IT’S OBVIOUS … ISN’T IT?

It ought to be obvious. If you deluge potential customers or contributors with email, whether imploring them for donations or reminding them of your products, eventually they will run away. Unsubscribe. Detach.

The first time this happened, I had made the near-fatal error of donating $3 to Obama’s 2008 campaign. From that moment on, each day I was buried in fundraising letters from what appeared to be every single member of the Democratic party and their affiliates.

I approved of the causes and at first, I just deleted the extra emails. It seemed the more I deleted, the more arrived. Wave after wave of causes, the DNC, pols in states I’ve never visited, much less lived.

One day I sat down at my computer and began unsubscribing. I continued through the day until finally, none were left. I will never donate again. Note to DNC: Don’t make contributors feel that giving you a bit of money was their worst-ever life decision.

Now, there’s “The New Yorker.” This is a great magazine, one of the very few I still read. The cartoons alone are worth it because  no publication has better cartoons than “The New Yorker.” I even went so far as to subscribe to it. Not only do I get their online stuff and access to their archive, I get the physical, paper magazine. The mailman delivers it.

Yet, every single day, my email is full of subscription offers from the New Yorker, and now, from affiliated news publications. They send me articles — which I mostly read or at least skim. But then, they send me the same articles three more times. I delete them. Followed by half a dozen reminders to subscribe — which I’ve already done. Why do they do this? I feel like I’m under siege by my own troops.

Amazon, from whom I buy a lot of stuff, doesn’t spam me. Nor does LL Bean. Or Audible or Zappos. To these companies, I remain loyal. They treat me as if they value my business and I spread the good word about them.

All of these companies also have great service when things go wrong. They don’t make it difficult to return items. They don’t charge “re-stocking” fees. They deliver quickly at no charge. They stand behind their products and suppliers and if something goes wrong, the customer does not wind up at the short end of the transaction.

This is basic marketing. It boils down to one golden rule for marketing:


Treat your customer the way you’d like to be treated if
you were the customer. 


I should think this would be obvious. As time goes on, I find myself eliminating companies and organizations from my world because they don’t get it.

Obvious, isn’t it?

OBVIOUS | THE DAILY POST

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE ON TUESDAY

Mundane Monday Challenge #73


Blame it on the servers. I never get this notice until Tuesday, or so late on Monday evening, it might as well be Tuesday.

As luck would have it, I’ve taken new pictures this week. All of our travel plans fell through and we wound up not going anywhere. Mundane is a perfect subject.

Late afternoon light in August along the Blackstone Canal.

Late afternoon light in August along the Blackstone Canal.

I have been accused of using the same pictures repeatedly. Actually mostly they are not the same picture and frequently, not the same camera or lens. They are, however, the same places. The same river. The same bridge. The same canal. And, of course, the same house.

Not quite enough to make the world go around ...

Not quite enough to make the world go around …

My challenge is not only to make the best pictures of these familiar subjects, but to find a slightly different approach to them. A difference in the light, perhaps, or a new angle. This gets increasingly difficult. I’ve got a great many pictures of the Blackstone Canal and river. But not nearly so many pictures of money🙂

DATELINE UXBRIDGE – SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2016 Week 34


What is your favorite comfort snack food?

Ginger. Crystallized ginger. No matter how many time you ask this question, you will get the same answer. Boring, perhaps, but no less true.

Is the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way?

This is a very funny question. It’s been years since I carried more than a couple of ten-dollar bills in the pouch I use as a wallet. The world has spun a few times on its axis. Cash? What’s cash? The only time I need cash is for machines in decrepit parking garages in Boston which (fortunately) have machines that give cash. Then, you can put the cash into the machine which opens the garage gate.

Except … it isn’t that simple. Uh uh.

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Cash machines give you horribly crumpled money clearly ready for the great money-burning furnace in which they destroy paper money too tired for further use. When you then try to put those bills into a machine, it gets rejected. Too crumpled, with bent corners. You try again. And again.

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This process will reduce any normal person to incoherent sputtering.  At which point a sleepy, stoned, slow-moving attendant strolls over.

“You need help?”

“This #$%^@$ machine won’t take my money.”

“Calm down.” No one should even tell an irate citizen to calm down. It merely makes them angrier. Just saying.

I snarl. He looks bored. Eventually, it gets sorted out and we drive away. I ponder how little plastic cards have made life easier — most of the time.

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Remember when you had to figure out in advance how much you were going to spend when you went shopping? Getting to the checkout at the grocery store, seeing the numbers roll up and realizing you are short? You know the people in line behind you are going to riot if you hold up the line, but what can you do? There’s a bank at the other end of the mini-mall, but that would take you … how long?

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The natives behind you are beginning to grumble. In your mind, you see the angry crowd, the torches. Is there a full moon? How many of your neighbors are about to change into fanged were-animals?

You shake yourself out of this nightmare and realize — it’s okay. It’s 2016 and you have — a debit card! As long as you can remember which way that strip goes into the machine …

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

Firstly, if you are a mouse, I would appreciate your taking up residence elsewhere. We have more than enough vermin issues here in the country and I have absolutely no patience with mice. I know you guys just want a warm place to set up house, but you eat everything and make an awful mess. Then, I have to trap and dispose of you. None of those gentle trap. I used to be nice about this, but you abused my generosity and came right back. Now, if I catch you, death will follow. Live … but not here.

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If you actually did hang around and neither of the terriers thought you looked like a snack, you’d see us watching television. You’d see me writing posts for Serendipity, maybe processing pictures. You’d hear snippets of conversation and the occasional ring of the phone. Not very exciting, but I suspect that’s more or less the scene in homes around the world.

Would you rather not be able to read or not be able to speak?

I stand on my Fifth Amendment rights. I will not incriminate myself. Or discriminate against myself. Or whatever applies.

FIFTY? HUH?

What’s with 50?

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WordPress, you got me. Fifty means nothing to me. It’s not a year I remember (in 1950, I was three) and 2050 is probably not a year I’ll live to see. It’s not an address at which I’ve resided, nor an age during which anything special occurred.

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Most numbers don’t have any particular significance to me unless they are part of someone’s birthday, anniversary, phone number, or address.

Robbie is about 50, or at least his character is ... Okay, actually, he's 60 and a bit ...

Robbie is about 50, or at least his character is … Okay, actually, he’s 60 and a bit …

Fifty ways to leave your lover? I never needed more than one.

FIFTY | THE DAILY POST

KITCHEN OLYMPICS by ELLIN CURLEY

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro ended yesterday. I’ve watched a lot of events over the past couple of weeks. I’ve learned the meaning of athletic maneuvers I didn’t know existed. Or maybe I knew but forgot four years ago. And, now I understand how important 1/100th  of a second can be.

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Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if everyday activities were scrutinized and graded the way dives and gymnastics are. There would be names for the different techniques for folding sheets – and folding the fitted sheet would rate a higher level of difficulty.

Dish-washing would be my favorite event. There is so much technique involved and so many options for equipment and strategy. You can use a dishrag or a sponge (don’t get me started on the varieties in sponge technology). You can use one of those things on a stick, but some of those have a built-in soap dispenser, which I think should be banned as cheating. The choice of dish soap is a whole other category. Maybe if you use the Consumer Reports favorites, your difficulty level should be reduced.

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Now for the actual washing of the dishes. Do you pre-rinse? Do you use hot water or just warm? The different wrist movements should have fancy names as well as the circular arm movements (clockwise or counter-clockwise?) How do you try to scrub or scrape off baked on or age hardened food? That is the test of a real champion. Do you resort to additional equipment or rely solely on elbow grease? And then there’s the decision as to whether you rinse with the spray setting, which is faster but which causes splashing – a serious deduction.

72-drying-dishes-081616_008.jpg August 16, 2016

Sticking the landing would be quickly and accurately securing the dish in one of those annoying plastic dish drying racks. This would be my personal Waterloo.

I think that putting dishes in the dishwasher is more of an art form than a sporting event. You have to be creative and have a really good sense of spatial relations as well as patience and perseverance. But you could make this a timed event; the most plates, bowls and cups you can fit in the dishwasher in the least amount of time wins. You can challenge your spouse or roommate and make it a family affair.

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And then there’s parking a car. This is another fun event in the Olympics of life. Maybe if I give myself running commentary the next time I’m parking in a parking lot or trying to back my car into the garage, it’ll make it a less frustrating and more enjoyable experience. One can always hope.

FILM NOIR OVERLOAD – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Dark, rain-glistened streets. Ominous shadows hover in trash littered alleyways. Cats screech in the distance. Gunshots ring out and a body slumps into the gutter.

The world of film noir.

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As a kid, these were the second show in an afternoon at the movies. The “B” movie. Always in black and white, less than 90 minutes. Featuring the nearly-stars such as Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Linda Darnell, and Sterling Hayden.

The titles were straightforward. “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, “This Gun For Hire”, “Kiss of Death”, “The Street With No Name”, “The Narrow Margin,” and “The Killers” among other small films now considered film noir classics.

The people were familiar too. The P.I. (Private Eye). He usually had a five o’clock shadow, chain-smoked, drank cheap whiskey out of the bottle or a paper cup. He worked in a dingy second floor office. The client? Usually a husky voiced, chain-smoking, heavily made up siren out of the Mae West Drama Academy. The P.I’s secretary? A snarky, but good-natured woman who didn’t take crap from her boss, the cops or hoodlums. The Bad Guys? Sleazy, menacing, and homicidal. Think young Richard Widmark, William (Pre-“Life of Riley”) Bendix, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, and probie villain, Lee Marvin. These guys loved to kill.

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There were no happy endings in these film noir classics. The female lead usually was a two-timer who got killed or took the fall in the closing minutes. Mary Astor’s Brigid O’Shaughnessy was straight out of central casting when Bogie’s Sam Spade turned her over to the cops in “The Maltese Falcon.” Spade liked her, but not enough to risk a bullet in the back one lonely night.

Robert Mitchum’s Phillip Marlowe wondered  “Why does everything I touch turns to shit?” in the 70’s reboot of “Farewell, My Lovely”.

I loved the fatalism of these movies, far removed from the glossy romantic dramas featuring Gable, Tracy, Flynn and other major stars of old Hollywood.

Lately, we’ve been watching Netflix’s stable of dark crime dramas. They come from around the world.

They all share a world-view that includes lots of death, depression, depravity, brutal murder, and minimal — if any — humor. Locale doesn’t matter. It could be Los Angeles, Denmark, the English countryside, or Sweden. It’s one, dark grim world, everywhere you look.

Thanks to an old friend, we’re currently watching a British series, “MidSomer Murders”. It’s set in a small, English village. There are multiple murders in each episode. We’re into season five and the bodies keep piling up. Marilyn and I wonder if they’ll have to bring in people from other small villages to keep the murderers in business.

midsomer murders poster-2

“MidSomer Murders” is balanced with humor from its continuing characters and the guest stars. I’ve noticed familiar faces like David Warner, Nigel Davenport and Richard Johnson among the guest stars. The plots are nicely developed, well-acted, and written with sly wit. The show is still running after 17 seasons, so Marilyn and I look forward each night to a batch of lovely murders with quirky, amusing characters.

I still love those dark and dangerous film noir folks. But these days, real life is often sufficiently grim. I prefer my murders with a bit of laughter.

Cheerio!

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’D SEEN IT ALL

This and That, by Rich Paschall


If you thought you had seen everything in politics prior to this year, then you were in for a big surprise.  The presidential election cycle is like none that has come before.  I hope we will not see it again.

No matter what lies the Republican candidate gets caught telling, his followers don’t seem to care.  They follow him anyway.

Grand Old Party?

Grand Old Party?

If you thought voters could be swayed by the truth, think again.

You will change no one’s vote with your Facebook memes, no matter how cute, accurate, or how well they state the case.  No one will be persuaded. You may as well watch baseball.

The State of Illinois has a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.  There has not been a budget for over a year and there definitely will not be one until after the election, when we will still have a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.

Are you tired of politics yet?  No?

Election-2016-sign

Republican senators in tight races do not want to be seen with the Republican candidate for president, especially in states that he is not likely to carry.  Senator Kirk of Illinois is up for election in the home state of President Obama and candidate Clinton.  Yes, she’s from Illinois (not Kenya).  The incumbent Senator will not be campaigning with the presidential candidate.

When I attended the Barbra Streisand concert there were many signs on the doors exclaiming “no cameras.”  Before I went through the metal detector I handed the security guy my cell phone, binoculars and a small case with my camera.

I set off the metal detector at the United Center, but they waved me on anyway after the security guy gave me back my camera and other items.  They probably thought I am just an old guy with a metal cane and there are lots of people waiting to get in.  Now doesn’t that make you feel more secure?

I have seen Streisand before and she had multiple opening acts.  This time there was a brief overture, she walked out, sang The Way We Were, and then said to the audience, “I guess you did not expect to start like that!”  Yes, it was all Barbra.

It is a requirement on the gay membership cards that all gay boys must see Cher or Barbra Streisand in concert.  They must also see Ricky Martin or Elton John.  OK, this might not be entirely true.

In concert at the United Center

Yes, we were WAY up there in the 300 level.  I brought binoculars.

Both Cher and Barbra Streisand are hosting fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton.  This one is absolutely true.

Cher never tours anymore so we must see Streisand and the ticket is très chère.

I have seen Elton John several times.  He is a good showman and always has high energy.

It is probably not a good idea to brag at work about how drunk you get sometimes.

It is not good to get drunk at a work outing because a coworker may take a video with her cell phone.

It is also bad if you get drunk and say uncomplimentary things about your boss on the video.  You never know if the person with the video will post it on Facebook or YouTube — or even email it to the boss.

No, not me.  I’m too busy to go to work outings.

My car has a video screen which is good for the back up camera.  Of course, the camera is not very helpful when drops of water are on the tiny lens.

With a backup camera, I might be able to avoid scratching up the tires and hub caps on the curbs as I have done so much in the past.  Soon cars will drive themselves anyway.

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My car has 25 preset buttons (touch screen) for the AM and FM radio.  There are that many radio stations in the metro Chicago area, but certainly not that many that I like.  If you touch the screen too often while driving, the next time you start the car you will get a warning that touching the screen too often while driving could be dangerous.  Really?

I can link to my video screen by flash drive or Bluetooth.  I can download apps to my phone then plug it into the USB port so I can have the apps on-screen while I drive.  When the car sales rep explained all this to me I told him I thought it was a remarkably bad idea.

Cars are now about entertainment, just like phones.  I think my car should be about driving, at least for the driver.

The coffee I make at home and at work does not come out scalding hot.  Many fast food places still serve coffee so hot you can not drink it.

If I buy coffee at a drive-thru on the way to work I may not be able to drink it en route, and I have a long drive.

My favorites in the Olympics were the beach volleyball players and the British divers.  Do I need to explain that?

My quest to watch all of the James Bond films in order continues.