Political Attack Ads: a Path to Reform

Political Ads

Enough is enough. Political attack ads need to change. Politicians need original angles, new questions, and higher standards. Most of all, political operatives need to lose their fear of making even less sense than they do now.

Here are a few suggested attack ad lines that I’ve written, and I approve of any national political committee interested in stealing them for their use.Continue reading →

Lamps Fall Apart, The Center Cannot Hold

My lamp is broken, and nothing will ever be okay again

Last night, as my book became unreadable through drooping eyelids, I reached over to turn off my bedside lamp. As I twisted the lamp switch, it failed to issue the usual pair of clicks and expected plunge into darkness. Instead it spun in place, and the lamp remained very much lit.

“What the hell?” I exclaimed. I kept twisting the switch and it kept spinning in place, like a stripped screw that will never gain traction regardless of how much torque is given the screwdriver. Twist, twist, twist. Spin, spin, spin. No click, no click, no click. Light, light, light. Continue reading →

Social Media and Idiots Such as Me

As I was looking for carpet-to-flat flooring transitions at Lowe’s the other day, something about my surroundings caught me funny. Among all of the big box home improvement stores, Lowe’s strikes me as the most suburban by far. It’s such a clean, respectable looking place. I had been asked twice if I needed help finding anything after only a minute in the store. I could go a week in Menard’s or Home Depot without being asked if I need help.

Here was a place for me! I am an avowed home improvement idiot. I need my instructions clearly labeled. I need my paint pre-mixed. Anything more complicated than an outlet cover replacement requires the assistance of a contractor. My family is full of do-it-yourselfers and amateur craftsmen of decent skill. I, on the other hand, must have been left on the doorstep.Continue reading →

Room for Improvement

I met an interesting man at a conference that my company recently hosted. His name is Juan Carlos, and he is a banquets manager at the hotel in which our conference was held. I liked him immediately for his willingness to get in front of us and determine what we needed. He was supernaturally good at his job, far better than I have been at any of mine. His management turned results as well; we were better cared for in the banquets hall than we ever have been at any hotel. Whatever needs weren’t anticipated by his staff were quickly discovered and then met. Once we crossed into Juan Carlos’s domain, we were treated like royalty.Continue reading →

Mysteries of Home Ownership: The Phantom Switch

There is a switch in my kitchen, next to the main light for our dining area. (Sort of a breakfast nook, really, but one in which we do not discriminate against non-breakfast meals.) This switch does not seem to do anything. It is hooked up to power; I have opened the cover and stuck one of those little power sensing things in it. You know the ones. They go “beep!” when you touch a live power source, thereby saving you the trouble of testing for the presence of electricity with your tongue.Continue reading →

Nostalgia vs. Generation X

Generation X toys

I am a member of Generation X. After suffering years of being painted as apathetic creatures of extreme privilege and sloth, my Generation X counterparts have been let off of the hook for some time now. “Generation Y,” though saddled with the phenomenon of the “helicopter parent,” seem to be holding down jobs and buying houses. Now the media’s attention is on the “Millennials,” who must find a way to survive the “digital native” label. I’m sure they’ll be fine.

But some of those labels slung at Generation X still sting. We were accused of being stuck in perpetual adolescence, a generation of do-littles and dreamers, pouty and dyspeptic advertisement-chasers raised on cable television and sugar. The greatest generation stood by and watched us with wonder, wondering when we would give up our toys and grow up.

How can we let it go? How can we grow up? My children are playing with my toys. Continue reading →

You Had One Job, Polar Vortex

Polar vortex 2014 in Minnesota

During one of my recent walks in the woods near my workplace, I was overcome by a stifling wave of humid, windless heat. The leaves around me crowded in, and the normally boisterous wildlife grew still. I half expected a band of jungle explorers, heads adorned in pith helmets, to tumble out of the thicket and onto my path. The sultry Minnesota summer had arrived.

I took the opportunity to reflect on the record cold—the polar vortex—we had experienced only a few months before my humid July walk. I also took the opportunity to sweat, because dang… it was hot.

Here are a few of my conclusions while recalling the winter of the polar vortex, when the plains of Minnesota had more in common with Ice Station Zebra than the gentle, sultry, verdant landscape we can now behold.Continue reading →

How to Do That One Thing to Get it Done

People often come up to me and say, “Hey, Scott, you seem really organized. What advice do you have to help me get that one thing done?”

Well, I’m glad those people asked. No matter where you go, or who you are, there are lots of things that need doing. That one thing. The other thing. After that, you’ve got that thing down the street. Then there’s that stuff next weekend, on your calendar. No, the other calendar. You’ve got to get that one thing done before winter. Or the next spring.

Here are some of the tricks I use to accomplish that one thing, and to get that thing done.Continue reading →

Nature is Trying to Kill Me

Many are the tales of unprepared explorers and pioneers who, having underestimated nature, fall victim to the dangers of the natural world. In spite of the fact that I live in a human-dominated landscape where raw nature has been pushed to the boundaries, I refuse to believe that the threats of nature are so easily overcome.

I have been embarking on a daily walk through a conservation area near my work in Shakopee, Minnesota. It’s breathtaking; experts have restored the marshy woods with native grasses and clearly-marked walking trails to limit human interference. After several incidents, however, I cannot help but think that this may be the foothold of a larger, more insidious plan on Mother Nature’s part. I present my evidence below, culled from hours of walking and avoiding work… I mean, recharging my creative batteries.Continue reading →