King of the World

Before you start reading this one, you need to know that my big brother, Bill Merrill, wrote this as a guest post. The views expressed here are not necessarily my views. But it’s certainly a fun road to go down. If you’ve read this blog very long, you already know some of the things I’d change…


crownOn the ego continuum of “Mother Teresa to Mr. Trump,” I rank myself somewhere in the middle, but I do have occasional fantasies involving things I would mandate if I were “King of the World” and everyone would have to follow my commands. The list has evolved over the years. For example, I’ve dropped one I wished for during my apartment dweller days, now that I’m a homeowner. It was “Anyone arriving home after 11PM and making enough noise to awaken anyone else in the apartment complex will be subjected to severe punishment.”

I’m about to give you a partial list of the current “K.o.t.W.” rules, but first these notes: (1) Obviously if I had the K.o.t.W. power, I would try to establish world peace, end poverty & hunger, etc. This list involves selfish stuff I would require after those altruistic things are taken care of. (2) All matters of practicality and popularity are hereby put aside. I’m sure if most of these rules were implemented, they would lead to great disasters, chaos, and/or a mass uprising, but so be it. (3) The “severe punishment” for breaking these rules would be much worse than thirty lashes with a wet noodle, but the exact nature is left to the reader’s imagination. Be certain that it would be very dire indeed! (4) These are my rules. You can make your own if you become K.o.t.W. / Q.o.t.W. Also, any resemblance to Bill Maher’s “New Rules” is strictly coincidental.


  1. No chewing gum. This is simply because it ends up on the bottom of my shoe and sometimes in other undesirable locations (ex., under desks & tables).
  2. No TV network or station (or online viewing source) will ever be allowed to repeat the same commercial within a single program or broadcast. A violation will result in the immediate loss of broadcasting rights.
  3. The manufacturers of leaf blowers must redesign them to be much more quiet. Sale and ownership of noisy leaf blowers will be forbidden beginning one year after I ascend to the throne. Violators will receive extremely harsh punishment.
  4. In a city where I live or am visiting, no tractor-trailer rigs will be permitted on the roads during morning and evening rush hours.
  5. No recording artists or music producers will be allowed to use the sound effect of a police siren in the recordings they make. This is because if I’m driving my car and music with a siren comes on, for a moment I think it is an actual siren, and I briefly freak out.

Image credit: Southeastern Star, Creative Commons licensed via Flickr.


Even though we know it

Starbucks Mug

When I finished college, I hung out with a group of designers in Dallas, Texas. One of the things we enjoyed was sharing meals together at some of the town’s many many dining establishments. And we would always critique each restaurant’s menu design.

Even though we were (and some of that group still are) involved in designing things like menus – or product packages – we were and are still susceptible to the lure of a well-designed piece.

It makes logical sense that knowing we’re paying for the ambiance of a particular restaurant with basically the same food as a cheaper but more spartan restaurant a few miles away might make us head for the cheaper place – but no. Or we’ll buy a thing with a fancy box instead of the same thing in plain box.

(The budget factor does play into our decisions, of course!)

Experience includes all of our senses. We pay for experience.

Photo: I love many of the designs Starbucks creates, including this mug. And they do a pretty good job with the customer experience, as well.


From wealthy to semi-criminal

Categories of wealth in London

It’s amazing to look at the progress we’ve made.

This legend is on a map of London from about 1900. Neighborhoods of the city were blocked off into the levels of wealth represented by their residents.

Such a map would never exist today. We all categorize people we see, but it’s not polite to even say those categories, except to the most trusted of friends.

In America, we have gated communities. You can’t drive in, unless you are given the code or are invited. You are categorized as resident, friend of resident or not welcome.

I lived in gated communities in Nairobi, Kenya, for five years. The disparity between my relative wealth and that of those not welcome was vast. Heather and I tried to do all we could to break down that barrier, for a few.

Now that we’re living back in America, the gate between us and them is more powerful. It’s time. Our memories fade and the need to help has become less urgent.


A great computer

If you read my Tesla review, you might think that I desire newer, faster, better everything.

That’s not always true.

The 2011 Macbook ProMy early 2011 Macbook Pro is still humming along gracefully. Five years is a long time in computer years. (According to this website, my computer is 92 human years old.)

But it still works great. I’ve changed its battery once, added more memory (wish I could do that for me!) and swapped out the spinning hard drive for a smaller-capacity flash drive.

It’s running the latest operating system – Apple keeps supporting this old machine.

The strangest thing is that I have no burning desire for a newer Mac. Yes, I do like the newer Macbook Pros (and think the new Macbook is a thing of beauty). But the functionality of a newer Mac isn’t different enough that I’d go through the hassle and expense of upgrading. Plus, my old Mac has a CD/DVD drive – I can add music from that old fossil media source without an external drive. (However, I wouldn’t really miss that capability if mine ever died.)

Also interesting – Apple still sells my same basic computer brand-new (though it has a newer brain).

Finally, if you’re ever in the market for a Mac, I’d recommend buying a factory refurb direct from Apple. Those computers have the same warranty as all-new versions. And often, you can get the latest models as refurbs.