Topic: Toy Troll Buttons

It’s amazing how quickly times change.

When I was growing up, an unadvertised button between the legs of a child’s toy that makes multiple gleeful noises when you press it would get a company boycotted and banned overnight.

They’d be done.

These days, not so much. These days, opinions are split.

So let’s talk about it.

Here are two screen grabs from a mother who posted a video about the feature that raised concerns after her daughter received a doll at her birthday party.

The mother posts a clip showing how the button between the legs is not advertised or disclosed on any of the packaging. She then demonstrates the sounds the doll makes when the button is pushed.

You can watch her clip here:

Doug Stanglin, Breaking News Editor of USA Today, was quick to post the other side of the story, stating that Hasbro & Dreamworks intended the button to make happy sounds when the doll is sat down, and that not all dolls have a button between their legs.

Julie Duffy, Hasbro’s Senior VP for Global Communications, email response to USA TODAY’s inquiry reads:

β€œThis feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate. This was not intentional, and we are happy to provide consumers with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value through our Consumer Care team. We are in the process of removing the item for purchase.”

(In his fact-check article, Stanglin also links directly to the concerned mom’s personal Facebook profile when naming her as the original complainant, but he does not link to the video itself … a tactic I have opinions about, but let’s stay focused for now.)

My question: Does Hasbro’s response satisfy you?

I’m genuinely asking because our country is quickly moving into a place where the companies we support will forge our future environment to the point of being omnipresent, and I only see one side of the political spectrum voting with their money and their business: the Progressive Left.

In the 20th century, it was the exact opposite.

When I was growing up, it was the Conservative Right that staunchly voted with their money, and I think it was my generation’s (Gen X) response to be a little more chill and relaxed about supporting different values.

Gen X is the middle-child of generations — those raised by conservative Boomers who then turned around and decided not to be so value-strict with their own children, inadvertently becoming a bridge between the diverging values on either side of themselves.

In the 20th century, the conservatives were the power players who didn’t support anything that didn’t match their values. The conservative market was so strong that Coca-Cola built special Coke factories to make caffeine-free Coke in my city. Movie houses couldn’t survive if they showed something that went against community standards and you couldn’t get a job in customer service or an office if you had an unnatural hair color or a visible tattoo.

I was raised conservative and even I thought the values were enforced on a cultural level to an extreme level.

Now we’re on the flip side.

The progressives I know put their money where their values are on the same level that my parents did when I was a kid, but the conservatives I know are typically more focused on good deals and convenience. The company with the best deals wins, so to speak.

Life is crazy, there’s only so many battles worlth fighting, and convenience wins.

To this end, companies like Dreamworks put out shows kids want to see with marketing parents can’t ignore and so they are too big to fail and don’t need to worry about the “Karens” complaining about their product. The “Karens” can simply be doxxed and social media will take care of them. (Okay, maybe I can’t totally let go of what Doug Stanglin did in his article by linking people DIRECTLY to her personal information and place of employment. Tactics like that will always be relevant to me. But, again, I’ll address this tangent some other day.)

It so strange how quickly the world changes… when I was young, I looked around and saw a world built by conservatives. Now, several decades later, I look around and see the progressive vision growing in its place.

A college professor I had once said that it is the nature of progress to move from extreme to extreme before we find balance. I was raised in extreme conservatism and it made me a moderate. Now, the world is shifting strongly into progressive values, and I’m still a moderate wondering if the pendulum is reaching a limit of a progressive arc, or if it’s really just starting to swing.

Ten years ago, I doubt I would have known anyone who would defend this doll. Now I know many parents of young children who would not only defend it but intentionally buy it to signal how fine they are with it.

What do you think? Ten years from now, will dolls that make noises when they sit be a thing no one thinks about? Or will the push back be strong enough that no company will think about doing it again?

What’s your prediction?

2 Paths to Managing a Family Schedule

If you’re a parent, you have a lot on your plate now. Period.

If you’re a mom in a home right now, the psychological responsibility of managing all the scheduling and curveballs and decision making typically falls on you.

Traditional gender roles have men handling the outside of the home and women managing anything inside the home: schedule management, and community relationships.

TRADITIONALLY, while men go out in the world and make money while taking care of the yard and the vehicles, women TRADITIONALLY handle food, hearth, home, birthdays, daily schedule, getting children where they need to be, hosting events, earning supplemental income, and generating the “Honey Do” list for all the things that fall in their husband’s territory of maintenance or using tools in his domain.

I put TRADITIONALLY in all caps because the world is changing. Gens Y & Z actively push against these stereotypes, along with a notable portion of Gen X-ers, and that’s fine. What’s important to note here is — regardless of who in your home is over family scheduling — there job is getting SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult.

There world is shifting in an unpredictable way right now. Routine is gone — and not by the choice of those involved. Government and businesses are making decisions with massive trickle-down effect.

Yet they must be managed in order for things not to fall through the cracks, and there are two sustainable paths forward to help you get (and keep) your life in order:

Option 1: AR (Augmented Reality)

AR is the direction the market wants you to go. It wants you to go this direction so much — and are so convinced that this is the future — that companies like Amazon are on congressional record as taking losses to underbid competitors to get Alexa into your home over a competitor’s.

AIs like Alexa and Siri are evolving to be the personal assistants so many wish they’d always had, and I think they are a great fit for a specific type of person:


Notice I did not assume your gender there. Only your role.

If you are the person in your home who focuses on bringing in income and is the “Honey Do”-er, then AR might be a great fit for you because your job is not to think about the list, just check everything off it.

Alexa, Siri, or the AI of your choice can help you aggregate everything your partner needs you to do in with your schedule and get it all done.

Easy peasy.


Now let’s talk about:


Feminine roles have the juggling side of this game. You’re the one who needs to buy all the right things at the store, manage the calendar of who needs to be where (and when), remember all the birthdays, synchronize everyone’s schedule, manage extracurriculars, register for everything on time, keep in touch with the vibe in the neighborhood, and so on and so on and so on.

This role of psychological responsibility within a partnership or family generates a lot of anxiety when things grow uncertain. (And I think we cal ALL agree that things are presently VERY uncertain at the moment.)

Perhaps, you think an AI assistant would help you manage all this psychological responsibility better, but I’ll submit to you that an AI is the opposite of the answer you need if you are juggling 10 balls in the air right now and starting to miss a few catches.

You need an old-school wall calendar right now. And NOT a small one.

You need a LARGE wall calendar that shows you AT LEAST 2 months at a time.

So buying two erasable vinyl calendars like this might do the trick.

The goal with getting two so large is:

  • You can write in a readable size
  • You can erase, when needed
  • You have a place to write things that need to be added later
  • You can see what you need to see at a glance while passing by
  • You can see into the next month
  • You have a column to list things more than 2 months out for later updates

When you’re the person in the family juggling balls that are shifting daily, the LAST THING YOU NEED is for your balls to be flying around in an invisible AI cloud and only having forgotten items reappear when it’s time for you to catch them.

That is anxiety-inducing, and chances are you already have more than your fair share of anxiety going on.

You don’t need more.

An analog calendar like this helps you keep what you need in sight, while keeping you free to make adjustments on the fly when you need to.

To accomplish this, there is one more aspect you need to take into consideration:


After observing many calendars at work in many homes, I have a suggestion on optimal placement. You may, of course, put your calendar anywhere that works for you, but the most organized homes I see tend to put it about the same spot, so that is where I’ll recommend you give it a try.

Do NOT put it in a public space where it becomes a conversation piece for visitors. It goes best in a space you pass frequently and guests do not. (This includes the entry, if you can avoid it).

DO put your calendar in a walking area between your living space and your vehicle.

This is often an area everyone walks past quickly, especially if you have a garage, but it’s a place the mental juggler passes frequently as they do all the things that make juggling look easy.

Passing this spot frequently means they can:

  • Double-check their schedule to make sure they’re not missing anything
  • Adjust something that has changed since the last time they looked
  • Visually confirm they are on track (which reduces anxiety)

The happiest, most-functioning homes do this and it seems to work very well.

So, if you’re in a place where your stress is high and important things are falling through the cracks in this crazy world, I make this suggestion to you:

  • LARGE, erasable wall calendar
  • Stack 2 months on top of each other
  • Locate your calendars on the way out the door (not in a living space of the home)
  • Put it someplace you will see it frequently but guests will not
  • Glance at it each time to verify you’re on track
  • Decrease anxiety while knowing you’re not missing a thing

Doing this will lead you to stressing less, remembering more, and handling more efficiently.

Note To Self

I was going through my papers for burning and told myself not to look — just burn…

But, of course, I looked and found this little note to myself. And I can’t just burn it now that I’ve seen it. I’ve gotta keep it somewhere.

So I’m posting it here in case anyone else wants to read it, too:

Come at each task
with the hope and persistence of a child.
Have faith in following your own nose
for you do not know how the unwritten book goes
until you live it,
and to assume you know an outcome
before you even take a step
is to force a story.
Resist that urge, for it is the path of fear.
Focus, instead, on showing love
and rewarding loyalty;
give all their just dues and, in the future,
all that is right will return back you.
It is time to reveal what you have in you to be,
then stand tall and strong like a tree
for all to see.

By the way, I literally have stacks of paper to burn. If there’s a short thought I want to keep note of, I tweet it, but maybe I’ll keep posting longer thoughts here.

Better to post it and burn the paper than keep more papers than anyone in their right mind would ever look through, right? πŸ˜‰

Quick Guide to Sizing Shopify Images

Want guidelines for creating Shopify images without reading an article?

You came to the right place.

The following practices are recommended when posting images on Shopify:

  • Use JPGs over PNGs for loading speed optimization
  • Optimal image size is 2048 X 2048 pixels (maximum image size is 4472 X 4472)
  • Use square images
  • Consistently use neutral, black, or white backgrounds
  • Give primary product images the same look & feel

Hope you find this useful and happy selling!

Full Moon

Tonight, the moon is full and bold as it rises, which is right in line with the mood I need to embrace while navigating the cray-cray that is 2020.

Time for a new camera, but you get the point. (Picture Aug 2, 2020)

This has been an interesting year, wouldn’t you say?

A year of challenges. A year of disruptions. A year of revisiting what’s been working and asking yourself if it will continue to work moving forward.

If you’re like me, you discovered an alarming number of things that need to change in the future. One of those things for me is that I need to embrace this digital world Gen Y & Z were raised in because –moving forward — if you’re not doing business there, you’re not doing business anywhere.

The analog world I’ve clung to for so long is about to go the way of the traveling circus: It’ll still exist nostalgically in TV and movies, but it will be legislated out of real life. I’ve seen this coming, sure, but I was able to live in a level of denial of how quickly it was approaching up until the Ides of March 2020.

That’s when I knew for certain that the analog way of doing things was about to join square TVs in history as the world transitions to 5G.

Even so, it still took me this long — all the way until August — to do something beyond dabble with one possibility after another while avoiding the obvious option of how to show up digitally:

I just need to bring my analog self online.

In real life, I’m a person people sit down with when they need to flesh out an idea or tackle a problem. I’m good at this because it’s in my nature to take the emotional weight out of difficult conversations.

Some people like looking at topics this way, some people do not. But one of the advantages of having these types of conversations in-person is that over 80% of communication is nonverbal and how we say things can be infinitely more significant than what we say. Especially when it comes to removing the inherent emotional charge embedded in a topic.

In text, however, people get to infuse your words with their nonverbals and that’s where things can get messy real quick.

But it’s time for me to get over this design flaw, accept the fact that what I have to say is ripe for the misinterpretation for those who already know what they want to hear, and to talk anyway.

Because that’s what the internet is all about: speaking up, speaking clearly, and finding out if you add value to the conversation.

So, after years of coaching other people how to show up in the digital world, it’s time to practice what I preach and show up myself. And I’m going to show up online the same way I do in real life:

I’m going to ask questions, I’m going explore various answers to questions, and I’m going to host the difficult conversations most people shy away from.

If I do this right, I’m going to attract a lot of haters for the simple fact that I tend to be a free thinker who treats scripted thought as what it is. And those who believe their scripts to be foregone conclusions get very emotional about being treated as a perspective and feel driven to attack.

This aggression used to deter me, but it’s 2020 now and everyone is emotional about everything. The world is not-so-slowly turning into a mental institution where all the borderline personalities with imaginary PhDs are intent on re-writing public policy. It’s nuts out there and people are screaming anything they want at the top of their lungs, so why should I worry about any who might take issue with me speaking in circumspect tones?

The answer is: I shouldn’t.

I’m not here for the people who want a sound bite to amplify into an echo chamber, or a hashtag they can trend with a retweet. I’m here for the people who have a topic they want to dig into in a way that requires a little bit of trust and mutual respect to discuss objectively, rather than through the pinhole of treating one thought as a foregone conclusion.

I’m a person who can show you what the same elements look like in different frames. I have my biases, sure. And I may explain them from time to time to see if they can survive external stress tests, but I never assume I am correct. I’ve been around the block far too many times to assume that — especially if everyone agrees with me. For truth is never popular and no one is less popular that s/he who speaks the truth.

Feel free to throw that at me if I ever get popular. πŸ˜‰ (I know I have at least one brother who definitely will.)

In the meantime, know that it is my aim to bring my analog value online and turn this blog into a full-time income. How that will happen will evolve with time. To start, however, I will have a donate button in case you feel like tipping me for content you find particularly valuable, along with affiliate links for suggested products you can buy while tossing a small commission my way.

For now, I’m going to focus on content and connecting, just like I do in real life. The first step to any worthwhile business is always to create value worthy of brand loyalty, so let’s start there while talking about everything under the sun.

Anything you want to talk about? Tag me on FB or Twitter and let’s have a conversation.

I look forward to connecting with you.