Friday, July 6, 2012

Prepare for Back To School Preparation

Now that the 4th of July has officially come and gone it is time to get ready for the next big holiday, Labor Day.

Most adults love Labor Day. It is one of those great holidays in the US that almost all employers (except retail and food-service) treat as a holiday, so the hardware store is open and all the kids are getting butterflies in their stomach because of the impending math homework. This creates a perfect environment for getting things done. If you ever see a kid looking like they are having too much fun on Labor Day just find a Back To School Supplies List and wave it in their face. That face will turn a whiter-shade-of-pale in no time.

If you have any student going to Grade School you might not be able to pull off instilling the fear of God in their little hearts with the threat of school if they like to hang out with other little kids and eat paste. Once they get to 5th or 6th grade you should be able to work them a little harder. They'll have to do some math and memorize geography. Kids always hate that.

Back to school for kids in High School is probably the worst for everybody. The social cliques are the most defined they will ever be and expectations from Teachers and Parents are at all time high. If you are attempting to get your kids under control on Labor Day just remind them that first impressions are everything and that they need to pull off decent grades in High School if they are going to do anything positive with their life. If that doesn't get the Back to school butterflies in the stomach a fluttering I don't know what will.

If you have a College Student preparing for back to school and you want them out of your hair, just tell them that. They are probably a legal adult and you don't have any legal reason to keep them around any more.  You can remind them of that. You might feel obliged to buy some College and Dorm Supplies for them, but don't go overboard. College kids aren't going listen to anything you tell them, class attendance just became optional.

My personal favorite crowd to remind about back to school is the teachers.  I've never met a teacher who didn't put off projects until the summer when they would have free time and didn't plan well enough to get them done. So of course they won't have though about what back to school supplies they'll need for the classroom. They'll want to hang out and BBQ like the rest of the adults, but they can't enjoy themselves because they know they'll be under the same pressure as the kids in a matter of hours.

It is one of the few seasons that those of us 9 to 5 working stiffs really have it made. Unrelated, if you are one of those people who like to attempt to impress your friends with worthless knowledge you should learn the difference between Labor Day and Labour Day and celebrate both.

Staplers: Commonplace or Uncommonly Cool?

When you ask people about office supplies they'll usually talk about pens, post-its, and staplers. Everybody has their own take on pens and what qualities they value most. Conversations on post-its, or adhesive notes if you prefer, usually center about the color, regular vs. accordion fold, and brand name vs. generic. Ask somebody about their stapler and you'll usually get a blank stare.

With the exception of people who have gone out of their way to find a red Swingline stapler or have an electric stapler most people just have whatever is in their desk. Not everybody has a need for a Commercial Grade Stapler all the time, but maybe it is time to appreciate staplers and give them their just deserts (not desserts, sorry).

I'm not too proud to say that the stapler I keep at work is nothing more than the lowly Swingline 545 Economy Model (technically it's a 545xx, but that's a story for another day). When it is time to buy staplers I'm still of the mind that you should go for an all metal stapler. It is priced competitively to similar plastic model, although it is less ergonomic.

Recently, a Tumblr blog was setup as Brand Spirit where 100 objects were spray painted white and photographed so that people could compare how easily certain objects were identified when they lack all form of identification.  They do have a stapler that they label as a prime form of the Swingline brand.  I'm not sold though. Swingline has been building their 747 model, the classic stapler so classic they actually call it the Swingline 747 Classic Stapler.

Look at the silhouette of the Brand Spirit Swingline and the 747 Swingline and tell me which is the most "classic." I'm no expert, but the actual, unpainted, Swingline feels like the prime example of 50s function over form.  The Brand Spirit Swingline has the sloping back-end that might as well be painted avocado green to me. This could be a case of reinventing a product so it appears older and more classic than it actually it, so feel free to leave a comment and prove me wrong.