Tag Archives: Creativity

Creative type? No need to apply

I am constantly amazed at the general lack of creativity in the insurance world.

Some companies get a pass here: AfQuack, CuteLizard and FloInAUniform are actually clever characters selling the world’s most boring product. Everyone else? Meh.

My day today was filled with ADPD applications. Don’t ask. Knowing what the abbreviation stands for doesn’t make it more interesting.

My Beloved, being an independent agent, has access to all kinds of insurance carriers and sends his clients’ insurance packages out to a lot of companies in order to acquire the best pricing and save clients’ money. But naturally, every ADPD carrier demands the use of their own exclusive application form. Completing one of these applications requires liberal use of a calculator and Advil. No cutting and pasting allowed.

The boring forms flow from boring marketing, me thinks. The lack in creativity in company names does nothing for me. I’m a big fan of firms like Google and Starbucks. What is this, to google? What is a starbuck? They were nothing until Google and Starbucks made them something. They could have called themselves Big Search and Coffee Station, but that’s boring. Instead, they forged new ground.

But insurance companies? Noooooo. Combine any version of “risk,” “guard,” “point,” “core” or “dealer”  and there’s a company with that name offering ADPD coverage. No Shazzam or Whoopsie Insurance Companies here, no sirree.

So that was my day: Insurance application forms. Oh, and I got my “fit” number at Snap Fitness, an equally depressing exercise (emphasis on “exercise,” if you know what I mean).

But, and here’s the big but: I got a creative blog post out of it.

That’s something.

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Note to self: Restock ‘blog ideas’ file

My “blog ideas” file isn’t helping me today.

It’s a tickler file of things to write about when nothing better happens in my day beyond vacuuming two flights of steps, washing the bed sheets and enjoying Chinese food for lunch (how’s that for scintillating?).

I mean, I made a whole blog post out of the dog’s bi-monthly visit to the groomer yesterday, but that’s a stretch two days in a row (I created that entire post, by the way, pictures and all, on my cell phone, which is a pretty cool statement about the ease of use of the WordPress app on iPhone).

Back to today’s topic at hand. Which, according to my “blog ideas” file, could be:

  • Something pithy about résumés from my Daily Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit calendar. My résumé is not my friend right now.
  • A humorous take on George Takei’s work with Social Security, except I already covered that ground back in November (read it here), and it was neither humorous nor space age.
  • A rant beginning with “the problem with stupid people.” The four points I jotted down read like my 3 a.m. bedside notes on my bad dreams so I risk being the problem instead of solving it.
  • A personal comparison to a stat I found in the Chicago Tribune back when I was subscribing to the paper version. Apparently, an average American woman owns 17 pairs of shoes, which seems woefully underestimated to me.
  • Something sad about an errantly filed receipt for livingroom curtains. How many of my other files are hiding such ephemera?

So, I got nothin’ for ya today. Not even two cents on the Secret Service scandal, which holds no excitement for me, or the newly repaired generator on the 1983 Pace Arrow, about which my Beloved seems inordinately excited.

Since you’ve followed me through this pointless labyrinth, allow me to leave you with a blessing: Since inspiration is not with me, at least let there be peace with you.

Yawn, chocolate is plain vanilla in February

Is anyone else sick of chocolate recipes yet?

Apparently, chocolate is the only thing to push in February because it’s, you know, Valentine’s Day in February:

  • Practically every library I’ve visited in the past four weeks is pushing their “History of Chocolate” or “Chocolate Tasting Class” in February because it’s, you know, Valentine’s Day.
  • The cover of Food Network Magazine is plastered in chocolate. Today’s Food section in the Chicago Tribune had not one, but two recipes for chocolate mousse because, you know, you serve your loved ones chocolate on Valentine’s Day.
  • A passel of emails that have invaded my In Box in recent days have touted chocolate cocktails, chocolate tea, champagne chocolate truffles, chocolate at the movies and chocolate for dessert at a nearby vegetarian restaurant. Why? Because Valentine’s Day, you know, isn’t complete without chocolate.

Marketers lacking the creativity gene sell back to school in September, monsters and vampires in October, gratitude in November, “the holidays” (used to be Christmas) in December, losing weight resolutions in January and chocolate in February. Set your calendar to their predictability.

Frankly, most of us should embrace a sale on gym memberships year-round, not just January. Chocolate (and chocolate sales) are delicious any time of year, not only when we’re dropping hints for our main squeezes.

I know, secretly, it’s not the marketers who aren’t creative. The ones who aren’t creative are a lot higher on the ladder, and too often they’re looking for the safe bet. Especially if it helps them maintain or beat last year’s sales, month over month.

I wish Madison Avenue’s monthly themes were a little more broad: Maybe perseverance in January, warmth in February, freshness in March, etc. Happy Freshness Day, anyone?

So we are left with chocolate, chocolate everywhere this time of year because chocolate says love like nothing else, I guess. No one is willing to promote a cup of sweet cream ice cream with almonds, peanut butter and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup mix-ins. That’s what I had for dessert tonight at Cold Stone Creamery. No emails. No ads. No sale prices. But it hit the creative mark for a February craving.

I loved it.

Back to the future

Part 2 of “350 Years” by 9-year-old Piper.

When we left the Kate and Arthur, they’d traveled back 350 years and had discovered they had to spend 24 hours in 2009 before they’d be transported home …

“First thing’s first, we need to find someplace to stay,” Kate said. “I think we should get a hotel room.”

“Good idea, but we don’t have any money to get one,” said Arthur.

“Well, maybe we could sell something?” said Kate.

“How about that old stopwatch you’re wearing, Kate?” Kate was wearing a stopwatch that was “old” for 2359, more like the next great thing for 2009. It was red and gray, and was strapped to her wrist. Other features were: it checked your heart rate to make sure your heart wasn’t going too fast, a cell phone, regular watch function, MP3 player, and it had a GPS in it, yet it was the size of a regular watch. It would be worth a lot in 2009.

So then they started up the road to Cattail Lake. They passed a hotel, a grocery store, and a restaurant, as they walked to a gas station store. They asked to speak to the store manager, because they had a new kind of stopwatch to sell him. They were given permission, and they told the store manager the stopwatch’s features. (They didn’t mention all of the stopwatches features, because they were afraid he wouldn’t believe them. They left out the phone and music player features.) He actually believed them, and he bought it from them for $300. They liked this price, because they saw that a room was $100 per night at the hotel.

Once they got to the hotel, Kate said, “There is no way I’m sleeping in the same bed as you.” So they rented a room for $120—it was more than $100 because they got a room with two beds, instead of one bed.

That night, when Arthur took off his sweatshirt, the crystal fell out of the pocket and went down the drain of the sink. “Hey Kate, I have some bad news. The crystal fell down the sink drain,” Arthur said.

Kate exclaimed, “You what!? Oh my gosh, Arthur. We can’t go home now!”

“Calm down Kate. I know how to fix this.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” asked Kate.

“I was getting to that,” said Arthur. “First we find the P-trap and unhook it. Then we turn it upside-down and the crystal will fall out. Then put it back on.” So Arthur, unable to screw it off, called Kate to help him. They had the crystal in a moment.

March 6, 2009

The next day they went exploring the past. They walked by restaurants, a book store, and a gas station. Kate and Arthur thought, “A restaurant! They don’t have food tunnel? Book stores! They actually print them on paper? Well, they’re getting closer, but they need something smaller than the ‘Kindle’”. And “A GAS STATION!? They use gas, not solar panels?” “Wow. 2009 sure has a long way to go!” After they had seen enough, they went into the forest and set up the time machine so they could go home.

“Okay, Kate, do we have everything?” Arthur asked. Kate said, “Yes Arthur. Now hurry! The crystals are going off in 2 minutes, get in the pyramid!” They stood anxiously in the pyramid waiting to go home.

March 5, 2359

They arrived back in their present at the same moment they left. But the footsteps were still there! So quickly they hid. They did not get caught, and they never had problems with their secret time jump.

* * *

Piper’s story got me wondering, what was life like 350 years ago? Check out Minnesota Transplant tomorrow …

350 creative ideas

I love the curiousity and imagination of kids. My 9-year-old nephew’s imagination is fabulous, and I love watching him think. To remind me, I have a homemade comic book he made for me on my desk. The title is “Captain Plunger Pants vs. Squid Strings” and it tells the fantastical story of a superhero with a plunger on his head fighting a huge blue squid that “one day got hypnotized and became evil.”

Plunger + squid + hypnotism = Amazing imagination.

This weekend, I want to share the work of another 9-year-old. Her name is Piper, and she’s the daughter of friend and regular Minnesota Transplant reader. Get ready to be transported. Into a vivid imagination. And forward in time….

350 Years

March 5, 2359

Kate was anxious. She had never time traveled before, and she was about to jump 350 years in the past. Her cousin, Arthur, on the other hand, was so nervous he was about to throw up. Arthur knew all the details of jumping through time, but that was just from books. He had never traveled through time either. Plus, they were both afraid they would be caught. They weren’t supposed to be in the laboratory at all, much less be setting up a time jump. Kate and Arthur really wanted to see what was different 350 years ago. It sounded so simple: just sneak in, time jump, then return at the same moment they left. Nobody would ever know they had been gone.

The time machine was invented by three brothers: James, Alex, and Peter Thomas—the three most famous people in 2356—all brilliant in their own way. James is brilliant when it comes to mechanics, Alex is brilliant when it comes to physics, and Peter is brilliant when it comes to science. James is Kate’s father and Peter is Arthur’s father.

Time travel required that a three dimensional area be created, anything in that space could jump through time. The area was defined by four crystals: three crystals arranged in a triangle and the ground, and one crystal suspended in the air above the triangle.

Kate was setting the time machine so they would go back 350 years in the past. Just as she was setting how long they were going to be gone, she heard someone coming. She quickly turned it to “1” but forgot to turn it to “H” for hours, instead of “D” for days.

March 5, 2009

On arrival, Kate felt dizzy. When her eyes settled down, she saw Arthur throwing up in the bushes, just outside their base triangle. She quickly looked for the top crystal of their pyramid. She didn’t see it, and immediately panicked. “Arthur, the top crystal! Where is it?” Arthur cleared his throat, and wiped his mouth on his sleeve, “Kate, it’s okay. I got it, It’s in my pocket.” Kate wondered how much sooner he had arrived. Was it always like that? Did one person always arrive just before the other? Anyway, at least the crystals were all accounted for. Three base triangle crystals, and one top crystal. Four all-important crystals that would be essential for their return to their home time.

Kate picked up the three base crystals and surveyed the rest of their environment. They had researched their arrival site, old photos of the location, so they knew they weren’t jumping to the middle of a lake or something. Nearby, she saw a frozen lake with brown cattails, and bare trees and shrubs surrounding it, a forest dotted with houses rooted on grass dotted with patches of snow. Beyond that small forest, she saw rolling hills as far as the eye could see. On the other side of her, she saw one small road leading into town.

Then Kate realized something, “Uh… Arthur? I forgot to turn the length of our time jump from 1 day to 1 hour.”

Arthur said, “Aww man!”

* * *

Tomorrow, find out how Kate and Arthur fare for one whole day in 2009.