This and that

cartoon taco I thought I'd give myself permission once again to wander off topic a bit. (This assumes of course that I’m normally ON topic.)

I was about to stop at my favorite Chipotle restaurant in Boston last week when I noticed a caravan of TV news trucks parked outside. I soon discovered it had just been closed by health inspectors. Bummer, I thought. I was really looking forward to that E.coli burrito.

Chipotle hasn’t had a great couple of months—if you hadn’t heard—having been cited for numerous food safety violations. (This is not a desired outcome if your brand identity centers around healthy food.) It raises questions about Chipotle's “Food With Integrity” promise. Now marketers will always tell you there's no such thing as bad publicity, but that may not extend to salmonella salads.

And yet, loyal customer that I am, I’m rooting for the company to turn this around. Snarkiness aside, I actually do like Chipotle's food (and prices) and I respect any business that’s trying to do something innovative. Chipotle has been praised by Slate Magazine for "unusual process innovations" that invite comparisons to Apple. And its decision to go au naturel with its food sources was an adventurous one for a “fast casual” restaurant. Chipotle's success in recent years in rolling out its “slow food, fast” approach to dining is a pretty good example of business model innovation.


I heard on the radio recently that Michigan may remove some of its antiquated laws, including one that prohibits “non-traditional” renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner.” That means if Woodstock had occurred in Michigan and Jimi Hendrix had performed his creative interpretation of our national anthem there, he could have been busted. Meanwhile a street singer in Florida DID get hauled away for playing the SSB in a non-traditional way. (They got him for “creating a disturbance.”) Now I may have to reconsider whether it’s safe to perform my vast repertoire of patriotic anthems on my slide guitar.

Speaking of antiquated laws, according to the New Mexico Constitution, “idiots” can’t vote in state elections. (I’m not making this up.) It’s a pity that the US Constitution doesn’t forbid idiots from running for President. Methinks there wouldn't be many candidates left to debate. But there are nuttier regulations.

In Illinois, it's illegal to give lighted cigars to pets. In Hartford it's currently illegal to educate dogs. (That's why our dogs in Boston are way more literate.) In Missouri you can't drive with an un-caged bear. In Minnesota you can't cross state lines with a duck on top of your head. (That would keep me out.) And last but not least, in Fairbanks, Alaska, it's illegal for moose to have sex on city streets. (I hope they can just pay a fine and not get thrown in the slammer.)


I get lots of emails asking me to stop what I’m doing and watch a video that will teach me how play ukulele in 10 minutes or how to learn Portuguese in one session. I ignore them of course (unless they’re offering to teach me Portuguese ukulele). But I was taken aback when one email said that if I want to “achieve greatness” I should watch a motivational video for two minutes! At first I thought that was uberly awesome. But the more I thought about it I became annoyed. Two minutes to achieve greatness? My obvious response to this delusional request was, who has two minutes? If I wasn’t going to get it in one minute, I’d rather watch cat videos.


Ok, I feel obligated to impart at least one business lesson for the holidays. Ready? Write this down:

Take it one day at a time.

If that helped you achieve greatness, be sure to let me know. I have a few more.

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  1. Seems to be a cycle: up-and-comer gets attention for being The New Guy, The New Guy becomes The Guy, and soon is The Big Guy, under scrutiny because, hey, we all know Big Guys are Bad Guys.

    And then, our up-and-comer is a down-and-outer.

    I'm a pretty good person, but I don't think I could stand up to eleventyleven gov't inspectors, 999 competitors, and an ex-wife going through my drawers. They'd find something I'd be embarrassed to see on the menu at Chipotle.

    We don't have Chipotles around here but when we travel, I eat there. But then, I also eat at In-N-Out when we're in Sacramento and when in San Diego I make it a point to eat at The Boll Weevil, home of a monstrous burger and huge beers, so maybe my point is pointless.

    1. Chipotle, which has made many political enemies with its ads putting down agribusiness, industrial food, etc., is now taking fire from lots of folks in major magazines and newspapers who think organic anything is a con (or a threat to their business model). One more reason to root for Chipotle.

  2. The CEO of Chipotle said today 'there's no E. coli in Chipotle.' Maybe he's trying out a new motto. e.coli is almost an anagram of Chipotle.

  3. We've a few odd laws in the UK, although the fact that our esteemed Parliament has never repealed them suggests they must still have some kind of purpose. (Amuse us? Take our attention off their lack of comeptence?) Anyway:

    - It's illegal to wear a suit of armour in Parliament.

    - It's also illegal to die in Parliament. You'd think they'd let them off with a warning the first time and only go legal if it happened again, wouldn't you?

    - It's an act of treason to position a stamp on a letter upside down.

    - You risk prison should you attempt to, "handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances."

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