Thursday, December 18, 2008

High Speed Rail and Fresno

I haven't talked about High Speed Rail for a while, so it is time again. The California High Speed Rail Blog has had a few interesting articles recently about one of the first steps for the CAHSR, the Central Valley Test Track Part 1. This is basically a test track that will eventually be a part of the train route through the valley helping the HSR authority test trains, develop rules and regulations, and develop strategies for technical issues such as seismic activity and any route sharing that might exist. Part 2 proposes some ideas more specifically to the route of the test track (and then eventually the actual route with stations, etc.).

A couple of thoughts on this:
  • Transit planning is very interesting to me, especially since I am learning a lot as I read some of these articles
  • Long term planning is both extraordinarily important and difficult.
  • Some of these people making these plans (especially related to personal vehicle travel) seem to be on the wrong path
  • I think (and hope) train travel will become as commonplace here (especially in California) as it is in Europe
  • These transit projects will require a lot of planning and work to get completed, and it will be very exciting to see all the changes it will bring.
Here are some other articles (8.2mb pdf, and 20.15mb pdfabout the future of transportatin in the valley and Fresno region.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Car

So it is good and bad to have a car that VERY few other people have in your city.

It is good because people can spot you pretty easily.
It is bad because people can spot you pretty easily.

It is funny because when your friends see one of the 2 or 3 other cars that are the same as yours, they think its you.

My friends ask me all the time whether I was here or there at a certain time a few days ago. I get text messages asking me how the food at Taco Bell is, when I'm sitting at home eating ice cream.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas Music

Luke Mundy's posts on Christmas Music have had me thinking a lot about Christmas music in general.

Christmas music is one of these two things:
  1. Music about the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus)
  2. Holiday music that is normally associated with the season
Christmas music can be one of these or both, but it is much easier to make new music from the first category. Of course almost every musical artist has done some rendition of a classic Christmas tune, which is relatively easy, but this isn't creating new music (in this situation).

I think when most people think of Christmas music they think of the second category, even though the specific songs might fit in the first category. If you were to write a song about the birth of Jesus that no one had heard before it would unlikely be considered a Christmas song by most people until it reached that degree of holiday association.

This makes it hard then to enter the Christmas music market. It is possible with such pop songs turned Christmas classics such as Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" and The Beach Boys "Little Saint Nick", but very difficult.

So, I think my whole point is I wish all of you musicians out there the best of luck with creating new Christmas music, especially if it fits in the first category.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I started reading a new book today (to join the other 2 or 3 books I am currently in the middle of reading). Thanks to Mike S for lending me the book.

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.

I love reading that challenges you, makes you think, and gives you an exercise in the abstract. While not necessarily each of these things occur in every book I read, I do enjoy these different things.

I've only read the prologue so far, but it is a book about the future of computers, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of these thinking "beings" being conscious.

I hope it to be a good read.

View Map

The total distance was about 19 miles, and I went with a friend, Andrew E. We took the middle section pretty easy, and the total trip was about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Since I haven't really been bike riding a lot lately, I am already feeling it quite a bit in my legs, and I'm sure tomorrow won't be pretty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Pepsi Logo?

I've been seeing some rumors around the blogosphere about Pepsi changing/updating their logo.

Via Brand New

If this change is in fact real or at least close to what it will be, what do you think?

My impressions are mixed.

First, it is difficult to create brand identity if you continually change your look. The most recognizable logos really don't change that much, and case in point, the Coca-Cola logo remains the same, and happens to be one of those logos.

Second, these changes (mostly for Pepsi) aren't so drastic that they aren't reminiscent of logos of past eras. The red/blue/white circle design is "basically" still there. (Although it does look a little less like the Korean Air logo now)

I also don't think that Pepsi will have as many issues with the logo change as they would if they changed their recipe (like New Coke).

I think the logo looks hip and contemporary, but it all comes down to whether or not the customer will be scared off or intrigued. By changing a logo, which is a huge key to a brand, the actual product needs to be relied on.

One thing I thought was originally cool about the difference between pepsi and diet pepsi logos was that they are slightly different. A product like Diet Pepsi is in fact a competitor to the original of Pepsi. The biggest problem is that when two brands like Diet Pepsi and Pepsi share the same logo it is hard to reconcile the differences of the product while in the same packaging. I thought that the slight differences in logo would do something to differentiate the two products, but I think to be really effective you have to make them completely different brands. The biggest issue with that is it is VERY scary.

What do you think of the new logos?


As the conversation between two great philosophers Pedro and Napoleon went:

Napoleon Dynamite: Well, nobody's going to go out with *me*!
Pedro: Have you asked anybody yet?
Napoleon Dynamite: No, but who would? I don't even have any good skills.
Pedro: What do you mean?
Napoleon Dynamite: You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.
Pedro: Aren't you pretty good at drawing, like animals and warriors and stuff?
Napoleon Dynamite: Yes... probably the best that I know of.
Pedro: Just draw a picture of the girl you want to take out... and give it to her for like a gift or something.
Napoleon Dynamite: That's a pretty good idea.

Skills are very important. Skills often define who we are because they determine what we are capable of doing. I've noticed a rash of websites and blogs recently that cater to this niche of skills. Here are a few that I've found related to skills men should have (as this is what I normally pay attention to because I am one).

1001 rules for my unborn son
100 skills every man should know
The Art of Manliness

As well, I just came across this one for women.

30 Skills Every Woman Should Have Before Turning 30

Sammy Hagar Update

Well, it now appears that Sammy Hagar will only be playing one show here at Cabo Wabo in Fresno.

I also realized after my blog post on the subject that Tuesday night won't work for me to check out Sammy and the Wabos. Tuesday nights are now occupied by my Catalyst Tuesday evening events with church. While I might be inclined to skip this coming Tuesday, I would feel really bad because I am in fact leading the group that day. Oh well, maybe next time around.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sammy Hagar Coming to Fresno

As you may know, Fresno recently got a Cabo Wabo, which is pretty special as there are only 3 in the world.

I actually checked out the cantina on opening weekend back in August, and it is fairly impressive.

There have been rumors for a long time that Sammy Hagar himself (founder and creator of Cabo Wabo and member of Van Halen) would be coming to Fresno to visit the new cantina and play a show on the stage. It turns out that he is coming next week for two nights and two free shows!

One of those days happen to fall on my day off, and I am considering heading over there to catch one of the shows. The only problem is that I am doubtful that I could find anyone else to endure waiting in line with me. So if you are reading this, and want to waste a few hours on Tuesday next week waiting in line to see a free Sammy Hagar concert, let me know.

Social Media Phobia

Check out this great post by one of my high school classmates, MasterMaq.

He talks about people's aversions to social media and some great reasons why a) this fear is not warranted and b) this fear can actually end up hurting you and your organization in the long run.

I think this concept of a fear of the unknown obviously has much bigger applications and ramifications, which are alluded to at the beginning of the post with the Batman reference.

Creative Lamp Designs

I really enjoyed looking through this list of the 40 Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever.

I was, however, a little disappointed that the first lamp that popped into my head when I heard the title didn't make the list.

Via Presurfer

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Music of our Lives

Watch this very interesting Swedish short film with "stomp" like musicians who invade someone's flat while they are out and create music with all their stuff. It's called "Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers" and it is by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nillson.

I think it's quite creative and worth a watch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Luke Mundy hasn't shared in a while which states have (or haven't) been visiting his blog. I finally took a look at my full statistics on Google Analytics from when I first started my blog, and here are the states that have visited my blog. (Most visits at the top)

1. California
2. Virginia
3. Washington
4. New York
5. District of Columbia
6. Illinois
7. Massachusetts
8. Ohio
9. Minnesota
10. North Carolina
11. North Carolina
12. New Jersey
13. Texas
14. Michigan
15. Oregon
16. (Unknown)
17. Georgia
18. Pennsylvania
19. Rhode Island
20. Tennessee
21. Florida
22. Kentucky
23. Arizona
24. Kansas
25. Colorado
26. Missouri
27. Mississippi
28. North Dakota
29. Indiana
30. Oklahoma
31. Maine
32. Wisconsin
33. Connecticut
34. Nebraska
35. Hawaii
36. Louisiana
37. Delaware

With 36 states represented (and a few people from (unknown)) I am only missing 14 states. Not too bad considering I've only been posting for about 7 months.

Design Impacts Marketing

This is a great example as to why good design is so very important. You can spend all the money in the world on marketing, but if your product or service is no good, people are going to find out.

Your marketing efforts are not the only ones for your product or service.

Bird Poop

People and organizations often don't move even though they know the situation is not good.

Via Vertizontal

Presidential Campaigns and Jingles

What would happen if more campaigns used catchy jingles like this?


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Most Coveted Cars

It feels pretty good to have my vehicle listed on Forbes list of Most Coveted Cars.

While my technical wait time was only 13 months, I actually waited over 5 years for the Smart Fortwo to come to the United States. Well worth it.

Via Treehugger

Yakety Sax

I guess I had always known, but I did not fully realize the implications until today.

Almost anything, put to the music of Benny Hill (Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph), is hilarious.

Case in point

Xeni Jardin's post on Boing Boing lists some other videos with the same music that prove this point. I'm just not too sure I agree with the landmines one...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Downtown Association of Fresno

The Downtown Association of Fresno has their new website up and running.

Check it out at

Downtown Assoc website

It appears to be running a little slowly, and some of the links have been timing out on me, but I do like the look of it.

I guess only time will tell how useful this site will be, and how much people can and will utilize it. The first thing I looked for was an RSS feed, but alas I couldn't find one. I'll keep checking.

Via Fresno Famous

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dark Story 2 or Toy Knight 2

Here's a mashup of the Dark Knight movie trailer with Toy Story 2. It's pretty clever.


Peanut Butter Slices

Want a peanut butter sandwich on the go but you don't want to take a jar of peanut butter, a knife, and anything else this normally calls for? Well the answer is here with New! P.B. Slices.

Similar to cheese slices, these peanut butter slabs come in plastic wrap and make the whole process a little more portable and a little bit easier.

I can't imagine this being better for the environment, with all the extra plastic, but it is a very interesting concept.

Would you buy/use this?

Via UberReview

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Confusing Traffic

I would imagine this road would be a little confusing to figure out where you are going.

Via Aerial Photography

Eyeball It

Are you good at telling if a picture frame is hanging crooked or a corner is 90 degrees?

Try the Eyeballing Game to see how good you are at guess proportions and distances.

I got a 9.99 (because I wasn't reading the directions on the Triangle center and royally screwed up). My best "event" was right angle, with my best score a 0.1.

Via Presurfer

Saturday, October 04, 2008

GameTracker by CBS College Sports

As I was unfortunately unable to attend the Fresno State Bulldogs football game tonight against the University of Hawaii Warriors, I wanted to keep up to date on the score/game.

I have, in the past, followed the games online at with their live GameTracker, which has play-by-play details of the game. It has traditionally been fairly basic with the scoreboard, a two dimensional picture of a field and small icons representing where the ball is etc. on the field.

This season GameTracker has been given an upgrade.

Game Tracker

While the score may not be that comforting, I was very impressed with the visuals on this game tracker. Not only has the scoreboard been given a facelift, but the representation of the field is immensely better. The little icons for ball placement have been replaced with little animations showing the basic outcome of the play and while still not even close to actually being there, it gets you a little closer to the action. The little players pass, run, and kick the ball throughout the field. It is pretty entertaining.

I know the Fresno State Athletics website is run in partnership with CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV) and gives more resources to providing richer content to fans, but I've been pleasantly surprised a few times now in the last few months with the website. They also have a mobile version of which makes browsing on my phone so much better.

Smart Car Brochure

I received in the mail today a brochure from smart USA.

I don't have a lot of experience with buying new cars, and the marketing efforts of car companies after purchasing a vehicle from them.

The brochure I got from smart USA is about CD sized, and it was fairly thick.

It said
smart emergency kit. Thank you for choosing smart. As a token of our appreciation, we're giving you some essential cargo to take along for the ride. This "emergency kit" contains a few fun extras to help keep you moving.

Upon opening the package I came across this:


The next page showed this:


And the next page:


And unfolded, the whole brochure looked like this:


I think this is a really cool idea. It keeps me happy and feeling good about the smart brand, and it didn't cost them more than $20 to make a really meaningful impact on me. I am already their customer, but how much more likely I am to talk them up now (still).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vintage Advertisements

Advertising has come a long way, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily gotten better.

Check out these 50 Inspiring Vintage Advertisements to see the many visually inspiring ads of previous generations.

Via Presurfer

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Breakfast Cereal

I have been stocking up on breakfast cereal recently, partly because of some sale prices at Target.

In the last week, I've purchased 8 boxes of cereal (just for myself). 4 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, 2 boxes of Life, and 2 boxes of Quaker Oatmeal Squares. This brings the total number of boxes of cereal up to 12 in my pantry, which I will be eating over the next couple of weeks. Please remind me over the next little while that I do not need to buy anymore cereal for a bit.

Speaking of cereal, check out The Breakfast Bowl for a couple of posts about cereal boxes selling on eBay for a lot of money.

What Would You Do With $700 Billion

With all this talk about bailouts and whether or not the US government should spend $700 billion on the the financial industry, I really enjoyed this article from WorldChanging.

I think one thing this current event is doing to our culture is affecting the perceived value of money. Since the total of $700 billion is thrown around so much in the media, it is almost starting to seem like it is not so much money. Just remember though, each billion is 1 000 million.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Digital TV

I don't have cable here at the apartment, which made getting an HDTV all the more special because of all the "extra" digital channels you can get over the air. And High-Definition programming is amazing, and it really is a huge step up from analog TV.

Here is a listing of the digital channels I get here in Fresno. (This is not a comprehensive list of the digital stations in Fresno, I'm sure there are some channels that I don't get).

I have noticed though that two stations (40.8 and 40.9) have shown up with a channel search. Nothing is being broadcast on these channels, and nothing came up in a quick google search. It almost seems like these are actually some other type of signal that has made its way into the DTV spectrum.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Everything Simpsons

If you are a fan of the TV show The Simpsons I would like to share with you a website that will have you more excited than a kid in a candy shop.

The Simpsons Archive is
The Simpsons Archive is the Internet's clearinghouse of Simpsons guides, news, and information, voluntarily maintained by members of and other fans around the world.
The website address ( in itself is interesting (Springfield Nuclear Power Plant). Anything you ever wanted to know about any Simpsons episode, or really anything pertaining to The Simpsons can be found here.

Check it out, but be careful because you might spend too much time browsing.

Classic Sesame Street

Since the economy and a lot of things in our world aren't going so well right now, I thought I would introduce a little happiness by sharing some classic Sesame Street skits.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Honorable mentions:

If you don't crack even a small smile from watching these you probably have some issues for which you should get help.

Got any other favorite Sesame Street videos?

Sound Waves

Similar to the other speaker trick an experiment consisting of a speaker, a metal sheet, and some salt. Watch as the science is expressed visually.

Warning: At some point in the video, the sound gets so high that it might hurt your ears. Also, make sure your pets are not around while playing this video.

I love watching this and seeing the progression and the relationship between the pitch and the patterns.

Via Presurfer

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Voting Choices

Have you ever had problems deciding for whom you will cast your vote? ABC News has an interesting tool on their website that is supposed to help you make that choice a little easier.

The Match-O-Matic pits quotes from the US Presidential Candidates McCain and Obama against each other without telling you who said which. You pick the quote you agree with most, and it tells you how you score. Many of the quotes, as can be imagined, are fairly easy to discern the candidate, but I was surprised at the outcome of my final score, and how the spread ended up.

As with my actual vote during the election, the outcome of this little test (whether reflective of my vote or not) will be a secret.

Luxury Trailer

Check out this trailer from T@B.

I am not really looking at buying a trialer, but I definitely think I would consider this if I was. The key to an RV is that you can live in luxury in the wild. Most large RVs accomplish this with both size and luxury. From the RVs I've seen, size is the real source of the luxury. The T@B XL appears to derive its luxury from luxury itself, and it isn't so big that you can barely maneuver it around the campsite. I love camping in tents and "roughing" it just like the next guy, but if I wanted a trailer this would be the one. Plus, it doesn't appear to be that expensive either (for a nice trailer), only around $62 000.

Via UberReview


I have an issue with PG&E's website.

When I go to their website they ask me if I am there because of a Personal or Business Account, and whether or not I want them to remember my choice. The screen looks like this:

I think it's fantastic they ask me if I want them to remember why I am going there. The biggest problem is that every time I go there they have forgotten. I don't delete my cookies or anything, but I do only go about once a month to pay my electricity/gas bill.

It would be really nice that when they solicit a question such as this that they would actually follow through.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Name Badges

Name badges and name tags have been a fascinating thing for me, especially over the last 5 years.

You may be aware that I wore a "Hello My Name Is" name tag every single day of my four years of college. (Starting about a month into my Freshman year). And working at Target has given me the opportunity to continue that tradition of wearing a name tag.

I was reading this post by Robert Scoble about the nTAG badges given out at the MIT Emerging Technology. Read about them, they sound pretty interesting.

I haven't been to a lot of conferences, in fact, I can probably count them all on one hand. However, one conference I did attend was the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association conference (IHRSA) held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I was on one of the committees for the planning of the Student Recreation Center that recently opened up at Fresno State. One of our assignments was to plan out some of the fitness and exercise equipment, so a natural thing to do was head to the IHRSA convention and check out some of the vendors and their products. One of the most interesting things was the name badges. They were nowhere near the sophistication of the nTAG badges, but every name badge had a barcode on it. If you were interested in receiving more information from a vendor or enter to win a drawing/prize, you could just have them scan your name badge and they would have your contact information directly uploaded into their database. This saved a lot of time and carpal tunnel pain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Product vs. Promotion

I've always been a big believer that good design is at least as important if not more important than good marketing, or more specifically having good design and a great product is the best marketing you can have.

Check out Make Marketing History's post on the 12 Reasons Why Products Outweigh Promotion.

HTC Touch HD

At least I am not as late on this one as I was on the HTC Touch Diamond, but HTC recently announced a new addition to their Touch lineup, the Touch HD, with a full, wide, HD quality screen smartphone. While a few of the specs are the same as the Touch Diamond, there are quite a few improvements and changes.

HTC Touch HD

HTC Touch Diamond

Here is my comparison of the HTC Touch HD to the (Apple iPhone 3G). (Here is my original comparison of the Touch Diamond to the iPhone 3G)
  • 115mmx62.8mmx12mm (115.5x62.1x12.3)
  • 3.8in screen (3.5in screen)
  • 480x800 px (480x320 px)
  • 146.4g (133g)
  • 3G (3G)
  • 5.0MP Camera (2.0MP Camera)
  • Secondary Camera in front (No secondary Camera)
  • A-GPS (A-GPS)
  • Resistive & Capacitive Touch Inputs (Capacitive & Resistive Inputs)
  • 528MHz Processor (620MHz processor underclocked to 412MHz)
  • MicroSD expansion slot (8GB or 16GB of Internal Storage)
  • G-Sensor for screen orientation (Accelerometer/Proximity/Ambient Light sensor)
  • 1350mAh battery (1400mAh battery)
  • 288MB RAM (128MB RAM estimated)
There are some fairly substantive differences between the Touch Diamond and Touch HD. I would say the biggest differences are the Touch HD has a larger screen, even better resolution, bigger size (almost the exact same size as the iPhone), better camera, and a MicroSD expansion slot instead of integrated memory. The Touch HD still uses Touch Flo 3D ontop of Windows Mobile 6.1 platform.

I was very thrilled about the Touch Diamond, but I like this Touch HD even better. The only complaint I do have about it is the larger size (almost exactly the same size as the iPhone), but I guess with the larger screen this is almost a necessity. Look at this Sizeasy comparison of the iPhone, Touch HD, Touch, and Touch Diamond. The other thing I might miss is the lack of navigation control buttons, which I actually use quite a bit especially when navigating with one hand. However, I think with the larger screen size this may be less of an issue.

This appears to be a new top contender for my next phone, but it will all come down to what is available when I am ready to get a new phone.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Positive Politics

I think non-negative politics would be another good name to call this, but it doesn't have the alliteration backing it up.

I honestly think, from a marketing perspective, that the candidate who decided to take a completely high road and feature ONLY happy, upbeat, and generally positive campaign commercials would be a hands down winner in the upcoming US Presidential election.

Especially with where the US is sitting right now from a financial, economical, military, and energy standpoint, good news and hope coming from a candidate would spell certain victory.

How can a person watch this video and not just think happy thoughts about Obama? It's upbeat and (as far as I can tell with my VERY limited spanish knowledge) quite positive, with no negative slams against anyone.

Even campaigning is all about marketing a candidate to the people. People might think that "marketing" was more important in the past when a voters only opportunity to experience a candidate may have been through a leaflet or poster and this single encounter was paramount. However, even now with technology and media as pervasive as it is, marketing a candidate is even more important. I firmly believe that marketing is about any exposure or interaction with an entity that has the opportunity to affect the opinion of someone else. Whether it is a commercial, a speech, a news story, or a blog post, marketing is happening in politics just like in the business world, often times not under the control of the organization with the product or service. This means that the exposure you are in charge of must exemplify your position with unwaivering steadfast resolution. Of course, there will always be naysayers, but as long as you can stand firm on what you stand for you can probably drown them out.

Powerhouse Edmonton

I posted last week about my favorite city, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I am always amazed when I get a chance to go back to Edmonton, especially after a long 2 year hiatus like this past trip. So much is being added to Edmonton all the time, namely new construction, both buildings and infrastructure like freeways and extending the light rail transit system.

Check out this article about the Edmonton & Calgary corridor being one of the most successful economies in the world right now and how Edmonton has the potential to become one of the top five mid-sized cities in the world over the next few years.

This article does give me a little more hope, especially related to my thoughts on how Alberta needs to handle their surge of wealth from the oil sands by investing in other economic sectors.

Plus, a huge reason why I like the article so much cause it points out another way that Edmonton is better than Calgary in the friendly Battle of Alberta.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stop Motion Aging

This guy created a stop-motion type video of himself aging by taking two different pictures of his head every day for the last 17 years. I think it is really interesting especially to watch his hair styles and facial hair change as time goes on.

Via Hack a Day

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Virtual Pet

Who needs a pet when you can just get a virtual one online.

I would like to disclaim this with a warning that if you dislike spiders, I would recommend not visiting this site.

Play With Spider is a 3D flash program that allows you to play with and control a spider. You can adjust a lot of variables to change appearance and motion of spider, as well as drop little insects for the spider to eat.

The spider is creepy enough to have me slightly worried that it might try and attack my mouse cursor, but so far so good.

Via BoingBoing

Sustainable Schools: Colleges and Universities

Check out this report on Green Higher Education that was recently released by the Sustainable Endowment Institute. (Via TreeHugger)

I was a little disappointed to see that Fresno State didn't even make the list at all (whether as a top contender or not). Especially after the recent addition to the huge solar panel parking lot project.

Having sat on a number of University-wide committees during my time at Fresno State, I know for a fact that the solar parking lot is only a part of the overall plan that Fresno State administration has for creating a more green campus. I definitely give props to my Alma Mater for making these important decisions, and hope that this type of thinking stays part of the Campus Master Plan.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Veni Vidi Vici in Fresno

I went out last night to Veni Vidi Vici here in Fresno in the Tower District. I had never been to Veni's before, and it turned out to be a pretty cool hang out place. When you first walk in through the 10-12 foot doors, you enter a small, dimly lit room with some tables and a bar. The walls are exposed red brick and the top of the bar is cement.

Walking to the back through a small hallway you emerge outside in a fairly large patio with tables and another bar at the far end. Right in the middle of the patio is a large tree. Lights are hung throughout the patio as well as overhead fans to keep the air circulating.

It's a very chill place, and it's great for people watching, especially because it is in the Tower District, and there are a lot of interesting people that hang out there.

The place seems to really start getting busy around 11pm to 11:30pm.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Permission Marketing

There is a great conversation happening over on A Case of the Mundys about permission marketing and e-newsletters.

Go over there and let us know what you think about the topic by leaving the other Luke some comment love.

Edmonton, Festival City

As I had the awesome opportunity to spend this past weekend in my favorite city in the world, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I was strongly reminded how much I love the city where I was born and grew up. It is only in part to the fact that I have a lot of friends and family that I love Edmonton so much. Here are a list of my favorite things about Edmonton.

  • The River Valley (longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America)
  • Climate
  • Culture (Including nightlife, festivals, and museums)
  • Oilers/Eskimos
  • Walkability of areas
  • Architecture
Of course, I think I definitely learned to appreciate all this stuff much more since leaving Edmonton, and it makes me want to get back that much more. Here is a post I came across about a similar thought experiment.

If you were to leave your city/area what would you miss the most?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weird News

Coming straight from this great city of Fresno is this extremely weird news story. I'm really not sure what to make of it, so I'll let you just read it.

Via @mikeoz

The Opposite of Helium

Everyone knows what happens when you inhale helium and then start talking, but did you know there is a gas that can cause the opposite to happen?

Via BoingBoing

10 Things You Didn't Know About the Earth

Here is some interesting science mixed with math and a touch of fantasy.



Friday, September 05, 2008

FAA Regulations

I am just checking the FAA regulations for my upcoming flight today, so I can make sure I'm not taking anything illegal on the plane, and here are some excerpts of items allowed or not.

Box Cutters No Yes
Ice Axes/Ice Picks No Yes
Knives - except for plastic or round bladed butter knives No Yes
Meat Cleavers No Yes
Razor-Type Blades - such as box cutters, utility knives, razor blades not in a cartridge, but excluding safety razors. No Yes
Sabers No Yes
Scissors - metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches Yes Yes
Swords No Yes
Baseball Bats No Yes
Bows and Arrows No Yes
Cricket Bats No Yes
Golf Clubs No Yes
Hockey Sticks No Yes
Lacrosse Sticks No Yes
Pool Cues No Yes
Ski Poles No Yes
Spear Guns No Yes

The first column of Yes/No is whether the item is allowed as carry-on, the second is whether it is allowed as checked luggage.

My favorites are meat cleavers, sabers, bows & arrows, and spear guns. Really? We have to tell people this?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kid Energy

I love this article on Kid Energy from World Changing.

Kids have a lot of energy, so we really should try to harness it. It will also give kids a great opportunity to stay active, especially in this every increasing video game culture in which we live.


Please don't misinterpret this blog post. I am not necessarily against hybrids. I think they are doing their part to reduce oil consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions, etc.

My issue comes when I read articles like this. Sure hybrids do all these great things, but they are much more of an interim step on our way to oil independence (no longer using oil/gas). In this article the Boston taxi fleet plans to have an all hybrid force by 2015. This may sound great, but that is 7 years off. In 7 years (I hope) hybrids are going to be old technology with relatively bad gas mileage, because other super-efficient and even no oil alternatives will exist, such as hydrogen, plug-in hybrids, and maybe even plug-in hydrogen hybrids.

I just think hybrids are short-sighted for what we really need to accomplish.

New Target Commercial

As is definitely expected, I pay a lot of attention to marketing from Target Corp.

This week they released a commercial that strays from their "normal" routine of advertising. A commercial first broadcast on Sunday uses price points in the advertisement. This is the first time Target has done that in quite some time.

Here is the commercial.

When I first heard this commercial would be coming out, and that Target would be using price points, I was a little worried. I am under the strong conviction that marketing on price alone is a bad idea. Seth Godin is a big believer in this, and it is one of the biggest lessons my Dad has given me over the years. The idea is that people will buy your product or service if it is the cheapest, however, theoretically someone will always be able to go cheaper, so there is little point in trying to market on that angle.

My first thoughts as to what this price point commercial advertising might entail looked something like this. I thought the commercial would be something where price would be the focus and they would be stepping away from the really artsy, fun commercials with good music we are used to.

Fortunately when I actually saw the commercial, I was pleasantly surprised. The commercials are quite similar to what they've been in the recent past, with scenes focusing on a certain product or two, the biggest difference is the specific price points for the items.

What is your take on this new commercial and new direction from Target?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fresno Co-Housing

Check out this development in North Fresno called La Querencia. It is a 28 unit sustainable neighborhood with common areas, pools, vegetable gardens, and solar panels. It looks pretty neat, and if I were in any position to be buying a house right now, this would be something I might consider. These are the kind of things of which Fresno should try and get a lot more.

Via Fresno Famous

Airline Stupidity Follow-up

I want to write a follow up post on my blog posts about United Airlines and the airline industry in general.

My Dad shared with me this Harvard Business Review podcast on the same topic, and it got me thinking more about the airline industry pricing and service.

I want to first share with you a flight I was on in Europe, from Brussels to Dublin a few years ago. I flew on Ryanair and my flight cost a total of about $16 USD after taxes and fees. The flight itself was 0.01€ (about a penny). This flight had no reserved seating, so it was almost a mad rush to get on the plane so you could sit where you wanted. There were absolutely no "frills" and if you wanted anything you would need to pay a premium (including checked luggage, beverages, etc.) These flights also came with a lot of advertising from posters, flight attendants, and I think even the pilots. I loved this flight, first and foremost because it was cheap and I was trying to travel through Europe with spending as little money as possible. But also because I got exactly what I paid for on the flight. I think this is a perfectly acceptable way to do business as an airline, or any other business and I think a company can do well at it. Ryanair may even be coming to the US.

The other way to operate an airline is to go all out, and provide all those frills for your customers. Obviously, you have to charge for those services, but they are all bundled in the price. This will also work, because people that don't want to worry about securing all the little frills will pay the premium to have them all included. This is evident in first and business class. People in first class arrive at the gate with the plane at the exact same time those in economy do. The reason people pay 3-7 times more for a first class ticket is exactly for those little frills. Being on a plane is almost exclusively for one reason and that is for travel/transportation.

My biggest issue is when these airlines are in the middle of cost increases and decide to go ahead with frill decreases. I think it is very dangerous to try to be in the middle somewhere, because that is where companies will get lost.

Here is my idea.
  • An airline should have a bare bones fee structure for the flight.
  • They could have different classes/cabins that would offer more leg room. Further back in the plane the less leg room the cheaper the flight.
  • Booking online can be utilized in a way that allows someone to choose all the frills they want for the flight. This could include beverages, snacks, light meals, blankets, pillows, checked luggage, magazine, newspaper, etc. The list could go on.
  • Each frill chosen would be an extra cost, and added onto the total cost of the flight.
  • Kiosks (digital or real people) could be accessed throughout the airport incase you wanted to add any of these frills to your flight, and of course when you check into your flight any of these frills can be added on.
  • I would remind customers to add any of the frills before boarding the plane. This way the airlines would not have to worry about bringing aboard extra magazines/food/etc. that are not going to be consumed. This will help alleviate fuel costs for extra weight.
  • For this kind of bare bones airline, advertising would be a great addition, but as always should be done tastefully and as unobtrusively as possible.
  • There could be other variable pay structures implemented as well. I've heard ideas before such as pay per weight, so that a passenger would have to not only pay more for heavier luggage, but their own body weight as well. The more weight the more it costs the airline in fuel.
What do you think of this airline structure? Would you fly on this airline?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All Foam and No Beer

Watch this video of a guy who looks like he is trying to win the fight before it even gets started by showing off and intimidation. It doesn't work.

I think this has marketing implications too. You can have the best marketing program around, but if your product or service can't live up to the marketing, the fight is going to be over very quickly.

Via Dallas Stars Blog

Geek Clock

If you enjoy math you will probably enjoy this clock. Instead of your regular 1-12 numbers on the front, it features the unit circle with radians and degrees.

It is also fairly inexpensive at $15.99 from Cafe Press.

Via UberReview


Watch this video of pranks played by a magician dressed up as an old man on a subway train and an amusement park. It is sure to put a smile on your face.

Via BoingBoing

Everything That Happens

If you haven't heard about David Byrne and Brian Eno's new album yet, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, you should definitely check it out.

You can listen to the entire album online for free at the website, as well as buy/download DRM-free digital copies, buy the physical album, or even the collector's edition.

The music is pretty good, and some of the songs are great on the first listen to.

More United Airlines Stupidity

I've written before about a stupid decision made by United Airlines to try and save money. It appears they are at it again with announcements that United Airlines will no longer offer complimentary snacks to economy class fliers across North America. After this, they will no longer offer free meals in domestic business class flights, and eventually end all complimentary meal service in economy class on select European flights. On top of this they will be raising prices of food you can buy on board.

On my recent trip to New Orleans I flew on two different airlines, and was very disappointed to find out that on US Airways they no longer offer complimentary drinks, not even water! American Airlines still offer complimentary water/juice/soda/coffee, but no longer complimentary snacks. This causes me to compare these recent flights to airlines such as Horizon, which not only offer complimentary beverages and snacks, but even have an offering of complimentary beer and wine. It is these little things that often attract me to these airlines.

With a lot of these airlines taking away complimentary snacks and even complimentary beverages, I think it would have been much smarter for United Airlines to keep their offerings intact. At least for me, it is very easy to spend 5-7 dollars extra on an airplane ticket and get a complimentary snack/beverage when I am already paying 300-400 dollars on the ticket itself. When I get onto an airplane I would much rather not be bothered with things like worrying about bringing enough singles to give the flight attendant exact change for the "jumbo" cookie that looks semi-appetizing. Let me pay for things in as few transactions possible, it just feels like I'm paying more if I have to pay a few different times.

Via FastCompany

Thursday, August 21, 2008

He's Just That Good

Check out this video recently blogged by Luke Mundy, it's really great.

I think I especially like it because of all the balls I lost in the water on Saturday when I went golfing. This little skill would have come in very useful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Trip to New Orleans

As I talked a little bit about before, I took a trip to New Orleans earlier this month. I went with my Dad, who was attending the Global Shaklee Conference and along with attending the events and learning about some of the VERY exciting product announcements, we got to see some of the city of New Orleans, LA. We had a few opportunities to walk the historic French Quarter and it was interesting how many places in the downtown corridor I remember from video of the city after Hurricane Katrina.

I'm going to share with you some of the photos I took while in New Orleans.

A big jester in a food court in the Riverwalk Mall

A large fountain with the Mississippi in the background.

Cemeteries are a lot different than what I'm used to seeing. It appears that all graves are above ground. (Possibly due to New Orleans being below sea level?)

A view of the stage at the conference.

My Dad blinged out with all the awards him and my Mom earned over the past year.

The city has amazing color on the buildings, especially in the French Quarter.

Tile street signs on the walls of buildings.

A view of St. Louis cathedral.

There is a lot of wrought iron through New Orleans.

A balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. And yes, those are giant beads.

More color.

Walked down Bourbon street.

More wrought iron.

I was able to try some amazing food while in Louisiana. On this plate is blackened catfish topped with lemon pepper shrimp and crayfish, with a cajun baked potato as a side.

A view of Bourbon street by night. It is a very bustling place.

Dad and I exploring Bourbon Street in the evening.

If I were to describe New Orleans in a phrase, it would be a tropical european city. The architecture (especially in the French Quarter) is very European, but as you walk down the street it is commonplace to see palm trees. The city definitely has a lot of personality, but there are some areas that are boarded up and neglected.

It was a great trip, especially since I got to spend time with my Dad. Living in different parts of the country does not allow a lot of opportunities to see my parents, so it is nice when I get the chance.