One word came to mind when I heard bike repair vending machine; “Yessss!”  Bike Fixation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sells you parts from a vending machine in order to fix your bike problem, then provides you with the space and tools to successfully repair the problem. As FastCompany put it, brilliant!

Scenario: You are riding your bike along the road, about 20 miles from home. You get a flat tire. You pull off to change it when you realize, you forgot to replace the tire tube from your last blow-out!   Home is about 20 miles away, the closet bike shop is 30 miles away, both too far to walk to. No one is answering your calls to be picked up. But there is Bike Fixation just around the corner! At Bike Fixation you buy a new tube from the vending machine and replace it on the spot, using their tools and stand after you find out your tool set is rusted and won’t open.

This type of place is especially great for the casual ride who doesn’t bother bringing tools or extra tubes with them. Right now only one of these bike vending machines is available in the world, it is in the bike-friendliest city in America, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Rightly so, expect these to be popping up in only bike-friendly cities like, Portland, Boulder, Seattle, and New York, to name a few, once this company takes off! It’s the vending machine of the future, and I like what I see.  I would love to put one in St. Louis, but unfortunately, I don’t know of a convenient spot to put it…maybe in Forest park?

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Gillette is a world leader of men’s grooming products and has become a forerunner in sports marketing initiatives.  Their company targets young men and men that want to feel young, and what better way to reach this demographic than with sports figures.

Back in 1953, they contracted Marty Marion, the then White Sox Manager to promote Gillette Razors. The message, “when you look good, you feel good.”:

Today, in 2011, Gillette has stayed true and continues to use their proven sponsorship with athletes.

They continue this strategy even after their “Gillette Champions” campaign, which featured three huge sports stars: Roger Federer, Thierry Henry, Tiger Woods (A year later Derek Jeter was signed to this team) experienced a backlash. This is the risk one takes when using celebrities and athletes as sponsors. In this backlash, Tiger Woods made headline news after crashing his car following an argument with his wife. Thierry Henry had an undetected handball in a huge soccer game that caused boycotts of the Gillette brand. And Federer was knocked out of the ATP World Tour semi-final by sixth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko.  Marketers refer to these situations as the “curse of Gillette.” In this case, not all publicity was good publicity.

Jeter is the only real ‘Champion’ Gillette has left and they continue to use him. Jeter recently appeared in their innovative billboard, which was repainted daily to show the three stages of men’s grooming: stubble, shave prep, and clean-shaven. In conjunction with Jeter’s Champion campaign, they also launched “Gillette Young Guns.”  This campaign highlights up-and-coming stars, like Carlos Gonzalez from the Colorado Rockies and Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Gillette has seen the perils of sports marketing and they have stayed true to their platform – athletes as sponsors. They also have stayed true to their messages: “When you look good, you feel good, and you perform at your best,” also, “Gillette keeps you looking young and fresh.” By becoming leaders in the sports marketing initiative, Gillette has been able to stay the leader in men’s grooming.  A winning combination.

Just a few hours after writing my last post, I experienced something first hand that bigger than us: death.  Even when you expected it, no one really ever expects death; it feels like a sudden rush of cold air in your lungs or a knife through your chest – there is no getting around these feelings.  In all this pain, you have to remember. Remember the life of the person, remember all the good times, remember how they made you who you are today, and remember what they have taught you.

My grandfather was a great athlete. In the wake of his death, there have been many articles praising his career in baseball. It is well deserved; he spent many years playing, managing and watching the sport.  And best of all, he loved the game as much as the game loved him.  I have to remember what he taught me about the game: how to throw a curve ball, how to stay in front of the ball, and how to clear the field of rocks to reduce your errors. He taught me a lot about the game and I still adhere to it this day, but what he taught me about life and love is what I take to heart.

My grandfather’s life is the epitome of love and family.  He and my grandmother had the kind of love you hear in fairy tales; it was an epic love. They fell in love when my grandmother was 13 and this love endured for the rest of their lives – and I’m sure, beyond. After being married for 74 years, I swear he looked at my grandma like he was seeing his love for the first time.  In letters he wrote while on the road, he wrote praises of his wife, sentiments of love, and longings to be reunited with his family.

Once, I asked my grandfather to sign his name on a baseball for me, he signed it, G-daddy. Yes, he was a great ball player, but first and foremost he was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and a friend. He would do anything for his family. When his girls were young, he would sit there while they painted his nails and curled his hair. Like I said, he would do anything just to be with them and make them happy. This goes for any of my family, he would do anything and everything.   His family meant the world to him and he meant the world to us.

His love spread not only throughout our family, but also into the lives of everyone he met.  My grandfather and grandmother, have taught me a lot of things, but above all, they taught me the most important things in life are love and family.  These are two things, that I for one, will never take for granted. I am very blessed to have him in my life for so many years.

R.I.P. G-daddy. I will love you forever.