Lawyer overkill

warning label from CD package

It all started with spilled coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through.*

Well, not really. Our American tendency to sue for everything probably started long before that.

How many people would buy a CD and give the thin plastic wrapper to their baby and say, “Play with this wrapper — it will do you no harm”?

Anyone who reads magazines today is used to flipping past pharmaceutical ads that use two full pages of fine print after the actual ad that could be summed up in one simple sentence: “Use of this drug is possibly dangerous, and you should consult with your doctor before using.” The television equivalent is 10 seconds at the end of an ad that are some of that fine print, read at 300 words a minute.

Please, please, America…

Just don’t be stupid.


* That incident happened in 1994. And she won the case.

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White teeth

I don’t do teeth whitening.

Before you read further, please understand that I am not judging anyone who likes to do teeth whitening. This is merely a description of my personal journey.


The photo above is my teeth — altered by Photoshop. Reality is dark, stained teeth that have seen years of coffee drinking, tetracycline ingestion as a kid, and general abuse. (However, many of you know that I am a fan of toothpaste.)

Why don’t I invest in making my teeth whiter?

  1. Time. It would either require a laborious application of teeth-whitening strips or several visits to a dentist. And then, a year from now, more of the same.
  2. Money. Strips are expensive, and visits to the dentist for whitening are more so.
  3. Lack of caring about cultural trends. I don’t care enough about what our culture values to participate in this particular exercise.
  4. Saving the whales. Studies have shown that excessive use of white strips causes stunted growth in fetal whales, from the chemicals being washed out to sea and entering plankton.

Well, that last one is made up.

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Take time to visit a museum

spider-like antique chair

This amazing spider-like chair currently appears in the Denver Art Museum. It totally reminded me of a Tim Burton movie.

Even if you live in a very small town, at least in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, there might be a museum you don’t even know about. Do a little research to see if there is one down that other street.

I guarantee you’ll learn something new if you spend at least an hour and read some of the exhibit plaques.

Footnotes:

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You can’t force it

Lincoln Continental print ad

Lincoln bought the emperor’s new clothes.

This ad appeared in the February 2017 Fast Company magazine (in a very high-priced spot — the inside front cover). Lincoln paid a massive amount of money for the ad series, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Agency Hudson Rouge made out like a bandit.

But Lincoln did not think about their real audience. Showing a 20-something person behind the wheel of a $60,000-ish luxury car, newly-minted from a marque typically bought by people above 60, will not make 20-something people want to buy one. Nor will it make 60-year olds who want to be 20-something want to buy one.

No matter how much the critics like the car.

Yes, it would have been appropriate for Lincoln to push the envelope in their marketing — but not so far.

Maybe they should have put kids under 10 behind the wheel — that audience will need to buy cars, eventually.

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Conventional wisdom need not apply

alfa romeo quadrifoglio

Many of us are still trying to figure out how Mr. Trump won. Whether or not you like him and what he represents — or the Democratic party and what they represent — one thing is certain — we do not know what tomorrow brings.

Alfa Romeo is trying to make inroads onto our roads. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a beautiful high-performance four-door sedan. Car critics are praising it from their rooftops.

But American has largely abandoned the four-door sedan. As you know, crossovers (suburbia-biased SUVs) have taken over.

Conventional wisdom from car manufacturers dictates introducing a flagship top-of-the-line vehicle to generate excitement in America about other vehicles they have to offer.

I would like to respectfully disagree with that wisdom.

They should have launched an affordable but exciting small crossover. They will sell a crossover — the Stelvio. But it is priced in a similar range as the Quadrifoglio (more than $70,000) — out of the range of most Americans.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. It worked for Mr. Trump.


Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo UK — and used without permission. (If you live in the UK, go out and buy a Quadrifoglio now, and they will be happy.)

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My word for the new year

floof cat, relaxing on a couch

Relax.

As the stresses of life pile on me, as the weeks accumulate, I want to remember our kitty, Floof. He knows when to relax (most of the time) and where (anywhere).

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Longing for a simpler experience

Hot sauce at a truck stop in Texas

Choice is great. But if there are too many choices, getting to our destination takes longer.

Variety is the spice of life. But too much variety can force a fight with indecision.

I am very decisive and always have been. But sometimes, the sheer volume of choices is overwhelming.

And the mood I’m in makes a vast difference — if I am tired, I don’t want a lot of choices. Since I’m a morning person, facing a lot of choices in the morning is a much better experience than staring down a wall of choices at the end of a long day of work.

I’d love to start a chain of small stores that only have a few high-quality reasonably-priced items in each category. (Investors, give me a shout!)

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Writing vs Typing

picture of handwriting compared to typesetting

Beautiful expensive pens.

The Wall Street Journal often features luxury items that are out of the range of all but the upper .001%. The New Status Symbol? Think Ink featured Marc Newson Pens by Hermès for a mere $1,670 and the $400 El Casco Stapler.

Since I love pens, I read the article with gusto. I am not attracted to hand-made solid gold fountain pens, but I do appreciate fine art.

Besides digging into the hardware, the writers also delved a bit into why writing a message by hand is more meaningful than typing off an email.

I agree.

The article includes an interview with Tom Dixon, whose London-based furniture, lighting and interior design firm also sells fine pens and pencils. I disagreed with part of his thought in reference to those who handwrite, “Maybe superior communication is a more thoughtfully, artfully and carefully constructed message.”

When I write a personal email, I spend time going back and editing the content, such that my final thought truly says what I mean.

I do love writing letters by hand. My brother, who lives in Texas, is the recipient of the bulk of my handwriting.

As he could attest, few of those letters contain anything of great significance. But I enjoy the experience of dragging a smooth ballpoint across the back of a scrap letter-sized piece of paper. The resulting letters are more me than Helvetica or Myriad.

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One small change

article about the evils of sugar with a cup of water

Sugar has been linked to diabetes and obesity, over and over. And yet we love it. I say, “we,” because I love a good chocolate bar or delicious cookie as much as anyone.

The Christmas holiday season (or Kwanzaa, if that’s your holiday) is filled with opportunities to enjoy all manner of sugary delights. At my office, a visit to the communal break room table provides many joy-filled moments throughout the month of December. Vendors gift us with a constant flow of fun treats.

It’s very hard to stop indulging.

But there is one thing I’ve found that cuts at least a little bit of sugar from my diet… no more juice at breakfast.

Instead, I drink ice water.

At first, I really missed my glass of orange juice. But after only a week, the pain was completely gone. Now water provides a refreshing contrast to my bowl of cereal with milk.

Give it a try! Before you say, “Forget this, I’m going back to juice,” do it for a week or two to see if you can break the juice habit.


A final benefit to this change is that it will save your budget a bit of change.

 

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