24 August, 2011

Copyright Crusade Continues

The most-addressed subject in this blog?  Surprisingly, not bad drivers, parkers, or license-tag forgers.  Less surprisingly, neither the pitiable details of my futile personal life.  Nope, by my count, it's copyright infringement... my personal pet peeve, one that really should have been considered in my original decision to move to Romania so long* ago.  As a graphic designer, each instance I encounter is like fingernails against the chalkboard of my creative palette. While it's true I've encountered fewer examples as I go on, it's mainly because I've stopped looking for them.  But odds dictate that sooner or later, an egregious example will come to me.  And so it has, in the form of a FaceBook ad.

So there I was, minding my own business on Facebook, doing any old thing except flirting with young women of course, when the page refreshed and changed, as it does, the string of ads running down the right side of the page.  Against all odds (and self-training), one caught my eye by making me wonder "hm, what's my bank doing in Romania?"  You see, Facebook targets its ads geographically among other factors, so I'm used to ads about Romanian businesses, which are blissfully easy to ignore with my limited grasp of the language.  But this time it was the graphics, not the words, that jumped out at me, combined with the unexpectedness of seeing them apparently involved with Romania. 

So let's cut to the chase.  The ad turned out to be for a particularly lame cellphone retailer, or perhaps broker, as they provide no contact details whatsoever and just generally give every impression they don't want you to find out who or where they are. But here is their page:

and here is my bank:

You see what they did there?

One could argue that the graphic is so simple that odds are many artists could come up with it. But what are the odds they'd also replicate the same gentle curve and the same changed color portion? But of course, flipping it mirror-style and adding nifty 3-D effects makes it all original, dunnit? Oh, I give up. About the only take-aways from this entry will be: 1. I have, with deep shame, provided highly-regrettable evidence that Facebook ads do occasionally work... expect a new onslaught any time now, and 2. I've revealed my account is at Bank of America, narrowing the parameters for the horde of hackers eager to relieve me of my personal fortune.  You know what?  For the average $30.00 in my account, knock yourselves out, kids.

*long, long, LONG

17 August, 2011

Curent Events

Today's rant is one of those things that got put on my "to-do" list ages ago, and only seemed to come again to the forefront when I was least able to sit and type about it. So back on the shelf it would go, nestled against other permanently postponed items of my mental itinerary such as success and wealth. But today the happy coincidence occurred, and the subject came up at an office where I am well-equipped to type about things.

I don't spend lots of time at this office, but when I do I like to breathe air not so choked with days of second-hand cigarette smoke from the staff or skin-dissolving chemicals from the cleaning crew. So I open the window when I can, common sense permitting of course. During a January blizzard, I probably wouldn't. But today was a typical Bucharest summer day, meaning the air outside was already 30 degress C and climbing. But it was also a good deal fresher than the air in the office, and when you consider the former is metropolitan Bucharest city air, you get an idea of just how bad the latter must have been. So, as I said, I opened my window. Immediately, the chap across the hall jumped up from his seat and apologetically closed his door, explaining that I had created "curent." And thus we come to one of the few remaining (of an admittedly shrinking list but I think this one will stay forever) phenomena of the culture that consistently blow my mind (pun, of course, intended). The Eastern European mortal fear of the breeze.

This concept has already been surprisingly well-documented in several other blogs and forums, so as usual I'll cut corners and just quote them:

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention, among my personal experiences, my Romanian acquaintance who swore that the frequent earthquakes in the Vrancea area were caused by high winds, and gusty days would find this individual waiting seriously and anxiously for the inevitable tremor to follow.

Granted, views on breezes are universal between East and West up to a certain degree, literally. Opening a window in winter is usually silly. Freezing air, while not carrying pathogens itself, does distract your body's resistance to them and thus the link between cold air and sickness is perceived. But in mid-summer? Common sense and Eastern Europe clearly go on separate holidays. To consider hazardous a calm breeze containing air of 35 degrees C is not only incredible, but irresponsible, particularly when the preferred alternative is to sweat profusely at your desk, risking heat fatigue or at least true sickness from breathing in the same cigarette-smoked air that just came out of someone else's lungs along with who knows what else.

And this last bit may seem like a cheap shot until you've experienced it first-hand: As reported in The Bucharest Herald in April, a Romanian consumes an average of only two tubes of toothpaste and four bars of soap per year. Virtually all the Romanians I know seem (smell?) to be well above that average, which means for the average to be what it is, others need to operate well below it. A short trip on any Bucharest public transit will instantly reveal their whereabouts. And if that's not an argument in favor of opening a window, especially in warm weather, then I truly don't understand it.

EDIT: Just thought of this last bit, which is almost certainly a cheap shot but funny nevertheless.  If Romania is so intolerant of hot wind, then how do you explain Parliament? Har har har.