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David & David

May 21st, 2008  · stk

OKAY ... I'm a closet American Idol watcher (mostly because I couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle on it). The only musical instrument I can play is a CD player and I can't play that very well. However, I was floored a few weeks back, when David Cook sang a Chris Cornell cover to "Billy Jean" ... have a listen

David Cook & David Archuleta

The David & David title takes me back to 1986 and the one-hit-wonder by the band of the same name - "Welcome to the Boomtown" (a great song in it's own right and inserted here - in 128 kilobits per second glory - for your listening pleasure and my listening nostalgia).

No, I'm talking about David Cook and David Archuleta, the two finalists of the 2008 "American Idol" pop television show.

OKAY ... I may be old(ish), but hey ... I'm a watcher of the show and have been rooting for David Cook ever since I heard his jaw-dropping rendition of "Billy Jean" (a cover of a cover by Chris Cornell), the original having been written by Michael Jackson, at the height of his career.

Talk about song selection! (The judges are always coaching contestants about song selection on the show) and I just have to say ... I think David Cook's selection of that song - I forget what week it was, but there were several contestants remaing ... 8 or so - was SPOT ON!

To listen to the cuts done by all three artists - (Michael Jackson's original version of "Billy Jean", Chris Cornell's stunning cover and David Cook's amazing spin on Chris' version) - carry on ...

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Updated: 22-May-2008
Web View Count: 13489 viewsLast Web Update: 22-May-2008

Creating Keepsakes

May 19th, 2008  · stk

When I went to renew Rachel's subscription to "Creating Keepsakes" magazine, I discovered that the publishing company - CK Media - is duping subscribers into believing they're getting HUGE "Insider Savings" on rates, when instead, they're paying MORE! This adds up to a couple of million dollars in extra revenue. I'm holding the company to task on it. Find out more

Magazine Unethically Dupes Subscribers

thumbs up creating keepsakes - CK Media

Creating Keepsakes (published by CK Media) lies to customers about HUGE "Insider Savings" on magazine subscription renewals. Instead, existing customers pay up to 25% more for renewals than brand new subscribers pay! Subscribers are left wondering, "Where are my HUGE Insider Savings? This is how I'm valued as a customer?"

Rachel enjoys scrapbooking our adventures, big or small. She's put together some really nice layouts and our shelves are slowly being filled with 12-inch by 12-inch binders, each holding stunning and creatively designed pages. It's a hobby, a creative outlet and it's been fun to watch her skills and pages improve over time. We enjoy pouring over the old memories, reliving the joy, adventure and good times. The scrapbooks are a treasured family heirloom.

For Mother's Day, last year, I bought Rachel a 12-month subscription to a magazine called "Creating Keepsakes", published by CK Media. The magazine is all about scrapbooking. She draws a lot of inspiration from looking at the featured designs, staying on top of new tools, styles and scrapbooking trends. She really looks forward to the magazine arriving in the mail each month and it's been a wonderful gift.

When I went to renew her subscription this Mother's Day, I happened to discover that existing customers pay up to 25% more to renew their subscription than do brand new customers who are signing up for the first time. This doesn't seem right. You'd think that CK Media would reward existing subscribers, eh? What's worse, is that they flat out lie to their customers, stating on the magazine subscription expiration notice:

LAST CHANCE FOR INSIDER SAVINGS ... ACT QUICKLY ... you can still maintain your insider status which entitles you to take advantage of HUGE SAVINGS and home delivery at no extra cost!

We've all seen these magazine subscription renewal forms, right? "Act Now" ... "Hurry" ... "Huge Savings" .... "$70 off of news stand prices" ... etc. I've never looked to see if it's a better deal than what's offered for new subscribers ... until today.

To follow the trail of magazine subscription enlightenment, subterfuge and *gasp* bold-face lies ... read on brave magazine subscribers ....

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Updated: 21-May-2008
Web View Count: 18513 viewsLast Web Update: 21-May-2008

Hello BC

May 14th, 2008  · stk

Clever British Columbia Tourism Ad

wonder lake yoho national park bc wonder lake yoho national park British Columbia

An online (pure CSS) replication of a lenticular, transforming print ad put out by Hello BC. (Photo donated by Tom Dempsey)

"Beautiful British Columbia" is what it says on automobile license plates in these parts and why not? When the heavens dump as much water on such a mountainous landscape, it's bound to be green and beautiful, filled with streams, lakes and waterfalls!

Tourism plays a huge roll in British Columbia's economy, accounting for nearly $5.5 billion dollars in 2006 (about 4% of the Province's GDP). One out of every 15 jobs is in the tourist industry. Unlike timber and fishing, tourism is actually a booming industry in B.C., growing nearly 5% a year since 2004.

As a result, clever people at advertising agencies are hard at work, coming up with new ways to make a British Columbia vacation sound irresistible. One such print ad landed in our mailbox (courtesy of the previous owner). It was an ad extolling the beauty of the province with a 6-inch by 9-inch photograph of a lone canoeist on Emerald Lake, in Yoho National Park. Using a lenticular printing process, the image transforms from one to another, depending on the viewing angle. One image is a the photo, with a puzzle grid overlain and a piece of the puzzle is missing (the canoeist). The tag line at the top reads, "The only thing missing ... ". The other image is the original photo (no jigsaw grid and no missing canoeist) and the tagline is completed, to read, "The only thing missing is you".

It's not your typical print ad. It was made by Tourism BC, to promote their 2008 BC Escapes Guides. I thought of a way, using CSS styling, to do something similar on a web page, so a had a play and came up with the image on the left. (The photo isn't identical, but it is of the same Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. The photographer - Tom Dempsey - lives in Seattle and graciously donated the image.)

Hover over the image to see an online version of the lenticular ad effect.

To see the original print ad and learn more about tourism in British Columbia, read on


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Updated: 16-May-2008
Web View Count: 18793 viewsLast Web Update: 16-May-2008

Pull My Hinge

May 7th, 2008  · stk

MyHomeHardware - We saved money by cross-border shopping in the United States for 96 hinges and 48 cabinet pulls, when we recently gave our kitchen a face lift. Total cost: a little over $100 CAD. Savings by not buying from Home Depot Canada? $500!! Outrageous.

Cabinet Hardware:
A U.S./Canada Cross-border Shopping Tale

thumbs up

We've been in our "new" (24-year-old), Vancouver Island home for a year and a bit. The galley style kitchen is a traffic jam, drives us nuts and needs a complete renovation. Unfortunately, we have neither the funds - nor the time - to embark on such an expensive and extensive project, at the moment. So, instead, we've satisfied ourselves by painting the (dark forest green) cabinet doors, using a lighter earth-tone melamine paint ("Cozy Cottage") and replacing the old cabinet hardware with something more modern and brighter.

Having a major kitchen renovation under my belt (I completely gutted and re-built the kitchen in my 1940's California bungalow-style craftsman home), I had some idea of the costs associated with cabinets and cabinet hardware. After we counted the number of pull/hinge sets we'd need - forty eight - we took a trip down to the local Home Depot hardware store to purchase some simple, brushed chrome wire pulls and matching hinges. That's when the project stalled, because after a rough tally, we were looking at about a $400 bill and Scott said, "No way! That's outrageous!"

This is the tale of how we bought our pulls and hinges from an eBay company in the United States, for a fraction of the cost that Home Depot wanted for similar items. Chock up another success for cross-border shopping. It's thumbs down for Home Depot Canada for not being competitive and a big thumbs up for MyHomeHardware for their accurate product description, prompt shipping, reasonable shipping costs, product prices and customer service!

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Updated: 7-May-2008
Web View Count: 36821 viewsLast Web Update: 7-May-2008

Twin Baby Boats!

May 3rd, 2008  · stk

Twin Kayaks! We're now the proud parent of two 9-foot, 6-inch kayaks that weigh in at 40-something pounds each. The amount of plastic in our lives continues to climb! ( On the plus side ... they'll be loads of fun for visitors at the Barkley Sound floating cabin .... "Topanga?" :D )

"Blue Yonder" Gives Birth to Twins!

Little did we know when we bought her, but "Blue Yonder 19-foot bayliner classic cuddy For those that don't know, "Blue Yonder" is our new-to-us 19-foot Bayliner Classic Cuddy boat that we acquired as means of getting to the floating cabin. Click for more about the floating cabin & boat " was pregnant! (No wonder we got her at such a good deal)!

Early this morning, when we went outside to fetch the morning eggs, we noticed that there were two brand new baby kayaks, sitting in the yard. Apparently, they had just been born and were resting, after their birth, the night before.

We didn't know that boats could even get pregnant, but we're pleased with the new arrivals and will care for them as if they were our own.

Mum appears to be doing just fine, but she's tuckered out from her labor and is resting under a waterproof tarp. The twins appear healthy and fine. They each measure 9-foot, 6-inches and weigh in at respectable 42 pounds (can you say "ouch"?)! They're healthy baby kayaks, for sure. There is some question about their lineage, however. (Mum has classic yachting lines and a white fiberglass hull, with blue canvas on top. The twins are both beige and made of plastic.) Hmmm ... it leaves us wondering who the father might be?!

Mum is mum on the matter. (Mum is mum? Of course, who else would she be? The English language, eh? :p ) We're concerned that she's been slumming it on the wrong side of the yacht club, had a late night rendezvous with a certain tugboat, or maybe a wild fling with a schooner? *GASP* Perhaps liaison with a *hold-your-breath* working skiff?! Who knows,eh?

Regardless of their heritage, we're now the proud surrogate parents of two brown baby kayaks! (Some people "invest" in trampolines for their back garden, we get a pair of his'n-hers matching kayaks!) :D Go figure.

For more about the new new twins, read on.

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Updated: 3-May-2008
Web View Count: 24298 viewsLast Web Update: 3-May-2008