British Brilliance

"Bloody people. I can't bear that man anyway. He's so awful, he really is. I hate these people."
Apparently, Prince Charles dislikes certain aspects of the media. Who ever would have thought it, given their continual intrusion into his private life?
About five minutes ago, the local news showed a clip of the Prince and his two sons. British media briefly interrupted his ski trip to inquire about his upcoming nuptials. He calmly stated that he was glad the press had heard of it (which struck me funny) and then made the above comment under his breath, face absolutely dead pan. That struck me as hilarious. Didn't so much as bat an eyelash.
Now of course, people are offended and this will be the running news in the rag mags for at least a few days. Well, they (the press) deserved it.

For chocolate lovers

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Dark...


Good things come in simple packages

I was going to make a post last week when my favorite was fired on The Apprentice. I confess to being an avid watcher. Some people feel that reality TV is the "lowest form of entertainment," but The Apprentice really is interesting. They do so many cool projects. Last week, as I am sure you know, they had to do a DIY clinic for The Home Depot. The winning team made a box.
Now, right from the get go, I thought the box idea was brilliant, despite the misgivings of the rest of the team. If I had been the leader, I probably would have suggested a bird house instead, but a box works just as well. The idea of creating and marketing a special family moment is perfect. If you go to any kids club (boy scouts, brownies, cadets) you will see this sort of thing being done all the time (except not for profit). The minute you want to involve children, especially young ones, you have to make it simple. That's why the box was so successful. Imagine if they had tried to build a doll house; yes it would also have involved children, but consider the difference in complexity. Most of their audience would have been lost.
So why am I posting this now, almost a week after the fact?

Yesterday, while my laundry was in the wash, I walked up to Home Depot. On the door there was a sign for their next DIY clinic, which happens to be this weekend.
They're doing the box.


Happy Easter

He left his Father's throne above

(so free, so infinite his grace!),

emptied himself of all but love,

and bled for Adam's helpless race.

'Tis mercy all, immense and free,

for O my God, it found out me!


Nerdy wit

These are pretty clever.

Ten Tips for First Time Home Buyers

My husband and I recently bought a house. We'll be moving next month. It was our first experience, and we learned a lot. I've tried to sum up everything in 10 tips, but I am sure I could think of a lot more if I put my mind to it.

1. Get advice!
We didn't know anything, and we didn't know we that. It's amazing what you learn through the process, but it's even more amazing when you consider what other people have been through. My parents have a lot of experience and so did his. We were able to draw on them both, and it was invaluable.
2. Get information!
Add it to your advice. The more you know, the more empowered your position is
3. Don't rush!
Don't worry, be happy. This is especially true if, like us, you are moving out of a place you are renting and don't have to be out by a certain date. There is no need to jump at the first thing you see, and if something doesn't work out, there will be more. This is also a useful tip for sellers.
4. Go with your gut!
If something doesn't feel right, or you are uncomfortable with the house, talk it out. Wait if necessary.
5. Watch those agents!
Those guys (or girls) are trained to sell. They know if you're green. They know what they can get away with. Keep your eyes peeled at all times. Do not get talked into a Buyer Agency agreement. They are not required and can be a hassle later on.
6. MLS.ca is your friend!
Several agents tried to convince us that these listings were out of date. That may or may not be true. We found the house we bought through this service.
7. Peak moving time is in the spring!
I did not know this, but it makes sense. June is the single busiest closing month. Parents like to wait until their kids have finished the school year before they move. This means that prices tend to peak in April and May as more comes on the market. Start looking early. If you can avoid the rush, do.
8. Don't get the biggest mortgage you can!
Be frugal. The bank will give you what they think you can handle, but that doesn't mean you will be able to afford the payments. Work out a budget first.
9.Work your poker face!
Learn to work it in person AND over the phone. Bid lower than you thought. Don't bid where you want to end up. Otherwise, you will pay more than you want to. The bidding/selling process goes back and forth. Know what your limit is going to be, and try and get the sellers to come to you. If something goes wrong, don't let them know you're mad. if something goes unbelievably well, don't let them know you are thrilled.
10. Get a building inspection!
Even if you don't think the house needs it, an inspection protects both the buy and the seller. It points out important flaws that the seller may not be aware of and it lets both parties know what the state of the house should be when the seller moves in.


A tool for gardeners

A map...

With spring approaching, I have started to think about what I can put in the garden I will have when I move in a month. This map displays the hardiness zones in Canada. It's not like I'm going to need it much; I'll probably only be planting some coleus anyway. Still, it's a neat idea.

And now a note for community members

In any relationship, probably some of the most important ingredients are honesty and trust. People just don't move very far without them. On the web, trust is not always that easy to obtain. There is a whole host of literature surrounding trust between users and vendors, between individuals and what the implications are online.

As a community member, probably one of the most important skills you can learn is to voice your opinion, especially your critical or negative opinion in a manner that is honest and useful to the group. One of the greatest difficulties community members have, in my opinion, is to articulate perceived problems in a useful way without having everything degenerate into chaos. It takes skill and practice and far too many people are not willing to put in the time.
Instead they take the easy way out.
They create a fake id ad, rant for a few pages about changes they would like to see made and why no one is listening to them or cares.
I know.
I've done it.
Well, not so much the ranting part.
If I've created a fake id, it tends to be for the purpose of deliberately causing problems... ;-)

When there is a genuine issue, do what you would try to do in real life: resolve it as quickly as possible with as little hurt as possible. I admit, it's hard work, but for most people if something is so wrong in their favorite community that everyone is deciding to leave, then the hard work could mean growth and improved circumstances for all.


Community Terms of Service & en Masse Bannings

Due to the fact that my real life has left little time for forums, I have been away from my favorite community for quite some time.
News travels fast of course, and I found out today that there was a meltdown (an extremely rare occurrence) and an online friend had been banned, reinstated and then left. I returned and was shocked to discover that not only had one person been banned, but a glorious 18 people had been banned, then reinstated, all without explanation. (I have this mental image of a male Cruella DeVil laughing maniacally as he checks the ban box next to each name.) There is, by all accounts, a secret forum and some members had been using this community to advertise it, and so on. To be frank, I didn't understand the big deal. It's newbie forum, and this one has been around for five years or more, which is a life time in internet time. The reaction was unwarranted, not to mention undignified.

It's amazing how calm, rational people can turn into power-crazed lunatics the moment they perceive something is amiss on the forum they created. Their perceptions could be completely wrong, but without even thinking to check they'll launch on a fabulous tangent, blaming everyone but themselves for the community problems.
Cup of tea?
Chocolate anyone?
A deep breath?
If you are a community moderator or administrator, I cannot stress this enough: take a break and sleep on it before you make any rash decisions about your community members. This is especially true if your decision is going to be something like banning 18 members. It's not as though that one will go unnoticed and you won't be able to sweep it under the rug later either.

If you have a vision, a mission statement, and are using phrases like "an ethos of love and caring" then it is those in charge who must, above all else, apply these ideas to themselves first. Consider yourselves management if you will. There is no instance in any industry that I am aware of where feelings like this filter down to the masses if they are not put into practice by the powers that be. Even if you don't want to think of this as an industry, but think that government is more applicable, the same still holds. Does mass bannings fall within your defined ethos? I have my doubts. Please keep in mind also that simply telling the community that you do put what you say into practice is not going to be a sufficient argument. People look at actions, and do you really think they will accept your apology later? People are highly sensitive, especially when they have been members of a community for a very long time.


Look Update

I haven't updated my look in a while, so I've decided to do some tweaking. In the process I discovered that Yahoo! Photo doesn't allow outside links to images. (Recall this post.) PhotoBucket does however.

PS: I suddenly discovered that my template was distorted in Firefox. Tip: if you have a div that is holding two other divs (as I do: content holds main and my sidebar) then you have to add display:table; in the stylesheet reference for the content div. Apparently, I am not the only person to have had this problem. I found the solution here.


A computer without Microsoft Office 2003...

"...Is like a car without an engine."
"...Is like a cellphone without buttons."

This, at least, is what a commercial I hear frequently on the radio would like to convince its listeners.
No, I am not going to bother listing all the things wrong with such a commercial. I just hope there aren't people out there who listen and think, "Oh really? I should go out and buy it."

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