We need help – some of the time

car exhausts from 3 different cars

Some praise the idea of increased rules. Others tout the benefits of self-regulation.

I argue for somewhere in the middle.

I am old enough to remember cities before the era of car emissions laws… a brown layer of thick haze covered the skyline on most days.

Today, new passenger vehicles are 98-99% cleaner in what comes out of tailpipes compared to vehicles from the 1960s (source). That change would not have happened without government regulation.

At the other end of the spectrum lies the ridiculous state of health care in the USA. Because of government regulations (and also private litigation), it takes months to pay a single doctor’s bill. And it’s nearly impossible to find out the real cost of a simple procedure because of added complications from the insurance industry.

Why does government involvement in one area yield good results in one area and bad results in another? I’m not sure.

One end of the spectrum says groups have no wisdom. The other end says the individual has no wisdom.

Both are incorrect. Groups and individuals have wisdom – some of the time. And some individuals have no wisdom, just as some groups have no wisdom.

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Sometimes the minority loses

Ruth's Chris Tofu House

When we go out to eat, my wife’s choices are limited… she has gluten sensitivity challenges.

If a restaurant has gluten-free options, there are few. And they may not be marked as such.

We also get to pay double for the pleasure of knowing that the half-size pizza does not contain heavily-processed wheat flour.

Living in Clarendon, Texas (population 1,857) would cause even more limitations for someone with gluten issues.


Vegan? I won’t even go into that realm, but you see that the same issues apply. (There is no Ruth’s Chris Tofu House.)

Live with a wheelchair? There are not many off-the-shelf choices in the Ferrari line that will allow you to drive.


Is there a solution?

One might be for a Clarendon resident to move to the big city.

The big city resident might move closer to a Whole Foods supermarket and adjust their budget accordingly.

But basically, it’s just not fair if you fall outside the mainstream.

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Not OK to talk about

Today, it’s bad form to say anything about gender that was the popular view twenty years ago. But it’s very acceptable to criticize religious choices.

Thirty years ago, socially acceptable norms of discussion were the complete opposite.

There seems to be a rapid change of pace in what’s OK to talk about and not talk about.


And then there are areas that are never acceptable.

Many years ago, I was flying to California with a leader I respected – and respect – a great deal. The flight allowed us to talk more freely than our normal daily work life would ever permit.

He mentioned how some people needed just a few tweaks to their personal style for their image to be improved. But neither he nor I could ever mention those tweaks to those style-deficient individuals.

That would be crossing the line.


Heather and I have several years of experience at the game of parenting. We’ve learned a few things during that journey. But the opportunities to share those lessons are few. We fear accusations of being proud or not understanding the other side.

“Lead by example” only has so much impact. Sometimes a deficit and later a positive change need to be spoken about.


Thankfully, there are always outspoken individuals. If it weren’t for them, change would rarely happen.

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Toothpaste Museum

Not everyone knows that I run a toothpaste museum. If you go to Google and type in: “toothpaste museum”, you will see my site as the top result.

One of my sisters and I started exchanging toothpastes many years ago. (Since Amy lives in Belgium, she has access to vast swaths of toothpastes that are unknown on these shores.)

And it went from there.

Friends have brought me toothpastes from all over the world.

So you’ll have to check it out here.


p.s. The Museum “lives” at my office. I feature a new toothpaste every month. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by.

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350 iPhones

a house made of iPhones

It takes only the amount one would spend on 350 iPhone X’s to buy a decent house in Denver.

Or if you go for the base model, the iPhone 8, it’s like buying 500.

Somehow the (350 = a house) equation staggered me.

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The best dishwashing gloves

Mamison Korean kitchen gloves

I never knew that the best dishwashing gloves are made in South Korea.

Somehow, I discovered that fact and bought a pair through Amazon Prime.

And they are amazing.

My skin is naturally dry, so if I wash dishes by hand, my hands quickly dry out. So I enjoy protecting them with a second skin of latex.

These gloves fit well and are not impossible to get off when finished using. The outer rubber-ish material is grippy enough that dishes won’t slip out of my hands very easily. (And I have broken a dish or two over the years!) They are much longer than typical gloves, so you can wash pots and pans in a deep sink.

I can’t give an endurance report yet, but they definitely seem to be stronger than the U.S. supermarket varieties that I’ve used in the past.

Shortly after I bought them, some friends visited whose grandparents are from South Korea. They confirmed the superior quality of Korean dishwashing gloves and mentioned that the extra protection provided by these amazing gloves is valuable when preparing spicy kimchi. (The powerful spices in some varieties of kimchi can eat away at skin but are relatively harmless to the stomach.)

A win for South Korea!

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4×4 vs 2wd

quote about 4x4 vehicles

This quote, “Is there a 4WD in the range? Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t” is from Top Gear magazine.

Top Gear is more than a popular British TV show – it started as a magazine and expanded into television, garnering a far wider audience than the magazine could ever hope for.

Back to the quote – you would never read that in an American magazine, but it makes sense in a British context because:

  1. It rarely snows in the parts of England where people actually live.
  2. Fuel economy is a smaller deal in the States, since fuel is (currently) so cheap.
  3. To an American, owning a front-wheel drive crossover or SUV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.
  4. Because of these two reasons, 2WD crossovers and SUVs are very hard to sell – think of selling bags of ice to Eskimos. So if you buy one new, you are dooming yourself to a larger loss of money when it comes time to sell it on the used market.

Having said all that, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t live in a place that gets a ton of snow, I would urge you to consider a car that is front-wheel drive.

I live in a suburb of Denver and have never owned a 4WD vehicle. We get an average of 57 inches of snow a year. In my 20 years of commuting here, I have only gotten stuck in snow about two times.

We bought a set of snow tires and wheels for one of our cars and even take it up to ski. We’ve never gotten stuck.

I’m not condemning anyone who has a 4WD or AWD vehicle. They’re great. I’m just asking you to consider a car if you are in the market for a different vehicle. And if you like off-roading, you can rent a Jeep.

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You have to get it there

Krest Bitter Lemon bottle

Krest Bitter Lemon is a drink that’s widely available in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

While living in Kenya for five years, I developed a taste for the drink. It’s bright, refreshing and not too sweet.

But you can’t buy it in my town in Colorado, no matter how hard you try.


You need to travel. You’ll see, feel and taste things that you won’t experience in your hometown. Guaranteed, you will encounter life in ways you can’t where you live.

Travel can be expensive, but it’s a better way to hit the reset button than almost anything else I know.


Footnotes:

  1. My son Benjamin brought this plastic Krest bottle back after his time in Uganda during the summer of 2015. When he brought it, there was liquid inside. That wasn’t for long.
  2. Krest (and Schweppes) Bitter Lemon originally contained quinine, a malaria preventative substance.
  3. My post at My Part of Nairobi about Krest Bitter Lemon received more visits than any other post in history. Here’s why.
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It’s a luxury

sunset from the athletic club

I had a free week.

I won a visitor’s pass to a luxury athletic club not far from where I work. It was like getting to test drive a Ferrari – something mere mortals like me rarely experience.

If I were to rate the establishment on Google, I’d probably give it 5 stars. But would I ever join? No.

One simple barrier keeps me from making that part of my lifestyle… I can’t afford it.

Yes, it was great to put my clothes in a mahogany-faced locker. I loved the gourmet shampoo and body wash (in two flavors). I liked the fact that I could get a few free initial consultations with a professional trainer, so I could learn how to exercise better.

But for approximately five times what 24-Hour Fitness charges, I can’t justify the hit to our monthly expenses.

Heck, I can’t even justify 24-Hour Fitness at the moment.

Gotta stick with free bicycle commutes.


(I took the photo from the balcony, overlooking the tennis courts.)

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Take time to visit a museum

spider-like antique chair

This amazing spider-like chair currently appears in the Denver Art Museum. It totally reminded me of a Tim Burton movie.

Even if you live in a very small town, at least in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, there might be a museum you don’t even know about. Do a little research to see if there is one down that other street.

I guarantee you’ll learn something new if you spend at least an hour and read some of the exhibit plaques.

Footnotes:

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