Thoughts, links, and essays from Peter Merholz
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Most of the Time
Oakland, CA

American history around the time of the Revolution, figuring out how to marry top-down task-based information architecture processes with bottom-up document-based ones, finding a good dentist in San Francisco Oakland
Designing the user experience (interaction design, information architecture, user research, etc.), cognitive science, ice cream, films and film theory, girls, commuter bicycling, coffee, travel, theoretical physics for laypeople, single malt scotch, fresh salmon nigiri, hanging out, comics formalism, applied complexity theory, Krispy Kreme donuts.

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[Editor's note: began as a site of self-published essays, a la Stating The Obvious. This evolved (or devolved) towards link lists and shorter thoughtpieces. These essays are getting a tad old, but have some good ideas.]
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July 31, 2002

The only thing that's surprising is how long it took me to get to reading it. Recently finished Herbert Simon's The Sciences of the Artificial. Any regular reader of will find lots of interest, for in this modest tome (8 essays, 200 pages), Simon touches on:cognitive psychology; artificial intelligence; memory; design practice; social and urban planning; complexity; self-organization; evolutionary models applied to damn near everything; and organizational dynamics. In some ways, it feels like the kind of book I'd write if I spent 50 years in academia studying whatever it was I wanted to study (which seems to have been Simon's path). From what I can tell, this is a "groundbreaking" work, which is harder to understand, since so many of Simon's ideas have permeated standard thought.

For further proof of how it was only a matter of time before I read this, there's this diagram depicting how Amazon links the book to other similar titles. (thanks bbj)

I've just started Linked: The New Science of Networks, which is getting much play on the blogs. It makes me wonder what Simon would have done had he spent time pursuing that topic.

Posted at 06:59 PM PST [1 comment]

July 29, 2002

Soon I'll be one of those folks who peers at the outside world through parted slats in the window blinds. Didn't leave the house today. Not once. It's kind of creeping me out, in retrospect. Good night.
Posted at 10:11 PM PST [4 comments]

Social Network Thoughtwander. So, the interpersonal relationship stuff I wrote about really hit home how much of this internet thing is about communication. Making contact. Keeping in touch. And then yesterday I had coffee with Kevin Fox, who until recently worked on the design of Yahoo! Messenger (though nothing you've seen yet... All still very much in development). And that got me thinking about the mobile phone buddy lists that Katelyn McKenna discussed, which show not only which of your friends is "at their phone," but also where they are. And all of this social connectivity seems ripe for social network analysis depictions of the kind Valdis creates. To the best of my knowledge, though, such diagrams are only used to assess the state of a situation, not as tools or interfaces for interacting with those people. But I think that such visualization could work to help me make my social network more manifest, and let me act on it.

I mean, I'd love it if I could dump my email address book into a social network software tool... I hate looking at my contacts in long lists. It would be great to be able to group them in that fashion... And also have them regroup themselves based on attributes of interest at the time (industry, region, etc.)

Is this one of those applications for the lazyweb? Considering the powerful desire we have to use these tools to connect with one another, and the fact much of this understanding of the connections we have is done through information-poor means such as lists or, usually, in your head, I would think that a tool that successfully demonstrated your connections to others, and their connections to others, and the status of those people (think of one of those social diagram programs, where next to every name, you'd know if they were on instant messenger, or had their cell phones turned on, or, where they were at that moment), could be quite popular, in that it would support your efforts in being connected.

Yes, there are boatloads of privacy issues that would need to be dealt with. Sigh. I tend to think that issues around "privacy" and "security" are scare tactics drummed up by The Media in order to increase sales.
Posted at 03:47 PM PST [15 comments]

July 28, 2002

You know, I've never had a milkshake. Which is weird, considering my passion for ice cream. But, see, I was raised on chocolate malts, made by my dad. (Well, not "raised on" in the sense of it being a primary source of nutrition...) We always had malt in the house. And Ovaltine. (Both of which would get sprinkled on the chocolate sundaes I made myself pretty much every night.)

For some reason, the notion of a "chocolate milkshake" is decidedly unthrilling. Very much a "why bother?" proposition. If they don't have malt, I simply don't order.

Oh, and a "chocolate malt" for me is not chocolate ice cream, milk, and malt. Uh-uh. Most chocolate ice cream is no good--too chalky. (Chalk-o-late ice cream! HA!) No, I make sure to order a "black and white", which is vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (and, when I make them at home, additional vanilla extract as well). The vanilla flavor is essential to the experience.

Anyway, this blathering was spurred by an article on "malteds" from the New York Times.
Posted at 09:26 PM PST [8 comments]

July 26, 2002

Interview with Internet Relationship Researcher Katelyn McKenna. In researching the effect of internet technologies on interpersonal relationships, I had the fortune of conducting an email interview with Prof. Katelyn McKenna. She's allowed me to post the exchange:


The dynamics of online relationships do differ strongly among the groups
you listed below:

> ... among friends or other platonic social groups?
> ... between lovers? in courtship?
> ... between coworkers? within organizations?
> ... between family members? both immediate family (in the same
> household)and extended family?

I'd suggest you talk with Leigh Thompson at Northwestern U in Illinois about the organizational aspects (and you may find useful her article that appeared in the same JSI issue as did mine).

> What has your research shown that others might consider surprising?

I think people tend to be most surprised by how common it is that relationships do form over the Internet, particularly as far as the romantic relationships go, and by the fact that many of these relationships are not "fly by night" but rather can turn into stable, lasting relationships that survive the transposition to the 'real world.'

> What trends do you see in how technology mediates relationships?

I think we are increasingly seeing advances in technologies that facilitate the formation and, especially, the maintaince of relationships --that strengthen the sense of connectivity to others. A good example would be the new cell phone features that are currently in use in Japan and that will soon be introduced in the U.S. These phones allow one to create a 'buddy list,' much as one can online, and inform the user not only of which of their buddies have their cellphones turned on (as well as whether they are currently engaged in actively using it) but they also provide that person's physical location (e.g., the street address where they currently are, provided that they are attached to their cell phone). Being able to see which friends and family members are available and where they are (and knowing that they can also see that you are available) can enhance one's sense of connectedness and closeness to them. Your support group is right there in front of your eyes if you need them for any reason.

[[peterme: Here's an article I found on this technology.]]

I think one of the most interesting things is the way in which people change the use of our various technologies to fit their own needs (the Internet was originally touted as 'the information super-highway' but people found it far more useful as a means for social interaction) and, if a technological advance is not fitting their needs they'll find a way around it. With the cell phone example above, for instance, a cottage industry has sprung up in Japan to circumvent just such detection-by-cell phone. Businessmen who want their employers to think that they are one place, while they are really somewhere else on company time, can go through websites to hire someone to wait with their cell phone at the place they are supposed to be, while they go elsewhere.

> What sense do you have around how new tools might affect relationships?

Advances that continue to allow individuals the choice of interacting anonymously and without physical cues in one?s initial interactions, will, I believe, remain popular. For instance, digital video cameras allow people to see one another as they interact and are inexpensively marketed. They have become popular in recent years, however, people tend to use them in their established relationships (i.e. with family and one's "real world" friends; with already-established Internet relationships). Only rarely do people turn on the "web-cam" in initial interactions with new online acquaintances. Beyond the Internet, future communication advances may well have different and no less powerful effects for self and for relationships, and what those effects will be will depend upon the interaction features (or combination of features) that they include.

> What affect, if any, do geography (whether its within the US, or
> internationally), gender, ethnicity, or household income have?

This question is really broad and each of these has multiple affects.

> And, to be kind of annoying in that reporter kind of way, What is
> the Future of Online Interpersonal Relationships?

I believe that they will become increasingly common and accepted as a normative way of interacting, meeting, and maintaining relationships with others. But if I could predict the future, I'd be a millionaire already :)

hope this helps,


Posted at 09:49 AM PST [2 comments]

July 25, 2002

The Internet and Interpersonal Relationships. One of my (too) many side projects is writing an essay on "e-relationships"--how technologies, particularly the internet, affect how people relate to one another. After years of sensationalist speculation about depression, cybersex, preying on teenagers, and the like, in the last couple of years, there's actually been some solid social science research in this area, and the findings were simple -- e-relationships are pretty much like any other relationship, only moreso. Which is a glib way of saying, that the technology doesn't have much of an effect, and what effect it does have seems to be to heighten existing tendencies--extraverts get more extraverted, introverts more introverted.

In my research, I stumbled across a bunch of resources... Here are a few which I liked most.

"The Social Net". This article from Science News might be the single best overview of what's currently known about e-relationships right now.

The HomeNet Project. Out of Carnegie-Mellon, this research progress probably has attracted the most notice, first for it's 1998 study which claimed heavy internet use lead to maladjusted social tendencies, and then it's 2002 study which was something of a retraction.

Computing for the People. This older Fast Company article actually doesn't suck.

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age. This First Monday article by peterme fave Bonnie Nardi, and her colleagues Steve Whittaker and Heinrich Schwarz, discusses how the issues of e-relationships at work.

Follow the Money -- Online Personals: Viagra for Content's Bottom Line?. How online personals is proving to be a profitable business for content providers. (This gets back to the whole, "it's communication, not content, that is king." This piece is interesting because it shows that while people won't pay for content on, say,, they'll pay for the ability to communicate with its readers. Suggesting an evolution of publications into community spaces.)

Pew's Internet and American Life Reports. There are many. Many are good.

Barry Wellman's publications. A researcher in social capital and social networks. Lots of good stuff here.

Of course, Clay has written about this. And, naturally, it's worth reading.

Posted at 07:28 AM PST [5 comments]

July 23, 2002

Catch me, I'm falling... So, Jill started a thread about characters in movies falling. And the interesting conclusion has been:

- if a woman falls, it's midway through the film, and she'll be rescued
- if a man falls, it's towards the end, and he'll die

Which is one of those subtle differences in the portrayal of the sexes that speaks quite a lot.
Posted at 07:25 AM PST [6 comments]

July 22, 2002

See "The Last Laugh" -- You Have No Excuse Not To Last night I viewed The Last Laugh (rent from GreenCine, buy from Amazon) , F.W. Murnau's 1924 masterwork of German Expressionist cinema, and a landmark in the technology, formalism, and storytelling of film.

Here's the entire plot: Due to onsetting frailty as a consequence of age, a man is removed from his work as a hotel doorman, his daughter gets married, and he ends up as a washroom attendant, sad and alone. (Well, there is a bizarre epilogue involving the man's improbable claiming of a massive inheritance, but the movie is really over before then.)

The film's technological stamp has largely to do with cinematographer Karl Freund's work with the "unchained camera," allowing camera movement (dollies, crane shots, etc.) at the time unparalleled. There's also the amazing exterior sets, both the street in front of hotel, and the courtyard where the man lives, which are in fact massive soundstages.

More importantly is how the technology allowed the progressing of cinematic language. By unchaining the camera, Murnau was able to further the Expressionistic qualities of making the internal external, particularly in the subjective shots when the man is drunk. Though old hat by now, such effects had never been seen before, and their development immensely increased the vocabulary with which filmmakers could speak.

But, the crowning achievement of all of this technology and formalism is how it serves the story. And, as the plot outline above demonstrated, what a simple story. A man's decline. Though only about one person (or perhaps because of it), the tale resonates with a universality utterly lacking in any contemporary work. Watching it, I thought of this comment by filmmaker and critic Eric Rohmer, posted at Bellona Times:
I believe more and more what I wrote in my last article, that is, that cinema has more to fear from its own clichés than from those of the other arts. Right now, I despise, I hate, cinephile madness, cinephile culture. In "Le Celluloid et le marbre" I said that it was very good to be a pure cinephile, to have no culture, to be cultivated only by the cinema. Unfortunately, it has happened: There now are people whose culture is limited to the world of film, who think only through film, and when they make films, their films contain beings who exist only through film, whether the reminiscence of old films or the people in the profession. The number of short films by novices who in one way or another show only filmmakers is terrifying! I think that there are other things in the world besides film and, conversely, that film feeds on things that exist outside it. I would even say that film is the art that can feed on itself the least. It is certainly less dangerous for the other arts.

Perhaps it's inevitable due to the overwhelming success of the medium of film. But it's sad, because the kind of honesty, simplicity, and creativity that drove great filmmakers like Murnau seems all but gone. Films rarely feel like they have any *relevance* whatsoever to their audiences; instead, they're simply spectacles designed to while away a couple of hours.

Anyway, screen "The Last Laugh," and let me know what you think of it. It's not perfect (Emil Jannings' "expressionistic" acting tends towards a hamminess that would shame Al Pacino), but it *is* essential.

Other articles on "The Last Laugh"
Notes from The Criterion Collection
"Expressionism and Reflection in Murnau's 'The Last Laugh'"
Good overview of the film
Reviews of "The Last Laugh" and "Faust" on DVD
Posted at 12:43 PM PST [0 comments]

July 21, 2002

Get "Get ROI From Design". I don't know if it's through some agreement, or just a mistake, but the usually very expensive Forrester Report "Get ROI From Design" is available for free download here. Get it while supplies last!
Posted at 09:18 PM PST [4 comments]

July 19, 2002

Like That Scene in "The Wrong Trousers". For an article I'm working on, I just tapped out this turn of phrase:

Typically, such problems are addressed by putting in place a series of small projects; unfortunately this approach is something like madly laying train tracks ahead of a rushing railroad car, concerned more with keeping the train moving rather than paying attention to where it’s going--which is often right off a cliff.

Posted at 03:40 PM PST [4 comments]

July 18, 2002

Demonstrating the Value of Design. Last weekend, I attended the 5th Advance for Design Summit. The goal of the Advance is to evolve the role and definition of design, particularly "experience design", which, I'm told, is the kind of design I practice. Prior summits necessarily suffered from omphaloskepsis--we looked within our community, attempting to lay a foundation of roles and responsibilities that we could generally agree on.

In this 5th Advance, this community turned an important corner, emphasizing on how we connect with people in other disciplines, particularly business. Thanks to this looking outward, I found the 5th Advance a far less frustrating experience. I'm not going to detail what happened; Erin Malone has done a great job of that already.

One of the more successful elements of this year's summit were the breakout sessions, where small groups (3-10 people) were each assigned a topic to mull over, and then distill their discussion with the group. I was involved in the discussion of "ROI and design," wherein we tried to hash out that sticky wicket about the *value* that experience design brings, and how to communicate that value with business folks.

There were three particular threads in our discussion that I found particularly valuable. They were attempts (though we didn't state it as such in the meeting) to develop taxonomies that spell out what designers have to offer. The individual lists were illuminating, and it turns out they dovetail in some interesting ways.

The first list we came up with was around the question, "What are the *values* we are providing?" (Please excuse the roughness of the verbiage... this was my attempt at capturing what was being said, real-time)

Satisfied Users
  • Accuracy
  • Efficiency
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Better informed employees
  • Reduced findability costs
  • Improves productivity
  • Goal Accomplishment
Saving Costs
  • External
    • Market research tools
    • Word of mouth!
    • Improved customer service
    • Competitive differentation
    • Improved retention
    • Reduced training cost
  • Internal
    • Risk management
    • No need to redesign over and over again
    • Making solid requirements
    • Reduced maintenance costs
    • Operational efficiencies
    • Reduced documentation
    • Easier to implement
    • Fewer technical problems
    • Makes IT investment go further
    • Scalability
    • Increased sales, reduced sales cycle
  • Increasing Revenue
    • Repeat buyers
  • Create a Smarter Company
    • Getting different parts of the org to talk to each other (communication)
    • corporate politics
    • Better knowledge for decision making
    • Building awareness
    • Knowledge management and decision support
  • Misc
    • Getting the client promoted (client’s growth)
    • (for consultants: being a disinterested third party)
    • Corporate Image

Now, while this isn't exhaustive (it's just the result of a brainstorm), what struck me is that the single longest section is about how we can save costs, and, particularly, internal costs. When we think of design, we tend to focus on the effect of the artifact on its users; however, this list suggests our single greatest area of value is in how our processes and products can streamline work.

Another intriguing list was an attempt to classify the attributes which design bestows:

  • Desirable
  • Memorable
  • Approachable
  • Trustworthy
  • Useful
  • Usable
  • Findable
  • Consistent
  • Quick
  • Clear/Understandable
  • Efficient
  • Achievable
  • Accurate

We ended up with the following brief list of benefits we can provide. The idea here was to frame this in terms of value of the business--When someone asks, "What can you do for me?" (Yes, this is similar to the earlier "values" list...)

When talking the CFO/"Business Guy"
  • Reduced construction costs/risk
  • Reduced operational costs/risk
  • More revenue
  • Corporate/Goal Accomplishment
When talking to the head of Marketing
  • Brand equity
  • Satisfied users
When talking to the COO or CIO
  • Internal knowledge
  • Internal productivity
(I don't know why operational costs weren't placed under the COO. I guess the word "cost" encouraged placement under "CFO").

I think that it would be of great value to the community of "experience designers" (or whatever) to seriously flesh out this list. And, in fact, such an activity was given high priority by the conference's steering committee as we move forward.

One of the ways it was considered using this list was to frame sentences that are meaningful to folks in business, by saying, "We can provide through by creating designs that are ." Something like, "We can provide REDUCED OPERATIONAL COSTS by REDUCING THE SALES CYCLE through designs that are EFFICIENT." Something like that. (This all still needs to get worked out).

Anyway, I also think it's the start of a cheat sheet for folks out there who are trying to convince others of the worth of what they do. It's always been one of those things where we have a gut feeling that our work is valuable, so of course you should pay us. But as the economy increasingly demands results, being able to frame your efforts with some of the language above might prove helpful.
Posted at 06:30 PM PST [8 comments]

July 17, 2002

A DVD Rental Service for Cineastes. A couple days ago, GreenCine launched. Most obviously, it's a competitor to Netflix. What it lacks in catalog breadth, it more than makes up for in two key ways: 1) A focus on classic, independent, and other more "arthouse" cinema; and 2) a strong community bent, filled with lists, discussion boards, reviews, and the like. One thing that won me over--I was able to find all of my top 11 films in their catalog, something I couldn't do at Netflix (which doesn't have THE LAST LAUGH). Oh, and number 3: as their About page shows, the strongly connected to the SF Bay Area film community. You can feel good about spending your money here!
Posted at 06:16 PM PST [7 comments]

July 16, 2002

The BJMe Report. My dad's done a good job of reporting on our Route 66 adventures. He recently wrote about our last day of the trip, specifically heading from Kingman, AZ into California. Good pictures and maps included.

I also suggest reading his 7/15/02 review of MINORITY REPORT. He has a way of cutting to the chase. Or the cheese, as it might be.
Posted at 03:01 PM PST [1 comment]

July 15, 2002

Good eats in Vegas. Just spent a long weekend in Vegas. I'll write about it more later, but wanted to let y'all now that I've found my way to happy dining in Sin City -- The Bellagio's Buffet. $25-$31 (depending on the night) means it's not cheap, but the selections are very good--for the price, you're guaranteed to actually enjoy the food you're eating, instead of scarfing it down for the sake of sustenance. And... Kobe beef! Happy massaged cows in all their rich buttery goodness! All you can eat! Where else can you say that?
Posted at 09:26 PM PST [5 comments]

July 11, 2002

Summer in the Cinema. A couple days ago I saw SUNSHINE STATE, and good Lord if that wasn't a breath of fresh air in what has proven for me to be a stale cinematic season. Clocking in at 152 minutes, you never feel that the movie is too long or dragging on--it's chock full of vignettes, soliloquies, and interplay that keeps it quite lively. Great acting and good dialogue go a long way--there's not much plot here, but it doesn't really matter. Sayles is great at capturing characters in transitional moments of their lives, and again and again we watch as people try to let go from a burdensome past and move on.

I was particular pleased with this flick after having seen MINORITY REPORT, THE BOURNE IDENTITY, and INSOMNIA, each of which felt worn out shortly after FADE IN:. They're all chase movies, which might be part of the problem -- the plot, such as it is, moves forward until whatever foregone conclusion (bad guy dies, good guy goes free) occurs. My problem isn't with chase films, though (a genre I'm actually a sucker for). It's not with formulaic plots, either--they're the bread and butter of Hollywood. It's with the lack of deftness in the execution, such that when you watch these films, you feel like you're on a ride at an amusement park, inexorably lurching forward from point to point. There's no subtlety, no story or characterization offered to provide a meaningful narrative to the chase... Just motion from point A to B to C etc etc.

Posted at 06:54 AM PST [6 comments]

July 10, 2002

Leaving a trail of dead dot coms in its wake... So, appropos of a friend's relocation, I thought I'd click to Maxi Magazine, a webzine she used to write. It's pretty much moribund. On the homepage is a link to e-postcards, and I love e-postcards. So I clicked it.

That took me to this no-longer-existing page, which redirected me to ChickClick's homepage, which is a notice of its demise. I clicked on the link to "". Which immediately redirected me to

Maybe it's just me who finds this funny.

Posted at 02:36 PM PST [1 comment]

July 8, 2002

Talking to "users"? Read this. I'm not saying this just because it's my company. I'm really quite a fan of Mike Kuniavsky's tips on asking questions for a "nondirected interview." They're clear, understandable, and you can use this guidance immediately in your work. Not hand-wavey like the stuff I write.

I also dig the jacket he wears in his photo.
Posted at 10:21 PM PST [5 comments]

July 7, 2002

Thoughts on Design with a Capital D. A few weekends ago I attended a retreat for UC
Berkeley's new Berkeley Institute of Design and their Human-Centered Computing Group. (The BID site is currently down, so here's an article explaining
what's what

I'm interested in BID for a number of reasons. Most obviously, its attempt to provide a home for the research and practice of Design with a capital D definitely resonates. Also, I live about 5 miles south of campus. Particularly, though, I'm curious as to how Cal will deal with a program dedicated to making things. See, I went to Cal (B.A., anthropology), and was often frustrated by the university's promotion of theory over practice. A school of design, by necessity, requires practice, and I suspect there's a bit of an uphill battle to get the rest of the institution to buy in.

The retreat itself was pretty interesting. I finally met "interaction design guru" Alan Cooper, who was extremely friendly and convivial. I got to heckle world-renowned interface designer Aaron Marcus (by encouraging dilletantism... hey, it's worked for me!). I read a bunch of student posters presenting various projects at the Group for User Interface Research. Most interesting to me were The Designers' Outpost, a tool that uses normal Post-It Notes to interact with the computer; and DENIM, a web-site prototyping tool that looks like it ought to support the way I work.

Initially, John Canny, the main force behind BID, put forth that the idea for BID was to exist at an intersection of three disciplines:

bid_three_circles (5k image)

Though purposefully chosen to represent the departments that will be funding BID, it also was a decent attempt at putting a finger on what's going on here. Simplistically: architecture is concerned with people and how they interact with their environment; engineering with the physical construction of things that people interact with; and information technology can imbue and extend these interactions with software.

A discussion arose around these three circles, because it was felt that a key component was lacking. These circles are concerned with the act of designing the product. But, a key element of product design, often the most difficult (probably because it's formally overlooked), is communicating the value and functionality of the product to others. Designers don't simply take requirements and turn them into products. They must make it clear to others what they are doing and why they are doing it, whether its to materials engineers or investors or marketers or whomever. So, the circles were thusly amended:

bid_four_circles (7k image)

Venn diagrams always leave me feel wanting. And what was lacking here was that it still didn't capture the complete picture. Sure, these four disciplines need to be integrated as we think about the future of design. But we can't expect every designer to be an expert in each. So, what do we do? Well, it got me thinking that we need to break these down further into constituent "core" practices for design. These practices would be the loam from which design grows. Here's my initial list, in no order:

- Visual Design
- Computer Science
- Materials science/engineering
- Social science
- Writing

Again, not that people need to be experts in each, but they must be well-read in each in order to be optimally effective as designers. They must be effective communicators, of anything from specs to value propositions -- thus visual design and writing. They must understand the basics of computer science, of programming, of databases, of interactivity. They must understand the materials with which they are working (which can be a very abstract concept when dealing with purely screen-based software design). And they must be aware of methods for understanding humans, how to suss out their needs and desires, and the basics of cognitive science, perception, attention, information processing.

Anyway. Something to think about. I'd love to hear from "the community" on thoughts like these, other necessary disciplines, other ways of presenting the four circles (I hate that the overlap is so teeny... I tried other visualizations, like a table with each discipline being a "leg", and the table-top being "Design", but, well, it looked terrible).

Posted at 07:24 PM PST [10 comments]

July 3, 2002

Care about a Caravan.

caravan (19k image)

On the trip from Oakland to Chicago to Los Angeles that dad and I took, we motored America's highways in the comfort of this Dodge Caravan. The initial plan was to take dad's Isuzu Trooper, but a fender bender necessitated car rental. Dad had actually requested a Dodge Stratus, but at the rental counter, his wit and charm got him upgraded to the Caravan.

When he told me of the car we were going to be living in for three weeks, my first thought was, "A minivan? Really?" I'd never seen myself as a soccer mom.

But, after three weeks in this vehicle, I couldn't imagine a better machine for such travels. It had real power, was very comfortable, decked out with some useful bells and whistles, plenty of room for all of our stuff (we would have been drowning in our luggage if we had stuck with the Stratus), and carted 6 of us around Chicago with ease.

bug_death_2 (16k image)

It also did a remarkable job of making mincemeat out of our nation's flying insects.

Posted at 09:36 AM PST [2 comments]

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