Friday, February 29, 2008
The concert starts out with Sunken Treasure, stark and wonderful. Then gradually picks up steam until it's rocking with You Are My Face a few songs later. Wilco is just unstoppable right now.
By the way, I heard about this podcast from Greg Mercer, the old fashioned way, via email. But I also heard about it via a Beth Steven's Facebook newsfeed. These newsfeeds are incredibly powerful. A company called FriendFeed is trying to take the idea of a Newsfeed and free it from Facebook. So far I like it. Try it out, and connect to me, Scott Orn, so I can learn from you.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Now a well placed operative embedded in the Grocery Industry has passed this little tidbit on Tesco's invasion to Kenny Kellogg. Enjoy.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets have not yet come close to achieving the sales levels Tesco officials were originally hoping for, according to an industry consultant here. Speaking yesterday with investors in the U.S. and the United Kingdom in a conference call sponsored by New York-based Citigroup, Jim Prevor said the 52 Fresh & Easy stores that have opened since November are averaging weekly sales volumes of $50,000 to $60,000, or about $5 a square foot — below the goal of $200,000 a week and $14-$22 in sales per square foot the company had projected. A spokesman for Fresh & Easy declined comment when contacted by SN. Prevor said the volume estimates are based on discussions with competitors, vendors, industry observers and Fresh & Easy store managers, "who all confirm each other." Prevor also said Fresh & Easy is paying rent on stores in the Bay Area in Northern California after deciding to open them early in 2009 instead of later this year as originally planned. The Tesco spokesman told SN the company never intended to move into the Bay Area until 2009. In other comments, Prevor said Fresh & Easy is not laying off employees but is not replacing any who leave. The company spokesman declined comment on that assertion.
My favorite quotes so far:
- Ever heard the phrase "sleeping as soundly as a baby"? Well, it is all a lie unless "soundly" refers to tons of grunts, gurgles, and wimpers throughout the night. It took us a few nights to not panic on every noise during the night. Be warned.
- Parents who say their babies sleep through the night are liars. That is what I plan to believe.
- The poop schedule, or lack thereof. We diligently tracked all of his dirty diapers for the first few weeks to learn...he goes through a lot of dirty diapers (10 a day!). We even started measuring his "poops" on a 1-10 scale, until we started hitting a few elevens and twelves and had to reset our scale.
- Sadly, rumors of baby boys peeing on you during a diaper change are true (with surprising distance!). Roshan even got our doctor.
- Sleep deprivation has some interesting consequences. Short-term memory is history. One time I soaped myself three times in the shower before I realized what I was doing...luckily I ran out of body wash or I could have been in there for hours.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The point of this post is to put up a neat little anecdote about Obama. I'm not sure which way I'll go in the election, but little things like this push me towards Obama. I believe in open dialogue, and Obama does too.
This excerpt from the recent Obama/Clinton debate is quite significant in my mind. It was in response to the question about a possible meeting with Rahul Castro of Cuba.
CLINTON:I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening because I think it’s important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction.
Then I think, you know, something like diplomatic encounters and negotiations over specifics could take place.
But we’ve had this conversation before, Senator Obama and myself, and I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest and, in this case, in the interest of the Cuban people.
OBAMA: I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time.
But I do think that it is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, that’s where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
CLINTON: But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process. But I don’t think it should be offered in the beginning because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.
OBAMA: Because the problem isn’t — is if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it’s important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step. That’s the kind of step that I would like to take as president of the United States.
I think this difference is more than just words. It’s a big deal and why I’m in Obama’s corner.
More every day.
One Llama has taken a different approach and has built software to classify music. It's not quite People vs. The Machines but it's a step in that direction. Personally, I'm fascinated by the thought that there good be little intricacies inside of a song that make me want to like it, but that I can't consciously pick out. One Llama would solve that problem for me. It would be even cooler if they could expose what those little things are. I say "would" because One Llama is still in beta so it's a little rough around the edges. Be gentle with it.
The Chicago Tribune wrote an article on One Llama today if you are interested in reading more.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Things are just plain getting more expensive. This is what happens when we try to bail the housing mess out with lower and lower interest rates. What we're really trying to do is inflate away the debt burden, but it comes back and hits us with higher prices in other things, like my small M&M's and small Fiji water for $6.25 at the movies today. Wow."Most people do not believe the numbers"-- Oakland Economist John Williams
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Now to the music. It's been a rainy few days in the Bay Area so I chose the songs accordingly.
1) Most of the Time (Bob Dylan) - Beth Stevens recommended this song for Friday Chill Music and she nailed it. The song is one of my favorites, even appearing on Sunday Morning 6 and who could forget it in John Cusack's High Fidelity.
2) Muzzle of Bees (Wilco)- One of the highlights from the Chicago show. It has this great underlying beat and at times the guitars are just frenetic enough. The lyrics are tender and compliment the music perfectly. My favorite line: "Sun get's passed sea to sea; Silently, and back to me."
3) Purgatory Line (Drive By Truckers) - Bryan Kenna introduced me to this band and their new album is awesome. Definitely check it out. It's mostly hard rocking but there are a couple slow songs on it that I really like. This is a real southern rock band and I love the twang in her voice.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I thought this article had some valid points about how "the kids" are great with technology, view work time as something more fluid (look at me, I'm writing this at nearly midnight), and need to be challenged.
However, I thought it was quite patronizing in the generalizations about how Millennials can't take criticism and how they need clear definitions for work. In my experience, most people are poor at direct criticism, not just people in their 20's. And as for clear job definitions? You can't blame them for wanting jobs defined for them. Ambiguity is a favorite management technique of poor managers.
I guess this article struck a nerve for me because I always cringe when people glorify "the old days" or some variation of it. Kids these days are wicked smart. They have access to the Internet...and they use it. And people these days work incredibly hard, but it's a different motivation nowadays. Most Millennials (and my friends for that matter) just love their jobs.
Get the Best Out of Millennials by Tweaking Habits
Managers Have to Adjust Expectations and Approaches
By Carol Phillips
Published: February 11, 2008
Early indications, however, are not entirely glowing. A recent "60 Minutes" segment portrayed a generation unwilling to make even the most routine sacrifices, such as staying late after work. Perhaps the failure to impress reflects a failure on the part of managers to adapt their expectations and approaches.
Here, then, are six lessons I've learned about what it takes to get the best performance from a sophomore.
1. ELIMINATE AMBIGUITY.Millennials are experts at calculating what it takes to meet expectations. Once locked in, they have a GPS-like approach to navigating toward the goal. I have learned that the flip side of this laser-like focus is a lack of patience for any hint that the rules are being changed midstream.
LESSON: Set clear goals and timelines -- and resist modifying them. Once the syllabus is printed, I never change it.
2. THINK OF TIME AS A 24/7 RESOURCE.College students don't look busy or frantic; they look tired. Millennials regard time as a 24-hour resource. Thanks to time stamping, I know students complete their work closer to 5:00 a.m. than 5:00 p.m. I have come to admire this as an exquisite sense of time management rather than a lack of forward planning.
LESSON: Focus on results, not process. Tell them when it's due, not when to do it.
3. COMBINE WORK WITH PLAY.I suspect Millennials will think of a job less as a place you go from 9 to 5 than as a place where you get to hang out with a great team of friends prior to meeting them later to hang out and continue the conversation somewhere else.
LESSON: Allow Millennials to form their own work teams when possible.
4. MAKE IT WORTHWHILE.Students are sick of busy work and exercises; they long to do something "real" and meaningful. What's more, they are convinced they are ready for it. Whenever possible, I incorporate real-world consulting problems and clients into class assignments. Many students have told me years later that those were among the most meaningful experiences they had in their college careers.
LESSON: Assign the tough problems, not just the ones you think they can handle.
5. HANDLE WITH CARE.They look like adults, talk like adults and (usually) think like adults. So it's easy to forget that emotionally they have more in common with high-schoolers than young professionals. They take everything very seriously. Many Millennials lack the resilience to shrug off setbacks; a misdirected frown or a curt e-mail can send them into a tailspin.
LESSON: Use criticism sparingly, frame feedback positively -- and keep the Kleenex handy.
6. PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS.Millennials find technology effortless, the result of growing up in a world where computers, cellphones, iPods, navigation systems and digital recorders are ubiquitous and essential. They exhibit an unusual breadth of experiences and a deep sense of social responsibility. Their perspective is entirely global. In the classroom, I try to leverage these strengths by giving them choices and encouraging them to follow their interests. Student work often astonishes me with its professionalism and creativity.
LESSON: Let their creativity, technology skills and brainpower loose. There's no telling where it will lead.
Carol Phillips is president of BrandAmplitude and a marketing instructor at the University of Notre Dame.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
One quick question: When I was a young finance buck taking classes at CAL Berkeley in 97', I learned all about CDO's and even how to price them. I also learned about default risk, prepayment risk, etc. I also learned about tranching these types of securities.
So what changed from 97' to 07'? Pretty much only ridiculously low interest rates and a willingness to bail institutions out -- both from the Fed.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I'll never forget the encores. These were real encores with the crowd demanding they keep playing. The last one came about 5 minutes after they had already turned on the house lights and were playing music over the loud speakers. I was watching and not a single person moved. People were going nuts and the band was kind enough to come back out for a rockin' Hooodooo Voodoo that the guitarists just rocked.
Here is a link to my Tumblr blog for a couple pictures I snapped. I'm having technical difficulties so a few more might appear.
Full song list here. The songs that stand out for me are below and I've embedded a playlist here but these aren't the live versions that I love so much.
Hell is Chrome - song number two of the concert and off of Ghost is Born album. I've been meaning to write a review of this song alone. Basically I think it's one of the best fusions of lyrics and music that the band has. More later but I think this song deserves a lot of attention. It might not jump out at you though.
Handshake Drugs - amazing undertow to this song. the guitars are fantastic but the real story is the baseline and drums.
Via Chicago -love song to the city of Chicago. I certainly connected, this being my first visit back since I graduated from Kellogg in June 07'. I sang my lungs and heart out to this one.
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - this song started it all for me and Wilco. After I heard this on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I was hooked. It was raucous to say the least.
Jesus Etc - Andrew Bird, an epic chicago guy, came on stage. Tweedy made fun of him a bit and then they played this amazing song.
Kingpin - Songs is incredible and the audience participation is so much fun. "I want to be your Kingpin..."
Hooodoo Voodoo - pure rock and a great time. Can still hear it playing in my head...
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tumblr is so easy, and it has a Follow function for adding people who post cool stuff to your "news feed." It's easy to take photos from your camera and email them into Tumblr. Did I mention there is also a "Reblog" button that takes the contents of one blog and immediately puts it onto yours, and gives you a spot to comment on it. That's amazing. Today, I reblogged two amazing photos. One of Miss Natalie Portman and another of Obama and emailed in one of Danville.
Click here to see the photos.
How long until those phones are broadcasting the actual performance? My bet is not that long. Enjoy.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Andrew Miller tipped me off to his brothers band, Health, and I'm officially a fan. BJ, Andrew's Brother, joined the band as a drummer and you can hear him everywhere on the disk.
My favorite song is Perfect Skin, which you can listen to below via Hype Machine. Health just played at the Great American Music Hall in SF (unfortunately I missed them) and in front of 700+ in LA. They're getting some pretty good buzz. See here.
A word of warning for you 30+ old's out there. This is the kind of music that "the kid's listen to." It's rocking but the guitars are pretty experimental. For those of you who are at the stage of life where you are more into Eddie Vedder acoustic, than Eddie Vedder from Ten and Vs., you aren't going to love Health. What the heck though, give it a shot.
For those younger ears, Health sounds like a rough, rocking, kick butt band.
Health - Perfect Skin
Health's MySpace page is here.
Pearl Jam - Oceans (the MTV Unplugged version with epic video)
Eddie Vedder's been getting a lot of well deserved love with the Into the Wild disk. I figured we should kick it old school (and video-style) for this song, which has some of my favorite lyrics. Warning, sensitivity alert!
Bryan Kenna introduced me to Ryan Adams while at Kellogg. I stumbled upon this song by buying the soundtrack to Elizabethtown, a Cameron Crowe movie. Crowe always has great soundtracks.
Jack Johnson with Alo - I Shall Be Released
About a year ago I got a little tired of Jack Johnson, but over the last 6 months I've had the pleasure of watching Tucker play Jack Johnson songs on the guitar for his 1.5 year old son. The kid loves the music and watching him dance to the guitar has really rejuvenated my love of Johnson's music. Jack (we're practically on a first name basis) put out a new disk this week. I haven't had time to fully digest it so I'm throwing out one of my favorite songs from the tribute CD to The Band.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
My favorite video-ed covers by the Foo Fighter? Here you go.
Keep the Car Running by the Arcade Fire
Tiny Dancer by Elton John
Born on the Bayou - Credence Clear Water
Monday, February 4, 2008
One funny thing though, when I left 2+ years ago my email was deactivated. Since I returned to the same job, I reclaimed the my trusty scott (at) lcpartners (dot) com email address and what was waiting for me, but the spam from eBay below. They're so considerate, they just kept spamming me while I was gone...or did they know how this whole thing was going to play out? Hmmm.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Scariest to me is that in all the articles I've seen the one thing Ballmer keeps bringing up is how he'll be able to save $1 billion a year in costs. Are you kidding me? Is this Microsoft or Dunder Mifflin? I mean, I don't doubt he could save a billion a year. But it says a lot about the kind of company Microsoft has become that this is what they're thinking about.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
A lot of people are going to live healthier and longer because of this new technology. Congrats Colby and Medtronic.
Until now, Greenwood, a thirty-six-year-old native of Oxford, England, has been known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Radiohead. But he shouldn’t be mistaken for one of those rock stars, like Paul McCartney, who get by in the classical realm with a little help from their musically literate friends. Greenwood is better understood as a composer who has crossed over into rock. Trained as a violist, he worked seriously at writing music in his youth, and had just embarked on studies at Oxford Brookes University when, in 1991, Radiohead was signed by the EMI record label. He dropped out of college to join the band on tour.Here are a few of the songs. I haven't seen the movie yet but I dig the soundtrack.
Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood
Jonny Greenwood - Proven Lands
There Will Be Blood - Prospector Arrives
Well guess what, Tesco is invading California. They've made some announcements but the PR machine kicked into gear a few days ago as they announced they'll be opening a bunch of stores in the East Bay.
I love Safeway because the service and food are good, the people are nice (Novita) and it was a great investment for me a while back. However, Tesco, is a very creative company and will surely bring some grocery innovations to California. These two companies duking it out will be fun to watch.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Anywhoo, there was a lot of debate as to why MSFT paid so much. Here is my take, pre-reading any articles on it (I woke up a little late after celebrating my buddy Tucker closing some big deals).
Regarding the 60%+ Premium:
- I think it has to be high cause Google will come in and bid. Basically, they're trying to make it high enough so they don't get into a bake-off and Yahoo just excepts immediately. If you look at every deal these two have competed on, it's gotten ridiculous valuation wise. [Adding to the discussion: I know there would be anti-trust issues if Google bid, but at the very least it really slows down the merger. Believe me, Google would make noise.]
- I think looking at Yahoo's old stock price is a false argument. A lot of hope was priced into it. Now mediocre returns are priced in.
- This is really about having enough search market share to matter to advertisers and less about monetization (someone said that because Yahoo monetized search better, it would improve MSFT monetization, which is true but a smaller point, in my opinion). Google is pretty damn close to achieving a monster network effect where people say, "I'm reaching 80% of search/ad traffic with Google, I'll cut my complexity and just work with them." There are services like Clickable that are trying to be a bridge between the two systems, but I'm not sure it will work. MSFT needs Yahoo to remain viable from a market share perspective. The better monetization will help make the deal payoff better but first order of business is remaining viable.
- It's really interesting to watch the consolidation phase start. Audible is getting bought on the same day by Amazon. I think we're officially in consolidation mode now. Amazon, Google and MSFT are going to come out of this as super powerhouses.
- The day before this deal, Google missed Wall Street projections. You have to worry about the other advertising "networks" that have been popping up over the last few years. When the slowing economy is impacting Google, it could really hurt the smaller guys.
The Shins - Gone For Good - I forgot how much I like the Shins and this song especially. They have better songs, but this one just felt right today. I saw them live in Chicago, along with Dutch Evans, and a big Kellogg crew. Incidentally, Dutch recognized the Chicago Tribune music critic next to us and we got to rap about his favorites. Pretty cool. Anyways, it was a great cincert at a cool, but creepy venue in the dead of winter. Listening to the Shins always brings back that great night while at Kellogg.
Eddie Vedder - Society - Vedder is the man. Amazing song off the Into the Wild soundtrack. Love listening to this song when driving at night. Can't wait to listen to it while driving to Tahoe in the summer time.
Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa - Vampire Weekend is the best CD I've bought since Into the Wild. Love this song and I think it's going to have huge crossover appeal because I gave a copy to my stepdad who is 60+ and he loves it too. I wish I could buy stock in Vampire Weekend. How do we make something like that happen?