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Archive for February, 2010

Ads During the Olympics — Who Decided You Can Buy Emotions?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Is anyone else incensed that the ad agencies have decided what we feel is hopelessly dependent on what they ‘re selling?

The Superbowl ads may have been yawners this year, but the ads during the Olympics are getting me excited.  As in they are making me just plain angry.   Who ever decided that it was honest to suggest that a product was the way to access a positive emotion?

There are two main offenders that particularly attract my ire.  First, a look at BMW.  Come on, guys, you spent millions to develop the ads for these slots and you signed off on  “We make joy” ?

Unless you are talking about the dish soap or the candy bar, you are a big fat liar.  You make CARS.   Sell the car, not some trumped up idea that it will replace what we can only do for ourselves.    You disrespect the entire human race with that kind of garbage.

Do you really  have the arrogance to think that a car is the source of joy?  A child’s hug, a glorious sunrise, laying in your sweetheart’s arms, yes, but a car?  Get over yourselves (and fire your ad agency).

And MacDonald’s, you aren’t far behind.  You’re claiming to be the source of happiness.  It’s bad enough that you call the childs’ version of your not-so-nutritious offerings a “happy meal.”  You can have that one.  But to announce that a fast food meal at one of your gazillion outlets is happiness itself is a downright lie.

Fast food does not generate happiness.  Maybe some people are happy when they are there, but it’s because of what they are doing with their lives, not the stuff you sold them to eat.

We tolerate this kind of dishonest drivel in advertising way too often.  What would happen if everyone who was trying to sell something had to pass a lie detector test with every word they put into each mass marketing campaign?  It might be a good solid step toward curing childhood obesity and the credit crisis in one fell swoop.

Freedom of speech comes at a price.  You’re supposed to tell the truth.  These ads don’t and it makes me really mad that they run again and again and again.  That we are expected to watch them again and again.  We deserve better.  If you want to see me your product, go ahead and pay for advertising to try.  But if you try to sell me BS, I am going to call you on it.  And these two examples are BS.

Health Care Fantasy

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Imagine a healthcare system where everyone knows what everyone else is doing on your behalf.  Where they really want you to get well and don’t feel the need to do test after test to cover their butts.  Where the doctors and other healthcare professionals are on salary and all part of the same effort.

Imagine they have the whole thing set up online, so you get the results of lab tests, xrays, etc. as soon as they are available (as opposed to “never’ which is typically the case).  Imagine that you can confer with your doctor via an e-mail instead of a $140 office visit and an hour waiting in the company of sick people.

And imagine that this utopic system is via a health insurance set-up that costs less than the bloated, “silo mentality”  mess you are dealing with now.

It exists–at least in Washington State.  I finally got mad enough to look for something better and it had been there all along.  For the first time in fifteen years, I actually believe my medical resources are something more than a drain on my wallet.

If this country wants to figure out how to fix our horrendous healthcare mess with its astronomical costs and second-rate results, look at Group Health Cooperative and others like it.

Quality health care is never going to come from anything that’s focused on a profit.  That rules out the big pharmaceutical companies, many hospitals, and all the doctors who are part of “professional corporations.”  It rules out anybody who’s “in it for the money.”  It rules in the professionals who care about keeping people well.

We can do this, but the fat cats and the big outfits are not going to like it.  So what?

Life Skills — Juggling Versus Balancing

Sunday, February 7th, 2010


Are you delaying all the fun so you can get all the work done?  That’s one of the saddest characteristics of today’s busy lives.  We scramble to get everything that “needs to be done” accomplished and have no time left for the activities that bring us joy.

Our approach to retirement is even more that way.  We give excessive amounts of time to a job so that we can “get retirement” once we reach a certain age.  I am a strong proponent of work.  I think we need to do it for our entire lives.  But it’s got to be in balance.  All work now for all play later is just plain dumb.  You need to play now.  (And you need to work at something once you retire, even if it’s not for pay.)

I hear your groans.  I’ve been in your shoes.  It really is hard to find two seconds to catch your breath much less an entire hour to take a yoga class—or a hike in the hills–sometimes.  But there’s a life skill we aren’t learning with the way we are doing this, and maybe it’s time to circle back and pick that one up.  We need to learn to balance.

Notice I did not say “juggle.”  Most of us are doing too much of that, keeping more and more balls in the air.   No, I said balance. That’s about adding and taking away.  To achieve balance, you put a little more on one side of the scale or take a little off of the other.  For most of us, we need to take away some of the minutes we put on work and add some for play—or at least leisure.  But how?

An interesting thing happens when you only have a certain amount of time to get something done.  You work faster.  Things come together more easily.  You’re more focused.  The end result when you “don’t have enough time” is often better than what you do on a regular basis.  Why?

I suspect it’s because we don’t let ourselves get distracted as easily.  We don’t buy in on other people’s problems when they walk into your cube dressed as friends.  We don’t let ourselves waste one minute on non-essential stuff.  We are “on task.”

What would happen if we used that strategy at work all the time as a way to make room for play?  And then guarded our play time like a mama bear?

The obvious problem on the work side is the potential for being assigned more work.  This is not about working three hours and then taking a two hour lunch every day.  This is about not staying ridiculously late or bringing work home.  This is about adding time for yourself in the part of your day that’s supposed to be yours.

What if you’re retired?  In my experience, the advice is every bit as valid.  We do the laundry, clean the gutters, repair the back screen, and take a load to the recycling center before we get out the sketch book or grab the camera and head to the wildlife refuge.  We do the work first.  At least if we ever subscribed to the notion of being “good workers.”

This “do the work first” mantra screws up the scales of balance. When “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” applies only to the work part of our days, that’s all we end up doing.   We need to spread that idea between work and play.

Find a balance scale and put away your juggling balls.  Repeat after me:  “Fun is an essential part of daily life.  Fun is good.  I will have fun today.”