All the help with 195 pages to spare

self-help

I’m a fan of self-help books. Anything that enables introspection and improvement wins points with me. But God help me if I have to slog through another book that gets to its main point in the first three pages, then repeats the same point over and over through the next 195.

Have more to say? I’m on board. But here’s my self-help tip for enlightened authors. If there’s not 200 pages of material, you can save everyone a lot of time and still make the New York Times Best Sellers list. Position it like a modern day literary version of Name That Tune. “This book can fix that OCD in five pages.” “Fix that OCD!”

It’s marketing genius on the level of Seven Minute Abs.

 

“Second? Great! What’s the pay?”

bridesmaid-dress

Some people go to their graves without finding their calling. I’m lucky to have stumbled upon my purpose mid-life – or at least I hope this is mid-life.

Since my “unplanned” career transition a few months ago, I have reclaimed the honor of being first at being second. My inbox abounds with nice notes from recruiters and hiring managers letting me know that their “very difficult decision” resulted in someone else getting the job. While there’s some solace in the fact that it was close, I’ve yet to see competitive compensation package offered to the candidate they didn’t choose.

I mean, runners-up at Wimbledon still get a share of the purse and a fancy plate. Bridesmaids get to keep the dress. Second place in interviews sometimes opens doors for other roles in the organization, but more frequently it leaves you with a fuzzy feeling for 45 seconds and a more lingering bruise to your self-esteem.

I’m opting to keep positive about it all. At least I got the interviews, right? Maybe it was as close as they claim it was. I take from each experience valuable information about what went well and what I can improve upon. I get exposure to new organizations and am able to share stories with interesting people. In many cases, I learn why I wouldn’t want to work there.

So, when emotions start to veer toward self-pity, I remind myself to look in the mirror and smile, taking note of how stunning I look in this dress.

Misdirected rage

bosch-death

United Airlines’ PR nightmare related to the forced removal of a seated passenger has drawn the collective ire of people across the globe and sent United’s market cap on a billion dollar tailspin.

While we should all join in chastising United for this clear disregard for its customers, it’s taking our focus off other devastating atrocities being perpetrated against humanity… namely the quality of today’s appliances. We recently said goodbye to our Bosch dishwasher — a temperamental member of our household for the past six years. While in the market a few years ago, we did what data-empowered consumers are supposed to do. We looked to Consumer Reports for the most reliable models. We poured through customer reviews online. We spoke with salespeople at respected stores. When we chose our $800+ Bosch, one of the top brands in the category, we did so with informed confidence.

But a few weeks ago, our dishwasher decided to stop performing the one function it was put on this Earth to do. And a serviceman’s estimate pegged a repair to cost somewhere between $400-500, making the more sound decision to buy a new appliance. Just as you’d tell the vet you have no interest spending $2000 for a surgery that may not save the life of a pet you never truly liked, we chose to let our dishwasher go. This was difficult for our family, not because we had developed a special bond with our Bosch, but because this meant having to research our next purchase, find $800 in our couch cushions (which coincidentally also need to be replaced), and contribute to our consumerism-fueled growth in landfills.

Six years of bi-weekly use? Six? Despite our extensive pre-purchase analysis, had we bought a lemon? You hear about people having to replace a Maytag they’d owned for 25 years. How could this high-end brand have fallen so short of these expectations? Because that’s the new norm. A few candid conversations with salespeople and installers revealed the average life for a dishwasher to be 5-6 years. We’ve all heard of planned obsolescence, but six-sigma design and manufacturing was supposed to bring us more durable, longer-lasting products, even if they cost more. And even if this is the category “average”, will no manufacturer step up and claim a leadership position for making longer lasting products? And where is the consumer outrage? Shouldn’t we be railing against Whirlpool, Kitchen Aid, Samsung and others for stealing 19 years of dutiful utility from us? This is where we should be focusing our anger, energy, and influence, far before we protest and boycott United Airlines. So, here’s the order:

  1. Protesting degredation of appliance quality
  2. Boycotting United Airlines

Ooops. I totally forgot about the genocide in Syria, one of the worst humanitarian crises of our generation. We should also try to affect change for the millions who have been murdered or displaced by the barbarism and conflict in the region. OK, here’s the revised order:

  1. Demanding greater support for refugees and pushing for regime change in Syria
  2. Protesting degredation of appliance quality
  3. Boycotting United Airlines

I hope there’s enough fury to go around. I believe in you America.

Wine is not a spectator sport

WS022916_CoverUS.indd

I’m sure I’m not the first sober person who has commented on the awkward naming of one of the wine industry’s most prized publications, Wine Spectator.

Wine. Spectator.

I don’t get it. Not “Wine Savant”, “Wine Devotee” or more fittingly “Wine Guzzler”?

“Look, but don’t touch, our magazine is for people who wish to enjoy wine from afar. Not quite ready to be a “Wine Participator”? Like the idea of a delicious alcoholic beverage derived from grapes, but don’t think you’re up for the kind of fun your friends always have a dinner parties? We’ve got just the periodical for you.”

Maybe by the time they started the magazine all the good names were taken. Wine Enthusiast. Wine Connoisseur. Wine Advocate. And maybe they didn’t want to slum with the cigar crowed by using the term “aficionado”. But “spectator”? I can think of few things less enjoyable than sitting back and observing wine. That’s why people have wine cellars. If I can’t drink it now, for the love of God, get it out of my sight.

Have I’ve misunderstood their editorial strategy? Perhaps it’s a magazine for people who like to have a glass or five and slur shit about the things they’re spectating. I can relate to that. It sounds fun, and is far less snobby than “Wine Connoisseur”.

OK. I’m convinced. And the promotion on their website is a classy branded lawn chair, free with your paid subscription. Wine Spectator, thank you for knowing your audience. I may have found my new favorite magazine and pastime.

Fish sauce

fish-sauce
Fish sauce. I don’t know how they make it. I don’t want to know how they make it. What I do know is that this magical ingredient appears in every recipe I look up.
Tofu, cauliflower, fish sauce.
Cabbage, carrots, fish sauce.
Cornbread, honey, fish sauce.
With all due respect to Jerry Seinfeld and his revelation about cinnamon, I proclaim fish sauce is king. On hot wings, in smoothies, and over pancakes.
So the next time you have guests over, and you want a dish to really pop, just wring out a grouper or two and wait for the compliments to roll in.
Mostly, I wanted to be able to say that my first blog post was about fish sauce.