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The world is strong-arming me to get mobile.

10 Jan

I don’t have a cell phone. I have very little interest in changing this.

It irritates some of my friends. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out, but when I am having a drink at the pub with a bunch of people and half of them are elbows deep in a text I think ‘not for me’. I get by fine with a land-line and the many communication options my Mac has to offer. I got by fine until last week that is.

My Shaw phone modem malfunctioned. I not only couldn’t make or receive calls, but nobody could buzz me from the front door of my building. I lived with this for a few days but I eventually had to make the 45 minute call to Shaw to get the modem replaced. Of course I had to make this call elsewhere than home.

‘Your phone is not working at all?’
‘Nope, and my buzzer doesn’t work either.’
‘What’s your cell number?’
‘I don’t have one. I’m one of those guys. Last one I bet, right?’
‘Can you use a friend’s phone?’
‘I can’t ask a friend to wait with me from 8 AM to 8 PM for your guy on a work day. Can’t he just toss a stone at my window when he gets here?’

I arranged for the technician to check in with the coffee shop in my building to be let in. So long as he made it before 4:30 PM this would work. After that no dice. At least most of the ridiculous appointment waiting period was covered.

But really, what a hassle. At this point my refusal to join the mobile masses is the real problem. I’m the asshole, not Shaw.

The tech made it before 4:30 PM and my phone works again. Like somebody who made a promise to god in order to get out of a jam – and survived – I don’t feel much like keeping my promise to get a cell phone. But really it is time, or is it?


If you think calling around for a coffin is weird, try asking for a body bag.

19 Dec


I have just completed the packaging design for my first recording since 2005. I figured after six years of silence a shot of me alive in a coffin would be a cool image for the cover. A sort of back from the dead thing.

You’d think finding a coffin for a photoshoot in the city of the ‘nearly dead’ would be an easy thing. I imagined every household in Oak Bay to have to have several on stand by for the occasion one of the residents expired. I figured I could make a few calls to the local funeral homes and get permission to use a floor model. Not the case. Turns out it is a sensitive topic. I did however find a home that would rent one to me. Apparently they had in the past for movie shoots. Turns out they have much higher budgets than I; $2,500 more. The funeral director was extremely helpful as well as serious about the proposition.

There are a few costs that I had not considered. The liner cannot be re-used. I said I would take my shoes off, he didn’t laugh. It’s a law. That makes sense since the temporary occupant may be a bit leaky. And there is the cost of transporting the coffin off site to do the shoot. They can’t have it done in their building. Fair enough, and for obvious reasons. Plus he would have to take in account that he is loosing potential revenue while the coffin is off site and unavailable to use for real corpses. He said he could probably swing it for me for just under $1,000. Since this is coming out of my pocket I had to decline.

I had seen a coffin for sale on in October for $800 and that now seemed a fair price. I did some searching through my emails because I had to ask the seller questions back then because it’s not an item you find for sale every day. It had already sold. Damn. I figured I was now at a loss and I would have to re-concept. Then I got a new idea. What about a body bag? Way cheaper, and creepier. But where do you find one of those?

It’s really awkward. And I just didn’t know where to start. I called St. john’s Ambulance and had to leave a message. They didn’t return my call. I called the Coroner’s Office and they could even suggest who to call. A few places simply hung up.

It looked like I was stumped again. Then I thought, why not try my funeral director friend. He was helpful and didn’t act even the slightest bit phased. He said ‘Yes we do,’ and ‘yes we can.’ The cost? $28. And could I please bring exact change.

When I showed up to pick up the body bag he not only explained in detail how to use it but showed me everything else I could rent if I needed it: the hearses and the $1,000 coffin (which was sweet!). He seemed to want to give me a tour of the place. Maybe he just appreciated the company of someone alive.

Anyways, below is the finished image. Was it worth it?



Fun at the office doesn’t have to be work

11 Jun

There is always a ton of pressure in an agency to create culture and build a close team. Most of the time these attempts to bring peers together feel forced and are awkward most of the time. The best culture comes about naturally. Having a few strategic events to get things rolling is not a bad thing, but there should be room for team-building to develop its own. An example of this happened in our office this week. It started out with a mousetrap that had been placed behind a colour printer. The bait was replaced with a fake $10 bill. One person in on the joke became two people – both from different departments. The fake $10 bill became a fake $20 bill. The group of two became five, across many departments. The fake bill became many fake bills, now left on the sidewalk below the office. We all watched as people walked past the fake cash. When someone finally noticed and picked it up, they saw the message “You are being watched” on the backside. You could hear the laughter through the whole agency.

Yes, this is very immature, and probably not very legal, but within a few hours everyone was enjoying a good prank together. You can’t force this kind of thing. It brought us together in a way a mandatory team builder just doesn’t do. I am not saying do pranks to tighten up a group – that can go bad right quick. Just give it a chance to happen on its own. It will make the staged team builders a better time in the future if your team have become friends on their own.

Making something out of nothing

1 Jun

Our new co-op student asked me today “What do you do when you get a project and you don’t have any ideas?” I gave the generic answer of: experience, confidence, research and a few other industry generic responses. It’s a pretty weak response to a genuinely good question. I had never thought about it. I have thought, holy crap, I got nothing, but I haven’t thought about what my steps are that get me to the deadline on time and with ideas I am not embarrassed of.

Personally I think that fear is the first step. It’s that bit of panic that keeps me on my game. It reminds me that the latest job has to be just as good, if not better than the last. What’s important is to not let that same fear keep you from getting to work. The second part is hard to sum up. I’m not aware of any formula or routine I go through to come up with ideas. There are a ton of lists on-line for getting inspiration or overcoming designer’s block. So there’s no need for me to create another one. How about a few links for those who don’t have the time to Google on their own:

And of course you can always check out other peoples’ great work:

I still haven’t really provided a straight answer, but in my opinion there isn’t one. Ideas are everywhere. The more places you explore, the more ideas you are sure to have.

Got something to add? Feel free to comment below.

Blockbusters blew it.

20 Nov

The only piece of mail I found in my mailbox today was a white envelope with my name and address in all caps. This instantly creates lines in my forehead and an upside down smile. The sending address, an unnamed Ontario address. To me this means bad. I have missed a payment to someone somewhere and they have released the hounds to collect from me. So what happens next? Of course I open it, holding my breath slightly. The first thing I see inside is the Block Buster logo. I visualize my living room and search for a DVD case hidden somewhere that has long since been forgotten that Blockbuster could be searching for. I am cursing the company in my head for having the nerve to… wait a minute, the letter begins with “It’s been a month since your last visit and as a valued customer we want you to know that you are important to us.” This message is followed by the usual chat of bla bla customers like you… we have these new titles… bla bla. Then at the end an offer of ONE FREE NEW RELEASE, then quietly, when you rent another new release. Ho-hum.

Being an ad guy I analyze what has just happen to learn from this DM piece. I was tricked into opening the piece (good), but the only positive feeling I gained was that I did not owe any money. Was this letter left un-branded to lead me to believe it was some kind off credit card statement or something from Revenue Canada? Is this a good idea? And what is in it for me? A two for one coupon for a movie rental. Yeah I am gonna fold up this 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and force it into my wallet right now. I think Blockbuster totally missed a chance to get me back into their store. Instead they have informed me that I’m not even worth one free rental to them.

What have I learned? I may try the collection agency look on the outside with an incredible offer in the inside to make up for the trick I pulled. Thanks Blockbuster!

Tales of a Social Media Nothing

1 Oct

groundedLike six million other people, I have a Twitter account. 160 following, 65 followers and have made 85 tweets since June 23 this year. I visit every day, but as you can see rarely contribute. I realized today that I am socially media awkward. Every day I see my friends, family and coworkers enjoy the many benefits of social media quietly from my computer desk. I am 12 years old again. Grounded during the summer, staring at the other kids playing in the sun. This sound pretty stupid, but really it is a potential challenge that many may have to deal with in the (near) future.

In my case, the problem is not the fear of the medium, but the fear of using the medium wrong. You can find many blogs to explain the do’s and do-not’s of social media, but really you have to just jump in. Like most things done socially, you learn as you go. Isn’t that what grade school was really all about? Perhaps even more so than reading, writing and math.

So maybe I am taking baby steps, but every step will get easier so long as I am walking.

Got any advice or wisdom to share? Lemme know.