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I don’t know how to tell you that you’re going to have to do a little work and actually give a damn

To be clear: I am writing this as much for myself as I am anyone.

Over the last couple of weeks someone, presumably the City of Indianapolis or the local power company, continue to do some kind of brush and tree removal work along a stretch of the Pennsy Trail. One segment involved hauling in a dumpster to, I think, clear out the trash and debris of a small homeless encampment that was living in the bushes.

The dumpster, the truck, and the equipment left this along with a significant stretch of rocks, gravel, and tire-puncturing debris:

Damaged land along the side of the Pennsy Trail

The homeless people did not bother me. This bothers me. And, it’s ugly. Which bothers me more.

This is in addition to the frustrating lack of stump removal the City seems to have no interest in doing. Tree stumps only rot into what looks like sawdust at a pace of about 20-50 years. At the current pace of tree death around my neighborhood, much of the east side will be tripping over nothing but stumps for a generation. Progress!

The City may not be entirely to blame for all of this. Given the death of young trees, I’m increasingly convinced the air, soil, or both are just too hostile for many trees. I really can’t wait until the east side is nothing but parking lots and monoculture grass. That’ll be so easy to maintain! Commerce!

Then, on Monday I went Downtown to grab a cup of coffee and work. But every place was closed so I found myself all the way up at Provider on 16th Street. Afterward I thought about lunch and Yelp reminded me English Ivy’s — a restaurant I haven’t been to in probably a decade — was nearby. Just a quick walk down the Monon. Which, of course, was still closed for some reason due to highway construction. Convenient access!

But I looked at the menu, and this is what’s on their site as of June 2024:

A screenshot of a screenshot of the menu at English Ivy's

They not only relied on the godforsaken UPS store for this, they just lifted the digital proof copy, watermarks and all, and plopped it on to the page like elementary school mashed potatoes portioned by ice cream scoop.

What does a literal dumpster and this crummy menu screenshot have to do with anything?

Almost nothing has to be the way it is. Everything tends to come from a human choice.

With possible exceptions for alien invasion, much is a human choice. I am supremely humanist in that view. Even the notion of “you can’t control the weather” is increasingly untrue as we do, in fact, have a significant impact on the climate, which changes the weather!

Whoever put that dumpster there knew what they were doing. They made a choice to drag it over with their truck and damage the land. They made the choice to leave it like that. They made the choice to not care.

Whoever manages the site for Ivy’s and put that menu up there knew what they were doing. They made a choice to drag it on to the page and hinder readers (especially those who have vision issues). They made the choice to leave it like that. They made the choice to not care.

You can’t argue either party didn’t have the skills to do anything differently. Even the menu doesn’t require any skill: you just retype it. Clients send me crap like that all the time. Do you know how many logos I have recreated in my life just so they look a little nicer on a page because no one at the other company could be bothered to find a high-quality version?

I don’t know how to tell people that they are going to have to do a little work and actually give a damn.

Surely nothing will be perfect. I sent an email campaign yesterday with a typo in it that, I later realized, was because the text editor in Active Campaign was ignoring some of my keyboard input. But I at least cared and felt terrible about it.

I don’t think a lot of people do a lot of the time. And you can see that every time you walk around, turn on the news, or just use a computer.

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Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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