colorful umbrellas floating in a blue sky
Sometimes you have to try to create your own reality. PHOTO: Adrianna Calvo

To say that 2016 has been weird is an understatement. To suggest that 2017 will be more of the same is obvious.

Whether you think of it as the upside-down or Bizarro World, it's become apparent to a lot of increasingly flummoxed inhabitants that we've entered a parallel universe.

There's no need to even watch reruns of Fringe anymore. We're living in a reality of unexplained phenomena.

Heck, even Pluto is depressed.

It's no wonder so many of us who are immune to enthusiasm now systematically delete email, texts and Slack messages that contain annoyingly cheery emojis and multiple exclamation points. We're just trying to conserve energy for the day's next disaster, folks.

Anyway, against this background of agita and angst and a foreboding sense of doom, it's wonderful beyond belief to stumble upon something akin to sunshine on a winter day in Pittsburgh: the manifestation of the impossible, something that makes you go "ah."

And we're not talking kittens here, although those momentarily do the trick for some of us.

Nope, today we're sharing three actual inspirational things that show there are still reasons to push through these new Dark Ages with hope and gusto.

Applause Please, for SugarCRM

How often do you deal with people, at work or at home, who choke every time you suggest they should say "I'm sorry"? It's frustrating. And draining.

So it was wonderfully refreshing to receive the following email today from SugarCRM, a Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of customer relationship management software, apologizing for a mistake.

  • Cómo se dice: Whoops, we sent you the wrong email?

  • As you may have noticed, we recently had a glitch that resulted in sending you an invitation to an event in Mexico. While we'd love for you to join, we're guessing that you probably aren't interested. Although, the weather forecast is looking pretty sweet.

  • All joking aside, please accept our apologies for the error! We'll do our best to make sure it doesn't happen again.

  • Sincerely,
  • SugarCRM

Oh SugarCRM! You made me smile. You reaffirmed my faith that people still have hearts and wit and humanity.

The next time your company sends the wrong email — and it will, sometime or another — follow the lead of SugarCRM.

CB Insights 'Is the Worst'

I wouldn't cross the street to meet a Hollywood celebrity, an athlete or a musician. Twenty years ago I consistently passed on multiple opportunities to meet Donald Trump because, well, Donald Trump.

And yet … last night, after a grueling day and only enough cash to buy a bottle for someone else at the liquor store, I shamelessly tweeted my love for the team at CB Insights, a tech market intelligence platform. 

Anand Sanwal, data connoisseur and CEO of the New York City-based company, is seriously my hero. Remember how you waited with longing and desire for a song to come on the radio before music on demand? (Or, for you millennials, you know how eagerly you wait for that Amazon package with your Very Important … low-carb protein powder?)

Sanwal makes me wait with the same anticipation for CB Insights daily email newsletter.

It's interesting. It's educational. It's funny. And it's honest.

Case in point, yesterday's email, with the subject line: a-holes: the CB Insights team.

Here's what it said, in part:

  • Up, up, down, down, alt right, alt right

  • Looks like one of our retargeting ads ended up on Breitbart (as pointed out by a subscriber).
    CB Insights ad

  • Before you get all agitated, we're no longer showing ads there (although an ad on Breitbart about disruptive threats seemed pretty on the money).

  • But I wanted to ask the VCs/founders on this list the following.

  • If you found an ad that was running on Breitbart (or pick any "controversial" site) was converting amazingly well for your business (let's say 10x better than any other ad you run), would you continue to run it? Please vote below.
  • Also, please don't email me saying we are (a) all that is wrong with liberal media or (b) that we're a-holes for advertising on Breitbart cuz I agree with you. We are the worst. (Emphasis added)

Finally, The White House

Sure some people are still struggling to master "cyber." But not the Obama administration's White House. Today the White House launched a new augmented reality app that enables kids of all ages to learn about and explore the White House.

It's a new way to experience 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and all you need is a smartphone and a dollar bill. Just download the app, point your smartphone camera at a dollar bill, and you’ll see an interactive, 3-D video of the White House pop up – narrated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download 1600 here. Or if you have an Android phone or Android tablet, you can get it here.

It's cool. OK, it's not that cool. Like I'm not going to tweet Earnest to tell him how much I love his team or anything. But kids (actual kids) will really get a kick out of it.

And there is this wonderful line in the narration:

  • "Since John Adams, every President has led the nation from here."

Wow. A home where the President lives full time in Washington, DC. I like that.

Now, go forth and conquer your reality. (But do share if you figure out how to return to the rational side.)