Trabemaster rebux

After I picked up a pair of Trabemaster gloves last week, I sent an email to the Canadian distributor asking about the misprint. I got this response a couple of days later:

Thank you for your email and also for letting us know about the spelling mistake.

We went through a full investigation and have found 2 sku’s out of 84 that show a spelling mistake.

Even though this does not affect the performance of the gloves , we will take appropriate action on this issue.

Appropriate action in this case doesn’t seem to include sending me a free case of gloves, but there you have it.

"Warranty void if removed"

Warranty void if removed

I picked up this shiny new hard drive (1 terabyte!)  yesterday and was a little perplexed to see Seagate’s new warranty terms on the static bag. It seems that if I remove the drive from the packaging to, you know, use it or something, I’ll void my warranty. Quite the conundrum.

The signature makes the man

The signature Dodge Wave

We paid our first visit to a Lowe’s today, stopping in at the store on Castlefield on our way home. It’s just your typical big box store with not much remarkable about it. On this particular afternoon, the employees outnumbered the shoppers, yet true to big box form, the employees managed to be anywhere but where they could answer questions.

When checking out with a credit card, they have you sign one of those digital pads like UPS or Purolator. Maybe I don’t get out enough, but it seemed a little odd to me. I don’t exactly wear a tinfoil hat, but as an IT guy who’s spent far too much time reading the PCI security standards lately, I’m not a big fan of digitizing my signature into the same system that just swiped my credit card.

Partly because no one actually checks signatures any more anyway, and partly because I still remember Zug‘s inspiring credit card prank from I don’t know how many years ago, I decided to sign with a simple undulating wave. What I didn’t realize was that they would print it out on the receipt and hand it back to me. Risa can never keep a straight face when I step outside the socially-acceptable box, and neither could I when I discovered that I got to keep a record of my protest against digital silliness, no matter how trivial it may seem. It’s not like I was signing with stick men or hieroglyphics. Maybe next time.

What's a tuba for?

Two contractor/handyman-types heading into Home Depot yesterday:

Guy 1 (reading shopping list): “Two-by-four-by-eight? What the hell is that?”

Guy 2 (checks shopping list): “Uh…it’s a two-by-four that’s eight feet long.”

Guy 1: “Oh.”

With spring renovation season getting underway, just remember that these are the experts who will be building your deck or fixing your kitchen. Be sure to check those references.


Just the latest spam from the Star

One of the benefits of owning a domain (like is that you can easily create individual email addresses for every company you do business with, contest you enter, or form you fill out. In the seven or so years since I started doing this, I’ve amassed over 660 unique email addresses for companies and organizations I deal with. It may sound unwieldy, but it’s quite transparent in use; all mail comes into a single mailbox and can be easily filtered. Best of all, when I receive a “special offer” from someone I don’t know, it’s easy to tell how they got my address. It’s also quite easy to simply delete an address (and thus any spam that may go with it) when it’s no longer needed.

One of the things that chaps my ass the most is companies I deal with on a regular basis that suddenly start sending me spam or “monthly newsletters” after years of being well-behaved. Into that category now falls the Toronto Star. I’m not singling the Star out for sending me spam, but for outright lying about their “opt-in” list. I started receiving contest entries and “marketing mail” from the Star about six weeks ago, and have since received five messages. That’s definitely not a lot, but it’s five more than I’ve received in all of the previous years that the Star has had my (unique to them) email address. This kind of thing usually indicates that an overzealous marketing department has decided that although I checked the “don’t email me” box a few months/years ago, surely I didn’t realize what I was doing and don’t still want to miss out on all of the fun and adventure of receiving their spam. After all, their marking crap is so much cooler and more desirable than the marketing crap I usually get.

The Star’s account manager, showing my current ‘opt-in’ statusSo I logged into the account manager to see if maybe I’d “forgotten” to opt out of receiving crap from the Star. And guess what? Not only had I not “forgotten,” but they even declare right on the account manager page that I’m “not receiving” spam from them. Well, that’s news to me.

So congratulations, Toronto Star, on joining the ever-growing ranks of companies that lie to their customers for the sake of padding an eyeball count. Do you really think that pissing off your customers is a good thing? Apparently you do.

Cyclist's revenge

My daily commute is normally quite uneventful, with the only excitement coming from sights along the way. But today was different, with two close encounters on the way home.

First up was a Buick-driving bozo who leaned on his horn, gave me the finger, yelled something out his window, and zoomed around me a little too close, apparently taking offense at the mere presence of a cyclist on the road. His road. I’d tell you what he yelled, but I couldn’t hear him. When will drivers figure out that cyclists can’t hear them yelling over the gunning engine and blaring horn as they zoom angrily past? Whatever, dude. I’m sure it was a finely-argued point of law. As long as it makes you feel better and you don’t run me over in your blind rage.

Next up was a guy in a delivery van, who leaned out his window at a red light to ask whether I planned to continue to ride in the middle of the lane or would get out of his way and ride up against the curb like cyclists have to. I replied that I’d continue to ride in the middle of the lane because it wasn’t wide enough for both my bike and his van and I wanted to make it clear that he had to move into the next lane to pass safely.

He then went on to make the typical claims: motor vehicles have precedence over bikes, cyclists have to move out of the way, and that his “road taxes” pay for the road. I countered with the usual rebuttals: I can take the lane if it’s unsafe to share it and there is no such thing as a “road tax” that only motorists pay. He was neither happy nor in agreement and finished up with a smirking, “Pisses you off, don’t it?” as the light turned green. It ended, as do most of these encounters, with neither person making a positive impression on the other and two cases of elevated blood pressure.

In fairness, he was semi-polite (if a little loud and completely wrong) and he did swing out into the next lane to pass. That would have been that but for his fatal mistake: he was driving a clearly-marked delivery van from a local retail establishment not more than a five-minute bike ride from my house. It took me all of two seconds to resolve to take my cyclist’s revenge: going to his workplace to continue the conversation.

He and the truck were nowhere to be found when I got there five minutes later, so I asked for the manager instead. I explained my tale of woe, told him how poorly it reflected on his business, and gave him the identifying information I had. He agreed that the driver was wrong and that he’d have a talk with him when he returned to the store. The manager of this store was much more helpful than acting store manager Andy at the place down the street.

I was outside unlocking my bike when I saw the truck pulling up to the back of the building. “We meet again!” I exclaimed gleefully as I pulled up. The driver climbed out of the van and turned into a normal person as he shed two tonnes of metal and glass. Suddenly, he was willing to converse, not just yell. To listen, not just get angry. And we actually had a civil conversation about bikes, roads, the Highway Traffic Act, and “road taxes.” The store manager joined us too, and together we educated the driver on several topics:

  • Cyclists are not second-class citizens to drivers.
  • Cyclists are allowed to take the entire lane.
  • Cyclists are allowed to make left turns from the left turn lane.
  • For most traffic purposes, the HTA makes no distinction between “vehicles” and “motor vehicles.”
  • His driving a truck that can kill a cyclist with one wrong move means that it’s incumbent on him to drive safely, not on me to get off the road.
  • The privilege of using the road doesn’t flow from paying taxes.
  • Just because I’m riding a bike right now doesn’t mean that I don’t have a car or pay “road taxes.”

At the end of our 10-minute conversation, the driver seemed genuinely repentant and vowed to treat cyclists with more respect. And that was the best revenge: successfully converting a road-raging truck driver with reason and conversation, rather than merely exchanging shouts and fingers as we passed on the road.

I’ve always wanted to ask road ragers, “Are you an asshole in real life, or just behind the wheel?” Now I know the answer.

But the real kicker of this story: the delivery truck driver is a cyclist who rides to work every day! No kidding. I couldn’t believe it.

Update, July 3: We met again, again.