Sweet Tomatoes And Other Buffets Depress Me Too

I’m generally a very happy person these days, but the quality and quantity of food we eat does make me sick at times.

When I wrote a few weeks ago about Why Trader Joe’s Depresses Me, I also had another depressing food experience in mind. We recently visited the Fort Worth location of Sweet Tomatoes, an all-you-can-eat soup, salad and bakery place that we had visited at other locations before.

The food when we visited for an early dinner a few weeks ago was dried out, stuck to its serving utensils, overflowing from its containers and generally looking terrible from lack of care and attention. But never mind that the quality and presentation at this location was inferior to the others we had visited, it was the experience in general that bothered me.

We once frequently visited buffets and other all-you-can-eat restaurants, and I often ate way too much. While I’m sure Sweet Tomatoes — which focuses on salad and soup and offers no entrees and few meat choices — would object to be lumped in with other buffets, it’s still an accurate term for this chain that serves big bowls of sloppiness rather than carefully prepared portions of whole foods.

We had visited looking a rare treat, the kind of high-end experience we had found at the chain before. What I got was a stomach ache and strong sense that even being in the place was a betrayal of my commitment to simple living.

Although few people were in the restaurant when we visited, the ones who dined near us reminded me of the overweight, undereducated people I remember from my years of buffet dining.

I was upset about the high price (although I didn’t pay), upset about the low quality, upset about the old memories and especially upset that visiting had been my idea. My stomach felt like I remembered it used to feel every day, my brain seemed less sharp and my head ached.

I was overfed on low-quality food, and I was depressed.

As I said in my post a few weeks ago, we deserve better than what we’re getting. We deserve good food made by people who care, and that means we deserve food prepared in our homes by hands that serve us with care and compassion.

This post isn’t about Sweet Tomatoes or any other buffet chain. It’s about how sad our way of dealing with food makes me.

I won’t be visiting Sweet Tomatoes again, so I unsubscribed from the company’s email list and unliked its Facebook page.

That company is no longer part of my life, and I’m a better person because I’ve moved on.

Recycled Books In Denton, Texas Hangs On, But…

I was about to say that bookstores around here are dropping like flies, but I don’t see many flies anymore — and there aren’t many bookstores left to drop in the Dallas /Fort Worth area.

Surely the largest and most well-known of the remaining independent bookstores in Texas is Recycled Books, housed in a large light purple semi-historic building on the courthouse square in Denton, Texas. Despite the failure of many independent bookstores in recent years, it hangs on.

But why? I can’t imagine that the store could be profitable, and it’s hard to see how the dilapidated building can hold together under the weight of all those books for much longer.

I visited Recycled Books on September 4 for the first time in at least a year. Or maybe it’s been a couple of years since I stepped through that old glass door. Time flies when you’re out in the fresh air rather than in a stale old bookstore.

A few things have changed in the multi-floor, multi-room space since I was there last, but the general vibe is still the same: old-fashioned, quaint, tired and somehow still a bit inspiring.

Since I made my living selling books online for several years and still move a few volumes when I can find some worth selling, bookstores have a special place in my heart. I used to spend lots of time in Half Price Books locations around the state, and I watched as they changed from quaint and fun to corporate-chic and soulless. That chain is based here in the Metroplex and has been a part of my life for at least two decades, but it’s declining as a place of interest for me.

I can see that Recycled Books is declining too. The first thing that

caught my attention was the stench when I walked in the front door. It used to smell old and used, but now it smells moldy, damp and unsanitary.

As I looked around the place, I noticed that a particularly nice little room at the back of the shop with a window that looked out over the town had been closed off. Was the weight of the books too much for it? Did the leaky roof finally cave in? Did the owners need the space for something else? I didn’t ask, but it was a disappointment to see a part of the store unavailable.

In the huge basement, the stench was unbearable. I managed only a brief walk through this subterranean dump ground before I had to move back into the relatively cleaner air upstairs. While I was down there, however, I noticed that many metal shelves had been added since I was down there last, making it more difficult to navigate and a bit less interesting to explore. Is the store still selling books or has it turned to only collecting them?

I also noticed that some doorways seems to sag or twist more than when I last visited, and some floors squeaked in new places and slanted more than I remember. I concluded that the old girl isn’t just showing her age, she’s falling down. I wondered if it was even safe to be in there anymore. What will have to happen before the building is condemned?

Still, though, the dedication of the store’s owners and the idea of an archive for antiquated printed information is a bit inspiring. Like libraries, bookstores aren’t really necessary anymore, but I admire those who maintain them against the odds.

I’m inspired by people who take deliberate and definite actions guided by their souls rather than by common sense. The willingness of some people to go against common sense is responsible for some of the world’s most remarkable — if ultimately pointless — creations.

Effective Complaining, Creative Complaining: The Whole Jar Of Mushrooms

Complaining to a company about a substandard product or an unpleasant situation can be very effective. In many cases, the company will more than make up for its lapses with coupons, discounts, free items and many other kinds of compensation.

I don’t complain to a company or organization often, but when I do, I almost always get results. The purpose of this post is to tell you an interesting story about creative complaining that someone told me, but first let me tell you how effective my own complaining has been.

Effective Complaining

Off the top of my head, I can think of several situations about which I complained and for which I received compensation. I’ll tell you about three of them.

When I complained by email to a local museum a couple of months ago that I was turned away from viewing their galleries for free because the desk clerk didn’t know the museum was supposed to be free at that time, I received a free lunch, free admission to the galleries and free admission to one of their events — for all three of us who were turned away.

When I complained several years ago to a company that their breakfast cookies weren’t available at a local store as their website said they were, the company sent me a sampler box containing several varieties of their cookies. (And because I liked some of them, I ordered from the company several times.)

Perhaps even longer ago I complained to the corporate office of a fast-food restaurant in Plano because I received a chicken sandwich with only half a piece of chicken in it. The company was switching to smaller pieces for its sandwiches, and the manager at that location thought cutting down some of the old ones was a good way to use them up. I got a gift card for my trouble, and I like to th

ink the manager got a blemish on his record for being so cheap.

There have been others, but I neither want to brag about how much I complain nor embarrass or promote the companies that have been most receptive to my complaints.

Watch Out For A Whole Jar Of Mushrooms

Being creative with the way you complain can increase effectiveness.

A postal clerk I used to see frequently told me about a snail-mail letter — she was a postal clerk, after all — that she sent to a major maker of spaghetti sauce.

I can’t remember her exact wording, of course, but I remember enough to give you a good idea of what she said to them. Here’s my re-creation of the letter she sent the company:

Dear sirs:

I’m not writing to complain, but I wanted to let you know to expect a complaint from another customer soon.

I bought a jar of your spaghetti sauce with mushrooms last week and at first thought it contained no mushrooms. After I dumped it into a bowl and went through it, I found that it did, in fact, contain two mushroom slices.

There were so many mushrooms missing from my jar that I want you to be watching for a complaint from a customer who got a whole jar of mushrooms. Someone must have gotten mine.

Sincerely…

Within a couple of weeks, she had an envelope full of high-value coupons from the company and an apology.

She was creative, and it was effective.

I’m rarely creative with my complaining, but I’m always firm and direct. That’s effective too.

Why Trader Joe’s Depresses Me

Trader Joe’s depressed me because it’s about as good as it gets. And I think we humans deserve better than frozen turkey burgers, fried orange chicken pieces and mixed nuts with chunks of peanut brittle in them.

For the best combination of quality and value, I’m convinced that Trader Joe’s, a chain of cut-price gourmet grocery stores, is the best choice in areas where the company has stores. Products have no preservatives, colorings or other icky things and are available at lower prices than in high-end grocers.

But the company specializes in frozen ready-made meals that require little or no cooking.

Actually, it’s the chef’s case at Central Market in Fort Worth that first got me thinking about the miserable state of the food most people eat and its uncertain origins. Central Market is an upscale grocery store that prides itself on a large deli where people can buy cold foods designed to be warmed up in a microwave. Whole Foods Market offers something similar in its stores. Like Central Market, Whole Foods is praised for the quality of its fresh-made deli offerings.

Trader Joe’s, Central Market and Whole Foods all depress me a bit, however. I’ve tried frozen and prepared products from all three stores, and I’ve been disappointed by most of them. I find that I’m most satisfied by food when I cook it myself because I know that it was prepared to my standards and tastes.

The frozen products I’ve found at Trader Joe’s are, in fact, superior to similar products I’ve found at my favorite grocery store, Aldi. And there’s nothing wrong with the potato salad or fresh sandwiches at Central Market either.

But surely we deserve better than that. Don’t we all deserve freshly made foods prepared with love by our own hands or the hands of people we know? Don’t we deserve fruits that haven’t been processed by professional canning companies and veggies that aren’t pre-trimmed and vacuumed-packed?

Isn’t it time to turn our backs on prepackaged, pre-made and flash-frozen?

You see, it’s precisely because Trader Joe’s, Central Market and Whole Foods are so well regarded that I wonder how many of us are eating well. I know I struggle with this every time I purchase something that disappoints me.

When I sample an item at an upscale deli counter known for its spectacular quality and find it uninspiring, unappealing or even unpleasant, one thought runs through my head immediately: This is as good as it gets. There may be no better prepared food on the planet, and it’s only fair.

We deserve better than this — better than bland and tasteless food provided to us in biodegradable plastic-like containers or cardboard freezer-proof boxes. We deserve food that’s actually been in a real skillet, pan or mixing bowl.

As I stand alongside aging executives in tailored suits and young mothers dragging along small children, I see what they get from these cases and freezer cabinets and feel a bit depressed.

I’ve often had what they’re having. It’s the best in the world, experts say, and I don’t think it’s very good.

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Downtown Fort Worth And Sundance Square Are Sad Now, But Can They Recover?

No one disputes that the new development along West 7th St. in Fort Worth has stolen something from downtown Fort Worth and its Sundance Square development. But can the city’s central business district become a tourist destination and hangout for locals again?

Sure it can, but many, many things will have to change first. Downtown Fort Worth is a sad place to visit now, and that will be difficult for developers to overcome.

When I worked at RadioShack’s corporate headquarters in the late 1990s, Sundance Square was booming. My employer was even in on the act with its ill-devised and ill-fated Fort Worth Outlet Square mall. (Developing a shopping center with the idea of beautifying your corporate headquarters instead of attracting customers and filling underserved niches was a bad idea.)

Then, two movie theaters gave people a reason to come downtown. A thriving Barnes and Noble bookstore gave them something to do if they finished dinner 30 minutes before their movie, play or concert started. And a number of eclectic shops made wandering the streets an enjoyable part of every evening downtown.

Slowly, things began to erode. Even before ground was broken on the new 7th St. development, Sundance Square started to lose its luster. The rest of downtown never really had much luster to lose.

The destructive tornado that hit downtown in 2000 did plenty of damage, but the area recovered from that. It didn’t last long, however.

One of the movie theaters closed to become some kind of conference center. Iconic hamburger joint Billy Miner’s closed, but you couldn’t really blame the owner for wanting to retire. Other established restaurants came and went, and new restaurants went before anyone knew they had come.

The changes at the Barnes and Noble are among the saddest for me. I’ve spent many hours — in 15 or 20 minute chunks — wandering, sitting and sipping in that bookstore, but most of the furniture has been removed now. The number of books has been dramatically reduced as well. The upstairs area above the entrance was once a great place to overlook the happenings at the restaurant 8.0. With no furniture, the windows have lost their appeal. Never mind that 8.0 is gone.

And what were the owners of 8.0 thinking when they put that massive and ugly cover over their well-regarded patio? Now, the heat stays in, and young customers of the new Flying Saucer will never know how beautiful that big patio was before that monstrous plastic thing covered it up.

At least one supposedly positive sign for downtown Fort Worth turned out to be a flop. Oliver’s Fine Foods promised downtown the grocery store it never had but delivered yet another sandwich shop instead. My review of Oliver’s a few months ago expressed my disappointment, and things had not improved on a recent visit. It may be a successful sandwich shop at lunch, but rotten lettuce and single celeries don’t make for a great grocery store.

I attended two nights of the Colonial golf tournament after-party in Sundance Square recently, but few others joined me. The concerts were great, but the few vendors combined with the band members sometimes outnumbered the audience of paying beer drinkers. A walk around downtown both nights helped me see that there was no one downtown from which the party could draw.

The cartooned construction walls signal another chance at revival for Sundance Square, but a new plaza and some new buildings won’t necessarily bring back the energy the area once had — or the people, who will have probably found a good place to park on West 7th by then.

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How Grapes Call Into Question Life’s Unchanging Certainties

I like grapes.

What kind of a first sentence for a blog post is that? No search engine optimization techniques have been applied, and it doesn’t offer any lessons or advice to you that you can use to make your life better.

But I like grapes, and that’s an important statement about my life. A couple of years ago, I didn’t like grapes.

Things change.

Lives evolve.

Continued exposure creates awareness, acceptance and eventually celebration.

Important lessons about life emerge from the simple fact that once I didn’t like grapes, and now I do.

Most weeks, we stop by Central Market in Fort Worth, a high-end grocery store that balances hard-to-find and boutique grocery items with a nearly complete line of regular groceries. Many weeks during the warmer months, we take advantage of their free weekend concerts. In fact, we were once regulars at these events, so we were there a lot.

Sample of amazing food are always available, and grapes are usually among them. I started slowly at first, trying grapes only occasionally. I’ve also tried oranges, freshly made guacamole and salad with cranberries served alongside some salmon. I still don’t like oranges, and I’m starting to like guacamole. Cranberries don’t belong in salad, as it turns out, but salmon belongs on my plate.

At first, the grapes all seemed sour and unappealing to me. Squishy on the inside and chewy on the outside? Is that how they seem to everyone else? Why would anyone eat one of these?

But I kept trying them. I began to notice that the red ones were sweeter than the white ones. And the purple ones have more flavor. And some grapes are simply better than others.

Through repeated exposure to a variety of grape experiences, I began to realize that I actually like some of them. I don’t like bad grapes, but I like good ones. My tolerance for the mediocre ones has even increased.

A few months ago, I bought some grapes. That was a first for me.

What are the lessons from my long-term exposure to grapes? I see lots of them, and among them are these:

  • On a simple and direct level, people’s tastes change.
  • On a wider level, people’s preferences and opinions change.
  • Exposure reduces negative opinions, and that can lead to acceptance and perhaps even celebration.
  • Opposition can be based on sour grapes — a bad initial experience. But it can be overcome.

Because I take weekly walks through a high-end grocery store, I’ve learned that I like grapes, guacamole, salmon and a variety of strange salad dressings, ice cream flavors, breads and deli meats.

Learning about my taste for exotic or at least unfamiliar foods is a really big thing in my life.

It means that life’s unchanging certainties aren’t really set in stone at all. Exposure, though, is one of the keys to acceptance.

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Remember When Sidewalk.com Was Microsoft Sidewalk? It Meant $1,500 To Me

Do you remember a website from some years ago called Microsoft Sidewalk? It was located at sidewalk.com and aimed at competing with local newsweeklies. The site hoped to gain a foothold in the local search market, providing details about local events in cities around the United States.

Microsoft acquired the name in 1996, and by all accounts the company had high hopes for the success of the project.

I’m just wonder if you remember it because it meant a lot to me. In fact it meant $1,500 to me. Here’s the thing though: None of my work ever appeared on the site.

My brief association with Microsoft Sidewalk worked out fine for me, however, because it gave me a reason to snoop around quite a few libraries, movie theatres and other locations around Fort Worth. And they paid me the $1,500 despite never using my work.

How did I get involved?

The woman who was in charge of assigning Fort Worth community venue blurbs lived in Dallas, and she saw some of my work in The Texas Triangle, a now-defunct gay and lesbian newspaper founded by the late Kay Longcope. (Kay was important to me because she gave me my first freelance writing gig, then she and her editors as well as the man who bought the paper from her all continued to use my work for years.)

Since I had a website even then, the editor for Microsoft Sidewalk looked me up, contacted me and asked me to cover some things for her. She actually wanted me to cover some gay bars, I think, but I don’t go to bars, so I turned those assignments down. Instead, I took all the miscellaneous, boring locations around town that no one else wanted to bother with.

Microsoft was offering more money per piece for these quick blurbs than I was getting for thoroughly researched journalistic pieces at the time. In fact, for making several stops around a town I love exploring anyway, I thought $1,500 was a good deal.

I gladly accepted the offer, wrote the pieces, got my check and then saw the announcement that Microsoft Sidewalk was being sold to Citysearch. The 1999 sale of the project meant the site was completely redeveloped and my content never saw the light of day.

Oh well.

I can’t remember what I wrote about any of the places I reviewed, but I can’t imagine that I said anything very stimulating about the little library across the street from the old Seminary South mall or the dollar move theater on Granbury Road where a church now holds its services.

I got my $1,500 though, and I wish I could get some gigs like that again. It’s fun to get paid for exploring.

By the way, if you stop by sidewalk.com today, you’ll find something there. It’s not my content, and its not anything Citysearch put there either. The site has remained mostly dormant for a decade or so, and the content that’s there now isn’t likely to get anyone’s attention.

How much, I wonder, is the current owner is paying for interesting content about uninteresting places?

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Political Vandalism At The Bookstore

Since visiting used bookstores is part of one of my job, I don’t like to be bothered, interrupted or detained when I’m at a bookstore. And I certainly don’t like a middle-aged woman stopping me from entering a store so she can gleefully confessing a crime to me.

This is the story of an ordinary-looking woman who is either so politically motivated that she has lost her common sense or more likely so generally lacking in sense that she didn’t know that committing a crime is usually something people don’t admit.

On Monday, March 26, 2012 — a day perfect for walking in a park with someone you love — a frizzy-haired woman who looked like she could have been an elementary school teacher vandalized a car in the parking lot of a Half Price Books store and then confessed to me.

It’s a shame for her that I was the one person there who was least interested in what she had to say.

The Story

“You wanna know something mean I just did,” the woman said.

I didn’t answer.

“One of the people from the store,” she started, gesturing to the far part of the parking lot where the employees park. Then she paused.

She was holding the door into the bookstore open for me, but she was blocking the entry with her body.

“One of the people from the store,” she continued very slowly, “has a Barack Obama sticker on their car.”

She paused again, still blocking the door. I still didn’t say anything.

“I covered it over with a ‘Vote Republican’ sticker.”

That’s vandalism, I thought, but she moved inside the store and I continued inside too. I didn’t say a word, and she didn’t approach me again.

Why would someone admit to committing an act of vandalism to a person who might not approve of vandalism and might not even approve of her political statement?

The Silliness Of It

I’m completely apolitical. I don’t care about politics in the least.

I have identified as a Democrat at some times in the past, but I don’t participate in the political process at all anymore. My turn away from anything related to politics is part of my effort to simplify my life and make it more intelligent. Politics are just silliness, so I don’t participate.

If I had to form an opinion about President Obama, I suppose I think that he doesn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. But I don’t think I could bring myself to vote for a Republican. I don’t think I could bring myself to vote at all.

And I certainly couldn’t bring myself to vandalize someone else’s property to make a statement of any kind.

But why did the woman think I would approve of her act of vandalism against a store employee? She must have thought I was either a criminal or a Republican. Which was it? Is there a difference?

I didn’t report her to the police or to the store employees. I didn’t see which car she meant, and the incident may have happened only in her mind.

In my mind, I wonder why she was out alone. I know that Republicans are allowed to travel unescorted and vandals often work alone, but the woman who blocked the door to admit a crime to me seemed to have other issues as well.

Still Here: One Key To Online Success Is Realizing Potential

When Ari Herzog mentioned on his blog that he was accepting guest posts, I typed this up right away. It was the first thing that came to mind. Ari’s commenters seem to like it, and I hope you do too. I intended it to promote my simple living blog So Much More Life.

I don’t know Ari very well, but I know we have something in common: We’re still here.

No matter whether your reason for participating online is to make money from website ads, promote your products and services, satisfy your own need for expression or simply keep your name in front of people who could be useful one day, one of the keys to success online is establishing a presence and nurturing it.

That means staying with the blog you start, showing up on social media when you have something to say and taking steps every day to expand the size, reach and value of your message and online properties.

A Few Steps From Massive Success

For most of my life, I’ve been only a few steps removed from massive success. My first true love was freelance journalism, and I quickly reached the top of my niche, but I didn’t really capitalize on what I achieved.

Then, I tried working in an office for a couple of years, and I was able to jump from a dead-end department to a position working with a well-respected departmental director. But I quit because I didn’t think office work was for me.

I first placed websites online to promote myself and my services so many years ago that they were designed in Microsoft FrontPage. WordPress didn’t exist then, and neither did blogging. Those sites had Google Adsense ads on them, and the ads made a little money. Why didn’t I see then that by expanding my online presence and the reach of my message, I could increase my income too? I was only a few steps from realizing some potential then.

Are you only a few steps from realizing your built-in potential for massive success?

Taking A Few Steps

I’ve been blogging seriously at So Much More Life since December 2009, and people come there every day to read about simple, deliberate living. I’m not exactly a minimalist, but I explore the minimalist lifestyle from both an outsider and an insider point of view. People seem to like what I write.

What’s even better, people click on the ads there, and I make a little money. A couple of people have even been impressed enough with my writing at So Much More Life that they now pay me to write their blog posts for them.

Even better than that, my modest success with my blog has encouraged me to place other websites online aimed specifically at making money, and they’re starting to bring in a little cash too.

To put things more simply, I’m starting to realize some of my potential rather than letting it build up and then escape as I have all my life. Still better than all of that, I like the way my life is going now. I’m not a massive success, but I’m not turning my back on good opportunities anymore either.

But This Is Really About You

This post tells a little about my story. It says something about how I’m not missing as many opportunities as I once did, and it tells how I’m benefiting from staying put, showing up and taking the next step.

You might benefit more from a post about you, however. What should you do? What steps should you take?

I think the answer is simple: Do the work that’s in front of you today, and take every opportunity to take steps that move you toward your goals. Soon, you’ll be making more money, increasing your presence and expanding your reach.

You may soon find that you’re a massive success.

Of course, all of this talk about massive success is a bit grandiose considering I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be regarding income or personal potential.

Still, I’m closer than I was yesterday. Are you?

Gip Plaster blogs at So Much More Life about simple, minimalist living. More importantly, he’s taking steps every day to realize his potential — something he hasn’t always done. Visit his blog to see what he’s talking about this week, then consider hiring him for your next writing project. If you reach out to him, he’ll take the next step.

Is “Rototiller” A Trademark? And Why I Care

Is the term “Rototiller” trademarked? It’s the kind of question a writer like me finds myself asking. I’ll tell you why I needed to know — then I’ll tell you the answer.

The Weirdness Of A Writer’s Life

One of the writing agencies for which I sometimes work allows writers to pick up open orders, join writing teams and also accept direct orders from clients. I almost never manage to snag any of the orders that are offered to one of the four teams that have accepted me, but earlier this week, I caught a few quick and simple orders from one of the teams.

One of the requests was simple enough: a few hundred words about rototilling.

But I can’t do that, can I? If Rototiller is a trademarked term, then rototilling isn’t a real word. This agency requires Associated Press style (which I studied in journalism school), but no stylebook approves of repeatedly using a fake verb based on the improper use of trademarked noun.

So I’ll skip the assignment, I thought. But I need the work, and there was nothing else to do at that moment.

I took the job after I discovered that my concerns were unfounded.

You see, writers are concerned with little details like whether a word is the right one to use. It matters to us. Using a trademark as a generic noun isn’t acceptable. Neither is making fake verbs from them. Words like aspirin and escalator were one trademarks, but their owners didn’t protect them and they fell into general usage.

The writing magazines that I read as a teenager contained ads from Kimberly-Clark Corp., a company that makes paper products. The most frequent ad went like this: “To all the writers, editors, copyeditors and proofreaders who use the trademark Kleenex followed by the words ‘facial tissue’, Kimberly-Clark says bless you.”

The company ran those ads to prove, if they ever needed to, that they tried to protect their trademark. The word Kleenex was and is in danger of falling into general usage, canceling out the rights of its trademark holder. And that’s fine with me actually. I’m long past any interest in intellectual property rights.

No novelist will ever write: “She cried so long she went through an entire box of Kleenex brand facial tissue.” But lawyers would like those hypothetical novelists better if they would.

In any case, using trademarks in writing is a no-no I know.

But Is Rototiller A Trademark?

The answer is no.

As it turns out, Rototiller doesn’t deserve the capital letter I’m placing at it’s beginning. The word rototiller is a perfectly acceptable term for any brand of rotary cultivator.

Truthfully, I’d rather write “rotary cultivator” or “rotary tiller”, but I can legally, ethically and confidently write about rototillers and rototilling (and watch my word processing software place a squiggly red line under every occurrence) if that’s what’s needed.

So why isn’t it a trademark? Was it ever?

The idea of rotary cultivation started to get attention in the United States in the 1920s. By the early 1930s, C.W. Kelsey had established The Rototiller Co., a New York enterprise aimed at importing European cultivators and selling them to Americans. Originally called “earth grinders” by some people, Kelsey trademarked the name Rototiller to refer to the rotary tilling machines he imported.

Rocky American soils damaged the sensitive European machines, and Kelsey soon started making his own rotary tillers. Several models were available, and other companies started making similar products.

Eventually, the trademark on the term Rototiller expired, leaving other makers free to call their machines by the name Kelsey established.

And they did.

That’s the short version of the story about how rototillers lost their trademark and their capital letter at the front.

Rotary cultivation may forever be known as rototilling. You may not care one way or the other what the process is called, and you may not even think much about the topic. That’s okay.

There is a subsection of humanity known by the term “writer”, and we worry about words so you need not bother with them yourself.