A diamond in the rough

Episode home theater speakers

I love shopping at the Goodwill. It’s a great way to discover diamonds in the rough.

Amidst furniture that should have been taken to a dumpster and lightly-used wedding dresses, you might find something of great value!

Over the weekend, I dropped by our local Goodwill to buy a specific-sized container. I found a small ceramic masterpiece and avoided a trip to IKEA -making less environmental impact than buying something new.

For me, a trip to the Goodwill is not complete without stopping in the electronics aisle. This time, I discovered a pair of large audiophile speakers, shown above at a 90-degree angle.

These beauties were a brand I had never heard of – Episode. Apparently, they were sold by home theater installers about ten years ago – retailing for $1,500! Goodwill was selling the pair for $80.

They were about three feet tall, very heavy and covered in a deep black gloss finish.

Alas, these speakers were not to be part of my life. Since I’m married, decisions about purchases like this are not made alone. Heather thought they would be too visually overwhelming in our living room. And we don’t fire up our stereo enough to justify that expenditure.

(I could have bought them and tried to sell them on eBay or Craigslist, but it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle.)

Any discussion of the Goodwill would not be complete without mentioning my dad and my daughter.

My dad passed away long before my daughter was born, but they are united in their love of Goodwill stores.

My father was a child of the Great Depression, and poverty was integral to his life. He learned to shop secondhand because back then, everything used was far less expensive than new. (Today, that’s not always true.)

He and my Aunt Mary spent many joy-filled days together scouring countless Goodwill aisles for treasures.

My daughter takes great delight in finding Lululemon apparel at the Goodwill for far less than retail – and reselling it on Poshmark.

Like father, like son, like granddaughter.


The post I couldn’t write

blog post not written - screenshot

I started writing. I stopped.

It’s hard to be a voter in this election cycle.

Telling you why I voted one way or the other in a blog post is impossible. It’s so easy to be misunderstood or judged.

Our world has become so polarized that it’s hard to be fully heard. If a sound bite heading features what you don’t believe, you probably won’t read the whole article. And even if you read the whole article, you would probably read your own meaning over the words. I often do the same.

Face-to-face discussion is the only way to really understand what the other person means. (And yes, discuss at a safe distance.)


Get those other perspectives

Wall Street Journal Columnists - photo of magazine spread

Every month or so, The Wall Street Journal publishes WSJ Magazine, which I thoroughly enjoy.

One of the best sections is “The Columnists,” where six different people share their thoughts on a single-word subject. The most recent feature focused on time.

A wonderful aspect of this feature is that WSJ always pulls people from several different disciplines. For “time,” Bill Nye represented science and an actress shared how time affected her life. A chef is almost always represented, an author talks, and at least one celebrity pontificates on their brushes with the topic.

In the same way, it’s helpful to get different perspectives on what we’re facing in life. One viewpoint will rarely provide all the answers we need. Even when we know we disagree with a particular approach to life or culture, it’s good to hear from that side to help us shape our views.


Smaller in real life

mannekin pis sculpture

Reality has a way of messing with our preconceived notions.

Take Mannekin Pis, for example. This little guy is a famous landmark close to the center of Brussels, Belgium.

And he’s often thought of to be about 6 or 8 feet high. In reality, he’s just two feet tall.

Until we experience things for ourselves, we never know what’s real.

Apparently, some unknown group decorates little Mr. Mannekin for special occasions. The Tour de France was going through Brussels on the same day I took this pic. The unknown group had dressed him in a yellow jersey and a cycling cap.


The useless balcony

the traffic on East Belleview Avenue

Across the street from my office is a relatively expensive apartment building.

We’re not talking NYC levels – but the rent is similar for one of those Greenwood Village 2-bedroom apartments to that of a suburban Denver 3-bedroom house.

Yes, there’s location – I could walk to work if I lived there.

But I am not questioning the residents’ decisions to live there – I can understand some of the charms.

Rather I’m questioning the residents who choose to put patio furniture on their small balconies. You see, there’s a steady flow of traffic during all waking hours. Noise and diesel fumes are part of the experience a resident would enjoy by sitting on their balcony for a glass of wine at sunset.

What’s different about watching and listening to waves crashing on the beach? Those sounds also ebb-and-flow. Water flows past your feet, just as compact utility vehicles do along East Belleview Avenue.


Be like Italy

bare floor with carpet removed

You’ve been there…

…the Italian-American restaurant with fountains, fake distressed stucco on the walls and ceramic tile roof portions inside.

It’s an imitation, just like Las Vegas imitates reality with their New York and Egyptian themed hotels.

It’s not a bad thing to bring those places to people who may never get to visit the real thing.

But let’s be genuine.

My office building has been undergoing a renovation, mostly because flood damage meant they had to replace the carpets and baseboards anyway.

During the few days between when the old carpet was ripped up and the new carpet was laid, the bare floor was exposed. Then I saw a beautiful patchy, distressed, stucco-like pattern.

Why not leave it that way and skip the carpet?


Better in my imagination

So I was in the mountains for a few days. I took a few photos.

One evening, there was a fabulous sunset, visible from my hotel window. Being Mr. Smartypants, I took two photos of the scene – one dark photo showing the sunset and one light photo showing the foreground. I thought I’d quickly combine them later using Photoshop.

I did, but the result was far less satisfying than the real scene.


The eyes are always the best camera.

(And how many photos of the sunset have I taken over the years? Lots.)