Archive for the 'economics' Category

New Site: LensPundit.com

August 23, 2008

Gave birth to a new site/blog today. It’s a site that I’ve been considering doing for well over a year. The glassyeyes site gets a lot of traffic and a small, but growing, percentage of the viewers have asked about my thoughts on contact lens retailers.

I only wear contacts for sports, but I needed some with the cold months coming — hockey anyone?

So the research began, the grid started to come to life and so did the site. I took a clean WordPress template and started beating on it to bend it to my will.

It’s called LensPundit.com. Take a look.

Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers

November 10, 2006

WE’VE MOVED! This post, the conversation, and research have shifted to GlassyEyes.com. Join us for in-depth recommendations and horror stories. It seems that quite a few people are looking for alternatives to over-priced eyewear.

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I’ve stepped into my last eyeglasses store. I’ve been wearing glasses since junior high, and the prices have gotten outrageous. The last pair I bought at LensCrafters, in 2004, set me back about $300 and never fit properly — even after multiple trips back. They broke the last week of October. Snap!

I’ve had my eye on, and nearly purchased a pair of Silhouettes a few months back. They were the titanium hingeless variety. I priced them out at a couple of stores and with AR (anti-reflective) lenses with scratch-resistant coating, I was looking at about $500. I don’t claim to be the smartest guy in the room very often, but no way in hell was I going to buy into that.

The best deal I could find in a store for a pair (in a non-welfare frame) approached $270 — without AR lenses. That would not do either. There had to be a better alternative. I decided I was going to find the Silhouettes online. I already knew what I wanted and they’d have to be much less online. I googled — and found them — for $410ish. Not good enough. I went back to my search results. You know how google has the ads on the right side (of course you do)? I ignore them almost all the time. For some reason (my empty wallet?) I decided to click a link to Zenni Optical (a.k.a., and I kid you not — 19dollareyeglasses.com).

Zenni had a couple of titanium, hingeless frames. I priced them out. I decked them out with AR coating ($4.95 compared to $50+ in the stores), a clip-on sunshade ($3.95 versus $70 in the store) and went to the optional higher-index (thinner) lenses. Total?

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An Open Letter to “RanchoManana” on the terroristic RNC/GOP Television Ads

October 25, 2006

Not watching television any longer, I wanted to see what the GOP was doing for television ads in these weeks preceeding the election. I found terrorism. Flat-out terroristic messages.

A quick definition for you:

ter‧ror‧ism[teruh-riz-uhm]–noun

1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.Using “terrorism” to “terrorize” us — Delicious.

“The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.” You said a mouthful there.

I proceeded to another ad — also terroristic, based on a straw-man argument…

…and commented:

“Yeah, it’s a lot better to make our kids (and their kids and their kids…) pay.
This is a ridiculous ad. This is one screwed-up country.”

I got a couple responses and tried to respond to one of them thoughtfully, but YouTube limits responses to 500 characters (and here we are).

First the response that prompted my lengthy retort:

You’re right. Wht don’t you get out and go live in France or Germany where the governments confiscate up to 60% from the average working class income earners for “social welfare” programs. 8.9% unemployment rate sound like a plan to you? dolt.

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Coping with loss (of many thousands of dollars)

October 18, 2006

I’m not a rich man. I’m not poor either. I’m also not unique in my predicament. I’ve been stuck in a job for the past few years (has it been five years already?) — for a couple of reasons, but with real consequences.

I like the people I work with. I even like the work on occasion. The problem comes in the form of compensation. Let me preface further discussion with the following; I know there are a number of things I can do to change this. There are also a number of reasons that I haven’t.

Here are a couple of them:

  1. As I stated before, I like the people I work with (No, I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass here).
  2. The health benefits are excellent — This is important when you have three children.
  3. I seem to lack some “testicular fortitude” with the boss.
  4. I like having an office (with a window and a door). It’s a nice space.
  5. In many ways I prefer a small company (although this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be).
  6. I’m not interested in another “job” — my next move is working for myself, making my own decisions.

It’s also been years since my last pay increase. I’ve supplemented things in a number of ways over the years. I’ve overspent on credit cards. I’ve refinanced the house to pay off the overspending. I’ve eBayed things on a number of occasions. Ang has gone back to work — which has the additional benefit of giving her a bit of sanity (in, quite literally, one of the most insane places). I’ve done some hit-and-miss side-work after hours — and even been paid for it a couple of times. I’ve planned and continue to plan on bigger and better things moving forward, but the reality is that I’ve shortchanged my family of between $20,000 and $30,000 in salary over this past five year period — figuring in only Cost of Living Increases, and this lower wage position.

My salary bubbled up along with other technology folks in the late nineties — to a point that wasn’t maintainable — so I took my 26% pay cut in stride after the Plural layoff. It sucked, but it was a reality I understood. I also figured it would get better. It hasn’t. In real dollars, I’m making 9% less now than I was in 2001 — at the already reduced salary. Figure in more dramatic 26% initial cut and I’m now making 68% a year of where I would have been.

Let me reiterate, that I know I am not alone, but that only takes the edges off of the pain.

Want a real big number? I’ve missed out on over $160,000 if the bubble hadn’t burst and I had just done a good enough job to get the bare minimum salary increase. It’s not as big a number as those seen by the truly rich, but it’s much, much bigger in ways that really matter.

Like most Americans, I’d have probably just spent it all on hookers and blow. Right?

So I’ve become a real bargain shopper. I dig thrift stores — I found an amazing number of like and brand new shirts the other night for about $5 each. I like to find ways to simplify. It’s amazing how this “slip down the ladder” has changed my perspective on what is important. I still have pride. I’m much more comfortable with who I am. I couldn’t care less about how big my television is — I don’t watch TV. I don’t care that my car is 11 years old — in fact it’s a fact I revel in. It’s economical, paid-for, and a blast to drive. I smile every time I climb in. I don’t go out like I used to. I’d rather grab the camera and find something interesting to shoot or hop on the bike than head to the bar. I spend countless hours coming up with ideas for new products. I fill Moleskine after Moleskine with jottings and story ideas. I continue to work towards a better life.

Oh, but that’s all so boring!

My wallet’s not as fat — by a long shot, but I’m not bored.