Over Your Shoulder

By this time tomorrow, we’ll know the result of the 2015 PEI provincial election. It’s a few months ahead of schedule, but scheduled election date legislation is a fairly new thing to us here in PEI. We’re more used to the element of surprise.

We’re also used to the signs. Oh, the signs, signs, sings. A good friend of mine had been working at a sign shop until a few months ago, after the election was called I asked him how glad he was to no longer be working there. The answer was of course very.

I’m not sure if there are more signs this time around, or if there are always this many, but it seems that every street corner with anything resembling public property has been decorated with signage. There are large signs, small signs, tall and wide signs, in various flavours of red, blue, green and orange.  The signs seem to be proliferating, even in the last few days of the campaign new ones have sprung up, much like early dandelions.

As with every election, the signs are both a blight on the landscape and a source of occasional amusement. There are the signs with unfortunate pictures, the sort that make you wonder if that was actually the best picture of the candidate they could possibly come up with. It’s never a good thing when your potential representative looks perpetually startled, or angry, or like he might live alone in a shed (Or in a van down by the river).

After seeing a certain number of these signs, though, a disturbing pattern came up. The Liberal party has some large signs showing the local candidate as well as provincial leader Wade MacLaughlan. This is hardly a unique thing, the Progressive Conservatives have the same sort of thing. What’s troublesome about the Liberal signs is the fact that on every single one I’ve seen so far, the candidates are arranged so that Wade is looking over the shoulder of the local person. And he is always, always taller.  Maybe just a little, maybe a fair amount, but he is always the person of greater stature. There are a few pictures below showing a few of the signs that I happened to take pictures of. If anyone out there has seen one showing a different height arrangement I’d like to know about it.

I will admit that I don’t know for certain how tall Mr. MacLaughlan is. He was president of UPEI when I graduated, so I’ve presumably shook his hand at least once. That was more than a decade ago, so someone would have to be freakishly tall for that to stick out in the memory. Maybe I’m mistaken and he’s actually taller than any of the other candidates running for his party, but that is doubtful.

In all likelihood, this is a conscious image strategy, to have the leader look strong and competent by being visually placed as high as possible. It’s probably not the worst image strategy, but now that I’ve noticed it, I can’t help but see it on every one of those signs. He’s like a big brother, just behind you, looking out for you. Or maybe keeping tabs on what you’re up to. As the oldest child in my family, I never had a big brother when I was growing up, so your opinion of big brothers may vary.

And now that you’ve been suitably disturbed and/or amused, don’t forget to vote tomorrow.  Remember, Big Brother Wade is looking over your shoulder.   wade-and-allan-roach-and-mowade-and-david-dunphy wade-and-alan-macisaac

As Found in Nature

The other day  we picked up a new bottle of chewable multivitamins for the kids. It was a different brand than we’ve bought in the past, and it happened to be on half-price clearance, which is almost always a win in my books.  While I’m not entirely convinced that these, or really, any vitamin pills, make a significant difference in the kids’ health, a few more vitamins and minerals are probably better than less. In the middle of winter, with the quality and availability of fresh fruit and vegetables being somewhat less than optimal, a little bit of nutritional supplement is a  help. Continue reading As Found in Nature

How to Write Reference Letters

Originally published March 31, 2002

I recently wrote a reference letter for someone I supervise. When writing one of these, it can be somewhat difficult to know what to say in the letter. You want to write a good letter (unless you don’t like the person who the letter is for, in which case they were stupid to ask you) so the person gets what they are applying for, but you don’t want to go overboard and sound ridiculous.

Continue reading How to Write Reference Letters

More Confusing Song Titles

Treble ClefOriginally Published 20 November 2004

Some time ago we ran a Good/Bad/Ugly article called Confusing Song Titles, which naturally rated songs that have titles that don’t make sense, songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” As it happens only six such songs were rated in that article. That’s more items than the typical G/B/U rating includes, but in this case, it’s not nearly enough. There are so many more misnamed songs out there just waiting for the G/B/U treatment. It’s time for more.

Continue reading More Confusing Song Titles

Confusing Song Titles

Treble ClefOriginally posted 11 April 2001

It should have been decreed at the advent of pop music back in the 50s that songs would have titles that made sense, but apparently this was never done. Granted, most songs do have logical titles, usually being the most repeated lyric in the song, or a word that is used in the song a lot, or someone’s name that the song is about. Most songs when you hear them for the first time you can listen and have a fairly good idea what the title is. This rule doesn’t apply to instrumental stuff (you just have to remember that it’s called “Classical Gas”) but if it has lyrics, the title should be fairly obvious. But that’s not always the case. Today I’m rating the titles of some songs that don’t comply with this convention. Note that I’m not rating the songs themselves, just the titles and their appropriateness. Are we clear on that?
Continue reading Confusing Song Titles

A Thousand Words, Volume I

Dennis Miller used to have a feature on his show called The Big Picture where he commented on photos from the news. This is a rather low effort thing to do, and it was generally very funny for him, so I’m going to rip off all sorts of intellectual property here and do it myself. This is for parody, so don’t get upset if you don’t find my comments funny.

"I don't care if this is heavy, I'm dragging it down to the pawn shop to get cash for a Game Cube."
“I don’t care if this is heavy, I’m dragging it down to the pawn shop to get cash for a Game Cube.”

Continue reading A Thousand Words, Volume I

Androgynous Names

Hello My Name Is StickerI’ve always found that names which can be applied to either gender are a bit troubling. Maybe I like the reassurance that when someone mentions a John or a Mary I can form a simple picture of said person based simply on the name. With non gender specific names this becomes impossible. That, said, some androgynous names are certainly better than others. I should mention that I won’t be rating names that have alternate spellings for male and female, such as Aaron/Erin or Rene/Renee. If I happen to rate your name badly, that doesn’t mean I don’t like you, so don’t email me complaining about it. Continue reading Androgynous Names

Here we go again

This site has been sitting largely idle for far too long. It’s been well Ship launchover a year now since new content was added. And while there have long been plans to revamp the design, and start adding content regularly again, that hasn’t actually happened.

So with the start of a new year, it’s time for a relaunch. A lot of old content might get rehashed and reposted, and hopefully a lot of new content will be added. This site might look like a bit of a mess for the next while. And it will likely be more like a blog than before, and less of a magazine.