Outside the box


Recently, I had the joy of having to wait for about 30 minutes at a bookstore. I gravitated to the magazine section, as is normally the case.

Objekt is a very cool interior design magazine based in Holland. I didn’t buy it but enjoyed browsing through. (The cover price was a bit out of my range.)

The most striking interior was from an office featuring these oblique light fixtures. How cool! The designer just thought how it might be more appealing if he (or she) put them at an angle rather than the usual up-and-down orientation.

So, today’s little take takeaway… what are some ways you can think outside the norm today? I say this to myself too — I tend to get lazy and just go with the easy solution to some of the things I work on.


Old but still active


My very first blog, My Part of Nairobi, was my chronicle of life in that great city. We lived there from 2005–2007.

It still gets almost as many hits as my current blog, even though I haven’t updated it since we left. I guess people find that life more interesting than this.

Anyhow, one of my favorite blogs is Africa Expat Wives Club. The author has an irreverant yet respectful look at life there. She and her family have chosen to stay, unlike us. So her blog chronicles life there — many of the struggles and joys of an expat living in Kenya.

So I was checking my Google Analytics stats for that blog and noticed that I had received about 140 hits from her link to me, just in the last month. Pretty fun!


I love Honda


Our Honda minivan is about six years old. We are embarrassed at all the “suburbia” connotations that go with owning a minivan. But it is incredibly convenient. Our 1993 small 2-seater coupe gets about 10 miles better per gallon. (We actually travel as a family very often in it to enjoy the savings — but we dislike almost everything else about the coupe, in comparison.)

Anyhow, I was noticing that the seatbelts were awfully slow to retract. I asked our independent mechanic how much it would cost to replace them. He informed me that Honda has a lifetime warranty on seatbelts. That is how much they care for your safety!

So the local dealership replaced three and fixed one. The new belts work so much nicer. The dealership even gave me a ride to and from their shop! No charge at all.


Mac Mini 2009 Review


Today Apple quietly changed their Mac Pro, iMac and Mac Mini lines. No visual changes for any of them — the guts are faster and storage is bigger.

Significant for greenies is that the new Mac Mini uses less energy than before: 45 percent less than the previous model — less than 13W while it’s idle. The graphics processing is much faster. The CPU gets a small bump upward.

My advice? Buy a refurbished Macbook for about $350 more. You’ll get a much faster CPU, a built-in webcam and a monitor, along with portability.


More lessons from hot sauce


I was amazed when I read the new slogan for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce: “I put that on everything.” And to emphasize their point, they have put a giant splash in the middle of the slogan — underlining a lack of finesse in applying their hot sauce.

Lesson? A reminder to me about not applying one criteria to everything. It’s so easy to stereotype — when we see someone who is different than us, we like to put them in a box. That slogan also goes against American culture’s trend to niche everything. I’m surprised it successfully ran through Frank’s approval committee.

By the way, I love hot sauce. I don’t apply one kind to everything — or hot sauce to everything. Thus, I have about five bottles in my arsenal, ready for use on various dishes.


Lessons from a hot sauce packet


Cholula had a great idea — make their hot sauce available in little packets so that restaurants could provide that bit of spicy yumminess in small easy-to-carry-away containers.

I have seen small Tabasco packets before (at a Chic-Fil-A), but this was the first time I had seen Cholula. Maybe Cholula will slowly carve some of the market that Tabasco has created.

I love how they put a photo of their bottle on the back of the packet. In essence this says, “If you like this, pick up a bottle to enjoy at home!”

What are some ways you can offer what you do in smaller “packets” that are cheaper or easier to grab? What are some ways you can expand where your services are offered?


Target = good


One day last week Heather got the local newspaper for free, so we enjoyed cruising through that view of life in Denver and beyond.

The thing that caught my interest was the Target sale flyer. It featured nothing more than $80! There were no big flat screen TVs, no fancy digital cameras and no lawnmowers for the coming spring. Most items were about $20 or less. I mean, look at the cover — one item for $2 and one item for $5! Finally, each spread featured one healthy sort of theme — like family game night.

Target gets my vote.


Another very cool shop


Mont Bell. It’s a very expensive backpacking gear shop in Boulder, Colorado. It’s the Japanese company’s flagship store in the USA.

I have been into backpacking gear since about 1974. I love the state-of-the-art stuff, and it doesn’t get any more on the edge than Mont Bell. Any backpacker can tell you that lightness is king. As you can tell from the photo, this parka in the window weighs just 13.8 oz!

Sadly, my budget didn’t stretch for the parka I was lusting after (a different one), even though it was discounted about a third. Sigh. But that didn’t stop me from appreciating the beauty of their design and functionality.

p.s. A footnote, if you are a Boulder-lover… Andrew has a great post on the best places to eat breafast in Boulder. Again, sadly, Heather and I are very rarely in Boulder at breakfast-time.