The price of drinks

If this was 10 years ago - I easily could have written a blog with the exact same title but talking about totally different kind of costly drinks. At this point - I'm not surprised when I order a $7 beer or $12 Jack-on-the-rocks. I'm not happy about it - but at this point - not surprised.

What I am surprised about is what I've noticed as the ridiculous inflation of non-alcoholic beverages at restaurants. On many occasions this summer, Amy or I have ordered a standard "Lemonade" because it's what we are in the mood for. Beverages aren't the typical menu item that you order off a menu ... You just know what you want .... Well - maybe I should start - because I've noticed that the price of lemonade in NYC is often $5- $6. Six dollars for 12 ounces of lemon, water, and sugar!?! Seriously? I can buy 128 ounces of lemonade for less than $6... Iced tea, sodas, etc are now all over $4 at a diner in NYC. Again - seriously?

Fast food companies have long known that beverages are where the REAL profit margin occurs - but at this point - I think I'm priced out of the non-water order. Now, I'm of the mindset that when you go out - you should order what you're in the mood for and should you not be able to afford it - that maybe you shouldn't go out to eat... but at the same time ... Knowing myself, I just don't think I'm ready to be able to enjoy a $6 lemonade.

Am I crazy?


Autographs in the Digital Picture Era

I was talking to my friend Chad last week - who was telling me the story of when he met Jose Reyes in the baggage claim at LGA. Chad is a huge Mets fan - so it's like the equivalent of me meeting D. Wade or Zo Mourning.

A very interesting part of the story is that in their discussion - Jose told Chad that he wasn't coming back anytime soon, but when Chad went home, he saw on ESPN that the Omar Minaya said that day that Jose would be back soon... Two days later - the truth came out - but still was probably pretty interesting to be Chad and know that you theoretically had "the scoop" (and posted to his FB status) two days earlier than ESPN ...

But ... this isn't what I wanted to blog about .... What I thought was most interesting is that what Chad was hoping to get out of meeting one of his favorite ball players had NOTHING to do with getting his autograph. His first priority was having a conversation with him (knowing if he's nice or a jerk - in which Chad says he was super-cool) and his second priority was to get a picture with him... And Chad is not alone. I totally agree with that philosophy and have ZERO interest in a players autograph.

I believe that in the digital camera era - "autograph demand" is at an all-time low ... and with internet publishing/scanning technologies, "autograph supply" is probably at an all-time high.... Which is to say that the "Autograph market" is probably at rock-bottom right now. I'm not an autograph valuation expert at all - that's just my hypothesis. (Maybe Maze or Colediggy who used to hang out at Don Carter's for baseball memorobillia signings could weigh in on the current market).

I think the personal digital photograph means so much more in terms of capturing the memory. I can't tell you I have any pictures with people I'm huge stars of unfortunately. Partly because I can't say I've run into many - but those that I have run into - I never have the guts to annoy them in public. But ... maybe I should... and who knows -- maybe the day that I do ... I'll be sharing that experience with all of you via this blog ... Something I don't think would be as interesting if I only got an autograph....


Phone Sushi - It's a money saver

OK - A bit cheesy blog post title - but I witnessed something at work today that I wanted to share ... Who knows - maybe one day it will save you some money...

A co-worker came in complaining that she dropped her iPhone in the pool over the weekend and now had to buy a new phone ... Given that it's summer - we have young interns sitting among us ... Anyway - one of these bright young kids overheard her - picked up the phone - confirmed that it was in fact dead and said "I bet I can fix it."

When I asked him how - he said - you submerge the phone (and the crevices of the device) with uncooked rice. You wait - and the rice magically dries out the water in the device.

Well - you can guess the end result. The intern came into work a day later with a big smile on his face and handed my co-worker with her iPhone in complete working order.

I clearly don't want to encourage testing the methodology out - and I'm sure no one can vouch for the long-term validity of the device working well ... However ... I just thought it was something pretty cool that I never would have thought of...


Is my skin learning from my metabolism?

Most men over the age of 25 have had the realization at some point that they "just can't eat like they used to..." Their metabolism doesn't allow them to rotate daily dinner options between bacon cheeseburgers, pizza, and burritos. Even if you work-out regularly - it's pretty well-known that your metabolism over time just doesn't work like it used to ...

Well, this weekend I became curious if my skin was following this trend.
(Disclaimer - I acknowledge that "sun-bathing" is bad for you and can cause skin cancer)

When I was in high-school (living in south Florida), I went to the beach at a minimum of once a week and I was out in the sun every day... During this time, I honestly do not remember putting an ounce of sun protection lotion on my body ... Obviously there are health issues with this - but from the vanity standpoint of being happy with one's skin tone after being out in the sun - it just happened naturally for me... Similar to the way my body would allow me to eat whatever I wanted and not notice a difference to my body...

Anyway - over the years - this has drastically changed ... When I sit in the sun for any time over 30 minutes - not only do I need hefty sun protection lotion (we'll call it "30"), and not only am I like a 4 year-old who will miss spots through-out my body ... But I'll get burnt rather than tan...

My question is -- WHY? Is it my skin or is it the sun? I know the sun in Florida is different than New York, etc -- but it happens when I'm in Florida as well...

Has my skin gone the way of my metabolism? Has the sun gotten just 10 times more fierce in the last 15 years?


"Free" in debate

Some of the minds that I respect the most have sounded off this week on a recent book written by Chris Anderson (Editor of Wired Magazine and Author of The Long Tail).
Malcolm Gladwell set off the debate with his book review... Seth Godin respectfully disagreed with Malcolm .... and Mark Cuban also weighed in (Interestingly enough - both Seth and Mark often blog about the relative topic for quite some time)...

Anyway - I'm obviously not as insightful as any of these people - but from where I sit - I think the clearest reality is somewhere in-between where the two sides sit...

The very brief overview:
(Disclaimer - I haven't read the book - just the commentaries above)
Anderson and Godin argue that information is expected to be free for end consusmers - and that the parties that fight this (ie Newspapers) will wither away... Gladwell and Cuban says that free isn't sustainable and that anyone who thinks it can will end up losing a lot of money in the long-run (ie Youtube/Google).

My personal take:
In the digital era there is a certain amount of information that is expected to be free. With "free" comes lower expectations of how well that information is displayed, written, consumed. Everyday I expect to get "the headlines" for free. I expect to read sports stories on the Miami sports franchises for free. I expect to get hotel reviews for free. I expect to watch an entertaining 3 min video clip for free. With free - I don't expect that I'm going to be blown away by this information... I'm just looking to casuaully consume it. In these cases - it's up to the providers of this information to monetize this content via other methods than from my pocket (hence the "FREE"). The only way the industry has seen fit to try and do this is through advertising. I work in the industry for 11+ years and rather than get sidetracked on this post - please trust me when I tell you that the online medium as a technology is way too amazing for smart marketers and publishers to not figure it out in the long run ... It's just not an over-night exercise...

There is another set of information that I don't expect to be free. Professionally written and insightful material. Top notch video. Trustworthy medical and legal advice.

I still pay $20 per month for weekend NYT delivery. I'm not looking for headlines when I sit down, drink my coffee, and read my weekend paper. I'm looking for valuable, professionally written material (some people may not value this - but I do). I still pay $12.50 per ticket to go see movies (and some of them shouldn't even be considered "professionally done").

So the "net-net" is that the good ol' information superhighway has commaditized certain elements information. It is merely the evolution of our economy. What happened to the railroad when airplanes began to become affordable to everyone? What happened to 411 when the Yellow Pages were first published? On the flip side - people used to pay $0.25 for a cup of coffee until Starbucks convinced people their coffee experience was 4x better than what they were used to...

It's been said for a while, but newspapers will have to change their model ... but that doesn't mean they have to go away or that it's impossible for consumers to value quality journalism. It just means they can't be in the mass-market headlines business anymore ... And it means that they can't sell advertising the same way... but they can figure it out.

There is a market for free information - and that market is enormous. There is a smaller market for professionally published information than there was 10 years ago - but it's just different that what existing providers of free information are used to...