One hell of a “Feast”

So as a way to pass the time we decided to sit down and watch a soon to be new American classic – “Feast”!

Released in 2005 and supporting cast members along the likes of Jason Mewes as himself and Henry Rollins of Black Flag fame as “Coach”. Other than that there is a bunch of people that I don’t know. The movie has some truly classic one-liners that will make you laugh. If you like watching corny situations with lots of people getting killed really graphically… then check it out
2 out of 5 corpses were given to the aliens

Computers – What are they for these days?

I’ve come to realize that people these days have lost the sight of what a computer can be used for. Everywhere I go I see people on computers and what are they doing – myspace or AIM. Computers can be used in so many areas of life that can make us more efficient. People don’t realize that Microsoft makes an office suite with an email scheduling system that can truly simply life. By using a time management system we can fit more into our days. In addition to that we can manage our contacts too. We can store everything from cell phone numbers, email addresses, and street addresses in this.

But do we use it? Not really. Some people do but the vast majority doesn’t. Now the really sick part is that people do not realize that Google is providing all of these same services for free. Most people these days are already online at home, at work, in the library, at Starbucks, and anywhere else we can get a wireless signal and spending that time on myspace. Myspace is a great place to take a break at but don’t spend 8 hours of your day on the damn site! Ow and by the way – all that glitter shit is really annoying!

So my point is this. A computer can be better used to manage your life. The tools are there and better yet, there is very good alternatives that are free.

A Classic Marketing Mystery Finally Explained!

So I have been a die hard Rolling Rock drinker for years (4 of them legally, haha), and just tonight came across the secret behind the “33” on the bottle.

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I was reading a blog over at StraightDope.com that finally explained the mystery for me. As far as the truth behind this…I take no responsibility, but it sure makes sense!

I would venture to say there are still one or two people in this country who don’t know about Rolling Rock beer. Too bad. It is a brave little brew with many shining qualities to recommend it. Among them:

(1) It’s got a taste with some gravel to it, at least on occasion–the flavor is notoriously variable.

(2) They print the ingredients on the label, unlike most brewers. (They use water, malt, rice, corn, hops, and brewer’s yeast, in case you’re interested.) But most important of all:

(3) It’s got an undeniable mystique, which derives mainly from the enigmatic 33.

The official explanation for the number, which is not entirely coterminous with the REAL explanation, is that 33 signifies two things: the year Prohibition was repealed (1933), and the number of words in the legend printed above the number on cans and returnable bottles. I quote:

“Rolling Rock from glass lined tanks in the Laurel Highlands. We tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.”

Now, this is a touching sentiment, and there is no question it has 33 words in it. But from the standpoint of intellectual satisfaction, it sucks.

Therefore, I hunted up James L. Tito, who at one time was chief executive officer of Latrobe Brewing, the maker of Rolling Rock beer.

Mr. Tito’s family owned Latrobe from the end of Prohibition until the company was sold to an outfit in Connecticut in 1985. After some prompting, he told me the sordid truth.

Based on some old notes and discussions with family members now dead, Mr. Tito believes that putting the 33 on the label was nothing more or less than a horrible accident. It happened like this:

When the Titos decided to introduce the Rolling Rock brand around 1939, they couldn’t agree on a slogan for the back of the bottle. Some favored a long one, some a short one. At length somebody came up with the 33-word beauty quoted above, and to indicate its modest length, scribbled a big “33” on it.

More argument ensued, until finally somebody said, dadgummit, boys, let’s just use this one and be done with it, and sent the 33-word version off to the bottle maker.

Unfortunately, no one realized that the big 33 wasn’t supposed to be part of the design until 50 jillion returnable bottles had been made up with the errant label painted permanently on their backsides. (I suppose this bespeaks a certain inattentiveness on the part of the Tito family, but I am telling you this story just as it was told to me.)

This being the Depression and all, the Titos were in no position to throw out a lot of perfectly good bottles. So they decided to make the best of things by concocting a yarn about how the 33 stood for the year Prohibition was repealed.

In retrospect, this was a stroke of marketing genius. Next to cereal boxes, beer labels are probably the most thoroughly scrutinized artifacts in all of civilization, owing to the propensity of beer drinkers to stare morosely at them at three o’clock in the morning.

The Rolling Rock “33” has baffled beer lovers for generations, and accordingly has become the stuff of barroom legend. I have letters claiming that the number has something to do with a satanic ritual, that it was the age of Christ when he died, even that it signifies the number of glass-lined tanks in the Latrobe plant.

Tres bizarre, but if M. Tito is to be believed, not quite as bizarre as the truth.

Finally, I know I memorized the words on the back of the bottle for a reason!

Corporate SEO

How many SEOs would like to work at a corporation say as a VP of Search raise your hand.  I know I wouldn’t.

There are headhunters for Wells Fargo, The Grapevine Group, and Nordstrom looking for executive search talent.  They may even pay 6 figures, with a cush office, dual screen monitors, and one of those ergonomic office chairs.  You are king of search at that company.  However, I would like to think that most SEOs see themselves as more than optimizers, but as cross-functional consultants with a hand in coding, creative, link building, usability, branding, etc.  But in that spine saving, air pressurized, lumbar supporting, with 7 levers under you seat chair–you are just search.

Lets say you’re okay with that.  But after 6 months of recommendation after recommendation that are still sitting on the VP of Marketing’s desk, how do you feel?  Not only are they just on top of the desk but they are under the 3 cups she has on her desk–one for her water, one for her morning coffee, and one for the JD in the bottom right drawer of her desk–what can I say its a stress filled life(copyright Johnny Chan 2006).   Corporate has never had anyone like you before.  They haven’t  gone bankrupt with reciprocal links and a lack of meta tags yet so why should they change.  They just hired a VP of Search, thats good enough for now.  We don’t use our Search exec, we just knew we needed one.  What? Everyone else is getting one.

Forget the corporate job, at least for now, you can get everything you would from VP of Search position here.

Time for a little Tonic! Backstage Passes at the Rise Against show!

So I must admit this is the farthest thing from a technology related post, but was so cool I just had to share it. Merima’s friend got us backstage passes at the Halloween Show at SOMA last night with Rise Against and Thursday. We watched both bands while standing on the stage, and it was amazing. Rise Against was definitely one of the best live bands I have ever seen, especially from 10 feet away! It brought back a lot of memories from my days with the Ataris. Check out the pix, and hey…even tech nerds enjoy some Punk Rock every now and then.

From Rise Against/…
From Rise Against/…

click one of the pics to check out my album of the rest of them!

Entrepreneurs: Are We So Special? Entrepreneurial Insight by Miguel Palma

I came across this on my friend Miguel Palma’s blog.  A fellow member of Alpha Kappa Psi and also the Entrepreneurial Chair of our organization, he offers an interesting perspective on the topic.  One thing I rarely take time to do is notice the seemingly insignificant relationships between everyday life and my long term goals, but Miguel totally nails it.  Enjoy it and if you have any comments or ideas, check out his blog here.

I’m sitting on a folding table at my usual Sunday afternoon chore: the laundromat. My legs are crossed, and in my arms is my most recent literary adventure: “The Five Temptations of a CEO” by Patrick Lencioni. Today’s laundromat crowd is made of single parents, college couples, bachelors and the laundry guy.

There’s plenty of movement in the laundromat: taking clothes out of the dryer, folding clothes, exchanging bills for quarters, pouring detergent into the washing machine, etc.

In between chapters, I make observations of my surrounding. I observe 3 comparisons between entrepreneurs and the laundromat crowd:

1. The laundromat crowd works for money to operate the laundry machines. The entrepreneurial crowd, however, think about making a machine that will receive the money. This, I notice, is the biggest – and most important – difference between the laundromat crowd and the entrepreneurial crowd. While the laundromat crowd is working to make money to do their laundry on Sunday afternoon, the laundromat owner is thinking about the next service or product that his customers will pay him for.

2. The laundromat crowd has a quick trigger for a pessimistic attitude; they often give up at the first sign of a challenge. The entrepreneurial crowd, however, has a very positive attitude – often exhibiting an excitement for the challenges and the opportunities waiting to be tackled. Across from me, a lady puts a quarter in a dryer. Surprisingly, the dryer doesn’t nudge into life. Quickly, she sprouts into anger and demands assistance from the laundry guy. The laundry guy slowly approaches the dryer, assesses the situation, and after a few seconds the dryer spins into life. “The door wasn’t closed,” he says to the lady.

3. The laundromat crowd and the entrepreneurial crowd are motivated by different factors. Entrepreneurs, at least the good ones, are motivated by the opportunity to help and solve other people’s problems – they are natural givers, not takers. Entrepreneurs know that their success is based on the foundation of meeting other people’s needs and wants. They realize that success, at least in the long-term, can only be achieved by providing to others, not by taking from others. To put it simply: while the laundromat crowd is fighting for their own self-interests, the entrepreneurial crowd is thinking of a way to quench other people’s wants and needs.

“Entrepreneurs are not as special as we think,” I thought. Like others, entrepreneurs are also fed up with being bossed around, with working from 9-5, and with trading their freedom for that paycheck.

So if entrepreneurs are just average people, why are we all so intrigued about their entrepreneurial spirit? Because they remind us of what we want and should all become. Entrepreneurs are heroes to the average person because they have an uncanny ability to turn bad situations and turn it into positive ones. We envy their positivity and their unwillingness to fit the mold.

All it takes is an attitude adjustment.

My dryer buzzes and it’s time to fold my clothes.

Playing the Stock Market on a College Budget

Spring semester of 2006, FIN 323 – Fundamentals of Finance with Dr. Pawar…my roomate Adam and I are learning about making and managing investments. On our walk home from class the usual argument starts over who would be better at diversifying their portfolio and making smart investments. However, we both know that when it really comes down to it, we barely have enough money to pay rent and register this domain let alone drop some serious cash on a hot stock tip, so what did we do? We started the “Ultimate Stock Challenge”.

6 guys, $10,000 a piece, and 6 months to put the guys from Boiler Room to shame. How did we do it? It wasn’t by cashing in on a trust fund, It was all run through Investopedia.com‘s Online Stock Market Simulator.

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Through their program you can create an account and join any of hundreds of games (simulations) in progress, or, like in our case, create your own. By doing this you can set the time limit, starting cash, number of players and lots of other options. The simulator uses real time stock quotes so you are actually trading at market value (which can make you happy that its just a simulation when all your stocks tank and you are out 10 grand…or piss you off when your hot stock tip just tripled your money!). The one flaw I found is that the simulator will not let you buy penny stocks, that is, stocks worth below $1 per share. I just did a test purchase of 100 shares of “Intrepid Holdings”, a hot tip I got from the highly trusted RocketStockPicks.com, and the Simulator told me

“The Simulator does not allow stocks below $1 to be traded long or stocks below $5 to be traded short.  Stocks trading in this range are more likely to be subject to manipulation from stock promoters and can have erratic trading patterns.  For this reason we do not allow the trading of penny stocks in our game.”

This is good and bad…good because it forces you to do some research and find a valuable stock at a decent price before you invest in it, and bad because I told my roomate Adam about that website as a “confidential hot insider stock tip” hoping he would drop a couple grand on some bogus picks and put me in the lead of the competition. Needless to say, he didn’t buy it and neither did Investopedia.

So you might be wondering, “why should this matter to me, i don’t care about your stupid stock competition”. Well, you should, and here is why.

  1. Experience in the stock market is more valuable than you may realize. You will quickly learn that research pays off exponentially, and a insider tip from your friend in the competition about diversifying your portfolio by investing in Home Depot because summer is coming up and people will be buying lots of patio furniture unfortunately does not. It takes serious research and careful tracking to judge the value of an investment, and done correctly it will pay off!
  2. Sitting in your finance class, it is pretty hard to realize exactly what is going on without having any hands-on experience. So get involved and actually learn what is going on behind all this theory they are teaching you. What is a Debt to Equity Ratio, a profit margin, or a Quick Ratio? Well its a lot more than just a formula you ignored in class. Learning about and understanding these can pay off huge when they help you make an educated purchase.
  3. My professor told a story about a guy staying in a hotel in Las Vegas. He was in his room on the 20th floor, and noticed that the building had caught fire near the ground level. Before running for the stairs, he grabbed his laptop and quickly logged on to his broker’s website, and sold all the shares he owned in the hotel. It turned out that the stock value plummeted minutes after the fire was all over the news. True or not, the lesson of the story is that the market reacts almost instantly to any and all changes. What does this teach you? Learn to react with it and you will stay ahead of the game.

I hope this will help people get involved in learning about finance and give you a practical application of what you may have been learning in school. By no means is the Investopedia simulator the only one out there, I just chose it for the competition because it seemed to provide the most realistic experience. A quick search on google provided me with a ton of other options:

http://www.nationalsms.com

http://www.virtualstockexchange.com

Those are some, among many other choices. And with that, good luck and good trading!