Friday, September 28, 2007

The BMW lady

Ralph Schomp is perhaps the best car dealer in Denver. They have the lowest pressure sales people. They have pretty fair prices and few if any hidden aspects to their deals.

They have been placing "post-it note" ads on the front page of the Denver newspaper. I was offended by that additional layer of advertising, because I feel like we are subjected to enough advertising already, as you saw from my post on Hertz.

But this ad totally cracked me up... how many people have so much disposable income that as soon as the kids are back in school, "Why, let's go out and buy a(nother) BMW"?!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why does it always have to be in your face?

Advertising, that is.

(I know the answer - profit, greed, the wheels of commerce, the fuel that ultimately pays all our salaries, etc.)

This Hertz ad was sticking out of every seatback-pocket of the flight I took back in July. Hertz paid a lot of money to get that Mazda in your face (or in your lap, as it were).

They had the wrong customer with me. If I rent a car, it's the cheapest class available.

I must hand it to the advertisers - they are always coming up with new places to get advertising into our awareness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Rick has a great post on giving. Check out the comments.

More olde tech

Back in high school, I bought this lovely TI calculator. It cost about $80. (That was a lot of money back then! It still is a lot of money now.) In those days, I thought I would grow up to be an engineer. (My brother did.)

The choice was between TI and HP. The latter used some kind of "Reverse Polish Logic" - which I couldn't figure out. The hard-core math types chose those. (My realtor friend Jack uses an HP. They had business models as well as scientific models.)

So yes, it is now in a land fill somewhere near Denver. It broke and it certainly wasn't worth the effort or money to fix it. Besides, I don't have much need for sine and cosine functions these days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Autumn is here

When we lived in England, we learned that "fall" refers to when someone lands on their face. So when this season hits, some confusion reigns in my head.

That last two years provided no autumnal experience for our family. We were living in Nairobi, Kenya, maybe 100 miles south of the equator. We had 2 rainy seasons and 2 dry seasons each year. (One of the rainy seasons is "the short rains" and the other "the long rains" - but in the 5 years we lived in Kenya, the length of each rainy season was pretty random.)

Anyhow, I was surprised as I looked out our bedroom window yesterday to see that one of our trees is already well into the color. Times flies.

Every kid in America loves candy

Well, almost. (I haven't met very many that didn't.)

Between maybe 7th and 9th grades, I loved Mallow Cups. I still would, except they are not available in my neighborhood. It's sort of like a Reeses Cup with marshmallow in the middle rather than peanut butter. There were tiny bits of coconut mixed into the creme. I'm not a huge coconut fan, but it worked. Trust me.

The Boyer Candy Company of Altoona, PA, kept us kids coming back with "points" you could collect and send in for prizes or money.

Like any good internet user with a few minutes to spare late on a Sunday evening, I did a google search and came up with this site. Apparently, there are other Mallo Cup fans out there.

So how did my memory get sparked to delve into Mallo Cups? It was those boxes I went through after we returned to the States. So it was another case of snap the photo and toss the evidence.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Christian worship songs

Eddie pointed me to this post. It is totally worth reading.

Ajt had a great comment. (His was number two on the list of 57 - I only got to number two.)

I agree with Prof. Stackhouse and Ajt.

Friday, September 21, 2007


One of the types of media to go by the wayside is the audio cassette. It was originally patented by the Philips Corporation (of Holland). They might have shared the patent with another company.

Anyhow, back when it was going strong, I bought these four state-of-the-art versions by four different manufacturers. They are very cool. The Sony has a ceramic housing, and the TDK uses various metal parts in the housing. Maxell seemed to be more into the tape formulation. (If you double-click on the image, you can see it in more detail.)

I think I collected these because I've always been fascinated by packaging.

And, as you can see, Mr. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth thought they were the hot way to get sound - in October 2006. (The tape shown in that little article is a Maxell, circa about 1977.)

By the way, I scanned the cassettes, rather than shooting them with my digital camera. (They would have probably come out better if I had photographed them!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lose the bottle!

I share this article with you for the sake of those of you who feel bottled water is superior...

1. I realize that in some municipalities, the water tastes nasty. Maybe you can use giant containers which will cost the environment less packaging waste.)

2. This article does not apply to those of you in developing countries.

3. A radical suggestion for you: next time you go to a fast food restaurant, bring your own plastic cup with you. That will save waste, prevent a tiny bit of landfill creation and will cost the restaurant less.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Readers are great!

Yes, it's great that there are some wonderful readers of this blog out in the blog-o-sphere.

See the post just below...

Rich suggested that Diana might just be on stilts.

Jason suggested that Diana is really just a Kaminoan from Star Wars (Site).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Did she look like that?

I am a hopeless literalist.

I just had to laugh when I saw this ad in Sunday's paper. I thought the artist (?) who did this little Diana sculpture took a few too many liberties in dealing with her figure.

And my main question is, would you buy that? (It cost $37, if you were wondering.)


One of the cool things about Herentals, Belgium, are the canals that go through town. These are not just decorative canals - they are used for shipping of goods across part of Belgium.

On our last evening there, Ben (my son) and Amy (my sister) paused to watch a few barges pass under a bridge. I enjoyed that some barge owners carry their cars on their barges - making it easier to have a life beyond the barge. (My brother in law explained that barge pilots have a difficult life - raising kids is not easy when you don't live in a town.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Africa is Africa

As many of you know, I spent 5 years in Africa. Even though Kenya is a long way from Ghana, where Leanne lives, there are many similarities.

Her blog is worth visiting. (That's where this photo came from.) It reminds me from whence I cameth.

One thing you won't see in America

The group "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" has done an effective job. The vast majority of Americans know that drinking and driving do not mix. I am sure that is true in Europe also. However, I spotted this truck at a rest stop in Europe. I think it was from Spain. I am pretty sure that the beer it was advertizing was alcohol free - thus the race car driver can drink up and still win his race. I guess.

Friday, September 14, 2007

How to do it

If you are wondering how to do it, this website gives very clear instructions.

(Problem is - I took this screen snapshot in 2003 - and I have no idea what the site's address is.)

If you double-click (or right-click) on the image, you can see it better. Not that it would help most of you.


In Nairobi, unemployment hovers around 60-70%. In Belgium, the rate is much lower. In Herentals, there are many employment agencies - all crying out for people to fill lots of open positions.

Several of those agencies have offices on the main high-traffic streets of the small downtown area - prime real estate. (This is a shot of one of their front windows.)

I have often wondered about global economics, in terms of how some countries have so much and other countries have so little. Why can't borders be opened and more sharing take place?

I realize this is a very complicated issue with no simple answers. But I do wish there were more possibilities for those in a place with so much - to share with those in a place with so little! Lots of opportunities exist, but pervasive selfishness seems to reign. I accuse myself in that regard, too. There's a lot more I could do to share.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We interrupt this broadcast

Rob is an American living in Stuttgart, Germany.

You should visit his site. He has some interesting shots, as well as a different perspective than you might find elsewhere.


As those of you who visited my Nairobi blog may remember, I consider Kenya to be "glorious chaos". Belgium may be "glorious order".

I have never been to a city where posters were not just slapped up on random walls and light poles. But in Herentals, Belgium, there is a section of town dedicated to political posters. Each candidate wishing to advertize is allotted a specific section. I'm not sure if it's paid for by them or by public funds. And maybe the prime spot costs more? It would in America.

I don't know who won that particular election.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I fell in love there

To get around my sister's part of Belgium, we used bikes. She and Sven kindly borrowed (and bought!) enough bikes that we could all ride around.

One day we visited an amazing bike shop. I test-drove this incredible cruiser. It was like driving a vintage Cadillac, only with a bit of the 21st century thrown into the mix. (Several gears - but hidden in the rear hub, for example.) The bike was made by an American company, but I forgot which. The shop was filled with "upright" bicycles - but not many mountain bikes. That style is very popular in Belgium, as there aren't many hills to contend with - at least compared to Colorado!

Alas, it did not fit into my budget or our luggage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My sister lives in Belgium

Yes, Amy lives in the beautiful country of Belgium. She married Sven, who was born there. (If I tried to live in Belgium, it might take an act of Congress to get me a working visa.)

As you can tell from the pic, bicycles play a much greater role than they do in the States. (Every time I fire up the minivan here, I think of how many barrels of oil are meeting their demise.)

Anyhow, we stopped in Belgium on our way from Kenya back to Colorado - back in June. (There are no direct flights from East Africa to the States.) It was excellent to re-connect with Amy and Sven - as well as their son and new-to-us daughter. It was also fun to pat Amy's tummy - their third kiddo will arrive in November.

Heather and I both thought Belgium is a perfect country. Maybe it was the contrast after leaving Kenya. (Now don't get me wrong - I love Kenya. But my brain is hard-wired more to be comfortable in Europe than in Africa.)

Everything was so clean. Small cars were everywhere. Small European cars. New small European cars.

(The only small minivan available in the States is the new Mazda 5. And that doesn't fit our budget. So there go more of those oil barrels.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Great quote

"With tea, when the water gets hot, the flavor comes out."

This was from yesterday's sermon. The obvious application is that when you encounter trials, your true colors show.

More culture shock

This time it's over prices.

In the Sunday paper, there was a 4-page stand-alone ad for Ted's Montana Grill. We celebrated our anniversary there maybe five years ago. Their prices must have gone up. I was stunned - buy a $100 gift card and receive a $20 card as a bonus?

I guess I find it hard to spend $100 on a meal - when rural families in Kenya who are affected by AIDS could live on that for two months or more. (See Heather's post.)

And there is a feature in the ad about how great the chain is because they use paper straws instead of plastic. Micro-good, I call that.

Don't get me wrong - if someone gave us a $100 gift card for the restaurant, I'd somehow find a way to use it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Culture shock, still here

Yes, I had another round of culture shock the other day. We've been back in the States about two and a half months. (Who knows how much longer it will last. Thankfully, the effects are showing up fewer times.)

The other day, I had lunch with my favorite human (my wife, Heather). We went to the fancy establishment known as Arby's. A mainstream radio station was playing over the speaker system.

First, the kind of music was not to either of our tastes. Second, the commercials were obnoxious. And frequent. I had forgotten how fast those guys can talk. (Gotta squeeze in the maximum number or words into 30 seconds!)

At some point, my filters will be stronger.

More reduction

It sounds like "toilet seat for hounds" - but it just is a simple doggie poop bag. The bag is green plastic, of course, since most Europeans (and this American) are into "green". In this case, the plastic itself is not biodegradable. But it looks better than an orange bag if the user throws it away in a nearby hedge.

Made in Austria - for a Swiss market - but not for the French-speaking part, I guess. If you look at the two pictures, you can see that I shot pix of both sides - one German and one Italian.

My buddy Jim gave it to me after he made a trip to Europe. (Thanks Jim!) He knows I like unusual items - as do the faithful readers of this blog.

What's the "reduction" part about? Well, this little jewel is no longer in a box in my garage. And our dog Sparky will be an end user, of sorts.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Buy magazines today!

Jay and Ben, my two sons, are both selling magazines to benefit their middle school.

So if you're in need of any magazines, put your contact info as a comment & I'll get you hooked up.

Better yet, you can order online here. The school code to enter is HELPEUCLID. At some point, you should be able to specify that it is for Ben Merrill. (Only one kid can be registered - but Jay will get the brownie points too.)

They're pretty good deals. We're subscribing to Time: 84 issues for $31.

A wonderful thing is that this is their only fund-raiser all year.


Faithful readers of my previous blog* will know that I love good coffee.

I fired up my trusty Braun coffee grinder recently. Not out of a desire to have freshly ground coffee - but rather because the only coffee in the house was beans. (I am way too lazy to grind my beans each day. In this case, I ground the entire half-kilo all at once.)

In this case, the coffee beans are from Rwanda. Not from a supermarket with "Rwanda" on the label - but the package, beans & even the roasting were from Rwanda. My sister in Belgium gave them to me, via our cousin David, who bought them in Rwanda. He has an exotic job that takes him to many far-flung corners of the planet. (Thankfully, he was able to visit us two or three times while we were in Nairobi.)

By the way, the coffee is great. It's pretty dark, but that's the way I like it.

* Go here to read about coffee from my old blog.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Two or three days last week provided perfect conditions for rainbows. One evening, the whole family saw this perfect rainbow. We all remarked that it was the best rainbow we had ever seen. There were even two complete rainbows!

It was not just a reminder that God wasn't going to flood the earth again. We took it as a reminder that we're in the right place.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sometimes I miss it

Leanne lives in Ghana. You should visit her site.

(I miss the random takings-out-of-context that are part of life overseas. Colorado is not like that. I haven't seen a Kenyan flag flying at any used car dealership.)