Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Rubbermaid 3B2703BLTN 36-inch Breathable Wardrobe Storage, Blue

You know, it really ought to be mandatory that companies that sell anything requiring assembly by the purchaser maintain a website of assembly instructions for such products.

Apparently neither Rubbermaid (despite a wealth of assembly instructions for other Rubbermaid-brand products), one of whose fine 36" breathable wardrobes I recently purchased from Amazon.com, nor Moran, Inc., the company one is to call if one discovers one is missing parts in a 3B2703BLTN wardrobe one has purchased, sees fit to do so; therefore I have rectified that by scanning and posting the PDF here in case some future Googler might seek it.

Update 5/17/2010: I hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly, but over the weekend I got an e-mail from a fellow purchaser of the 3B2703BLTN wardrobe thanking me for having posted the assembly instructions. Yay for the power of the Internet!

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

My mother, me and my uncle Bill
on Christmas Day 1968
click to embiggen

My uncle Bill died 2 years ago today, and I still miss him very much. The photo to the right, from when he was still a fairly new uncle, with just one nephew, isn’t a terribly good one of him, but I like it because it reminds me that he was a part of my life for longer than I can remember.

To learn more about my uncle, you can go to my post from last year, which has the text of what I said about him at the memorial service we had shortly after his death.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Today I was curious about this crowd near my building.

Each of these images is just a clip from the same 3648x2736 telephoto shot, which you can view if you want to see whether you recognize anyone.

Living on the same street as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Art Institute and the Masonic Temple, I get occasionally get some noise from crowds.

Today, hearing some noise outside, I went out on my balcony and saw a crowd pouring out of the Masonic Temple spilling into the street, a crowd that with some googling I discovered was the just-graduated Class of 2010 of Stivers School for the Arts and their families and friends. I don’t mind the crowds—they’re fun to watch and they involve a fair exchange of value. I give up a bit of my peace and quiet, and the crowds give up a bit of their privacy.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Amidst our festively decorated sanctuary Ruth read the Scripture.

This Sunday at my church, Cross Creek Community Church, United Church of Christ, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday.

Our worship space was festively decorated in Pentecost Red with balloons everywhere lifted by the Spirit!

Click any photo to embiggen it.






Of course, I brought one of the balloons home myself to enjoy on my balcony:


After worship some people released their balloons into the wild.

Mike Castle preached about Pentecost and said next year perhaps we should add a goose to the decor as an additional symbol of how the Spirit works.

Watching balloons everywhere after worship

Being mainline Protestants we don’t normally do Communion except for the first weekend of each month, but for Pentecost we made an exception.

Dan Carl, the pastor’s wife, snagged a couple balloons.

Happy anniversary to Ken and Richard!

Sue tries to get her balloons into her van.
Monday, May 24th, 2010

The futility of Facebook groups, and something concrete you can do instead

If you’re on Facebook®, something you’ve surely seen is the ubiquitous “join this group to show support for X.” These groups come in many flavors. A pretty common variety is the “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who support X.” I have yet to figure out what precisely the consequences are of the success or failure of such bets. If someone who’s set up such a group fails to find 1,000,000 people who support X, does that person then have to give up his or her own support of X?

For example, there’s the group “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June,” which, as of today, with only just over a week left to meet its goal, has found only 494,631 supporters—if, as is likely, they fail, do these people have to become Creationists? If somehow this group does manage to attract another 505,369 supporters by June 1, what do they think will happen? Creationists around the world will suddenly say, “Oh, wow! You’ve managed to convince me. I do believe in the scientific validity of evolution now.”

If you’re thinking that I don’t find such groups particularly useful, you’re smarter than I think most people who create or join such groups are.

However, some groups on Facebook do have some value, not by amassing some magical number of supporters but rather by dispersing useful information. A recent example is the group “Gay Rights are Human Rights even in Malawi,” a group whose founding was triggered by the imprisonment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple living in Malawi who were recently sentenced to 14 years’s hard labor. Their crime? Hosting an engagement party for themselves and publicly declaring their love for one another.

I include the link for “Gay Rights are Human Rights even in Malawi” not because I think you should join the group. If all you’re willing to do in support of Monjeza and Chimbalanga is join some stupid Facebook group, you might as well not waste your time.

The United States should not stand by and allow Malawi to imprison LGBT people just for being queer

No, instead, I urge you to do something I learned about from having visited this group’s page—write a couple letters. Someone in the group posted Monjeza and Chimbalanga’s address in prison and suggested that people send them letters of support, letters letting them know that they’re not forgotten, that they have supporters around the world. You don’t have to visit the Facebook group to get their address—I’ll give it to you right here:

Steven Monjeza
Tiwonge Chimbelanga
Prisoners
Chichiri Prison
P.O. Box 30117
Blantyre 3
Malawi

Mailing a letter from the United States to Malawi costs $1.76 (four $0.44 stamps).

A letter to MalawiA letter to America

As you can see, I sent Monjeza and Chimbalanga a card. I don’t know if they’ll even get it, but I do know that someone in Malawi will see that these brave men have supporters in the United States.

You can also see that I wrote a second letter, to President Obama, and frankly, if you can make time only to write one letter, I’d urge you not to write to Monjeza and Chimbalanga but instead to write to the President. What I said to President Obama was that the United States should not stand by and allow Malawi to imprison LGBT people just for being queer, that the President should condemn this action and that the President should withhold any foreign aid to Malawi until not only Monjeza and Chimbalanga are freed but also Malawi decriminalizes homosexuality.

I realize that President Obama has been leery of taking on gay issues for fear of losing support among more moderate and conservative Democrats, but surely even the most hard core Christian can agree that imprisoning homosexuals is unacceptable. I have to hope that sending the President a letter will be at least a little more effective than joining a stupid Facebook group.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

My number one petty pet peeve


Dave


Not Dave

I’ll own this pet peeve as being a petty one, minor especially compared to challenges others have to deal with over the course of their lives, but it’s a pet peeve I’ve had all my life and won’t ever give up. What pet peeve is this? Well, if you’ve been reading my blog since its inception almost 8 years ago, you will not have seen mention of it (and thus you know I’m not talking about drivers who don’t know it’s legal in Ohio sometimes to turn left on red*) because it is in fact something minor, but it’s something minor that’s come up for as long as I can remember.

I hate being called “Dave.”

That people just assume it’s okay to call me “Dave” I can grudgingly understand because there are just tons of people out there who do in fact prefer to be called by nicknames. The people who prefer this introduce themselves as “Pete” or “Charlie” or “Tom” or “Mike” or “Dan” or “Steve” (as opposed to “Peter” or “Charles” or “Thomas” or “Michael” or “Daniel” or “Steven”).

I’ve never, not once, ever introduced myself as “Dave.” Never written “Dave” on a nametag. Never, upon meeting someone, shook his hand and said, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Dave.” Certainly have never said “Call me ‘Dave’” after someone’s said “Hi, David” to me. And this blog isn’t hosted on davelauri.com.

You’d think people would pick up on my never introducing myself as “Dave,” and most people do, but there are some people who miss that clue, perhaps innocently trying to be friendly, perhaps from sheer obliviousness.

I rarely correct people who call me “Dave.” The people who matter most in my life already know what to call me, and that someone in the periphery of my life calls me “Dave” is not only minor but also a clue to me that he’s going to remain in the periphery. Pete the janitor in my building doesn’t need a lecture when he says, “Have a good one, Dave,” to me each morning—I can shrug that off and say, “You, too, Pete” (not, pettily, “You, too, Peter”). Someone new at church who calls me “Dave” (despite my nametag there not having “Dave” on it) isn’t going to earn a sharp rebuke—that wouldn’t be, I think, what Jesus would do.

I will, however, allow myself this whiny blog post, and I will leave this note to people who google me in future (and I know people do google me because people have told me they’ve done so): My name is not “Dave.”

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

If you didn’t know that on most forms on most web pages you can press the TAB key to move from one field to the next, or if you’re the type of person who prefers to use your mouse, this post isn’t for you because this post is my latest Web design (bad) post (it also counts as Whining). Today’s culprit? Panera Bread® of Central Ohio.

If you’ve visited my blog before, you may know that I like Panera, I really do. One of the things I like about Panera is that on every receipt is a link to a “tell us how we are doing” survey, a survey whose completion enters you into a drawing to win $2,000. What a great way to build customer loyalty.

The web developer who created the survey website for Panera, however, cares less about customer loyalty and smart user interfaces and more about making sure no one types numbers into his or her numeric fields. Look at the source for one of the panerasurvey.com pages, and you’ll see that numeric fields have onKeyPress="return TextCounterNumber()" attached. If you’re not a web developer, all you need to understand is that this bit of code looks at every character you type into the associated fields to determine whether it’s valid or not. Numbers are valid. Anything else is not.

That’s not so bad. It’s making sure users can’t mess things up by typing letters into a field that should have only numbers. Kinda smart.

Here’s the bad part. On the vast majority of forms on the web, users are not forced to take their hands off their keyboards and use their mouses to click on the next field in a form. That’s something the web inherited from non-web forms. Never mind that the vast majority of computers users may not realize they can advance from field to field with the TAB key; web developers should know that.


Once you’re in the order number field on this form, you’re trapped until you use your mouse to click someplace else. However, after you click on the month field with your mouse, you can use your keyboard to select values and press TAB to go to the next field.

You may think this isn’t worth complaining about, and in the grand scheme of things, you’re right. But Panera’s survey includes a screen on which they ask people to tell them of any concerns, and I’ve mentioned the fact that their survey form doesn’t adhere to web standards. Yes, it’s a small annoyance, but it’s also something that would be incredibly easy to fix. It’s also something I’m reminded of each and every time I go to fill out a Panera survey, something I’m prompted to do by each and every receipt I get from Panera.

What finally prompted me to write about this? Something else about Panera that bothered me—a Panera staff person not bothering to wipe off a drippy drink before handing it to me. So far that’s happened only once (and it wasn’t my favorite Panera staff person who did it), so I’ll leave that whining for another day (although, as it happens, my best friend just stopped by my desk as I was writing this, and he said, about the drippy drinks, not the poorly designed web form, “Oh, yeah, I hate when they do that”).

 
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