Saturday, August 29, 2015

What’s Scoop with Poop?

A local museum’s ad reminded me of a family vacation we took years ago. I told our kids that, during the trip, we visited a museum that focused on wildlife and conservation. On an outdoor exhibit walk around the building, we saw animals living in the grasses, bushes, and in the river. Signs along the elevated walkway displayed pictures of the animals’ “output.”

One of our kids wondered why our local museum advertised an exhibit on “output.” I explained that you can identify an animal by it, and added that the museum thought the topic would attract kids who giggled at that sort of thing. I thought the conversation was over until one of our kids asked, “Are we kids or barbarians?” Barbarians—like the ones from the Roman Empire?  Someone paid attention in history class. Maybe this helps explain the museum’s topic choice:


The scoop on poop: Is it entertainment or education? Who knew output deserved so much scientific attention? It can be helpful to discuss the scoop on poop, or any other topic. How we say things and why we’re mentioning them will show whether we’re speaking like decent people or barbarians.

Political correctness shouldn’t force us to bury controversial topics, but it should encourage us to speak on them without using pie-in-the-face words. What national conversation do you want to defend without it turning into a big stink?          

Friday, August 21, 2015

If You're Captivating

Help! I’m stuck on You Tube and I can’t get off. Yeah, it happened. I tried to send an S.O.S. text to the kids to come get me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen long enough to type it. Who doesn’t get trapped on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and the many other captivating social media sites?  

I got online to look for a music video, migrated to (Name a Country’s) Got Talent, and ended with my favorite—flash mobs! It was that kind of evening. Here’s one of the time-stealing videos I watched: 

Hilarious! The judges’ expressions seemed to say, “You’re singing what?” How does a huge voice like that come from such a small mouth? The little singer seemed matter-of-fact, but she had an extraordinary gift to share.
There was no English translation on the initial video I saw. This one packed more power because it explained how she found her song. I want to know how she found that voice. Her video collected over fourteen million hits. That’s huge! If you could make a video guaranteed to attract millions of viewers, what would you share with the world?  
P.S. I typed the last word in this post, glanced up, and saw this face flash across the TV screen:  What a gift!          

Friday, August 14, 2015

Shunned, But Not Forgotten

It’s over. For more than twenty years, I boycotted a designer. I passed on purchasing coats, pants, shoes, and all kinds of cool apparel. Here’s the back story:

For years, I’ve enjoyed art and advertisements. I worked at an ad agency, and usually pay close attention to magazine ad campaigns. One day, while browsing through a fashion magazine, I noticed one designer’s ad for apparel or perfume. Over time, I forgot the particular product, but the use of nude models stuck with me.

Nudity in magazine ads, in films, and on TV feels like an artistic cop-out. If a product or project is fantastical and compelling, does nudity need to be part of the picture? It feels like a cop-out for a lack of creativity. And so, without circulating a petition or making a scene, I started my personal boycott of a fashion designer.

The designer has suffered long enough. It’s time to end the boycott. Let bygones be bygones. These days established designers manufacture apparel for all price levels, and so I finally bought a dress by the designer whose products I had avoided for so many years.
Boycotts have a place whether public or personal, short or long-term, silly or serious. You never know what people will want to boycott:


Every morning people flock there for a morning fix. When we’re on vacation, we’ll visit that establishment about five times a week for breakfasts, beverages, snacks, or restroom breaks. I’m against genetically-modified products, too. I sympathize with Mr. Young’s position, but another boycott? It’s too soon! I’m not ready to make that sacrifice. 

That’s the problem with protests. Despite your best intentions, there will be non-supporters. Regardless of how other people feel, what position would you defend for twenty years or more?             

Friday, August 7, 2015

Who’s on the Throne in 2016?

Can you believe it’s time for political debates and discussions about presidential elections? After I updated our kids about the presidential candidates’ recent comments and decisions, our youngest child remarked, “This is like a bad dream.” Let’s hope the dream gets better—for us and for our children.
Young people always offer interesting insights. Kids, no matter where they live, often surprise us with their ideas about politics. Have a listen:


Kids may not know everything about being president, but talking about politics is the first step toward raising future voters. Let’s hope kids realize their voices can make a positive difference, despite the political behaviors they see. Based on the current political environment so far, we’d better strap ourselves in for the bumpy ride to Election Day. Maybe during the 2016 election campaign, there'll be less bickering and more talk about  solutions for the nation's problems. 

Financial status, upbringing, and other personal experiences drive the candidates’ political positions. You probably have one or two key issues that drive the kind of candidate you’ll follow. Thinking about those topics, which of your personal views cause you to support those issues?   

Saturday, August 1, 2015

When Your Door Opens

Remember that satisfied feeling you get after traveling a distance and finally checking in at the hotel desk? You made it. With a key in hand, you head for the elevator, hoping for a clean room and a comfortable bed. Your heart might skip a little as you slide the key in the lock because the last thing you want to do is find a problem with the room, forcing you to trudge back to the front desk.

We lived that situation last week. With high expectations, we slid the key in the lock, opened the door, and…surprise! Someone had turned on TV, but not only that—he was seated on the bed, enjoying a show. Not good, and not what we expected. The front desk goofed. Bewildered about how we received the key to an occupied room, we plodded back downstairs for a new room. You never know what’s behind a closed door. Look what goes on at one resort:

Conspiracy theories will always accompany closed door gatherings. We’ll find one of two scenarios behind closed doors: the expected or the unexpected. Is there a “closed door” in your life? When it opens, what do you hope to discover?    

Friday, July 24, 2015

Uprooting the Weed

What’s the story with weeds? Why is it that the things we dislike the most become the hardest to eliminate? Regardless of how many times we forget to water or fertilize the flowerbeds, the weeds still thrive. Look around. They’re our sturdiest plants. They protect themselves with prickly leaves, so when we try to uproot them—ouch! They’re sneaky, too. As soon as they’re tall enough to be an eyesore, they sprout pretty flowers to blend in. In a last ditch effort to bug us before we yank them from the ground, they release fluffy, white seeds to birth future weeds. Face it. Weeds are tough to eliminate, but if we keep them around, we’ll be sorry.

Who knows what lurks behind your weed stalks? Given what that lady could face, she has to be prepared. Her leave blower is on-hand, and when normal weeding tools fail she gets serious. Did you hear about her back-up weeding weapon? Stay out of her way.     

 Weeds are like bad habits. Both can be dangerous to our well-being. If we don’t eradicate them, our lives can become a total mess. It might take extreme measures to uproot the firmly entrenched ones. What’s your best plan for eliminating the weediest parts of your life?               

Friday, July 17, 2015

Calories? They’re Worth It

How much do you like breakfast? Would you eat it several times a day? I bet you’re wondering, “Who does that?” Well, on a trip to the west coast, our family ate breakfast three times.

 We picked up the first meal at a local convenience store on the way to an early morning flight. Several hours later, after boarding the plane, the airline served “breakfast.” The flight was wonderful. The breakfast? Not so much.
The flight attendant offered us a choice of a cheese blintz or quiche. It was a lose-lose proposition. Do people still eat cheese blintzes? I chose the quiche, which seemed to be a mixture of egg and the crust that’s usually found under the egg. Believe me, the texture of blended egg and flour didn’t work. To be fair, I did like the fruit, the biscuit, and beverages.

We ate our third breakfast during a brief layover in Arizona. When I say “we,” I’m referring to   my family. While it was ten-thirty in the morning in Arizona, it was lunchtime on the east coast.  I bucked the trend and ordered a tuna sandwich, but we laughed as the rest of the family ordered pancakes. So, that’s how we squeezed in three breakfasts. In additional to the food, guess what else we enjoyed?

We didn’t plan to eat that many breakfasts. It just happened. Although great things can happen by accident, they’re often the result of intentional planning. That’s one of my words for the year—intentional. If we want to change, grow, or improve, it’s going to take intentional planning and focused work. Your goals are worth it. What’s your plan for reaching your most important goals?