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A Twilight Obsession

Lauren, the “younger teen”

2 days, 10 hours, 26 minutes, and 34 seconds until the day we’ve all been waiting for for…. or at least all the teenage girls crazed for Twilight… the premiere of the Twilight movie. The movie based on the first book in the Twilight saga opens on Friday. Most of the girls at my school are talking about it, at dance its pretty much all we talk about, the girls at dance say the girls at their schools can’t stop talking about it, and my one dance teacher, who’s in college, is just as excited as the 13 & 14-year-old girls. So I think it’s fair to say that just about every middle and high school girl is talking about it. One of my friends is even going to the midnight showing (which I am dying to go to, but my mom won’t let me) and going to school that morning. In the car to dance we exchange fun Twilight saying such as some (oh my Edward) and OCD (obsessive Cullen disorder), and there’s a ton more.

I’m guessing the obsession doesn’t stop in New Jersey since the 4 books are the top 4 young adult books in the country. So, Rach did you read them & are you obsessed, “Dad” are you daughters excited, too?

Brad, the “dad”

“Your daughters,” my mother-in-law once told me, “are built contrariwise.” I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I think they go against the grain because they are strong, courageous and of an independent mind by their very nature. Other times I think they do it just to mess with me. I’m leaning towards the latter when it comes to Twilight. The Valkyrie read the first and didn’t much care for it – “too emo,” she said, “too whiney.” But that didn’t keep her from buying the next two books anyway. I’m not sure the Elf, at fourteen, got more than fifty pages into the first book before she made a disgusted (and slightly disgusting) sound and tossed it into the “ready for book sale” pile. Now, with all the fuss about the movie being made in the media, she openly snarls every time we pass a Twilight billboard. This makes for a great deal of snarling.

In one way, I’m rather relieved. The Elf had a minor flirtation with the whole “goth” thing a year or so ago, and it’s good to see she quickly grew bored with the notion, though she continues to suck up Lia Block and Rob Thurman urban fantasies with disturbing regularity. Lily, in college, now pretends to be a bit ‘above it all,’ but I know she’ll be second in line when the new Harry Potter hits early next summer. So resistant? Perhaps. Immune? Not so much.

Me? I’ll probably skip it until NetFlix. But it’s good to see that they don’t automatically get swept up in every “gotta have it” marketing wave that comes by. On the other hand, when the newest video game drops, SOMEbody in this house is going to be pleading with me until I crack like an egg. So maybe I should think of it not so much as a victory over mass marketing as merely a postponement.

Meanwhile, Rach – let me know how it is!

Rach, the “older teen”

I worked as a camp counselor this summer. The kids I had to deal with were a bunch of 13 and 14-year-old girls. And they worshiped it. I had never even heard of the books until the girls coerced me into reading the first one. I read two pages and realized that it’s more suited to younger teens. Or girls who are more, uh, influenced by sappy romance novels. So, no, I have not read them (besides the first two pages). And no, I will not be seeing the movie.

Book wise, the last Harry Potter ended my childhood reading tastes. I read all the books, I’ve seen the movies. On my 11th birthday, I waited for my letter. And now, I wait for the last two movies (or three, if they split the seventh one). I know that when the last one comes out, it will be a very bittersweet day. It will mark the end of a long and awesome series.

If I was still 13 and going through my goth stage once again (you couldn’t pay me to do that again), I can imagine myself pouring over the Twilight books. So, I have nothing against the books. In fact, I like when teens read, it takes them away from the television for while.

Mary, the “mom”

Wow! I guess I am a really immature 40-something. My daughter told me I might be interested in reading these books. I wasn’t all that excited about it but I figured “anything to improve communication”. And, somewhat to my surprise, I really enjoyed them. I had the same approach with Harry Potter way back when. These books may be in the Young Adult section, but I think they’re well written and very engaging. And, I’m not alone. Many of the moms I know are reading and enjoying these books right along with their daughters. I’ve also seen moms featured in the news sporting t-shirts and other symbols of their obsession with it. I’m definitely not going there. But, I do enjoy the books.

I think it’s great that these young teens are obsessed with books instead of some pop star, although I guess the obsession is with the characters and is being transferred to the actors,, hey, at least they’re reading!

And, by the way, none of the girls I know who are obsessed with this series are the least bit “goth”. I think it really has a much broader appeal, but maybe I’m just a sappy romantic.

Why do parents and teachers judge technology harshly?

The kids are immersed. They are learning skills which will be of huge value to them in the 21st century and they seem to be starting from an intuitive base. They seem to just get it. They are working collaboratively, navigating their way through the tasks set for them, making their own choices, with minimum supervision. What’s more, they search out more, finding new ways to be creative, to socialize, and multitasking all the way.

And it’s wrong and we should stop them from doing it.

Because its digital.

We’re in the process of the digital disruption of our world where we put value judgments on technologies – books are generally good, digital is generally bad. Physical creativity good, digital creativity less so.

It’s an oversimplification (it’s what I do), but in education, there’s a suspicion that digital is a distraction from core learning skills, not an addition to them. We associate digital with gaming, not with learning – and children react to games with more enthusiasm than they do to homework. But just as sport teaches teamwork, so online gaming teaches collaboration. Just as reading books encourages children to understand the world, so games can allow children to create their own world. Neither option is universally good or bad.

The difficulty comes with the associated value judgments, handed down from parents and teachers and ascribed to the hardware of delivery. If its paper, its good. If its a tablet or a mobile, it’s bad.

But it’s not about the tools, it’s about what they learn from them.

Tired of Telemarketers? Do Something About It

Are you tired of receiving those annoying sales calls that seem to interrupt you every evening? Do you continually ask the question to the open air “I thought this was illegal now, why am I getting these calls?” We all hate getting the annoying calls, but before you curse and yank the phone from the way, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Did you recently agree to be contacted about something?
  • Did you sign up for a drawing of any kind, whether online or through a drop box at a shopping center or movie theater?
  • Have you purchased something online in recent weeks or months? If you answered yes, did you read the privacy policy to be sure they did not include verbiage notifying you that your information may be shared with other “trusted partners.”

The list can continue, but hopefully, you get the idea. Since the “Do Not Call” laws and lists were established a few years back, many people naively figured this would put all telemarketing out of business and all calls would cease. There were exclusions written into this law that allowed for calls to be made under certain circumstances.

Exemptions

First, political and non-profit organizations along with survey groups were all exempt. Personally, I find these some of the most annoying of the bunch, but there you have it; they can call you. Second, if you have conducted business with a group in which you provided your phone number, they have a designated period of time in which they can legally contact you, even for advertising purposes. Third, and this is the kicker, if you have in the course of your transaction provided consent to be contacted by an organization or to share your information with other companies to be contacted then they may do so. This is where you often get caught.

Online transactions are the most notorious for including consent, either by checking a box or by a statement saying you agree to the terms and conditions of this offer/site by completing this transaction. This is a legally binding contract, so if you want to avoid further contact, read carefully before completing that transaction. This is part of how they stay in business, continuing to offer you additional products and services. Realize if you consent to be called, getting a call is not inherently an evil act on the company’s part; they are simply acting in the hopes that you really are interested in their services as you indicated by your previous actions.

What You Can Do About It

If you are receiving calls and simply tired of it, whether it is your “fault” or not, there are steps you can take to get rid of those calls. It may take a little time and effort for a few months, but it will work. I have done it and seen the results.

First, get on the federally managed Do Not Call List (donotcall.gov). This is a simple step you complete online, with a valid email address required to validate you are not simply entering a bunch of phone numbers. There is a phone number to call to get on the list as well, but if you are reading this you obviously have the capacity to be online. If you haven’t done this step yet, then you simply are not serious about stopping the calls. Once you are on the list you do have to allow one month (31 days) for call centers to receive the updated list and then most calls should cease.

Now, and this really shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but not all call centers operate within the laws. I can hear the virtual guffaws already! Those that are sloppy about sticking to the mandated do not call laws to give the rest of the business a bad name, but it catches up to them only if some people are willing to make some noise about it. Then again, refer back to the list above and realize that if annoying calls are a result of your actions, making noise will get you nowhere.

Use an Anti-Telemarketing Script

The folks over at JunkBusters.com have published what is really an effective script if you are willing to take the few moments it takes to run through it. While you frustrated with getting a call it may be difficult to remember to calmly ask these questions, so I recommend you print out a copy to have available by your phone(s).

Every time you get a call you consider junk, just ask the questions in this script. If they answer no, you may be able to sue them. Be sure to put your phone number on the National Do-Not-Call registry by visiting http://donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

  1. “Are you calling to sell something?” (or “is this a telemarketing call?”)
  2. “Could you tell me your full name please?”
  3. “And a phone number, area code first?”
  4. “What’s the name of the organization you’re calling for?”
  5. “Does that organization keep a list of numbers it’s been asked not to call?”
  6. “I would like my number(s) put on that list. Can you take care of that now?”
  7. “And does the company you work for also make telemarketing calls for any other organizations?” (If they answer no, skip the next question.)
  8. (If yes) “Can you make sure your company won’t call me for any other organization?”

Visit their site for the full version of the script that includes some follow-up questions and comments as well. Though what I have described here should not be considered legal advice, and the same is mentioned at Junk Busters, but they even point out some of their “money questions” that if answered incorrectly and documented can give you grounds to take them to small claims court to be compensated for their illegal actions.

Just Doing Something Makes a Difference

I have found that by simply entering on the do not call list was the most effective action for the bulk of the calls. We still get the occasional outfit that will call us and I am fairly good at remembering to ask to be placed on their do not call list, which most companies will honor. I’ll typically give a company the benefit of the doubt and leave it at that. When I get repeated calls from an outfit, though, I step it up a notch with some of the ideas above.

Really, this is all it takes to get most telemarketing out of your life. I still get the political pollers and occasional survey and non-profit calls, but even those, for the most part, are limited due to my actions above. I am guessing hoping I have made my way to some blacklist that indicates calling my home just isn’t worth the time.

Poorly Manufactured Diapers

First, let me tell you the brief story. My wife and I have a 6-month-old son and we have Defective Draper been using Pampers Swaddlers diapers since he was a newborn. We absolutely love them! They don’t leak, they stretch when he moves, and they fit him like a glove.

The last month or so, we have found that one out of every 20 or so diapers have a serious flaw where the left tab snaps off as you are trying to attach it. And if anyone has ever had a little boy, I’m sure you know the dangers of leaving things, let’s say… uncovered.

Now that I have your full attention, YES this happens almost every time a diaper tab breaks. Well today, I finally had enough. After several tab snaps from several different bags (and lots I’m sure), I went to the Pampers site and sounded off by means of an email containing pics and demanding some answers!

Here is the actual email I sent:

———–Begin Email ———–

Hello,

My name is Peter. My wife and I have been using “Swaddlers” since our son was born… he is currently almost 6 months old.

We love the Swaddlers however, it seems every 20th or so diaper, the tab breaks off on the left side. I have pictures uploaded so you can view this.

http://www.camdensplace.com/images/swaddlers1.jpg
http://www.camdensplace.com/images/swaddlers2.jpg

Here is the number on the side of the current bag we are using:

7048U011 38 19:18

At first, I elected to ignore the problem, thinking no one is perfect and a bad bag here and there is no big deal. However, after dealing with this now for close to a month I am quite annoyed.

We have now purchased a different brand (white cloud) to give them a try, and so far we are not as impressed as we were with the Swaddlers.

Please help to correct this most annoying issue so current and future Swaddlers users can use your product hassle free.

Sincerely,

(contact info)

——–End Email———-

Call it an experiment, call it a moment of exaggerated outrage… either way, I’m hoping to receive a reply! I will keep everyone informed if I do happen to get a reply 🙂

— UPDATE —

I just received this reply…

—————————————————————
Response (RightNow Administrator) – 03/21/2007 06:26 PM
Thank you for sharing your disappointment with our product. Our goal is to produce high-quality products that consistently delight our consumers and I’m sorry this wasn’t your experience. Please be assured I’m sharing your comments with the rest of our team.

Since your satisfaction means a great deal to us, I’m following up with you by postal mail. You should receive my letter within the next 2-3 weeks.

Thanks again for writing.

P&G Team

————————————

I will let you know when I receive the response 🙂

Peter

Time to Complain About CNN Coverage of Romney Again

Unless you are completely avoiding news coverage of politics lately, for which I can’t completely blame you, you are aware of Gov. Mitt Romney’s speech last night. The coverage is front page material and having comparisons drawn to the famous speech given by John Kennedy years ago under similar circumstances.

As I checked out the various news sites for their coverage of the speech, as is typical I was disappointed in the bias shown by the placement and content included excerpt leading to the article.

CNN

The first thing that bothers me is the headline of the “related” article directly beneath the front page feature. This related article spot is not always present, but often. Look at the content, “Equality talk often lip service.” If you read the article, overall it is an interesting dialog on some issues at hand in our society, but including this summary headline with the negative slant directly beneath the Romney coverage creates a slant by association. In no way be fooled into thinking this is not an intentional, calculated placement.

Second, though I find the title of the article creative and applicable, there is one statement that bothers me. The summary “…explained how his faith would affect his presidency…” is again misleading; the point of the speech was to say his religion would not influence his presidency. Of course, he did cover the essence of what value his having a strong religious belief contributes to his morals, ethics and a backbone that should be considered an asset to a presidential candidate, but the theme was to instead point out that religious affiliation should not be a consideration or criteria when considering a candidate.

CNN

It is subtle and often not-so-subtle things like this that irritate me in all news coverage. Being a major news organization, I always hope to see bias relegated to the opinion section, but in truth, it is nearly impossible not to include your own viewpoint when writing. I wish when it came to politics we could see the straight story rather than being fed what we should take out of the facts.