H in the bathroom

Not sure what came to mind when you read the title, but it's likely not what I have in mind. So before I disappoint you, let me just say that H stands for Hiny. Okay, maybe that was what you thought. I was in college when I first encountered the H in question (not what you're thinking). It was a conservative Christian college where doing laundry on Sunday was forbidden, which is not such a bad idea considering how overly busy we all are, but our supposedly good morals should give you a reason why there wasn't much to look at in the bathroom stalls. As deplorable as bathroom graffiti can be, you must admit that it is often quite entertaining. Okay, maybe guys in particular must admit this - I don't know what ladies' stalls contain.

Nothing going on in these stalls, however. Except Hiny Hiders, the little etched logo on every aluminum hinge and support holding the structure together. It had no color and was barely noticeable (no pun intended), but it caught my attention long before I cared a professional inch about logos and brand names and the world of advertising because of its clever simplicity. Funny to think that this is one of my earliest brand memories. And, yet, it is.

I recently discovered that Hiny Hiders is now defunct. (Not the stalls, of course, but the brand, although we did have two incorrigible hall mates back then who had such a bad habit of shaking the stalls to scare dwellers that eventually you had to lean sideways to use them. Then one afternoon the janitor, after fixing them one too many times, simply removed all privacy and left four toilets standing there naked. Hiny Exposers if you will.)

The point here isn't any more than I liked the use of H in this logo and still do. Check out LogoDesignLove here and here for more visual creativity like this. Study the first group carefully to appreciate them. 


Check this out: It's gout...in a jar!

I don't quite feel like exclamation points right now, but humor often rescues me from myself and I really wanted this title to rhyme. I don't even know what gout is. Something to do with feet? That's what usually comes to mind though I'm not sure who gets it, what it affects, or how it goes away (if at all).

Tonight I saw a new commercial for Uloric and according to them, gout is a clear green liquid, not too different in appearance than anti-freeze before you dilute it. Okay, maybe that isn't what swishes around under your toe skin, but it leads me to the first of two points I liked about this advertisement for gout treatment:

Gout is objectified.

I get a kick out of objectification in advertising. Like with Pam and Rollover Minutes, it helps me see the invisible. I can actually imagine how it feels to be burdened by a large beaker full of green fluid (even though our chemistry lab relatives were quite petite in comparison), and it's enough to make me want to get rid of it.

Second, Uloric never promises to eradicate the problem. Even as the retiree heads out for a walk and down to his favorite fishing hole, he carries a smaller version of the beaker with him. "You can live more freely, but we can't give you a whole new life," they seem to say.

Maybe Uloric is junk, I don't know. One of the side effects is "gout flares" which seems counter-productive to me. Still, the ad caught my attention while most pharmaceutical spots simply annoy me. I'm not sure what I think of pain-relieving drugs in general, though I use them on occasion. Suffering, at least to a degree, seems right for the hungry soul, and if it means lugging around a beaker of this or that, than so be it. 



Winter's coming. Better get Belgian Natural Gas.

"Who gives you the very softest heat?" Knitters, it seems in this Belgian Natural Gas commercial. Or, so I wish. Who wouldn't opt for this kind of house warming? We're heading into our first winter season in a 100-year-old house, and I'm not sure how warm the gas bill will make me feel. Perhaps I'll don wool as TBWA did in this exceptional ad from early 2010:

Before you see how it was made, savor those 35 seconds. Brilliant simplicity, conceptual clarity, effectiveness at attention-grabbing and holding. I've watched this commercial innumerable times, now listening to the tune and dance of the whistle, now catching the colors warm progressively in tone, now feeling the house shift from frosty windows and chilly floors to carpet and hot tea. Mesmerizing, really.

Meet the talented hands and minds behind the work: 


Know your numbers? Try this brand quiz.

I found the following quiz today while reading about the Gap logo debacle. What brand is related to the number 711? That may be an easy one. How about 40? 31? 409?

I got six out of 20 without thinking too hard. Take a look below and see if you can beat me. Find the answers and related trivia here.


Spoiled Rotten: When Work and Play Meet

Playing in the Frio Canyon. Thanks for the photo, Jennifer.
In the sweltering summer of 1998, I spent nine weeks being trained to work in campus ministry. We lodged in air conditionless university housing and Julie and I were poor enough to cry when she accidentally deposited $20 in the bus meter one afternoon. That was money for a fan to make the stifling nights bearable, and the machine gave no change. Quite a tax on a $1.35 fare.

I don’t remember sleeping much that summer anyway – my thoughts turning toward class and books and late night conversations with veteran colleagues. I was 24 years old and kept awake by fresh ideas about the importance of work, film discussions on truth and art, and stimulating dialogue with agnostics on campus. As far as I had known, work was worldly and done to make ministry possible. And culture was only acceptable if it pointed conspicuously toward heaven. But something new was happening in me. Each day that my mind raveled and unraveled, the summer paid out.

That was twelve years ago and I’m still receiving dividends.

Last week’s trip to Texas bears witness to this fact. As you may know, I belong to a network called High Calling Blogs. It is an online community of more than a thousand people, focused (some more than others) on the idea that God cares about everything we do. Our families matter, of course. Faith and how it’s lived out matter, too. But so do work and art and music and cooking and how we let employees go. Faithfulness in all areas of life is a bedrock belief of my own workplace - the Coalition for Christian Outreach - and High Calling Blogs shouts the same from one modem to the next.

First lunch together. Thanks for the pic, Deidra.
Last week I spent five days with 15 members of this usually virtual community. We are the writers, editors and photographers behind the project and none of our arms had to be twisted to attend a retreat at the beautiful Laity Lodge. Who wouldn’t want a writing workshop with Lauren Winner or to worship with Ashley Cleveland or canoe along the Frio River canyon and hike with pilgrim and poet, Scott Cairns?

Because of that formative summer long ago, I started this work-honoring advertising blog and soon after met Marcus Goodyear – a poet, zombie fan and mastermind behind the network. He welcomed me warmly. Then I met L.L. Barkat – a playful soul and author of Stone Crossings. They are two of the 15 and the ones I've known the longest and best. (We spent the past two years at Jubilee together.)

I can’t remember the exact order of introductions thereafter, but I met each of the following as we gradually entered this community. I encourage you to read on. They are good folks, inspirational followers of Christ, and now friends. If you blog, or even if you don’t, you’ll want to meet them, too.

Here is the High Calling Team. Click on the names to visit their personal blogs:

Bradley Moore is an executive with a keen eye for living out faith at work. He is, in fact, our work editor. My prediction? He’ll be a household business name within the next decade. Brad tells it straight and has been featured several times at Christianity Today’s FaithInTheWorkplace.com.

Jennifer Dukes-Lee is a contributing editor whose family makes a mean chocolate-covered soy nut. I ate them by the handful (Thank you!). You might assume that the former chief political correspondent for the Des Moines Register would be pushy and cold, but Jennifer’s big heart adds a remarkably compassionate dimension. You’ll see this clearly on her blog and in the posts she writes a couple of times each month.  

David Rupert and horses don’t get along. He works for the U.S. Postal Service though he may not have made a good Pony Express rider. David writes with a consistent voice about work and faith and he highlights noteworthy blogs. A very funny man with a complement of sincerity, I enjoyed rooming with him in Texas.

Gordon Atkinson is best known as Real Live Preacher, a web name he created in the stone age of blogging. (Did I even know there was internet in 2002?) He has a massive following, mostly of folks who admire transparent honesty. Gordon says and asks what others fear and often does this through great story-telling. Founding Editor is a good title for him since his napkin sketching started this brainchild long before it took on its current shape.

Talking with Ann Kroeker was like talking with a sister. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that, especially since I like all of my sisters. She’s got humor, passion and a commitment to the family. Fittingly, she’s our family editor and seems to attract parents from all over.

I met Laura Boggess while leading a book discussion at High Calling Blogs in the summer of 2009. With a gentle southern accent to match her charm, she welcomes readers with hospitality and intellect. She's in the middle of writing a book series for young adults and she runs our High Calling book club every Monday.   

Glynn Young defines reliability. A growing poet, Glynn acts as a contributing editor, following many blogs in the network. Glynn is an award-winning speech writer and has a quiet depth about him. He also edits TweetSpeak Poetry. (Go try it out!)

The enigmatic Ann Voskamp fascinates me. You never know what you’ll get, but she can talk tractors, health care, geography and spirituality with equal adeptness and humility. Like Glynn, she is a contributing editor. Ann is the wife of a diligent farmer and the mother of six children. Her following rivals that of Gordon, and is soon to grow even larger with One Thousand Gifts coming this January. Yet she remains quietly behind the scenes, letting God get the glory, as you'll see here

Claire Burge is our photo editor and the youngest of the bunch. Not only does she inspire the community with stunning photography, she also writes a monthly piece for me that invites camera owners to try their hand at new picture-taking techniques. Claire is originally from south Africa and joined us from Ireland. She is beyond her years.

Dan King is BibleDude. Maybe it's from living on the Florida coast that he loves all things "Awesome!", but Dan's exuberance plays itself out as our very influential social media editor. He and I are lightheartedly competitive with each other. I won't say who's winning.  

I don’t know if I’ve ever met a person who lives in Nebraska. Now I have and the whole state is now on the map for me. Deidra Riggs is a pastor’s wife, and a contributing editor for us as well as for (in)courage. She let me try on her glasses which, if I can call this a claim to fame, began a mini viral craze

Cheryl Smith once experienced fame when her facebook image got accidently pulled into a singles ad. It not only crashed her website, but made news all over the world. She is one of two welcome editors. If you were to join the network, you’d have a 50% chance of meeting her. No, guys, she’s not actually single, but she does send a friendly note.

Dena Dyer is relatively new to the club. She shares the role of welcoming editor with Cheryl. Dena has written several books and is currently working on a novel. Did I mention that she loves to laugh?

I find it quite valuable to stumble upon a movement (Can I call it that?) like this, especially since its aims are so similar to those of the CCO. I look forward to the work we can do together as a team and as related organizations as we aspire toward faithfulness. Pray for our work, will you?

Big News

[Updated on 10/12/10] On October 7, 2010, High Calling Blogs merged with The High Calling to form the new and redesigned site, TheHighCalling.org. As a top 100 Christian website, this was no small matter. Team leaders Marcus Goodyear, L.L. Barkat and Gordon Atkinson have been busy polishing and purging to make it a great place. Stop over and check out the new digs, and say hello to my friends along the way.  


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