Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ben and Jerry are Marketing Geniuses

I would like to take a minute to discuss how branding has diffrentiated Ben and Jerry's from so many other companies. I'm sure there are a number of companies that I would find comparable in their homegrown nature,(consider the questionably fated LoveSac that filed for Chapter 11 early this year), but besides being grassroots and all-natural, Ben and Jerry's is masterfully branded.

First off, go to the Ben and Jerry's website. You'll see our lovely bovine in her hammock (above) and how can you say that isn't irresistibly cute? I would require a great deal of research to be qualified to say this officially, but I feel that Ben and Jerry's revolutionized the idea of all-natural products merged with luxury. These two qualities do not always go hand in hand (have you ever used a natural bristle toothbrush?), but here is a company that realized that class and crunchy do not have to mutually exclusive properties. Founded in 1978, I can't think of a single other company that falls in this class that still exists and furthermore enjoys the notoriety and loyalty that Ben and Jerry's does.

Part of this distinction comes from B&J's willingness to be artsy in its packaging. Most companies that aren't geared toward children have a hard time taking this creative leap. They do not want to be seen as unprofessional and they want to appeal to adults, not children with limited spending money. A perfect example is Breyer's, which also touts its "all naturalness" but packages in a way designed for the mainstream.

Ben and Jerry's doesn't mind being associated with potheads and neo-hippie-whatever-you-call-ums. They realized that there is in fact a market for this subculture and I can't think of another brand that is better associated with it. Hippies today are not like hippies of the years gone by. Hippies today will pay extra for words like "organic" and "all natural" (note that formal legislation identifying foods as organic didn't begin until the 1990s--two decades after the start of Ben and Jerry's). And while many companies would be afraid to be identified with this market, people who do not identify in any way still love the ice cream.

The other stroke of genius was the inclusion of long-standing pop culture references (most notably Cherry Garcia) in naming new flavours. This is also risky as it could be perceived as over-marketed, whereas I feel Ben and Jerry's has much the opposite reputation. Instead of these guys saying "hey, we signed a deal to make money and advertise on our cartons" they seem to be saying "we love this guy so much we made an ice cream for him. Don't you love him?"

I could write a very very long essay about this, and may very well when the time allows. In the meantime, though . . . your comments and thoughts? I'm interested to see how other people perceive the brand (as we know, perception is the only truth--particularly in marketing!).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Begin poetic musings

I saw a little mouse skitter across the street from an abandoned mill to a small abandoned house. He said "I need a change of pace, I need a place to call home." It was sweet in a way, how eager he was. I can empathize as I skitter through my life from home to home, sometimes from hovel to hovel, and I think that someday I will stay somewhere.

When I find that place I will bolt my couch to the floor and waterproof the television set. That way even once I'm gone, even if that place is abandoned, I will still live there, and as my soul escapes its fleshly domicile, as it crosses the street it will whisper an invitation to the little mouse to stay and keep house while I am away.

end transmission

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Das Moo, El Moo, Le Moo

So this is cool . . . cows have accents, at least among the various regions of Britain. I don't think cow moos have any variation beyond maybe their pitch, so my last word on this is that people make stuff up for lack of anything else to do. And these are farmers in England, how appropriate.

Security, Convenience, Freedom and Privacy

Security and convenience come at the price of freedom and privacy. In the interest of security, our president has created the Patriot Act. He’s absolutely correct in his assertion that this makes our country more secure. The obvious and cliché question here, however, is at what price? Well, that’s easy, it’s at the price of freedom. In order to be absolutely secure we must rely on secrecy and the fact that our government is going to mistakenly incarcerate people who are not what they appear to be.

Convenience is the selling point of services such as OnStar and your cell phone which, if you didn’t know, can locate you via GPS at any given time. This is a mixed blessing. If you’re in an unfamiliar city and OnStar is providing you with directions to your destination, we say “hooray for OnStar!” And if you’re lost in the woods in the winter and your cell phone is with you, (and you somehow have reception), your rescuers will rely on this to find you. But of course the trade off is that when you’re home, or visiting a friend, or anywhere else that isn’t precarious, someone somewhere has the ability to come find you for whatever reason deemed necessary.

Now combine the two. We have integrated convenience into our lives while the government has integrated surveillance into its agenda. Because the government overarches our daily lives, we now know that it has the reach to access the resources provided by those convenient services. Let’s not forget the rise of communism is Russia. Crime rates were extremely low because by definition the government does not commit crimes, but of course killing anybody who might be “a problem” is usually considered criminal. Extensive monitoring of the population led to a decrease in crime among the fearful constituents, but in the process personal freedom and privacy became alien concepts.

I don’t know the solution to all this, I lack a political mind. But I’ve always been a supporter of balance and we desperately need that. Either we make people disappear and some of those people will be innocent casualties, or we let too many people get away with too much and they hurt the innocent. What it comes down to is this: would we rather have casualties be the liability of the government or of criminals?

Friday, August 18, 2006

I've been reading Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut. This is one of the few remaining Vonnegut books that I have not read. I've decided since Mr. V is getting a old and unlikely to be publishing many more books, I should really pace myself on the wisdom he has to impart.

Whatever the case, in this collection of speeches there is one that discusses the elemental folk society and how this structure is what makes humans content and happy. He describes hippies in communes vs. the rest of society as "an argument between those who believe folk societies are still possible and those who knows they aren't." This is not an original idea. Marshall MacLuhan brings it up in the context of mass media in The Medium is the Massage: An inventory of effects (1976), which, on a side note, I would definitely say is one of the most important books ever written about the internet. It anticipates the internet and fully accounts for it.

But back to Kurt. One passage about ancient folk societies in particular caught my attention:

What one man knew and believed was the same as what all men knew and believed. There wasn't much of a division of labor. What one person did was pretty much what another person did.

I realize that, as MacLuhan predicts, we are approaching the return to an empathetic society. This brings me to the idea of the blogosphere. Here is a virtual commune of college-educated people who work in offices, are addicted to Wikipedia and other people's opinions via their blogs. This is the only commune that can work. Think liberal copyright, (see Doorbell Copyright), where we are far more interested in being read, understood and agreed with than being credited.

We work in various industries, (though like industries will always stick together to some degree), but our work is all the same--Microsoft Office and various programs for creation, illustration and explanation. I would imagine that much of the work I do is similar to any other office. While the content differs, the mechanics are consistent.

I don't know if this counts as philosophy, but I'm happy to be thinking in an analytical way. This is the kind of stuff I really like, but alas, inspiration is usually hard to come by.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I found it odd to be amateur designer of a website some years back for a company that purported to specialize in XML, since I would assume that knowing a "real" programming language would make it silly to even think of hiring someone to do a really basic website. Whatever the case, the guy paid me the first half of the price, (which was in all a modest $300), then didn't want to invest in any money into actually getting images that were legal, and then didn't pay for the other half. Which was just as well since it was more of a hobby anyway, but I'd have liked to put it on my resume.

So as it turns out, this guy finally got someone to make a webpage for him. Now I am not, and never have been, terribly artistic, but I promise you that my format was extremely similar except cleaner and looking less like it was made in 1995. Oh, what the hell, let's list a few immediate problems with this site that my design sidestepped:

  • The fact that you have to scroll sideways is a major faux pas. If the programmer had just fitted it in percentages (or the standard 800x600 format) this annoyance could have been avoided altogether.

  • The lack of professional images makes this look like a website for a grammar school that was last updated long ago . . .

  • The colours . . . ick! They don't even go together.

  • The main page is not at a nice neat /index.html, no sir, it is The main page!

  • Judging from the awful messiness that is the source code (you can see what I mean by right clicking on that page and selecting "View Source") indicates that this was created in FrontPage. FrontPage blows because if you know how to make something, it's easier to program the html directly than use FP. If you don't know HTML, this makes it look like crap (case and point).

  • Let me reiterate one last time that this is the same exact format I came up with, except mine was cleaner! I don't know if he didn't have another $150 to waste on me or what, and I wish I still had that up on my pubpages because you can at least tell that it's not total crap.

  • The site doesn't have any forms. I don't care what anyone says, a form always makes it look more professional. My version of the site had a form. And it worked too.

So I can't decide from time to time if I really am a webgeek, but when I start critiquing websites like this I can't help but think I am. I guess it's that I care about stupid crap that nobody else does, but it's not like I know java or flash or anything so I feel like a poseur if I say I am a webgeek. Yeah, you read that right. I'm worried about being a poseur geek. *Sigh* will I never find my people?

If you knew me in my dorm days, then three years ago I probably sent you a link to Benny Benassi's video for "Satisfaction." No doubt you are thinking "why didn't she link that right there?" Well, I'll describe it for you instead: the video is for a European club favourite and it features sweaty, oiled-up ladies in bikinis using power tools (including a jackhammer, you animal!). And apparently three years ago AdRants suggested that Home Depot do something clever with it. Well they have!

Behold Home Depot's sexiest ad campaign yet. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, right, cuz three years ago I was still going to be an actuary. Heh. Heh. AAAAaahahahahahhaha! Marketing rulz way better, if only I'd known!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Last night, while listening to NPR, I caught wind of a story about Video News Reports. Apparently The Center for Media and Democracy, (that's a link to their site, published a report entitled "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed" on April 6th of this year.

But first, a word on Video News Reports. You really can't find much information on these. In fact, the only useful link I found was to PR Watch, and there isn't even an article on Wikipedia. So bear in mind that my sources are extremely limited on this, although besides NPR, the Washington Post also ran a story on this (April 15). Essentially what happens is that PR companies create a fake news story to showcase some new product or agenda. Then they send it to news stations, a lot of which seem to be Fox affiliates (not surprisingly), who lead into it as though it were a normal news. In fact, they'll even have their anchors do voice-overs, but word-for-word what the company sent with the report. In some cases, they'll even introduce the "reporter" as one of their own, and change the information bar at the bottom to match that station's format. Best case scenario, the VNRs are hacked up and used as stock footage while reporters are discussing things that don't have footage, while other times they'll say things like "FOX's Andrew Schmertz," when really Andrew Schmertz is publicist at a PR firm (see the exec sum for this quote). It's seamless. It's so wrong. Here's a nice little case study courtesy of General Mills' Bisquick brand and four local news stations.

I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories or hating capitalism, but it all follows that you're not going to see a lot of news coverage on this because TV stations don't want to admit that they're incorporating these segments in a way that most viewers would find perverse. Even a simple "brought to you by" cues the viewer into the fact that this might not be totally unbiased, but legally, media can be as biased as it wants. So technically they're not doing anything wrong . . . it's just really unethical. And the fact that the FCC is looking into this even while the government is run by Republicans, the champions of capitalism, is also a little telling.

On the other hand, the revealing of new products does count as news. I read about 10 marketing blogs daily and almost every day they'll have a post on some product I am glad to hear about. That's news. Furthermore, I have little to no respect for the intelligence of people who rely on the evening news as though it were real. Even if everything on the news was real, you still don't gain anything by watching it. Every time I watch the news I'm left with more questions than I started with. They repeat themselves and usually the headline they put in the commercial tells you everything they're going to in the actual segment, where they essentially say as little as possible on the matter. I'm lucky if I get one single bit of information out of a newscast. Hell, even the weather segments are rarely informational.

I don't know that the internet is any better, but at least it allows you to ask questions, even if the answers aren't correct. If I read an article and want to know more about it, I do a Google search and get 8,000,000 results from as many different sources. TV feeds you information and if you're still hungry after the evening news, all you can do is fill up on some sitcoms for dessert.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

These photos are intended to make people who didn't come to my party feel bad about it. You missed a hell of a gathering, folks! Traditionally, I'm not very good at holding parties, but the guests made this one great and I couldn't have planned how awesome it turned out. Note that Sarah provided these pictures because I was too busy enjoying myself to take care of that. Apologies to all the attendees who are not well represented here!

First, there were 242 jello shots. They weren't shots so much as desserts . . . I wish I'd thought to buy spoons for these. Mel is a domestic goddess, as shown here in her remarkably well-stocked fridge!

Our lovely early attendees! It was great getting to know these two. So sweet!

First Becca played and made me cry my face off. While I don't have pictures of her doing so, I do have this one of Mike, Owen and myself happily enjoying the music. Mike and Owen were having a moment of mounting. I was having an idea . . .

The midget showed up, put on a clown nose, then left shortly thereafter (no, I'm not even kidding). Then commenced the fire dancing. Katie brought what are essentially maces that you set on fire and spin all around. Amidst much applause, "ooohs" and "aaahs" this was primo entertainment.

Then Phil played. We had a singalong. The shots had been served and our singing voices came out to play.

Awww . . . lovers! As always how could Phil and Owen pass up an opportunity to show the love? That man is wearing a sexy shirt . . . hey wait a minute, that's my shirt! You pimp!

As the night winds down, drunks in love began cooing over jello shots as though they were babies or maybe puppies. Something cute that commands your attention. I think in this one we were admiring the pretty blue and trying to decide if more alcohol was even a good idea . . .

After dancing about with fire, Katie opts for a nap on Mike's stummy. There was a meteor shower that night too, but I don't know if that has anything to do with this pic. Note the trash can full of empty sauce cups. Wheeee!

So that's that! If you are interested, I do have copies of these with better resolution and whatnot and I'd be happy to pass them along :). And if you didn't make it this time, now you know where it's at. Thanks again to the great company!

Monday, August 14, 2006

In the wake of last week’s cavorting about the country (fortunately just in time to avoid major pain the in the ass flight restrictions) I’ve been left thinking about copyright law since the project I was working on had something to do with this. A lot of people really aren’t aware of copyright law, and theoretically you’re supposed to pay some nominal amount of money (consider $0.02 for a page in a magazine) to a clearance house to make photocopies of something and pass it around the office. And online, just because you link to a source DOESN”T mean you have permission to copy and paste entire text, or really, any of the text. Now, with that said, it’s important to understand that they’re not really trying to “get” anybody, the idea is just to give authors the money they are owed for the use of their material. Especially if the end user is making money on it.

Lore Sjöberg has a theory entitled Doorbell Copyright. I will now copy and paste his own words and they will quickly explain themselves:

“When it comes to your own house, anybody has the right to come up on your property and ring your doorbell without asking first, and you in turn have the right to tell them to leave and not come back. I'm sure there are lots of exceptions and fine points there, but that's the basic idea.
My thought -- I can only speak for myself -- was that it would be nice to have a copyright license that works pretty much the same way: you can do what you want with my material without asking, but if I decide I don't like it you have to take it down and not do it anymore. (Excepting fair use, of course.)”

This idea is great—for people making websites where they don’t intend to profit but would like to attract new readers nonetheless. When other people copy your text and provide a link to your site, you’re going to draw more readers, or at least more traffic through your site. This and most blogs really fall under this umbrella.

And yes, it all ties into marketing. I want to market StephL as a product: when you read my blog you know you’ll get information on weird ads, some crackpot theories and the occasional photo commentary. I’m working on a layout that will be distinct and will remind readers that they’ve come to the right place and that great content they’ve grown to love will always be prevalent (that’s the fantasy in my head). I’m self-marketing. It probably disgusts a lot of people, but every artist does this, willing or otherwise.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So sometime last fall I got addicted to a game called Ciao Bella Romanza, which is like the Sims but online, free and takes place in some Little Italy in Montreal or something. You have certain goals that center around getting a man (I know, it's a bit demeaning), but the game was just challenging enough while avoiding being frustrating.

Unfortunately you can't play the original for free, but Mazda has sponsored a new version that is shorter, less satisfying, and riddled with advertising. Your first goal is to purchase a Mazda CX-7, and what I found amusing was that while you can't walk next door to the church (fun fact: beseech god and you get miracles and stuff!) because you don't have a car, you somehow can get to the Mazda dealership across town. And what really impresses me, besides the gratuitous appearance of the vehicle is that when you buy it the car doesn't cost you anything. Which is a smart move on their part. If you're sponsoring a game that 300 people are playing at any given time, you don't want to remind them that buying a new car actually costs money. I can appreciate the wisdom, however unrealistic it makes the game.

Bonus points for Lazylaces, my unending source for mindless point-and-clickness. Plus they have message forums for each game and eventually someone will post a walkthrough. Which, unfortunately, I always seem to require.

Friday, August 11, 2006

This is Boston, time of arrival: 6:15am. I’d have a picture of Rochester (my place of departure), but it wasn’t light out when I left.

And this is beautiful Rowes Wharf, (just off Purchase St), which incidentally is what I get to see every time I need to step outside for a bit. It’s a nice reprieve from being in what is essentially a cave. And apparently the sun rises over the bay in addition. It’s beautiful, even in the haze.

And this is me checking out Rowes Wharf as I wait for the facility to open. I like how it doesn’t show my face so my complete lack of photogenicity goes unnoticed. This is my answer to Dan’s assertion that there was a shortage of StephL in my photoblogs. Take that, Dano.

Ah, it’s Ole Bessie. I always know I’m in Boston when I see that glorious white cow. Well, actually, I always know I’m GOING to be in Boston when I wake up at 4:30am to get there. At any rate, what you can’t quite make out here is that ole’ Bessie is actually standing in a white clapboard rowboat that says “Cowtucket.” The New England cow thing has been popularized by such things as “Cow Hampshire,” Bart Simpson saying “Don’t have a cow” and my aunt from Maine (pronounced “Ant Pat”) who has an extensive collection of ceramic and glass cow statuettes. Plus, what you probably can’t see in the picture is that there’s an etching of Nantucket-themed stuff like a lighthouse, a life ring buoy and of course, the Atlantic Ocean on the side of Bessie. Yessir, Bessie is a notable fixture at Boston’s Rowes Wharf.

This is the fruit platter at Focus on Boston. Much more colourful and fresher than the last one. I still didn’t eat any.

Alacrity, what a great name for a boat. The definition, for those less informed (admittedly, I had to double check with is “A cheerful or eager readiness or willingness, often manifested by brisk, lively action or promptness in response.” What a happy and delightful description of a boat! These are not people interested in showing off their wealth. They want to live! They want to embrace life! They want to be alacritous! The irony, of course, is the boat sitting unmanned. Maybe it’s sarcasm, who knows?

And this is me, in complete business cas regalia. You don’t want to mess with me. I look like your junior high’s librarian, or maybe a principal. I will literally bite your head off if you mess up that card catalog. I will eat you for lunch in dainty bites. Note that this was taken shortly before my breakdown around 3:30. Remember, I’ve been up 11 hours, and I’m running on coffee, little sleep and long ass days. I manage to hide the fact that I was nearly passing out by hiding out in the bathroom for a few minutes. Oh, and makeup is good for hiding baggy eyes. Hence, lots and lots of re-applied makeup.

And lastly, this old codger at the facility said something rather kind to me. I’m pretty sure he was just buttering me up (as a frame of reference, I am the slave driver and they are the bottom feeders) but in discussing my degree and what I actually do he commented that with a quantitative background and being trained and capable of qualitative studies, I’m really going to rule the world. I resisted the temptation to say “yes, I know that,” opting instead for a warm “thank you.” But the masses are learning, slowly, one by one. One day StephL will rule the world. Now accepting minions.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ahh . . . so after three days in Philly (give or take . . . two nights at any rate), I was up bright and early at 4:30 AM to come to Boston for another day of testing. More on that later, and I'll have pictures from today too--my return flight I'd run out of batteries and cash, which made me sad. Lulu got lost to the sands of "short term memory loss" for a few moments, but as it turns out they have your license plate on record somewhere somehow and can tell you within moments of the helper guy driving up to lost looking individuals (like me) who can't seem to find their damn cars.

In the meantime, however, I have some marketing crap to share. First is this show that I just found out about called Weeds. Apparently it's Desperate Housewives but with these ladies growing marijuana. The cool part is an article on AdRants talking about how they're advertising for this show (which apparently is in its second or third season, how did I miss this?) is advertising in Rolling Stone with "perfume strips." Well, kinda. They smell like weed. I might have to buy that issue because that's just really funny.

Whatever the case, though, this links back to something I've noticed for years. Namely, weed-scented perfume and--even more ridiculously--incense. Why would you want to smell like weed? Besides the fact that it's a gross smell, it's also an illegal smell. What are you going to do, tell the cop "no, officer, there's nothing illegal at this party. It's just our marijuana-scented incense, see?" Like, are 15 year olds going to try to fool their parents with this? I don't understand the purpose of it. But at any rate, this is really brilliant marketing, which happens every day and goes largely unnoticed. So kudos to Showtime.

In other news, Lore Sjoberg has posted a new column on "Fine Fast Food is Just Gourmeh". I haven't made it through the article yet, but Lore is brilliant and witty and the title alone warranted mention. As he writes of himself: "Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg eventually overcame these handicaps to become a globe-trotter, a day-tripper and a chicken tractor." See Lore's blog at The Slumbering Lungfish. Long-time internet officionados may recall him as the mastermind behind Brunching Shuttlecocks, which although awesome, is no longer updated. StephL is sad.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day 2 in Philadelphia brings with it more photography. These are pretty fuzzy because I didn't have as much time to make sure they came out looking as fantastic as yesterday's pictures. So here goes.

I awoke to the beautiful, hazy Pennsylvanian sunshine at 6am. Then I trotted across the parking lot to building 2, where our little social experiment was about to get going. The experiment, of course, centers around that age old question: what happens if you put ten business colleagues in a dark room for ten hours with unlimited snacks and some poor schmuck on the other side of the one-way mirror? Hmmmm . . .

Oh look! Breakfast! Good thing I steered away from these, opting instead for a sensible danish and iced coffee. The iced coffee was particularly delicious, however, because procuring it involved telling somebody "go get me an iced coffee" and he was like "I'll go right now" and within twenty minutes I had a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee in my hand. And it didn't cost me anything. And someone had to go get it for me. I like that.

Oh, and those strawberries are so red because they are so overripe.

Ah yes, what we came for. A depressing, grey room with a huge mirror taking up one wall. What our vic--ahem, interviewees do not realize at first is that behind that huge mirror are actually a dozen business professionals laughing at their hair. Then we tell them because, legally, we have to. Minus the part about the hair. But what we don't have to tell them by law is that in that backroom there is also . . .

. . . unlimited free snacks! Seriously they just keep filling that basket. Sure someone pays for it. Not me! Lunch? Why yes, I'll order whatever I want off one of your three menus. Cookies? Yes, I want warm Otis Spunkmeyer cookies to fill the room with their delectable fragrance at 3pm sharp. M&Ms? At 7am? Of course!

So that's how your day at a focus group facility begins. Don't tell me that you don't find market research to have an irresistible magnetic pull, because I simply won't believe you. The perks are humble and few. Oh, but remember that part about the hair? Check this out:

2:30pm: In comes codename “Mr. Swirlie.” This guy has hair that has no beginning nor end. I’m serious, it’s like the mountainman beard of combovers. It’s not even a combover. It’s like a . . . moebius strip he created on his head with what’s left of his thinning hair. I’ve seen things like this in cartoons, but never in real life. He must spend three hours doing his hair in the morning. It’s ridiculous. Needless to say, the entire backroom starts giggling uncontrollably. Thank the gods of marketing for the brilliant invention of the one-way (pretty soundproof) mirror. I wish I could have taken a picture for this photoblog. That would have been the crowning achievement of this entire enterprise. But instead, I’ve provided a picture that really doesn’t do it justice, but at least gives you an idea. I’d say that interview guy's combover was like . . . three times the combover picture guy's is. Three times better than picture guy's combover could ever even hope to be.

Hey, ya gotta take the perks you get.

Note to self: resize images to 400 pixels wide. And link Matt's blog. In the meantime, put up a post to bump those pictures down a bit so they don't look SO ridiculous, and provide Matt's link right here.

I mean it too, this is probably the best way to remind myself of all this.

Monday, August 07, 2006

On my first trip ever! This means I need to photoblog, since that's the kind of thing that digital cameras are for.

First I packed my suitcase. Notice that I have everything I need: makeup, pumps, about a ream of paper printed and stapled, and gratuitous amounts of black clothes. As we know, black is the perfect office colour because it matches itself and makes it harder for your coworkers to notice that you wear the same exact thing every week.

The drive. It's hard to see, but you'll notice in the right corner (and yes, it's faint and blurry) but it's TWO O'CLOCK. And I am in my car. What you can't hear is me rocking out to techno music psyched as ever.

Oh and who's this? Aww, it's Lulu being intimidated by enormous SUVs on all sides. Play nice, Lulu, and maybe these behemoths won't eat you.

And here's my room. "The one with two queen size beds?" the kind lady at the front desk inquires. "I guess," I reply, unaware of my good fortune. Practically, this is useless, but I am so far in the mindset of a ten-year-old at summer camp that it just seems SO COOL. Plus, as Nip pointed out, I simply *must* jump from bed to bed at some point tonight.

So 350 miles away from home and what do I get? The same thing I would have gotten from the place across the street. Oh, plus a cannoli. Oh, and in this one I know that nobody's spit in it out of spite. At least, not anyone I know.

So that's my first attempt at a photoblog. I'm aware of the mundanity (is that a word?) of the entire experience, but at the very least it's new to me and gives me something to write about. I think I'll write about the people at the airport later.

As much as I love Myspace as a networking opportunity, the blogging capabilities there are . . . lacking. I invested a good deal of time learning html and I'll be damned if I can't align an image, [editor's note: this is actually the only real problem I had with Myspace blogging, besides the fact that my links almost always got eaten up by their user-friendly format]. This, coupled with the extremely limited audience the service provided, has led me here in an attempt to tell the internet everything I have to say.

I will be updating both blogs with current postings until I get tired of one or the other. I may even transfer some older stuff just to give this place some substance as I get started. Until then, feel free to browse my previous ramblings at

More to come later today as I embark upon my second journey to Philadelphia.