Blog Service of Boring

December 1st, 2022

Categories: Boredom, Entertainment, Podcast, Politicians


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

I’m not sure why but I’ve developed a dislike of the word boring. When young I’d get bored but haven’t for decades.

Political pundits and morning show hosts whine about a politician being boring which is why, they drone on, he/she isn’t a good candidate. Vision, intelligence, ethics, spot-on decision-making take a back seat. Some once praised a recent president for being hilarious and when, in a recent speech he was no longer, they complained that he was not amusing, energetic and vibrant—in fact, he was boring. Kiss of death!

Must we always be amused? Have you met slick-mouthed people who can sell butter to a dairy who are useless doing their jobs? They drop more balls than beau mots. I have stories….

It helps if a teacher isn’t boring. But we don’t all agree about that. I remember one—Dr. Blackwood in college—who put others to sleep yet his words resonated with me.

In addition to deadlines, obligations and chores, there is so much entertainment at our fingertips from streaming services with all range of series and films and podcasts covering cooking and philosophy to politics and gardening as well as news shows that dissect every angle of the political and international landscape and thousands of digital games.

There are so many books to read or museums to visit or walks to take or languages to learn or trips to enjoy or recipes to master or friends to meet or dogs to walk or children to coach in addition to people to help—and of course, there is work or homework. So where is there time for boredom? Do you get bored?


Image by 14995841 from Pixabay 

Service of Who Took the Children Out of Christmas and Hanukah Department Store Window Decor?

November 28th, 2022

Categories: Children, Christmas, Holiday Sales, Retail, Retail Window Displays

Bloomingdale’s Louis Vuitton holiday window made of Legos

I guess Christmas and Hanukah and their iconic symbols designed to enchant youngsters no longer inspire NYC holiday windows, or so a few major retailers made me believe. And what children appreciate the senior members of their families often do as well. For decades trains and marching soldiers enthralled New Yorkers and tourists of all ages. Some things never get old. The last year Citibank installed a major train display in Manhattan there were lines to see it daily. I visited with my husband. I can’t forget the dad at the front of the display who had to tear away his three-year-old who screamed in protest when pulled off the line to make room for others. The crowd was mesmerized.

Bloomingdale’s holiday window featuring giant camera

Yesterday I was looking at Bloomingdale’s holiday windows as was a couple with a toddler in a stroller. The little one was staring at the windows without expression. His blank look—and the subjects of windows there and at Saks—gave birth to this post.

At Bloomingdale’s, I didn’t get the connection to holidays other than accents of red and green plaid ribbon and a giant plastic teddy bear. Louis Vuitton’s window was slightly child-oriented because it was designed with Legos. But the static design—a blue and white checkerboard tree with a “skirt” of multicolored Legos heaped in piles and a blue and white background–was bleh and not eye-catching to a little one. The oversized camera and scissors in other windows didn’t score nor did the child manikins dressed in bizarre fur onesies.

Window at Saks. Photo: Nancie Steinberg

What about Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows?  Nancie Steinberg’s images didn’t shout children either. In fact, I had to read media coverage to understand what I was looking at. Do you think a child would think, “Aha! I recognize the toys inspired from ‘special gifts from years past,’ also described as ‘nostalgic’ and ‘heartwarming,'” according to press reports? Only two examples of toys of yore were referred to: a kaleidoscope and rocket ships. And boy were those references subtle.

In addition, Justine Golata reported in secretnyc, “Saks has teamed up with Sir Elton John for this year’s holiday campaign to support the British singer’s AIDS foundation, The Rocket Fund, which includes a $1 million donation and dedicated holiday window displays. People can also shop the Elton John x Saks Fifth Avenue special holiday collection where $500,000 in proceeds will go towards The Rocket Fund, regardless of sales.” Now I get the rocket window.

I’m all for charity at any time of year and I like Sir John and his work. Did Saks really need to import him to attract store traffic? And what does he have to do with Christmas or Hanukah?

How hard would it have been to honor Charles Schulz, who turned 100 this year, featuring his ever-popular Peanuts gang? Or for those who insist on breaking from tradition to be trendy and fresh what about a contemporary setting through which trains might travel—it could be enchanting.

Anyone remember the windows at Lord & Taylor? The lines in front were four+ people deep.

Could it be that adults don’t like to shop with their children in tow anymore so commercially, windows that would enchant kids are not viable? Are the windows I mentioned fabulous and visually over my head? Or do children take a backseat as a retail priority during the December holidays these days?

Saks holiday window. Photo: Nancie Steinberg

Service of Gifts with Strings

November 25th, 2022

Categories: Gifts, Gifts with Strings, Money, Political Campaign, Politicians, Politics


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Strings are what often accompany political donations. You scratch my campaign and I’ll scratch your project–or go easy on you or your company.

However, the figurative kind of strings don’t belong on personal presents. We knew a wealthy woman who gave generous graduation checks to her grandchildren and then complained if some didn’t put the money in savings. She didn’t recognize that it wasn’t a gift if she was to control what they did with the money.

Sometimes people threaten beneficiaries of a will. If they don’t kowtow, they’ll be stricken from the document. A longtime friend of my mother’s suddenly tried to control and question her choices of whom to see and how often. Once mom determined the behavior wasn’t a one-off, it lasted only minutes more. She objected; the woman threatened to alter her will so that her daughter wouldn’t receive her antique gold coin collection. “Keep it,” said mom. That was it. Mom was right.

My friend Nancie suggested another kind of gift-with-string: The pads and address labels that accompany fundraising requests. We both admitted putting the “gifts” to good use and not filling the return address envelopes with checks.

It’s holiday tip time in apartments and offices around the country. Do tenants demand to know what workers do with their gifts? What about recipients of giant Wall Street and corporate bonuses—are they expected to divulge to employers what they do with their $millions? NO! So why do some people feel that they are entitled to control when they give a present?

What examples of gifts with strings have you noticed? Has anyone tried to tie you up? Do you use the “gifts” that charities include with requests for support without sending money?


Image by Steve Norris from Pixabay 

Service of Backorders

November 21st, 2022

Categories: Backorder, E-Commerce, E-tailing, Retail, Shortages, Small Appliances

This old Hamilton Beach iron served me well

I’ve not needed a fridge or kitchen cabinet or car, so I’ve not been impacted by typical pandemic backorders—until now. Guess what? The Wall Street Journal published a story last Thursday “Fading Supply Chain Problems Signal Holiday Season of Stocked Shelves, Lower Prices.” I hate being the exception to the rule.

My trusty steam iron bit the dust in a most responsible way on Saturday night. It started to beep at me and then I saw smoke–not steam. It was entitled to retire. It has served me splendidly for years.

Was I surprised when I tried to order one for same day pickup in a Manhattan store. I couldn’t find one at two likely suspects and many irons were out of stock even for shipping. The wait time for delivery for the available ones ranged from six to nine days. I found one at a third vendor that was to arrive three days later—on Tuesday. But I received a notice from the vendor on Monday night that the delivery date moved a week. An aside: This iron had better be as good and long-lasting as the Hamilton Beach I bought at a long defunct discount store. For one thing, I paid 3x more for it.

Here’s one reason for the delay in my receiving the iron: It took some journey to get to Manhattan! It left Chandler, Ariz. and stopped in Phoenix, then Tucamcri, N.M., next Phillipsburg, Mo., on to Quaker City, Ohio, and Keasbey, N.J. and was sited at a warehouse in Long Island City, N.Y.

In another surprising example, I knew that the flannel shirt—from an iconic brand for such things– I bought days ago was backordered a few weeks until November 18. Then the delivery date was moved to December 6. And it’s holiday time!

I shared frivolous examples as they surprised me. What about the shortage of meds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [A.D.H.D] patients who depend on Adderall that New York Times reporter Dani Blum wrote about? Without their daily dose they “face withdrawal and despair.” She reported that the issue should be resolved within the next month or two according to the FDA. “Rates of Adderall use in the United States have been rising for 20 years. The use of prescription stimulants to treat A.D.H.D. doubled from 2006 to 2016.”

Have you experienced delays or disappointment lately for items you needed or wanted? Were you surprised?


Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

Service of Misinformation

November 17th, 2022

Categories: Misinformation, Subway, Transportation

New York Transit Museum at Grand Central Terminal

A friend is a Dolly Parton fan. I read in timeout.com that I could pick up a special edition Dolly Parton MetroCard at Grand Central Terminal, so I hotfooted it over there thinking “What a fun surprise for him!”

In my search I was sent from pillar to post, ending up in the basement and before heading over to one of the many kiosks that sell MetroCards I asked a man behind what used to be called a token booth if he sold them and if not, which kiosk did.

He said he didn’t have any. As for the kiosks, “Try any of them. It’s a kind of lottery. But they are only good until November 15.” This didn’t sound right.

I lost the lottery getting ye olde standard card. I only tried once. I figured how many $6.50 full-priced transit cards did I need? They charge $1.00 for each new card with minimum purchase of two rides at $2.75 each. None of the coverage about the special edition cards I read mentioned you had to luck into getting one.

But that wasn’t the end of it. I received more incorrect info from a salesperson at the Transit Museum on the ground floor. He stood at the door and wore a branded T-shirt. The store sells all kinds of subway iconography-inspired paraphernalia from socks and coasters to umbrellas and toys—but no MetroCards. He told me that the cards were to be discontinued by the end of this year. I suggested he meant 2023 but he was adamant. I wasn’t going to argue—even though I’d recently written about the development here and the end date was fresh in my mind. There’s a good reason: Credit card companies need the time to upgrade the technology of extant cards so that their cards can suck money out of bank accounts. [I dread my future credit card bills that might be pages long reflecting every bus or subway ride. I wonder how companies were bamboozled into agreeing to take over a responsibility that belongs to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.]

Have you been disappointed by faulty information when you tried to buy something? Were you misled by people who should have information yet spread incorrect warnings?

MetroCard Kiosks at Grand Central Terminal

Service of Prep for the Job

November 14th, 2022

Categories: Jobs, Political Campaign, Politicians, Politics

Some people succeed in jobs for which they weren’t trained or prepared. Take political widows who slip into their husband’s congressional seats. Wives that choose to be are steeped in their spouse’s work and have survived the drill. They campaign fiercely and are on top of the issues. Many had staying power. Here, from an article in usatoday.com, are just some:

  • Rep. Edith N. Rogers’s husband was in his seventh term representing Massachusetts in the House when he died in 1925. The Republican party urged her to run.
  • Rose McConnell Long took over Huey Long’s Louisiana Senate seat in 1935.
  • Margaret Chase Smith won a special election in 1940 after her husband died and joined the House. She also served in the Senate representing Maine.
  • Democrat Elizabeth B. Andrews, Alabama, took office a year after her husband died in 1971.
  • Cardiss Collins’s husband died in a plane crash in 1972. She won a special election the next year and took his place in the House representing Illinois. She remained until 1997.
  • Debbie Dingell replaced Representative John Dingell, Michigan, after he died in 2015.
Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay 

However, there are some candidates whose preparation and background make no sense for them to be elected to office. Take a man running for Senate from a background in sports. He wasn’t in sports administration or marketing: He was a star player from the start: He won a Heisman Trophy as a junior at the University of Georgia and subsequently was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

After he played for major NFL teams, he represented the US in the Winter Olympics as part of the bobsleigh team and tried his hand at mixed martial arts.

Before his campaign, in addition to a friendship with the president, the closest he got to politics was as co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition from 2019-2020.  James Morgan, usatoday.com, covered the announcement of his two year appointment although the article was fuzzy about his role and background: “As Co-Chair, Walker will have a lot of responsibilities related to the council but he has been quoted saying that he is willing to help President Trump. Walker continues to be in excellent shape and fitness that he is legendary for. Walker has made a significant impact off the field, since his retirement from the NFL, and always does an outstanding job of representing the University of Georgia.”

Impact doing what? He is also associated with a company that sells branded meat products.

To be fair, there have been sports stars who turned their attention to politics and did well. Here are just a few of the ones that Business Insider mentioned: Four term House member from Oklahoma, Steve Largent, had been a renowned player for the Seattle Seahawks and J.C. Watts, University of Oklahoma and Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback also served his state in the House. NFL wide receiver and college football coach Tom Osborne represented Nebraska in the House for eight years until 2003.

I have friends who have made 180 career switches. One moved from a spectacular career in marketing to owner/founder/chef of a food enterprise. Her success benefits her family yet should she have failed, it would have impacted only them.

Americans are sports crazy which accounts for this candidate’s name recognition and acceptance as a contender. Sports competition teaches crucial life lessons. Yet don’t you wonder how physical fitness and a connection at a high political level translates to potential success for the essential job of US Senator? In addition, there’s something mean about subjecting this man to such scrutiny. I can’t help thinking about the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Service of Bribing Ourselves to Face the Music

November 10th, 2022

Categories: Bribe, Games, Psychology, Reward


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

Parents use what one friend calls the “reward system” to persuade offspring to attack a chore. Some dog owners constantly give treats to inspire pups to perform as trained.

Because into every life some rain is forecast many bribe themselves to help face a scary doctor visit or medical procedure; a meeting with a contentious client; a call to customer service at a big business to adjust a mistake or to pay a dreaded visit to an annoying person.

I sometimes do.

I love paper products. When Kate’s Paperie was in business, I noticed a branch of this beloved paper store [long out of business] on the way to a scary medical test and I said to myself, “If you survive this MRI, think of the fun you’ll have visiting the store afterwards.” [If I took tranquilizers, this would have been the moment and I suspect they would have been far more effective to calm me than my promised retail incentive.]

Upside down at a grueling dental appointment yesterday I said to myself “New episodes of The Crown on Netflix launch today!”

When I mentioned to a friend that there will be travel for a nervous-making reason in my future to a hard-to-reach part of town–I avoid subways and am allergic to $30 cab/Uber rides–she made a winning suggestion. She said: “find a great bakery in the vicinity to treat yourself afterwards.” PERFECT idea. I was as happy as a four-year-old on the eve of her birthday.

Do you play such psychological games?


Image by Omerlavon from Pixabay 

Service of You Can’t Please Everybody: Setting Up People to Fail

November 7th, 2022

Categories: Apartment Living, Hospitals, Public Relations, Restaurant, Set Up to Fail, Tips


Image by fran1 from Pixabay

The default for some is to criticize and complain. These people frequently set the stage for each situation they gripe about though they would claim that odds are stacked against them. Sometimes employers put workers in an impossible position and even then, these whiners have no pity.

Here’s a perfect illustration. The scene: my apartment elevator. The conversation: between a handyman and a tenant after they’d greeted each other. It was a Wednesday.

Handyman: I haven’t forgotten you.

Tenant: I thought you had.

Handyman: I’ll come this afternoon.

Tenant: I just had a vaccine. I don’t feel that well. Can you come next week?

I bumped into the woman that afternoon and she asked me about the weather and was planning to go out. How sick was she? There are 510 apartments here. Do you think the overworked handyman will remember her issue? I have zero proof but I suspect the woman doesn’t tip. When I submit an online workorder someone comes within a few hours and within minutes if I report a leak. I tip.

Here’s another example of impossible to please. I once had a client who had no respect for women which at the time, I wouldn’t admit and soldiered on even though his prejudice was obvious. In addition to putting me through ridiculous hoops he was verbally abusive and insulting in meetings to the woman who reported to him. With me, he would waste hours asking for press release rewrites. He’d want a word like “the” added, then deleted, then added again. Just before I left the PR agency where I represented his company, I drafted one last release and put as “contact” the name of the man who was taking my place on the account. That was the first and only release this client approved without changing a comma. Only then I admitted that the man had a problem working with women and there was nothing I could have done to appease him. Did I mention that the woman he demeaned in meetings was his girlfriend?

There are many examples of people who are set up to fail: Waitstaff responsible for too many tables; exhausted hospital personnel asked to cover another shift; administrative workers reporting to many overwhelmed executives on deadlines; customer service people who hardly speak English, to name a few. Have you experienced–or observed–other examples?

Service of What’s Your Rush?

November 3rd, 2022

Categories: Accident, Agressive Behavior, Driving, Rush

Crosswalks in midtown Manhattan

New Yorkers are impatient and usually in a rush. I live in a giant building. A young person entering an adjacent apartment the other night couldn’t take time for a hasty civil greeting or grunt as he opened his door. [I hope he is a houseguest.]

A friend shared a far worse example. His in-law was hit by a car in a Manhattan crosswalk. One driver stopped his car and waved the 85-year-old pedestrian to cross. An impatient woman in the car behind swung around, struck and dragged the old man 30 feet. She was arrogant and unapologetic. He suffered in the hospital for months. His funeral is Monday.

I hear countless newscasters say, after a shooting, knifing, fire, accident or vicious fight, “the victim is expected to fully recover.” Is that to make us feel better? Does it blunt the repercussion of acting rashly as the driver did in the example above? We heard those words about Mr. Pelosi. How can an 85-year-old with a scull cracked so badly he needed surgery “fully recover?” I get a headache thinking about his injury. A policeman or woman, once shot, must suffer some aftereffect where the bullet entered their body even after they’ve “fully recovered.” And what about the psychological consequences?

Even though traffic may cause fits we have fewer reasons to feel rushed. In the day, I recall frantically looking for a payphone when I couldn’t catch a cab and thought I’d be late for a client meeting. We are so lucky to be able to let someone know we’re running late by text or call from almost everywhere. It sure takes the pressure off and if in public transportation we have time to catch up as we can respond to texts and emails. These advantages don’t seem to impact behavior.

Rushing is not just a NYC thing. We suffered dangerously impatient drivers when for 25 years we spent time upstate. Have you observed negative outcomes from hurrying? Are we inured to the physical pain we might inflict on others because we so often hear that victims even of accidents will make full recoveries?

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Service of Shining a Spotlight on a Wrong by Committing a Wrong: Is that Right?

October 31st, 2022

Categories: Art, Museums, Violence, War

It’s tough when you are passionate about a situation that too many ignore. So how do you draw attention to it? That’s a challenge that marketing people address daily. It also causes some to lose sight of what they stand for.

Here’s an example of someone who got it right. I admired a political commercial featuring New Jersey Representative Tom Malinowski that I saw the day after Nancy Pelosi’s husband was viciously attacked in his home. It featured the representative’s valiant mother and the principles she taught him. He did not join the fray of colleagues who are neck and neck in midterm races on both sides of the aisle who try to whip up supporters’ emotions by verbally assaulting the opponent.

On the other hand, blatant examples of going to extremes while losing the point are wars to defend religion. Aren’t religions supposed to provide a roadmap to guide people to live good and peaceful lives?

Similarly, I am flummoxed by environmental activists who think they shine the right spotlight on the crises by defacing famous pictures in museums and/or pasting their hands on picture frames and walls. International media reported mashed potatoes tossed by members of Last Generation on Claude Monet’s “Grainstacks,” in the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany.

According to The New York Times, “Across Europe, climate protesters have sought to capture headlines in recent months by engaging in similar stunts tied to beloved pieces in the art world. In Britain, activists glued themselves to about a half-dozen masterpieces, including a 16th-century copy of ‘The Last Supper’ at the Royal Academy, a major art museum in London. And in Italy, activists glued themselves to a sculpture held in the Vatican and to works in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence.”

The group “Just Stop Oil” attacked The Last Supper. Firstpostcom reported: “According to Deutsche Welle, the 500 year-old painting, attributed to Giampietrino, is a full-scale copy of the famous work by Vinci, who is thought to have been Giampietrino’s master. Just Stop Oil defines itself as a ‘coalition of groups working together to ensure the government commits to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production,’ as stated on the initiative’s website.” The group “said that they have been targeting art, as it is ‘part of our collective culture,’ adding, ‘We love our history and culture too much to just allow it all to be destroyed.’”

At London’s National Gallery two from Just Stop Oil covered John Constable’s painting “The Hay Wain” with a replica of the image and pasted their hands to the frame.

Newsweek reported “On October 14, two activists from the campaign Just Stop Oil threw cans of tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers painting before gluing themselves to the wall at London’s National Gallery. Nine days later, two activists from the German group Letze Generation smeared Monet’s Les Meules with mashed potatoes.”

There’s a risk to cockamamie or extreme initiatives and claims even if backed by valid propositions. Hate speech incentivizes the insane to perform violent acts; a religious war is an oxymoron that kills supporters and enemies alike and frustrated environmental activists who attack beloved objects of art claiming that they don’t want the environment to destroy the work–while potentially doing just that–get known but not for the right reasons. Does such behavior baffle and potentially turn off supporters?

Tom Malinowski. Photo: Malinowski.house.gov
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