Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grandma’s Cake Mix

Recognize the doctor in this?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brilliant Negotiator

I had spent about a month or so learning everything I could about mattresses. The mattress I currently sleep on is the only one I’ve owned since moving to Massachusetts back in 1997; it was time to find something new.
I had recently purchased some bedroom furniture – nothing super fancy, and certainly not expensive since I am on a super tight budget being a bachelor carrying the mortgage solo, but functional. One thing that was necessary was putting a new mattress atop the new bed and so the story begins.
I’ll try to edit…ultimately, the mattress business is pretty fishy! I would even go so far as to say it’s easier to shop for a car than for a mattress. You see, let’s say you want a Honda Fit Sport – the car and what’s in it is the same at every dealer. There is also plenty of information available about cars so that you can make an informed decision on what you are buying and how much you should pay for it. With a mattress, it is virtually impossible to find an exact match from one store to another and the worse part, it is intentionally designed that way – to confuse and worse, in a nutshell, rip-off the consumer.
Instead of citing numerous examples and getting into more detail than is necessary, I’ll use the mattress I finally purchased as an example and the rest, I’ll leave to your all too vivid and likely realistic (at least in this case) imagination.
The price label you see here is the one that was on the mattress I purchased. In fact, I shot the photo with my cell phone right there on the sales floor. I purchased the King size and needed only a mattress and the bed I purchased has a platform that takes the place of the box spring as the foundation.
First piece of important information is that the $1799.99 price is actually a considerable discount from the $3500 “list price” of the mattress and therefore, just on an initial glance, the average consumer is led to believe that they are already saving nearly 50%. Imagine that the consumer who likes to try to “talk down” the price would even dare shoot for $300, $400, or even $500 off of that – because it seems so unreasonable that if they are already marking the thing down $1700, that once could get that much more chopped off. Alas, spending quality research time about mattresses and learning about the business from as many angles as possible, I walked into that store confident and ready to make an offer and willing to walk out if they said no. This my friends is a major factor in a successful negotiation – knowing that you must walk away if your price, the one you ultimately determine is the most you are going to pay, is not met.
So, here’s the deal – believe it or not, I paid $675 for that mattress. Yes, that is a whopping $2825 off the list price and  $1125 of the “regular discount price”. the most important thing I learned about the mattress business is just how ridiculous the markups are. One important thing to keep in mind is also an awareness of the marketplace. For instance, Tempur-Pedic mattresses are very expensive and probably have at least an intrinsic markup of a similar nature. However, just try to negotiate a deal on one of these and in most cases, you’ll walk out empty handed. The reason, brilliant marketing, strong branding, and good marketing.
Lesson here folks is that when making a big ticket item purchase, take the time to learn as much as you can about what you are buying. Information is power and the almighty dollar always looks nicer in your wallet than someone else’s!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Podcast: Interview With a PC

I haven’t been able to land a human interview in a while so I decided to do something a bit unconventional and interview my computer. She didn’t have lots of time but was willing to answer the “Pivot Questionnaire” … here’s the result.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My 20 minute date with an iPad

Early on, I referred to the iPad as “an inconvenient iPod”. Today, I went over to the Apple store and spent 20 minutes getting acquainted with the latest offering from Jobs and Co.
Turns out, that the iPad is in fact, a giant iPod (giant being a relative term). What differs from first time I made this reference is that here, after touching, feeling and playing with the device, is that I say this in more of an endearing tone as opposed to one that can be easily construed as derogatory.
After playing with many of the bells and whistles, most of which impressed, I wanted to get a feel for typing with the virtual keyboard and this is what got me thinking about what confuses me most about the iPad.
Considering the size of the device, my best guess is the closest representation to a competitor in the marketplace would be a netbook. I’ve sampled several of the netbooks out there and while on some, there may be an ever so slight compensation necessary for the scaled back mini-laptops, in short time they become just a effective as a standard, full-size keyboard. The iPad’s virtual keyboard was pleasantly simple, accurate, and comfortable in the context of typing a URL but I question how it will feel if using it to say, create  a word processing document?
Ultimately, even if I wanted to dislike this thing, I just couldn’t. The iPad had an infectious quality about it that had me regretting I was in a retail store that was mobbed with people, many just to get a feel at this device and so I had to walk away. Knowing Jobs and his cronies reputation, were I to crack down for one I’d wait until at least iPad 2.0 as there are obvious features left out, most notably the ability to make a phone call. Heck, if you are going to make a giant iPod, you may as well make a giant iPhone!
Revised definition: “iPad: A really cool enlargement of the iPod.”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hello My Friends, here’s what’s newish:

Hello my dear, and so very obviously loyal, blog readers (as well as any new stragglers). I wanted to stop by and offer a few updates and just chat for a bit:
  • The podcast has now been completely moved over to a new host. You can find every one of my podcasts at the new podcast home site by clicking here. There were many missing podcast for a while when the old host crashed – I’ve restored the entire lot here. Soon, you can subscribe directly from within iTunes but you can also click on the subscribe link somewhere over on the right (I haven't actually tried it yet but were I a betting man, I would say it works).
  • I am just a few days pas my first month as a bachelor. While the divorce is not final, I am living alone in this big house. The transition has been interesting though is still new – need to find a new rhythm that matches where I am – in time, it will happen.
  • Thus far there is not set schedule for child sharing but it has been working out okay so far. In time, I realize the need for something a bit more rigid than random will be necessary.
  • I have been working hard on my “Living in the Moment” initiative and I do believe I may have begun to see time moving a wee bit slower as a result (which was partly the intention).
  • The New York Yankees are playing well – yay!
I’ve received a few emails from some of you with encouraging words and good thoughts, I can’t even begin to scratch the surface on expressing my gratitude.
later for now.