Mar 31 2011

cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

My youngest son came home with this a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure why he decided to draw this, but I’m glad he gets it.  Joe likes money and likes to spend money, but he also lives in the real world.  He’s 10 years old and somewhat budgets his money, that is, enough budgeting to get what he wants to buy.  He talks about buying stuff all the time, but he’s selective when it comes to actually making a purchase.

My oldest talked about an idea he had for an environmentally friendly missile.  While we were sitting in our think tank (hot tub), Cole spent almost 15 minutes telling me about his missile design.  It’s a missile that puts out an environmentally friendly gas that temporarily paralyzes people, allowing the police to ‘go in’ and get the bad guys, place them in prisons, and when the gas wears off, nobody is harmed in the process.  Here’s the blueprints.

Here’s the best part.  Yesterday, he did a cost analysis and figured out was his profit margin will be.  ??!!??!  How does he know how to do this?  He’s eleven years old.  I’ve talked about cost analysis stuff, but I’ve never shown him the process on paper.  Take a look.

Not only did he think of the labor costs, but when Joe talked to him about advertising, he adjusted the analysis accordingly.  I’m guessing Joe’s ad plan for him was to advertise during the Super Bowl.  If my two radically different kids partner together in the future, using their gifts to collaborate for good, they’ll do great things.  Yes, I’m the proud parent today.  :)


Mar 28 2011

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading


Feb 8 2011

how many of you stayed home today? [day 257]

The day after the Super Bowl is apparently the most missed day at work for hangovers.  The Dallas Morning News ran this article in a Super Bowl special excerpt.  There’s a website that will give you good excuses so you can miss work if you’ve partied too hard.  Seriously?  The newspaper is posting ways to lie to your boss?  So let’s say the employees of the DMN read this and call in sick.  I think they should all get a paid day off for lying, as suggested by their employer.  How about scheduling a vacation day is you plan to get smashed?  Or maybe just have one or two beers instead?  I just find it somewhat disturbing that the news would tell people to lie.  Sad.


Jan 29 2011

aldi vs. walmart: a shopping comparison [day 248]

You asked for it.  Here it is.  The price shopping comparison between Aldi and Walmart.  After my post on day 241, many people asked for a price comparison with Walmart, some because they love shopping there, others because they believe Walmart to have the lowest prices.  So what’s your guess on the savings?

Aldi is still a lot cheaper in comparison t0 both of the other stores.  On similar size off brand and generic items, Kroger was 52% more and Walmart was 47% more.  The savings at Walmart for these brands is not much less than a regular grocery store, neither coming close to the savings at Aldi.  On the name brands, Kroger was 113% more and Walmart was 67% more.  Here’s where the Walmart savings come in.  Name brands you’re familiar with, for much less than other places.  This whole process has made me think about my previous grocery shopping habits and has encouraged me to make some changes.  I’m going to label these a little differently.  Let’s call these stores by type.

conventional grocery storediscount grocery storesuperstore – convenience store

All of the store types have pros and cons, however making educated shopping choices for your money and well being isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.  Here are a few of my observations and answers to questions I had before doing this comparison: Continue reading


Dec 10 2010

Oprah's favorite things or advertising by the big O? [day 197]

Oprah always has her list of favorite things at Christmas time and gives them away to her viewers or audience.  A lot of this feels like advertising, although she has a few things to say about each of these and why she likes them.  Unfortunately that doesn’t rules out paid advertising.  If Oprah mentions you or your product, you’re an instant success.  When I worked for Barnes and Noble 15 years ago, we would have to order 100+ of any title she mentioned on her show.  She has a lot of power to make a difference.

I pulled up her list several weeks ago for my blog, but decided to pull it up this morning while I write this post.  Surprise!  Oprah has added over 10 new items to her favorite things.  Among the new items?  An iPad, Scrabble for the iPad, glittery Uggs and Coach bags.  I had every intention of believing she actual uses these things, likes them and then features them on her show.  Clearly this is not the case, this is yet another creative, and very expensive, advertising vehicle.  Why do I think that?  The answer is in the iPad…

Apple iPad. Read the blurb under the photo.  She says, “Words cannot describe what I feel for this magnificent device.  I really think it’s the best invention of the century so far.”  She continues on with, “Thanks to my iPad, I now read about four newspapers a day.  I write my column for O magazine way before the deadline because I love writing on it so much.”  Really Oprah?  If that’s true, why is it late making your list of favorite things?  Could it be that Apple contacted you to market this magnificent device?  If they did and you accepted it, good for you and good for Apple.  It’s a win-win for Applrah.  What I have a problem with is lying.  If Oprah really uses this and it’s one of her favorite things, then why is it late on the list?  This is advertising, plain and simple.  She writes on it way before her deadlines, yet this is a recent favorite things addition?  It doesn’t add up Oprah.  Maybe you should stop playing Scrabble on your treadmill and find a truth-in-advertising app.  It’s okay to advertise, it’s okay to say you like stuff you don’t use often, but don’t act like you can’t live without it and that you do things with it you clearly don’t do.

Now, let me take the direction I planned with this post.  I had planned to talk about a few of her items, then my next post will be Jody’s favorite things.  So I think I’ll go to the Apple store and see if they’ll sponsor me?  In the mean time, take a look at a few other Oprah 2010 items.

kiva.org. I started with Kiva because this is a great thing to do for Christmas gifts.  For $25 you can help someone from anywhere in the world fund their small business.  This is a great gift for many reasons.  It helps people in need, it allows you to help them, the person receiving the gift doesn’t collect a bunch of stuff they don’t need and you can see who you’re helping.  Once that money has helped someone, you can choose for that money to go out again to help another project or person.  Groupon.com is doing a matching program too!  This will be on Jody’s favorite things as well.

Hope by Philosophy. Oprah has been using this moisturizer for over 10 years.  Again, this was a late addition, so i took 10 years and 2 months for her to decide to make it a favorite?  Nope, I think it was a late addition, because it features a picture of a “certain little girl from Mississippi.”  I wonder who that could be?  Good thing she decided they’re a favorite or this company would be investing in some 3M stickers with some other not-so-certain kid from Montana.  If Hope really costs $38 for 2 ounces, it’s no wonder there’s a lack of hope in our culture.  My philosophy?  I can’t afford hope, although this topical type hope might be easier than the psychological hope.

Nikon D3100 SLR camera. I’ve been using Nikon cameras since the early 80’s.  My first Nikon was an 8008 film camera.  I have to admit, I’m more into electronics than clothing or girly stuff.  Whether you’re buying a camera, a tv, a sweater or a necklace, just make sure is something that will be liked and used, not something to add to the pile of stuff you or your loved one doesn’t use.

Baker’s edge baking pans. Here’s something Oprah really does like, as it was on the original list and she’s always talking about dieting.  First of all, this pan would be a diet for me, as I like the inside pieces of lasagna and cakes, not the crusty outside stuff.  It comes with Ghirardelli brownie mix too, which is a little funny since she’s also featuring a book, A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson.  A contradiction?  Yes Oprah, it is.

My point in featuring Oprah is that she’s sold out to the money making.  Anything will be on her favorites list if the company supports her.  What are your favorites and why?  Don’t sell out to culture or anything else people are selling unless you believe in it.


Nov 30 2010

*read the fine print [day 188]

*Blog post subject to change without notice.  Other terms and conditions apply.  Not responsible from broken windshields.

What’s with all the fine print these days?  Are lawyers really that bored?  Or are companies that scared?  Does anyone actually read this stuff?  If not, I’m guessing we all should be.

There’s some crazy stuff in the fine print.  If nothing else, it’s entertaining.  Okay, so I’m easily amused.  Maybe you will be too.  take a look.

*All terms and conditions apply. Who’s terms and conditions?  Mine?  If not mine, where does one find these terms and conditions?
*It is our firm intention to have every advertised item in stock. Firm intentions you say…
*This insert was prepared weeks in advance for publication and prices and availability may have changed. Of course they have.
*Sale doesn’t include Apple products. Boo!  It never does.
*Prior to opening, a line of customers will form outside the store. Yes, we even have line standing disclaimers now.
*Regular prices are offering prices and saving may not be based on actual sales. What does that even mean?   Continue reading

Oct 24 2010

strings attached… [day 150]

I was paging through a girly magazine as I getting my hair done last week.  ‘Done’ meaning colored…  So this isn’t my normal choice of magazine, as I prefer art, life or business themes, however I thought I would look just to see what the hype is about.  I’m sure shopping in thrift stores doesn’t provide me with the current style trends I might need to know.

Strings attached… Now I love my friendship bracelets.  I have a few from my kids, some from friends, some made by the kids at Casa Hogar and one I found on the floor at the library.  I’ve had them on for months.  Mine are special because they were made by people I know, or the store bought ones (that probably cost less than $.25) given to me for s special reason.

Now I liked these pictured in the magazine, that was until I saw the price.  They range from $130 to $250.  Is that for all of them?  And enough for my friends?  The strings attached would be knowing that your friend gives you a piece of jewelry that costs as much as a small car payment.  Detaching strings…    Continue reading


Oct 3 2010

charitable marketing. yes or no? [day 129]

Is charitable marketing good?  I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as it’s a huge and fast-growing trend.  It works, but is it ethical and trustworthy?

As David Frey wrote on frugalmarketing.com, “Many savvy small businesses are affiliating themselves with charities to market their businesses. Not only is it a primary means for developing a powerful network but also it helps others in the process. People like to associate themselves with businesses that support causes, which help disadvantaged people in a meaningful way.”  And he follows that with, “Don’t think that charities are oblivious to your motivations. Most charities today understand your secondary purpose for participating in charities and are experienced at helping you receive a return on your charitable investments.”

I decided to research just a bit, as I find this concept very interesting.  Here’s 3 case studies from radically different businesses. Continue reading


Aug 19 2010

just curious, because I don't get it [day 82]

Glance at the photo.  What is the first thing you saw?  I saw Gucci underwear.

I found this on a Facebook ad a few weeks ago.  Do they know that this handbag looks like underwear?  Was that intentional?  Is it some subliminal message about undergarments that makes women want to buy a Gucci bag?  Just curious, because I don’t get it.


Jul 19 2010

the challenge: day 52 [iSticker… iDitched it]

iDecided to take the Apple logo off the back of my car.  iWent outside after church, going to my car and saw a guy taking a photo of the sticker on the back of my car.  It made me think about transition of propaganda to advertising over the past few decades and what iAm saying with my car stickers.  iHad an Apple sticker, the one pictured on the right and a church sticker of tinselectomy.com.

iAm quite sure Apple gets plenty of advertising and iDo very much like their products, however iWould rather advertise for the small mom & pop type places or organizations doing great acts of compassion.  iSaw this display of Apple stickers, and iHave to say, it’s a very cute use of them, but do the retail giants really need more advertising?  iKnow of a few homeless shelters and food banks that could use a little push.  Those are the stickers iPlan to put on my car.

iTook the Apple sticker off yesterday.  iHave the same feeling about my clothing, iJust don’t want to be a name-brand walking, driving, working, living advertisement for large corporations.  iAm not saying the retail giants are all evil or bad, but they have taken over the majority of retail stores and restaurants, making it difficult for the smaller places to survive.  Most cities have turned into Cookiecuttersville, USA.  Chain stores, mega-marts and strip malls as far as the eye can see.  Again, iWant to say these are not bad, but please support the mom and pop places in your neighborhood.  Do you know where they are?  iKnow many in my area, and to support them, my friend E and iAre going to start a blog to support these places.  More to come on that soon.

Those who say we cannot make a difference shouldn’t interrupt the people making a difference.  :)