Active procrastination and passive thinking

September 11, 2014

I’m not going to beat around the bush — I’ve known I was on the docket for months now and assumed that some flash of genius worthy of a blog would present itself. But life got busy going into the field for a project, attending a destination wedding in California, and starting my MBA. So instead of a nice story that reads like your favorite episode of This American Life, here’s a few thoughts on “things I’ve noticed” over the last couple months. (And if you are a TAL fan imagine Ira Glass is reading this and it will totally redeem itself!)

Redwood trees are awesome

On my CA trip I had some extra time to drive up to Muir Woods. It was my first time seeing redwoods in person and it did not disappoint. Apart from being able to hike through the park and take in all the amazing scenery there is a lot of great information posted throughout to educate visitors. One thing that really caught my eye was a poster that described how resilient redwoods are — they can resist fire, move hundreds of gallons of water along their trunks every day, and manage to do that (and many other things) for hundreds — if not thousands — of years. I couldn’t help but think how this tree was perfectly designed by nature. We spend a lot of time thinking about user needs (and “not” needs) at Design Concepts and I would hope that if Mother Nature commissioned us to design a better redwood we’d know to decline the project.

One hotel is getting one thing right

Usually when I stay in hotels I am disgusted by how few amenities are included in the price. It’s not that I expect them to be free — I would just love to see one (one!) line item on my bill that basically says “it cost you this much to stay here” (oh, and then here’s all the taxes). The experience of staying at a hotel is great until you get that bill slipped under your door and regret wanting to surf the Internet and have some M&Ms at midnight.

At one of my last hotel stays at a Westin, however, I was delighted to see that I had the option to exchange an amenity I often don’t want or need — housekeeping — for something I do want and need — hotel points. The Starwood Green Choice Program touts all the environmental benefits to feel good about when you forego housekeeping (which are great, don’t get me wrong) but the 500 points I got when checking out put a little smile on my face. (And I’m sure on Starwood’s face, but probably not the housekeeper…)

It made my heart sink to know that instead of using cheap watercolors, markers and construction paper, some children are now expressing themselves through clip art and PowerPoint.

I like PowerPoint even less

At an in-home interview not too long ago I got distracted. Really distracted. As the respondent told his story, I couldn’t take my eyes off what was just over his shoulder. Behind him was a bulletin board of his child’s school-related materials like schedules, report cards and some art work. What almost made my jaw drop was that a fourth-grader had an “about me” presentation in PowerPoint. POWER POINT. I am hardly an expert on education (and I know kids need to know how to code when they come out of the womb) but it made my heart sink to know that instead of using cheap watercolors, markers and construction paper like I did many moons ago, some children are now expressing who they are through Microsoft clip art and PowerPoint templates.

At any given time, one percent of people are either talking about, thinking about, or watching Breaking Bad

Well, that may be a stretch. But after standing in line at a few airports, restaurants and just generally hanging out, I wonder if some people know that Walter White is not a real person (or is he?!). If this trend continues, the Census Bureau will need to add “Breaking Bad related activities” to the American Time Use Survey (which, in all seriousness, really is an amazing information source!).