Economic Indicators

Newscoma has an interesting post about a situation in her biz that’s troubling: because nobody is buying cars right now, car dealers aren’t advertising, and newspapers are feeling it.

It’s funny (not ha ha funny, but weird in an interesting kind of way funny) that if you live long enough, you learn non-traditional signs that the economy is on a downturn – almost like old ladies reading the wooly worms in the fall.

The one I’ve noticed in the last two downturns is the “Cracker Barrel on A Saturday Morning” index.  We go about once a month, and the last couple of visits, we’ve been able to get a seat with no wait.

Most of you who do CB know that during headier times, a Saturday morning at Cracker Barrel usually means at least a 20 minute wait.  And you’ve got to wonder, does that mean that the Country Store sales are way down?  Not just because they have fewer customers, but because those customers have little or no wait time, thus decreasing their shopping time.

I don’t usually follow the economic reports,  like those on CNBC, because they are either too immediate (oil is up!  no, wait, it’s down! no, wait…) or too lagging the real world (“well, what do you know- we were already out of the recession when Bill Clinton was talking about the worst economy in the last 40 years in 1992…nevermind.”).

But, there are signs, for those who will see.  I think the news is going to get a little worse before it gets better. 

However, it will get better – probably in two or three quarters, no matter who gets elected president.

So, do you have any non-traditional economic indicators?

Mea Culpas On The Edge

Random stuff on a Tuesday:

First and foremost, tomorrow (Wednesday) is the day of Lintilla’s sugery.  She is not concerned, and we’ll just have to see what they find when they get in there.  She’d appreciate any prayers and good thoughts sent her way.  We’re getting up quite early, as is usual for outpatient surgeries like this.  Hopefully,they’ll get rid of the bad stuff, and that’ll be the end of it.

 I’ll keep you posted.  I’m taking the day off tomorrow so I can be there for her.

Totally changing gears…

Our experience with Comcast today was the exact opposite of yesterday.  Lintilla called and got a very helpful CS rep, who sent out a technician.  He was prompt and very helpful, and after a little prodding around, fixed the problem.  He said we had some long-overdue maintenance that needed to be done – he changed out each and every one of our leads.  Excellent!  He didn’t even charge us, and I was quite willing to pay.

This is excellent customer service, and I want to shout about it as loudly as I did the horrible customer service.  Viva la Comcast!

I’m seeing a pattern in myself – I have a “trigger”. Remember in the Back To The Future movies, how Marty McFly was all timid – unless … someone called him “chicken”?  Then he got mad and irrational.  I am apparently the same way when I percieve that someone is looking down on me intellectually.  I have no idea where this comes from; I’ve always been looked at as being a nerd, a geek, a mad scientist.  Yet, I have a stong insecuity about it, apparently.  Maybe I subconsciously hate myself for not finishing college, I don’t know.  So, I’ll keep working on it.  Hopefully y’all will be patient with me.

In answer to John’s rhetorical question: in a couple of months, the WGA strike will probably cost me at least 1000 page views a day.  It translates to a pretty good chunk of change. Get to the table!!!

I had an unexpected lunch with an old friend today.  We were debate partners in high school, and like brothers most of the time.  That was quite enjoyable.  I hope we can do it again, soon.

I’m also quite happy that my brother and parents are in town this week.  I had a great time with Zarniwhoop at the game, and visiting with the folks.  Of course, Zarni and I will go to the Jags game,and I’m trying to set up a Brothers’ Night Out for me, Zarni, and Marvin to go to the Preds game Saturday night.  This is how many men bond: parallel play, like toddlers. 

Trillian has invited her BFF for a sleepover this weekend.  This is the same girl who was the recipient of Trillian’s uncharacteristic bullying.  Kids are strange, and forgiving.  There is much we can learn from them.

Breathe Again

This has been the kind of week where I just need someone to point me to where I’m supposed to be, I do what I do, then move on to the next thing.  Some of it is my fault, some of it not.

 At “real” work, I had a 3-day, all-day class that kept me away from my officle.  And this week, we had a major change to a system we developed move into production.  It’s a big deal, and some things inevitably went wrong and had to be dealt with, class or no.  Added to that, certain things are going on with certain people that caused me to make a sign to hang on my officle wall:

Drama??!!!??  There’s no drama in web development!!!!!

Why do people have to drag everyone else into their own personal drama?  It adds exponentially to the stress level of the week.

On top of this, at the exact same time X-Alt was preparing for our Wednesday night show at Belle Meade UMC.  This made for several 16 hour days for me.  But I don’t want to complain, because Wednesday night was such a blessing to me.  Go to the X-Alt Blog to see Ford’s writeup of this wonderful evening.  It was quite cathartic. 

I’ll write my own thoughts about this soon.

And then last night, I had to go to a meeting at church about our new Wednesday night children’s programming, which Lintilla and I have volunteered for.  One very cool thing came out of this: Lintilla and I will be dealing with 4-6 year olds.  I’ve been dealing with snarky, know-it-all kids for so long, It’ll be a nice change for me.  There is an extra-gentleness you have to display with kids that age, and using that approach is very good for the soul.  I think it’s something I need badly (although it means I’ll be even busier this year).

Somewhere during the week, I fed my family pork chop pie on Monday, and chicken fajitas / cheese quesedillas last night.  Tuesday ws KFC and Wednesday was church food (yum!)

In between all of this, I have posting responsibilites at Ugly Betty News, along with attempting to build a network and community around the blog (which is much harder than writing). My wife is a little wary about the fact that so far, this community seems to be populated with college-aged girls. 🙂

Speaking of UBN, I just posted my first real snarky post over there.  Let me know if you think the last line is funny.  I can’t be a fanboy all the time, and snark doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’m hoping it doesn’t fall flat.

Anyway, hopefully things will slow down enough for me to post regularly again.

Ricky! My New Favorite Commercial

Unlike many, I am a fan of really good marketing.  I love the psychology, the play of the demographics, the visual and short form of the ancient art of pursasive speaking.  It’s my thang.

I REALLY love television commercials.  The Superbowl is…well…my Superbowl.  I find a well produced 30-second spot to be just as entertaining, if not more, than many movies.  Well, lately, I’ve been diggin’ on one that I think is pure genius.

Animals and humor, the perfect combination:

I can never get enough of the moose.

To The Market We Will Go

For once in my life, I’m looking forward to construction moving along.  For those of you who travel West End often, you know that not one, but two grocery stores are in construction in outer Belle Meade.  They are literally across the street from one another.

There is the new Publix where HG Hill’s used to be.  And then, there’s the old Belle Meade Theater, which, among other things, is being renovated into a Harris Teeter.  Now, we could decry the heresy of turning a grand old theater into a grocery store, maybe even release a theme album, but since the property had already been a bookstore, I think that ship has sailed.

No, unlike Opry Mills, which was highly uneccessary, I embrace this change.

I work in the Centennial Park area, and live on the West Meade/Bellevue border.  My commute is 99% a straight-shot down West End.  When the HG Hill’s closed, I had zero grocery stores between my work and my home, besides the Belle Meade Kroger, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Now, I am a suburbanite, and have been all my life.  The urban way of “doing” groceries (have staples on hand, but stop near daily at the “market” to get fresh meat and veggies for the evening’s meal), is totally foreign to me.  I have a freezer and a Costco membership.  I daresay that if there was a huge disaster, but electricity was still available, I probably have enough food in my house right now to feed my family of four for over a month. 

In fact, in my wastefulness, I’ve got about ten bottles of Heinz 57 onhand because most of the time I forget that I just got some the previous week, I see it in the store and say, “We need Heinz 57!”.   This is just how we do things out my way.

But I’m looking to change that, for a couple of reasons.  First, my weekends are just getting to be too busy to block out several hours for one big grocery run.  Second, there’s the wastefulness I described above.  And third, I’d like to start using the freshest ingredients possible in my recipes.

I refuse to go to the Belle Meade Kroger – excuse me, Kroger Fresh Fare .  It was already cramped and understocked before they changed to the emphasis to upscale prepared foods.  And I know the parking is horrible there, but VALET PARKING?  And don’t get me started on their puny salad bar…

So, if I want fresh ingredients, it’s either go to the Harris Teeter in Hillsboro Village near my kids’ school, the Harris Teeter at the 70/100 split (too similar to Belle Meade Kroger), or traipse all the way out to Bellevue and go to the Hwy 70 Kroger.  If I’ve had a long day, the last thing I want to do is backtrack.

Don’t think I haven’t considered Plumgood Foods, but I don’t want to get the hippie brand of everything, I want my McBrands.  And I want to choose my own fruits, meats and veggies. 

So, I’m am looking forward VERY much to these two new stores being opened.

The only problem is that when I change my habits to just-in-time grocery inventory, I will not be prepared for the apocolypse.  But I’ll still have a month’s worth of toilet paper from Costco.

Domain Name Poll

So, let’s say someone was going to start a “Nashville food blog” for regular people. Hypothetically, of course. And this blog would eventually want to pull in a little revenue, so it would need to be hosted on its own domain. Just sayin’.

 Which do you like better:,,or ?

Or, would you have another suggestion for my hypothetical friend?  If so, check at and see if it’s available; if so, leave it in the comments and I’ll think abou…er…I’ll pass it along to my, um, hypothetical friend.

UPDATE: My um, friend, has come up with a pretty good pun based on a beach boys album.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE #2: Nevermind.  Although I love the name “Endless Supper”, it’s just too darn close to LCreekmo’s Fixin’ Supper; and since she’s one of my heroes, I… friend will not go there.  The search continues.

Car Lust

Since it’s springtime, and in the spring a heart’s desire turns to, what else, cars, and it seems everybody else is buying a new car, I have the fever.  Not for more cowbell, for this.

If I make it through the downsizing, I’m going to trade in my old xB for one of these pretty new ones.

The xB may be one of the most interesting studies in corporate luck ever imagined.  I have no statistics to back me up, but I’m pretty sure the folks a Toyota missed their target demographic.  It’s obvious, both from the website and talking to dealers, that the xB was designed for young urban hipsters. 

However, although I’ve seen lots of them on the road in Nashville, I have yet to see anyone under 30 driving one.  They obviously missed their target demographic, yet they are still selling lots of cars.

What was supposed to make the Scion xB so attractive to the just out of college set, a good, solid, dependable car with high gas mileage, packed with standard features, and a comparably very low price, fell flat amongst the 20-somethings (from what I see).  Yet, a whole new group, oldsters like me, who just want an inexpensive, sensible car, have flocked to the xB. 

And we’re so old, we don’t care if it’s ugly.

 Or was.  The redesigned xB has lost the charm of the old one;  it just looks like a car now.  But, I still want it.  They’ve added cruise control, integrated iPod connector (you control the iPod from the car’s stereo),  and side curtain airbags to the already packed list of standard equipment.  Power locks, power windows, AC.  Try to find ANY car with all that for under 17,000.

They aimed for hipsters, and got the sensible-set.  But, “our” money spends just as well, and we have a little more.

So, I’m counting down the days.  We wants it!