Category Archives: News

Termites and News 102708

When I started blogging a few years back I didn’t realize I’d become so interested in the subject of phone books. Realizing I haven’t used the yellow pages in years, I started taking a picture every time a phone book, (all of which unwanted,) was dumped at my door. Unlike the old days when you’d receive one yearly book from Ma Bell now there are many competing companies, resulting in multiple drops offs throughout the year. To me these deliveries, (see photo,) are nothing more than garbage that I’m obligated to then process, and I support initiatives to curb their proliferation. Of course publishers see opposite; since reducing production and delivery ultimately reduces distribution numbers – a key factor in advertising rates.

Like many others I use the internet or mobile device to find everything I need at home, at the office, or on the go. Case in point while in New York last week I wanted to rent a bike. I didn’t go into someone’s shop asking to borrow a ratty phone book. See photo: I typed “bike rental” and found Metro Bicycles a few blocks away. True not everyone has search and mapping functions on their mobile, but I predict such features will rapidly become standard cell phone fare, not a la carte – hammering yet another nail into the coffins filled with phone books.

Over the past year I’ve found numerous other bloggers who share my view on these paper monstrosities, and many news outlets around the country addressing consumers’ concerns. Just this week I found this article by Portland’s FOX affiliate about unwanted phone books, and a story out of Boise about a delivery worker who simply set fire to his truckload of books. Of course every industry has its enthusiasts, and to spice up discussion and counter such negative opinions various publishers of the Yellow Pages chime in on various blogs defending their distribution practices.

One blogger who has made strides in the awareness for reduced consumption and easier opt-out methods is Ed Kohler of Minneapolis blog The Deets. He’s published multiple articles on this subject and has followed the industry’s reaction to our criticisms. One issue he’s covered is why delivery people insist on leaving phone books at the doorsteps of empty or boarded up houses around the midwest when there’s ALREADY a rotting phone book on the premises. Its quite clear the house is vacant, and silly to leave another. But it still happens, and makes neighborhoods that are already down on their luck with vacant houses appear even worse. Ed and his commenters push the need for littering fines and citations for unlawful garbage disposal fines heaved on these publishers, and I completely agree.

Recently, at the Association of Directory Publishers convention in San Antonio, industry consultant Ken Clark, (who has commented on my site too,) referenced TheDeets.com and likened it and other blogs to “termites” of the print industry. According to Ed they spent an hour discussing how blogs and new media are slowly”eating away” at their reputation. Rather than viewing blogs as local community outlets for opinions and voices they dismiss them as junk science and self described authorities of research. However as Ed points out – if they spent an hour discussing it then it really says something about the collective impact of our efforts. I wrote this in my most recent post:

If the blogosphere is so irrelevant to the industry, then Ken wouldn’t have created his own blog. In addition, the questioning of phone books and their sales tactics isn’t limited to small scale local community blogs like mine. Dan Savage at Seattle’s The Stranger has taken on phone books. the Consumerist has brought up this issue. The Denver Post addressed the concern when another wallop of books hit our area, and local NBC affiliate KUSA did a story over the summer too. These aren’t bored twentysomethings sitting in their parents’ basement trying to pick on Ken. These are solid media outlets. And even if it is “citizen journalism,” these are people who’ve taken the time to craft their thoughts and articulate their views for others to read. To outright dismiss them as “half brained” dimwits doesn’t bode well for the source.

I’m proud to be called a “termite,” and great work to all termites out there. If you’d like to read my collection of phone book articles they’re listed at the bottom of this latest post. Also check out Ed’s fine articles and discussions at TheDeets.com – and my appreciation to him for making a difference in this issue.

Regarding termites of a more vile nature: On November 8th, James Dobson will be inducted into the Museum of Broadcast Communication’s Hall of Fame. While the museum claims political and social views are not a factor in deciding membership, certainly one can agree that the divisive moral fearmongering propagated by Dobson ultimately ruins many lives and families – and should at least be a factor in consideration. Note this Dobson gem from 2004:

“Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”

Mr. Dobson fronts a political action group that masquerades as a Christian ministry. No long essay needs to be written on this ideology guided bigot. If you’d like to petition his removal, or are in the Chicago area and would like to protest, visit dumpdobson.com You may also email Radio Hall of Fame CEO Bruce Dumont directly at brucedumont@museum.tv

If you like wine, good food, and cooking good food, (and what phone booking hating gay blogger doesn’t,) check out the Denver International Food and Wine festival. From October 29th through the 1st see cooking demonstrations, sample tastings, and meet top Colorado chefs. Its at DU’s School of Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management over on Evans.

Another great bike travel blog I read over the weekend: Teacher on Two Wheels. Andrew Morgan shares photos, stories, and logistics of his two year journey through South America and Africa where he meets with students along the way in a wonderful cultural exchange.


News of Interest 101308

Over the weekend I read the site of Kellen Kjera – a guy who is biking 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico. Its a top notch travel blog with plenty of logistic detail, stories, and great photos. Check it out while staring out your office window wishing you were alongside him. Here’s a photo of his rig – pretty smart looking setup.

How to do New York for Free - article from the Times UK about touring the Big Apple for cheap.

More biking news: I didn’t know this, but apparently the 700 Billion bailout package includes a provision for those who commute by bike! The employer will act as the middleman, providing the credit to employees while deducting it from their taxes. To me it seems a small amount of paperwork to help recognize a viable form of commuting. Hey – if Kellen can go 2,000 miles I should never complain about my nine mile ride to work.

Starting in January, workers who use two-wheelers as their primary transportation mode to get to and from work will be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.

In Americana news: No buyers for the “Elvis is Alive” Museum over in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.. The website lists the facility as the only source of the “Elvis DNA Test.” If interested in purchasing said museum check out the above link.

He listed the collection on eBay last week and received one bid of the minimum $15,000. But that turned out to be a mistake by a child playing on a computer.

In past articles I’ve been critical about the yellow pages and their never ending deliveries to my doorstep.  Here’s a blog about a guy eating the yellow pages, appropriately titled “The Man Who At a Yellow Pages.

Obama, Mile High Stadium, and More.

Here’s some exclusives you won’t find on other local blogs. Thanks to a press pass and a great zoom lens Future Gringo contributor (by force,) M.P. got some incredible shots of the speakers, crowds, and atmosphere of last night’s Obama DNC acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium.

Al Gore, Biden, Obama and his family, plus the speakers and artists were a sight to see, and the night was capped off by an amazing fireworks display. (Yes there was political substance too.)

I found Dr. Martin Luther King III’s speech, and the introduction by Bernice King elegant and compelling. Sheryl Crow wasn’t bad either.

More below:

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News Of Interest 071308

The Esquire Theater’s midnight movies are still the best place to unwind come Saturdays at midnight. I haven’t been in about two years, despite living just a half mile away. Last night we watched “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” (I’ve never saw anything Pee Wee related in my life.) Where else can you watch great cult movies, cheer and parrot the lines, and meet tons of cool people? Its like a big party, only you don’t have to provide booze and vacuum in the morning.

Via the LA Times Vegas blog, the site Vegas Today and Tomorrow shows photos of hotels and condo towers that never came to fruition. Some newer designs are sleek and modern. The old ones are garish delights.

Kudos to the “The Prairie Horizons Trail Group.” The Denver Post’s Claire Martin wrote a short article about this cluster of business owners out on the eastern plains of Colorado catering to cycling tourists passing through the endless prairies.

It was Moore’s idea to create The Prairie Horizons Trail group, an alliance of business owners and residents of the Kiowa and Crowley county towns. They designed a brochure listing lodging, food, water, shelter and other facilities en route, and included a section on tornadoes and severe weather. “Share the Road” bicycle signs sprouted along the highway, and signs in shop windows alert visitors to bicycle-friendly options.

Today, cyclists taking shelter in Haswell’s Quonset Hut find the television tuned to The Weather Channel, crucial news for bicyclists. An Olney Springs restaurant’s menu lists a “bicyclist’s special,” and in Sugar City, a water station waives the cost for visiting cyclists.

Yes eastern Colorado might as well be considered Kansas geographically speaking – but I’ve always enjoyed road trips through these desolate wind swept areas and appreciate the folks who live out there.

This piece was on Drudge – and talks of Fremont, Nebraska’s proposal to “ban illegals” via stricter background verifications when renting.

1. A landlord or guy renting out his basement shouldn’t be thrown into the position of immigration officer.
2. Only slight mention references the regional companies that employee immigrant labor. Legal or otherwise. The focus should be on them. Not someone trying to make a living just like our immigrant friends are.

Don’t force a major issue on the individual and threaten them with criminal action. That’s not very nice, or responsible local government action.

Gizmodo has a really, really comprehensive review of the iPhone 3G.

News of Interest 070408

Happy Fourth of July.

Per MSNBC young people like fancy cars they can’t afford. This causes many of them to remain living with their parents as they choose a hefty car payment over rent. If you’re going to show off a nice car, which nets you attention and status, (whether deserved or not,) wouldn’t that all come crashing down once admitting you’re 25 and live with your parents? It reminds me of this Dallas based project called “The $30,000 Millionaires.

Apparently some bored teenagers drove up to a tiny upstate New York village called “Oniontown,” and via a YouTube video titled “Oniontown Adventures” made fun of the less than glamorous locals in hopes of make some sort of amateur reality “Deliverence” style project I guess. Upon their return trip this week a local youth pelted them and their car with rocks.  Sooo – as miserable as these three guys are for spending an entire day mocking those that don’t live in track home McMansions, and making a video of it, it turns out their analysis of the local populace was relatively spot on.  But then again I wouldn’t want some random jerks cruising up to my house making fun of it – and the peeling paint.  Note to self:  one of the many risks of taking pictures of everything I see.

This is a quite the random gathering of photographs, (everything from babies to business exteriors,) but the photography exhibit Bill Wood’s Business showcases life in Fort Worth, Texas from 1937 to 1970. Bill Wood’s was a photographer and took these photos for clients and business purposes rather than artistic. The documents gathered an appreciation over the years. Its being show at New York’s International Center of Photography.

This 1961 photo shows an old Montgomery Wards truck leaving a warehouse.

Update: I checked yesterday, and my Cockeyed.com signs are still up at the Home Depot sheds!

News of Interest 062808

As mentioned previously I’ll be participating in the MS Society Colorado Chapter’s 150 mile bike tour this weekend. We’ll ride from Denver to Fort Collins and back in order to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I won’t be posting anything new, or have my much loved Asus onboard my bike either.

That “not posting” part WOULD have more weight if I actually posted something everyday instead of saving them all up for two days a week – but anyway here’s a few articles in my to-read queue when I return:

If you’d like to learn more, (or ride next year,) visit bikemscolorado.com

Politico examines the countless “make believe” experts that populate the cable news show.

Dr. Dobson’s tirade against Obama backfires in the eyes of many – according to the NY Daily News, and Time Magazine.

An interview with David Lida - a Mexico City based journalist writes about the largest megapolis in the Americas. at davidlida.com too.

IHT via the New York Times visits Elizabeth, Colorado – and studies life in the exurbs and whether it can be sustainable.

News of Interest 052708

Out of curiousity I did a Google News search for “gas prices” from April to May 27th.   The result netted me 70,529 articles –  from gas prices putting the brakes on everyday driving as well as camping and boating, to police upgrading their bikes for cycle patrol.

I’m really over hearing the laments of high gas prices.  The majority of reports say prices will continue to hover around the current range – so they can’t be considered to be “high” for much longer, at least any longer than $2.50 gas is high compared to 1980s dollar gas.  

I have sympathy for those living in rural areas, where jobs can be scarce and some truly DON’T have a choice but to travel 30-50 miles to a workplace, but in our cities and suburbs if you’re not exploring or imploring for new/alternative methods of transportation and living, then its time to make a change…   However one article I scanned that does give me some sympathy is this Savannah Morning News – on how gas prices are affecting touring local bands.  Time to suck up a higher cover charge and another buck on the PBRs.    Bike to the show and you’ll save plenty of cash.

CNN reports on South Florida Hostels.   Cool!

At the risk of being put on a watch list – I found these two immigration/customs stories interesting.  Thankfully only one took place on U.S. soil.

At Tokyo’s Narita:

An unsuspecting passenger who flew through Tokyo’s Narita airport left with $10,000 worth of free cannabis thanks to a forgetful customs officer and a sniffer dog with an unreliable nose.  The officer stuffed 142g (five ounces) of the drug into the side pocket of a randomly selected black suitcase coming off an overseas flight into Narita yesterday so that the dog could get some practice at detecting drugs.   “The dog couldn’t find it and the officer also forgot which bag he put it in,” a customs office spokeswoman said. “If by some chance passengers find it in their suitcase, we’re asking them to return it.”  The spokeswoman quoted the unnamed 38-year-old officer as saying: “I knew that using passengers’ bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog’s ability.”

And at New York’s JFK — from Flyertalk.com member “sefrischling” on Flyertalk’s Travel Safety Forum:

I handed over my passport and landing card and was met the the usual “you were away on business? what do you do?” I answered that I am a photographer and I was in Hong Kong photographing a wedding. She then asked if I worked in the US, I said yes,. She asked if I was connecting to another flight and I told her my kids were waiting outside and I was headed to the beach to see my folks before heading home…………… The next question threw me for a total loop, she asked “do you have a visa to work here in the US?” I informed the agent that she was looking at my US Passport and that as a US Citizen I need no papers to work in the US. The agent looked up at me like I had pissed her off and demanded to know if I had a visa or a permit that would allow me to work in the United States………we went round and round for a minute or two.

News of Interest 050608

If you haven’t read my “Free Ice Cream at Safeway tip” you still have time to stock up on free Ben & Jerry’s 3.6 oz ice creams.

I popped in the Cherry Creek Safeway over the weekend and picked up a reasonable amount without emptying out their freezer.    On a diet?  No worries – put them in the ice box and save them for this fall’s trick-or-treaters.

ok – been a while since I emptied out my “news of interest” saved bookmarks into a post – so here we go:

From the New York Times – an article about the advantages of small cars.   Check out the gas mileage charts.  How can you not love these?  Or my friend’s new Smart Car.    And a related piece from the Boston Globe about the difficulties of selling large gas guzzlers.

The Denver Post documents the perils of cycling on 32nd Avenue in Golden.  This article comes complete with 52 comments (as of 10:22am)  mostly frustrated comments between motorists and bikers.

Fox Nomad - who writes and excellent travel blog with personal in-depth idea and excellent lists of travel tips and tricks is currently running a contest for “Sexiest Summer Travel Story  Check it out and you could win a $250 airline gift card.   I would send him that story about that night in Munich last year, but co-workers and potential future employers might read my blog, sooo….

From American Magazine, I found this article on Houston and other “opportunity cities interesting.  This story details the shift from of business from established northeastern cities like New York and Boston to the sunbelt cities of the south where housing is affordable and job opportunities abound.  

The Atlanta Journal Constitution gives some high merits to the Denver Fastracks plan - our 15 year plan to expand current rail lines and build new lines to corners of the metro area, including Boulder and the airport.    More about Fastracks here.

More auto news:  Here’s an accident I saw at 7th and Josephine last week.  No one was hurt.  But how can that car hit the telephone pole with such straight on perfection?    

A girl, (about 10,) who was exiting the nearby soccer field reprimanded me for taking photos of someone else’s misfortune. I’m sorry. But thanks for speaking your mind young city stranger!

by James Van Dellen

Stranded by Skybus

Fortunately I’m sitting comfortably at home and am not one of the unlucky ones traveling on Aloha, ATA, or Skybus this week, as in the past few days all of these airlines have shut down – leaving many passengers stranded midway through a trip to fend for themselves, or attempting to book themselves in the already packed seats of other airlines. Although trying to find a cab in Denver at 2am can certainly give you similar exasperation.

While none of this is important to Denver travelers, or residents of cities with multiple airline options, it certainly stinks for small to middle markets where Skybus and other shuttered carriers pulled out of, since the remaining carriers no longer need to remain competitive. Boom: A $150 dollar RT ticket is now $400 in 200miledrivetothenearestbighubville.

With that I’ll repost my article titled “Cheap is Not Always Best.” In this post from last fall I wrote about Columbus resident Don Dennis, who was rightfully angry at Skybus when they abruptly halted service to Bellingham, Washington after he had booked a ski vacation for him and his friends. I wrote that after investing his time and money booking a condo, renting a car, and buying ski tickets, perhaps it wasn’t the best of ideas to rely on an airline that sells tickets for ten dollars.

Full article here: quotes:

That’s the problem though: Cheap Fares. When purchasing airfares the public descends on low fares like Target on Black Friday. The fact is people insist on scraping up the absolute cheapest fares – then complain when the inevitable consequences arise. Cheap fares OFTEN result in bad service and a low priority level. And when people have a bad experience flying they complain, whine, and write letters about airline service – but when it comes time to purchase a ticket they’ll still acquiesce and fly whichever airline or fare is cheapest.

If you’re hiring someone to re-roof your house or drywall your basement should you take the lowest bid? Probably not. Would you pay bottom of the barrel rates for car insurance? Not a good idea. Then why pay it for transportation? Reducing the fraction: I can take the bus from my home downtown to my suburban office park for $1.50, which entails a transfer and an hour plus jaunt snaking down congested busy streets. Or I can pay $1.25 more and take the train – making my commute a quick 40 minutes trip.

Granted most of my trips or solo or with one other person, so I realize a higher (more convenient,) airfare can be cost prohibitive to larger families. Yet I think everyone should examine their options in detail before snatching up the price grabber specials. You wouldn’t buy the cheapest car or TV available. Treat airfare purchases like any other consumer product. Cheap has it’s consequences.

Like a crummy watch, can opener, Wal-Mart bike, or shoddily constructed house, low rate shitty products do not last. I don’t consider airlines any different. Just some tidbits to consider in the age of rocky airlines and the tempting rock bottom airfares that come with them…

Pesos vs Euros: A Double Standard?

I’m stumped today…  And here’s why: 

Last summer Dallas based pizza chain “Pizza Patron” became the focus of U.S. news and water cooler chat nationwide when they announced that they would accept the Mexico peso.  This sparked outrage and the obligatory torrent of negative comments of Mexicans, illegals, anchor babies, soft guv’mint, and electric fences.  109 pages. Count ‘em.  And that’s just one site.

Backlash and death threats – all because a pizza place knew a certain percentage of the local populace carried pesos, and wanted their pesos in exchange for a pizza. 

Yesterday several news outlets reported that more and more retail stores in New York are accepting and welcoming the Euro.  Aside from a few tired “snobby French” comments this is happy news as it means tourists, and their tourist Euros flowing into the city.

I understand the issue of “accepting pesos” comes with the burden of immigration discussion – but I don’t understand WHY.   Whether those purchasing pizza are here legally or not is not the pizza joint’s concern, nor a concern of a shop in New York.  They have a business, and like the New York shops shoving Euros into the register they are simply opening up another conduit of business.

But why aren’t we in dire straits over THIS news?  Don’t we care that some spending those Euros are students overstaying their VISAs?  Aren’t we concerned that far more terror plots originate from Europe than from Mexico?  No, we don’t care, because they aren’t Mexicans.

Is it possible to SEPARATE business issues from political concerns?  Hell PAYPAL allows me to send money in 15 different currencies including the Polish Zlotych.  No one’s up in arms about that.   Uruguay happily accepts the Argentine Peso as many Argentineans frequent their coastal cities.  Same deal with Montreal and the U.S. Dollar.

Good for New York for welcoming the Euro.  It will foster an increase of business.  And good for Pizza Patron for permanently accepting the Mexican Peso.

If we exist in a global economy where big business produces product en masse in China, BMWs and other imports roam our streets, and my calls are forwarded to India – then we shouldn’t bitch and complain when SMALL BUSINESS chooses to adopt the same international approach.

by James Van Dellen