Queen Elizabeth II died a few days ago. You know that.
She was very well loved across the world. I read several well-crafted reflections by both English citizens and Americans about what a wonderful lady she was. Besides being the sovereign of a country for more years than most people live, she was able to ride the balance between leadership and humility. She commanded respect by her character and not by requesting it from her subjects.
So what does a crossing guard toy have to do with the Queen? In some ways, very little. But in other ways, she reflects some of the best parts of English culture. Ms. Lollipop Lady (as it says on the back of her coat in small print) commands respect, though she may not be the fiercest presence you could imagine at a street crossing.
And the Queen reflects consistent branding in England. Around 25 years ago, crossing guards all across England had the same uniform. Likewise, the queen was part of the brand of the English Empire. Her visage appears on currency and postage stamps of several countries. Slowly, Charles will replace the Queen on both money and letters. Sad.
So when I heard about Elizabeth’s passing, I was sad. I know less about Charles. And I promise you, his aura won’t outshine that of his mum.
What a wonderful lady she was.
Global warming, whether you believe in it or not, is bad.
Or you can say we’re just in a big swing of climate change that will correct itself someday, somehow.
In either case, we can do a little bit here and there to make a difference about the increasing temperatures of our globe.
One small thing that wouldn’t be hard – turn off those lights in downtown offices.
A big plus to this happening is that the coal-fired power plants could run at less capacity at night.
It wouldn’t be that hard to accomplish…
All offices would have motion detector light switches that would turn the lights off between 7 pm and 5 am. If someone were actually working at night, they would just move and the lights would stay on for another hour.
The federal, state and local governments would pass this as a law, giving businesses a year’s advance notice.
Light switch creation and installation businesses would be funded by … well, I came up with the rest and will leave that idea up to you.
The photo was shot by Jörg Angeli and is used under a Creative Commons license.
Ah, the weekend – a great time to go experience the outdoors!
We drove about 90 minutes from our suburban Denver home to a beautiful high-altitude US Forest Service park above Boulder.
When we arrived at the gate, the park ranger asked, “Do you have a reservation?”
Could we buy a park pass there, like in the good old days? No.
The park ranger told us, “If you drive downhill about 20 minutes, you might get enough cell coverage to go on the website to buy a pass.”
We tried. The website had such bad usability and loaded so slowly that it was impossible to buy the necessary pass.
Two weeks later, we went to a different park to enjoy a hike. This was part of the state parks system.
Foiled again. The same exact thing happened – a different website and a different system, but we were again not able to buy a pass.
The first park’s ranger explained that this was a new system put in place since Covid.
The photo above shows that apparently others were foiled in their attempts to enter the park… the final parking lot at the trailhead was completely empty.
In the end, that first weekend, we hitched a ride from the park entrance to the trailhead with a couple who knew the system and had a pass beforehand. On the second weekend, we found a decent hike just off a main road.
So we did get to hike, but it was an exercise just to find trails we could use.
Every May across the USA, students exit their dorms and apartments and return to their ancestral parental homes.
They leave behind a ton of stuff.
My daughter moved out of her college dorm room for the last time in May. As we were hauling her stuff down to the car, she pointed out the “grab anything you want” pile.
One student had thrown out their Christmas coffee beans. The package was almost full.
Another left a perfectly good Apple USB-C charger.
I grabbed the beans because even though they were not fresh, they would supplement my coffee mixture for a good number of mornings. And I knew I could use the charger somewhere.
We also bolstered our snack stash for the journey home.
That was just the tip of the iceberg.
We didn’t need a couch, and none of the clothing fit my style.
Multiply this by 5,300* and you can imagine the number of truckloads going to landfills – tons and tons of valuable stuff just wasted.
An environmentally-aware entrepreneur could prevent that waste by creating organizations to intercept discarded goods before they enter landfills.
* That is the approximate number of colleges and universities across the USA.
Occasionally, here at Shiny Bits of Life World Headquarters, we must deal with things that aren’t very shiny.
Sometimes things just happen that cause a loss of time, energy, money and/or relationships.
A very small pain hit my car the other day. (Do cars feel pain?)
I had taken the car for some brake work to a local repair shop. When I came to pick it up, there were tar-like splotches across the hood and roof. A flock of birds had perched on the tree above my car and left their mark.
It took me about an hour of hard scrubbing to remove the birds’ artwork.
Why? What was the purpose of that event?
I will never know.
My pain – or my car’s pain – is so minor compared to what many people face. But here are a few responses that helped me.
- I was thankful that it was such a minor incident. One hour of scrubbing is a small drop in the pond of my life.
- I was thankful that I have a car that could receive the birds’ offerings.
- Letting my negative feelings toward the unseen flock of birds pass through my mind as quickly as possible minimized my pain.
Here’s a rhetorical question (since few people comment on blogs anymore)… what have you found that has helped you deal with bad stuff that just happens?
Glucosamine is a health supplement that supposedly helps with range of motion and joint pain. So I’ve used it for years.
The problem is that it’s expensive. So I usually wait for BOGO deals (buy one, get one free).
I recently got that deal with two bottles of Osteo Bi-Flex.
After I got home, I discovered that both bottles were less than half full! So I combined them and still had room left in the bottle.
- The consumer thinks they’re getting more than they actually are.
- The product takes twice as much shelf space.
- The product takes twice as much space in a truck on its way to the store.
- The consumer pays for twice as much packaging.
- Twice as much plastic is being manufactured from crude oil.
- Twice as many bottles are likely thrown away or possibly recycled – and trucked to the dump or recycling center.
Come on, companies – wake up and stop wasting our resources!
When I was six years old, Red Ball Jets came out with the coolest sneakers ever. They were totally black except for the little red ball on the heel label.
I wanted some so bad that even though the store didn’t have my size, I was willing to get a pair that was way too big – just so that I could be cool.
That sense of cool was internal. I don’t remember any of my friends having a pair.
Many years later, I finally got my all-black sneakers.
This pair is even cooler. They are made from almost 100% recycled materials. It’s surprising how much they look like my childhood favorite shoes.
Rewards (sometimes) come to those who wait.
In 1985, James Taylor wrote a song about being a star in the music business. One part always struck me: “Perfect strangers … pay good money to hear Fire and Rain again … And again and again.”
It’s 26 years later. He has sung Fire and Rain countless times since.
I can’t imagine the pain of singing a hit song over and over. And over and over.
I guess you just numb yourself to the experience.
Two months ago, I saw one of my recent favorite bands live. A few of their songs stuck in my head since then. I played them enough times that I had to stop.
I followed their tour on Instagram. Compared to pre-Covid times, it was a short tour – about fifty performances over a few months. But they must have gotten tired of singing their songs every night. Forty years from now? I can’t imagine…