Friday, December 31, 2010

Bollywood Hero Flash Mob in Times Square

Dancing in the streets

What if Bollywood dancers showed up in the middle of NYC? Such a fun video (though obviously staged as a marketing tool -- not spontaneous as a 'flash mob' ought to be).


As much as I enjoy saving money, I don't particularly care for or use coupons that often. I've found, for the most part, coupons don't apply for the food items I buy -- namely fresh veggies and some bulk goods -- and the store brands are generally just as good and are cheaper without the coupon. Every now and then, I make an attempt to coupon, like I did this morning. I took a pair of scissors to the weekly P&G saver and cut out about 30 coupons. I know I'm probably not going to buy any of the items for the coupons I cut, but it makes me feel like I'm making an effort. Especially since we now have a goal of saving at least 50 cents a week or $2/month to cover the cost of the Sunday Sweat Sock City Chronicle.

I have, however, started using Groupon on occasion. So far I've bought three of the Groupons, all to restaurants. The restaurants are all ones we like or want to try and most of them were purchased for 50% off, i.e. spend $20 to get $40. What we found however is that we overspent in order to collect the full value of the Groupon. So a dinner at a posh Mexican restaurant would have cost us about $35 before the Groupon (excluding my margarita), but because we had to spend $40 in order to get the $20 off, we got dessert (which we split). I should note in this particular instance the Groupon did not include alcohol.

Another Groupon we used, we went $10 over the value -- $10 for a $20 Groupon. Again, it was another deal where we were $5 short and we ended up ordering some sodas and an appetizer to make up the difference. Overspent and overate. We're concerned we might have the same issue with another Groupon we bought, another $10 for $20 deal; this is for a restaurant where typically we spend about $13 for our meal -- a noodle bowl, a sandwich, egg rolls, and two drinks (yes, it's super cheap). So now we'll have to find another $7 to claim the full value of the Groupon.

The best way, I think, to look at a Groupon is that it's a discount of a certain amount before the final bill. We haven't managed to get to the 50% savings advertised, but we would have saved if we didn't have to over order. As a result, we're being very stingy with our Groupon purchases. There are some that look like great deals, such as $50 to get $150 off a new mattress at Matress Firm, but they also lock you into that store and that purchase. It might be better off just waiting for the sale to come around.

I should also note some people are GREAT at couponing; I'm in owe of their skill. I think it makes a lot of sense IF you're going to buy those particular products anyway. In our case, it hasn't really paid off at all simply because we don't buy very many processed foods outside of whole wheat pasta and the occasional rice or couscous mix. We primarily buy store brands and buy the veggies and fruits that are on sale during the week. We also stock up when there's a big sale. When Dannon yogurt was $10 for 10 -- the usual price being anywhere from $2.06 to $2.75 -- we stocked up. We have A LOT of yogurt containers to recycle!

I'm going to keep attempting to try the couponing thing, give it a fair shake. So far though, our 50 cent/week subscription to the newspaper hasn't paid for itself at all as advertised. As each week ticks by, we have to save 50 cents more to recoup the "investment." On the upside, I like to read it, so maybe it's worth that much for the enjoyment.

My niece, who is only five years old, has more blog posts than me. Like, a lot more. I haven't been very dilligent about keeping this up. Mea culpa.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Interesting article: Income Inequality and the 'Superstar Effect'. I'm a big fan of capitalism but there are some downsides to it. I think this article summarizes it well.

CAPITALISM relies on inequality. Like differences in other prices, pay disparities steer resources — in this case, people — to where they would be most productively employed.
[...] Ultimately, the question is this: How much inequality is necessary? It is true that the nation grew quite fast as inequality soared over the last three decades. Since 1980, the country’s gross domestic product per person has increased about 69 percent, even as the share of income accruing to the richest 1 percent of the population jumped to 36 percent from 22 percent. But the economy grew even faster — 83 percent per capita — from 1951 to 1980, when inequality declined when measured as the share of national income going to the very top of the population.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010


Now that the tax compromise has passed, I expect to see lots and lots of hiring in first quarter 2011. Now that the 'uncertainty' is over (and let's be real, did anyone honestly think Congress would let the Bush tax cuts expire?), there should be no more excuses on why companies aren't hiring.

Vanity Fair had an interesting article, The Simple Solution to America's Unemployment Problem. It caught my attention because I've been thinking lately, is Big Business really good for you and me? I haven't completely formulated my thoughts on the subject because I can see the pro and cons of the equation, but I can tell you think: hiring people and paying them a liveable wage cuts in profits.

Profits are what are important to companies. They want to make money and so if they can't make their sales, they cut their spending. People are among the easiest assets to let go. And my great fear these days is that with businesses doing more with less, the incentive to hire is so low. I mean, if they've got someone who can do the job of three people, that's a cost savings to the company and an improved bottomline. Who's going to go through the expense of hiring when you don't need to?

Anyway, it's an interesting rant and much to think about. We think Big Business is good for America, for us the little people, but is Big Business making their decisions with America in mind?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

LotD II: the Bernie video


Which I had seen this -- Bernie Sanders' "filibuster". My favorite socialist speaks! I don't think it'll make a difference, but I'm glad he got his eight hours in the limelight (albeit C-SPAN). Here's copy of the speech and PolitiFact checks here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

This is post 2,500

One of the things about traveling a lot, you gain a new found appreciation for your own bed. Also, I've noticed the "break in" time for a hotel bed has gone from 2 days to 0 for me. I've always been famous for being able to sleep anywhere at anytime, but hotels stymied me. I couldn't find a comfortable place in the bed for at least the first two nights (if I was there for that long) and by the time I got comfortable, it was time to pack up and leave.

What intrigues me is this idea that you can now BUY the hotel's bed and linens (and towels, furniture, bath amenities, etc). I swear, there are now catalogs in the rooms selling "the experience" of hotel living and believe you me, that while it's tempting, it's certainly not cheap. Both hotels I stayed in the last two weeks -- major luxury chains -- were charging upwards of $1200 for the mattress and box-spring set. That was before the $60+ price tag on the sheet set. No wonder the beds are so comfortable!

Amenities are also getting quite high class in hotels. You get Pantene and Neutrogena, but also weird stuff like barley shampoo and quinoa lotion. I had no idea. Some hotels provide toothpaste and mouthwash, others provide slippers to walk around in. A couple had robes available and at least one sold animal print pajamas. I've taken advantage of all except the animal print pajamas, of course. That was just... odd.

Hotels also have curiously overpriced breakfasts. If you're lucky, a cup of coffee will only set you back $5. That's including the tax, the 20% gratuity, and the service charge. A bagel with cream cheese at a recent hotel set me back $9. That was before the coffee, by the way. And then there's room service... The same meal in the restaurant versus room service has quite the delta in cost. There's something antisocial about room service, some might argue, but with a bed like they provide, so much more comfortable than ye olde staid dining room.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Post 2499

I know, I've been away a long time. I wish I had a good reason why, but none really. Just... lots of time in hotels and airplanes and all that good stuff. It doesn't leave a lot of time to just ruminate or catch up on things. On the upside, I'm getting upgraded to first class on airplanes more often now. I'll think of something better for the next post -- lucky 2500.