Threadless has me addicted…

When Threadless had their $9/shirt post-T-day sale, I bought two. Then, after making some holiday purchases, seeing that they still had a fantastic sale on, I bought two more. I’m wearing a Threadless shirt *right now.* I can’t imagine needing more t-shirts, but they have me addicted.

I realized that all but one shirt has to do with water, and even that shirt has at least rain involved.

Here’s the ones I’ve bought so far:
Art Is My Weapon - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever
Lysergsäurediethylamid - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever
Loch Ness Imposter - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever
Star-cross'd Lovers - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Runner’s World Update

I received my reply from Runner’s World regarding my subscription issue.

Thank you for contacting Runner’s World Magazine customer service. We have removed your name from our Preferred Subscriber list. Your subscription will no longer be automatically renewed. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. If you wish to subscribe or renew in the future, you will need to contact us.

Well, that’s a relief. Never knew I was a Preferred Subscriber, nor did I know I would be “automatically renewed.” Now I know. It will apparently take awhile for them to unsub me from all their product listings, but they promise to do so.

It’s a nice magazine to read at the gym, and I like the website for basic info. I don’t need to read it monthly, though, and I’m just not too fond of being overcharged (when I can get it cheaper through Amazon) or being “automatically renewed.”

See previously: Peeve of the Day: Runner’s World

Peeve of the Day: Runner’s World

I subscribed to Runner’s World magazine last year, just a few months after I started a walk-jog program detailed in their Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running. I found both the Runner’s World site and magazine useful at the time, however, my interest waned and by the time they started sending me offers to renew, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Then came the endless emails from other Rodale properties in my in-box. Figuring they were an upstanding company, I dutifully clicked unsubscribe on the emails.

But the mails kept coming, and each time, less relevant to me than the last.

And imagine my surprise when I received the latest issue of Runner’s World, with my subscription continued to 2010…and then the bill stating:

Dear Laura ****,

We’re puzzled.

We renewed your subscription to RUNNER’S WORLD as requested.

We’ve sent 4 previous reminders.

But as of 09/02/09 our records show that we still have not recieved your payment of $21.94.

Well, Rodale – I’m puzzled, too! You see, I ignored your previous mails because I had no interest in renewing. Yet you sent me new issues anyway, and now a bill for Runner’s World for $9.94 more than if I bought it on Amazon. This, plus the unending spam in my in-box has made me wary to purchase any other Rodale products.

I’ve sent an email to their customer service, and am rather skeptical that I’ll hear back. One Step Ahead has yet to respond to my unsubscribe request, so who knows where this will lead.

“It’s like reality television, but for books!”

Going to the gym is indulging in irony. Any gym you go to there will be thumping music, television and magazines. Unless you’re lucky enough to remember to bring your book or your iPod, you’re in a situation where you can spend an hour or more staring at other people or at the equipment, or pass your gaze over cable TV or a magazine, or sometimes switching between the two. The content of both cable television and the magazines is guaranteed to be interspersed with commercials and content that might as well be a commercial, all driving you to a vague sense of unease that can only be cured by purchasing or indulging in the flashing images and the ads in the sidebar. I get hungry for specific and unhealthy pseudofood while at the gym, while images of Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Tyson frozen chicken nuggets tempt me.

Yesterday I picked my poison in the form of Real Simple magazine, which was nicely provided by my gym for my distraction. Flitting my gaze between Wolf Blitzer and faux simplification, I eventually found an article that seemed worth reading by A.J. Jacobs (author of The Year of Living Biblically. ) Of course, I didn’t realize he was also the author of The Year of Living Biblically, I only knew that he was the author of the upcoming book The Guinea Pig Diaries, whose title I discarded due to me not particularly caring until now.

The article was an abridged excerpt from his new book, focusing on the actual effort to simplify and organize life by unitasking. It turns out, in case you didn’t know, that any feelings of increased productivity by multitasking is a lie. We actually lose productivity when we try to multitask, and I would argue, lose some intimacy with our surroundings making multitasking at best a time sucker and at worst downright dangerous (eg. talking on a cellphone + doing anything else.) The excerpt read like an article in the Shambala Sun: unitasking as a conscious effort of mindfulness and full experience of a singular action. There were elements in the excerpt that included contemplations on patience and the hard work that is bringing your mind back from distraction. All good lessons, and a great reminder to me, as a chronic multitasker, that I should take this lesson to heart.

I found myself a little disappointed, though, when I found out just who the author of this piece was. This is based solely on the fact that A.J. Jacobs is a writer who basically logs a portion of his life, then packages it into a book. It’s what happens when you turn a blog into a book. It’s reality television, with the pretense of being unscripted, but packaged into a book giving a more virtuous veneer to a genre that I’m not sure deserves attention. I’m not saying that A.J. Jacobs is a bad writer – in fact, I enjoyed reading the excerpt and think that he made some valid points, however, this is just one book in a string of books where he sets off on a quest for the purpose of his own self-discovery and then writes about it.

Maybe I’m jealous. I’m a blogger (though, if not for Google Analytics, I would not believe anyone read this thing), and I’d love to be published some day – but not for the content of my blog. I do have to wonder, though – what makes these bloggers-turned-published authors more deserving of royalties than the next guy? A.J. Jacob’s schtick seems to be putting himself in awkward situations and writing about it. Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia, turned her blog into a best selling book, and now a well-received Hollywood film starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Why shouldn’t any person’s mundane life be profitable?

I aspire to high art. I can only believe that my art background before college, and the two years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago infected me with this idea that there is good art, and there is bad art (or non-art, if it’s really bad), and I know the difference. Maybe we, as a culture, have reached a state of media saturation, of too many choices, leading us to consume junk food for our brains as well as our bodies. It’s not that junk food is bad necessarily, it’s just in the quantities that we’re consuming it.

You know, necessitating us to buy our gym memberships to balance the chicken nuggets and fries we had for lunch.

Where I am outed as negative, with difficulty trusting people

Just to follow-up on my post yesterday about a budding comment-spammer, I thought I’d share with you what happened.

I received an email back – however, Traci, the alleged originator of this product – asserted that she HAD been getting my blog (though she cut-and-pasted a Google news alert for “maternity products” of which, you’ll find, I’ve only written ONE blog entry) and that her intentions were not to mass market, but rather, be helpful. I could cut and paste all that, but I’m lazy and will spare you. To say the least, this made me rather sad and concerned about her and her company’s future on TEH INTARWEBS. For while her intentions were good (according to her) I saw other similarities – here’s part of what I wrote back to her:

I cannot fault you, as a business woman, for wanting to increase your business and the awareness of others to your product. However, the method you have chosen is one used by many spammers to sell pornography, pharmaceuticals, face creams and more – and I assure you all of these spammers have tried to use comments in my blog (often times, completely non-sensical or nrelated) to sell their product…

You have put yourself in the same ranks as people who run very shady businesses. As that you responded to me personally, I can only hope that you are NOT one of those people, but rather someone else that is just trying to get a start on Internet commerce. My unsolicited advice to you is to choose another avenue. There are many options, like banner ads on sites relevant to your product, partnering with other maternity Internet retailers, or Google ads – which is quite popular with many people getting started out.

I guess my first mistake was trying to be “helpful.” In her initial responses, she created a portrait of a small business woman, just setting out in a horrible economy (embellishment mine), with a product she needed to advertise, and not a lot of great ideas on how to get this product to a wider audience. Instead of coming off as an evil spammer, she came off as naive – so I took a chance that maybe I could share some of my Patented AdviceTM to be helpful.

I pout pitifully now, as I share with you her response.

I will tell you again that you are incorrect in your assessment, but believe as you will. You must have much more time on your hands to write than I. I do not need to explain how I was recieving your blog…you just want to see it your way…so be it. I hope your life fills with positive energy , you need it.

I’m incorrect, but you won’t tell me HOW. Oh, wait, you don’t need to explain it to me. Nevermind. Uh oh, is she saying that I’m filled with negative energy? Hm. Maybe I should get an exorcism. (Uh oh, no really, this DOES sound negative. I’m being sarcastic! OMG OMG OMG!) Ok, I’ll stop that.

All I can do at this point, as to not continue this discussion that seems to be one sided…is to hope that you find an outlet for you advice and negativity. I truly am sorry that I bothered you…and wish I hadn’t brought on all this negativity into my own life. You apparently must have difficulty trusting or believing in others. I know my intentions were good….that is all that matters.

Well, Traci of BellyPod, they say that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Even worse, I believe this is especially true for people who not just suspect, but KNOW that their intentions were good. Unfortunately (not to get too philisophical), even the concepts of good and bad are highly subjective. To reiterate, while I don’t fault a small business owner trying to get ahead in business, I do think that there are better ways than others to do that. I offered those suggestions to you – maybe so you wouldn’t make the same mistake of bothering another person who has “difficulty trusting” all the promises made on the Internet and uses their personal blog to dispense “advice.” As for the negativity – just as you see your intentions as good, I see my intentions as being at least helpful (though I wouldn’t say good.)

My simple point is this – to any legitimate business person on the Internet – don’t use the same method to sell your product as spammers who are trying to sell Viagra without a prescription. Unless you want your product to be thought of, and bought by, that same market, there are better ways to do it. Heck, I’m sure that even Amazon has some options for small businesses and their products. There are options, and I’m sorry if that seems negative – but you know, I have only good intentions.