St. Lawrence: County, School, River, Saint

St. Lawrence County makes up the upper northwest corner of New York State. It is the largest county in New York.

St. Lawrence County is bordered on the west and north by the St. Lawrence Seaway and is home to St. Lawrence University, in the county seat of Canton, and St. Lawrence Central High School, in Brasher Falls. Across the border, in Cornwall, Ontario, you will find St. Lawrence Secondary School.

St. Lawrence County was named for the St. Lawrence River—”discovered” by Jacque Cartier, a French explorer—and on the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence of Rome—August 10—he named a small bay after the saint and cartographers applied it to the River of Hochelaga (Montréal).

Why was Lawrence So Popular?

So, who was St. Lawrence and why was he so popular to have all these places named after him?

Lawrence was a deacon in Rome, under Pope Sixtus II, in 258 AD. Lawrence was in charge of taking care of the needy and poor. The Roman Empire was ruled by Emperor Valerian, a pagan, from 253 to 260 AD. Valerian was the first emperor to be taken prisoner by the Persians and would die in captivity around 264 AD.

Valerian persecuted the Christians and required the clergy to worship the pagan Roman gods. On August 7, while Sixtus was preaching, Roman soldiers broke in to his chapel and took Sixtus to his death. He was beheaded on August 7, 258. As Sixtus was led to his execution, Lawrence wept and exclaimed, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” Sixtus replied that he was not leaving Lawrence behind, as he would follow in three days.

Sixtus was correct.

St. Lawrence Gets Grilled

St. Lawrence of Rome, with his gridiron, upon which he was executed, on August 10, 258 AD.Lawrence was ordered to bring the treasures of the Church to the Roman authorities. He, instead, gathered all the poor in the city and brought them and explained that they were “the treasures of the church.”

Of course, this was not a satisfactory response and Lawrence was sentenced to death by being strapped to an iron grill, or “gridiron,” and slowly roasted to death.

Lawrence, it is said, told the authorities that he was “done on this side” and requested that he be flipped over to continue his roasting on the other side. “It is cooked enough,” he replied as death took him. St. Lawrence, one of the more popular saints, is the patron saint of the poor (of course) and of cooks (ironic).

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Happy 0100 of 0111

July 4, 2017 is America’s 241st birthday.

So, to keep things modern, I will be celebrating with binary and hexadecimal.

Happy 0100 of 0111, 00110010 00110000 00110001 00110111 !

Hexadecimal USA FlagThe Red, White and Blue

And, here we have Captain James T. Kirk reading the Declaration of Independence to We The People. (Note: both of these guys are Canadian.)

Star Trek. Captain Kirk reads the Declaration of Independence to We The People

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The Future of Printing

Rush-In to New New York’s Information Access Center

It’s 2027, and Quick Printing is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What’s the typical printshop doing?

Note: I was the art director, production manager, editor, writer, coffee-maker for Coast Publishing for more than ten years. We produced several magazines, but Quick Printing was the flagship title. I wrote this article early in my career, in 1987, and predicted what would become of the quick printing industry 50 years hence — in 2027. How much did I get right? Well, not a whole lot really. But, shortly after the publication printed, we received a letter from Kinko’s founder, Ray Orfalea, who requested several copies for his staff. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Orfalea via video-conferencing in 1995. The future was fun back then!

Opening Page of Article in Quick Printing Magazine, October 1987

My father opened Rush In Printing in 1987. At that time it was called “quick printing,” Adam de la Monde says, “I started working in the shop wen I was 10 years old — back in ’97. I’ve been with it for 30 years now. “Rush-In Printing is an Information Access Center success story, a company that has changed with the times since its founding in 1987.

Rush-In opened its first shop in Lakewood, Colorado, a fast-growing Denver suburb. Oscar de la Monde, a 30-year-old pressman from Denver, owned the shop, and his wife just gave birth to their son, Adam. Tired of working in downtown Denver, fighting the traffic, and inhaling the infamous “brown cloud,” Oscar borrowed $25,000 to get through the first year in business and moved west, to Lakewood.

As a typical “yuppie” (in the jargon of those times), Oscar fulfilled his dreams of owning his own business. Lakewood, with a population of 112,000, proved fertile ground for the new enterprise. Rush-In Printing operated out of a storefront in the Villa Italia Center, a popular Lakewood mall. Customers waiting for orders browsed the mall until their job was finished. In short, Rush-In operated as a typical copy center in those days.

Memory management

In the front was a Xerox 9400, a self-sever copier (with an “out-of-order” sign on it), a coffee pot, and smiling receptionist — Oscar’s wife, Cora In the back, were the mainstays of the old-fashioned printshop — an A.B.Dick 360, an Itek platemaker, a VGC Pos One Daylight Camera, an Apple Macintosh, and an assortment of bindery equipment. Always on the front counter was a copy of Quick Printing magazine, then only a monthly.

Adam began working in his father’s shop early. By working in every possible facet of the business, he became a talented craftsman and an astute businessman. Information creation and retrieval became Adam’s specialties. Working with computers all his life, he became quite knowledgeable in the field of word processing and “memory management.” This knowledge was valuable to his father, who didn’t have the luxury of working with computers until he was an adult.

In 2010, Oscar de la Monde retired and Adam took over the business, at 23. “Although I was only 23, working in the shop all my life had given me the experience of a 50-year-old,” Adam says. “and, always, my father owned a copyshop, so I have toner in my blood.”

When relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union improved, and each country established a reciprocal city in each other’s country, de la Monde saw a potential market. He wasn’t interested in Gorbacheville, because who in their right mind would want to live outside of Trenton, New Jersey? However, New New York, located on the outskirts of Moscow, intrigued him. When President Amy Carter invited business to set up in New New York in 2012, de la Monde opened his Rush-In Information Access Center in a freshly painted dacha on Baryishnikov Prospekt.

Service economy

Isaw this as a way of tapping the foreign market,” says de la Monde, “especially the Russians, who, as you know, are still a ways behind the times in information access.” He adds that Rush-In has “installed a Weidner translation program to convert from English to Cyrillic. I still operate the shop in Colorado, and have to translate a lot of this stuff.”

de la Monde’s New New York shop specializes in service, as you might expect from a United States businessman. “The economy in the U.S. is based on service,” Adam says, “we provide better service than any other nation in the world. The manufacturing giants of the Third World require a lot of printing and information access to drive their economies, and we’re there to meet that need. The best thing is our location, in an environment closely associated with the Third World — New New York.

One problem that has endured since his father’s days in the shop is finding quality workers at an affordable price. “I can’t afford the pay scale back home,” de la Monde says, “I can only afford to pay my Colorado manager about a quarter-million a year.” It’s not that there aren’t enough workers available, but a lot of American workers have moved to the Third World countries. “I have only one human working in the Colorado center now,” de la Monde says, “I fill in with a few robots, and occasionally some temp robots. I’ve got my average sales per employee up to $792,812.”

That’s not bad for an average information access center like Rush-In IAC. The shop pulls in about $8.7 million a year, and de la Monde takes roughly $440,000 of that back to his apartment each year.

To service the Russian and Third World clientele, de la Monde operates an ECRM Autokon color scanning system and several Xerox color laser printers in the New New York center. He owns a satellite on which he relays work between Colorado and New New York. He also rents air time to certain clients.

Door to door

De la Monde uses regular embassy transport service to deliver his work to his Third World accounts. “I jump on a Concorde once a month to visit clients in Africa and Asia. While I’m there I do a little selling. Would you believe I actually go door-to-door? Some things will never change.

Of course, Rush-In’s market in Colorado is a bit different than that in Russia. The quick printshop Adam’s father opened in the late 20th century has evolved into a personalized information creation/retrieval service. Most of Rush-In’s customers use their own word processors and laser printers to produce the kind of jobs quick printers did 50 years ago, although de la Monde says he still has a demand for the the high quality of an A.B.Dick 360.

“People come to use when they want the look and feel of real paper,” de la Monde says. “Otherwise, they have to use synthetics like Kimdura, or pay the high price of real paper.” Rush-In is fortunate to have an EPA license to supply paper and paper-related products.

“Back in the ’90s, when they relaxed the pollution control laws, my dad thought about getting out of the business, “de la Monde says. “He told me he’d read in Quick Printing that the pollution would destroy the ozone layer and ten the forests would be stripped,” Fortunately, for Rush-In, when the EPA started rationing paper and licensing paper-related products retailers, Oscar de la Monde was an early applicant for al license. “I don’t think information access centers can survive without some type of licensing deal — either holding their own or leasing one from a supplier,” says de la Monde.

One of the most profitable niches Rush-In has found is one most IACs enjoy — book publishing. Rush-In has gone from doing shorter-runs of 10,000 or so early in the century to producing a single copy for customers.

“Back in the 1980s, the Libraries of MIT began scanning, encoding, and storing books on disk,” de la Monde remembers, “The Ohio College Library Center catalogued and offered books on disk to 600 subscribers in 1982. IBM’s Vice President and Chief Scientist said then that all the books in the Library of Congress would fit into 20 IBM 3850s.

“Now, almost every book is available through the Library of Congress. Customers come into the Lakewood shop, as though they were coming into a library. Apparently, they prefer books printed on real paper, as opposed to what they’re using in their at-home laser printers. They tell us what book they want, and the Library of Congress communicates the information via my own satellite, and the book gets printed on our Xerox 9700,” de la Monde says. “The royalties are protected by the Adonis Project, the American Association of Publishers established in the 1980s.”

Really rolling

Rush-In offers other products as well. Increasingly popular is toilet paper printing. Advertising specialties have turned the paper shortage into an opportunity, and personalize toilet paper has become a popular item for the Lakewood store. Rush-In has its own TP laser printer. “This is one item that is really rolling, although it did take people a few years to get used to the idea,” says de la Monde. “It’s a way of keeping your message out there, and one on a one-to-one basis, too. I have a few of my own rolls installed at Mile High Stadium during some Broncos games,” de la Monde explains.

No IAC would be complete without offering some kind of hologram printing service. National Geographic really brought holograms to the nation’s attention when it became the first magazine to feature a hologram on its cover in 1985. Others followed, including Quick Printing’s sister publication, Publishing Trade, in 1986.

“It’s sort of like thermography was in the 90s,” Adam says, “Radio stations like to order holographic bumper stickers with UPCs encoded in them, so they can track their listeners and contest winners from either helicopters or satellites. Holographic business cares are very popular, especially the ones that change scenes as look at different angles. We’re going to be offering “Scratch-And-Listen” holograms soon, too.”

de la Monde is a firm believer in associations, and belongs to the International Association of Electronic Quick Printers and Information Access Centers, which is holding its 51st convention and Information Access Expo 2027 at the McCormick Place Space Station in August. “I understand Multigraphics is featuring frictionless offset presses at McCormick,” de la Monde says.

“I read in Quick Printing,” he adds, noting that he is an avid reader, “It arrives every Monday, and I read it cover to cover.” Of course, he prefers the version that’s printed on real paper. QP’s Art Director, Douglas J. Macharyas, son of Art Director Emeritus, Jeff Macharyas, says that the full holographic version of QP will be available in 2028.

Back in the 20th century, Jeff Macharyas was Art Director of Quick Printing magazine.

Kinko’s Article Reprint Request


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The Future of Printing

Rush-In to New New York’s Information Access Center

It’s 2027, and Quick Printing is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What’s the typical printshop doing?

Note: I was the art director, production manager, editor, writer, coffee-maker for Coast Publishing for more than ten years. We produced several magazines, but  Quick Printing was the flagship title. I wrote this article early in my career, in 1987, and predicted what would become of the quick printing industry 50 years hence—in 2027. How much did I get right? Well, not a whole lot really. But, shortly after the publication printed, we received a letter from Kinko’s founder, Ray Orfalea, who requested several copies for his staff. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Orfalea via video-conferencing in 1995. The future was fun back then!

(Quick Printing magazine, August 1987)

My father opened Rush-In Printing in 1987. At that time it was called “quick printing,” Adam de la Monde says, “I started working in the shop wen I was 10 years old—back in ’97. I’ve been with it for 30 years now. “Rush-In Printing is an Information Access Center success story, a company that has changed with the times since its founding in 1987.

Rush-In opened its first shop in Lakewood, Colorado, a fast-growing Denver suburb. Oscar de la Monde, a 30-year-old pressman from Denver, owned the shop, and his wife just gave birth to their son, Adam. Tired of working in downtown Denver, fighting the traffic, and inhaling the infamous “brown cloud,” Oscar borrowed $25,000 to get through the first year in business and moved west, to Lakewood.

Opening Page of Article in Quick Printing Magazine, October 1987

As a typical “yuppie” (in the jargon of those times), Oscar fulfilled his dreams of owning his own business. Lakewood, with a population of 112,000, proved fertile ground for the new enterprise. Rush-In Printing operated out of a storefront in the Villa Italia Center, a popular Lakewood mall. Customers waiting for orders browsed the mall until their job was finished. In short, Rush-In operated as a typical copy center in those days.

Memory management

In the front was a Xerox 9400, a self-sever copier (with an “out-of-order” sign on it), a coffee pot, and smiling receptionist—Oscar’s wife, Cora In the back, were the mainstays of the old-fashioned printshop—an A.B.Dick 360, an Itek platemaker, a VGC Pos One Daylight Camera, an Apple Macintosh, and an assortment of bindery equipment. Always on the front counter was a copy of Quick Printing magazine, then only a monthly.

Adam began working in his father’s shop early. By working in every possible facet of the business, he became a talented craftsman and an astute businessman. Information creation and retrieval became Adam’s specialties. Working with computers all his life, he became quite knowledgeable in the field of word processing and “memory management.” This knowledge was valuable to his father, who didn’t have the luxury of working with computers until he was an adult.

In 2010, Oscar de la Monde retired and Adam took over the business, at 23. “Although I was only 23, working in the shop all my life had given me the experience of a 50-year-old,” Adam says. “and, always, my father owned a copyshop, so I have toner in my blood.”

When relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union improved, and each country established a reciprocal city in each other’s country, de la Monde saw a potential market. He wasn’t interested in Gorbacheville, because who in their right mind would want to live outside of Trenton, New Jersey? However, New New York, located on the outskirts of Moscow, intrigued him. When President Amy Carter invited business to set up in New New York in 2012, de la Monde opened his Rush-In Information Access Center in a freshly painted dacha on Baryishnikov Prospekt.

Service economy

I saw this as a way of tapping the foreign market,” says de la Monde, “especially the Russians, who, as you know, are still a ways behind the times in information access.” He adds that Rush-In has “installed a Weidner translation program to convert from English to Cyrillic. I still operate the shop in Colorado, and have to translate a lot of this stuff.”

de la Monde’s New New York shop specializes in service, as you might expect from a United States businessman. “The economy in the U.S. is based on service,” Adam says, “we provide better service than any other nation in the world. The manufacturing giants of the Third World require a lot of printing and information access to drive their economies, and we’re there to meet that need. The best thing is our location, in an environment closely associated with the Third World—New New York.

One problem that has endured since his father’s days in the shop is finding quality workers at an affordable price. “I can’t afford the pay scale back home,” de la Monde says, “I can only afford to pay my Colorado manager about a quarter-million a year.” It’s not that there aren’t enough workers available, but a lot of American workers have moved to the Third World countries. “I have only one human working in the Colorado center now,” de la Monde says, “I fill in with a few robots, and occasionally some temp robots. I’ve got my average sales per employee up to $792,812.”

That’s not bad for an average information access center like Rush-In IAC. The shop pulls in about $8.7 million a year, and de la Monde takes roughly $440,000 of that back to his apartment each year.

To service the Russian and Third World clientele, de la Monde operates an ECRM Autokon color scanning system and several Xerox color laser printers in the New New York center. He owns a satellite on which he relays work between Colorado and New New York. He also rents air time to certain clients.

Door to door

De la Monde uses regular embassy transport service to deliver his work to his Third World accounts. “I jump on a Concorde once a month to visit clients in Africa and Asia. While I’m there I do a little selling. Would you believe I actually go door-to-door? Some things will never change.

Of course, Rush-In’s market in Colorado is a bit different than that in Russia. The quick printshop Adam’s father opened in the late 20th century has evolved into a personalized information creation/retrieval service. Most of Rush-In’s customers use their own word processors and laser printers to produce the kind of jobs quick printers did 50 years ago, although de la Monde says he still has a demand for the the high quality of an A.B.Dick 360.

“People come to use when they want the look and feel of real paper,” de la Monde says. “Otherwise, they have to use synthetics like Kimdura, or pay the high price of real paper.” Rush-In is fortunate to have an EPA license to supply paper and paper-related products.

“Back in the ’90s, when they relaxed the pollution control laws, my dad thought about getting out of the business, “de la Monde says. “He told me he’d read in Quick Printing that the pollution would destroy the ozone layer and ten the forests would be stripped,” Fortunately, for Rush-In, when the EPA started rationing paper and licensing paper-related products retailers, Oscar de la Monde was an early applicant for al license. “I don’t think information access centers can survive without some type of licensing deal—either holding their own or leasing one from a supplier,” says de la Monde.

One of the most profitable niches Rush-In has found is one most IACs enjoy—book publishing. Rush-In has gone from doing shorter-runs of 10,000 or so early in the century to producing a single copy for customers.

“Back in the 1980s, the Libraries of MIT began scanning, encoding, and storing books in disk,” de la Monde remembers, “The Ohio College Library Center catalogued and offered books on disk to 600 subscribers in 1982. IBM’s Vice President and Chief Scientist said then that all the books in the Library of Congress would fit into 20 IBM 3850s.

“Now, almost every book is available through the Library of Congress. Customers come into the Lakewood shop, as though they were coming into a library. Apparently, they prefer books printed on real paper, as opposed to what they’re using in their at-home laser printers. They tell us what book they want, and the Library of Congress communicates the information via my own satellite, and the book gets printed on our Xerox 9700,” de la Monde says. “The royalties are protected by the Adonis Project, the American Association of Publishers established in the 1980s.”

Really rolling

Rush-In offers other products as well. Increasingly popular is toilet paper printing. Advertising specialties have turned the paper shortage into an opportunity, and personalize toilet paper has become a popular item for the Lakewood store. Rush-In has its own TP laser printer. “This is one item that is really rolling, although it did take people a few years to get used to the idea,” says de la Monde. “It’s a way of keeping your message out there, and one on a one-to-one basis, too. I have a few of my own rolls installed at Mile High Stadium during some Broncos games,” de la Monde explains.

No IAC would be complete without offering some kind of hologram printing service. National Geographic really brought holograms to the nation’s attention when it became the first magazine to feature a hologram on its cover in 1985. Others followed, including Quick Printing’s sister publication, Publishing Trade, 1986.

“It’s sort of like thermography was in the 90s,” Adam says, “Radio stations like to order holographic bumper stickers with UPCs encoded in them, so they can track their listeners and contest winners from either helicopters or satellites. Holographic business cares are very popular, especially the ones that change scenes as look at different angles. We’re going to be offering “Scratch-And-Listen” holograms soon, too.”

de la Monde is a firm believer in associations, and belongs to the International Association of Electronic Quick Printers and Information Access Centers, which is holding its 51st convention and Information Access Expo 2027 at the McCormick Place Space Station in August. “I understand Multigraphics is featuring frictionless offset presses at McCormick,” de la Monde says.

“I read in Quick Printing,” he adds, noting that he is an avid reader, “It arrives every Monday, and I read it cover to cover.” Of course, he prefers the version that’s printed on real paper. QP’s Art Director, Douglas J. Macharyas, son of Art Director Emeritus, Jeff Macharyas, says that the full holographic version of QP will be available in 2028.

Back in the 20th century, Jeff Macharyas was Art Director of Quick Printing magazine.

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Cybersecurity Complacency

cybersecurityIt is human nature that we do ourselves harm or neglect ways to keep ourselves healthy even when we know it is against our best interest. We fool ourselves by thinking “it won’t happen to me,” or “why bother.” We smoke, we text and drive, we consume mass quantities of alcohol—and we neglect our own digital security.

What does John Q. Public think about digital security?

A 2011 study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance revealed a shocking lack of knowledge and a high level of complacency amongst educators when it pertains to their own protection and to that of their students. A staggering 76% reported that they have spent less than three hours in the past year on cyber protection training and that only 8% reported devoting six or more hours to the subject in the past year. 42% of adults believe that the individual is responsible for keeping the internet safe—40% of those people have not even taken the simple step of changing their passwords in more than a year—if ever.

Schools do a good job (90% of them) at shielding students from digital threats, but very few teach them anything about how to protect themselves. My son is in a dual-enrollment program in high school. One of his subjects is “Computing.” He spends a great deal of time learning Excel and Word, but not a second on security.

A Scout is Loyal, Brave, Reverent, Trustworthy—and in Danger

I had a similar problem as webmaster for several Boy Scout Troops. When asked to post photos with full names of Scouts, I would refuse. “Why not?” I would be asked. There have been cases in which child abductions have occurred because “bad parents” were able to find their kid’s info on Scout websites. It’s BSA policy not to publish full names. The response I often received was: “Ahh, just do it, what’s the big deal?”

The problem also exists on the other end of the age spectrum. Several months ago I was asked to conduct a seminar on smartphone use for seniors at the YMCA. My students were attentive, inquisitive, and surprisingly knowledgeable on many aspects of their devices. I concluded with a segment on security. There were many blank stares and a few asked me for a definition of “cybersecurity”—and still didn’t understand it.

It’s alarming to see the lack of concern exhibited by so many people in regard to their own safety. There are efforts being made and many resources for those who seek them out, such as the book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, who make the subject approachable for average people. In 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving started a movement and has rallied Americans to take a stand against impaired drivers. Perhaps we now need a Mothers Against Complacent Cyber Victims.

References

Boy Scout Troop 626 Queen of All Saints Basilica Chicago, Illinois (n.d.)  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://bsatroop626.org/aboutus

Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (2014, January 3). Cybersecurity Simplified: A Reality Check for the Digital Age.  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://mashable.com/2014/01/03/cybersecurity-book-singer-friedman/

National Cyber Security Alliance (2011). Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.staysafeonline.org/download/datasets/2076/K-12 Study Fact Sheet Final _0.pdf

National Cyber Security Alliance (2011). Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.staysafeonline.org/download/datasets/2068/NCSA_Mcafee_Online User Study_Final_11_15_11.pdf

Symantec Corporation (2012, October 15). New Survey Shows U.S. Small Business Owners Not Concerned About Cybersecurity; Majority Have No Policies or Contingency Plans [Press Release].  Retrieved January 7, 2014 from http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20121015_01

This post was originally submitted in January 2014 as a discussion post in the MS-Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics program at Utica College.

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License Plate Websites

“I whistled for a cab and when it came near

The license plate said FRESH and it had dice in the mirror

If anything I can say this cab is rare

But I thought now forget it yo homes to Bel Air.”

—The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

It’s likely that Will Smith didn’t see a website on that FRESH license plate back in 1990 when The Fresh Prince of Bel Air premiered, but today he’d see one on that California license plate: dmv.ca.gov. Huh?

License plates are a great way for states (and areas outside the US) to promote their locales and give themselves a unique identity. Many license plate designs carry over to other uses and some would be know even if they did not have the state name on them. Watching old cop shows from the 60s and 70s one gets very familiar with California and New York plates. Both are orange and blue, but are reversed from each other just like the states from two opposite coasts.

Some are known simply by their slogan. “Famous Potatoes” can only be … Idaho, but some are more mysterious, such as “The Natural State.” Umm. Let’s see…. oh, it’s Arkansas. Of course.

Pass the Plate

Since the dawn of the Internet age, we’ve seen websites emblazoned on everything. It didn’t take long for states to get into the act by placing websites on their state plates. Some started out quite awkward, like Pennyslvania’s www.state.pa.us, which is now just visitPA.com.

But, how many people would feel compelled to visit a state’s website just because they’ve seen it on the car in front of them? How many people visit those websites while in traffic!

I grew up in Florida and lived there for many years. As a recent resident, I’ve had license plates on my cars that read myFlorida.com. Even though I love license plates, design and websites, it was not until recently that I finally visited myFlorida.com. It is also the first time I’ve ever visited any of the websites I’ve seen on license plates. My guess is that very few people do.

I gassed up the Googler and went in search of all the license plates I could find that have (or had) websites on them. I found an article by Ethan Wolff-Mann (yes, really) that got me started on this quest. His page ranked all the license plates by design. I agreed with most of his choices, but would have ranked New York much higher. Check it out here: Ranked License Plates.

Florida Gets an “F”

I visited the websites because the license plates ordered me to. I have collected them here along with my personal assessments. I based my grades on how the websites would look and how useful and appealing they would be to people from out of state who might want to visit “PA.com.”

www.visitPA.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Grade: B

I like that the website colors have a little similarity to the license plate and it has great photos. It also appeals to a visitor by offering a Vacation Guide. The top part is a bit of a jumble. Their license plate is recognizable and easy to read, but nothing too exciting.

Travel2SC.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Grade: A

South Carolina has always done a good branding job. They have a great flag, have always had great license plates and their website is very nice, too. I like how the treeline on the license plates mimics the torn paper look of the website and they have wonderful photos and makes it very attractive to visitors.

www.TNvacation.com

TENNESSEE

Grade: A

Similar to South Carolina’s website, this site has excellent images, fantastic typography and an easy, appealing layout. I hate their license plate, though. The website looks tacked on, there are too many typefaces and too many small details. From a distance, you’d have no idea what was going on here.

www.Nebraska.gov

NEBRASKA

Grade: C

Nebraska has a nice license plate, but I think some of their previous ones were much better, especially the simple red & white state outline they had in the 70s. The URL on the plate: nebraska.gov, is pretty serious. It doesn’t say “visit Nebraska” and it takes you to a website that does nothing to attract people to the birthplace of Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (better known as President Gerald R. Ford).

www.Michigan.gov

MICHIGAN

Grade: B-

I love Michigan. Their license plate sucks, though. I don’t get the swishy M. The website is pretty nice (what’s with all the kayaks on these sites?). It’s not that exciting to look at but it serves its purpose and is easy to get around in. I’m not a fan of “Pure Michigan.” Sounds like it could be referring to eugenics or something.

www.Maryland.gov

MARYLAND

Grade: D

Another .gov site. Here again, the .gov takes you to a very .gov place. It has nice images but is overshadowed by the giant search bar and rotating facts—that visitors to the state would just not find interesting: 371 tax payments made last month. Wow! Come on kids! Marylanders are paying their taxes! Let’s go see! Let’s not. Although their license plate is easily recognizable by their LSD-induced flag, it really looks bad when they get dinged up and dirty. They always look dirty to me.

www.ExploreMinnesota.com

MINNESOTA

Grade: A

Cool job, Minnesota. Everyone knows the 10,000 Lakes thing and their license plate is like a Where’s Waldo puzzle. Can you find the canoe? However, their URL is more obscured than the canoeists. It took a few looks to even realize there was a .com on there. But, I was pleased to find their website had great photos, a nice logo, nice type, easy navigation for tourists, and an interesting and appropriate URL: ExploreMinnesota.com. I want to go there!

www.Georgia.gov

GEORGIA

Grade: D-

I think Georgia has gotten rid of the .gov from their plates and good riddance. I never liked the Georgia license plates because there was always so much going on. I always felt it was really close to being South Carolina-good but just couldn’t pull it off. Several years ago, they changed their flag and then had to quickly change it again because it was just too awful to display. I think the same should go for their website. Like Maryland, we are presented with a giant search bar. There’s also some guy with his eyes closed. Maybe he just doesn’t want to look at the website. Who can blame him? Who is he? And, their “logo” at the top is pathetic. The devil went down to Georgia, he had a website to design…..

dmv.ca.gov

CALIFORNIA

Grade: D–

California dreamin’ (of getting rid of this stuff). They need to go back to the iconic Streets of San Francisco blue-and-gold license plates. Plain, simple, but very identifiable. The URL on the Cal plates is bizarro. Would anyone driving behind a car with this plate write this down and check it out to see what cool stuff the…DMV…has to offer? But, if sticking pins in your eyes gets old, check it out. Visitors to the state of California can learn all about AB60 Driver License Implementation. Off we go! I think Maryland, Georgia and California should merge into just one awful website and be done with it.

www.peiplay.com

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Grade: B

Prince Edward Island is not a state, by the way. It was the only Canadian province I could find that had a URL on their plate. Made famous by Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island is now Canada’s Green Province. OK, sounds good. I like the colors of the plate and I guess the wind turbine is one reason they are “green.” It has a little Canadian flag on it, and who doesn’t like the Canadian flag? The URL, www.peiplay.com, is awkward. It looks like a typo. It goes to an OK website with a lot of info. Nothing spectacular, but it works just fine.

www.myFlorida.com

FLORIDA

Grade: F-

Holy palm trees, Batman! Are you kidding me? I live in Florida but have never before gone to this absolute crap website. What an embarrassment. The URL is plastered on the plates in big, arched letters and tells you it is your Florida. Based on this website, you can have it back. I could not believe what I saw. It claims to be the “Official Portal of The State of Florida.” (With a capitalized “The.”) I think the web designer was preoccupied with 19… 19… 1985. I’ve seen old AOL Homesite pages that looked better than this nonsense. This is what the state wants tourists to see? I can’t believe anyone would want to come here. If you go to this site, you’d think it was some authoritarian police state with no sense of humor or style. Oh, wait…. On the right, there is a micro photo of our governor, Rick “Valdemort” Scott. The photo is stretched a bit horizontally so Rick kinda looks like Mr. Clean instead.There’s a tab on the left for visitors to click. Don’t do it! Save yourself! Oh my, oh my, oh myFlorida! Florida: You’re no Maryland, that’s for sure.

I don’t think adding websites to license plates is a good idea. I certainly don’t like it when the state name becomes part of the URL (myFlorida.com, for example). I was surprised there weren’t a lot more states that did this but was glad they didn’t. One thing that really surprised me, though, is that even the good states like South Carolina and Tennessee, didn’t tie in their license plate with their website. There wasn’t any connection between the two to indicate that you got there because you saw it on the license plate. I wonder if these states do any kind of analytics on this. Hey! 647 Child Support Applications filed in MarylandMaryland.gov tells me so.

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The Great Colorado-Texas Tomato War

In 1985, I lived briefly in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then moved to Rollinsville, Colorado. I stayed with friends there for a while before moving down about 8,000 feet in elevation to Lakewood, not too far from Golden.

Colorado was interesting in different ways. I commuted up and down the mountains three hours each way from Rollinsville (Gilpin County) north of Boulder, north of Nederland, north of Central City—north of the third moon of Saturn—I think, to my job at a printshop in Aurora. I drove a brown 1981 Ford Mustang that I had to practically push up the hill. I’d leave in the morning with a foot of snow on the roof and get into town where it was 80 degrees.

I did a lot of bike riding and had friends who did the same. I also climbed the Flatirons and played volleyball at a rec center in Boulder. My friend, Darryl, worked at an ad agency in Boulder and worked on Boulder Beer marketing. That was some good beer! I also visited the Mother Cabrini Catholic Shrine with my friend, Betsy, who came to visit me, and my car got pelted by massive hail. Was that a message from Mother Cabrini?

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato

This is not a Colorado tomato

My fondest memory of Colorado, and probably the strangest, was the Colorado-Texas Tomato War. This was an event where thousands of people would take up tomatoes and represent either Colorado or Texas. To my dismay, there were not enough Texans to fight so I was “drafted” as a Texan. Oh, if ole Sam Houston coulda seen me then….

This was in 1985, and for all you young’uns this was when famous Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan, played the part of “The President,” we still had a Soviet Union to worry about, there was no Internet and we had to watch TV…on a TV! Absolutely medieval I tell ya.

The President of Colorado and all these United States

So, anyway, we all went out into the fields of Twin Lakes, Colorado, where innkeeper, Taylor Adams, hosted the big event. I got a chance to meet her while I was there, so that was cool. We all had T-shirts, but I don’t remember what it looked like. What I do remember was that getting pelted by over-ripe tomatoes hurts. You would think they would just squish and drip, but when a tomato comes flying at your head, thrown by one of dem dere Coloradahs, it dang near took my skull off.

I Remember the Alamo. I Was There.

Why did I even think of this? I left a tomato on the counter overnight and it began to sprout. Seeing that tomato sitting there, taunting me, brought back my old “war memories” as an Alamo defender, fighting for the rights of Texians in the hills of Colorado.

For some information on the C-T TW, here’s a Wikipedia link.

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