Archive for topic “contemplations”

Why Occupy?

The failure of the mainstream media is particularly clear after viewing illustrative videos such as this. Though this clip showcases Occupy Portland, it makes the point for the entire #Occupy movement. For today’s “One Day On Earth” events, I’ll point you to this video. This is what democracy looks like.

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Amazon has a logic problem

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I just had a doozy of a customer service experience with I’ve written (and tweeted) about them a lot in the past, both good (here, there) and bad. Today’s experience, though resolved in my favor, would have to fall into the latter category.
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You see, Amazon has a “strict” no price matching policy for their own store. If you buy something today for $35 and tomorrow the price drops to $25, Amazon says, “Tough luck.” This is nuts.

Even the most dubious of brick and mortar stores (Best Buy, I’m looking at you) will price match their own store within a reasonable time frame. I think Best Buy will match within 30 days for most purchases. But Amazon, the otherwise wonderful beacon of customer service (seriously!), says nay.

Now, as I said, this ended up exactly where I wanted it to in the first place: I got my price match. But as you can see from the chat transcript (after the jump), the circuitous route I was forced to take was less than satisfying. Moreover, the policy is the problem here, not the situation. As you will see, Amazon’s policy would rather have 10+ pound packages sent three times across the country than do what they ended up doing here anyway (and what Best Buy would have done without batting an eye). This needs to change. Amazon needs to price match themselves.

One last bit of amusement for you before I let you jump into the transcript: It was Amazon’s own technology that alerted me to the price drop. If their system hadn’t told me that the item was cheaper, I would never have known. Why have such a notification if you don’t want people to use it? Riddle me that.

Continue reading the transcript: Read the rest of this entry »

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Legendary local teacher retires after 44 years

Guy Malone in 1974. Photo: Guy Malone

Image: Guy Malone/Kansas City Star

Guy Malone in 1974.

Guy Malone is everything you’d expect from a man named “Guy” who has taught for 44 years in a public high school. He is gruff, but affable, and at least in my day he always had a filing cabinet full of pretzels that he was (somewhat) willing to share.

All three of the Lafferty kids (and one cousin) had the pleasure of taking Photography I, Photography II and Photography Independent Study from “Malone”, as he is known to all who set foot in his classroom, during our years attending Shawnee Mission South. His classes were always some of my favorites and the skills I learned continue to serve me to this day, much more so than the calculus I was learning down the hall. In a world of point-and-shoot still photography and videography, the knowledge of f-stops, apertures and white balancing separates the artists from the point-and-shoot riffraff.

Just last week I had a serious Malone flashback. I was visiting Bret Gustafson, photographer extraordinaire at JCCC, at the all-digital JCCC photography studio. When I walked in the room, it smelled of fixer. Anyone that has actually partaken of the art of photography knows the smell. It stays on you for days after developing film. If you spend too much time with it, you grow incredibly sick of the scent. But it had been years since it singed my nostrils; it was the scent of my youth returning to me. I mentioned the aroma to Bret who was shocked, saying, “I don’t smell anything. We haven’t used fixer in years!”

Poor Bret has gone nose-deaf to the odor.

That is the power of fixer, the essence of the art of photography. Even years later, entire studios continue to reek of the stuff. But Guy Malone still requires his students to use fixer. As the great Kansas City Star profile of Malone points out,

The kids need to understand how film works and the process, the printing. You can take a kid and a $5 or $6 roll of film and a $15 package of paper and be very creative for three or four weeks in a darkroom. They need that background before they go to digital.Guy Malone
Photography teacher, Shawnee Mission South High School

I couldn’t agree more. The lessons I learned in that darkroom, about photography and life, are irreplaceable.

The Star also quotes Malone’s former student, Irina Yakhnis, who, as my good narrative luck would have it, is also my former student from my days teaching journalism at The University of Kansas.

He was very nice, but not the kind who would just give compliments for everything you did. [Once when she handed in a photograph, he looked at it and said], “Yakhnis — good.” Just that one word meant everything.Irina Yakhnis
Shawnee Mission South class of 2005

Guy Malone is retiring this semester after 44 years of teaching. Photo: Kansas City Star

Image: Kansas City Star

Guy Malone is retiring this semester after 44 years of teaching.

Just like Ms. Yakhnis, I still remember the occasions when Malone said “good” to me. I can only imagine how rewarding it must be to have generations of students who look back fondly on a single word that you said to them.

Do I fall back to the easy path that is point-and-shoot photography? Yes, I do. Are my darkroom skills a bit rusty? Absolutely. I haven’t had access to a darkroom in many years.

But in a dark corner of my brain lurks the knowledge of how to mix up a batch of fixer, how to burn and dodge and how to manipulate layers without the use of Photoshop. I have Guy Malone to thank for that wisdom. That says nothing of the teaching style that I inevitably gleaned from him as well. Without the influence of Guy Malone, I wouldn’t be the multimedia journalist or interactive media professor that I am today.

Thanks for everything, Malone!

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