The plague of hold music

Customer service means waiting on hold.

Waiting on hold means listening to pop music. Or a loop of the same weird song, over and over and over.

Customer service should mean choices. I should be able to press “1” if I want to hear nothing but a message every minute or so saying, “You are still on hold. We are waiting for a representative to become available.”


And then there’s: “Please listen carefully, as our options have recently changed.” But we all know they changed the options five years ago! Customer service directors should understand that playing that message is a reflection of their being asleep at the wheel.

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Police brutality and the National Anthem

No doubt by now you’ve read about football players not standing during the singing of the National Anthem. They are using their visibility to make a statement that they stand against our country allowing police to do bad and sometimes horrible things to African Americans.

I believe they could turn that important energy elsewhere. Yes, it’s a horrible problem. But malaria kills thousands of times more Africans than American police kill unarmed African Americans..

I lived in a malaria-prone country for five years. I love that country. Overall, people there seem happier than Americans, in spite of the significant challenges of daily life.

Malaria was not a problem for me there, as we were privileged to have been taught ways to prevent the disease. Many there aren’t — or simply don’t have the $10 for a mosquito net.

I know that no NFL football player will ever read this, but for the rest of you, Unicef is just one place you can give to help prevent deaths caused by malaria.

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The healthiest person in the world

If we knew who the healthiest person in the world was, would we do everything they do?

We measure our health in the physical, mental and spiritual realms. If one person had all of those at the optimum levels, would we change our lives to mirror their choices?

Probably not.

We all have different definitions of pleasure and fulfillment. (And those are not the same — though they may overlap at times.) Our choice of pleasure or fulfillment may interfere with our optimal health.

Let me give some examples.

A selfless person finds fulfillment in serving others. They serve others to the point of physical and mental exhaustion and may die an early death. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. They die fulfilled.

Many of us enjoy a fine meal with several courses. But we know that when we’re finished, we have eaten more than our bodies needed and end up in an almost comatose state. Or we choose to ride a motorcycle, knowing ahead of time that it’s a dangerous choice but brings a great deal of pleasure.

It’s almost as if life is a video game. We know that if we make certain choices they will reduce our “life points,” but we’ll enjoy our journey more.


 

It’s OK to not be the healthiest person in the world. But remember that your choices effect those who love you too.

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Delete those photos

I love taking photos with my iPhone. It’s easy, fast and fun to grab quick pix that will remind me of enjoyable days or quirky stuff I see in this wild world.

a totally covered Toyota Land Cruiser But there is a downside — server farms. When people take six photos of something they only really need one of — and store them on the cloud — that’s six times more square footage of server farm needed. And six times more electricity needed to keep them there forever. And six times more hard drives that need to be bought by Amazon, Google or Apple.

So you — please delete those poor quality photos.

Just so that you know I am practicing what I preach, the above photo of a server farm is not hosted on my website. It’s hosted on another website. The article has interesting info that I never knew. (Thanks, Tek-Think. I did click on one of your Google ads as a way of saying that I appreciate the use of your photo.)


 

And for the really geeky tech people out there, I do know that those crappy photos are probably backed up forever, even if someone deletes them. But if they aren’t uploaded to the cloud before they’re deleted, we’re making some progress.

Also, geeky people, I know that it’s probably not a direct increase of six for 5 additional photos — but you get the idea.

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Portland

Portland is a crazy place.

(We just returned from a family vacation that included a few days in Portland.)

I knew that I wanted to get to know the city ever since seeing Portlandia.

I was not disappointed.


Plus:
  • Powell’s is perhaps the finest bookstore on the planet. Besides stocking an amazing range of books (both new and used), they have the most incredible array of stuff from interesting water bottles to funky backpacks to weird socks.
  • Food trucks (often food trailers): a huge collection of semi-fast food outlets are all over the Portland, often in collections filling whole city blocks. Wide offerings of ethnic cuisine are available.
  • hipster lampShops: If I were rich, I would have gorged on the incredible variety of clothing, trinkets, hand-made art in many useful forms such as furniture and all manner of hipster-oriented stuff. One of my favorite shops was Boys Fort.
  • Bicycling: In spite of the generally dreary weather, bicycling is a huge part of life in Portland. Bike paths are prevalent across the city, and as our Airbnb hostess explained, bicyclists there often feel like they rule the world, whether or not that is the case.
  • The river: Bike paths go along the Willamette River, allowing you to explore the waterway without getting wet (unless it’s raining).
Minus:
  • Trash: There are very few trash cans around the city. Thus, trash accumulates in all the nooks and crannies. Seattle, in comparison, seems to have a normal amount of places to dispose of your waste.
  • Homelessness: I’m not sure what attracts so many homeless people to Portland. Denver, the city near my suburban home, seems to have a smaller homeless population. I have nothing against homeless people — drug addiction and mental illness are crippling — but perhaps Denver provides more places for the homeless to find a home. Or possibly Colorado has more restrictive laws governing homeless activities (like no sleeping on sidewalks).
  • Maybe a little too much indie-hipster-ness: Though I love supporting small businesses and appreciate creativity, I was almost overwhelmed at the extreme hipster-ness of Portland. One morning, I even wanted to visit Starbucks, believe it or not.

If you can, you simply must visit greater Portland.

Footnote: I only spent a few days there, so these are just a few surface observations.

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Assumptions

escapeEscape from your already fabulous life.”

That’s an assumption a luxury hotel chain made about all of us. Or maybe they are pitching to the group of readers who feel that they do have a fabulous life and don’t care about the rest. Or maybe they want the rest of us to think, “Well, my life isn’t fabulous — but I do like it!”

If your life is fabulous, why would you want to escape? I guess that living a life of ease, where everything is catered to and all wants met, gets boring.

We all need change. Kittens don’t stay small forever. God created seasons for a reason.

Embrace change. If it’s a hard change, see what you can do to find the beauty in the pure white snow. Even when it’s freezing outside.

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A tepid shower

shower head

Why would you want to take a tepid shower?

  1. If the water is cool enough that it’s slightly uncomfortable, you will use less water — because you’ll want to end sooner!
  2. It’s refreshing, particularly on a hot summer day.
  3. Your pores won’t open up and soak in as many soap chemicals.
  4. Some even say it relieves depression.

And there are many more reasons — as well as an explanation on that last one in this article. Disclaimer — some of the benefits apply only to men.

Finally, a hat tip to my son Jay, who got me started in this practice. I don’t take it quite as far as he does — my “cold” showers are merely tepid.

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Because I’m selfish

motorbike riders in Phnom PenhI love freedom. But when freedom costs me something that could be easily avoided, I pause.

For people living in the US, depending on your state, you can ride a motorcycle with out a helmet. It’s super enjoyable to zoom along with the wind in your hair.

But then that driver doesn’t see you, he turns into your lane — and your dreams of motorcycling disappear into years of surgeries, physical therapy and pain.

This is not theoretical — a good friend of mine experienced that. And he was wearing a helmet.

So here’s the selfish part of the equation… when the helmet-less rider ends up in the hospital with years of medical appointments ahead, it costs me. My insurance premiums rise.

The same holds true for bicycle riding.

I have to admit that I am not super rigid on that — sometimes when I go for a quick ride to the corner store on my (slow) mountain bike, I don’t put on a helmet. And yes, I know that most accidents happen closest to home.

So I leave it up to you where you draw the line between your freedom and your responsibility to society.

The photo is Creative Commons licensed by Sara y Tzunki (Cecilia e Francesco) and was taken in Phnom Penh.

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Great app — Prisma

This little app has given me more fun than the last three photo apps combined — Prisma.

Here’s the original photo:

Jay, pre-Prisma app

And here are some of the results (tap the right side of the image to get to the next one):

So if I convinced you to try this app, here’s where you can find it: Prisma. Currently, it’s just available for the iPhone, but if you have an Android, you can sign up to get news about the beta version.

Special thanks to my son Jay, the model.

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