Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A tale of two service delivery models

I confess: I hate to shop. I mean, really, really hate to shop. If I can order something online, I am very happy (I’m sure I get a little hit of dopamine whenever I type smile.amazon.com—if you don’t already know, adding the “smile” gets a donation sent to the American Red Cross).

So, you can imagine my delight when I learned that you can buy a mattress (of all things!) without having to go to a store. I don’t know about you, but I find mattress buying overwhelming. So many choices, so many dollars, so many salespeople and, really, what can you possibly learn by lying down on a mattress in the middle of the store for 60 seconds?

The mattress in question was from Helixsleep.com. It had been written up in a favorable Wall Street Journal article last year, had good reviews online and, best of all, I could order a mattress without leaving my desk and even customize its features.

It took roughly a week for my customized mattress to arrive—I’m sure the UPS man appreciated my online shopping that day (sorry!)—and voila! I have a mattress. I’m pleased as punch at the whole experience and if Helix could just address the old mattress in a landfill issue (another sorry!) it would be perfect.

Here is said mattress in a box.

Now, onto the “two” of my headline. Last year I had a foot injury that has meant wearing a very lovely pair of New Balance orthotic-type shoes for my daily walks. I have had many pairs of NB in my life, but this pair takes the cake for style: I was quite dismayed to see that it was the same style being worn by my quite lovely 70+-year-old neighbor and a tottering elderly lady who was standing in front of me in line the other day. Sigh.

As my foot health has improved, I decided to do something rash and get a somewhat stylish pair of shoes. I attempted to do so online using Zappos, Amazon and a variety of other sources. But, to my dismay, the shopping by tapping model has failed me and I’ve had to return to a real store.

Fortunately, the real store in question has been Movin’ Shoes on Park St. and the helpful services of Tim Gold. Tim has been nothing but patient and helpful and definitely knows his shoes. We have gone through what seems like the entire Movin’ Shoes inventory together—plus ordering more from suppliers. It looks, sadly, like the NB orthotic is here to stay for a bit (see below and you’ll know I’m not exaggerating on its style quotient). But I give Tim top marks for trying!

Thank you Tim for renewing my faith in the brick-and-mortar shopping model! Now please convince some supplier to make attractive shoes for people like me!

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, April 27, 2017

So excited about this new fashion trend!

Have you heard about Nordstrom’s new $425 jeans? The ones that “embody rugged, Americana workwear….with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.”

This is wonderful news and leaves me with a greatly expanded wardrobe!  Poof! The jeans I had formerly relegated to my painting/cleaning/mucking out the garden pile can now magically be transformed into going to the movies/meeting a new client/attending a festive soiree options. Thank you Nordstrom!

I have stolen this image from forbes.com, which in turn got it from Nordstrom.com. I hope that’s considered kosher (and am happy to pull it down if it’s not).

Nordstrom-muddy-jeans.jpg

 

 

Tags: , ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Monday, April 17, 2017

Now anyone can be an “artist”

I don’t make any claims to being an artist—though one of my high school art class paintings is somewhat inexplicably displayed in a bedroom in my home (not mine!) and my daughters have always gotten a kick out of what we call my “princess drawings.”

Given my limited artistic ability, I was  intrigued to hear about this fun AI tool from Google that allows anyone to become an artist of a sort. (For more background, check out this article at Wired).

 

 

I won’t be replacing an even not-that-talented graphic designer any time soon, but AutoDraw is fun to play with and will add a touch of professionalism to my next poster or invite.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did try it out for its princess-drawing potential. Whew, that’s one area where I’m not easily replaceable—yet.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less

To woo its customers into trying their home delivery grocery service, my big shopping store of choice, Woodmans, has been offering free first-time delivery. Being curious about how this worked (and lazy and cheap!) I decided to give it a try.

The verdict: Not bad at all.

I placed my order on Wednesday using their online service, added to it twice (you can do that until 12 hours before your delivery) and waited for G Day (Grocery- Delivery), which was this morning. The driver was right on time, he was incredibly pleasant and brought my groceries up my 13 steps (yes, I count them every time I am my grocery delivery person) and into my kitchen.

They got everything on my list—though not necessarily quite everything I would have picked. I didn’t get that much produce but they did a fine job selecting what I did order. And Woodman’s has a no-tipping policy so you don’t have to agonize about whether to tip and how much (Per bag? By amount total? Based on my 13 steps?)

The pros of course are saved time, gas and hassle. The cons: not getting to pick out exactly what you want, missing out on the chance to throw the 27 odd last-minute things you think of when you walk the aisles into your cart and not knowing what’s on the cover of the National Enquirer this week.

Online grocery ordering seems like a no-brainer, especially with the aging of our population but it has yet to really catch on in most places. According to research cited by the Business Insider, the biggest reason not to use the service is the desire to pick out your own food. I can relate to that.

Will I use at-home grocery delivery again? I’m much less inclined to do so in the summer but come next winter when it’s icy and cold? The idea of someone else schlepping groceries into my kitchen will be mighty appealing!

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Emma, please say “yes”


I think my high school boyfriend asked me to prom by saying something like, “Hey, want to go to prom?” in the middle of a crowded high school cafeteria. (The answer was “yes” in case you’re wondering).

Kids today are under so much more pressure to pull out all the stops and do something cool (Yikes! I just learned that the average amount of money spent on a so-called promposal ranges from $218-$431(!) with an additional $515 to $738 spent on prom itself. I’m hoping this is per couple at least and thrilled that the Midwest comes in at the lower end of each of those ranges. Thank you Visa and seventeen magazine for those fun facts).

Arizona student Jacob Staudenmaier has topped them all with his prom invitation that recreates the opening sequence of  La La Land (which sadly, I cannot get to copy into this post so you’ll have to click through to indiewire to watch). I’m guessing that Jacob topped the averages listed above, but when your target date is Emma Stone, I guess you pull out all the stops.

 I hope Emma says “yes.” (And Jacob, didn’t you have homework to do???).

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Back to the future

Who doesn’t love to predict what the technology of the future will look like? I’m often struck by how many changes happened in our grandparents’ generation—my husband’s grandma fondly remembered when they first got indoor electricity and plumbing—and even in our own. My kids can’t really conceive of life before the Internet and DVDs and a time when a calculator that could only do basic math was a pretty exciting birthday gift.

A friend who’s a long-time employee of GM recently sent me this video from the General Motors archives. It was made in the ’50s and envisioned what the cars of 1976 would look like. Although their predictions were sadly off base in terms of timing (I would have loved a car that could keep ice cream cold when I was growing up!), in some ways they were amazingly prescient.

Tags: , ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Monday, March 20, 2017

Enjoy the path of least resistance

Yesterday’s New York Times had an intriguing article about a bride who planned her wedding in just five days (I’m guessing this article has been forwarded by many MOBs (mothers of brides) who are stressed out by the wedding planning process). While I don’t know that I would like to attempt to pull off such a big day in such a short amount of time, I did appreciate the bride’s way of determining what was important to her and fully intend to borrow her insights in the future:

With each social expectation for weddings, I asked myself: “Does this achieve the goal of making the people at my wedding feel loved and appreciated for the role they play in my life? Will it help strengthen my marriage and the promises we made to each other?” If the answer was no, I didn’t waste any more time.

I now appreciate applying this to other areas of life. Is where we go to dinner eternally significant? If not, it’s not worth arguing over. Do party favors for the barbecue you’re giving matter? Probably not. Enjoy the path of least resistance. If it truly represents the most important elements of your life and relationship, put time, energy and creativity into it. If not, do yourself a favor and skip the stress.

I’m not someone who tends to stress out over party favors and picking the perfect restaurant, but have undoubtedly wasted too much energy on equally mundane things. I think I’ll make “enjoy the path of least resistance” my new mantra!

Tags: ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less


For the last few years, people I know and love (and, more important, whose reading tastes I trust), have been raving about A Man Called Ove. I tried to read it and was almost immediately turned off by its “grumpy old man who will undoubtedly have his heart touched by the end of the book” approach.

That book went back, but I put it on hold at the library because so many people continued to rave, and my name finally made it to the top of the list. I’ve now sort of sped read my way through it and here’s my take: it was ok.

Yes, there were poignant moments. And yes, there were times that I got a bit teary. And, yes, Ove does have his heart touched by the end of the book. But I, like the grumpy old man of the title, was a hard sell. I’m still not completely sold, but as Ove would likely say (if he were a real person and not a made-up character) the author wasn’t a complete twit.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less

I just came across this fascinating article in Atlas Obscura about the “Nansen Passport.”

It’s a pretty short article—pop out and give it a read—but in a sentence, it’s about a man named Fridtjof Nansen who created a special passport that stateless people could use to safely cross borders in the global tumult between World Wars I and II.

An idea whose time may have come again? 

Tags: ,
Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less
Friday, February 3, 2017

More thoughts on happiness

I was so tickled last week to hear from Hazel Garcia. Hazel works at investmentZen.com and had come across a post I did about whether money could buy happiness. Hazel was working on an info graphic about the topic, which she kindly shared (see below), along with some thoughts about savings. I don’t mean for this to be a plug for investmentZen (about which I know almost nothing!), but thought you’d get a kick out of Hazel’s insights. Here they are (and thanks for reading Hazel!).

 

You’ll be happier if you spend your money on experiences, rather than things.

It’s no secret that we love to buy stuff. In our consumer culture, getting that fancy new phone, the shiny new tablet, the brand new pair of shoes, that hot new car – it’s all par for the course.

But does it really make us happy? Is there a way we could spend money in a way that maximizes happiness?

At InvestmentZen.com, we spend a lot of time thinking about money and how it impacts happiness, so we decided to take a closer look at the research and figure out how you could spend money in a way that makes you happier. We came across some interesting findings that objectively showed us that spending money on experiences will make you happier than buying material things.

Of course, we also believe you should save as much money as possible and use it to buy your freedom, but that’s a topic for another time!

Here’s why spending money on experiences will make you happier than spending money buying stuff:

Posted in: Uncategorized
Show more
Show less

Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

I love to learn about new things. And I love to tell a good story. Let’s get together and tell yours!

More about Vicky

“Vicky is one of the best writers I’ve worked with. She provides a high quality product on time and is a joy to work with. Vicky is able to take complex financial subjects and turn them into readable prose.”

Jim Jerving, Editorial Director
LendKey

More testimonials