A great computer

If you read my Tesla review, you might think that I desire newer, faster, better everything.

That’s not always true.

The 2011 Macbook ProMy early 2011 Macbook Pro is still humming along gracefully. Five years is a long time in computer years. (According to this website (http://www NULL.computerinhumanyears NULL.com/), my computer is 92 human years old.)

But it still works great. I’ve changed its battery once, added more memory (wish I could do that for me!) and swapped out the spinning hard drive for a smaller-capacity flash drive.

It’s running the latest operating system – Apple keeps supporting this old machine.

The strangest thing is that I have no burning desire for a newer Mac. Yes, I do like the newer Macbook Pros (and think the new Macbook (http://www NULL.apple NULL.com/macbook/) is a thing of beauty). But the functionality of a newer Mac isn’t different enough that I’d go through the hassle and expense of upgrading. Plus, my old Mac has a CD/DVD drive – I can add music from that old fossil media source without an external drive. (However, I wouldn’t really miss that capability if mine ever died.)

Also interesting – Apple still sells my same basic computer (http://www NULL.apple NULL.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MD101LL/A&step=config#) brand-new (though it has a newer brain).

Finally, if you’re ever in the market for a Mac, I’d recommend buying a factory refurb direct from Apple (http://www NULL.apple NULL.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/mac). Those computers have the same warranty as all-new versions. And often, you can get the latest models as refurbs.

Faster than a speeding locomotive

The acceleration was breathtaking. The amenities were amazing.

I’d say I want one, but it’s so far out of the realm of possibility that I’ll just say it was a lot of fun.

Our test drive was totally free. Mark set up the appointment to take a Tesla P90D for a spin. He drove out, I drove back. His son Zach spent the whole time sporting an ear-to-ear grin. Our salesman Drew completely understood that we wanted to go fast and have fun.

We tried out the auto-pilot mode – the car drove all by itself. Parking with no assistance was effortless.

Little features like the dashboard’s real-time speed limit sign display were captivating. Design inside and out reminded me of the perfection of many Apple products – like door handles that disappear after you’re in the car.

Back to that acceleration – the salesman claimed that only two cars are faster – the Bugatti Veyron ($1,500,000) and the Porsche 918 ($850,000). For a mere $145,000, the Tesla P90D is a steal. We drove the whole way using the Ludicrous Mode (http://mashable NULL.com/2015/10/05/2016-tesla-model-s-p90d-review/#OQlfF787naqH). The first time Mark mashed the pedal to the floor, my sunglasses flew off my head into the back of the car.

Tesla run on pure electric power – at least as pure as the source of that electricity (which isn’t very clean when coming from a coal-fired power plant). Electric motors have much smoother power delivery than any gas or diesel engine can provide. From 0-60, it was one smooth rush.

I’ve never tried cocaine, but this is the automotive equivalent. The acceleration was completely addictive.


Photo by Zach.


three color spectra - copyright 2016, paul merrillI’m a huge fan of the idea of spectrums. So many aspects of life can be described by spectrums.

Spectrum 1:

Pleasure seeking: Some people put pleasure so high on their priority list that they are willing to die for it (heroin addicts and canyon-jumping motorcyclists).

Pain avoidance: Some people are so averse to the idea of pain that they refuse to leave the safety of their bedrooms.

Spectrum 2:

Ideology: Some people believe in their cause so much that they are willing to die for it (Muslim terrorists).

Lack of beliefs: Some people are so open to worldview that they don’t believe anything.

Spectrum 3:

Chaos: Some people are willing to have thirteen children and let the crumbs fall where they may.

Neatness: Some people wipe the table under their guest’s plate before they have gotten up.

Spectrum 4:

Germs: Some people never wash their hands.

Sanitation: Some people wear gloves in public.

I think everyone has tendencies to fall on one side of the center in each of these spectrums. (Note that I am using extreme examples. Humanity is like a bell curve – most people fall into the middle.) We all move around on spectrums during the course of our lives – or in the course of our days.

A beauty that lies at the extremes is that some of those people push the envelope of human experience – and that can benefit everyone.

Psychologists sometimes dump various spectrums under blanket names such as “autism” or “OCD.” But the human experience is enriched by people living off the center of spectrums.

Footnote: I know that some say the plural of “spectrum” is “spectra.” But “spectrums” is also acceptable English, these days.

Skip the secret sauce

Superior State University (ironically named) has an annual list of banished words. This year’s list includes: conversation (as in, “join the conversation”), problematic, stakeholder, price point, secret sauce, giving me life, and physicality.

Part of my job involves putting words together to communicate the value that the company I work with offers. There’s a fine balance between being interesting and being too interesting.

Overused catchphrases can induce rolled eyes, soft sighs of pain or simply a click-away from the web page.

This year, let’s strive to write with words that communicate well, without harm to our readers.

Special thanks to the Wall Street Journal for pointing me to the Superior State University list.

Bloom where you’re planted – or sleep where you find a bed

Floof, the cat, sleeping in a board game box lidOur cat, Floof, sleeps whenever he feels tired, which is the vast majority of every day (and night). He doesn’t need a bed to enter kitty slumbers. In this case, a board game box was a great place to begin his nap.

I find myself looking for the perfect bed before I begin my sleep. Or the perfect situation before I dive into a big project, begin that talk with a friend I’ve been putting off or start a challenging exercise regime that I know will pay off in the long run.

May we all be more like Floof – and just dive in, even if only into the world of dreams.

I can’t change your mind

There’s a lot to get upset about these days. If you’re an American, the massive ego and questionable ethics of various presidential candidates is quite disturbing. But I’ve given up on saying anything about them on Facebook, Twitter or this blog. It’s just not worth the time or frustration.

Even face-to-face discussions can be frustrating. I make assumptions that my conversational partner will interpret the solution to a problem the same way I do. That’s not always true. And reaching a place of difference is rarely fun.

But small change can happen.

A good friend said, “Small change is a thing to be celebrated!” He has a very challenging relationship that’s incredibly complex and difficult. He celebrates when he sees a very small change.

I occasionally tackle little issues with my little blog, like the value of recycling, bringing your own cup or being part of a community. Maybe no one changes their attitudes or actions as a result of such posts. Or maybe, just maybe, one person will do something different.

A single focus

a medicine bottle in the darkMy molar was still aching, even though the dentist with a thick accent completed the filling a week ago. So it was time for ibuprofen.

After the drug was consumed, I returned to our medicine cabinet to place the bottle on its shelf. Being of orderly mind, I attempted to turn the bottle where others could quickly determine its contents.

Not an easy task. In the dark, the front of the bottle looked like the back.

A simple design choice could have solved this problem. If the designer had made “Ibuprofen” in large type with strong contrast, users could speedily identify the contents in low light or daylight.

That points to the idea, dear readers, that whatever communications piece we are creating, whether a simple email or a lengthy novel, we need to focus on our main point.

We need the perspective of others

face made up of trash cansHipster coffee shop. Fun visit with family.

My daughter noticed the face that their trashcan and recycling bin made.

I never would have seen that on my own. But after seeing her perspective, I never can look at that corner the same way again.

We need others to show us things we don’t see.

Sometimes I need to ask, and sometimes another perspective is volunteered. Either way works fine.

Give yourself variety

Don Henley in Rolling Stone MagazineWe all need variety. It keeps our brains firing properly.

One area of intentional variety in my small life is my whiteboard at work. I really don’t use it as a whiteboard, but I do tape interesting things to it, in my attempt to provide some changing scenery.

I would urge you to look for areas you can change – to give your average days a little extra spice.

By the way, Don Henley is no longer on my whiteboard. The latest tenants are a band called Public Access TV (https://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/PublicAccessTV/).

Losing touch


It’s easy to lose touch.

The buyer of this $200,000+ Mercedes Maybach sedan will think little of paying another $5,000 for a fancy sunroof. (The Magic Sky Control (http://techcenter NULL.mercedes-benz NULL.com/en/magic_sky_control/detail NULL.html) roof will let you change its opacity from fully opaque to clear in a matter of seconds.)

It’s easy for me to cast stones. Recently, Heather and I got new phones that cost way too much. (Our kids have been giving us a hard time, and justifiably so.) Compared to $5,000 for a fancy sunroof, new phones that we use every day for tons of productive (and not so productive) things seems to be sensible.

But when I think about kids in developing countries going hungry – and that a fraction of our monthly phone bill could feed several, I can’t justify this extravagance.

To the Maybach owner, extravagance means one thing. To me, another. But we both need to step back and see the bigger picture. We’re both losing touch.