Category Archives: Entertainment

Developments in entertaiment and updates on movies, art, music, etc.

Vacation without fights

A vacation is supposed to be a time to set aside your problems and focus on not thinking too much, relaxing the mind and body, and if you are with your partner/family, bond with them. As it is, with distractions like email and Facebook, it is nearly impossible to disengage completely, but many couples find other ways to spoil their holiday. I have been discussing this with some of my readers and I found out that the fights before and during a vacation are surprisingly about the same things. So here is a small list that I have come up with along with my thoughts on how to eliminate them:

Meals: It is shocking how many couples and families have disputes about eating. It is not uncommon to see men tell themselves that they can eat and drink whatever they want and as much as they can, while women still want to stick to their healthy diets. The solution: do not impose your preference on the other (if someone wants to eat 5,000 calorie dessert, not for me, but I will happily give you company drinking a cup of hot tea after dinner). If you want to eat deep fried fish, let her have her salad. You do not have to make her feel guilty about her choice and a woman need not push her man to not eat something, unless there is a medical reason for it. Chances are that a few unhealthy meals are not going to make a huge difference, but arguing about it will surely spoil the trip.

Image of a man and his wife on the beach admiring the ocean

What to do: I remember a trip to Paris. We walked so much in Paris that one day I simply revolted and told her that I would stay in the hotel all day. I found out later on that what was bothering me so much were my uncomfortable shoes. I knew before going that Paris was all about museums and exploring neighborhoods but I also thought that we would just chill out in cafes and restaurants. In other words, discuss with your partner how you will divide the time between different types of activities. It is also okay to split up. So you do not have to get totally bored shopping while your wife runs around looking for designer bargains.

Road trip drama: Let’s agree, road trips can be rough with getting lost, traffic, and unexpected surprises in form of lousy food. The best way to make it work is to agree on the basic rules (sharing driving, meals, etc.) and stick to them. Also always have plenty of food and water in the car to avoid cranky passengers. I also like to agree on the itinerary and tentative driving route (I like to follow the GPS directions without questioning but Lorena still likes to consult the map and that has occasionally caused some conflict).

Packing: Nothing new here except that women like to bring too much stuff while men are willing to do with less and complain about having to haul it for them. I have also seen women complaining that their guy’s collection of outfits will not be good enough for fancy meals. I am a minimalist and can live with really little, but as far as packing is concerned, I try not to make an issue out of it. She gets to bring what she wants and I get to travel lightly. The only thing I do to always look sharp for a nice meal is to bring one or two great outfits that can be recycled over and over again by mixing. A sky blue shirt or a Polo can be paired with jeans or khaki for a great night.

Airport arrival: Since I am a seasoned traveler and know my way around airports, I like to believe that when airlines say that you should be there 2-3 hours before a flight, they are talking to those who rarely fly. They understand that many newbie fliers will believe them, show up early, and that will save the airline a ton of money by employing as few people as they can get away with. My wife likes to be on time for everything and likes to be among the first ones to board. The best thing to do is to just agree on something and implement this. A fight about this is not a great way to start a trip. I just bring a lot of reading material to kill time in the airport.

Money: This is always a tough one because despite the budgeting, there are always things that go unexpectedly. There are temptations, mistakes, and emergencies. The way we deal with is that we first have a conservative budget and then add an amount for unexpected expenses. If everything goes normally, as it typically does during domestic travel, but if we encounter expenses that we did not thought of before, something common that can happen during overseas travel especially if we do not speak the language and things are unfamiliar (e.g. if though we do not speak French, things are much more predictable than, say, being in Dubai or Singapore), we do not have to get into an argument.

Thank You For Smoking movie review

As a management consultant, I am not easily swayed by arguments of many consumers that often form their opinions without doing the hard work that any analysis needs. Our television news thrives on hype and sound-bites. “Is your shower curtain killing you?” “Fast food restaurant‘s counters found to have more bacteria than the toilet!” No wonder consumers start believing all sorts of myths.

Having said that, there is overwhelming evidence that cigarettes are dangerous and unless you think it is a great idea to commit suicide (which is illegal in many parts of the world and generally condemned by most societies), they should not be consumed.

But people die in many different ways. Close to a million people actually die from prescription drugs, either because they are just dangerous and their side effects are not known until many years after they have been on the market (think Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra) or due to abuse or mistakes. And it is also known that harmless products like corn syrup or butter or meats, if consumed excessively cause numerous health problems and deaths.

With this context, it will be fun to watch “Thank You For Smoking.” Smart people can keep arguing endlessly if cigarettes should be banned or if they should have pictures of skulls or if they should be sold like chocolates, but such proposals often assume that consumers are idiots and they need to be spoon-fed. The reality is that even if a voice announced “You will die if you smoke this cigarette,” some people will still smoke. And then there are people like me who can’t even stand to be in a place with smokers.

The movie is a must watch for anyone interested in marketing, advertising, and business strategy. Nick Naylor (played so well by Aaron Eckhart) is the spokesperson for Academy of Tobacco Studies, an organization whose sole purpose is to conduct so-called research to prove that there is no link between cigarette and cancer. We now know that there are thousands of research institutes, think tanks, and experts/consultants who will do and say anything (and even distort the facts or fudge the data) to prove whatever their clients (mostly corporations that need statements like “According to independent research conducted by…” in their press releases) want and are ready to pay for it.

If you want to get a good understanding of how corporations will do anything to make a buck and will find the help they need from spin-masters and other facilitators, this is a must-watch.