Some of you know I’m an Instagram fan, and try to post a photo daily. I love Instagram for the variety of images I see every day and that it allows me a place for self-expression.
I’ve been shooting with a Google Pixel2 and a Verizon Google Pixel 2XL for quite a while now. I have to say after being a devoted iPhone user since the beginning, I now think Android is a piece of cake, but more importantly, I am in love with both Pixels.
It’s not just the ease of using an Android. Once you get the gist of how they work, it’s pretty easy to figure out any of them!
So ease of use is important. Service quality is important, too. I’ve mentioned numerous times we have a house near Mount Rainier that is listed on AirBNB, and Verizon is still the most reliable service out there.
But the cameras on these two devices! Wow. They’re amazing. They capture such minute detail that often I’ll shoot something then blow it way up and crop a tiny part of it to post, still maintaining incredible details.
This week I stopped by my mechanic, CarTender, on Capitol Hill. Paolo, one of the guys who works there, told me he bought a Pixel 2 BECAUSE of my INSTAGRAM PHOTOS! Wow!
So I’m sharing a few of the photos I’ve shot this month. From the top down, are:
Peonies from my sister’s garden
A view of the Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle
Wild roses from my garden
Basketball scrimmage after school
The “Eraser” sculpture at the Seattle Center
Weird graphic asphalt lines leading to the Museum of Pop Culture
A view of the Madrona Bathhouse on Lake Washington
The view from the end of the bar at 13 Coins in Pioneer Square
Plants reaching for the sky
A shed in Madrona with a pretty patina
Glimmering city of Bellevue seen from Madrona at Lake Washington
The first Amazon Bookstore, located in the University Village of Seattle
Century Link Tower seen through a gap in a grate
A tree before it budded
Expressive clouds seen from the Montlake Bridge
I’ve posted more than 16,000 photos on my Instagram account. As an early adopter, I went crazy at first, sometimes sharing a dozen or more pictures a day. Now, usually just one a day, although sometimes I skip.
I’d love to have you check out my photos. If you follow me there, post a comment to let me know, and I’ll follow back! And if you see the photos I’ve previewed below, you’ll usually find a more complete description on Instagram
Thank you for looking! And remember: #BetterMatters
Last month I was invited by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to attend the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. It was my first-ever experience at CES, and I had the honor of attending as a Key Online Influencer. My badge was met by curiosity as well as respect. I was given a press credential that was a special all-access pass to all of the various venues, and I was also able to use areas reserved for journalists, bloggers and major media from all over the world. I met inventors, CEOs, educators, international executives, journalists, geeks, and all manner of people who were working the showroom floors. It was incredibly exciting!
My donut and Google Mini outside the Google Donut Shop #CES2018
I spent the first day wandering around in a surreal haze of light, sound, motion and colors, with electronic eye candy in every direction. My real-life friends and family know I lack an internal gyroscope, so it wasn’t surprising that it took me two days to get a good handle on where things were. I can’t adequately describe how huge CES is. And it’s not limited to the Las Vegas Convention Center — there are CES events taking place in hotels and other venues all up and down the Las Vegas strip. Some of the things I saw and experienced were so amazing, there were times I simply wanted to share with someone! Like the moment I went into the Google Donut Shop and won a Google Home Mini, I had to call Reg Saddler @zaibatsu immediately!
There were amazing displays of OLED screens (like the one shown in the video below), phones, cameras, drones, robots, speakers, VR (virtual reality) headsets, and AI (artificial intelligence) integrated into everything from cars to personal assistants, games and more. There were accessories for everything, including accessories for your accessories. There were phone cases, and stuff to clean your phone cases or stuff to protect screens before you put your device into a case, and beautiful and utilitarian gadgets for every imaginable purpose. There were drones, bicycles, motorcycles, and there were cars, cars, CARS. I had no idea the huge role cars would play at CES.
I became interested in autonomous vehicles and spent a lot of time talking with various chip designers about self-driving vehicles, which, up until that point, weren’t of serious interest to me. But after CES, I was ready to roll. Almost. A friend, Doug Dobbins @takesontech, was arranging to have me picked up by a self-driving BMW. Um…wait. Did you say 7:30 AM? It was tempting, but I didn’t know what I’d do once I arrived at CES and had to wait an hour and a half for the convention center to open. Probably I blew it when I said no, but something tells me I’ll have another chance to ride in a self-driving vehicle one day.
This is a cool looking plexiglass model by Intel, showing the placement of dozens of sensors (represented by the aqua colored lights) that gather data from all directions to protect passengers in autonomous vehicles.
I’d like to explain something I didn’t understand about self-driving vehicles: They aren’t simply cars that drive around by themselves using a GPS. There are dozens of sensors located around, in, on, and under the car. And at all times the sensors perceive data: objects, traffic, people, motion, proximity, speed and other factors. Now stop for a moment and think about getting that phone call from your office, informing you of an urgent matter. Even hands-free, can you be sure you are not in the least bit distracted? Autonomous vehicles are always tuned in. I now feel accepting of the idea that an autonomous vehicle might, in some ways, be safer than one driven by a person!
Over the course of five days, and even being surrounded by all sorts of connected devices, I was naturally worried about running out of phone power. So I used both my Verizon MotoZ and Pixel2 to shoot most of the photos and videos posted here and elsewhere on my personal and workplace Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and elsewhere. The Motorola has a battery “mod” by Tumi, and basically was impossible to run out of juice. And thankfully, I found super connectivity in all parts of Las Vegas.
I’ve never been personally impressed by robots. I’ve seen them all my life on television, in cartoons and sci-fi films, and I know robots have changed our world forever and will continue to do so. CES was the first time I had a close-up experience. I was singularly UNimpressed by the robot that straightens up a messy room. Each action took so long, I wanted to jump over the barrier and show the robot I could perform its tasks in milliseconds. But these robots are like children—sometimes you need to stand back and just let things happen.
There were coding robots I thought were amazing, fun and cool. Children are so quick to grasp coding through the understanding of programming a robot, and there were all levels of robots, from small spheres to forms with articulated arms, legs, pincers and artificial faces. And I made contacts that could be useful to my workplace, UPrep.
Cute kitty-faced Robot #Sanbot at CES 2018
Not all of the things you see at CES are done deals. There were concept vehicles and machines, like the Laundroid robot, that folds and catalogs your laundry (not ready for prime time) but also massage chairs, 3D images created with emitted light, medical gadgets, smart assistants and VR make-up applications where you could see what you would look like with blue eye shadow. There was even an autonomous helicopter…which didn’t inspire the same confidence I felt about self-driving cars. While most things on display are actually in production, some were conceptual and showing us what we might expect in the future. There was a hall devoted to CES innovation award winners, which included some of the most successful new design and engineering inventions of the past year.
I saw this beautiful, light-weight, foldable electric scooter at #CES2018. It had hub-less wheels! #Ujet
CES has been around for 51 years. My real-life friend, Marsha Collier @MarshaCollier has been going for two decades. I really only became aware of it in 2008 when I would read about friends and acquaintances on Twitter who were making the trek to Las Vegas. Like SXSW, it sounded so cool. But I lacked the self-confidence to venture into such an alien world alone and didn’t know anyone well enough to buddy up. Having gone to this incredible show and spending 5 days by myself, I urge anyone to go and explore. If I can do it, YOU can, too!
Undoubtedly you find yourself meeting a lot of interesting people you would never otherwise meet. Curiosity and common interests make for easy and fun conversations. I wandered into the Gibson venue and was so glad I did. For days I could “HEAR” it from far away and didn’t know what was waiting inside until I walked in. I’m glad I saved it for my final day.
There were so many opportunities to take photos and was glad I had great devices to back me up. I especially appreciated Travis Ames, the drone rep at Uvify who allowed me to film with my hands just beyond the protective netting. And guys, I apologize for the vertical video. Ugh. I can’t stand watching them but I was kind of excited and wasn’t thinking clearly.
If you’ve never attended CES, or even if you’re not a technology geek, don’t let that stop you from going. There is literally something for everyone at the Consumer Electronics Show, whether you’re a hobbyist, aficionado of large or small screens, a music fan, a gamer, or simply curious to see what all the hubbub is about. I learned so much. If you enjoy learning, you will love CES!
I hope some day you have a chance to go to Las Vegas and experience CES. If you decide to go, book your hotel early. By the time I started looking, about a month before the show, it freaked me out. Everything nearby was booked or insanely inexpensive—like $800 a night! Luckily I found a great AirBNB about 20 minutes away, and was even able to convince the host to drive me to and pick me up after the show each day, all for about $450 total, for five days/four nights.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to CTA (Thanks, Erica Corley!) for making the entire experience possible for me, and Richard Kassissieh @kassissieh, the assistant head of school for academics and strategic planning at University Prep in Seattle, who recognized the honor and value of the CES experience, and supported my participation.
Thanks to them, and thanks for reading! I’d love to know if you’ve visited CES, or would like to some day!
Commercial ads are a necessary evil. Most of us tune them out. TiVos, DVRs and similar devices are popular because they help us do that.
But when you see a great ad, you want to see it again and again and sometimes, even share it with others. A friend, Reg Saddler says because of the way he now consumes content, he doesn’t have to watch commercials anymore. So when he actually sees one, it’s like, “Hey, a commercial!”
Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, OR has done its best to create some watch-worthy ads.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably seen some of W+K’s handiwork. Some of their clients include Chrysler, Coca Cola, KFC, Old Spice, Nike, Samsung and Verizon. Here are a couple of classics:
When I first saw W+K’s Old Spice commercial, I thought it was hilarious. “Old Spice?” It was a moribund brand that W+K miraculously brought back to life. I even remember tweeting a link to watch it. That’s how good it was.
W+K isn’t a household name except to people connected to the advertising industry. In my view, having such an amazing agency in the Pacific Northwest is a point of pride. W+K’s creativity has been recognized through Clio awards (the “Oscars” of advertising), Addys (American Advertising Federation), The One Show, and Cannes Lions, and other arbiters of advertising greatness. They rock!
Do you wonder how commercials are created? Do writers and art directors sit around in altered states to come up with some of the crazy ideas we see? Or are the ideas data-driven to tickle the brains of the target audience? Or are some ads simply random shots in the dark? How DOES the creative process unfold?
Wacky ads are popular. The hope is to break through the thrum of other advertising messages and also stand in contrast to programming. Lame ads have been accepted as the norm, and many commercials are noise, at best.
Last fall I started noticing some nice Verizon spots on TV. They were smart. The concepts were wonderfully illustrated. They were nicely produced. Their intelligence could almost be described as disruptive.
In February I became curious, and learned the current Verizon branding campaign has been the work of W+K.
It all started to make sense.
#BetterMatters is the campaign concept underlying the commercials and print ads we’re seeing. On the surface, it seems pretty obvious — yes, “better matters,” but what does it mean?
I wanted to know about how the campaign came about, so I contacted the agency in Portland. Katie Hull in W+K’s PR department was helpful, and pointed me to some useful background.
In announcing the campaign, Melissa Garlick, Verizon Sr. VP, Brand Creative said, “At its core, “Better Matters” exemplifies that the network you choose and the access it provides, makes a difference. Better is how we differentiate our brand in the marketplace. We realized that one out of every three Americans is a Verizon customer, so…we found a dozen different ways to explain how Verizon has a better network, and why better matters.”
Verizon launched the new campaign on the heels of the logo “refresh” designed by Pentagram. Incidentally, the Verizon logo debuted the same week as the new Google logo.
What do you think of it, by the way?
In a story about the Verizon campaign, Adweek wrote: “The theme of this work is ambitious and suggests only Verizon can fully deliver on “the promise of the digital world.” Its central analogy, illustrated with a series of colorful metaphors in a dozen ads from W+K’s creative team, holds that a higher-quality network leads to a better quality of life, especially when it comes to everyday convenience.”
Creative directors Aaron Allen and Jason Kreher echoed that message, telling Adweek, “The challenge was explaining some pretty dry facts in a way that would resonate.” The varied nature of this campaign “ensured that production would be a huge challenge, but it resulted in a ton of good work that helps Verizon stand out from the competition.”
In working on the Verizon campaign, W+K determined which concepts would be most salient and worked with their clients to find different ways to explain how Verizon has a better network, and why better matters. It included highlighting characteristics like the 4G LTE network, its capacity, reliability and coverage, as well as its unique access and exclusive offerings. It helped W&K to come up with solid creative because Verizon had real value to offer.
There are always going to be people who complain about their individual experiences with ANYTHING. But I believe Verizon works hard to earn its top metrics and customer loyalty by providing a great network, and in the bigger picture, providing value and service to a broad audience, even beyond their customers*.
At the end of the day, advertising is about making consumers feel they need a product or service, or to feel good about their connection with something. When an ad agency’s client has great offerings, it’s a heckuva lot easier to tell the story.
Images sources: Commercials created by Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, OR; Truth in Advertising Excerpt directed by Tim Hamilton (12-minute film short can be viewed in its entirety here); Verizon logo animated gif created by Pentagram
*Verizon supports social initiatives including Hopeline, helping victims of domestic violence, and provided recognition for Organize, which strives to bring organ donor registration to the 21st century.
My collaboration with Verizon began in 2014, and I’m proud to participate as a member of their social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences. No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.
Abandoned after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1981, our Randle home sat empty for a decade before we rescued it in 1991. It was a falling-down wreck when we bought it—so decrepit it wasn’t even included in the valuation of the property.
The porches had fallen down, the foundation had slipped, and only the moss kept the roof intact.
Despite that, our family and friends enjoyed long weekends in this idyllic getaway two hours from Seattle. Some of our best times were when it was still just a “stationary tent,” with no doors, windows, electricity, running water or indoor plumbing.
Looking toward the fireplace; new window; porch supports & door on the floor.
We hauled water until we hired a water witcher and ended up drilling a 165-foot-deep well.
We cooked on the campfire, used Coleman lanterns, hauled in 5-gallon containers of water, and slept on the floor in sleeping bags. It felt like going to summer camp.
Our kids with a group of their buddies, gathered at the rope swing.
A family gathering to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Cooking on an open fire was delicious. Or maybe it was because we were so hungry?
Crazy, but our only cars were David’s Jaguar and my BMW. Not the greatest cars for camping adventures, but the Jag was a great cruise-mobile. Newly graded land in the background.
The property had a two-hole outhouse built in 1940, which we resurrected and used. Because few things are more “fun” than going outside in the middle of the night, carrying a flashlight, to use a spooky old outhouse!
Erin and Wendy near the fire pit, with our two-hole outhouse in the distance
We had many adventures, like a death-defying trip to Burley Mountain lookout where, in one sweeping vista, we could see three magnificent mountains—Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. One time we rescued our kids and a friend as they crossed a field unaware of a bull grazing nearby. We spent long days hanging out at Yellow Jacket Ponds, fishing for trout, playing in the water, then coming back to the house to fry fresh fish for dinner.
The lookout at Burley Mountain allowed unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and forests—important for spotting fires. Christina and Charley rest in the shade.
Andrew and Erin goofing around, with the crater of Mt. St. Helens in the distance.
Andrew, Max, Stuart and Charley with the day’s catch; Rusty in the corner.
We captured rubber boas*, and watched bats descend at dusk to feast on insects. We caught frogs, lizards, garter snakes and crickets that occupied our “guest aquarium” until they were released before heading back to Seattle. And we foraged for wild berries, fruit and nuts growing on our land. It was the complete antithesis of life in the city.
This is the second rubber boa we caught— much smaller than the first. They’re beautiful snakes.
We spent two decades restoring the house, and eventually furnished it with hand-me-downs from our Seattle home, plus artifacts lovingly collected over the years. It felt very familiar and homey to us. However by 2013, with both boys grown and gone, we weren’t spending as much time at our country home. So I decided to try listing it on AirBNB — and quickly learned we weren’t really prepared.
After righting the foundation, rebuilding the porches and chimney, roofing and painting.
We loved Randle “as is.” We viewed it through the lens of our own memories and experiences—and not through the eyes of strangers.
Our first guest gave us a forgiving review. The next was brutal, and though I was upset by it, she was right: the house wasn’t ready for prime time. Thus began my quest to revamp it to create the “best guest experience” we could offer.
This is the same view as the second image from the top—looking toward the fireplace. We gathered the rocks and had a local stone mason set them. “The Orr House” oar is an homage to “Mrs. Orr,” former occupant and whom we believe to be a benevolent spirit at the house.
I began by replacing the bedding and linens, and expanded from there, doing what we could to make people feel welcomed and help ensure a pleasant stay. I worked hard, along with David and our property manager, Cathy Kane, to achieve “super host” status! It’s an accomplishment that requires continued hard work to retain.
Super-host status is fleeting. You have to work hard to hang on to it!
People naturally shop around for the best deals, and we think they recognize the value in staying in our home. There are nearby rentals that are more or less expensive, but none offer quite the same spaces and experiences. Pet owners love that their dogs can safely romp on 22 acres of land, pretending they are their wild ancestors on the hunt. And looking out across the Big Bottom Valley in the morning to see a herd of elk is an amazing treat.
In terms of recognizing value—we’re grateful to Verizon for being the only proven carrier in Randle. I routinely remind our guests to bring lots of quarters for the pay phone in town if they have AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile. We put a positive spin on the lack of cell service by positioning it as a “digital detox” experience, but the truth is, we love that Verizon sees value in serving areas like Randle, where none of the other major carriers are to be found. We regard it as our lifeline to the civilized world.
It’s been a 25-year journey so far. For us, we’ve found #BetterMatters—especially when it comes to memories. And chorus frogs singing you to sleep.
Christina insisted on wearing her velvet dress and patent-leather shoes on the rope swing—even at night!
*Rubber boas are the only North American boa snakes. They have prehensile tails and are very, very cool!
We’ve been Verizon customers since 2002 when Andrew began as a cadet at West Point. As part of an awesome group of Verizon influencers, I’m grateful to Verizon for giving me the opportunity to use and test some of their awesome devices and tech. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.