Non-obvious content

I love the phrase, “Non-obvious content.”

Gina Pell and Amy Parker are the ladies behind TheWhat, a website and email with curated content that has more feminity than I can digest in one sitting. But they think outside the box. I love that. And they’re behind the phrase “non-obvious content.”

Striving to think outside the box motivates a lot of what I do. I love to reveal tiny things that most people miss in their daily lives. But of course, what I find interesting is not always what you find interesting. Such is the nature of personal taste.

It’s always exciting to find another person who appreciates an obscure thing that you enjoy. It’s thrilling to discover something new and fresh. And it’s more thrilling to share that with someone.


Inbox 38,000

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-38-12-pmWhy do I have so many emails in my personal inbox?

  • It’s easier to search for something in the pile than trying to process every email when it comes in.
  • Finding an email using search forces me to be creative in what search terms I use — I must use a unique search term to find the email I’m looking for.
  • I’m lazy. It would take too much time and mental energy to ruthlessly file away semi-important incoming emails into the correct folder or take the time to figure out if I should take action now or later on them.

Like most of us, I am a man of contrasts. I don’t believe in eating up too much space on server farms. So I do several things to keep my email account from hitting Google’s free-cloud limit. (Currently, I’m at 33%.) Here are those actions:

  • I go back to old emails and delete the ones with attachments. (Those are the space hogs.)
  • Occasionally, I go back to the beginning of time and delete a few pages of emails, without taking too much time to figure out if they have value.
  • I am ruthless about deleting incoming emails that I see no immediate need to keep. (This is a more recent habit — otherwise, the inbox number would be lower.)

What’s your personal inbox number?


I am thankful

Trader Joe’s is in Colorado. I’m thankful. They’ve been with us for a while now (two or three years), and they are a mighty fine store.

Decent value pricing, often healthy ingredients, a wide variety of flavors not available at the big chain supermarkets — and tasty food.

Even though I’m an anti-junk mail person, I love their flyers. Creative writing abounds. And they are effective — I often buy stuff as a result. One time I even cut out the little built-in shopping list and checked the stuff I wanted and bought most of the items the next time I was in the store.

The only thing about Trader Joe’s I’m happy/sad about is that there is one on my way home from work… it’s all too easy to make a detour and buy little snacks I really don’t need.

Take time to be thankful today for something in your life. It worked for me. (I was going to write a complainy blog post — but I listened to my own blog post from last week, Positive.)



We’re surrounded by so much negativity, particularly in this election season.

I’m making a conscious effort to get rid of negativity in my own life by turning around my attitudes. It’s all too easy to immediately jump to the thing that’s wrong with something or someone — rather than focusing on the larger portion that is positive, clean, helpful and good-intentioned.

Focusing on the negative side only makes me someone that is no fun to be around. And it greatly cuts into my enjoyment of life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (from here).



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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

  • 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).
  • 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.



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.