Sunday, November 13, 2011

Search At Your Own Risk, or, You Call That A Manatee?

My daughter is working on a report for school on the manatee. She loves to draw but she also wants real pictures so I introduced her to the wonders of Google Images.  She types "manatee" and Google's recognition software gives her a bunch of options, including "manatees kissing."  She thinks this is a riot and clicks on it.  Sure enough, the screen fills with photographs and illustrations of manatees kissing, snuggling up to each other, interacting with humans, etc.  And then father down, we get this:

Sea World has changed since
the last time I was there.
Now countless times in my career, I've hit the stock photography sites for specific images I needed to sell an idea or spruce up a storyboard.  And I'd always come across a few pictures that had nothing to do with my original search request.  But this was a little surprising.  I guess "manatees kissing" is very similar to "man kissing."  In fact, the farther down the page you go, the more images like the above you'll see.

Fortunately, my daughter thought it was a riot and we moved on.

Now our search was for some manatee predators.  We found a great image of a manatee and a shark. And it turns out that humans are considered predators of the manatee, solely because of motor boats and jet skis.  The majestic sea cows tend to get sliced up in the propellers.  So we type "people on motorboats," hoping to find some rowdy humans on an obnoxious cigarette speed boat or something.  We found a couple of good images and we should have quit while we were ahead.  But we kept looking down the page and came across this:

The thing is, I get the
 motorboat connection here.
I'll be studying this phenomena a little further and I'll report back to you.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Sour Grapes, or, No I don't Have The Receipt

Many of us have had to deal with professional photographers at some point in our lives. These equipment-laden professionals are as necessary as a heart-shaped ice sculpture at a wedding (or an angry relative at a Bar Mitzvah), despite the proliferation of digital cameras employed by every guest in attendance.  For the most part, they do an excellent job but every once in awhile, we hear a story about a photographer who took off without delivering the contractually-promised pictures and the outraged couple left holding the bag.

As soon as a crime like this is discovered, the victims spring into action. Police are called, investigators are hired, and, in extreme cases, the local news consumer advocate is sent on the case, often returning with video footage of said advocate having a door slammed in his face or being side-swiped by a fleeing scam artist.  The point is, all this happens within days of discovering the crime.

A recent story in the New York Times discussed marriage and lawsuits—two things Americans hold sacred.  It's the familiar story: a man disappointed in the results of his wedding album is demanding retribution.  And retribution he should get!  After all, the photographer missed the last dance and the bouquet toss (things which, I'm sure, seem like the most important moments in the world but after a few years are revealed to be stupid). The groom is not only demanding the $4,100 cost of the photography, but an additional $48,000 to restage the final moments of the wedding and have the pictures retaken. Odd, but not completely unreasonable.

The wrinkle in this nuptial nightmare (yeah, I know) is that the wedding took place in 2003. The lawsuit was filed in 2009.  Why did this guy wait 6 years to sue?  Reading the article reveals that the groom had been unemployed since 2008 and the statute of limitations was about to expire.  Aha!  Motive!  The guy needs money!! So I'm thinking that there's no way the participants look the same as they did 6 years ago.

Actual Latvian women. Thanks, Google Images! 
But that's the least of the problem.  You see, the couple split up in 2008.  And the bride's whereabouts are unknown.  It's believed that she moved back home to Latvia but no one's sure.

Okay, let's recap.

  • A wedding album is missing some important pictures.
  • The groom wants to restage the wedding in order to capture those pictures.
  • The wedding occurred 8 years ago
  • The couple split up 3 years ago
  • The bride is somewhere in Eastern Europe
For once, a little justice may have prevailed. A judge has dismissed most of the grounds of this suit, except for breach of contract.  So for the moment, a ridiculous suit has been revealed for what it is—a desperate grab for money.

I was happy to read that this whole thing may end up going away.  From the facts presented in the article, this whole thing is a waste of the court's time.  I can't imagine the guy actually expects to restage the wedding.  I mean, who's he gonna get to play his wife?

A few months ago, or maybe it was a couple of years ago,  I was called for jury duty for the first time.  After the requisite sitting around and silently mocking the people around me, I was called to a courtroom and voir dired. I was asked about lawsuits.  Soon after my answer about how I think there are too many frivolous lawsuits for inordinate amounts of money, I was dismissed by the prosecuting attorney--the same one who was trying to get a chunk of money for his client involved in a minor fender bender.  G-d bless America! 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

No Thanks, I'll Stand, or, Welcome to My Psychosis

This morning was just like every other weekday morning, with the requisite trip to the parking lot and the slow walk to the bus platform. There was a bus idling there already but I wasn't about to run for it. Running would mean stopping when I boarded. Stopping when I boarded would mean perspiration dripping off my forehead and soaking into my shirt through the t-shirt underneath. Plus, I dread being "that guy" who makes the bus wait because of my efforts. I especially didn't want to end up on the platform just as the bus was pulling away, with the lucky commuters already on board snickering at my defeat.

Transit Center bus platform, any day.
Despite my casual pace, it was looking like I'd make the bus.  I got to the stairs and it was still there.  I got to the platform and it pulled away. Accepting my situation, I walked over to a bench to sit down next to a guy who also didn't make the bus.  But I didn't see him running. I don't know where he came from.  At that moment, she appeared.

I'd seen the woman many times before. Just one of those faces you recognize in a crowd.  There's nothing special or extraordinary about her. I just always recognized her face. I even noticed when she had her hair completely redone into a different style she still has today. Older than me, though I don't know how much older (because I totally suck at guessing ages). Now that I've returned to the Transit Center after a multi-month exile to the Willowbrook Park and Ride, I found it amusing that her face was one of the first I saw.

She appeared out of nowhere at the far end of the platform, right where the bus was pulling out. She boldly help up her hand in an effort to stop its progress. And it worked. I still didn't move any faster.  I mean, she help the bus for herself.  I didn't want to be the extra guy who holds things up even more.  I've been on the bus when it stops for a straggling commuter and then 3 or 4 other people get on. It's really annoying (though probably only to myself) and I wanted no part of it this morning. But the woman looked at me and waved me to the bus. She offered to share her efforts with me.

Well now I had to board.  And after I did, I turned back to look at the digital sign showing the passenger count.  I was number 59...on a bus that hold 57.  I turned around again and felt everyone's eyes on me. Yeah I'd have to stand.  But where?  In who's personal space would I be encroaching? And that woman...I have to stand all the way into NY because of that woman.

I wonder what she was thinking. She was standing farther towards the back of the bus but didn't make eye contact with me.  In fairness, I wasn't looking at her so it's impossible to know if the previous statement is true. So as I held on to the overhead-luggage-shelf-thingy and played game after game of solitaire, I couldn't stop thinking about the situation into which I had gotten myself. And I wondered what would have happened if the roles were reversed. What if I were the one holding the bus for the woman? Well those who know me know that I'd be completely submerged in guilt. I'd spend the whole trip wondering what she was thinking. How much was she hating me? When do I apologize to her? During the trip?  What if I fell down as I approached her?  What if I banged into other people? What if she ignored my apology and turned her back?  Then I'd have to walk back where I was.  And what if I fell down, get the idea.

It'd be just like me to mean well but to have the results be less than desirable. I'd slow down so someone could make a left in front of me and end up causing an accident.  I'd offer my seat to someone on the subway and then end up spilling coffee on her. And yes, I'd hold the bus for someone who needed to get to work only to find that there were no seats left.  And to make matters worse, I was losing at every game of solitaire I was playing.  I hated that woman. And now we're forever connected by this commute.  We'll make uncomfortable eye contact as if to say, "yeah, I remember you." She always seemed like such a nice woman, too.  Did she even care about what she caused, inadvertently or not?

Upon arrival at Port Authority, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the woman, profusely apologizing. She had no idea there were no seats and she certainly wouldn't have invited aboard if she knew.  I assured her that it was quite alright. But now I was faced with a new dilemma. We're standing in the aisle.  Do I turn my back on her?  Or do I keep facing her?  Then I'd have to keep talking to her.  But I have nothing to say.

All this and it's only 9:30.