Why is it still that way?

empty toilet paper shelves at the supermarket

I understood why the shelves were empty of toilet paper over a month ago. It was a weird kneejerk zombie-apocalypse mass response to Covid-19.

But why is this shortage still happening?

  • Can’t the companies that make toilet paper keep up?
  • Can’t the hoarders realize they already have a year’s supply?
  • Don’t people realize that Covid-19 is a respiratory illness and not a gastro-intestinal virus?

I did a little research and went to the Kimberly-Clark website. They are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of toilet paper.

The newsroom section of their website had two initiatives that seem a bit out of touch:

  1. No Baby Unhugged… don’t they realize that social distancing kind of prevents hugging babies from happening, other than by their own parent?
  2. #ShareASquare… there is very little mention of the idea of toilet paper hoarders sharing toilet paper with their neighbors who might not have planned ahead. The initiative seems more focused on giving to United Way. And share just a square… why not a whole roll?

To be fair, maybe their marketing team is probably stretched like the rest of us.

Update 1: Supply chain issues and working from home are some of the reasons why. Read more.

Update 2: Americans do hoard. My son recently arrived in the USA after having lived in Italy until April 15. He said supermarkets in his city of about a million people never had any toilet paper shortage. Italians normally buy what they need for a short time period and no more.


That haircut

Antonio, a guy who is not real

During the time of coronavirus, Antonio decided that it was time for a haircut. He knew his hair styling salon was closed.

Christopher, his hairstylist for the last nine years, was now lacking a source of income. Antonio was a compassionate person, so he decided to find out how to get in touch with Christopher, to arrange for a haircut.

The date was made, and the haircut took place.

Christopher received a very handsome tip.

Sadly, Christopher was one of those who had a mild form of coronavirus. Though he demonstrated no symptoms, he was a carrier.

Antonio was not so lucky with his encounter with coronavirus.

The moral of the story is that during this work-from-home era, maybe it’s OK to let your hair grow out a bit.

Antonio’s photograph is a CGI composite of several humans, courtesy of thispersondoesnotexist.com. You can read about that amazing site on Tom’s Guide.


Coronavirus respect

hand washing

We’re well into feeling the global impacts of the cornavirus. The depth of consequences to the world’s economy and productivity is truly sad.

No matter what your level of worry is, be kind when dealing with those who are more scared than you are.

And wash your hands.

Image is used via a Creative Commons license via Unsplash.


What I learned by taking a month off Instagram and Facebook

calendar with 3 months showing january greyed out

January first brought new year’s resolutions and healthy actions. At my son’s request, I reluctantly agreed to not use Instagram and Facebook for an entire month.

That exercise was helpful and stretching. But it was not the amazing revelation and breakthrough that some bloggers claim… words like “detox” are overstating the point a little, at least for me. I think my dependence on those apps may be less than for some people.

Positive aspects of the break:

  1. I gained many free small moments sprinkled throughout each day. I hadn’t used Instagram and Facebook enough before the break to read a whole novel┬áin my new free time, like some bloggers.
  2. I learned how often I click on my phone’s Instagram app – very frequently!
  3. Feeling the pain of loss most intensely happened during that first week. Not having those two avenues available became less of an issue as the month passed.
  4. Rather than wishing friends a happy birthday via Facebook, I used Messenger, which provided a greater connection in a few cases.
  5. I discovered that I definitely use Instagram more than Facebook. I found myself wanting to click my phone’s Instagram icon much more often than the Facebook icon.
  6. I sent more emails and made more phone calls.

Negative aspects of the break:

  1. I missed out on a few friends’ life events.
  2. I had to look elsewhere for super quick bites of entertainment. I cheated and did keep using Twitter… so my frequency of tweets increased compared to December. However, I actively tried to limit my use of Twitter.
  3. I found myself looking forward to February.

Results of the exercise:

  1. I’ll pare back the number of accounts in my Instagram and Facebook feeds. That will improve the quality of my browsing moments.
  2. I will try to use Instagram and Facebook less. The very fact that quitting for a month was not a huge revelation shows that I wasn’t missing much.
  3. One month may not have been long enough. At the very end of the month, I was at a restaurant alone, waiting for my lunch, and I reflexively had the urge to launch Instagram. That feeling had not hit almost since the first week. But it was still very deeply ingrained.

Caveat: During January, I went on Instagram and Facebook a few times for professional reasons since my work requires those platforms.


One cup at a time

ceramic and glass drinking vessels

You can save the planet – one cup at a time.

Well, I am overstating the impact of switching to a ceramic or glass drinking vessel, but you can save a lot of waste by asking for a “drink it here” vessel when you visit Starbucks for a sit-down drink next time.

Here are a few advantages:

  • You’ll prevent landfill accumulation.
  • You’ll save on manufacturing and transport costs for the cups, straws and lids.
  • You’ll enjoy the nicer feel of smooth ceramic or glass against your lips, compared to a thin plastic lid or a straw.
  • You’ll make me happy.

Don’t be a WeWork

fake wewont logo

You probably know that WeWork lost a ton of money through a failed IPO attempt and through the craziness of their former CEO Adam Neumann.

But the story that made even less sense was how SoftBank, its largest outside shareholder, kicked into high gear in supporting WeWork after the craziness started. As a result, SoftBank lost 4.6 billion dollars!

How does this apply to your business?

When all the signs point to a loss, stop investing!

  • Drop your investment in a new technology that you hoped would benefit your team in amazing ways but really isn’t.
  • Drop the time your team is spending on an initiative that shows little return.
  • Drop your support of a partner who really isn’t delivering on their promise.

You’ll be glad in the long run, even though the pain – and cost – may be great in the short term.

I also published this article on LinkedIn.


When change happens too fast

dead leaves on a tree in autumn

Autumn hit Denver this year faster than ever. The temperature dropped 70 degrees in 12 hours. As a result, most leaves never had a chance to turn their usual bright colors. They went from green to brown and are falling swiftly to the ground.

Business often forces growth in the same way. If the acceleration of growth happens at the speed of a Ferrari, what could go wrong?

A lot.

When quantity increases too fast, quality drops.

The end user’s needs often get lost in the push to get the product out the door.

So instead, slow down and experience the joys of life – both personally and in your business.

Caveat… businesses should be able to adapt to change quickly. An example is the music industry and its slow adjustment to the changes streaming brought to the marketplace.



match with flame

The older we get, the more cynical and cauterized we can become about life’s experiences.

As we’re hurt, it’s easy to say, “I’ve experienced this before, so it shouldn’t hurt as much this time through.”


If you experience pain, it shows you’re alive.

I’m thankful to be alive.

Sometimes it’s better to fully experience our pain rather than avoiding it. The lessons we learn might stick longer. Our appreciation of life post-pain will be greater. And our ability to empathize with those who are in pain will increase – they know we understand.


The incomprehensiveness of fashion

prada sneakers

Prada has a new pair of shoes – the Cloudbust Thunder.

They look like kids’ Power Rangers shoes. They appeal to… I’m not sure who.

And they are priced at $895, before taxes.


I’m sure they cost more to make than the Nikes people buy at Walmart. Prada designers are more highly-paid. Their nylon threads are sustainably-sourced. (Maybe not on that last one.)

It’s a luxury product from a luxury manufacturer. The outsized lug soles will not provide greater traction as the wearer navigates moonscapes. But the style will stand out in any crowd – at least to the shoegazers.

Interestingly, these shoes are in Prada’s “Must Haves” category.

Not for this shoegazer.


Facing the impossible

cars parked too close in Catania, Italy

It was our last night visiting our son, Ben. He lives in a crowded, noisy, hot city in Sicily, Catania.

We decided to stay in an Airbnb together in the heart of downtown, to give him a break from his normal life.

Problem: there’s literally nowhere to park.

The main parking garage is blocked in by the outdoor market. You can only park there if you arrive before the market stalls are set up or after they are taken down – and the stalls are up for most waking hours.

We finally found a spot, after looking for 20 minutes. Ben stood in the opening so I could drive around the block to access the spot. But then my lack of directional sense meant I could not get back. (A maze of one-way streets conspired against me.)

Ben, who is totally used to living there, was almost as frustrated by the situation as I was.

The moral of the story is, how do I deal with frustration and disappointment?

In this case, things worked out, and afterward, our frustration eventually died down.

(Ben met me in a place I shared via a maps app and then navigated me back to the aforementioned slot, which quite miraculously was still open. )

But a better reaction would have been to just relax and not worry about how long it all was taking. After all, we were on vacation together!