Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Speaking of Beyonce...

I was going to post a YouTube video of Beyonce's embarrassing fall at her Orlando concert last night. While performing at the Amway Arena (where the Magic plays), she fell down the stairs that were on her set, but she immediately got up and continued her routine. At the end of the concert, she apparently requested that videos of the fall not be posted on the Internet. Her wish was not honored as videos surfaced the next day. However, they were quickly removed from YouTube, with Sony/BMG citing a copyright infringement.

I'm still surprised that a major artist actually came to Orlando...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Why do you listen to [insert artist]?"

When I tell people that I like a certain pop song, like a Keyshia Cole, Jessica Simpson, or Rihanna song, the usual response, especially from elitist music major classmates in college, was “why do you listen to that crap?” They will go on to talk about the lack of pure talent that these artists display, which, in many cases, is true. The only response I have, which is a proper response, is that, despite their lack of singing talent, these artists have been successful at producing a piece of music that people enjoy.

In classical music, the listener has the ability to choose which soloist or music performance ensemble is worth his patronage. When deciding to purchase a recording of Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone and 11 Instruments, I can chose the dark tone, tastefully modified articulations, varied use of vibrato technique, the original cadenza, the full use of the saxophone's range, and expressive phrasing style of John-Edward Kelly or I can chose the bright tone, limited range, overused and unvaried vibrato, alternative cadenza and overall aesthetically unpleasing recording of Eugene Rousseau. For Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, I can choose to support the Atlanta Symphony’s recording over the Chicago Symphony’s recording because of the Atlanta conductor’s interpretation of the last movement.

Unlike most classical compositions, today’s popular music is written for specific artists and usually cannot be performed by other artists. Beyonce may do a better job than Keyshia Cole on some of her songs, but Beyonce does not have the legal means to perform Keyshia Cole’s music. So, if I want to hear “Love” by Cole or “Umbrella” by Rihanna, I have to hear those songs from those specific artists. I do not object to this practice since songs are usually written for the very people who will be singing them. So, the songs will not necessary expose the artists' weakness, at least in the studio. It is this very practice that makes some of these songs appealing. Maybe Beyonce won't do such a good job singing "Umbrella"...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Stupid Gas Station

Have you noticed that the Chevron station on 535 @ Hotel Plaza Blvd. (entrance to Disney World) in Lake Buena Vista charges well above the average asking price for a gallon of gas? Last night, the price for 87 octane was $3.37/gal. Other gas stations within a viewable range priced their gas at the normal and current rate of $2.89/gal or so. Gas inside the Disney complex is $2.82/gal, and gas in metro area today ranges between $2.79/gal and $2.95/gal. Every time I am in that area, I never see a customer getting gas at this station, because they are at the other two gas stations on the street getting gas at a more reasonable price.

Businesses have the right to charge whatever price they feel is reasonable for their services in order to gain a profit. If a customer is unwilling to pay that price for such services, then they have the capability to find cheaper services elsewhere. So, I will not be calling the gouging police anytime soon. However, why would this Chevron station feel the need to charge forty or fifty cents above neighboring stores and the local market?

If those outrageous prices are meant to throw off free-spending tourists, it is an ill-conceived business strategy inasmuch as there are other gas stations next door with lower prices. The station cannot claim that the prices are set at a premium because of the company's claim of superior products. Other Chevron stations charge a competitive price while simultaneously pushing their products as superior to Hess, Amoco, etc.

The only feasible idea as to why they charge 30-40 cents above market value would be to entice those tourists that may have gas cards or credit card-based gas purchase incentives that can only be redeemed at Chevron stations, which is the lone station of that brand in that area. However, this could not possibly bring in enough revenue to stay competitive against neighboring stations. They still need to entice that customer that is willing to stop at a random station for gas, which they do not seem to be doing effectively.

Despite the high prices and low customer rate (based on observation), this gas station remains open. It would be interesting to learn how they have been able to survive.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Al Gore wouldn't approve...

Every time I do something that goes against the environmentalist and man-made global warming dogma, I always think, "Al Gore wouldn't approve of this."

For example:
-Driving to the gym that is a fence hop away from my apartment complex.
-Lowering my thermostat temperature when it is really hot.
-Making multiple driving trips when I could have condensed them into one trip.
-Not changing out my regular light bulbs and installing the fluorescent bulbs so I don't break them and turn my apartment building into a chemical hazard.

Well, I still burn less electricity that he does on his private jet. And my car gets almost 30mpg on the highway. So, I guess I am doing more for the environment than the Distinguished Professor of Global Warming Studies. I can't even afford a regular commercial ticket...well, there's the Visa..."everywhere you want to be"...

Orlando, the Happiest Place on Earth!

Check out this video from Fox 35.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Competition is Good!

When reading technology news stories about companies trying to enter the MP3 player market, the immediate result tends to be droves of serious Apple fans clogging the comment sections stating how certain companies should stay out of the business, give up on making the devices, or even go as far as to say that those companies should not be allowed to enter the market. The intensity of the rhetoric is astoundingly political in nature. Anyone defending a new entry into the market is often tagged as stupid or a paid troll for the company in question (which is like Michael Moore's only comeback to criticism of his new movie). This was especially the case with the Microsoft PlaysForSure campaign and the debut of the Microsoft Zune player last fall.

Apple does make high quality products and has revolutionized the distribution of music. However, that success does not mean that other companies should not attempt to enter the MP3 player market. The main argument against Microsoft was that it was already wildly successful with its operating systems, servers, office software, and gaming consoles. So, it was foolish of Microsoft (spelled Micro$oft by them) to want to enter an "already crowded" MP3 market given their dominance in other areas and Apple's firm grip on the MP3 market. If this argument was used consistently by the zealot Apple fans, then why would Apple have wanted to enter a cellphone+PDA market already dominated by the Blackberry (aka "Crackberry"), Palm Treo, and the plethora of Windows Mobile equipped devices? Extending it further, should Apple give up on the Macintosh operating system and start selling Windows computers because they cannot make significant gains against Windows?

Although the Zune and other emerging MP3 players have not been able to take away a significant amount of Apple's market share, some of the continued success of the iPod can be attributed to the capitalist ideal that competition accelerates innovation. In a similar fashion, the introduction of the iPhone is going to push Blackberry, Palm, and the manufacturers of Windows Mobile devices to continue making outstanding mobile products, and this will subsequently move Apple to make better iPhones. This will thus create a reciprocal cycle of high-quality technology. True supporters of Apple products will welcome competition, not necessarily because they are looking for an alternative product, but because new competition will serve as a catalyst of accountability for future Apple products.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My favorite Crispers sandwich is worse than a Big Mac?

So, when I decide that I don't want to cook, yet don't intend on cheating on my efforts to eat cleanly, I usually head to Crispers. There I am, thinking that this is a good, healthy alternative to other quick order restaurants. When looking up the nutritional value of the sandwich I usually order, I found out a Big Mac appears to be a healthier option!

To those looking to cut calories, the Big Mac seems to be the better choice, but calories alone shouldn't be the sole determining factor.

Although mono- and polyunsaturated fats have nutritional value (which makes up the difference between total fat and the saturated fat/trans fat content listed), the amount of such fats in that one turkey sandwich may be in excess. Given that turkey is one of the more naturally lean meats, I would assume that a lot of the saturated fat content in the Crispers sandwich comes from the cheese. I think the 1.5 grams of trans fat in the Big Mac is trivial compared to the high total fat content of the turkey sandwich.

The carb content of the turkey sandwich is unprecedented, with most of the carbs in the turkey sandwich coming from sugar, though it does have a higher amount of dietary fiber than the Big Mac. The bread on both sandwiches (or at least on the Big Mac) is from enriched wheat flour, so that's more bad news. The turkey sandwich does beat the Big Mac in the protein category. But is protein content alone enough to propel the turkey sandwich as a winner?

Yes, it is true that if you take away the high-quality, yet fatty cheese and honey mustard on the turkey sandwich, you will cut a lot of the fat. But, if I do that, what is the point of going out to a restaurant? If I want a bland sandwich, I can make that at home for about $1.00 (if that), which is about $6.50 less than I would spend on the sandwich and chips at Crispers or Panera Bread.

So, it looks like the Big Mac is healthier than the Crispers Smoke Turkey Delight. Despite that argument, I will choose the turkey sandwich over the Big Mac, because at least I don't feel unhealthy after eating it as I would after eating a Big Mac. However, I cannot look at this sandwich (and possibly any restaurant outings) as a healthy alternative to just making my own meal at home. For me, restaurant food choices become a battle of choosing the lesser evil.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Welcome to The Rabbit Pad

Since everyone else seems to be jumping on the blog bandwagon, I thought I'd do so myself. Unlike the rest of those blogs, this blog will not function as some sort of online journal/diary. It will be more like a commentary on a broad range of topics and a compilation of random thoughts. I am not sure whether this will end up being a serious site or some sort of attempt at humor. All will be revealed in due time. This will be an ever evolving site, constantly changing as I explore different areas of commentary, and maybe someday, I will find a niche topic about which to write frequently.