Travel to get perspective

London in the summer of 2011It has been a while since we left the state. We need to get away. It’s so important to remove ourselves from our normal lives to regain perspective. If we’re always down in the tunnel of work and daily routines, we forget what is really important.

If you can’t afford to travel away, just go to your next town. Take a day off and hang out at a restaurant or coffee shop you’ve never been to before. Try a new type of food. Visit a different aisle in the supermarket. Leave your computer at home. Don’t take your work with you. Turn off your mobile phone.


(The photo is courtesy of my daughter Rachel.)


We saved for a long time

French restaurant receiptIt was going to be our great extravagant dinner to end all dinners. The atmosphere was nice. Very French cafe. Very authentic.

We had saved all year long, putting the money toward one great event. (Yes, even the kids made sacrifices.) We decided to have an elegant French dinner. Heather had been inspired by a book written by Julia Child, describing her years in Paris.

Huge disappointment. No baguette and butter as a warm-up. Ben’s entrée was the most expensive – and the worst. (I won’t even describe it.) The dessert was far less tasty than what we had at the pâtisserie just down the street from where we stayed.


Moral of the story? Don’t put all your hopes in one basket. You may be disappointed. And, be sure to read those guide books before you make a commitment.

Don’t worry, I gave them a really bad writeup on Google Places.


You pay the price

Loveland Pass hike and traffic jamHeather, Jay and I went for a hike up at Loveland Pass, Colorado, yesterday. It was wonderful. (That’s the two of them in the snow, just off the trail – yes, and only a day before August.) We were cut short by thunderstorms… It’s not nice to get hit by lightning at 12,000.’

Anyhow, though we live just 90 minutes’ drive from that beautiful spot, we paid the price on the return… stop and go traffic for about 3 hours. (The traffic was stopped enough that I actually got out of the car and stood up to take the lower photo.)

So nothing’s free.


The beauty of zoom

Sidewalk cafe in Paris (copyright Paul Merrill)I could have never gotten this photo with my previous camera. This Sony has a 10x optical zoom. Great for getting closer than I would otherwise.

(Sidewalk cafes, during an evening in Paris.)


Health in France

As we were wandering around Paris, my daughter noticed that a lot of people smoked.

Wikipedia says that France is number ten in the world for life expectancy. The US is number thirty-six.

My guess why is that French people walk more places than Americans. And the red wine and slower pace of life don’t hurt either. The US is number one for obesity. France is number twenty-three.


Better in each place

We just got back from a family vacation to Europe. Lest you think we are extravagant jet-setters, we went to see my sister who lives in Belgium. And since our oldest is about a year from leaving the nest, this may be our last family vacation for a long time.

Visiting another country spotlights things that are different. In England, school uniforms are common. Advantage? Kids don’t need to spend a lot to look cool. Disadvantage? Kids aren’t able to show their individuality.

It’s like that with just about every area of life. Cars? I love European. Homes? I love the increased space that American homes have for similar money.

So remember when you start to criticize another place – your home isn’t perfect. And if you haven’t traveled to another country, take the opportunity to do so. (USA people? Even Canada and Mexico are worth the hike.)


Hardly unique

dfw-connectedDFW airport (Dallas, Texas) bills itself as “The World Connected”. And that is true of how many airports around the world?

Takeaway: How can you brand your business in a way that is truly unique? That may not be important, if you’re the owner of a Taco Bell restaurant franchise location. But if you offer something that is one of many, you need to provide a handle for potential clients to see how you are different than the rest. If you’re not different, be different.


What do you NOT need to say?

noneed2sayThis Frontier Airlines mini-billboard had no words. It didn’t need any. Larry the Lynx is familiar enough to frequent flyers that he speaks for himself. Without words, in this case.

What message is Frontier giving us? I dunno. Even though I rarely watch regular TV, I have seen their funny commercials with talking animals. They must be betting that Larry will give us enough subtle warm feelings that we’ll book our next flight with Frontier.

Takeaway: What do you NOT need to say in your next communication? Consider giving your customers, clients and friends more credit for what they probably already know.



schrafftsI lived in the suburbs of Boston during my junior and senior high school years. The Schrafft’s candy factory was – and still is – visible along one of the major traffic arteries.

I saw the factory last week. I was in Boston for a workshop. In my attempts to save my organization some money, I elected to stay in a suburban hotel rather than a pricey one downtown. I figured that since I had navigated Boston’s public transport system as a high schooler (and enjoyed doing so), I would have no problem getting from point A to point B.

Not true.

By the second and final day of the workshop, I figured it out. But the figuring out was painful. The first night I went from the airport to the hotel. I discovered that the bus route that Google Maps showed me (while in Denver) referred to a route that was only run during mid-days. The second night, I went on a long slow bus loop that was completely unnecessary.

Ah well, it was an adventure.

Anyhow, Schrafft’s no longer makes candy there. The building contains offices. Not-for-candy offices.