10:29 PM

You Wanna Change the World?

It's not that easy.

It is driving me mental how people keep crapping all over ideas like Gap's (Red) thing. And now... this!

Listen, I get it. We are gross over-consumers. We can't stop buying. And companies are dying to sell [it] to us to the point that they'll even start tying charity to our purchases to make us feel better about them. Damn them!

Okay. So we should throw the baby out with the bath water?

The dealio, yo: as much as everyone likes the idea of donating -- it's just so noble and good and makes you feel all fuzzy about the state of the nation -- I would love to get some stats on how many people actually do it and how much of our collective GDP goes into charities. I'm thinking that number isn't nearly as high as it would be without companies tying some level of some profit to the goodness of our hearts.

I know. I too find our consumer culture vaguely sickening, and I too would love if we all were just inherently driven to give without thinking twice. And these companies may very well be doing it just to sell more product. They may very well be doing it for PR and attention. Their intentions may very well be total shite and the charity may very well be serving as an effective advertising vehicle on behalf of their brand. I totally get all of this.

But do we really care?

Non-profits benefit from corporate contributions every day, whether they're attached to products or publicity or whatever. Companies have money -- yeah, they may very well be doing it for tax benefits -- and there's lots to be given.

So what's the problem?

We just hate the idea of it. It's icky and makes us feel like maybe we should've just gone straight to the source. And now we're going to boycott them because they're scamming consumers and it just feels ethically grey and they're promoting this ugly consumerism and it's just not right and... well, where does that money go then? Do you call GlobalFund (or whatever fund your heart most adores) directly and make a donation then and there? And, even if you do, do you think that's the norm?

What happens to all these foundations and charities when companies stop giving? Why are we not okay with the market contributing to our social goals? After all, we are the ones who keep it alive and flourishing through all of our individual consumption -- ah, multiplier effects! How can we turn our noses up at our collective profit creation becoming part of where we want the world to be?

Ultimately, until there are no more people suffering from disease, illiteracy, poverty, or any other tragedies that encompass the human condition, I just don't feel ethically right standing on that moral high ground.

8:22 PM

It's That Easy!

Seth Godin had an interesting comment today on his blog.

A million times over.

1:52 PM

Life Isn't an Algebraic Equation

It's a statistical one.

So everybody is talking about this "phenomenon" called The Secret. Basically, the concept is that if you think positively, good things will come to you. I have big long ragey rant about what the logistical extension to this says about people who get cancer, live through sexual abuse, or live in poverty, but I am not going to go through that whole thing now. What I want to address is the response I get from Secret fans when I ask that question.

"Well, I mean, I don't agree with that stuff either -- some things you can't control. I mean, it's life, right?"

Right. So what you're saying is that life doesn't come down to the linear equation.

y = mx + b

The Secret implies that life satisfaction (y) is a result of some variation of b (where you cross the x axis, presumably some standard level of satisfaction) added to some m (slope term) multiplied by x, which is presumably your level of positivity. As you increase your positivity from x to x+1, that level faces its multiplier (m) and increases your life satisfaction (y).

But where on earth is the term that addresses the chance inherent to our existence?

y = B0 + B1x1 + B2x2 + ... + Bixi + e

(Pretend those Bs are beta symbols and the numbers and is are subscripted.)

Here we can continue to believe that y is life satisfaction, and B0 is our b from the linear equation above. Our y isn't purely a result of the x that was positivity, but instead a result of a gazillion x terms, their multipliers, and -- most important of all -- the error term.

The x terms take into account actual abilities. As much as I think positively about it, I will never be an Olympic athlete. And you know what? I don't believe for a split second that I ever could have been one, had I even started training at three years old. My body isn't built for such things. This is simply fact of my existence. Along the same lines, there are people who don't have that built in ear that lets them become incredible musicians, some people don't have the minds for astrophysics, and others aren't genetically created to live to 100. None of these are slights against individuals without these abilities. It's reality. No matter how much someone may say that "YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU DREAM!" that simply is not true. (This annoyance is the foundation of what I like to call American Idol syndrome - god forbid people be honest with each other and themselves and just admit that they aren't good at everything.) Nor is it pessimistic -- it's reality.

The error term is what allows for chance. Who can say why someone is brutally murdered by a stranger? Wrong place, wrong time? Who can say why someone else wins the lottery? Right place, right time? That's the error term. That's what the whole thing forgets.

Here's the real thing of it: The Secret is utter rubbish. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports their assertion that our thoughts affect frequencies we send out into the world. It's no surprise that it was inspired by a book called The Science of Getting Rich. It reeks of materialism and greed and -- to be frank -- profound laziness. There is no easy answer to getting what you want out of life. It requires effort and planning and risks.

Ultimately, being a good person isn't about getting things back. Life isn't about dollars and perfect mates and dream jobs. It's about finding satisfaction in the the ordinary.

12:27 PM

Creative is the Old Creative

So if media is the new creative, then I guess creative is the old creative. This doesn't presume that creative is useless -- certainly not. As is obvious, if you don't have the product that innovative enough in the first place, you can't play. And if your campaigns don't at least use some level of creativity, you can't capture anyone's imagination in the first place.

So what is the optimal level of creativity?

Certainly, gazillions of dollars go into creative every year. There are ads we love and ads we hate. But the law of diminishing returns is as true here as it is anywhere else in reality -- each additional dollar we spend enhancing our creative output increases, say, the user's experience by X or the user's willingness to add us to their evoked set by Y. But when you take out everything else and make it equal (ceteris paribus) -- treating creativity as the non-fixed variable -- at some point, the marginal returns start decreasing.

Once we go beyond that point of optimal creativity, we have hit the wall of diminishing returns. As our total investment into creative beyond this optimal level increases, the total ROI as a proportion of the total investment decreases. Suddenly increasing creativity in our ads by, say, 1% (if something so qualitative could be measured -- and, certainly, there's a way to valuate anything if you just put your mind to it) would lead to, yes, increases in the return on investment, but not increases as great as they would be at the optimal point of creativity.

Thus, at the optimal level, it makes no sense to further invest in increasingly clever taglines, iconography, or spokesbeavers. At that point, the consumer no longer derives increasing utility benefit from your increasing creativity.

Where do you see that point? How do you value creativity in advertising and marketing?

8:33 PM

Media is The New Creative

I saw an interesting speaker this week who provided me with a few thoughts that I wanted to remember.

(1) Media is the new creative.
There was a time when the big ideas ran the ad world. Now? Yes, good ideas are essential. But they're not all. We need more information. What are we getting from 'em? ROI, baby. And what ultimately defines the ROI? The media we choose to get the message out.

Ten years ago, media was completely different than it was now. Now we have outdoor, print, radio, television, microsites, advergames, restobars, blahdeblahblahblah. There are a gazillion specialty channels instead of a few big networks. Targeting is theoretically easier -- and practically more complex, more involving, and more confusing -- than it's ever been. People are overwhelmed by the volume of messaging and getting it right is becoming less art, more science.

Every medium has its own measurement tools, and we are familiar with trying to evaluate GRPs and increase the eyes we require on our prize(s). But the new stuff? It's under review, but we can't not be there. Hell, the internet was available even in my wee hometown when I was in high school -- but even a few years ago, it was completely different than it is now (hello, crash). Trying to understand clickthroughs and impressions and what they really mean for return is still up in the air -- neither scholars nor professionals have yet come up with a solid solution. And don't get me started on digital signage -- it's so new, I can barely find white papers on its valuation.

So, yes. The incumbent is no longer starring in this show. Media is ultimately what will drive our numbers -- it's just a matter of putting together a formula that defines where those came from.

(2) There is nothing more freeing than a tight brief.
Creatives tend to be really -- how do I say this nicely? -- challenging. They spend so much time crafting their best ideas that they kind of fall a little bit in love with them. And if cliches have taught us nothing else, we know this: when you love something, sometimes you have to let it go. I don't want to deal with sulking or moping or general childish attitude when my client isn't all that into your beloved -- albeit not necessarily sense-making -- concept.

To be fair, this irritation is also what makes great creative people really freaking good at their jobs. The more attached they are to the ideas that actually do get through the door, the better and more solid these ideas tend to be, and the stronger the project ultimately becomes. So how to combine the good with the bad?

A tight brief.

Creative briefs are a bit of a pain. They're time consuming, require at least seventeen approvals, and rarely end up really providing much but some administrative work. That said, a really tight brief provides the creative people with direction so solid that they can't help but fall into the freedom of only being able to create on strategy.

A tight brief doesn't let the terrorists win.

12:49 PM

It's Official

I have a tan.

I think this means I have done what I set out to do here.

Ange and Jason left yesterday. Booooooo.

See how we got so sad, we couldn't even look the camera in the face anymore? Aww.

Since it's about time to go, we'll just complete the holiday photo bonanza by introducing you to Bernie Murphy.

He's likely our last local friend. He was moving slowly, bemoaning our exit to be sure.

We'll be home again tomorrow evening. 'Til then, you can find me at the beach.

9:42 PM

Say Hello to Apricot

After nearly two weeks of trying to befriend this little guy, Dave finally found a pal in Apricot here.

There has been a lot of gecko-chasing (and, yes, the same one -- he lives outside of the condo and never leaves), but once Apricot got on Dave's hand, he liked it there. A lot. It was a good two minutes of holding the little guy up to the walls he so adores before he would leave his newfound buddy.

Needless to say, there is boy here who is beyond thrilled right now.

4:37 PM

Obama Is Quitting

No, not his role in the presidential race.

The smoking.

(He gotcha this time.)

His wife apparently told him that he wasn't allowed to run for president unless he did, and he's now using Nicorette (hello, free publicity!).

I don't know. I liked him once, but nobody likes a quitter. Does this count as flip-flopping?


1:41 PM

We Are Picture Crazy

Alright, some more from yesterday, now that Blogger upload seems to be working (stupid Picasa)...

Dave mocks Ange and I with our constant self-portraits:

Me and the boy:

Ange and hers:

The drinks were worth going way over flex this week.

See, it wasn't just Angela and I on a date after all.

[PS: I think I got the photos working! Please let me know if you can't see 'em.]

9:43 PM

Happy Valentine's Day!

From Mango's by the Sea!

Ange and I love you all.

[PS: I think I've gotten the pictures working by uploading directly to Blogger. Let me know if you have future problems!]

5:23 PM

A Little B-Dos YouTube

A video just for fun! (Dave staged a pool-level photo shoot. Yes, he labelled Jason as a "hottie".)

Noodle scandal:


Pool silliness!

I doubt I've been happier.

Like, ever.

2:30 PM

The Best Pickup Line on B-dos

"Hey ladies."

"Hello there!"

"I've got a pony for the cowgirl to ride..."

Is that not the sluttiest hat you have ever seen? She was totally asking for it!

This was the highlight of our day, without question.

8:22 AM

Hosting Guests and Solving Mysteries

Angela and Jason are here!

They got in on Saturday evening, we hit the yacht club for dinner, then we came back here and had many, many drinks. No pictures? I don't know what we were thinking.

But then Sunday morning came! Ange and I woke up at 7AM, only to find the kitchen looking like this.

Neither of us had done it. We decided it was a mystery that must be solved.

We waited for the boys and the most likely cleaner, Dave, got up. He didn't do it.

Alright, fine, it was Jason. He woke up in the middle of the night and, for whatever reason, decided to do some cleaning.

Beach time! The boys added kayaking and we engaged in an embarrassing photo shoot.

Dave's feet:

The boys:

The girls:

Then: nacho time. I picked up a bunch of hot peppers at the grocery store since I couldn't find jalapenos. As I was preparing the other stuff, Ange cut the peppers. I was tossing them on the chips and then went to eat a tortilla. HOLY HOT FIRE.

My lips turned the colour of a clown's, my right eye turned to half the size (I look purty), and we let the flames begin. Angela also unfortunately encountered the fire and we both frantically ran around the place drinking milk. Dave could not stop laughing, and told us we had to get Jason to eat one.

Jason's reaction: "This little thing?" He pshawed. Pshawed and then had to eat half a litre of ice cream, as we'd finished up the milk. Our hands and legs and everything we touched stayed flamey 'til long after this point.

The rest of the day involved schoolwork, tennis, and lounging. No complaints.

9:18 AM

Stepping Down

Okay, so now this whole thing has just gone out of control crazy style.

The CEO of the Cartoon Network has stepped down!

An excerpt from his letter:

"To: Colleagues
From: Jim Samples

I am sure you are aware of recent events in which a component of an Adult Swim marketing campaign made Turner Broadcasting the unintended focus of controversy in Boston and around the world. I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign.

As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch. It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages."

Way to take the piss out of unique promotions. This makes me so furious! (Not his letter, as it is of course courteous and gracious.) Is it the network's fault that the city of Boston created panic around something that a quick online search could've clarified in minutes? Are we seriously going to have to think twice, as per the mayor's earlier comments, about doing street campaigns? For the love of all things holy, Samples's resignation only positions this type of marketing as being inherently problematic -- I get that he ended up being the one to take the fall in what resulted in millions of dollars in damages, but were the millions of dollars in damages really necessary? It seems to me that the network should've stood up to these crazy reactionaries (who are, I'm certain, increasing the voracity of their distress about this stuff due to their supreme embarrassment at creating such a scene over nothing) with the fact that the promo was running all over the damn country without any bomb squads.

We're letting the terrorists win!


5:33 AM

My Ban

That's a burn + a tan.

After a day out of direct sunlight, it appears less speckled and more sun-kissed. Please note the apparent line, however, between the red bottom (which is still WAY redder in real life) of my back and my swimsuit -- I am pulling it just to show you. The things I do for entertainment, man.

Also, is my husband not the cutest thing in the world?

We had way too much pool bar fun last night and met a Canadian and two Manchester locals. Oh! And in exciting Canadiana news...

So last year when we were here, we saw Destination Fox Harb'r for the first time. It's a big crazy boat (I mean, any boat with its own website has got to be crazy), and its name sounded familiar. Indeed, with good reason. Fox Harb'r is a golf resort in Nova Scotia, owned by Mr. Ron Joyce, the Tim Horton's gajillionaire guy. In any case, when we arrived last week, we saw that it was here again. And last night, we saw Mr. Joyce (in the flesh!) at the yacht club happy hour -- as it turns out, he has a condo here as well and is regularly relaxing in the B-dos sun. I know, I know. He isn't a traditional celebrity. But he's an incredibly successful Canadian entrepreneur, and it doesn't get more celebrity-sighting than that for me.

And with that story good and told, we're off to play some 7AM tennis. Whee!

7:12 AM

A Spotty Story

My favourite sunscreen for as long as I can remember has been the Coppertone Sport stuff.

With the fair skin of my Irish ancestors, I need real protection when I'm out there, and every time I've used this stuff, it's been an absolute dream. No sweat off, no stickiness, and -- best of all -- no burns.

When I went to Shoppers before this vacation, I went on my hunt for this beloved protector, only to find that they didn't have any of the lotion in stock. Faced with the option of the same brand in gel or spray format, I went with the gel. I mean, everyone knows the spray never goes on right anyway, right?


The first day I put the gel on, I was overwhelmed with the intense fragrance of pure alcohol. The stuff started evaporating within seconds as I frantically tried to rub it into my skin. Somewhat startled, I felt a sneaking suspicion about its potency. Nonetheless, I ignored my gut due to my conviction that Coppertone Sport would never let me down. Silly girl.

As of last night, I have about fifteen little red spots. (Will post a picture later today.) No, I don't have the allover sunburn that ruins a vacation -- so that's something. But I now proudly feature red marks on both shoulder, a rectangle at the top of my back, a streak across my right arm, a big oval at the bottom of my back, speckles all over my belly, thin lines across the top of each thigh, and a thumbprint at my ankle.

Coppertone Sport, how could you?

So what's a girl to do? I emailed Ange and begged her to become my Coppertone Sport lotion mule. I am so irritated by my leopard look -- while I don't mind getting only freckles, I was hoping for a little bit of sunniness to my look on this vacation. But the spotted thing? Not as hot as what I'd imagined.

(Yes, I know that if this is all I have to complain about, life is pretty good. I just didn't want anyone else to make the mistake of buying this junk.)

In other news, the vacation has been pretty continually dreamy.

We're playing 3-4 hours of tennis every day, which means I'm surely getting somewhat better, right? I love the running around, I love the hitting (every time the ball comes to me, I do an internal B-E-AGRESSIVE chant), and I love the sweat. We're also doing lots of floaty ocean swimming, and enjoying the local brew as much as one should when there's not much else to have to do. I would be uploading more pictures but, erm, they're kind of all the same. Me on balcony! Me on beach! Me at tennis court! Me on balcony! I'm nothing if not predictable. To calm your evident need for new photos, I bring you feet.



Oh yeah! I almost forgot to share the weirdest thing that's happened since our arrival. So we were at the beach yesterday and this older lady was in an inappropriately skimpy swimsuit, but I thought my usual "Hell, if you're okay with it, I am too, lady." Anyway, we were set up near her and she was sunbathing her little heart out. Fine. A while later, this young (teenaged?) girl in a very skimpy bikini came by and said hi to her -- they appeared to know each other, but the connection was unknown. Anyway, they started chatting, then the young girl suggested she take some pictures of the older lady, so she's posing away and all is normal and fine. Then! The young girl asks the older lady to take pictures of her. Next thing I know, I'm witnessing the cheap digi-cam version of a photo shoot for the next flipping Sports Illustrated Teen. Seriously! This kid was posing on the water's edge in the most provocative positions, making far more than come-hither eyes, and the older lady was instructing her. This results similar to this, but with water everywhere.

What the hell was that about? Who was that lady? Who was that kid? What were the photos for? It was totally surreal and bizarre and I still can't figure out what the hell happened. Anyway.

Ange and Jason arrive tomorrow (!!!) and we can't flipping wait. We have plans to make nachos, enjoy numerous and varied mixed drinks, discuss Anna Nicole's death to death, and crash the Wednesday night party at the resort down the beach. There will be plenty of new pictures then, as Ange and I find ourselves altogether irresistible. Hah.

In that joyful spirit, I'm off to enjoy my 8AM coffee, overlooking the marina while catching up on the day's news. Yep, this is the life.

Oh, and PS: Blogger has recently introduced the custom domain option, that allows those quick easy updates they now do (no more loading page!) instead of your standard FTP. So this baby now has its own domain. I've been obsessed with buying domains for as long as I can remember. So rarely are .com domains still available that when I saw this one was, um. Yeah. I got it.

5:19 PM

The Commodity Conundrum

I was thinking today about how products have changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid, it seemed like every new technological innovation was a big effing deal. Our first microwave cost over a thousand 1980s bucks. I was obsessed with my innovative Speak and Spell 'til my dad brought home the dreamy Commodore 64. I would follow the instructions, write little programs, and watch my machine type responses to me. Thrilling!

Today, technology just doesn't really get to be new anymore. Companies frantically rush out press releases about 2MP camera phones so they hit the journalists' hot little hands right away. Miss a beat, and your top competitor has gotten their attention first.

There used to be a time when product differentiation allowed companies to strategically position themselves in the marketplace. But now I wonder: Is everything becoming a commodity?

A computer is a computer. An MP3 player is an MP3 player. A cell phone is a cell phone. Sure, they all have new, exciting features when you buy 'em, but increasing competition makes for an unbelievably quick market.

So what's left to give you the upper hand?

Your brand.

Obviously, this doesn't mean your logo or iconography or the stitching on the back of your 7s. It's your vitality, your integrity, your sense of humour -- your personality.

I recently learned about a company that is currently number one in market share in its field, but not so in brand awareness. While it's wonderful to move into that top position, how do you stay there?

In a world where it's ever-so-time-consuming to learn about all the features, specifications, and technical mumbo-jumbo related to a product, it's the company's job to provide you with the most possible information to help you make your decision. This is not to say that companies shouldn't constantly be striving to create the best, most innovative products -- certainly not! Without those, they'd might as well just take their (old-school) ball and go home, because nobody wants to play. But information tends to be asymmetrical, and the company has more of it. The more they can help you to hear, the more you'll understand the product category, and the easier these decisions become. But what if everything still sounds a bit... the same?

They need to make you understand their brand. They need to help you find some connection -- emotional and real -- to make you think of them first. There are about a gazillion ways to theoretically make this happen and none are easy to pull off well, but creating a brand that has a real feel for its target's functional and hedonic aspirations is a necessity.

The more everything starts to feel the same, the less easy it is to be different.

Obvious, yes. But the point of differentiation is discoverable and key. So you know what age group your target fits into? Great. Dig deeper. Understand where they want to go, who they're trying to impress, whether they're willing to admit it, how unique they perceive themselves to be.

Psychographic data is without any doubt completely key, but interaction will push you over the finish line.

Get in there. Don't ride on assumptions or long-held knowledge about whatever game you're targeting. I'm not talking about focus groups here, I'm talking about real interaction. The kind that forces you to look beyond yourself, what the data is saying, and what you "know" to be true. Get on the web, look around, see the language they use, really listen to what they're saying. Hang out where they hang out, watch them, see who their friends are. Understand what they think is funny, figure out their political leanings, get a handle on who they mock. Get a sense of what is ultimately important to them. Build your brand as one of them.

So nothing is really new anymore. Your products are starting to feel like commodities to the unwashed masses. Is it really so hard to differentiate? Sure. But it's not impossible. It just requires a serious commitment to getting the behaviour of your most beloved consumers. It requires you to live it.

7:02 PM

I Am Lazy

So I'll be honest. Today went as follows: Coffee, chat, coffee, chat, sandwiches, chat, beach, chat, walk to get water, beach, chat, pool, dinner, chat. We tried to add in tennis, but every time we booked a court time, it rained.

In any case, pictures are all I've really got. (Note that this trip is the first time in my life that I've worn a bikini, much less worn a bikini in public. Oh, my bravery just grows with age! Hah.)

9AM: Dave style.

I really love the beach...

And the boats:

No amount of sun will change the whiteness of my skin:

I loooooooove rainbows (and you can just barely see this one).

So that was our day. It both rocked and rolled. And now it's time for a few drinks, and much more chat.

8:18 PM

Tennis is the New Darts

What a way to start the day. Throw on a swimsuit and a Tshirt and hang out drinking coffee and sunning it up. Ah, divinity.

After spending about two hours doing nothing, we hit the tennis court.

I have never played tennis in my life. I've always feared the running back-and-forth part, and the hitting, and the potential balls in the face (special occasions only, ladies). In any case, today I learned.

Every time we go to the cottage, Dave invariably becomes a dart aficionado. Basically, it's the only thing to do there, but he's rather compulsive about it. He'll play for four or five hours straight, getting annoyed with his failings and claiming glorious victory for his perceived successes. It's truly insane, and he is nuts for it.

Well, tennis is the new darts. Only I am turning into Dave.

No kidding, we played for 1.5 hours this morning (in the burning sun), then another three this evening under the court night lights. It was so ridiculously fun. I went from completely terrible to passably mediocre, and I can't stop talking about it. I can't wait to go back tomorrow. I referred to our vacation as tennis camp.

Here's me after the morning's round, red-faced and disgusting, but claiming glorious victory just the same.

Oh yeah, baby. It was that good.

9:12 PM

Destination: Heaven

So after being up 'til 3AM last night (Dave had to madly finish work due to deadline confusion, oops), I was up at 5:15, as giddy as a schoolgirl, ready to hit the airport for our annual Barbados trip.

The getting ready was fast, we were all packed, and we went downstairs to await our cab. After ten minutes, I called -- and it was a good thing. They'd written 6PM instead of AM. Suffice it to say, there's no traffic on a Sunday morning anyway, and we made it there just fine -- despite a rusty cab and the very jerky driving of some poor man who seemed like he'd been awake for far too long in one day.

The lineups were a total mess, the staff seemed ever-so-dejected, and we (amongst many, many others) had to get pulled into a "fast lane", which seemed to take just as long as the regular lane. (I find it utterly baffling how Air Canada still has so many operational issues -- it's basic queue theory. Anyway.) We made it through the gate with time to spare, grabbed some water bottles, a banana and a honey cruller, and hit the skies.

During the flight, I spent my usual half-the-time feeling like my back was freezing -- 'til I discovered the joy of putting a pillow behind you. All iciness issues resolved, I listened to some music, tried to get some sleep, and watched The Prestige. (Speaking of which: GOD, those airline headphones are a nightmare -- I swear until right now I thought we'd watched The Illusionist and only discovered my mistake when I tried to IMDB it. I only heard every third word... though, to be fair, I was relatively focused on the dreaminess level of my boyfriend Christian Bale. Back to the headphones: why do these get thrown out after one use? I could have sworn they used to take them away, and I assumed they replaced the foam and reused, but this time they went right in the trash with food leftovers and the like. Quelle waste. Though I guess that does speak to the quality issue.)

After five or six hours (I invariably lose track of time when I change zones), we arrived. We took a bus from the plane to customs (here is where I saw our beloved and frantically waving accountant, Hot Diane), then spent two hours entering the country and collecting our bags. My favourite part of this experience was when a grumpy staffer asked us and two older couples on either side of us to "please don't slow down the line" -- in all honesty, we had all been discussing the joys of lollygagging to extend the airport experience, and she really got us. Crafty!

And then we were outside in the sun and all the annoyance of a day jam-packed with travel irritation was completely gone. Our driver found us, we jumped in, and enjoyed the scenic drive to Port St. Charles (from Bridgetown to just-by-Speightstown, above). Left-hand-lane driving always makes me the tiniest bit anxious, as I secretly suspect other non-local drivers to forget and attack us in a head-on -- particularly in those freaky round-abouts -- but we made it here safe and sound, Banks Beer and Herr's barbecued chips safely in hand.

We were in hot-weather-gear in about fifteen seconds, and spent the evening (a) lounging on the patio, drinks in hand, (b) enjoying a heavenly burger at the bar, or (b) sleeping on the sofa while trying to watch the SuperBowl.

I won't ever be coming home. Do you think it's too early to declare squatter's rights?