Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Whole Foods behemoth?

I'd heard of the issue of Whole Foods wanting to buy Wild Oats and how the FTC was asked if this was proper.

The link above is an article trying to point out that the FTC shouldn't necessarily look at the effect of the merger on the consumers, but on the suppliers. While that's a fair question, I think it conflates two issues: supporting local (small) suppliers, and building the business.

First, the grist article correctly points out that other, large, supermarkets are opening up their own lines of organic produce/food, and Whole Foods now competes against that. (this is the building the business issue)

Second, the article suggests that Whole Foods will likely turn away from small suppliers and try to "rationalize its supplier base." (this is the supporting local (small) suppliers)

Second point first. While "rationalization" of supplier base has traditionally happened, Whole Foods does seem dedicated to keeping local suppliers involved. See the open letters between Whole Foods and Michael Pollan: one, two, three. Sure, there's no guarantee, but it appears Whole Foods has made an honest effort to bring local suppliers into their stores.

Back to the first point: The argument made here is essentially: "well, Whole Foods used to be good, now they're going to become corporate, and that's bad." grist lets the other super markets (Kroger, Safeway, Wal-Mart) pass on involving local suppliers, but wants to tie the hands of Whole Foods. Sounds like it would just give the other super markets a (potential) edge over Whole Foods which, in the long run, could hurt the chain.

I'm all in favor of supporting local suppliers, in fact, my family buys over 95% of our produce from the local food co-op (http://www.firstalt.coop) or directly from the farmers (through the market or CSA).

Tilting the playing field to burden a single chain seems unfair, and in the long run doesn't directly address the issues raised.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

iBike WW43

Beautiful fall day today. Mary, Simone and I all biked to Simone's swim class and back. Very leisurely, very pleasant. Not too many of these days left this year.

Overheard in New York | It's Getting Difficult To Tell The Tourists From Natives

Third time wasn't the charm, I'm still a runner up. Check out the other winners here: Overheard in New York

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Ok, I was lured over to look at myspace because a friend has a page, and I thought I should finally check it out.

In the 5 minutes I spent looking at their page (and their friends' pages), I'm here to report that I want my 5 minutes back, and the part of my soul it stole.

A while back, Ze had a contest to see who could create the ugliest myspace page (seems as though most have reverted to standard ugly, not contest-winning-super-ugly). At the time, I didn't realize the impetus for the contest, now I understand.

While I don't begrudge the creators of MySpace the $580M they got when the company was bought. I must say that they've done a heck of a job making it difficult for people to create good looking web pages.

The blinking, and flashing, and gawdy images that everyone seems to post on the obligatory comments area ... it's enough to give you a seizure. Plus, most of the pages are wider than my browser - and I've got a huge screen.

I'm glad that 100 million regular folks have the opportunity to create their own personal web pages, and have circles of friends, and never-ending comment areas. I just won't ever be joining the club. I hope the Internet has moved beyond MySpace by the time Simone gets to using a computer.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not Quite Getting The Idea

So, last week I roll up to the vietnamese sub shop to eat a big bowl full of Pho, and I notice I'm the first of the crowd to arrive. So I hang out in the Mazda listening to the radio. It's raining, so the car's dirty interior is totally preferable to the getting wet.

Anyway, I look over and notice the nice Prius next to me (ha, 50mpg? mazda gets 40). No big deal, lots of Prii(plural?) in Oregon (after all, it is one of the greenest states). I then notice the headlights are on, and the windshield wipers are going. But nobody was sitting inside the car!!!

It's not like a diesel engine, that used to need to be idled on fear of the fuel gelling up, or something else.

Friday, October 19, 2007

iBike WW42

Simone and I woke up this morning to no rain, so we hopped on the bike (Burley) and rode off into the world. Nice and cool, with the pretty fall colors.

Simone's First Cold

Simone has a cold, her first illness. Pretty impressive, she's 16 months old, and her first one. Most people I know who have kids have been sick many times over by this point.

Yet another benefit of having a parent at home (i.e. no daycare).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

iBike WW39

Hmmm.... I think my work week numbering is off. I haven't missed a week, really. But I think I should be in the 40's right now.

This week Simone and I rode on Friday evening after work, she provided ballast while I tried to bike around and over Witham Hill as fast as I could. I'm pretty sure if I were in good shape, it would only take me about 30 minutes, but this week it took over 40.

But, it was a beautiful fall evening.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sliming Graeme Frost

Sliming Graeme Frost - New York Times

By PAUL KRUGMAN Published: October 12, 2007 Two weeks ago, the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address was delivered by a 12-year-old, Graeme Frost. Graeme, who along with his sister received severe brain injuries in a 2004 car crash and continues to need physical therapy, is a beneficiary of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Mr. Bush has vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have expanded that program to cover millions of children who would otherwise have been uninsured.

Click on the link above to get the opinion piece. Needless to say, it shows the sad state of media and the effectiveness of the right-wing political machine.

Oregonian to the Core

So I'm driving to work this morning, minding my own business, when out of nowhere a blinding light hits me in the side of the face. I'm totally taken off guard and think, "What the f*@k is going on?"

It was the just risen sun.

Which reminded me of a favorite quote I heard on a traffic report in Portland:
"Traffic is really slow at the 217 interchange due to bright sunlight."

Oregonian to the core.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Owner Mark Cuban Trades Stocks on Sharesleuth.com's Advance Info

I read (well, used to read) Mark Cuban's blog. He had a bunch of interesting insights into the NBA, like discussing refereeing, the business of it all, etc. But a while back he stopped writing about that, and it's been dull. Except for a couple of posts about his shorting of certain stocks.

Wired has an article (Owner Mark Cuban Trades Stocks on Sharesleuth.com's Advance Info) on Mark Cuban's company/website that basically does investigations into companies that are over-valued, at which point Mark Cuban shorts the stock, and publishes the information on the web site. It's only done a couple of reports, but many people are fired up over the idea of a company doing investigative reporting solely for the purposes of shorting stock shares.

My two cents on it all... good for Mark. Nobody else is doing critical investigations of companies. You have Enron and all sorts of other accounting scandals that are bilking share holders of tons of money (not to mention the impact of high energy costs in California due to Enron) happening. Where's the traditional media? Hyping up the corporate sound bites w/no critical thinking (exactly the same as it does for the Bush sound bites).

I hope sharesleuth.com does well finding companies that are just smoke and mirrors. As long as it continues to do reporting based on legally sound investigative practices, I'm all for it. Plus, Mark is totally up front on what is happening - he looks for bad companies and tells the world about it. He's not hiding anything, it's the companies that are hiding things.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ha Ha, Good One

I woke up to the alarm clock this morning, it was 6am and going off. My groggy senses wondered, "when did I set this alarm?" If it weren't for that sluggish response, I would have been dressed and almost out the door before I noticed that Simone had mucked with the clock.

See, we've got one of those clocks that automatically sets itself based off the signal sent out over the air. You can't even change the time (well, ok, the instructions don't say how to do it, turns out Simone figured out how to set it herself b/c one day the time was *way* off, not just the wrong time zone). Generally all you do is select which time zone you want, and everything else is set up properly.

Evidentially, yesterday Simone set the alarm, and she changed the time-zone to Central time, so it wasn't 6am, it was really 4am.

Sneaky, sneaky girl. Gotta keep an close eye on her.