Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Blog Day!

Blog Day 2007

Today is Blog Day, so here's some blogs I recommend (cuz that's what you're supposed to do on Blog Day).

The Daily Green - "the consumer's guide to the green revolution"

Getting Attention! - "helping nonprofits succeed through successful marketing"

fresh + new(er) - "discussion of issues in digital media and museums"

The Bamboo Project Blog - covers blogging, communications, and non-profit technology

A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania - a photo blog

Too Cool For School - "a collection of the best (and worst) videos online"

Cognitive Daily - "a new cognitive psychology article nearly ever day"

The Anterior Commissure - "the science of sex and mating, gender and attraction, pregnancy and parental behavior"

Eclectic Commons - "curiosity is the key to all knowledge and wisdom"

Paleo-Future - examines what people thought the future would be like (lots of crazy illustrations)

So, how 'bout you? Got any suggestions for me?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bike Paths Suck!

Or so believes Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation. In the Boulder Report, Joe Lindsay blogged about her ignorant view of alternative transportation, which, of course, influences the way she approves funding. Bad news for people who like riding their bikes!

Apparently a lot has changed since Peters – then Federal Highway Administrator – told the 2002 National Bike Summit that “bicyclists are an integral part of the nation’s transportation system and we all need to work together to develop a more balanced transportation system that provides facilities and programs for bicyclists on a routine basis.”
Isn't it great to know that 14 million Americans using alternative transportation aren't actually acknowledged by such a high-up official? And isn't it great to know that the number one reason more people don't use public transportation is it's not convenient and that Peters wants to make it less convenient? I'm really mad about this, especially since alternative transportation is the simplest way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

You can read the full post here, or use the League of American Bicyclists' form to email Peters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Web Flotsam Washes Up Onto 'The Shores of California'

Oh.my.gawd! I am having a happiness attack just like I did when I found out about the whole Scott Meyer/Scott Adams thing. I just watched The Dresden Dolls' 'Shores of California' video and while I expected it to be interesting since it was a response to the video for David Lee Roth's 'California Girls,' I didn't expect anything like seeing Kelly from a Liam Show (who did that fabulous 'Shoes' video) making out with Amanda Palmer! So much awesomeness!




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Monday, August 27, 2007

Coming Soon to a Boob Tube Near You



Since the CW canceled some of my favorite shows at the end of last season, I'm looking forward to finding some new ones to fill the hole in my heart. Luckily, it looks like there will be some fairly interesting shows premiering, and there's at least a couple that I might actually make the time to watch.

Kid Nation on CBS


The coolest thing to happen to kid intelligence since Ender's Game or Holes, Kid Nation takes 40 kids to a ghost town where they have 40 days to build their own society free of adult intervention. I absolutely adore this idea because I think kids have way more guts than they are given credit for and I want to see these kids take on the desert. I am 100% prepared to plop down Wednesdays @ 8 and root for the little guys.

Real World: Hollywood on MTV
Having never watched a full episode of The Real World, I had assumed that I'd live the rest of my life that way. Then Treehugger.com had to go and point out that the newest season will actually have an interesting twist: the participants are going green. Everything from the way the show is shot to the way the house is built will now incorporate eco-friendly choices. The MTV press release states:

“The Real World” house will include everything from solar energy solutions to bamboo flooring, recycled glass counters, some sustainable furniture and recycled vintage d├ęcor, energy star appliances, a solar heated swimming pool and energy efficient lighting. Additionally, Bunim-Murray Productions has taken measures to reduce its environmental impact by adopting more environmentally-sound production practices on set. They also are working towards making the production and show carbon-neutral by offsetting remaining carbon emissions after these carbon reducing measures are applied. Eco-friendly elements will be added on a regular basis throughout production and within the show, including products seen with the cast and around the house. This initiative fits seamlessly with thinkMTV's continued environmental efforts which began with the launch of “Break the Addiction” on Earth Day 2006, a multi-platform campaign that encourages young people to make simple changes to improve their lives and to protect the planet.
Is it cool to be green these days? Absolutely! Will it work for The Real World? I guess we'll just have to watch and find out.

Kids run amok and random people forced to make green decisions... sounds like it's gonna be an interesting Fall! Check out TV.com's Fall Guide 2007 and tell me which shows you think are must watch.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Slander = a stupid giggle

Seriously, who doesn't hate Tom Cruise these days? But, yeah, he seriously is gay.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Caturday Clip: Blues Slide Guitar Master

Nothing says relaxation like some slide blues guitar playing! Happy Caturday!



TEASPOON Slide Guitar Master - video powered by Metacafe



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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bratz: Hos or Positive Role Models?

I was a middle child in a family of 6 kids, so when someone paid direct attention to me, it was always very significant. As a result, some of my favorite memories involve an older woman, Mrs. Harmon, who used to take me out to eat and shop for no other reason than that she thought I needed some encouragement. Partially thanks to her example, I always try to be good to the kids that come into my life. Which led me to seeing a movie that I would otherwise never have seen: BRATZ.

My little friend Emma turned 7 on Sunday so to celebrate I took her to see a movie that her mom would never take her to (Sarah is too much a feminist to take her daughter to see a film about pre-teens that look like "hoochy mamas") and had to sit through what began to feel like an episode of My Super Sweet 16. On the whole, however, as I sat in the theater parsing the movie for subtext, I realized that the Bratz made points about interpersonal relationships that even I couldn't argue with, which is hopefully the first and last time I ever agree with someone trying to look like a doll.

So if you're worried about what the Bratz are teaching young female America, rest easy. All they're pushing for is treating people equally, being true to yourself, helping your friends and family, and confusing "fashion" for "shitty little girl taste in clothes and make-up." Oh, and that consumerism is FABULOUS! But what good American doesn't think that these days?

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Presidential Match-Up!

Update: If you remember from my post yesterday, I mentioned I'd be starting a spiritual journey blog. So if you're interested, Sitting In the South is now open for business!

If you're like me, you've avoided throwing your hat into the ring for any presidential candidate. Granted, I have been rooting for Hillary, but only in a passive 'god why can't a woman be president already?' kind of way.

Lucky for us, Change.org (a social networking website with heart) has created a Presidential Matchmaker Quiz to match your political viewpoints with the candidate(s) platform that most closely reflects your opinion.

According to my results, I should support Mike Gravel, with Hillary coming in second. However, because I am anti-military-industrial complex and pro-feminism, I think I'll stick with Hillary.

Have you given your support to a presidential candidate? Why? What would you say to change my vote?

Monday, August 20, 2007

(Belated) Sunday Slander


I was busy yesterday, so you get it today. (Just pretend it's still the weekend.. that's what I'm trying to do). Oh, and if this makes no sense to you, read NCSE's article about it.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Caturday Clip, v. 2



Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
















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Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back in the USSR!

For most people the Cold War seems to have left an indelible mark on how we think about Russia, communism, and the 50s-70s. Lucky fur us, English Russia has posted pictures taken in the USSR in the 60s and 70s to help us fix some of our misconceptions... or else just see the faces of people we were afraid of (guess what, they look just like everyone!). Below are some of my favorites.

Take a look while the Beatles take you back:




Direct versus Word-of-Mouth Marketing: An Example from my Morning Commute



After getting off the bus this morning at 39th and Main, I entered the CVS located conveniently on that corner. Once through those swishy, automatic glass doors, the constructed environment around me, and all of the items in it, surrounded me with their pulsating desire to inspire purchases. It's like walking into a kindergarten classroom dressed in a Snoopy suit.* But, since I never wear a Snoopy suit, I was able to make my way through the shop and towards the drink coolers along the right** side.^

With the heat and how much I've been out in it recently, I wanted some water. Perusing all of my choices in the water department, I decided on fruit punch Vitamin Water - the one labeled "revive" with the text "If you woke up tired, you probably..." printed beneath it. That was all I needed to make my decision. Well, that and everything I've heard about bottled water in the past few months^^ including my friend's testimonial about the invigorating effects of drinking vitamin water. With that thought in my mind, not even the super-large on-sale Gatorade could change decision (though normally, it would).

At the register, the cashier prompted me for my CVS Extra Care card, which resulted in my receiving a coupon with my receipt (accompanied by a silly bleeping noise from the register). The cashier noted the coupon as she handed me my receipt, and I read it as I walked out, finding it was for $1 off a CVS picture CD. I've been visiting this CVS every morning off-and-on the past few months because it is conveniently on the way. The Extra Care card has been tracking this and due to some algorithm or another (I assume), the system produced a coupon tailored to deepen my "brand experience" or relationship with CVS by having me rely on them for more than just whatever I happen to need on a certain day. And it's a great way to do it, especially since I have about 8 rolls of film I need to develop eventually. But, unluckily for CVS, I don't know when I'll be moving except for soon, and I don't want to commit to a place that might later be inconvenient for me.

So, the deconstructed short version of that is:
  • word-of-mouth marketing
    • produced expectations and trust for a brand (Vitamin Water) that influenced my purchasing decision more highly than my own usual standards (getting more of what I know I like for less) AND it
    • influenced me so heavily that I forgot everything else I knew about vitamin water (including their current ad series); while
  • direct marketing failed to entice me to further commitment because of my current life circumstances.

Just goes to show that even the best laid plans can fail sometimes, because, face it, neither the BtoC marketing of CVS or Vitamin Water worked on me. And that having a genuinely impressive product is still the best way to make a sale.

_____________________________________________

*I.e. getting mobbed by a pack of small, screaming things

**I originally typed "left side" here, but then realized it was just my hand-dominance-dyslexia striking again. It's confusing being a lefty sometimes.

^This kind of odd story-telling is a result of my current reading choice: Trout Fishing in America

^^What I've learned about bottled water in the past few months: it's bad for the environment; it deprives certain people from accessing their natural water sources; the bottled are a hazard because they are non-recyclable for the most part and plastic never deteriorates so it is polluting the ocean and streams; Aquafina is just tap water, etc.

_____________________________________________


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Home Sweet Hometown Museum: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

One of the best parts of my weekend was visiting the newly-remodeled Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (not including the new Bloch building which I still have to make time for). I hadn't been there for several years, so it was exciting to re-discover a place that I loved so much. Plus, what with all of my super-fabulous museum training, I had a new perspective from which to view the museum, one which only deepened my awe for it.

Here are some things that made me happy:

If you haven't seen the Nelson for a while, I recommend another look; especially since admission is now free. And if you're not in the Kansas City area, take a gander at the Nelson-Atkins collection online: its interactive design allows you to look as deeply at an artwork as you'd like. I recommend Water Lilies.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Slander, v. 1


You heard me, Condee!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Insanity of Christianity: The Eagle Heights Example

I was disturbed to discover the above smarmy image plastered on a billboard advertising Eagle Heights Baptist School, where I attended K-5 (because it was associated with the church my parents attend). This image is accompanied by the catchphrase "FOCUS ON THE FUTURE" which, despite its resemblance to the X-Files movie theme, "Fight the Future," totally weirds me out. That and the fact that I've had to listen to a lot of insane Xian ideas today leads to this post.

Eagle Heights is an organization for a group of like-minded individuals to come together and judge themselves, each other, and every one else on Earth as insignificant and unworthy while engaging in Puritanical customs that sap all the joy out of life. Over 3/4 of my life was spent surrounded by these people, and I still don't understand how they can go through life thinking that what they do and believe actually makes sense on some level.

Never mind the botched-brain-surgery-victim method of interpreting their sacred texts, the fact that people actually believe they are divinely entitled by a supreme being to judge and interfere with everyone else on the motherfucking planet is completely unworkable in modern society. Which is why these people pull away from the culture in which they are supposed to live: if they actually had to treat people as well as they are saying they are, they'd have to be as respectful, kind, and sincere as they talk about being.

I'm especially irritated that Eagle Heights has the money to advertise this way. This means they are getting more financial support than before, which is just so horrible. I know from first-hand experience how incredibly mind-warping this environment is, and no one deserves to be exposed to it. On the other hand, I don't know how they can get away with it re: public opinion, because just five years ago their own Pastor's wife shot and killed their daughter and then herself because (among other reasons) her daughter was having sex with a man she loved.

In the Eagle Heights world, everything that brings pleasure, happiness, and security is manufactured by Satan himself to bring down the righteous.

What kind of religion supports this kind of megalomaniacal mindset? When focusing on the future means always planning out a means of retreating from modern society in case the world is brought to an end by people engaging in sex out of wedlock, I say fuck it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kansas Kicks Ass: Residents Call for Clean Power

After Katrina in 2005 and a tornado touching down in Brooklyn yesterday, you'd think people wouldn't be able to dismiss the immediate effects of climate change anymore. Unfortunately, Kansas state governor, Kathleen Sebelius and the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation are trying to do just that, according an article by Carolyn Szczepanski in the most recent issue of the Pitch.

But before I get into that, let me tell you the one shining, amazing moment that made dealing with the harsh reality of this issue much easier. TWO HUNDRED KANSAS RESIDENTS stormed a public hearing on the KU campus to stand up against the potential building of two new coal-burning power plants.

When it became obvious that the crowd wouldn't disperse, KU employees opened a room next door. They ran a microphone from the hearing so that everyone could hear. Hundreds of people had signed up to speak. When the moderator called the name of one of those waiting in the adjacent room, the speaker would dash across the hall, with fellow citizens cheering as if the person were a football player running onto a field.

As the night wore on, dozens of doctors and farmers (and kids so young, they could barely see over the lectern) talked about Sunflower [Electric Power Corporation]'s project squandering precious water, polluting the air and failing to cash in on Kansas' best energy asset: wind.

I don't know how much you know about the Midwestern mindset. But having two hundred people show up to protest ANYTHING is next to miraculous; the fact that they were protesting pollution and improper resource usage is just the shocking cherry on top of the already astounding sundae. I was so happy when I read about this that I started crying. This kind of thing would never have happened 5 years ago. It does my heart good.

So now, with the warm & fuzzies out of the way, let's tackle the rest of this story:

Holcomb, KS is home to a coal-fired plant owned by Sunflower Corp., which is currently trying to obtain approval to build two more coal-fired plants. Claiming the need for more power to satisfy its 122,000 customers, as well as benefits including the creation of 2,000 jobs and a total $8 billion economic benefit for Kansas, Sunflower Corp. is pitching this as a way to address an immediate and urgent need. However, as Bill Griffith of the Kansas Sierra Club said "They get 90 percent of the electricity and we get 100 percent of the pollution." Turns out that Kansans will only be using LESS THAN FIFTEEN PERCENT of the power expected to be generated by the proposed plants. New Mexico, Texas, and other states will receive the rest of the power.

According to the draft permit, plants would release 8 million pounds of nitrogen oxide and 11 million pounds of sulfur oxide - key components in smog and acid rain - and would spew 17 million pounds of carbon monoxide (a cause of respiratory ailments) and 1,100 pounds of mercury (which has been linked to autism and birth defects).

The coal plants would also suck up more than 5 billion gallons of water each year from the quickly depleting Ogallala aquifer, which supplies vital irrigation to Kansas crops.

Topping the list of environmental problems is the emission of carbon dioxide, the gas widely considered most responsible for global warming. Already, Kansas is ranked 10th in the country when it comes to most CO2 pollution per capita. (Kansas gets 75 percent of its electricity from coal. That keeps energy cheap, but means the state creates nearly 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.) ... The Holcomb complex would add another 10 million tons of carbon dioxide to Kansas skies each year.
The bottom line is: Kansas doesn't deserve to be polluted to meet the needs of other states. You'd think that the Kansas state governor would support this, especially given her "green" standing in the past.

But Sebelius seems to contradict herself. Though she says she believes it's possible to wait for new technology that will make coal cleaner, she declines to address whether she has considered a moratorium on new coal plants.

She says she'd like to see Kansas navigate a complex energy era by focusing on wind energy and conservation but she does not express any reservation about the Holcomb expansion, which would further entrench a coal-fired system.

She says she wants to reduce consumption and use energy more efficiently to stretch Kansas' current supply of electricity but she declines to address whether the state could use those measures to make up for the small increase in power that the state would get from Sunflower's new plants.
Now we all have to wait to see if Sebelius will respond to the outpouring of opposition and make the right decision. House Speaker Neufeld states that the end result rests soley on Sebelius' shoulders: "If it's not approved, [that's because] the governor told the KDHE not to approve the pollution permit. It's the governor that's going to stop this, if it's going to be stopped."

Tell Sebelius to keep the coal-firing plants out of Kansas!

Office of the Governor
Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 212S
Topeka, KS 66612-1590

Voice 1-877-KSWORKS (1-877-579-6757)
Local 785-296-3232
For the Hearing Impaired 1-800-766-3777

Use this form to email the governor

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dilbert's Daddy Gives Some Basic Instructions

I just found out that two of my favorite comic artists have teamed up! Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has decided to help out Scott Meyer, author of Basic Instructions (one of my favorite web comics) with getting syndicated. Adams' blog is going to act as a means of tracking the conversational training so that other young comic hopefuls can glean their wisdom.

It's completely worth the time to take a look.

So far, we've seen Meyer experiment with the strip format to cut down on space & wordiness:













Compare to the original comic of the same subject:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hairy Situations


I've been into playing around with hair ever since I matured enough to have some girly pursuits (at about age 16). I would spend hours experimenting with different hairstyles, teaching myself to cut hair from magazines, and, yes, cutting my family's hair (What!?? I still can't believe they let me do this). Luckily, I was pretty good at it, so nobody walked away looking ..too horrible. Cut to....... HAIRCUT MONTAGE!!! .... wah? ...eh... haircut montage:



Okay, so that was more of a mosaic, but photobucket doesn't have a "montage" option (they should really look in to that). Anyway, the point being: I like hair. But I also hate hair.... just another one of my torturous love relationships.

This blog is about two specific hair incidents.

The first occurred last summer in Seattle, WA where I was working at the Henry Art Gallery full-time as a "Collections Assistant" and trying to enjoy the brief respite from a hectic school year on the disturbingly rushed quarter schedule . A lot of things were pissing me off that summer: strangers, direct sunlight, freezing in a basement all day, waiting around downtown for hours while the traffic cleared from baseball games so I could finally go home, not having air conditioning, etc. (also: grad students whine a lot). Anyway, mostly I was just mad at still not starting my 'real life' already, and all of that added up to me shaving my head bald.

And it was totally awesome. Most of the time. I wore a stocking cap around outside, partly because it was that chilly with no hair on my head and partly because I felt weird. But the people who knew/saw it seemed overwhelmingly in awe. Apparently, almost all girls have a secret desire to shave their heads. It got annoying all the vicarious living people were trying to do through me. If you want to shave your head that much, why don't you? I just don't get it. But that was my first experience doing something only vaguely taboo with my hair and getting such a strong reaction.

My second experience has only just begun! For no apparent reason, I have decided to grow out my armpit hair and see what happens. This can only bring a bigger response than the bald thing did. I mean, c'mon, armpit hair? I know I'd stare.

I'll keep you updated on the weird looks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Beaks, Wings, and Shrieks

Sarah Becker is an amazing woman. Besides being my neighbor, she is also an adoptive mother, a cancer survivor, and a member of Beak N Wings: a non-profit bird club that rescues and places exotic birds in the KC Metro area. Sarah has three parrots: Zoe, Sebastian and Ferguson, and I've gotten to know them in the past few weeks. It turns out that parrots are completely freaking awesome!

But on top of the fabulousness of the birds themselves is Sarah's incredible patience with them. Choosing to keep a parrot is a major decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Parrots have lifespans that rival humans', their care needs are very specific, and many are endangered species: all reasons why becoming a parrot-owner is a heavy undertaking. When you realize that Sarah and her club members add caring for injured and traumatized birds to their list of things to worry about, what they do becomes even more impressive.

Sebastian
Sebastian is the poor, battered-looking green and gray parrot being held my Sarah in the above picture. He looks like that because of his emotional distress problems, which cause him to pluck out his own feathers when stressed. Sarah adopted Sebastian through Beak N Wings when his previous owners could no longer care for him properly. At this point, he was practically bald except for his head. Sebastian's still working on the whole relaxation thing, but he's doing better. Sometimes I can even pet him, but he prefers Sarah.


Ferguson
Sarah only accidentally adopted Ferguson, but it was a happy accident. He had been put up for sale on Craigslist at a price much too low for such an exotic bird (a Goffin Cockatoo), so Sarah called up the owner to advise him. After a few conversations during which the owner was convinced to take his posting down, Sarah drove out of state to meet him and to see if she could convince him to give Ferguson to Beak N Wings for adoption.

In the end, Ferguson was gifted to Sarah and is now her cuddliest feathered child. More mellow than a Goffin should be, Ferguson will chill out on your shoulder, stomach, or chest and fluff his feathers while looking at you like you're the best thing that's ever happened to him. Not even men can resist his good-natured charm! Basically, Fergie is about as perfect as a parrot can get.



Zoe
Zoe is a hell-raiser and she is my favorite, partially because she goes crazy with self-love and displays herself with silly little dances and ear-piercing screams (she's in the middle of doing so in the picture to the left). Zoe is the only parrot Sarah owns that she purchased instead of rescuing, and it's possible that her transparent selfishness is an unfortunate, yet amusing, by-product of being well-cared-for all her life.

Zoe - an Umbrella Cockatoo - is always looking for a new way to be impressive and she will spend as much time as you let her climbing up and down your arms, shoulders, body, chair, etc. checking out what you're all about, making sure you are 100% aware of her existence, trying to groom you, and generally being adorably invasive.

I'm so happy to have gotten to know these birds. Especially since I never had any interaction with any type of intelligent pet birds and never knew how incredible they could be. And, as an added bonus, I get to be constantly impressed with Sarah's knowledge and patience. That is always awesome.

If you'd like to know more about Beak N Wings visit their website or donate here.
If you'd like to know more about parrots in general, start with the
World Parrot Trust.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Best Buy Bites (Hard)

Best Buy, Worst Buy - an article by Bryan Eisenberg - details the worst customer service story I've heard in a long time. His mother, Esther, tried to purchase a TV system from Best Buy with installation only to be screwed over by the people who delivered and "set up" the equipment for her. This story is infuriating enough on its own, but in response to Mrs. Eisenberg's detailed complaint email, all Best Buy deemed to send back was:

Esther,

I am Paul with Best Buy Customer Care.

I apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced related to your
TV purchase.

Best Buy strives to make each experience you have with us positive and
as fun as possible, and we are disappointed if we don't live up to that
expectation. Best Buy relies on feedback, both positive and negative,
to help us find areas for improvement.

Please do not hesitate to contact usfor any questions or concerns. We
look forward to your next visit to one of our stores
or to
www.BestBuy.com.

Thank you,
Paul

Her next visit?! Did anyone even read her letter? I highly doubt it. What's true for individuals is true for corporations as well: an insincere apology is worse than no apology at all. This exchange bothers me as a consumer; having the customer-rated number 1 electronics store treat a woman this way means I am going to avoid that place like hell. I get p.o.'ed by most sexism, but this case is especially bad because the only apparent reason that Esther was treated so poorly was because she was a woman (I admit, it might have happened to a guy but it didn't, so don't overreact to me already).

But more troubling to me as a marketing/communications 'professional' is the blatant disrespect with which Esther's incredibly valid complaints were ignored. What she needed was 1) specific acknowledgment for each way she was mistreated, 2) a description of how her feedback would be used by BB, and 3) some sort of making amends (at least a gift card for the amount she should have received as part of the installation discount). Okay, maybe that's not what she needed, but it's what she should have received from such a highly rated business.

This whole thing reminds me of a video I saw floating around the marketing blogosphere a while ago:



What about you? Do you feel taken seriously?

Who listens to you? Who doesn't?

(I found out about Esther's story via Yvonne at Lip-Sticking, who heard about it from Michele at WonderBranding.)