signs seen yesterday

At an elementary school: Are you enjoying your summer vacation? August 16th will be here before you know it! Now, who on earth is that aimed at? Is it an ironic nod to stressed parents eager to hand over their kids in 2 weeks? or some kind of sadistic dig at kids able to read it as their family car passes by the place they're dreading having to return to?

Painted on a van: A sleek looking M and www.muzak.com. Now, although I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that Muzak was indeed a trademarked company name (one of those words that's been promoted like Xerox to a general word) I didn't realize we had a local office (though I suppose all big cities do). The website is really sleek looking -- and for the brave of heart, allows you to listen to a feed of muzak while you browse. General ambient doesn't bother me (having spent years listening to Brian Eno etc when I was younger) but it's the watered down orchestral arrangements of pop songs that I find insidious. Worst for me was the time I was in an airport and heard Muzak'd Cure. A sad sad day.

A billboard: beautiful young girl out in nature, with the slogan Inspiration Shining Through. Any guesses as to what this was for? That slogan seems appropriate for a sports team, a teacher-training institute, even one of those huge scary suburban Baptist churches that have billboards along the freeway. But no. It was for Blue Cross Blue Shield. (Disclaimer: BCBS is my health insurance provider, through the state's higher ed employees program.) There must be a handbook of "good-sounding but meaningless" adjectives for ad execs to pick and string together for all-purpose signage. Frankly, I don't want my insurance company to be gleaming with inspiration. Efficiency, maybe even compassion. But they're not painting pictures -- they're just supposed to process my provider statements.