Schmit Family
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10 September 2004 10:17 am

New and Improved

Every time that I read those two words, or even one of the two, on any consumer product, I cringe. It has been my experience that new and improved to most companies is not quite as good to me. Perhaps more companies should retain their classic products like Coca-Cola eventually did. Unfortunately, most products don't have the same passionate following that Coke has.

My most recent example of a modified product is my shampoo. Geoff returned from the grocery store with my shampoo among other items. At the top of the bottle is written:

fragrance and formula

I think, "Uh oh," and into the shower the shampoo went.

Every morning this week, I have been awoken a bit more than usual in the shower, thinking "What is that smell? Oh yeah, my new shampoo fragrance."

Often, the other options available to me are no better, so I am just stuck with "new and improved" products that I believe are inferior to the old. However, other times I do find a better product and switch my allegiance. I'm not sure what I'll do when the shampoo I have in the house is nearing empty, but it might mean a switch after seven or eight years.

Posted by geoff at 10:17 in /rants and raves

23 May 2004 9:57 pm

Lasting Impressions

This weekend, two companies made, what I'm sure will be, lasting impressions. One good; the other not so good. First, the good. One of my best friends gave Carolyn and I a really nice Waring Blending for our wedding. In Texas, we used it a handful of times to make margaritas. Since then, however, whenever we've tried to use it to make corn chowder, smoothies, or some other concoction, it has been less than ideal. (By the way, I'm trying to use the phrase "less than ideal" rather than "sucks" to set a good example for Dylan.) While we considered the possibility that the blender simply refused to blend any non-alcoholic mixture, we decided there was a more fundamental problem. Remembering that my friend purchased the blender at Williams-Sonoma, on a whim, we stopped in at our local store. We remarked that the blender worked well a couple of times, but not any more. The helpful associate asked if we had received it as a gift or purchased it from Williams-Sonoma. We replied that it was a wedding gift purchased at the Austin Williams-Sonoma. Before we could ask what kind of a warranty it had, she said that we should bring it in and exchange it for a new blender. I was pleasantly surprised. This weekend, I returned to Williams-Sonoma with the blender in tow. I mentioned, to a different associate, that I had been in the previous weekend and had a blender that hasn't worked for a while. Without asking any more questions, including where I bought it or how long I had it, the associated went in the back and brought out a replacement. Excellent customer service.

Snowdown I also bought a new razor this weekend, a Norelco Quadra 7866XL. While unpacking the razor I encountered the sticker in the above picture and couldn't stop laughing. This label was stuck to the cord for the razor. This is ridiculous for two reasons. First, who would consider cutting the power cord with a pair of scissors? Is this such a common action that consumers need to be warned not to do it? Second, sticking a label to the power cord encourages people to use their scissors to cut off the label. That is, as far as I can see, this warning label is going to increase the probability that someone is going to cut the power cord with a pair of scissors. The fact that this insane label passed through some engineering quality process without detection certainly made me hesitate before sticking this razor to my face. Fortunately for me, it worked just fine.

Posted by geoff at 21:57 in /rants and raves

7 April 2004 6:23 am

Our Flag

While it may be hard to believe, today I won't be extolling some liberal ideology when I climb up on my soapbox. Yesterday, I instructed my local Scout troop how to respect the flag of the United States of America. We usually meet in the basement of a church that doesn't have a flag pole; so, we don't have the opportunity to raise and lower the flag. Yesterday, we took advantage of the extra daylight and walked across the street to the elementary school and used their flag pole to practice. Afterward, we went back to the basement and discussed the various guidelines for hoisting, lowering, carrying, displaying, and saluting the flag. We then discussed one topic which often seems to surprise people: behaviors that are disrespectful of the flag.

The U.S. Flag Code (Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 176 of the United States Code) enumerates these behaviors:

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.


(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

After presenting these disrespectful behaviors, one of the Scouters asked why so many companies sold clothing that bears the likeness of the flag. One of the Scouts volunteered that companies are more than willing to take advantage of our patriotism to make money. I couldn't have said it any better. Although, it's not just for-profit corporations exploiting our new-found patriotism, it is the U.S. Postal Service as well.

So, this year when Old Navy starts selling their 2004 U.S. flag shirts, just leave them on the shelf. Please do display your patriotism, but don't disrespect the flag.

Posted by geoff at 06:23 in /rants and raves
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