A comfort in these trying times

Occupy Oakland would like you to know that they “do not support the defecation of public property.”

So if you find something crappy in town, it’s not their fault.

(Original photo taken by Nancy Friedman.)

Comments off

Apparently it’s more advanced

The surfer dudes who host this site sent along this bit of news in their monthly (and, lately, on time, which is miraculous enough) newsletter:

For over a year now the “DreamHost 101″ section of our newsletter has been highlighting little-known account features that many customers didn’t even know existed.

The problem is that the title “DreamHost 101″ isn’t particularly descriptive. It could mean anything, really! The 101 could refer to California’s Hollywood Freeway, an animated movie about dogs, or to the number that comes after 100. You just don’t know. It’s confusing.

This month, to clear up all ambiguity, we’re rechristening DreamHost 101. It’s now “DreamHost WTF”. The WTF stands for “What’s That Feature?” Obviously. Now there will be no confusion whatsoever.

But of course.

Comments off

Pass the Listerine

Facebook has taken it upon itself to make Lists for me, presumably based on an examination of my profile, the patterns by which I read, the phases of the moon, and their need for advertising revenue, not necessarily in that order. I had a few Lists, but evidently they won’t rest until everyone on my friends list (about 150, which is pretty close to the max if you ask Dunbar) appears in some List.

Inasmuch as my most recent stint in school was some time in the last century, I’m not finding a whole lot of material in school-based Lists. Specialized interests make more sense, but they haven’t gotten to that point yet, and I’m rather hoping they don’t.

What I really dread, though, is that they’ll somehow come up with a List of “Women After Whom You Have Lusted Vainly From Time To Time,” and that it might be somewhat accurate.

Comments (2)

This car needs to be 20 percent cooler

A couple of years ago, we were debating the non-chromatic value of automotive colors, and this wisdom was proffered (not by me):

[I]t would be an interesting job for the Mythbusters to determine if white cars really do stay cooler than, say, red. (My gut feeling is “probably not, but the window tinting will help.”)

Well, there’s now actual research on the matter:

Researchers in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division have published a new study that suggests cooler-colored cars could be up to 2 percent more fuel efficient than darker-colored ones. Their research shows that cooler colors like white and silver can reflect as much as 60 percent of the sun’s rays, while darker colors like black only reflect around 5 percent. This means that after sitting in the sun for an hour, a silver car’s roof is a full 45°F cooler than a black car’s roof, which, according to the researchers, would equate to a 9 to 11°F difference in cabin air temperature.

Nothing to sneer at. And here’s where they think they see the fuel savings:

If a cooler-colored car stays 9 to 11°F cooler inside on a hot, sunny day than a dark-colored car, it should require a smaller, more efficient air conditioning system to cool the cabin down to a comfortable temperature of 77°F within 30 minutes, which is an industry standard for vehicle air conditioning performance. The researchers then used a vehicle simulation tool to estimate the potential energy savings of using more reflective-colored paint to downsize air conditioners and found that switching from black to white or silver would increase fuel economy by 0.44 mpg, or 2.0 percent.

Then again, I have a white car with a “dark taupe” (something a bit darker than cheese mold) interior. I suspect that offsets some of the cool.

Comments (3)

Selling the symphony

I suppose that in the Best of All Possible Worlds, it wouldn’t be necessary to do any marketing for classical music: the audience would be there, and more important, it would be there, actually having paid for tickets.

This world being several dozen notches down from that, orchestras have to do their marketing research just like everyone else, which usually means “badly.” Hence this project:

A pro bono third-party study by Oliver Wyman (Audience Growth Initiative) found that on average, symphonies lost 55% of their customers each year; churn among first-time concert-goers was 91%! The study also confirmed that the solution to churn was to move beyond “averages” and to begin looking at the wide variations between starkly different customer groups.

The symphony audience was divided into a core audience, trialists (first-time concert-goers), non-committed (a few concerts a year), special occasion attendees, snackers (people who purchase small subscriptions for years), and high potentials (frequent attendees who haven’t bought a subscription). In Boston, for example, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) core audience represented just 26% of the customer base but bought 56% of the tickets. Trialists composed 37% of the base, but bought only 11% of the tickets. In monetary terms, core audience members had a 5-year value close to $5,000; trialists, just $199. With that data, the orchestras’ new mission became more targeted. The goal wasn’t broadly to reduce churn but to convert trialists into steady customers.

So the orchestras decided to find out what would keep the trialists in the fold, and it turns out, quality of the musical offerings wasn’t that much of a factor. The novices were discouraged by more trivial matters:

The most powerful “driver of revisitation” was parking! As with other orchestras, veteran members of the core BSO audience had figured out where to park, but trialists identified it as a huge hassle — so they didn’t come back. Another driver was the ability to exchange tickets; trialists found the “no refunds, no exchanges” policy a deal breaker.

Of course, in Boston you can take the Green Line to Symphony Hall and avoid parking matters altogether.

Now I’m curious as to where folks are parking to attend events at Civic Center Music Hall — or where they’re going to park once they’ve finished reorganizing downtown again.


Comments (2)

Close enough for government wear

Neiman’s is selling this lovely little Diane von Furstenberg wrapsie from DvF’s Fall 2011 collection:

Savannah Stripe by Diane von Furstenberg

If your immediate thought is “Didn’t I just see this on the First Lady?” you’re thinking along the same lines as I am, but apparently we’re both wrong:

Not Savannah Stripe by Diane von Furstenberg

To be precise:

The dress that the First Lady is wearing isn’t actually an original Diane von Furstenberg at all. It’s this knock-off of this particular DvF dress made by internet retailer ASOS — the ASOS Midi Body-Conscious Dress in Metallic Stripe, priced at a budget-conscious $71.88 (though it’s currently sold out).

This is normally where my Cheap Bastard mechanism kicks in, and I point out that Mrs O saved four hundred American dollars by buying the fake. Which is true, but that’s not the point. This is:

It’s the fact that it’s a knockoff of DvF, a well-known and well-respected American designer, that’s really the problem. You see, Diane is the President of Council of Fashion Designers of America, and has used her position to champion design protection for designers who have been victims of copyright infringement, such as this ASOS knock-off of her own design. She has been instrumental in supporting legislation that would define fashion as a form of copyright-protected art and give recourse to designers whose work is stolen, copied and sold for cheap. She’s even written extensively on the subject for major American newspapers.

Then again, if you look at the back of the DvF original — see the Neiman’s link — it’s really hard to spot the stab marks.

Comments (8)

Just -1 of those things

I suppose there could be mirth in the juxtaposition of titles or of artists, but what’s funny here is the pairing of album titles at the far end:

Screenshot from iTunes

These were parked next to each other on my shuffle playlist this morning. They did not actually get played together, but now I’m thinking I should have forced the deal.

Comments (5)

Once they were driven

Nissan sales are booming — in the last decade they’ve boosted their US market share from about four percent to twice that — yet they get no press to speak of, and their product line ranges from ancient (Sentra) to anodyne (Altima) to alarming (Murano CrossCabrio). TTAC’s Edward Niedermeyer brought up the “ancient” issue with a Nissan official, and got this as a response:

Nissan’s VP for Communications David Reuter told us that this fact was what made him so optimistic about Nissan’s future. If sales are doing this well with product this old, he wondered aloud, what might happen if … say, models representing 75% of Nissan’s sales volume were replaced in a two-year span? He admitted that one of the brand’s biggest issues was breaking through the Honda-Toyota monopoly on media perceptions of Japanese automakers, and he suggested that a new product blitz was the only way to really accomplish that. I was reminded of the current darling of the mass-market brands, Hyundai, which grew sales steadily with aging and stolid but value-laden products, before replacing its entire lineup with eye-catching new models. Could a fresh batch of new designs do the same for Nissan?

Hard to say for sure. The funky little Cube isn’t selling all that well, but the far-funkier and no-less-little Juke is making bank. And the new Versa, unapologetically cheap, is scoring well with people who’d otherwise be buying a three-year-old Civic but live in constant fear of timing belts, a market far larger than I’d ever realized.

I think one thing holding the Hamburger back is its obsession with CVTs: even the Maxima, the ostensible “four-door sports car,” is saddled with one of these contraptions, and once you’ve seen the tach sitting at 4800 the entire time you’ve been climbing the onramp, you don’t particularly want to see it again. If they’re going to ask just-under-Infiniti money for this thing, they might as well bolt in Infiniti’s seven-speed auto and be done with it.

And I think the Frontier pickup, like every other pickup in the market, has been bloated beyond recognition. Were it not for that damned chicken tax, they could bring in a nice small truck, the kind that made their name in the States.

Except, of course, that their name at the time was “Datsun.”

Comments (6)

You gotta have hearts

I lifted this from Morgan Freeberg’s “Hello Kitty of Blogging” page:

So I guess you’re supposed to do a math-sign-three to put hearts in your text messages. I hadn’t been doing that because I’m a manly dude and I figure that’s for women, girls and punks. So some enlightened folks went to work on me and convinced me that’s a retrosexual way of looking at things and it’s okay for men to put hearts in things. I tried it and people didn’t know what I was doing … oops, I was doing greater-than-three instead of less-than-three. I think that’s boobs.

One can <3 >3s; in fact, so doing makes it (relatively) unnecessary to have to present your Dude Card™.

I took to <3 fairly easily myself, mostly because the first integer you come to heading downwards from 3 is 2, and I’m just weird enough to think that 2 is something to aspire to.

Comments (5)

Congratulations, you made it this far

Birthday Rose maybeThere’s a long-standing tradition where Deborah Henson-Conant comes from, and it goes like this:

On your birthday, someone gives you a rose and your job is to head out for a long walk and take this rose with you. It’s generally better if you’re in a city with a lot of people around, because your job is to find the person who belongs to that rose. And when you find them, you explain this is your Birthday Rose — and if they’ll take it, then you get to make a wish and they get to make a wish, and both those wishes will come true.

Just don’t try to find exactly where she’s coming from.

(You’ve perhaps seen this flower before.)

Comments (3)

One silhouette on the shade

The note from the Harper Valley PTA opened: “Mrs Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high.”

Then again, at least she was wearing them, kinda sorta. This letter to a north Georgia advice columnist seems a bit more anguished:

My next-door neighbor walks around her house in the nude. I know because I have seen her. She has curtains on her windows, but when the lights are on at night, you can see EVERYTHING. The other night I heard my 10-year-old son and some of his friends giggling and found them spying on her with a pair of binoculars. I’m sure she does not know she can be seen through her curtains.

Or maybe she does know. The columnist thinks an anonymous note is in order, but cautions:

If your neighbor does not install some sort of window shades or blinds and continues to parade around in the buffo, well … she enjoys putting on a show and there’s nothing you can do about it short of telling your son it’s not polite to stare.

Depending on local laws, there may be something that can be done about it, but what I want to know is this: how come I never manage to find any neighbors like that? (Especially since my neighborhood, of late, is seriously Babe-Enhanced™, yet.)

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

Comments (8)

Not a movie-script ending

This is most likely not the result of my shooting off my mouth, but I am disturbed by it anyway:

It is a sad day in indie town: Actress/singer/New Girl Zooey Deschanel, 31, and Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, 35, have announced the end of their two-year marriage.

The duo’s split was confirmed to US Weekly by a rep; a source says that the parting is amicable, and involves no third parties.

(Title inverted from here.)

Comments (13)

Well, eff that

Dr. Weevil reports there is exactly one blog he can’t read at work because it’s “tasteless & offensive.”

I’d like to get a statement to that effect from the management, just to add to my list of Stirring Testimonials. (Heh-heh. I said “testi.”)

Comments (5)

Paging Tommy Flanagan

This is Morgan Fairchild, your wife, whom you’ve slept with, as she looked this past Saturday night at a Halloween party:

Morgan Fairchild at Pop Art Halloween party 2011

I used to be married to a Texas girl slightly younger than Morgan (she’s 57, Morgan is 61). They hold up (minor adjustments aside) pretty well, don’t you think?

Comments (5)

Honey, disconnect the phone

Cue McCartney and stand back:

You are 19% Russian!

Who are you kidding? Just because you took a summer language course in Petersburg doesn’t make you a Russian.

How Russian Are You?
Take More Quizzes

I question this conclusion; at the very least, I should have scored lower than an actual Russian.

Comments (5)

Invisible girlfriend

Well, not technically, but hey, I’m not gonna complain.

Comments (7)