Archive for February, 2011

Twenty years ago I would never have imagined that I would have too many choices for entertainment but that day has finally come.   I just found out about www.cackle.com where you can watch movies and shows for free.   The library isn’t wildly extensive but between that and Hulu.com, Youtube, Netflix, Uverse and soon Amazon’s offering there is exponential growth in options.

One thing I did envision 20 years ago was the demise of Blockbuster and retail outlets handing out “media” (DVD’s, etc) so people could consume entertainment.   The technology just wasn’t there back then but it’s here now.    What I didn’t envision though was how disruptive new technology would be to the various business models.  Netflix has all you can eat for $8.99 while Uverse attempts to charge $6.99 for a single movie.

Ultimately I think the push is toward lower and lower costs so we may see $0.99 or even $0.25 rentals in the near future and I can hardly wait.

I got my Costco rebate and was somewhat disappointed that it was only $600.  I had upgraded to Executive membership and purchased some new TV’s at Costco along with a ton of wine and other goods and I thought I would have broken the $800 mark but it didn’t happen.

I’m going to downgrade back to the non-Executive membership since I didn’t think it was worth it for the executive card.

In other news, I found Costco’s Kirkland Turkey Burgers again!  It seems Costco is carrying them again and I’m glad as it is a staple of my diet.    It’s the little things in life that make all the difference.   Hey Costco, maybe you can muscle in on the college book cartel!

I’ve been traveling again and I finally got around to reading most of my mail.   A few bills, some junk mail and amazingly a zero percent credit card offer from Chase.   It’s been a while since I’ve received any type of zero percent offer on my credit cards.   The offer was for 0% balance transfer through April 2012.  It was interesting and I might have jumped on it until I read the fine print which include a 3% balance transfer fee with no cap.

If I transfer $20,000 with a 3% fee, I’m looking at a painful $600 and only worth it to me if I were paying higher interest rates on anything which I’m not.  My mortgage is still at 3.25% so it doesn’t make sense.   My credit unions are pushing hard on auto loans as low as 3% on new vehicles too!

I also watched a bit of TV this weekend and was amazed to see 0% financing through 2015 on furniture and other wares advertised locally.    If these trends continue, I definitely see debt bubble returning although I don’t think we ever truly got out of it.

Well I’m dead tired this week after another international trip.    I was up in Canada and interestingly the job market there seems fairly strong as most of the people I talked to where contemplating job hopping or expanding their expenditures.    It has long been rumored that Canada is in a housing bubble but I didn’t see fear in the eyes of the populous up there.   Interestingly while I was up there, the London exchange announced it wanted to merge with the Toronto exchange so perhaps the common wealth empire is resurrecting itself again after a two century stoic absence.

If anyone is desperate for a job, I would suggest you head north for some potential opportunities assuming you have a skill that is in demand such as anything in the oil & gas industry.

In other news, the past three weeks I’ve received unsolicited e-mails out of the blue asking if I would be interested in a couple of different executive positions.  Additionally, I’m getting quite a few hits on my LinkedIn profile from mostly recruiters.   I take this as a really good sign that perhaps the U.S. job market is finally starting to recover and we’re taking our first baby steps in that direction.   Of course, I turned them down because despite working like a dog, I’m currently enjoying my new job and want to ride it out for at least a couple of more years if not longer.   I could probably take one of those new jobs and get a 100k boost in salary but being in a position I don’t want to be in isn’t worth the extra money.

So I finally began enjoying Amazon shipping groceries to my door.   To be honest, my wife and I continue to work like dogs and both of our companies continue to either lay off or offshore work and we’re left to pick up the pieces so we don’t have much free time to do grocery shopping.

Interestingly, I don’t miss grocery shopping one bit;  The crowds, the parking lot fights, the traffic and the long lines at the checkout make grocery shopping an unpleasant experience and I think the future of the grocery store my be grim unless things change.

The more I think about it the more I think that grocery stores may be dinosaurs in some respects at least for dry goods.   When we shop at a grocery store we are essentially paying for the lights, the ac (or heat), the staff, etc.   When I order from Amazon, although there are computer and electric bills to pay, I doubt they are as high as the aggregate grocery store chain.   Ultimately, I would imagine that this will lead to cheaper prices online than at the grocer store as there is less overhead.   Additionally, 80 million baby boomers that can’t drive to the grocery store or probably shouldn’t be on the road will benefit from this in the near future.

Well that’s all theory anyway because this is what I got today when I realized that I hadn’t received my boxes of Apple Jacks.

I am not sure if this has proven too popular for Amazon or if inflation is eating into profits or they just can’t source the goods but I hope they fix it soon!   I am ready to expand.

So it’s Super Bowl time and we decide we’re having Papa Johns Pizza tonight.  I head over to Papa’s and boy is the place busy.   People that had called ahead were standing around waiting for their pizza.  I just showed up so I order the XL pizza which is supposed to be on sale for $11.99 which includes up to 4 toppings.

“What do you want on your pizza sir?” asks the clerk.

“I want half of it Pepperoni, half of it Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes” I reply.

“Okay, your total is going to be $19.99” she says.

“What?  The sign says it’s $11.99 back there!”  as I point to the large sign which reads “XL Pizza up to four toppings $11.99”

“Yeah but that’s the special with four toppings and you got more” she states.

At this point I’m confused because I have exactly FOUR toppings (Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms & Tomato) but I assume she’s counting Pepperoni twice to make it “five” toppings but that didn’t phase me.  The inability for a clerk to add is no surprise to me these days as they all want to push a button and not have to think.

“So you’re going to charge me $8 dollars for ONE topping?” I retort sarcastically.

At this point, another clerk comes up after overhearing what’s going on and looks at my order and says that my total will be $12.99.   I assume this is correct because of sales tax and I assume I’m getting the $11.99 special and I’m told that my pizza will take 20 minutes.

Of course, as I stand there, I see huge volume of boxes piling up in the counter where they store boxes for soon to be made pizzas and the pile keeps growing.  Needless to say, I had my pizza FORTY minutes later (not twenty) and I have come to the conclusion that Papa John is not capable of running a business.

1. Clerks can’t add

2. Clerks can’t forecast time properly (anyone could tell you that 20 minutes wasn’t going to happen based on volume).

3. Clerks can’t make critical business decision that will SAVE Papa John some money as illustrated in this prior story.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really bothered by poorly trained or incapable clerk about any of it because I knew exactly what I was getting myself into but seriously, Papa Johns needs to rethink all of this “waste” in effort, goods, and product delivery.

I don’t often eat junk food so this was a bit of a treat for me and I was willing to wait but it’s part of the reason why I stay away.