Different signs

Gold bicycleBicycles are all over Oxford, England. (Good thing, since there are few places to park a car!) Signs are on every surface that isn’t moving. (And some that are.)

Someone thought of combining the two – they put signs for theatre productions on old bikes that are painted totally gold.

What ways can you combine unlikely objects to get your message across?


Listen to that advice

Flooded basementA year ago, our friend Jack said our water heater was probably going to break soon – and he recommended getting it replaced.

We though, “Why spend the money today? It probably has 2-3 years left, and we’ll get a new one when we feel like we can afford it more.”

So Saturday morning, it broke and flooded our basement. Thankfully, recovering from the flood cost no more than a Saturday afternoon and a sore back. But I would have avoided both if I had listened to Jack’s advice.

So my advice to you is this: please listen to your plumber, your doctor or your car mechanic when they say it’s time to get that work done. They probably know more about the problem than you do. And it may cost you more than a Saturday and a sore back to fix that disaster.


Fun for your Friday, number 15

Artwork similaritiesMy nephew Tijs (roughly pronounced, “Tace”) is an amazing artist. The apple does not fall far from the tree; his mom (my sister Amy) is an artist too.

When Amy sent me this little metal piece and his artwork, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities.


Six years ago today

My former blogsI started blogging on August 24, 2005. My first personal blog was My Part of Nairobi. My second was My Part of Colorado. My third? It’s what you are holding in your hands now.

Blogging, it has been good to me. And hopefully to you too. If you’ve been with me since Nairobi, you deserve a loyalty card! If you’ve arrived since then, Check out some of that old stuff. You will enjoy the ride, I promise.


How do you stay healthy?

BicyclingThat’s a question. I’d love to hear what you do to stay healthy. Please leave a comment at the end of this post. Why? Your healthy activities and interests might inspire me and other readers in new and interesting directions.

Here’s what I do:

Ride my bike. I try to ride it places instead of driving. This takes some planning. And it’s rarely possible with the whole family. (Those rides are usually for leisure.)

Exercise my arms and shoulders. Last October, I pinched a nerve in my neck. A great physical therapist gave me a set of several exercises that have kept that pain away. I do this 3 to 5 mornings a week, using a very simple stretch device.

Eat dinner with my whole family. With two teenage sons and a ten-year-old daughter, this is not easy, but we do manage to share our evening mealtime about five days a week. This allows us to stay closer and keep up with what we are all doing.

Read the Bible. This keeps me focused on what’s important. (If you’d like to explore this one, start with the book of Mark or Luke.)


It’s all about context

MangosteenWhen we were in London, we stopped into Harrod’s. My sons loved the food hall that had a large selection of exotic fruit. If you were willing to pay, you could sample all manner of fruits, flown in from very far away.

I had to take a photo of the mangosteen – £32 for a kilo – or about US $ 52, as of this writing. My dear friends in Southeast Asia pay quite a bit less. But sitting on a tropical patio eating mangosteen is a lot different than sitting in a cramped apartment in grey London, enjoying (nearly) the same taste. And maybe to someone who sorely misses their home near the equator, that taste would just about be worth it.

We also saw an unbelievable number of exotic cars. The highlight was a Bugatti Veyron, worth about $1,500,000. Just driving on the street. The guy behind the wheel was maybe on his way to get a litre of olive oil at the nearest supermarket. Driving that car was an ordinary part of his day. For me, it would be an experience to remember for the rest of my life.



New toothpaste

Lush Cosmetics Shopping BagNewer visitors at Shiny Bits of Life may not know that I also run The International Toothpaste Museum.

The latest paste is one of the most unique – from Lush Cosmetics.

And just to throw you off, I’m not showing the paste here but rather the shopping bag it came in. (Thanks, Amy!)


Really two countries

Learning from receiptsThis receipt is from a French sporting goods chain store in my sister’s town. The entire receipt is in Dutch (Flemish), except for the descriptive slogan.

Belgium is divided into French- and Flemish-speaking parts. They don’t get along very well, in general. Both parts are very mono-lingual, as far as things like signage and available printed materials.

This is interesting to me, in light of Canada’s very bilingual packaging and signage, in spite of the relatively small portion of French-speaking people. And most all packaging in Switzerland has their four major languages on it.

Culture and politics do affect communication.


Words to describe music

Mercuria and the GemstarsI am challenged when coming up with terms to describe music by the bands I like. The best way I know how to do this is, “They sound like ___ .” (Insert similar band’s name there.) And what if they don’t sound like any other band? I don’t have a good way to describe their music.

Along the same lines, wine terminology leaves me cold. “Oak-ey. With a hint of banana.” Etc. When was the last time you drank or ate some oak? And would you like a wine that tastes like banana? Wine terminology also adds in a snobbery factor… people who don’t spend a lot of time and money pondering the nuances of fine wine can’t really understand it.

The relatively poor photo is captured from a video I took of the band Mercuria and the Gemstars, a Denver band that I do like.