Thought Leadership

Muffins in Colorado

By Colin Walls

People commonly quote from the song: “Things ain’t what they used to be”. And it is widely felt that the world was better at some time in the past. Personally, I think that nostalgia is an interesting phenomenon, but has little bearing on the real world. I guess this is why many people keep things to remind them of their past or surround themselves with antiques in an effort to transport themselves back to a Golden Age. I remember as a child, it was hot and sunny all Summer and snowed every Christmas. Climatological records suggest otherwise.

I feel that the modern world is very interesting – exciting even. I would hate to live somewhere without the Internet; I love my digital camera and Android phone. But I accept that we can still enjoy and learn from the values and ideas of the past …

I will illustrate my point with a story from my travels:

A few years ago I needed to visit the Mentor Graphics office in Longmont, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was unsure where would be a nice place to stay. I consulted a colleague who was a regular visitor to the area. He said that there were all the major chain hotels in nearby Boulder, but, if I wanted something more “individual”, he could recommend an establishment in the small town of Niwot. No contest. So, I made my reservation and, in due course, showed up in down town Niwot. It is described as a small town, but I would call it a large village, as it has a population of about 4000. It is named after an Arapaho chief and his name means “left handed”.

The Niwot Inn was as near perfect as a hotel can get. It was small – maybe 20 rooms. Each room had a name instead of a number and was decorated in an individual style using local art and craftwork. It was tastefully modernized, with lots of polished wood and free WiFi available. The staff were friendly and it was clean and reasonably priced. They only offered a bed and breakfast service, which was fine as they could recommend places to eat within easy walking distance.

After a good night’s sleep, I came down for breakfast, which was a very satisfactory buffet. I was enjoying my quiet meal and conducting a favorite hobby: people watching. [Some people would call me nosey, but I think that is harsh.] I overhead a fascinating conversation. A lady asked one of the staff whether they had the packaging from the muffins. It seems that she had a dietary disorder and wanted to check a detail of the ingredients. She was told that they did not have any packaging, but they could phone the lady who makes their muffins and ask her.

In a world where I would normally assume that muffins just come from Muffin Central in Detroit or where ever, my breakfast suddenly tasted so much better. It was a fine way to start the day. I have since met someone who runs a gallery and tea shop and makes savory muffins to die for – one of those can be more than enough for a satisfying lunch. But maybe I will plug her business another day.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at