Monday, September 24, 2007


It's very interesting, living in Europe. Compared to the United States, countries are so close together that it's easy to cross through them, similarly to how I would regularly cross between Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, often in the same day. Imagine if people in MD, VA, and DC all spoke different languages like people in different European countries do... This would presumably pose a problem for signage, because one would have to post directions and important warnings in multiple languages so that people could read them. The thing I don't get (and the reason for this post) is why, on such signs, signmakers have found the need to designate the languages, either with a flag or a country symbol (ex. GB, FR, CZ, etc.) prior to the text. You would think that someone reading a sign would recognize their own language and not have to look at a sign thinking "Hmm, I wonder which of these is written in English? Gee, it sure is nice that they put a little Union Jack next to the English language portion of the sign. I could have spent ages trying to read this warning in Russian... Whew!!" No. People presumably don't do that, leading me to conclude that language designation is just a waste of time, space, and sign ink. Stupid.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smokeless bars & the matchbook industry

Today as I was lighting candles in my room I was struck by a thought I entertained long enough to decide to write a post about. Where I live, smoking in bars and restaurants just became illegal on August 15th. Where I used to live, and many other places in the States, it's already been illegal for awhile. To light my candles today, I used a lighter (pink, from 7-11, nothing fancy, like a Zippo). While lighting my nine tealights, I found myself thinking that I really prefer to light candles with matches because I kind of like that sulfur-y match smell. Then, I realized that I don't think I've ever actually bought a book or box of matches. I always "steal" them from bars or restaurants, which technically isn't stealing at all because they usually promote the establishment or some associated product. So, by taking it and displaying (ie. on the table, by the candles) a "stolen" book or box of matches somewhere in my home, or whipping it out to light a cig (something I don't, but many people do), is promoting the establishment or a particular product. If you're super-interested, you can actually find a brief history of the matchbook and matchbook advertising here.

So, my final thought is... I wonder how smokeless bars and restaurants have impacted the advertising and promotional practices within the hospitality industry? I'm making a mental note to look next time I'm at a bar, but do bars still give out matchbooks if they are non-smoking establishments? I guess, technically, you could smoke outside and that it wouldn't really much matter to have matchbooks inside the bar anyway because people that would see them are already there... People would still pick them up and take them away and they would serve the same promotional purposes... Hmmm...