I’m just finishing up with Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. She tells a story of throwing her mother-in-law the perfect birthday party the way her mother-in-law would have appreciated and enjoyed. This meant making it very personal, not having it be a surprise etc. It made me think of the ways I treat my family and friends on special days, like their birthdays. Personally, I forget most people’s birthdays and forget to look it up in the birthday date notebook I attempted to maintain. I don’t enjoy finding the “perfect card” or putting together birthday parties. This is clearly reflected poorly because as the “wife”, I’m the one who people believe are behind the birthday gifts, the thoughtful note and creator of scrapbooks. And when I receive thoughtful notes and gifts from friends, though I appreciate the effort, I usually forget about it soon after receiving it. On the other hand, I’m sure the gifter has a mental star for themselves and when their special day arrives and they do not receive anything from me, I get a negative mark next to my name.
Above is a photo of my parents and brother eating at a street market in China. My father LOVES to eat. He has an obsession with it. He also enjoys sharing the food and almost forces you to eat what he is eating. That is because when you are out to dinner with him, he expects a nibble of your dish as well.
I don’t know why it never occurred to me that people want to be treated the way they treat others. It is so painfully obvious. I’ve just been going by some mental “wifey” or “mommy” etiquette book and try to get by on the minimum amount of work. Who has time to send an anniversary card for someone else’s anniversary? Who has time to buy the perfect hostess gift for a dinner party when a bottle of wine should do? I have one friend who used to make me shadow boxes, personalized monogrammed gifts for every move, cards on every special day in my life. She stopped a couple of years into her own marriage, and I’m not sure it’s because she realized I was not reciprocating or because becoming a wife and mother, she became overwhelmed with her own family obligations.
But I think the reason this small part in Ms. Rubin’s book struck a cord is that I’ve been spending so much time on my businesses and family that I don’t remember my friends and extended family as much as I should - that their nuances are exactly why I should be remembering their special days or remember to offer a bite of my dish to my dad when we are eating together.
Most mothers have a one piece bathing suit - at least one that they keep for one of those days. I had one from before I had kids - a bit stylish with an asymmetric neckline and from Calvin Klein. But since I’ve gained a little weight and parts of my body need a little lift here and there, it’s time to get a new one that is flattering and not too “motherly”. I found a few of these gems online and definitely need to do some swimsuit shopping before all the good pieces are taken!
Walmart’s coming up with a whole slew of online retail concepts in order to keep up and one day surpass Amazon, the largest online retailer.
One plan is to have customers who order online, pick up their orders from lockers at a store, providing another way for customers to retrieve their products instead of waiting and paying for shipping or dealing with a store clerk. The locker plan is to open up in only a dozen stores this summer. Amazon already came up with a locker system in 2011.
Walmart is also seeking to expand the features of its mobile app to allow for scanning bar codes and checking out via phone.
Website adjustments and improvements
Competing with Amazon means improving their website. Honestly, I’ve never considered buying online at Walmart.com. I have looked around on Target’s website but generally stick to walking in the store and enjoy walking around Target, picking up unnecessary items. When I shop at Walmart, I know exactly what I’m going to get and get out of there. The unwelcoming flourescent green lighting keeps me on task. I have to give them props on the proposal to involve Pinterest and for people to shop from items they see on Pinterest. Pinterest is definitely more visually appealing than the Walmart site and incorporating the two could be highly profitable.
Customers to drop off packages
This latest idea seems a bit far fetched and a legal nightmare. Walmart is considering a plan to provide incentives to customers to drop off packages for online customers, who live nearby or on their route home. Would you want a stranger to be dropping off packages on your door?
Walmart is definitely getting aggressive in the online retail market, as well as they should. Amazon is a $65 billion behemoth and with many people shopping online for necessities now - not just electronics, Walmart needs to get creative.
Photo 1. Me in a hat (circa 2010)
Photo 2. Marion Cotillard for Vogue
Photo 3. Sincerely, Jules
I’ve always been a hat person. One of the quiz questions at my bridal shower was “What would the bride bring to a deserted island?” My friends all shouted answers like “her fiance”, “a bathing suit”…”cheesecake”. My cousin softly said, “her hat”. Oh, how well she knows me. Dressing it up or down, a hat is such a wonderful thing. The worst feeling is the sun beating down on my forehead with no “coverage”…I can feel the sun spots multiplying as I write this. Anyone else dusted off their hats and ready for summer?
Who is jumping/inventing first?!
On March 16, 2013, the United States is moving to the first-inventor-to-file patent system, which means patent priority is awarded to the first inventor who files a patent application. If you’re wondering what the US was using before this, it was the first-to-invent system, which awarded the patent to the applicant who conceived the invention first. Most other countries use the first-inventor-to-file system and people happy with this change believe it will make the patent process smoother and provide a better guide for the examining officers because this removes the burden of the Patent Office to determine who invented the item first.
To patent something in the US, the invention needs to be “novel”. The new requirements focus on whether documents or activities existed before the effective filing date of the invention:
1. The invention was patented, described in a printed publication, on sale, publicly used, otherwise available to the public before the filing date.
2. The invention was described and published (per the appropriate guidelines) effectively filed before the effective filing date.
Because of the above evidence of prior art, claims may be subject to rejection.
Smaller businesses and inventors worry that this would create a “race to the patent office” to protect their ideas as soon as possible and because smaller businesses cannot compete with larger businesses in paying for filings, it creates an obvious inequality.
There is a one year grace period to provide an inventor, who publishes his invention or shows it at a conference (i.e. making it publicly available) an “absolute right to priority if he files an application within one year of his disclosure”. This grace period allows some protection to the inventor so as to be considered prior art against another patent application, and no subsequent work can defeat the invention. In any case, filing as soon as possible is key.
As with all new laws, we have to see how this will work over time and whether it will develop into a useful and efficient process. Look at the USPTO website for additional videos and training materials.
What is Section 230?
Under this section of the Communications Decency Act, no provider or user will be treated as a publisher or speaker of the information content provider. This act provides an immunity to host services but must satisfy requirements in what they do to be considered immune. There is already much written about Section 230 and how a content provider can be immune. I want to focus on the victim - what happens when your college days photo of you - naked, throwing up in somebody else’s car pops up on a website? The prognosis is not good - the photo or the chances of removal.
How does it affect your online reputation?
When a website posts something harmful against another individual, that individual can try to seek removal of the content. Going through the process is lengthy and expensive. However, it is distressful to see a harmful representation of oneself on let’s say… a porn site. Section 230 comes into play when the harmed person wants to take down the photos and information. Court decisions on this issue are slim, but a court could find that if your website is finding the information and publishing them, you could be found liable for creation of the content and therefore, not immune under Section 230. Recently, lawyers have been going after the site owners as well as the domain registrar.
What is even more harrowing is the fact that some of these sites, which post harmful information and/or photos about an individual, then offers a paid service to take down the information. There have been no on-point cases relating to whether these sites are legallay allowed to do this. It sounds like extortion, doesn’t it?
Given the lack of legal support in protecting individuals from wrongful and harmful posting, I plan to never post or send an incriminating photo of me or another person. You’ll find yourself paying a pretty penny for removal or having it sit in online outer space. So you drunk photo texters…be aware of your rights or lack thereof.