her cry. Mum had accompanied me on a trip here to help me choose a place to live. We visited museums, historic buildings, art galleries and the American Swedish Institute (ASI). In the ASI we looked at traditional Swedish glassware, stoves, decorations, weaving. It was beautiful and very reminiscent of things in my parents home. As we walked into one room mum whispered ‘your dad would have loved this’. She was right, I could see his happy face and hear him telling us stories about his childhood in Sweden as an evacuee during WW2. I gave us a big hug. She knew why I’d wanted to come to the ASI. He’s part of me, I seek happiness in the things that made him happy. Mum and I share memories of dad’s being in a way that cannot be spoken. I think we miss him in a similar way, though I’m more prone to talking, writing, about it.

Recently, during a skype call, mumzie enthusiastically described her first trip to the Lake District. It sounded marvellous, snow capped mountain hikes (she’s 79!), lakes, windy roads, old trains, and then she mentioned the mill. An old mill “Your dad would have loved it”. This time without tears, and I smiled. I visited a Mill here in Minnesota recently and thought exactly the same thing. He’s with us on all our adventures, in spirit. Then mum started talking about the Russian formula 1 race that was on her TV. She described how it’s not as much fun to watch when she doesn’t have someone who cares more about it to share watching it with.

I know what you mean” the words sounded weak to convey the depth of understanding. So many experiences loose their ‘edge’ when the partner you’d shared them with, enjoyed them with, even enjoyed them because of that partner, is no longer there. So many everyday things that I once engaged-in with agust,  have faded from fun things to enjoyable things. As if the loss of a loved one throws a permanent damp blanket on one’s capacity to fully engage with those things.

Loss seeps through the jolly chatter of everyday things

Amongst the jolly chatter
5 votes rating 4.4

I want to bonsai a wisteria

May 1st, 2016 | tags: , , , , , ,  |
Bonsai'd wysteria

Bonsai’d Wysteria

The light spring breeze danced with his loose, sparkling, Celtic curls “Can I interest you on some gravel Mam?

The earnest delivery by a boy untouched by razors was enough to make me laugh. Laugh out loud in the old fashioned, diaphram-shaking nature of the emotion. “Thank you, but no thank you, I’m looking for a wisteria in a pot, do you have any?”

Pale as his completion was, this question still managed to still further bleach colour. In seconds,  self-disappointment showed, more effectively than words, across his face. “it’s my second day, I’m only really familiar with the gravel, but I know someone who can help us

He walked me towards another member of staff  “that’s a lovely accent you’ve got, where are you from?”

England, do you have a garden?” Oh dear, I’m interviewing him for his job, must stop being so judgemental…

He introduced me to the next assistant, a boy who looked young enough to still be in high school with the heavy black loose curls that I associate with Italians. I asked about Wisteria. The Celtish boy quickly added “She’s from England, that’s the accent

I suspect they don’t get many people from outside this city district of South Minneapolis. The Italian looking boy replied with a ‘Whatever’ nonchalance “It’s my first day, I don’t know” By now, the store manager had noticed the flocking of her new employees and made a very personable b-line for me. She found out about my general gardening requirements and the boys hovered in the background, witnessing an excellent role model.

No wisteria yet, but I’ll be back. I could even put in a personalised order for the wisteria of my choice. I left empty handed and happy

I want to bonsai a wisteria
6 votes rating 4.33

Sylvac bunny 990

January 24th, 2016 | tags: , , ,  |

Untitled What can you tell me about these two Sylvac bunnies?

They appear to be the same shape, very similar moulds. The markings on the base are similar to other bunnies that I have and look authentic.

The colours are slightly different, the glaze appears slightly different.

The most notable difference is the pattern of the fur. One bunny has regular lines, the other has a more twisty layout of fur. Look at the outside of the ears…

Are they both Sylvac from different production periods?

Untitled

Sylvac bunny 990
4 votes rating 3.75

sockets and plugs are made for each other. literally

November 6th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

floor socketI walked into a crowded room, at my USA workplace. People milling around and chatting. A attractive colleague I hadn’t seen for a few months strode up to me and gave me a big hug. I’m not used to being hugged in American workplaces, it’s unusual, people tend to be cautious about potential harassment. A most pleasant experience. I was a little flabbergasted by this very public display of affection, and quite flattered. Ego inflation.

15 minutes later I was sat on the floor discussing floor plug design, as an aside to work, with a British colleague. For me, a fascinating discussion. We described our home fixtures and how they worked. His are brass, and cost a fortune to install. Mine are plastic, were there when I moved in.

As I described how to open mine “I have to take the top right off”
The attractive colleague was walking behind and exclaimed loudly  “Oh! Should we leave?”
The Brit I was talking to started giggling uncontrollably.

Double entendre? From an attractive American? In the work place!

Later at lunch, during a group conversation the attractive American used touching my arm as a way of indicating that he had something to say to me. I’d forgotten about this type of way of being.

Feels like flirting. I like it. I suspect I have a crush on this boy.
Flirting is fun, I need to brush up on my very rusty skills.

sockets and plugs are made for each other. literally
4 votes rating 5

virgin bites apple

November 1st, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

I’ve loitered outside Apple stores. I’ve sniggered at the long queues waiting for the store to open, or inside at the back tables. A long time ago I went inside one and photographed the layout. I’d never been in to use one for it’s intended purpose. Until now.

Does this look like a pleasant place to be?  It wasn’t.

Rosedale center Apple storeI strode down the wide mouth of the open fronted Rosedale Apple store, straight towards the watch display. I don’t like shopping, my goal was try one on my wrist, try out the interactions, buy (or not) and leave.  The back of the store was full of people

At first I couldn’t tell who was staff or shopper. I stood alone by the watch stand with my head up looking around for help.  After what seemed like ages I realised that all the store staff had headphones on and were in almost constant communication with each other. I tried to catch the eye of several staff members. They were all too busy to notice me. Very frustrating. I nearly left

I overheard one staff talk to another about a “greeter”. I looked towards the door where a lone member of staff was saying hello and introducing himself to people as the entered.

He had failed to greet me.

Maybe I need to be officially greeted before I exist as a customer in a virtual queue. I walked up to him and waited while he greeted several other people before acknowledging me. By this time I was angry. I stayed calm while he asked me my name, and worked out why I was there. I mentioned my long wait and he politely apologised, saying his colleague (name 1) would be over to help me in a few minutes

In all, 4 more staff introduced themselves to me, confirmed they knew I was interested in a watch, told me their colleague, name-2 ( then name-3, name-4, name-5) would be along soon to help me.  Each time I was picked-up, my eager anticipation of doing my shopping and getting out, quickly, rose. Each time they told me another colleague would be along to help me soon, my anger levels rose, exponentially. I nearly walked out a couple of times. I considered throwing myself on the floor and having a tantrum in the style of a toddler.

Well done Apple for balancing understaffing with ‘just-in-time’ contact

By the time someone could actually get a watch out of the case so that I could try it on, I was not in the mood to be nice. I just wanted my questions answered and to get out. I opened by telling her I wasn’t a fan of Apple, I’d been waiting over 30 mins and I just wanted a functional walk through. The shop assistant, obviously found this difficult, she tried very hard to deliver her well trained sales pitch.

No, I wasn’t interested in the exercise App, nor the representations of the globe…

  • does it fit?
  • How do I load and update Apps?
  • How do I customise the display?
  • What does each button do?
  • How do I take a screenshot

To her credit she did very well, clearly trained for dealing with ancy clientele. After I’d paid for the brick she took me to some sort of troubleshooting table where one member of staff stood surrounded by about 5 standing clientele, users. We had a few problems because of some of my default (corporate) phone settings… once we’d restarted the phone and watch about half a dozen times we’d sorted it. Definitely quicker than my trying to do that at home, and cheaper for Apple than supporting multiple phone calls trying to troubleshoot a very visual experience. I appreciated being able to walk out of the store with a working watch… ready to play with…

  • Having someone there while I set-up the watch was a big bonus, because clearly the set-up has not been made easy.
  • Having very polite staff repetitively ignore me, then pass me around like a parcel was very annoying. I’ve never experienced anything that bad outside of an NHS appointment.
virgin bites apple
2 votes rating 5

Still standing still

October 27th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

moveDad’s failing Tissot with a mechanical movement has been replaced by… …an Apple watch.

The watch tells me that I excersize without moving. I call this behaviour deep thought, that’s thought.

I love my new watch. Not the phone, just the massive brick of a watch. The phone is merely a conduit, a relay box that I can use to update the watch settings. I now know what time it is in every country that I might feel inclined to call… …and other surprisingly pleasing trivia.

I still use my windows phone for ‘personal’ stuff, but this gadget could be the one that catalyses my shift away from a Windows platform.

Still standing still
2 votes rating 3

Ready to go home

October 24th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

ThreeSisters B&BIn the darker hours of the night I remembered knowing that in the morning I needed to be ready to be taken home. Someone would call and take me home, no need to pack anything

I knew that I was currently sleeping in my bed, in the Wendy house.  Happy that I was going to be taken, no public transport involved, no pain,  relieved that I didn’t need to pack anything or prepare the Wendy House to be left. No fuss.

Unbothered by not knowing where this next home is, or who else is there

In the morning light, no one came for me.  I would have been ready, if my time had come…

Ready to go home
1 vote rating 5

Seasonal Affective Disorder

October 21st, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Autumn 006

At first,

I thought a new collective noun had been created for the process of “unfriending” someone when I overheard an American say

“Fall-outings”

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder
3 votes rating 5

Dinner with strangers

October 15th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Chicago trip (15)You have to book a table in the dining car on the Amtrak “Empire Builder”. You wait at the carriage door to be seated and the waiter places you with 3 other passengers, who embarked and will disembark at different stations. Forced socialness.  I was placed at a table with Betty and John, a couple with silvering hair, and Glenn. A fat, balding  realtor with 5 daughters.

Glenn: I detect an accent, what bought you to America, what’s his name

Wendy: (named my employing Fortune 100 company and it’s male CEO)

John nearly spat out his food, and barely managed to subdue the smile. As the meal progressed Glenn changed from domineering, leading the conversation to quiet. I felt a bit mean, but such overt sexism tends to quell my ability to empathise with a person.

Also, Betty and John’s story was very interesting. Glenn’s story was also interesting… but…

Dinner with strangers
1 vote rating 5

Autumn Amtrak

October 13th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Riding the “Empire Builder” from Minneapolis to Chicago and back. Over 7hrs each way. Big seats, even bigger luggage allowance.

By accident of fate the retired gentleman that sat next to me on the first journey was a real gem, great company. The time flew by. As he left, he thanked me for being a “great conversationalist”. A compliment I really value, especially now that I spend so little time with people in conversation on anything other than work. What a treat to talk of politics, buildings, the education system, family, climate, anything and many things. In-between our conversations I photographed the fantastic Minnesota and Wisconsin emerging autumn colours.

Chicago trip Chicago trip
Chicago trip Chicago trip (13)

Chicago trip (12)

Autumn Amtrak
1 vote rating 5

Time to stop

October 2nd, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Tissot watchDad’s watch stopped again.

It was a bit flaky during Dad’s life. I invested in an overhaul, with a 20year guarantee, from a UK watch specialist. It went back a couple of times while I was in the UK. The watch specialist definitely worked for their guarantee.

Now I’m in the USA and the watch has shifted from ‘flaky’ to dead. It’s stopped. It stopped last night. I was annoyed. It’s Dad’s watch. I love the look and feel of it, I love what it represents. But a watch that doesn’t work is too sad to wear. I wrote mum a short email and sadly said that I was giving up on the watch and that my previous watch hung limply around my wrist, I’ve lost weight since arriving in the USA.

A few hours later my brother contacted me to let me know that Mum’s favourite brother had died that night.

When it’s time to stop. Time stops.

 

 

Time to stop
1 vote rating 5

Musical diagnosis

September 10th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Friend from the 1990’s that I haven’t seen since then: “what sort of music do you listen to?”

Wendy: “All sorts, mainly 80’s

Friend: “You’re romantic!”

rate wendys scribble

Windows 10 on one surface, not the other

September 6th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

I wont be downloading windows 10 on my 2nd surface. I want to savour the excellent tablet oriented design  of Windows 8. Design that didn’t assume that a physical keyboard was attached. That’s how I use my surfaces. I’ll miss Windows 8. It looks like Microsoft has focussed the design of Windows 10 on the assumption of a keyboard attached as the primary use context. Not designed for me, or people that enjoy the tablet form factor (without they keyboard). Ho hum

Here are a few moments I went through with the windows 10 upgrade process, rated on a scale of 0 thru 5 where 0 s atrocious and 5 is excellent, followed by a description of what I’ve rated

5* It downloaded in the background

2* It has completed downloading – now install – message  not displayed on tablet UI, I missed it for a couple of weeks

5* I liked be able to set when to install. I choose midnight, when I’d be asleep

0* It actually start installing until when I wanted to use my computer in the morning, not at midnight. A significant, unexpected, disruption to my planned use time

0* I had to reset my preferred colour scheme and desktop background after installing. Come on! These are personal settings that should be migrated!

2* After install was set-up. Just when you think you’ve finished, you have to do something else

2* Set-up encouraged accepting default options that included sharing information with advertisers to tailor advertising to me. I used the option to review and set all the options rather than accepting defaults to remove this default, and the automated sharing of location information. I was unsure what some of the options really meant, for example the automated connect to networks. It offered to automatically connect to my contacts networks. Interesting, but I opted out of this, I want to know what networks I’m connecting to and approve that connection

2* Very new UI that gives prominence  to the “Desktop” interface, is not immediately intuitive, takes time to learn. M experience of everyday use MAY  be better once I’ve learned it. But the first experience of the new UI is not inspiring or encouraging

1* The “start menu” is back. Undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, but the way they’ve constructed it is to move (downgrade) the tablet selection UI and ‘squeeze’ live-tiles into a space within the start menu space, effectively making what was once  “All programs” into a group, scrollable, tile selection.  Leaving the left hand side of the stat menu a a traditional work list.  it’s a strikingly conservative design.  They’ve got lots of old crowd pleasers in the start menu like “file explorer” the power menu, and settings. And they’ve ‘forced’ a grouping on the live tiles rather than re-using my groupings. They’ve added things tracking the stock market! What does that say about the product development team! Hah.  I’ve been ‘un-pinning’ these personally irrelevant things from the menu and trying to regroup everything and rename it back to my original arrangement. The live tiles have lost a lot of functionality, e.g. for showing summaries of their contents

0* Had to trawl through virtually all the PC settings to find out how to ‘get back’ some of my windows 8 positive experiences. Glad to be able to set the menu as full screen tiles. Disappointed windows didn’t detect my lack of keyboard and set this as default that could be offered for adjustment when a keyboard is first attached

0* Keyboard auto-arrival is SO MUCH WORSE. I have to manually open and close the virtual keyboard

0* inconsistent and rare screen reformatting when virtual keyboard is opened, much worse than windows 8. I’m often unable to see key instructions or entry fields on my screen because they are obscured by the keyboard, previously this was not a problem

3* It hook quite a lot pf use o work out how to move between my Apps an desktops. The new multitasking navigation model. This could be god for on going use. I’m still not confident I fully understand it

3* Resetting passwords for things that Windows didn’t already know my passwords for – it’s gathering knowledge of all my passwords. I’m not overly happy with the forced linking of all that knowledge about me. I can see this is a step towards being able to upgrade without having to reset all the passwords, but its a standard pain in the upgrade process and I wasn’t expecting it this time round

*1 Skype asking me to install an update again, feels like about 4 in the last month, but I may not of completed them to the software’s expectations because the process was so convoluted and unintuitive. Maybe I’ve only done this 2 times. I hope this second time has re-instated the effective use lf my tablet camera. I doubt it given all the other enhancements have been a step backward for tablet users

0* I got so frustrated on the first hour after installing that I rebooted the surface – just out of learning from past experience, mot any help or advice from windows or it’s apps. It installed updates! I guess the settings changes I made required rebooting. They should have advised me. But maybe it was something else… the update was from Microsoft, within an hour of a Microsoft update, so I feel justified in directing my anger and frustration towards them

5* The ability to roll back to windows 8 within 4 weeks. But the fear of facing equal resetting pain after the roll back is a blocker…  not yet sure whether to roll back..

Windows 10 on one surface, not the other
1 vote rating 4

The tall pasty one

August 18th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

Boarding the plane from Mumbai to Bangalore involved riding a bus from the terminal to the plane. A crowded bus of about 60 passengers. I was the only Caucasian person on the bus. Possibly the only person who’s family hadn’t hailed from India within the last century. A sprinkling of clearly American, and English, accents suggest that there are other people raised, or mainly living, outside India on the bus.

I’m tall!

TALL

Oh my! There are only about 10 people on this bus who are taller than me (5″6′). Goodness, I had no preconception, prejudice, that put people from India in a ‘short’ category (I do now). I think I need to wear dark sunglasses so that I look like someone famous trying to travel incognito…

The tall pasty one
1 vote rating 5

Unubiquitous computing

August 15th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Very excited about my first trip to India (Bangalore).  I’ve got a ‘Tripit’ account because it leverages other corporate software systems for travel. Tripit’s got an App on my iPhone (work supplied, OBVIOUSLY!) and my personal windows phone and…..

I made the technology-ignorant assumption that if I could use an App on my Windows phone, there would be an equivalent for my windows surface…. they’re both windows mobile devices….

Silly me

Must remember that technology rarely meets use expectations of the technically naïve

So I’ll be sat at the airport during icky layovers (New Jersey on the way out, Mumbai on the way back) using my surface to read and surf the nets for pleasure but my tripit notifications will be coming through whichever phone I’ve decided to turn on

Unubiquitous computing
1 vote rating 5

Party lift

August 11th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

A creature of habit, on Sunday morning I carry my empty bottle and glassware to the recycle bin in the garage. I rarely meet anyone in the lift. This week, the 5 people in the lift chuckled when they  saw my collection of 3 bottles and one commented that my Saturday might looked more fun than his.

this is a week’s worth of bottles… honest…. ……that didn’t sound very convincing did it”

Chorus “No

stairwell only in emergenciesThe stairwell in the lofts is currently out of bounds, except for emergencies. It’s full of paint fumes. People would get high on the stairs if they accidentally used them.

lift out of orderOne of the two elevators is not working, due to be repaired within 2 weeks.

Can you guess what’s happening?

Sociability enhancements! I’m loving it.

Long waits for the elevator to arrive mean people meet each other while waiting. Frequent stops at each floor mean the elevator quickly fills with people, packages and puppies. We talk, smile, laugh.

It’s jolly nice.

I hope the elevator stays broken for more than 3 weeks.

rate wendys scribble

Big white balls on the ceiling

August 9th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Bare bulbs in basic ceiling fixtures provide harsh and inadequate light for the Wendy loft. At the moment.

Lighting6 months after moving in  I’ve gotten around to ordering lighting fixtures from ‘Lightworks‘ an awesome little family company that renovates old fixtures, designs and makes new fixtures and just loves lighting. I’ve spent several visits just sat on a bar stool in the shop talking to Charles and Kathryn while Wes walks through and the new puppy tries to get into the showroom.   They are lovely people.

LightingI’ve bought some plain pendants with 18 inch hand blown glass globules ‘shades’ that will cover two bulbs. The photograph is of the shop demo with an 8 inch globe. I’ll have bigger balls, in each room.

I’ve also commissioned them to renovate a standard lamp (circa 1920s) that mum and dad bought as a housewarming gift when I moved to Seattle in 2000.

Charles and Kathryn loved this and told me that if it was being sold today they’d expect about to get about $2,500 for it. WOW, that’s added a couple of zero’s onto what mum and dad paid for it!

By November the loft should have adequate lighting…

Big white balls on the ceiling
4 votes rating 5

Friendly distribution

August 5th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

 

frequency distribution graphWarnings:

  • All charts are fictional,  not based on any real data
  • All axis show interval data on proportionate scales, even if they don’t look it
  • All typing, grammar and spelling mistakes are  gratuitous
  • All titles and labels are slap-dash
  • Any resemblance of anything or anyone is purely coincidental

Not all of my Facebook friends are alive. I watch my fathers 2 accounts wondering whether Facebook will proactively do anything to remove them through sign-in inactivity. They were a source of comfort soon after he died. Family and friends posted photographs, stories, goodbyes on his timeline and the experience was shared. Because of this we decided not to proactively try and close the account.

Meanwhile several friends have closed their Facebook accounts as a protest against the way the data is used. I miss their presence, can empathise with the reasons for their choice.

The people with over 700 friends intrigue me. They appear to be using Facebook in a qualitatively different way to myself and most of my friends. I suspect these are extreme extroverts and their friends distribution graph will have a centre with people having 500 friends on average…

 

rate wendys scribble

What’s the home of the Vikings?

August 3rd, 2015 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Rendering of US Bank Stadium (currently under construction)

A new stadium is being built for the Minneapolis Vikings American football team. The stadium will actually be called the “US Bank” stadium. The home of the Vikings is the IS Bank stadium.  I guess both Vikings and Banks have a reputation for collecting money from other people….

The US bank sponsorship team haven’t come up with a stadium name that inspires fun, images of fabulous things, aspirations and warm feelings for the local customers. It’s the name of the bank. No creativity or imagination involved.  To me it says, we’ve got lots of money and we want to you see and say our name every time you’re thinking of the local football team. A succinct message that says a lot about the culture of the IS Bank and the needs of the organisation providing the stadium (Minneapolis city?).

When I lived in Seattle the new Baseball stadium there was named “Safeco field”. Safeco is a huge insurance company in the USA. I understand that these fabulous buildings, cathedrals of our millennium, do need funding and that financial companies have the spare funds and the motivation to get their names known, seen in places associated with positive emotions. The new Baseball stadium in Minneapolis is called the Target field. Target is a large American retail chain. Somehow this name works for me beacuse pitchers target their baseball to be in play, the name is still meaningful if the company ceased to exist…

The trend to name stadiums after local corporations has produced some really poor names. In 2013 daily finance listed unfortunate American stadium names:

  1. Enron field
  2. Northwest Delta Dental Stadium
  3. Save-on-foods memorial Centre
  4. KFC Yum! Centre
  5. Amway Center
  6. Overstock.com coliseum
  7. CITI field
  8. Candlestick/3Com/monsterpark (I don’t understand this, what is the stadium called?)
  9. Whataburger field

‘Field’, ‘Coliseum’, ‘Stadium’ do at least refer to the sports, games, role of the place. This website lists the best NFL stadium names as:

  1. Lambeau Field
  2. Soldier Field.
  3. Arrowhead Stadium
  4. Ralph Wilson Stadium
  5. Paul Brown Stadium.
  6. Ford Field.
  7. Lincoln Financial Field.  Everybody calls it “The Link.”

If these are the best, I’m not impressed.

Stadium names that have impressed me are not listed anywhere, except here:

  1. Stadium of light. Sunderland FC. Wikipedia says the stadium name was chosen as “as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future. The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.” Compared to the NFL stadiums this is small, but the thought and specialness of this stadium shown in design detail (the Davey lamp at the entrance) is deeply moving.
  2. Pride park. Derby city FC. Officially this is the “iPro stadium”, the sponsored name came after the stadium had developed it’s own name within the community. The sponsored name will not have sufficient ‘appeal’ to replace the commonly used name. The sponsor does get associated with the Park by being the official name.
  3. The Den. Millwall FC. I like this name because of the enthusiasm of a class mate (age 7, in Bristol) who explained to me what “the Den” was, he was so happy, this was clearly a very special place. That Millwall have managed to keep that link with thief original stadium name is impressive.

I have strong affections for the grounds I’ve attended regularly, supporting local teams. The common naming theme here is the location of the stadium. It’s relevant to ‘place’ which makes a lot of seen to me and could outlive any renaming strategy from currently existing stadium:

  1. Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City, my local team as a teenager.
  2. Fratton Park home of “Pompey”, Portsmouth City FC since 1898! The wendy house was located about 1000yrds from the ground 1993-1996, I regularly went to games

I’d like these companies to think about the aspirations and values of the stadium customers, I’d like corporate naming strategists to come up with something attendees can be emotionally attached to, relevant to them in a positive way. Ideally with at least a nodding reference to the name of the main team that is based there. The team name “Vikings” refers to the roots of the European settlers here and evokes images of aggression. The state is informally known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, a strap line placed on most car license plates. The stadium is near the banks of the Mississippi.  There are cultural cues that could be used to generate a name that could be linked with the banks name.

In 2013 Joe Loveland wrote an article exploring the ores and cons of possible names for the Viking’s stadium:

  1. U.S. Bank
  2. Land O Lakes Stadium.
  3. Wheaties Stadium.
  4. 3M Stadium.
  5. Matt’s Bar Stadium.
  6. OmniSynCorp Stadium.
  7. Target Stadium.
  8. People’s Stadium.

Cathedrals are traditionally named after Saints, if stadiums are our new cathedrals, then corporations are our new saints. It doesn’t sit well with me.

I look forward to the day when corporate sponsorship for naming steps out of bland placing of one companies name on the building to inspiring naming strategies. Take a risk.

 

What’s the home of the Vikings?
1 vote rating 5

Puritans and Prisoners

August 1st, 2015 | tags: ,  |

An American calmly announced that if the people who had taken the candy bowls from the meeting room, yesterday, returned them within 24hrs, no more action would be taken.

A moments silence.

Silence broken by an Australian announcing that the dishes went with the one’s he collected last time he visited America.

I giggled.

People left England, for America or Australia, for very different reasons. Those reasons have influenced the nations culture. Beautifully illustrated by this theatre. Like the other Brits and Indians in the room, I said nothing. No haul of candy dishes in my possession. Innocent, of some things. Meanwhile, the Scott passed the Australian some candy…

Later the British contingent admitted they’re going on a shooting trip…

 

rate wendys scribble

In the midnight hour

July 31st, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

How many days was I resident in the UK during the tax year? My guidance from a Tax services provider for helping to work this out:

Generally, an individual will be treated as being in the UK on any day where he or she is in the UK at the end of that day (i.e., at midnight).

There are two main exceptions to the basic rule on location at midnight:

  1. Where an individual arrives in the UK as a passenger on that day and also leaves the UK by the end of the next day without engaging in any activities that are substantially unrelated to the individual’s passage through the UK, the day of arrival is not counted as a day in the UK.
  2. Where the individual is only present in the UK at the end of the day due to exceptional circumstances (see below), the day is not counted as a day in the UK provided he or she intends to leave the UK as soon as circumstances permit and the limit for such days is not exceeded.

Exceptional circumstances apply when circumstances beyond the individual’s control prevent him or her from leaving the UK. For example, national or local emergencies such as war, civil unrest or natural disaster; or sudden or life-threatening illness or injury for the individual themself or a close family member. The exception is restricted to a maximum of 60 days in any UK tax year (6 April to 5 April).

In the midnight hour
1 vote rating 4

Summer cabins

July 28th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

DSCF5517Vacation allowances in the USA are not as plentiful as in Europe. One weekend a friend leant me her lakeside cabin.

A mini holiday!

The cabins I’d visited in Scandinavia had no running water, no gas, no electricity. We had to stock up on water, candles, and collect firewood when we arrived. Half way between a holiday home and camping, like staying in a shed. A shed in a fabulous location.

Talking to the locals here, many have family cabins, their family will travel from all over the country for gatherings in the cabin. In my friend’s cabin, I stayed alone, watched the sun rise and set.

I listened to the birds and completely failed to be bitten by any tics or have any wildlife encounters. No bears emerging from hibernation, no swarms of mosquitoes… almost like civilization in the wilderness. Wilderness? There was good cell phone reception but my Satnav didn’t want to play, it announced that it wouldn’t give me turn information them did that passive-aggressive ‘silent’ treatment thing.

This Minnesota cabin was luxury. A fully equipped kitchen, light switches, flushing indoor toilet. Best of all, a fabulous lake view, the sound of children laughing in the distance and the timelessly beautiful ambiance.

Peace

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Smell the potatoes

July 26th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Farmers MarketDriving back from my weekly shop, I took a new route, ignored the Satnav and explored the back ways. Near home I passed a huge outdoor market. The traffic moved slowly, nowhere obvious to park. I parked at home and walked 10mins to the market. A treasure.

According to the signs its the biggest farmers market in the North Midwest. Size matters. I could smell the potatoes and beans. Everything liked good. From now on I’ll be visiting here for all my grocery needs.

Store holder vans reverse up to covered, raised, walkways. Their stock remains in the van behind them while they arrange a display of goods on the table in front.

At the western side the market changes nature as local artists display their wares, pottery, carving, stonework, garden ornaments made from rusting metal. A huge freeway sign overlooks the whole event. City life.
Farmers Market

Smell the potatoes
2 votes rating 5

Suspicions

July 25th, 2015 | tags:  |

I’m pretty sure I’m not cheating on anyone, but there’s always room for doubt, so I used an online service to check

My spam quotient has quadrupled since I checked up on myself

Being paranoid is a vicious cycle

Suspicions
1 vote rating 5

Grown up

July 16th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

IroningNow that I’m a real grown up I have to look like I know what I’m doing, look like I’m capable, at work. Theoretically I could pay someone to take my nice shirts away and iron them into fancy-flatness for me. But, um, I’d feel guilty doing that and it would take time to arrange.

There’s something very sobering about cleaning my own apartment and ironing my own shirts. It feels like I should do it, to keep my feet on the ground and all things ‘looking after yourself’ in ‘perspective. The only thing I don’t understand is why I have to iron 10 shirts every 7 days. Something is clearly going wrong here. My socks are not vanishing, I don’t wear 2 outfits a day, how come my pile of ironing breeds…..

Nice shirts Wendy? Hell yeah!

I love a good crisp shirt with cufflinks in the morning!

Grown up
4 votes rating 5