Saturday, October 20, 2007

Worldwide Obesity

I found this interesting graphic that shows obesity levels in the top 27 "fattest" countries. Of course, we (the USA) are at the forefront. I'm actually surprised to not see more South American countries in this list. The obesity trend in the US is quite alarming. Every time I travel outside of the country, I'm always amazed upon my return how "fat" Americans are. I'm also amazed at how large the portions are at restaurants.

(source and drawing by:

Friday, October 19, 2007

iTunes Killer??

Amazon recently released their mp3 service. The catch? There are none. In fact, it's almost better than the iTunes store in most ways. Why? Well, because it DRM (digital rights management) free. I know, I know, iTunes offers DRM free songs to. Albeit, their DRM free prices are 50%+ higher than Amazon's. And, any mp3 you download from Amazon is fully compatible with iTunes and your iPod. Basically, Amazon mp3 offers you more songs for the same money.

Will Amazon's service kill iTunes? No. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money it won't. But, it gives all you frugalites out there a way to be smart and enjoy your music for less.

Mobile Phone Deals

I'm a sucker for good deals. I mean, really good deals. I get a kick out of talking to others and they say, "I'm buying a new laptop, but I'm getting one through my dad, he gets great deals". Or, "I'm buying it through a friend, they get a company discount". I'm sure we've all heard this. Then, you ask details about the purchase, the specs, and you find out they paid more than had they walked in to their local Best Buy or CompUSA. With a laptop, it's one thing.

Now, fast forward to mobile phones. It is absolutely stupid to pay much for a mobile phone these days. You can even get a the newest Blackberry Curve 8320 for TMobilefor free right now via Amazon. Now, we bargain shoppers know is not always the best place when it comes to price. But, when it comes to mobile phones, I have yet to find a source that is anywhere near as consistent as Amazon when it comes to deals.

I'm going to list a couple pros and cons about using Amazon for mobile phones.


-It's Amazon, not some flaky fly by night.

-You know the rebate is legit
-Shipping is reliable in relatively fast order
-You probably already have an account with Amazon
-Amazon always has steals when it comes to cell phones. It's a pretty good bet that if the phone is Free, or they pay you after rebates, on Amazon, then there's no way you'll find a better deal elsewhere. This makes it simple, check out the phone on Amazon. If it's free or less than free, no reason to shop elsewhere, you've found the best deal.

-Make sure you comply with the rebate terms. Well worth reading the fine print. Note that amazon has really cleaned up the fine print on their phone rebates. It doesn't take more than a couple minutes to read all the print.
-You have to wait for the phone to be shipped
-Defects/problems with the phone have to be handled via the service provider. You can't just walk in to the "store" where you bought the phone.
-Sometimes they don't offer all the phones that other resellers do.

I'm sure there are other Cons and Pros. But, over the years as friends have come to me for deals, when it comes to mobile phones, Amazonhas always come out on top as the best deal. Hopefully this helps!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Definitely been awhile!!

Well, it's been a long while since I've posted to this blog. I'll admit, it's hard to keep motivated. Tell you what, start clicking on my Google AdSense ads, and I'll instantly become motivated. How does that sound?? [does it always have to be about money]

So, in contemplating what to do with my blog, I realized I should start writing again to improve my communication and writing skills. After all, I did minor in English in school. And, I chose English because I liked the tools of writing and persuasion. So, for my first post in over a year, I've chosen to update all with some great websites I've found, perused, and visit.

Here are some:

Ikea Hacker Blog - Here's a cool blog that features DIY twists on existing Ikea furniture. I love the design language of a lot of stuff at Ikea. However, i struggle with the apparent poor quality of their products. I must admit, i don't own anything from Ikea (other than the less-than-stellar shrimp, egg, bread, lettuce leaf concoction I ate last time I visited their store). But, I've helped friends move who own some of their furniture. Every intimate, as in the side of the dresser is smeared against my face as I attempt to heft it up some stairs, interaction I've had with Ikea furniture (e.g. Dressers, Shelves, Tables, Beds) has revealed poor, particle board quality. Sub-par faux wood prints, and furniture failure under nominal moving loads. Alas, their design language still rawks!

BluDot Furniture - Wicked cool, tres moderne furniture. This company was started by Charlie Lazor, also known for his flatpak prefab home. Bludot features some really cool furniture with, at times, beautiful lines. I'm not overly keen on contemporary stuff that loses functionality. But, I think a lot of stuff on bludot manages to balance functionality with minimal design intrusion. Good design is something that blends and doesn't stick out. In some ways, though, BluDot looks like a premium Ikea. Hopefully the price is indicative of quality. Something not found too often in Ikea stuff.

Flatpak House [see also Dwell by Empyrean] - The whole prefab architecture movement is awesome!! Too bad it's still very expensive. Another really cool prefab home, that is much more affordable, is the Rocio Romero LV and LVL home. The biggest drawback of this, though, is the price. You'll easily pay $150/sq. ft. with these homes. Arguably, you're getting real, modern architecture design for that price. But, it's still not cheap. A few homeowners may find it less expensive. There was one family, though, that built a Rocio Romero LVL home for under $100k. And, the home looks quite nice. I haven't looked into this, and if anyone knows, please update me, but it looks like they sanded the Plywood floor and finished it for the flooring. Which raises a good Eco question: IF you're building a home and trying to be sustainable in the process, why put down flooring on TOP of the wood plywood? As you can see here, the plywood can be finished quite nicely. How sustainable are you really??

Some other PreFab Highlights:
WeeHouse -small, almost rinky-dink type homes. Ready to live in a shoe box?? But, combine a few together, and you've got a comfortable pad.
Eds Shed -prefab home in London. Very, very modern design. I like the wood. But, it has such few windows, i wonder how much natural light comes in. This is one thing I like about the Rocio Romero design, there's gobs of natural light. I like the idea of positioning your home such that when you wake up from the Sun washing over you in the morning.
Napa Prefab - LV home extremely nicely finished.
Move Modern - great resource for modern, contemporary designs, features, for sale, etc. Includes prefabs.
Royal Homes, CANADA - More prefab, modern coolness
Euro Prefab the LoftCube - here's a very expensive (given it's 420sqft size) prefab in europe. They just finished building their first proto overlooking the skyline of Berlin.

Since I'm in process of launching a footwear brand, see
placeholder website, I guess that makes me somewhat in the fashion, trend, consumer goods coolness side of things. So, i present to you a list of blogs focusing on such things.

Sartorialist I love the layout of this blog. Super simple, very few words, but pictures that really capture the essence of the blog, which is to showcase real life people, wearing real-life fashion. As he says, "I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was selling in the showroom and what I was seeing real people (really cool people) wearing in real life". Hence, the Sartorialist.
Freshness Mag - The sneaker craze continues.
Shoebum - more outdoor oriented blogger.
CoolHunting - more sneakers from the hunter himself, Josh Rubin's Coolhunting


I love business and have to keep up on the latest. As a start-up entrepreneur, I wear a lot of hats. Since my education was in Finance and English, I needed to learn about branding, marketing, etc. So, I frequent these blogs:

Brand Autopsy - This is a great blog with continual mini-case studies.
AlarmClock -fairly comprehensive blog on dealflow, usually in the tech area. It seems like if it's hot in Silicon Valley, AlarmClock covers it. If it's not hot in the Valley, good luck.
AdAge- I subscribe to their newsletters which are always highlighting various Ad/Marketing campaigns, their effectiveness, opinion letters, etc.
Springwise-Another newsletter I subscribe to. Absolutely awesome newsletter for those that love to come up with business ideas. Chock full of new ideas, this newsletter features new, innovative business concepts that are launched worldwide.

Hopefully this is a good primer for learning and linking.