25 May, 2010

No Omment...

Photos of TV screen during commercial for upcoming Aerosmith Tour in Bucharest:

Official Aerosmith Tour Poster:

And the comment which is not being made is that someone was paid for this while i'm still looking for work...

18 May, 2010

He Who Lives By the Pixel...

Within the past few years, Bucharest has become overrun with "video billboards." Because regular billboards in the town, which cover not only all streets but all buildings over 5 floors as well, had become so invasive and ubiquitous that motorists had inevitably become numb to them (okay, you caught me; Bucharest motorists are generally numb to everything), advertisers and the elected criminals they pay off decided to take things to the next level.  Result: billboard-sized video screens; some erected on poles, some attached to buildings, frequently apartment blocs, thus blocking the windows of several flats at a time. Glaringly bright at all hours, literally blindingly so at night, often outshining all traffic lights in the immediate vicinity. To say nothing of the folks whose homes (specifically, bedroom windows) face opposite these monsters... but since I just said something, I suppose it's too late to say nothing.

Respite, however brief, comes from an unlikely source: Bill Gates.  It seems these billboards largely run the Microsoft Windows operating system, and you'll be happy to know that it performs as solid and dependably in the commercial world as it does on your own PC. But what, on your laptop, is an inexcusable negligent glitch, is, on these obnoxious paragons to advertising technology, a refreshing karmic hoist on their own petards.

You can see how bright these atrocities are, from the first photo showing it clearly visible in direct sunlight, to the last photo which shows how, at night, nothing near the screen is remotely visible. So the only consolation is moments like these, when their money and energy is clearly wasted, however briefly.

Less poetic or justice-y, but to a tech geek like me, still entertaining, are other examples of Windows faceplants in professional venues.  You wouldn't explicitly wish these people harm from their glitches, but you might take comfort in knowing your Blue Screen of Death has plenty of company in high places.

The internal "Info Channel" that the Cable TV company reserves on your service. This has happened since cable's earliest days.  I remember seeing similar Commodore Amiga error messages in the 90s.

The Departures Screens of Milan Airport. All of them. Ouch!

An ATM. Of course, the Windows glitch didn't cause money to fly out.

Ain't technology wonderful?

17 May, 2010

Asshole Parker of the Day

Jonathan Scheele, former EU ambassador to Romania says he cannot accept Romanians' "tendency of doing everything in the last moment - and not always completing what they have to do."

I mention this because the topic of today's photo - handicap access - falls squarely under this concern.  When I first arrived here in 2003, the worst handicap officially acknowledged in Romania was having to watch football sober. Since then, newer constructions (largely foreign owned) have sought to remedy this.  Ikea just outside town has a full row of at least 20 marked handicapped parking spots, among a few other notable examples. But in a rare native effort, BCR Bank on Unirii Blvd has a snazzy new wheelchair ramp. Not bad for about two decades later than the rest of the world.
So where does "not always completing" come in?  Like virtually everything involving legal provision in Romania (such as handicap access), enforcement to deter violations is nowhere to be found. Do I really need to mention that the handicap parking spots at Ikea are the very first ones to fill up in the morning, and with nary a limp visible among any driver or passenger? Ikea also has parking spots marked specifically for pregnant women, and apparently it's fine to park there if you simply have enough of a beer gut to look pregnant. In my country, his car gets towed for this. Here, he calls you stupid for not thinking of taking the spot before him.
But handicap parking spot abuse is as common as dust in this town, and not blogworthy even by my very low standards. No, the slimebag in these photos hits a new low: blocking the wheelchair ramp, of all things. And not just parking across it, but actually driving up  into it!
This goes beyond inconvenience, and straight into safety hazard. Certainly it's illegal, but that and 16 RON will get you a coffee at the local Starbucks.  For clarity: coffee at the local Starbucks costs 16 RON regardless... my point is that if you shout "criminal!" around here, at most someone might reply "Gesundheit." For civic duty to be ignored by this populace is a given. For it to be actively flouted takes a new depth of asshole. Hey, welcome to my town.


But a bit of backstory may be needed here. Disregarding, for the moment, those silly World Health studies which prove all blog writers worldwide to be fetishists for pink-haired preteens, I was almost entirely made aware of "Lazy Town" because a local newspaper includes a DVD of episodes each week and my kid's watching them.  It's apparently a popular Iceland export, just above Bjork but below volcanic ash. I was actually made aware of the "Stephanie" doll (excuse me, Poseable Action Figure!) by a professional acquaintance who was pleased as punch to have found it for her young daughter... an avowed "Hannah Montana" fan.

Now honestly, could I look straight into the eye of this joyful nigh-unto-tears woman, bouncing-off-the-walls bursting with pride at her accomplishment and anticipation of her daughter's reaction, and tell her she'd bought the wrong thing?

Now honestly, could I look you straight into the eye and say if I did or not?

Hell yes I did. Choosing to hear it from me or from her daughter? No-brainer. I know how kids work. Hell hath no fury like a child who receives the wrong color Power Ranger. Remember "Addams Family Values" where the girl killed her parents for their birthday gift of Malibu Barbie when she'd wanted Ballerina Barbie? "Fiction," you decry? "Non-parent," I rejoin. So, while many lives were spared this day, it's not the point of my story.

Hannah and Stephanie; Separated at Birth?
Maybe around the bangs I can see it, but sure as shootin' your 6-year-old won't.

Turning over the package in my hand (I specify again, "turning over," not "fondling" so no paedo jokes, okay? If you're a regular reader you know my thing is rechargeable flashlights), I discovered this inexpensive Asian import's entertainment value went, as it stereotypically does, far beyond its intent once linguistics are factored in.  It is at this point beyond which words will fail me so we'll just finish with the photos...

"Latest with most the gift of vogue! The best choice with the best gift"
"best product comes from this product to rank first a"

Next time you get the urge to complain about your odds with the lottery, just try to fathom the odds of a country with over 1.3 billion people in it and apparently not one English proofreader...

The Day I Have to Hunt for Material Is The Day...Ah, Forget It, It'll Never Happen.

It's true... writing this blog is so easy, it's a wonder I'm not getting a salary. Isn't that how it works? The less hard you work, the more someone's likely paying you to do it? Well, even so, I'm open-minded enough to admit there are jobs out there still even cushier (certainly better paying) than writing this blog.  One that comes immediately to mind is "Romanian Copyright Auditor."

Yep, this fell into my lap like most of it does. The good news is: copyright infringement in Romania is apparently widespread enough to finally attract the attention of high-ranking politicians.  The bad news is, they're joining in on it!

For your viewing pleasure: presidential candidate Eduard Manole's campaign poster. Note the clever hammer logo at the bottom.

This logo is all over his website as well.  Too bad it was all over Pink Floyd's rock album "The Wall" in 1979, and even moreso in the 1982 movie adaptation.
Manole's 2009 campaign, as best as I could translate, included a desire to "undo 20 years of damage." I suppose only here would plagiarism not fall into that category.

In truth, plagiarism and politics are apparently not such strange bedfellows. Globally prominent figures from Vladimir Putin to Joe Biden have these proud credentials under their belts. My favorite, which I distinctly remember seeing on the news years ago but can't find reference to at the moment, was a US candidate whose speech was lifted directly from the script of the 1993 film "Dave."  But this is my point. It was in the news. Just as Putin and Biden and all the others were in the news. Their flimflams got the exposure and resulting derision they deserved. But in my too-long-to-be-called-anything-other-than-adopted homeland, it seems the hammers (of justice; smooth metaphor insert, eh?) will not soon batter down any doors.

12 May, 2010

No Comment

Tag on a pair of jeans at the local hypermarket:

"Working of a ging to us in order to run"

Somebody remind me again what my 810 Verbal SAT's gotten me?

Take Your Karma Where You Can Get It

Driving down a narrow street during rush hour, stuck in the usual long line of cars.  Invariably, one or more hotshots don't feel like waiting. Since traffic laws don't apply to them, of course, they have no problem breaking formation and scooting along the wrong side of the road to get around everyone else and pull to the front of the queue.  This puts them sticking out into the intersection to obstruct cross traffic, but again, laws are for suckers.

Naturally, expecting the police to be around to handle any of this is a fool's dream, but even justice can't be denied forever and once in a tremendous while the idiot gets his. In this case, our idiot did his thing, scuttering down the wrong side of the road to get past us lawful losers. But at the very last second, an oncoming car turned the corner right in front of him. Gee, didn't plan on THAT, didya?

Normally when this happens, the scofflaw manages to frighten or bully the lawful oncoming motorist off to the side, usually onto the sidewalk, so he may continue on his lawless way.  But in this case, either the road was too narrow to detour or else our lawful motorist had (dare I say it?) a spine, and stood his ground.  Scofflaw had no choice but to throw it in reverse and back all the way up the street, garnering well-deserved waves and comments from his would-be victims along the way, ultimately taking his place at the end of the long line of cars, much further back than if he had simply held his proper place in the queue.

We didn't see him try again, so nobody knows if he'd learned his lesson and stayed in line, or found a new and exciting way to break traffic laws to get ahead elsewhere. But for one minute of one day of the normally miserable existence that is Bucharest, life was good. You learn to cling to these moments like drops of water in the desert.

11 May, 2010

Totally Obvious Statistics, Gotta Love 'Em!

Maybe you know of the urban legend Office Memo from Human Resources which reads "Stop taking fake Sick Days to extend your weekends. We found that 40% of all Sick Days are taken on Fridays and Mondays."  If you don't get the humor, know that in a standard 5-day work week, each day represents 20% of the week. So any two days of the week would represent 40%, not just Fridays and Mondays. I'm really sad that I had to explain that, but then it's well-known that I'll do anything for readers.

Anyway, it happens in real life too. A recent article in the Bucharest Herald proclaimed "Office sex: Women get involved in love affairs with bosses, men with employees."

Ummm... Duhhh?

Okay, making the narrow-minded, unfair, chauvinistic (yep, welcome to my blog!) but likely all-too-realistic assumption that the majority of the affairs in question are standard 1 male + 1 female, let's analyze:

Women tend to have affairs with bosses, assumed (sexually, not professionally) to be men. Men tend to have affairs with employees, assumed (sexually, not professionally) to be women. Therefore, this statement says "Employees have affairs with bosses, but hold onto your hats, bosses have affairs with employees!"

Now, this time, say it with me.  "Duhhh...!"  Both sides of that statement may well describe the same couple!

This article bothers me for two reasons. First, because someone's actually getting paid to print this circular tripe. Well, no, it's because someone got paid to research this circular tripe. No, truth be told it's because I lost nine seconds from my life which I'll never get back, by reading this circular tripe. Well, whatever, it all falls under the first reason, which pales in comparison to the second, more important reason this article bothers me: I'm self-employed! :-(