Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Video Store Ideas Or The Lack Of Video Store Ideas

My family and I know that the video business isn't going to make it in the long or medium term. In the short-run, we have a locational monopoly. Right now, the business is a cash cow. Everything is paid for. The rent is cheap. We don't have to pay a lot in labor. Business is definitely slowing. And we have no delusions about our long-term future. But the question becomes what can we do right now to make a few more dollars?

We're thinking about adding a subscription plan. Obviously, we're late on this one. It would cost us a $1000-$2000 to upgrade our software and computer equipment, but it would require us to get credit card capabilities which should increase our revenues and help us eventually liquidate our inventory.

I've also thought about increasing our internet presence with a Twitter, Facebook, and Blog Accounts. All of these only cost time, but they could definitely help us market the business. (There is part of me who thinks this is part of the future for local business. A local business creates a "following". When people check their Facebook Account, they see what DVDs are being released Tuesday. They can debate other "friends" and customers about what movies are good. The local storefront and the fact that customers see and know other customers add a little humanity that "big" business cannot. I also like the idea of "Twitter Specials" like all followers get a free bag of microwave popcorn. From a marketing perspective, this kind of advertising is so much accountable than advertising in the high school yearbook or local newspaper. I can easily count how many followers took advantage of the Twitter Special.) This internet presence should also help us eventually liquidate our inventory.

With all of this being said, I know it is only a matter of time before the video store goes the way of the record store, but I want to squeeze every last dollar out of it that I can.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Health, Fitness, Nutrition, And Me Discussing Things That I Don’t Know

As I was jogging yesterday I decided that my definition of a basically healthy person was someone who could safely and efficiently exit a building if there was an emergency. If the person had children, he or she should also be able to help those children to safely and efficiently exit a building during an emergency.

Then my mom was telling me (complaining) about her new aerobics/strength training class. I wasn't listening. She called me on it. And I went into my health manifesto to prove that I was actually kind-of listening:

First, nutrition is the key to being healthy. If you eat crap, you will not be more than basically healthy. Proper nutrition is a constant struggle for the vast majority of Americans. It isn't society's fault. It isn't a cultural problem. Society and culture contributes, but it is about making difficult choices. Food that tastes good is usually not good for you. A person who eats food that tastes good (especially in my family) usually eats too much. One has to make a habit out of eating low calorie-low fat-low sugar food (most of the time). One has to make it a habit to watch his portions (most of the time). But remember my definition of basically healthy, it is better to eat crap and be heavy than be an alcoholic who is too drunk (or not there to) to get his kids out of his burning house.

Second, exercise is about activity habits. My mom can go to aerobics/strength training once a week, but if she wants to progress, especially during the aerobics portion, she has to increase her activity levels throughout the week. A power lifter has to lift heavy weight. A runner has to run. If my mom wants to keep up with her aerobics instructor, she has to do aerobics. You have to establish habits, because the exercise itself doesn't burn that many calories. It is the gradual boost in metabolism that really leads to weight loss. It is that confidence and bad-ass feeling that comes from pushing yourself past your pre-conceived limits that allows one to do more. But again, exercise has very little to do with achieving my definition of healthy. If you're on crutches because of a torn ACL or a knee replacement, you aren't making it out of the building.

The word that keeps being repeated is habits. If you want to move past basic healthiness, you have to develop nutritional and activity habits. But the thing to remember is that all habits generate opportunity costs and tradeoffs. In other words, being healthy isn't simple, and I can understand when people decide that it isn't worth it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm Done

No more Redskins. The just aren't worth it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Morning Thoughts

  1. I wouldn't be upset if the Redskins traded for Braylon Edwards or Brandon Marshall. The fact that I wouldn't be upset worries me. I think it shows that I am becoming really indifferent to the Redskins' future.
  2. I could see Virginia Tech playing Alabama again in the BCS National Championship Game. By 6:00PM, I have a feeling this vision will be destroyed.
  3. I am watching Rachel Ray. I have no idea what this says about me. But I don't think it is good. She is baking bacon. This fascinates me.
  4. I should do a good amount of cleaning today. This doesn't fit into by badass persona. But I am so badass, I am going to do it anyway.
  5. It is raining in Blacksburg. This has to play in favor of Virginia Tech, right? Maybe it will be 6:30PM or 7:00PM before my vision in 2 will be crushed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What Women Don’t Understand Or A Personal Confession

I must think of myself as a badass. I still think I could get in a three point stance and block guys. I still think I can take a few months to get back in shape and be able to play "ball." I think I can do it. But I don't do it, because I don't want to. I am so badass, I do what I want to.

I have to think this way, because when I don't, I am not worth a shit. This proof of this statement is evident (at least in my mind). When I don't have this "lethal ape" feeling, I don't get things done. I am tentative. I am bored. I am not much good. As Ol' Willis Bond used to say, "I ain't worth a shit."

I am not violent. I recognize that it is just a feeling. I know that I couldn't block my sixteen year old 150 pound cousin. I can't even get in three point stance without mildly injuring myself. I recognize that all I really need is confidence in my ability to push through the difficulties that life throws in front of me.

But there is no better way to instill that confidence than to convince yourself that you are a Grade A, Mr. T-like badass.

Keep On Rockin' In The Free World Or Manohla Dargis' Review Of Michael Moore's New "Entertainment"

"In the end, what is to be done? After watching “Capitalism,” it beats me. Mr. Moore doesn’t have any real answers, either, which tends to be true of most socially minded directors in the commercial mainstream and speaks more to the limits of such filmmaking than to anything else. Like most of his movies, “Capitalism” is a tragedy disguised as a comedy; it’s also an entertainment. This isn’t the story of capitalism as conceived by Karl Marx or Naomi Klein, and it certainly isn’t the story of contemporary American capitalism, which extends across the globe and far beyond Mr. Moore’s sightlines."

She reminds me of this review. I have had a long complex intellectual relationship with Michael Moore. Recently, he has just pissed me off. The fact that the "socially minded" will see this movie and come out nodding their head "yes" without being able to answer what they are really affirming really pisses me off. It also scares the hell out of me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My office floor had an inch of dust and grime on it. It hadn't been cleaned in eighteen months. There were pistachio and peanut shells under the desk. It was disgusting. For the last six months, I have thought about how I should clean it up.

But I still got a little upset when the custodians made me leave the office for two and a half minutes, so they could clean my office floor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Don't Know What To Think About This

He has won a lot of games. But maybe it is time for a change. I guess we will find out after next year.


I plug my netbook in at airports, coffee shops, in my office, and at home. I pay the electricity bill at home, but I can't discern any marginal increases when I charge my netbook. I have started turning off my desktop when not in use, but I haven't been able to tell much difference in my bill because of that either. I've read where these electric cars (specifically the Chevy Volt) won't be as cheap as people think because of the increases in electric bills due to charging them. I've heard the cost of electricity will increase in the near future. I know that my electricity bill was high in the winter when my heater had to run all day and night.

The point here is that uncertainty about technology, regulations, government, fossil fuel supplies, etc. abounds. No one knows what is going to happen. But the world keeps spinning. And that is the only energy that matters.


Monday, September 21, 2009

NFL Predictions

  1. There will be a rule where quarterbacks are only live when they're outside the pocket. Referees will have to make the decision whether the quarterback "could have been" sacked or not. I don't think this rule is that far away.
  2. The League will have its own medical-training staff that evaluates all player injuries. Teams will have very little influence on medical-training decisions. Independent (League-paid) doctors will determine who plays and who doesn't play. This change will be due to finances, retired NFL player complaints and medical problems, gambling, and Bill Belichick and his coaching tree.
  3. An 8-8 team will eventually win the Super Bowl.
  4. The Redskins will finish 8-8 this year. They will not win the Super Bowl.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some Things

  1. I don't know what to think about small unprofitable airports. I do prefer them to large airports, but I don't see much (any) public good value in them.
  2. I did drink most of the coffee from yesterday. It did clean out my system.
  3. I've never bought a newspaper. I don't think I ever will. I always thought that paper vending machines were an interesting test of honesty, but I've never bought one.
  4. The ads on the blog are just an experiment. I am not delusional enough to think I will make any money. Personally, I read everything off of Google Reader anyway.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"Measured objectively, what a man can wrest from Truth by passionate striving is utterly infinitesimal. But the striving frees us from the bonds of the self and makes us comrades of those who are the best and the greatest."

For some reason, this quote gives me comfort.

Bad Coffee

I didn't get my normal eight hours last night. I needed a pick me up. I made some coffee in my office. It isn't very good.

The coffee was old. The coffeemaker needed a good cleaning. The finished product just sucks.

I shouldn't drink it, but I will. At least it will suppress my appetite.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Professional?

Last week some guy who irritated me and basically questioned my work ethic/manhood asked me what my future goals were. Anyone who has read more than five posts on this blog knows I have no goals. I am a confused guy struggling to find my way in the world. I am confident I will get there, but honestly, I am not the kind of guy who is ever going to verbalize future goals. I am superstitious enough to believe that verbalization will guarantee my failure. I am also realistic enough to think that future goals change daily and are dependent on an amount of luck. My only real goal is to live, and I think that is everyone's real goal.

I gave some quick and unthoughtful answer. But here are some possible professional goals that I might pursue in the future.

  1. I want to convince and cajole other similar professionals that every problem is not empirical. I want them to see that many problems cannot be simplified into observable data. I want them realize how foolish some of their answers are.
  2. I want to be a professional who contributes to solutions. I don't care how small or temporary the problems are, but I want to be part of recognizable and implementable, not optimal, solutions.
  3. I want to describe problems in the truest light I can. I don't want to ignore attributes without admitting that I am ignoring them. I don't believe in objectivity, but I want really "call things like I see them."


Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Healthcare Thought

I have been in six different emergency rooms. Three were in predominantly rural areas. Two were in suburban-urban areas. One was in an urban area. One of the hospitals in the suburban area was a private hospital, and one was a public hospital (that I think was just discussed in a USA Today cover story). Of course they were all different experiences. But it made me think about the spatial-transportation-Poisson problems involved in healthcare. The rural hospitals were underutilized in many respects. (I will say that most of my experience with them had to do with broken limbs. The orthopedists took an hour to get there in each case, but I was given a room/tent by myself to wait.) The capacity and service of the suburban hospitals depended on what time of day I was there. The urban hospital was an experience in itself. I also fully admit that I went to the emergency room a few times for non-emergency reasons but Mom reasons. Today I would have sucked it up or have gone to an urgent care facility.

This post really has no point, and I have no answers. But it shows how complicated of a problem healthcare really is and shows how bad of an idea it might be to push something through Congress to create the illusion that you are "doing something."

(This post made me think about some of these issues.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

College Football

1. It is rare that there are two games on a Saturday where I bet most of the nation is wishing that all four teams would lose. Notre Dame versus Michigan, USC versus Ohio State are like that today.

2. My college coach said that Bear Bryant said that "Out-of-conference, you schedule one team you're better than, one team you that is better than you, and one team you're even with." (This was before teams played what seems to be an endless out-of-conference schedule.) I think Tech has scheduled that way this year. So next week, the team that they are even with, is the real test.

3. I still say that the problem with Division I football is there are too many fringe teams. Marshall and Tech should never play one another. Texas should never play Wyoming. TCU should never play Virginia. Florida should never be playing the two teams they have played. They need to cut it back to about fifty teams and make those fifty teams only play one another (or at least for ten games). I think it would help out the BCS situation by making teams more comparable. It is pretty clear to me that Notre Dame and Tech are not in the same league as Florida. But the problem is where does Fresno State and Boise State fit into the equation.

4. It looks like Michigan is starting to take it to Notre Dame. Notre Dame seems to be weaker and slower. Charlie Weiss will be coaching quarterbacks in the NFL in a couple of years.

Morning Thoughts

1. I still don't know what to think of Jordan's Hall of Fame speech. I want to say "bitter," but I think it just showed his ambition was sustained by "slights." I am going to have to read The Jordan Rules.

2. I got up this morning and went to Hardees. A Hardees breakfast is a Hardees breakfast. It isn't healthy, but there is something very comforting about it.

3. It will be an interesting NFL season. The Patriots will win a lot of games. The NFC East will beat each other up. The Steelers and Ravens will play great defense and be around at the end. It will be interesting. I am afraid that there where will be one big blown call this year that will outrage most NFL fans. (I know these are all no-shit predictions.)

4. I wonder what will Favre say in his Hall of Fame speech.

5. This should be the most hyped "must-see-TV" weekend in NASCAR. And I don't care. NASCAR has some real problems. I think the winner of the last race before the Chase should automatically be in the Chase. I say this even though I am not a big proponent of the Chase.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Mystery Of Love

There is this girl graduate student. She has been here almost as long as I have.

There is this guy graduate student. He has only been here a year. He is younger than the girl graduate student.

There is certainly something going on between them. She is always in his office except when he is in her office. It is kind of sweet, more weird. Two kids who aren't kids feeling each other out, trying to hide something that everyone else sees. I don't know.

The sociology of the thing enthralls me.

(It reminds me of a situation from my first year here. Unfortunately, I don't know if any of my readers have been around long enough to remember.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Morning Thoughts

1. It worries me that it seems that the Washington politicians really want "to do something" about health care. This "something is always better nothing" strategy scares me. I am not a big fan of the theory of second best. I am less a fan of "Let's compromise on something so we can get re-elected" policy.

2. I hope it is a Federer-Nadal U.S. Open Final. I am not a big tennis fan, but that final could be entertaining.

3. I wanted to rant on Virginia Tech's offense. But Alabama was just better. They had bigger, faster, stronger athletes. They had future NFL Hall of Famer Julio Jones. They were just better. Tech will not play anyone close to Alabama again this year. This isn't to say that Tech will finish the season with one loss, but they won't face that talent-level again this year.

4. I mixed coffee with vanilla-caramel tea. I have had worse drinks. I have had better drinks.

5. The introductory offer on my cable just finished. I didn't even know I was paying the introductory offer. (It had been a year.) Part of me wants cancel the cable. I think the Internet service is worth it, but the cable seems high to me especially if I have high-speed Internet.

6. I am late on this one, but if Brandon Marshall had done what he did with any coach I had, he would have been thrown off the field immediately. I know the NFL is different, but I think some wide receiver divas are enabled by weak coaching. Most football players need a combination of discipline-love. When they don't get the proper combination, they have a tendency to screw-up. After the coach gets his "players on the lot" (recruiting in college, draft and free-agency in the NFL), the discipline-love combination is the most important thing a coach does. (The "on-the-lot" analogy comes from my old college coach.)

7. I am not looking forward to the Redskins season this year.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in the United States is closely connected with this."

This quote got me to thinking about other unenforceable laws. Of course the drug laws come to mind. But I think there might be some applicability to health care too. Maybe I am reaching, but you can't force people to take preventive measures and you can't force people to not try procedures that generate more costs than benefits especially when it comes to life and death.

You can see this in the film The Barbarian Invasions, There are other stories in the press from Britain and other single payer countries. People find ways to work around laws and the system when the law and system does not make sense.

I readily admit this doesn't say much about the U.S. health care debate. But I really question those who are championing a more equitable health care policy. I just don't see it happening in any system, private or public. People will adapt and find ways around mandates. People will shirk unenforceable suggestions. This shirking will only lower the declining prestige of government.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Funniest Youtube Comment I Have Read

"My life was worse than hers. I was the one who had to go out with those ugly,butch ,left wing, [...] lezbo types like Janis Ian. Poor me."

From this song.

Another Thing

As every Nintendo or Windows user knows, every system needs a "reset" button.

9:15AM Tomorrow Morning

I have really bought in to David Allen's GTD system.

The central ideas being that:

1. I have to get everything out of my head and into a system.

2. I have to have a system that continually evolves.

3. I have to have discipline to follow the system.

4. I have to break down tasks/projects/desired outcomes into next actions.

In other words, I have to have a written/electronic plan. I have to be able to change the written/electronic plan. I have to follow the plan. The plan has to be focused on practical "what can I do next" (compartmentalized) things.

For the last few weeks I have been doing pretty good with my system. Sometimes I get lulled into spending too long on the "waiting on..." phase of projects. But I have been doing pretty good.

So I get into the office this morning. I hadn't been there since Friday afternoon. I see a note that says "9:15AM Tomorrow Morning." I have no idea what it is for or what it means or when tomorrow is. I have to take a few deep breathes, but I want to blow up the system.

I figured out what the inconsequential note was for, and I guess I can go back to my system.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Full Circle

The background story.

Same coffee shop. I bought a metal pot, knew it wasn't cream, and thoroughly enjoyed the peach tea.

(I used to say having a child was the most self-absorbed vain thing a person can do. But I think blogging is certainly up there.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I Have A Presentation I Should Be Working On But…

  1. First-class on short flights is for suckers, I think. I am sitting in coach with just as much room for half the price. I don't know. I have always heard once you go first-class, you don't go back. But I just don't see it on short flights when the plane isn't full.
  2. My wife made me get a massage yesterday. I enjoyed it.
  3. There is a real value to routine. Getting up earlier than you usually do can mess with you. Getting stuck in a bad routine can be destructive, but a good routine can be very comfortable.
  4. Comfort is probably what I look for most. That is the thing about the massage. I didn't want to do it because it made me uncomfortable ex ante. Ex post I was fine. Once I got in the room I was fine. It is just getting over that initial fear. That feeling of uncomfortable that makes me want to stay in certain routine. That makes me want to stick to the ways "I have always done things."
  5. Older members of my family also have this anxiety of anything different. It causes problems in later life. It keeps them stuck in destructive routines.
  6. Now I am going to start working on that presentation.