The Republic of Tea

Republic of Tea Book The Republic of Tea is a funny company. In their book The Republic of Tea, which details in letters the founding of the company, the company’s founders establish the conceit of the company’s organization — Minister of Leaves, Minister of Information, Minister of Health and so on — from which they do not appear to have departed since. You have to give them credit for committment if not for goofiness.

That said, they do sell damn good tea. As I write this, I am sipping a cup of their Earl Greyer Decaf which is about the best Earl Grey from a bag I’ve ever found.

You used to be able to buy their unique canisters of tea at the Second Cup in Charlottetown before the local franchisee opted out of the chain and became the oddly named Crema Coffee. Now the closest you can come, I think, is the Barnes & Noble in Augusta, ME or possibly the Borders in Bangor. Or you can request a catalogue and order by mail. You will be happy you did.

Clifford the Big Red Corporation

Clifford the Big Red Dog Scholastic, says the company’s website “is a $2 billion multimedia company with 10,000 employees operating globally in education, entertainment and publishing businesses marketing to children, parents and teachers.”

When I was in elementary school there was some sort of program whereby we students could acquire various Scholastic books through the school (the website calls this the “company’s unique school and community-based distribution channels”). I guess I’d always assumed that Scholastic was some sort of benevolent society, like The Gideons; I never imagined it had more in common with Random House than the United Way.

I know all this now because wee Oliver and I have become fans of Clifford the Big Red Dog, which airs every day on PBS. That I can abide watching this show every day amazes me. Not because of the show itself, which is actually quite interesting. But because Clifford is voiced by John Ritter for whom I have latent ill feelings after watching endless episodes of Three’s Company. To say nothing of his day-glo condom antics in the 1989 movie Skin Deep. Oliver, of course, has no such hang-ups.

Which brings me to the issues of SRA Tests. Does anybody else remember these? These tests first appeared in grade 7 or 8, I think, and were a series of brightly-coloured cards that came in a special box. In my faded memory each card contained some sort of MENSA-like brain test. SRA stood for Science Research Associates and, again, I always assumed this was some sort of educational organization attached to the CIA or the Pentagon. It turns out that SRA is “is a division of McGraw-Hill Education, the largest pre-K through 12 educational publisher in the nation, and a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.”

I was only partially wrong: SRA used to be owned by IBM and their instructional model, the “Distar System” was “the only instructional model that the federal government tested in a $500-million, nine-year project that produced significant overall gains in basic skills, cognitive areas and self-concept.” I think the SRA products I remember are still around as Performance Based Assessment Tasks.

The next thing you know I’m going to discover that Nestle, who sponsored the large wall maps in the classrooms of my youth, is a profit-making corporation.

Worldwide Assumption Proposal

Here’s what appears on the botton of the CBC Charlottetown home page:

Now I realize that nobody at CBC Charlottetown came up with that (or at least I hope not!); presumably it is the crack CBC legal team that requires such a disclaimer.

What I am wondering is: couldn’t all come to some general consensus that we’re all not responsible for the contents of the sites we link to. I mean, doesn’t this just make common sense? Who would assume that if the CBC links to that the CBC has come out in favour of evil?

And, while we’re at it, can we also come to an agreement that if coats and other personal belongings hung on a restaurant coat rack are stolen, it’s not the restaurant’s fault?

And that you can’t park in somebody’s driveway unless they have a sign that says “it’s okay to park here?”

We might put some sign painters out of work, but we would relieve the world of a lot of visual pollution.

Christmas Shutdown

The worldwide operations of Reinvented will be closed from 5:00 p.m. AST on December 24, 2001 until December 27, 2001 at Noon. You’ll be unable to reach us by email or fax during this time. In case of emergency, give us a call at (902) 892-2556. The computer is getting shut down as soon as I click Submit on this item. I promise. Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

Green Power at Last!

At long last, Maritime Electric has announced the details of their Green Power Program, and they’ve sent application forms out with the December bills.

They’ve choosen a rather confusing method of running this program: you must purchase green power in a regular monthly purchase of one or more 50 kWh blocks for $1.75 per block.

In other words, there’s no way to just say “I want all the power I use this month to be green power” and to be billed appropriately. I imagine this is due to some sort of data processing challenge on their end. I wish they’d put more effort into this.

But, nonetheless, you can now buy wind power for your home or business, and that is a wonderful thing indeed. Yes the power is “virtual” in the sense that wind-power electrons probably won’t make it your way unless you live in the North Cape, Tignish or Alberton area. But this is a concrete way of saying, with your pocketbook, “I support wind energy.”

We’re signing up today, buying five 50 kWh blocks a month for a total of $8.75 plus GST. Based on our monthly usage, this will cover about 33% of our energy usage.

I’d like to challenge anyone in “my industry” — designers, consultants, web hosts, ISPs, and so on — to do likewise. If we work together, we’ll be able to stake a valid claim on being a “wind powered industry” here in the Island. You can read more, and download a copy of the application form, from our Wind Power Page.

Merry Christmas to Steve

My brother (and one of wee Oliver’s skilled team of uncles) Steve finds himself in Saskatoon this Christmas, the only one of our ever-growing family not somehow temporarily tethered to others for the holidays.

And so from our small cabal here in Charlottetown, a special Christmas greeting to Steve and his fellow Saskatooners.

You can hear Steve host Radio 101, a “two hour salute to Reginald Fessenden, the true father of radio” on CBC Radio One on Boxing Day at Noon, across the country and around the the world via Internet.