Tuesday, August 31, 2010
If you own a business in an older city, like the City of Madison, the fact that there may be construction that would impact the accessibility to your business for a short period of time is part of the cost of doing business. Older cities need to repair streets and sewers and that is part of urban life. Just like a ski resort has to plan for bad weather, businesses need to plan for construction. The city tries to provide access at all times and it sucks if you own a business in such a situation but such is life. If they city had to pay businesses every time customers had a slightly harder time getting to their business due to construction, we would have no money left for anything else.
I would suggest that in the long term, this bridge and the other expensive improvements to the area and West Washington will help this restaurant do better. The area looks much better and people will want to go there and eat. In the past people avoided this area because it was so rough and these improvements will attract investment, bringing more customers to the area. Even if they can document a decrease in sales, I’d suggest it could be due to other factors. Change in eating patterns, easier access to other restaurants across the street, etc.
There are so many stores and restaurants without large ugly signs in Madison and across the country that do fine. There are so many strip malls where I can’t even see from the road what is in there. There are McDonalds in many communties with strict signage rules that don’t have the large golden arches at all. I have gone to this McDonalds (we often stop on our way to Milwaukee or Chicago) many times throughout this construction and after the bridge and it has always been easy to get to. People know where they want to go and find a way to go there. While it may be an impulse for some folks to just turn in and eat there, that is not really something we want to encourage, people making a unexpected sudden turn off a busy street for a McNugget? If this sets a precedent, it will cost us for years to come.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The article reminds me of my visit to this fine city which had nothing to do with pot, we went to tour the sites, enjoy the cafes but the best part of our visit was to the best spa ever Thermae 2OOO which is very close to Maastricht. What I would not give for a day trip to this place right now.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I was very intrigued by the NPR story about companies that offer “unlimited” vacation time to employees. It describes how some high tech (Netficks) or professional firms let all their employees decided for themselves how much time away to take depending on their personal and professional needs. Sounds crazy at first, but actually makes some sense and could work if the employees are the type to put in the time necessary to do their jobs but are not crazy workaholics. It would seem that the system would work based primarily on peer pressure. If everyone works hard and it is not too cut throat, people will be supportive of people taking a reasonable amount of leave.
In some ways, some parts of state government (where I work) are like this in that many senior employees who have been here for years have many weeks of vacation, personal days, sabbatical leave and now required furlough days as well. The result is that people have more than 5 weeks or more of leave a year. The reason for this is that for years the state has offered tiny less than cost of living pay increases or no pay increases and have made up for that low salary by offing generous amounts of vacation for people with many years under their belts. Many hard working employees and managers don’t take all their vacation, it is too much for them to be away from work and they want to get their jobs done so they take only 3 weeks or so.
The problem with the current X number of vacation days a year approach is that some people focus on that number and think, I need to take that much and may be away longer than they would otherwise be. On the flip side, there is little flexibility in that a new employee in some government jobs or private jobs with unions can’t get more than the minimum regardless of the circumstances. I considered a job with another government agency (not state government) and was told that regardless of the amount of leave I had at my current job and my years of experience, I would start at 2 weeks of vacation and would not get more for 5 years. The other point in the story is that vacations are not all about sitting on the beach, life happens, carrying for family members, etc. Some of those things are covered by family and medical leave laws but not all and that usually only guarantees time off, not paid time off.
Do you think such a system could work at your job?
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
I quickly read the most popular NY Times piece “But Will it Make You Happy” and I'd guess that it is popular for two opposite reasons; 1) some relate to the message and would like to simplify their life, shop less, etc. 2) some think it is a ridicules elitist, liberal, piece about thirty somethings yuppies with nothing else to worry about in life that surfing and hiking.
The story full of academic research finds that shopping does not make us happy and people are starting to realize that and shopping less, living simper lives, and trying to spend our time and money on things that do make us happy.
One thing that bothers me about he piece is that the people profiled don’t have kids and life with kids is so different than life without. Tammy and Logan would need to make very different choices if they had to save for their kids education, find good schools for their kids, etc.
The parenting perspective aside, my wife and I both agree with the central premise that shopping does not make us happy.
We both have/ had parents who spent way too much time and money shopping and both concluded the same thing, there are much better ways to spend your time and money. Stuff is just stuff and I will not be any happier if I have a fancy TV, designer shoes, etc.
I would like to think that more American’s are realizing these truths and spending less time in Target and more time doing meaningful things. The problem I fear with this thinking however is that our economy depends in large part on people rich and poor shopping and buying crap. The economic livelihood of many unemployed families depends on Tammy and Logan going out to Wal Mart and buying the latest crap.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
It is pretty sad if part of the reason that we are married to our cars and don’t take public transit is because it is not cool not to have a car. The guy who doesn’t own a car should be a hero not a freak. There are obviously many American’s who could not live with out a car or without two cars for a couple but there are also many of us who could get by without one and still have a happy life or couples who could get by with only one car but have two. Just the cost of car ownership is a reason alone to make this move but people would think it crazy to ditch their car and occasionally rely on a rental car or taxi.
If movies helped making smoking cool and sell cigarettes, then maybe movies can help promote car sharing, walking, biking and public transit.