first-dateYesterday was Valentine’s Day. You know that. But today I wanted to remind you that you should try to keep those flames of romance burning more than just one day a year.

(Prego Pasta House was where Heather and I had our first date — in January 1989. We’re still together. We’ve had some tough times but are still loving each other. We only give credit to God.)


It will just have to stay in my memories

lazy-tommyThe other day, I was reflecting on a great book I loved when I was a kid — Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead, by William Pene Du Bois. It’s a fun tale of a spoiled kid who had everything done for him — until things went wrong. The illustrations of Mr. Pene Du Bois were partly responsible for my choice of career.

I thought how fun it would be to share the book with my third-grader. Alas, it’s priced out of my range. Finding out made me wish I had hung onto everything from my childhood. (But the practical side of me said I couldn’t pay the storage warehouse fees.)

These days, publishers are having to be even more choosy about which titles they reprint, so I don’t fault them.

By the way, his most popular title, The Twenty-One Balloons, is in print — and you can get it for about $4 shipped via Amazon.


How Chris changed my life

brogan-n-paulChris Brogan and I first met when I was in Africa. We “met” through the wonderful world of blogging. I was working as a manager at a non-profit organization whose Africa headquarters were in Nairobi, Kenya. I found Chris’s blog through another long-forgotten social media authority. Chris’s blog quickly made it to the top of my daily must-read list. His easy-going manner, wide knowledge of many topics and above all, humility, drew me in. He has the ability to relate with a large number of people and make them feel like they have value. Rare indeed.

Chris found me through our mutual friend Jon Swanson. I was blogging about the quirkiness of life in the frenzied city of Nairobi. Chris enjoyed my perspectives and appreciated some of the work we went there to accomplish.

How did Chris change my life? He introduced me to the world of social media. I realized that I enjoyed that world! Management was not my cup of tea — at least when it involved directly managing 15 people, none of whom were Americans. (Cultural gaps were magnified in ways that I never expected.) So when our tour of duty was up, we returned home to Colorado — and social media became part of my job mix. Thank you Chris!

Disclosure: a small part of why I wrote this post is that I’m entering this post to try to win a free trip to #SOBCon2010 (the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference in Chicago). I met Chris and Jon face-to-face at SOBCon 2009. I must say that more people than Chris changed my life as a result of the 2009 conference.


Acura vs Mercedes

acura-v-mercObvious competitors.

Acura is winning the race, in terms of their literature. Notice the size difference between their brochures. And the Acura brochure’s design is far nicer than that of the Mercedes. It has more pages as well.

The cars themselves? I can’t say that I have ever driven an Acura, though I have driven (and owned) several Hondas. I have driven a few Mercedes cars. The feel of quality is in the same ballpark.

Mercedes had a very dark time in the 90s. I remember when their ML-Class SUVs were at the very bottom of the JD Powers survey in the UK. But supposedly their quality has improved. Maybe leaving Chrysler behind has allowed them to focus a bit more. But Mercedes still has the edge in terms of their image and name. Honda made the mistake (in my opinion) of launching a separate brand in the USA. (Acura does not exist outside the borders of the US of A — whereas Lexus, Toyota’s equivalent, does.) And what’s the brand of choice for any African dictator? Mercedes.

I just wondered why Mercedes decided to cut their brochure budget. Maybe they feel secure enough that they don’t think they need brochures to sell their vehicles.


Daily extravagance

neem-soap$5 for a bar of soap?

Well, you see, it started with a free sample. The CEO of Organix-South sent me a sample of their lovely Neem toothpaste for an International Toothpaste Museum review. Besides the toothpaste, she sent me several hotel-bar-sized samples of their soap. I got hooked.

When the samples finally got spent, I was desperate for some more. So when a few extra dollars were given to yours truly for Christmas, what did I go out and spend the money on? A bar of soap!

How could I justify spending so much for a bar of soap?

1) The smell is amazing. My shower each morning is now something I look forward to — just because of that smell! (I must disclose that Heather doesn’t like the smell. But it doesn’t wear off on the user — so she is still happy to hang around me!) I have a very weak sense of smell, and this soap has the ability to awaken my nasal powers unlike anything else — if only for a brief second.

2) I have really dry skin. During winter in dry Colorado, some days find me wanting to soak in a bathtub full of lotion. (Never done it — but I’ve thought about trying!) This soap seems to make a huge difference for me.

I’m not advocating your buying this soap. But I thought you’d like to know why I bought that bar over Christmas break.


From the sublime to…

Q-gagaWhen I saw this photo of the Queen of England shaking hands with Lady Gaga, my main thought was — who is the person who plans her schedule? That person needs to be fired.

Lady Gaga, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the latest pop sensations. Or better stated, she was the pop sensation on the day the January 21st edition of Rolling Stone magazine was printed. And also for the unaware, she is not much of a lady, from what little I’ve read.


What I learned from children

r-floof-09The biggest thing I learned from my own children is how selfish I am. This is a lesson I continue to learn in new and different ways with each passing year.

Children (particularly the younger variety) don’t ask for their parents’ time — they demand it. Every time their request is made, I have a choice — my fulfillment or theirs?

I feel like I have failed this test many many times. (“Dad, your computer is more important than I am!”) But the few times I have passed the test by making the right choice, I never regret it. I’d urge you to do the same.

A second thing I learned is that having children has expanded my capacity to love. I was single until I was 29. Getting married expanded that love capacity. Having children expanded it further.

Special thanks to Robert Hruzek for suggesting this post.


Do you shop at Amazon?

do-you-amazonIf you shop at Amazon, bookmark this post — and you can contribute to the Shiny Bits of Life tip jar, by starting your shopping with this link.

Reason? Shiny Bits of Life is an Amazon affiliate. If you buy anything from Amazon and you start from that link, Shiny Bits will get a small percentage of your purchase — at no extra cost to you!

Alternatively, the same link is at the top of the “You should visit” links near the top of the sidebar, at the right.

Have fun shopping! Remember, Amazon has most of the stuff you need — and don’t need.