What’s The Big Fascination?

From Victoria’s Secret to colorful art renditions, medieval metal, and cross-dressing on the neighborhood corner…


This does not seem to be about being angels, unchaste, or even “sexy-wexy “(as I think my mother-in-law calls it). 


So I really have to ask what is all the fascination about here?


Culturally, we seem to be a little OCD. 


If Martians visited us, I don’t think they would understand us at all.


Frankly, I’m not sure that I do either!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Pet Rock 2018

So when I saw this colored rock last evening, it made me think two things:


One, cool idea, looks nice and fun to make.


Two, it reminded me of the Pet Rocks in the 1970s that made millions (this one was hippie even though those back then weren’t actually even colored).


A business guy came up with the idea to sell smooth rocks from Mexico beach and market them as pets.


Yeah, they are so lovable and easy to care for!


It was one of the great branding and marketing events of the 20th century.


Who would think people would actually spend money on a plain dumb rock that you could basically pick up off the street?


But incredibly, putting the rock in a box with holes (so the rock could breath) and sitting it on a little stack of hay with an joke of instruction book for caring for your rock, SOLD. 


And in fact, over 1,500,000 rocks were sold at a pop of $4 each.


The guy became a millionaire and got rid of a truckload of worthless rocks.


Yes, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure!”


But surely this was getting a little ridiculous.


Hey, I’ll give you a nickle for the shinny painted rock in the photo here. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Halloween DC Style

So Halloween in Washington, D.C. is no small deal.

I liked the new spooky Orange Fanta soda cans with the scary lady on it–it really stood out from all the others–Coke, Pepsi, etc.–that were otherwise so boring. 

Then there was this other lady riding the Metro in her Halloween outfit–anybody need a nurse?

Let’s just say she seems to have evoked some attention on the train. 

Even more than another women (lower left) holding 2 baby dolls slumped over backwards in a very unfortunate manner.

One more is Mr. Baywatch lifeguard here, and peering over his shoulder is someone with scary Zombie hallowed out black eyes and sharp growling teeth!

Finally, one of my wonderful colleagues told me about a Halloween party she went to with her male friend. 

I asked whether they dressed up. 

She said, “yeah,” and smiled.

So I asked, “What did you dress up as?”

Well this was a new one for me…

She was dressed up as the jelly side of the sandwich and he was the peanut butter side. 

What all this means for this zany holiday, I have no idea…but it’s a fun time of year that doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone. 😉

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

@Takoma Park Folk Festival

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So today we were at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. 


It was a combination of food, chachkas, art, dance, and music–thank G-d, it was a good time!


When we were going through the booths, I came across this one artist pictured here. 


A little scary looking at first, but actually seemed nice enough and he stopped to speak with us. 


I asked about his very cool jacket.


And he told me, how he had actually made it with all the artistic things on it, including spikes, skulls, medals, patches, and even a pair of teeth!


Then he took off his jacket and turned around to show me his vest. 


On the back was this awesome fighting foe.


I said feigning surprise:

“Oh, and it says RESIST on top?”


He replies:

“Yeah, never miss an opportunity to share a message!”


I thought to myself this guy is pretty smart, especially as he started to explain not only his jacket, but the meanings behind some of his other artwork. 


Creativity is a wonderful thing–especially when no one gets hurt :-)–and it immediately sparks interest and dialogue.


How’d you do that?  What gave you that idea?  How do you use it?


The boring becomes exciting when another soul expresses itself. 


Yes, we’re all the same, but also we’re all different!


It’s by “going there,” you explore and learn new things.  😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Just Bling

Crystal Kids.jpegSo sitting in synagogue today, my friend Jacob said something very interesting to me.


He was talking about some very wealthy people with multi-millions and even billions. 


And then he says, you know what the difference is between the rich and everyone else:

“Nothing!”


I asked him what he meant by this.


Then he starts listing off to me like this:

“Well, they live in a home, and you live in a home.
They drive a car, and you drive a car.
They eat food and you eat food.”

And it was amazing how smart his words were, and it hit me how right he was. 


It’s all sort of just in our minds.


Their homes are bigger and nicer; their cars are more luxurious and fancier; their food is better and tastier…but what difference is any of that really.


We both have a roof over our heads to protect us from the elements and a nice place to sleep. 


We both have a car that gets us from here to there and back again. 


We both have food and drink to fill our bellies and nourish us. 


Isn’t the rest just a bunch of bling?


It’s branding and marketing and the sense of luxury that some are better and have more than others. 


But beyond the essentials, we really don’t need any of that!


What we do need is our relationships–people we care about and love and who love us. 


The ability to have a deep impact on others. 


To influence them and make a difference in their lives–in what they do and how they treat others. 


The ability to help people and society. 


The bling is just bling. 


The ability to love and influence that is true wealth. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

REI Stupid Coupons

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REI had a special online. 


You order $100 or more of stuff, and you get a $20 “member bonus” card. 


That sounded good, so I placed an order. 


So I get a message that I’ll have the bonus card within 48 hours or I should check my spam folder. 


Not sure what should take 48 hours, but I end up getting the email with the $20 code the same day. 


Thinking I’d go and get something for the freebie, I head to the store today and find something perfectly for $20!


Wow–that’s cool.


I wait on this long line with my wife…and we’re checking out this new popcorn on the line called Halfpops, which looks like Half Poop, and what’s the other half?  


After having lousy experiences with these B.S. coupons in the past, we are joking back and forth how there is less than a 50% chance that the coupon actually works today and we end up walking out with the product.


Sure enough, we get to the register and the cashier says, 

“Sorry. The coupon is not good for another 2 weeks!”


Bingo.  Well why they heck did you send me the coupon now and not make it good for another 2 weeks–why waste everyone’s time here?


Also, what difference is it to REI to make me wait 2 weeks to use the member reward–I’m in the store now, so if they want to cross-sell me some stuff what difference does another couple of weeks make. 


You’d think the customer service at REI would say, “we apologize for the inconvenience” and process it now to make it a positive experience, but instead they actually told me to come back in 2 weeks and start all over AGAIN. 


Gee, thanks REI for the member bonus reward…you’ve really done so well with customer service for your members, NOT!  


I think REI is blinded by stupid policies and corporate bullsh*t so that they cannot take care of their customers and do what makes common sense. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting To Yes

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I thought this was a good and important customer service principle:

“Don’t make me go through NO
To get to YES.”


When it comes to customer service, the default for reasonable requests from good customers should always be YES!


We can either make the experience miserable for the customer and leave them fuming, never coming back, and bad-mouthing us or we can make it fair, easy, accommodating, and a WOW experience!


Why not build your customer base and reputation for excellence rather than erode it? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)