Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

October 2006

GeneralTuesday, October 31st, 2006, (9:00 am)

I’m not sure if the big nasty corporate coffee chains do this, but it seems that the small independent coffee houses I frequent in the States have all started doing coffee cup art. That’s where they make some kind of picture from the swirls and froth. It probably far to imaginative and free thinking for the likes of Starbucks who have essentially McDonalized the coffeehouse market.

I took this picture at the Portland Coffee House in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Head down there in the next few days (making sure to avoid Starbucks on Pioneer Square) and you’ll probably be served something that won’t look unlike the drinks pictured above. Such creativity almost makes you feel like you shouldn’t drink it, but then of course you think to yourself, heck… it’s only a damn coffee.

Halloween isn’t a big deal here in the UK. It’s an American export that is growing in popularity though. There is of course a great deal of profit to be extracted from this kind of thing, so wherever there is money to be made there will of course be someone pushing it. The bars use it in the same way they encourage everyone to drink vast quantities of Guinness on St Patrick’s day.

I’m not sure if you say ‘Happy Halloween’ or if there is a more suitable and scary greeting, whatever it is you can assume this to be me offering you the appropriate greeting. And if you’re one of those nutty Christians who celebrates something more wholesome on this day, well, you too can insert your preferred wholesome greeting here too.

McCorporation Nation
PoshCoffee – Maybe one day I’ll do this

Creative Media and EnvironmentMonday, October 30th, 2006, (12:00 pm)

With gas in the UK costing anywhere between eight to twelve dollars a gallon it’s hard to understand why anyone would choose to drive an SUV, but they do. This British commercial asks a simple question. What does your car say about you?

According to British newspaper, The Independent, one out of every seven cars sold in London is a 4×4 off-road vehicle, and that number looks set to rise as the 4×4 is the most desired vehicle of status-conscious parents who are more likely to use the vehicle for a school run rather than a off-road adventure.

Greenpeace believe that parents who drive 4x4s for the “safety” of their children are contributing to the likelihood that those children will face a dire global emergency while they are in their twenties.

Personally I would like to see SUV’s and other similar gas guzzlers hit particularly hard by taxes and higher rates on roads like the M6 toll. Inner city parking lots could also impose height restrictions making it difficult to park one of these so called ‘Chelsea tractors.’ Clearly the only way to stem the desire for SUV’s is to start making life difficult for people who choose to buy one.

According to some reports the UK government may well be on the verge of introducing a raft of eco-taxes that are sure to be unpopular with a public that are still largely unconverned about the effects of climate change. However the taxes will hit owners of SUV’s with road tax being trebled from the annual figure of £210 ($397.23) to £630 ($1,153.87). As yet similar tactics do not seem to be on the cards for driver of SUV’s in the United States, the worlds biggest market for such vehicles.

What does your car say about you?
About ‘Gaz Guzzler’
Offroad cars, Onroad menace
Baby on board
SUV’s are spreading
Stop Urban 4×4’s
Print spoof parking tickets (UK)

GeneralSunday, October 29th, 2006, (8:00 pm)

You don’t really need a lot of reason to hate Starbucks. They’re a big nasty mass-produced American chain trying very hard at taking over the world by railroading their way through individualism so that you can enjoy the very same drink wherever you are on the planet because heaven forbid you should want to try something new. But in case you were short on reasons to choose somewhere else to buy a coffee here’s a good one for you.

A Portland Starbucks manager, Fabian Mills (right), was taken to one side by his new district manager, Frances Ericson, and told it was inappropriate for him to cycle to work, and it would be preferred for him to use a car.

“She pulled me aside and said she would prefer that I drove to the meeting. She asked me if I even had a car and then said it was inappropriate to ride my bike. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but she actually said she would prefer if I drove a car and that it was unprofessional to ride a bike to work.” Said Mills.

Four days later Mills was informed he would be transferred to another store that would add 16 miles to his daily commute. After expressing his disappointment with the transfer, Ericson allegedly said, “You should just get over riding your bike.”

Angered by this response Mills filed a formal complaint with the human resources and business ethics departments of Starbucks, but he felt the issue was never taken very seriously and as a result decided to resign.

The story was first reported on a local portland website, earlier this month. However since the story broke it has, as one might expect, spread across the internet in a manner that has not cast a favorable light on the coffee giant who claim to have long history of supporting alternative transportation commute options for its employees.

Initially Starbucks refused to comment on the story citing privacy concerns. However as the story gained momentum the company had a change of heart about the privacy issue and Starbucks’ Director of Corporate Communications, Valerie O’Neil, called Jonathon Maus of to voice concern over what Starbucks thought was an unfair internet buzz surrounding the story.

The phone call was followed by an official statement from the coffee giant in which they asserted “The concerns raised by the district manager were regarding Mr. Mills arriving late to a meeting and being disheveled in appearance, not about his riding a bicycle to work.” However no reference to Mills transfer was made and Mills himself now works for Bank or America.
Cycling is not a crime
Black Gold : Movie
McCorporation Nation

GeneralWednesday, October 25th, 2006, (6:30 pm)

Life goes on. That’s what people say isn’t it. They’re right of course, life does indeed go on. Like waves to the shore the tide doesn’t stop for a moment, or even pause for thought. And where the sun is setting, somewhere else in the world it’s rising on a new dawn, proving the cliche, as if proof were needed, that regardless of all things life goes on.

It’s coming up to a month since my sister-in-law, Kate, died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. Her death has thrown my idle thoughts into disarray. It’s like I’m gazing at my life as if it were an intricate painting that’s been hanging silently in a gallery waiting to be given something more than passing attention. Who is the painter here? What is the story behind this work? And in a world full of masterpieces I find myself wondering who will care to look at this picture when I too am gone?

Faces from faded pictures stare back at us from times gone by, and while we may share the names of the people from our past, our future might know little about them. My Grandfathers death made me wonder about who his Grandfather was and how it was that of all the things I might have known about that man, I actually knew nothing of him.

I didn’t really know Kate that well. She was only married to Pete for a little over two years. I thought I had all the time in the world to get to know her as my sister-in-law. But here I am looking at her face in a photograph smiling back at me from the past, knowing that she will remain this way forever now, locked in time, never to grow old with those who had only just started calling her family.

Life goes on I guess. But forgive me if I lag behind a little, I’m just looking at this painting, trying to find something behind the brush strokes.

For now, this video is my tribute to Kate. I made it last week and put it on a DVD for my brother. He said I could share it online, so this then is my memorial to my sister-in-law, Kate Jones.

Brothers in arms

SportsSunday, October 22nd, 2006, (3:51 pm)

Seven times formula one Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher bowed out of Grand Prix racing today in his final race. He’s now retired, bringing to and end one of the most impressive F1 careers.

I’ve not always been a fan of Michael. The german has not always endeared himself to Grand Prix fans with questionable maneuvers and tactics. But no one can deny that Schumacher has an unrivaled success record that is unlikely to be beaten for many years to come.

His final race today was set to be a world championship showdown that might have ended in his eighth world title, but bad luck in the race meant that any hope he had of winning the title faded in the first few laps. I had hoped that Michael would have the fairy tale finish to his career and the 2006 season.

Some people think that with the dominance of Schumacher gone from formula one will mean better, closer and more exciting races. I’m not so sure myself, I guess we’ll find out next March when the F1 circus starts again in Australia.

Michael Schumacher’s official website
Michael Schumacher [Wiki]

Creative Media and PoliticalSaturday, October 21st, 2006, (9:16 am)

The Republican party is out to remind people in the ‘home of the brave’ that they need to be afraid of terrorists and therefore vote Republican in the upcoming mid-terms. A new TV ad shows al-Qaeda leaders with captions of threatening statements while the sound of a ticking time bomb plays in the background gradually getting loader.

In itself this isn’t really that noteworthy. Scared people are easy to control and therefore it’s hardly surprising that the Republicans are looking to remind people they need to be afraid (for afraid read vigilant). But my friend Christine in Oregon points out something funny about the ad in a post she recently made on her Xanga. The TV ad is concluded with the statement which could be viewed in a rather unfortunate manner for the Republicans behind the ad.

“The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

Well if the republicans can admit that, who am I to argue with them.

Christine’s post.
BBC news story about the ad

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