Adrian & His ‘Light Bazooka’ @ Bluesfest

IMG_7286 IMG_7249
IMG_7263 IMG_7199
IMG_7179 IMG_6993
IMG_6943 IMG_6793
IMG_6819 IMG_6750

P.S. If you are wondering what a ‘Light Bazooka’ is, it is my nickname for THIS.

What Does the HST Tell Us?

I got a very well organized and informative guide in the mail today called “What changes –and what doesn’t change– under the HST”, which may be one of the very few things I like about this new Ontario tax scheme.

Governments often use taxation to try and influence of buying behaviour of their citizens, so I thought I would take a look and see what behaviours the government is trying to change with the HST:

  • Smelly Ontario – Apparently they want us to dry-clean less, with taxes going from 5 to 13%
  • Drunk Ontario – Alcohol will be taxed at 13% instead of the old 17% (although they footnote that they will stop people from drinking so much with ‘other fees’)
  • Lazy Ontario – Gym, athletic memberships, fitness trainers, hockey rink rentals, hall rentals, hunting licenses, fishing licenses and golf green fees will increase from 5 to 13%
  • Ugly Ontario – Hair stylists, barbers and aesthetician services up to 13% from 5%
  • Lawless Ontario – Legal fees will be taxed at 13% instead of 5%
  • Cold (winter) and Hot (summer) Ontario – Electricity & heating bills to go from 5 to 13% tax
  • Flooded and Electrocuted Ontario – Home visits by plumbers, electricians, etc. will go from 5-13% as will home renovations
  • Digitally-divided Ontario – Internet access will now be taxed at 13% instead of 5%
  • Wild Ontario – Landscaping and snow removal up to 13% from 5%
  • Homebound Ontario – Hotel rooms (from 10%), taxis, campsites, domestic air, rail, boat and bus travel all up to 13% from 5%, as does fuel for your car, unfortunately you will have fewer magazines to read at home since subscription magazines also go from 5 to 13%
  • Double-dipped Ontario – Remember that new car that you paid 13% tax on, well now the government makes 13% again –up from 5%– when you sell it used!
  • Suburban & Condo Ontario – New homes over $400,000 will be taxed at 13% instead of 5%, and AFAIK can only be found in the suburbs or in condo dwellings. Real estate commissions will also be taxed more, at  13% instead of 5%.
  • Scurvied Ontario – Vitamins up to 13% from 5%
  • Stiff & sore Ontario – No reduction on Viagra tax, they are increasing taxes on massage therapy from 5 to 13%
  • Entertained Ontario – Tickets for professional sporting events and movies will DROP from 15% to 13%.
  • Alive Ontario – Death will cost you more, with funeral services taxed at 13%, up from 5%… sure as death and taxes.

    Who Hasn’t Seen the ‘Last Lecture’?

    Randy Pausch’s last lecture has come up in several recent conversations I have had, and I am always surprised to find people who haven’t seen it. I mean, the guy was on Oprah, everybody must have heard of this guy or his book by now!

    We are coming up on the two year anniversary of Randy’s last public post to his blog (June 26th, 2008) before his death on July 25th 2008 of pancreatic cancer, so it might be a good time to remind the world (well my small world anyway) about his gift to the world: His Last Lecture.

    If you still don’t know if you want to invest 70 minutes of your life on this, watch the 10-minute version that was on Oprah. But I challenge you to watch this, then not watch the 80 minute version; so pick… 80 minutes or 90 minutes.  😉

    Apparently, Banner Ads Don’t Have to be Crap!

    I can’t believe it, I actually saw a banner ad today that I wanted to click on! This was the first such banner ad, after perhaps the millions I have seen, and it looked like this:

    Unfortunately, there is no direct link to this ad for you to try it yourself (if you find it, please let me know!), I can only hope that you find it the same place I did at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6573FD20100614?type=politicsNews I just tried again and another ad popped up, so all I can suggest is to keep trying!

    Why is this ad so awesome? Clearly I fit the demographic they are targeting (people who like nice cars) but I have skipped over many such ads by Audi and others many times. I think it was because the ad challenged me to try something where I would not be certain of the result. This leveraged the ‘gap theory’ of curiosity, where the ad created an information gap that I wanted to fill. Once I saw my cursor slide and crash, I noticed the toggle at the top left that allowed me to turn on ‘quattro’ (Audi’s super-grippy 4WD system), which created another information gap: What would this do?

    With the quattro system engaged, my cursor slices through the water no problem.

    I have never seen such a good example of an ad being able to draw me in, and stay so core to their message (safety = traction = Audi quattro). Also impressive is the TV spot with the ‘downhill skiing’ theme in San Fran (see at end of post).

    Kudos to the Audi marketing team for creating the first banner ad that has ever worked on me!!

    A Shot Close to the Mark: UCBComedy on BP Oil Spill

    Yes it is funny, but it may also be quite accurate… As Kevin Costner says, you guys are &%#ed!!

    Brand Police: When Brands Go Horribly Wrong…

    I doubt it's a 'Chevy'

    There was a time when the marking teams held sway in organizations. When Nike was rising to the top, selling bits of rubber at 5x the competition’s prices, it seemed that a simple logo and marketing campaign was the key to success. But, as the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The marketing teams –drunk with this power– started enforcing brand etiquette, like some kind of secret police: “Our logo should never be used on a blue background!” or how about “You should never say Chevy, but ‘Chevrolet’!”

    The latter isn’t some throwback to some corporate debate from the 80’s, it happened TODAY.

    One of the biggest signs that a company is on its last legs (and I, unfortunately, have first hand experience with this), is that it starts flagellating wildly trying to do anything that will right the ship. Some marketeer has convinced the top executive at GM that it is somehow important to call their ‘Chevrolet’ brand ‘Chevrolet’ instead of ‘Chevy’.  It is under the auspice of ‘reducing confusion’ in internal communications:

    “I get calls from international colleagues asking me ‘What is a Chevy,” said German-born GM spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin. “It takes quite a long time to explain to them.”

    How long does it take to say “You know when you call Alexandre ‘Alex’, it’s like that.”

    Instead they waste the time and energy of their employees bringing attention to this ‘issue’, instead of focusing on the key elements of building a brand. I can just imagine the remaining employees of GM rolling their eyes en-masse when –those that still read corporate communications– review this corporate memo. Basically, your executive is telling the world that its employees are too stupid to use your own company name.

    Remember guys, your ‘brand’ is your promise to your customer, so how about you quit navel-gazing and BUILD SOME BETTER CARS!

    So before you hit ‘send’ on that next company-wide memo, ask yourself: “Is this helping us build a better car?”

    Save This Buddha!

    Golden Buddah, Bangkok, ThailandI am watching with anxiety the events unfolding in Bangkok, where anti-government protesters are conducting sit-ins, and constructing barricades around areas of interest to foreign tourists, as a means to get the government’s attention. Initially, this all seemed like a great example of Ghandi-style peaceful civil disobedience (like when the protesters ground the Bangkok airport to a halt in 2008), but then the bullets started flying, with an accompanying Twitter feed).

    My visit to Bangkok was one of my best travel experiences, a positive culture-shock, and one of my favourite places to take photos.

    While the safety of the MANY citizens of Bangkok (10M+) is of the paramount importance, it always frustrates me that there doesn’t seem to be any way for the international community to protect artifacts and architecture of such cultural significance. When trouble breaks out, these artifacts become targets, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes by accident.

    About 6 months before before 9/11, there were some very clear signs that all was not right in the heads of those ruling Afghanistan. In an effort to erase Afghanistan’s true cultural heritage, the Taliban decided to blow up two giant Buddha statues carved into a cliff near Bamiyan, in defiance of international protests.

    Those are bullet holes!

    Unfortunately, historic sites are often the most sturdy things to hide behind.

    In Chris Hedges’ book “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” he indicates that this is a very common element of the prelude to any war; erasing the past to create a new fictitious present. It is particularly prominent in wars that result in ethnic cleansing, like the strife in the Balkan states.

    I can’t offer any solutions, only raise awareness. Protecting items of cultural significance isn’t about saving tourism, it is about making sure the truth about the past isn’t eradicated just because it is inconvenient to the present (or it is the sturdiest thing to hide behind when the bullets start to fly).

    %d bloggers like this: