Crazy Soccer Skills

February 27, 2009

Amazing, fun soccer skills. Just had to share this one.

(Found via somethingwhacked)

Poor Customer Service – On the Line Forever With Budget

March 11, 2008

How long should it take to have a customer-service call answered? Two minutes? Five? Fifteen? How about more than 60? That’s how long I stayed on hold with Victoria’s Budget Car Rental today. Unbelievable. And in the end, the call was never answered.

Certain companies–Telus comes to mind–have made big strides in speeding up the process and getting calls answered quickly. But it seems others simply don’t put in the same effort.

Now, the individuals I dealt with at the Budget lot were great–very friendly, professional–except there was a bit of a lapse in service that led to me being on the phone forever. Basically, we had accidentally left our baby stroller in the back of the courtesy van that dropped us off at their lot. As soon as we pulled into our driveway at home, we realized we had left the stroller behind, hence the phone call. In the end, my wife stayed home with the line still on hold–we listened on speakerphone to Budget’s on-hold advertisements all through dinner–as I took off in my car back downtown to catch them before the office closed. After driving downtown, retrieving the stroller and returning home, I walked into our house hearing the incessantly chirpy advertising still beaming from the phone. Brutal.

At a recent staff meeting at work we had a brief brainstorming session about customer service. We all through out ideas as to what it meant to us. While I think it’s easy to say the right thing in a situation like that, to spout the cliched statements about golden rules and all the rest, it’s quite another to actually put them into practice. Whether you’re a government office or a large car-rental outfit, the real test is when a client tries to use the services you’ve put into place.

Merry Christmas

December 15, 2007

Just a note to say Merry Christmas to visitors! I’ll be taking a break from this blog over the holidays, but plan on returning in January. Thanks for visiting.

Cardinal Mark Ouellet Speaking in Victoria on Saturday

September 13, 2007

I’m proud to be a part of an upcoming talk being given in Victoria by the Primate of Canada, Cardinal Mark Ouellet. The free talk is being hosted by St. Andrew’s Cathedral parish and its theme is the Eucharist and the family.

As a director on the board of the Edith Stein Society, a registered non-profit, I’ve played a role in bringing the Cardinal to town. As well, I will be the official photographer for the event. It promises to be an informative, if busy, weekend. More info on the event was available on the Edith Stein Society’s website, but the site is now unavailable. However, the details live on in Google’s cache for anyone interested.

Thoughts on the New Vancouver Canucks Jersey

August 29, 2007

New Canucks Jersey

A little diversion for this blog, but there’s a lot of noise being made about the newly unveiled Vancouver Canucks jersey. The consensus seems to be that people hate it. Well, I’m not one of them.

First impressions: I like the colour; it’s a great blue. I like the green striping. They are using their retro colours well here. I’m not crazy about the old logo on the shoulders, but it’s not horrible. And now for the big controversy: the “Vancouver” scrawled across the front. It’s the first thing I noticed–probably the same for most people–when I first saw the jersey and right away I liked it. It’s got a vaguely collegial feel to the lettering. But it also reminds me of European soccer jerseys (see Inter Milan or Argentina). Part of me wonders if the Euro-jersey influence isn’t actually what’s really at work here. Maybe this is a first, tentative foray into stamping lettering across a hockey jersey’s front, as a way to ease viewers and fans into eventually accepting advertising like most European club shirts. First we start with the city’s name, later it’ll be Molson, or Tim Horton’s.

In the meantime, based on the photos I’ve seen, I think it’s a decent jersey. I think they could have done something to integrate the lettering and the orca logo more; right now they do seem a bit disconnected and thrown together (though the arc of the text does try to match that of the orca’s). Both elements carry similar importance and weight which creates an odd tension. I think this is what people are responding to when they say they don’t like the text. It’s easy to be an armchair graphic designer, but maybe they could have screened back the logo and made the text the dominant feature? (They did simplify the orca logo, probably in an attempt to do just this, but maybe they didn’t go far enough.) Or layered the text over the logo somehow… I’m sure they tried a ton of combinations. Anyway, we’ll see if the excitement dies down in a few days. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see the new jersey’s in person during their training camp at Bear Mountain. I’ll reserve my final thoughts until then.

Sopranos – Cut to Black

June 13, 2007

In truly dramatic fashion, HBO’s long-running series, The Sopranos, has finally come to an end.

A lot of people are upset about the ending–the now famous cut to black as Tony looks up at the restaurant’s opening door. I’ve watched the episode twice now and while I was just as caught off guard as everyone else watching on Sunday night, with a little bit of time to let the episode sink in–plus the advantage of one additional viewing–I think the ending is perfect.

However, not wanting to add to the growing mass of Sopranos critiques, the point I really want to make here is about the use and power of the black screen.

The Sopranos was a very visually appealing show. Great sets, lush environments, hair, makeup and outfits to feast your eyes upon. Visuals weren’t wasted. So, when David Chase decided to end the episode and the entire series with a quick cut to black, you know he was taking the move seriously. I don’t believe for a second, as some have suggested, that this decision shows he doesn’t care about the audience. Rather, I think it suggests he gives his audience a little more credit.

There were countless ways Chase could have wrapped things up, but by moving to blackness we’re left with quite possibly the most enduring image of the entire series. Think about it: after six seasons of watching Tony and his crew inflict all sorts of harm, after watching them linger in the Bing while strippers sway in the background, after they traveled to famous locations like Italy, after all this, what people are most talking about and what people will likely remember most poignantly is a black screen. A black screen.

The black screen has power. Not only in the context of the expectations heaped upon this final episode, but in that by presenting viewers with nothing their focus becomes very sharp. The clutter is taken out of the equation. People stop and take notice. Everything that they’ve carried with them up to that moment is suddenly condensed to a pinpoint. And, sometimes, they may even hold their breath.

National Post Columnist to Speak in Victoria

April 28, 2007

St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria is hosting guest preacher, speaker and National Post columnist Fr. Raymond Joseph de Souza on Friday, May 11th at 7:30 pm. The topic will be “The Church and the Influence of the Canadian Media.”

This promises to be a very interesting talk, from a very compelling, intelligent individual and writer, and I’ll definitely be there.

The following is from an advertisement from St. Andrew’s Cathedral:

Fr. de Souza was ordained to the priesthood in July 2002 and currently serves as Chaplain at Newman House, the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University. He also teaches at Queen’s in the Faculty of Education and the Queen’s Economic Dept. His area of specialization is Catholic social teaching. Fr. de Souza writes for a number of publications. Principal among these is the National Post, where he is a weekly columnist. He also contributes to the National Catholic Register and he serves as the editor of Religion & Liberty.

In addition, his work has appeared in well known publications such as L’Osservatore Romano, First Things, The Messenger of St. Anthony, the Ottawa Citizen and The Calgary Herald.