Monthly Archives: November 2007

Your Moment Of Zen

Yesterday, after panicking over where to have this wedding, I got to thinking about a place I knew about, but I had only been there twice for an early drink with friends.  The place is called the Zen Restaurant, and it used to be a Pargos, which was poorly run and eventually closed.  Now, it has been renovated and doesn’t even look like the same building on the inside.  I met the Owner and we talked for about an hour and eventually settled on a fair price on the reception.  I was so impressed with him that I felt compelled to tell y’all about it.  Like me, he took over a closed chain restaurant, remodeled, and made a successful business out of it.  He has no corporation behind him, he spent his own money, and he spends upwards of 70 hours a week running it.  Few people have the balls to do this in the restaurant/bar business anymore.  I just wanted to say that he made himself available almost immediately, and was eager to help us get this event planned.  If you are ever anywhere near the Rivergate area, stop by, try out his menu, or perhaps go late and enjoy the music and dancing.  I know I wish him and his crew nothing but success.

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Shameless Plug

Ok, maybe not.  Maybe just a little Proud Daddy Post.  My daughter, Supermousey, had a history assignment.  She decided to write about the Terra Cotta Soldiers, and wrote a nice paper about them.  Then, for extra credit, she took some modeling clay and fashioned 11 different models complete with cloth capes, and weapons she borrowed from her little brother.  I am quite proud of her effort.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what they were.  Bridgett and NM will have a field day with that.

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Cheap, Not Chic

A very close friend of mine has decided to get married.  I could write 10,000 paragraphs as to why I think this is (for him, and yes, for her) a monumentally stupid idea, but not without invading their privacy.  I only offer that as a disclaimer because it will be evident to you readers that their impulsiveness is just the tip of the bad idea iceberg.  Anyway, I love these people, so I am asking for help from the internets about this wedding.  Naturally, money is a major concern.  Long ago, when they approached me about holding the wedding here, I was more than willing to offer the property, and even build a small “chapel” and rent the tents and chairs for them.  However, December seems like a bad time to do this.  So, we need an affordable place to hold both the ceremony and the reception, and I need a band with a sense of humor that will do this gig relatively cheaply.  (More than I can convey here, I want a very cheesy cover band ala the “Wedding Singer”)

I called two friends last night when I got the news, but got their voicemail and left a hurried, cryptic message that one of them thought meant i was mad at them.  I wasn’t.  I was excited (reservations about the event notwithstanding) and wanted advice.

So, any ideas?  I may have to fly Magniloquence out here to help…

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Customers First

Employees second. Vendors third. Shareholders fourth. That is Costco’s business model, somewhat, but not overly simplified. Even in a State like California, where many of it’s employees are unionized, they continue to beat Sam’s Club in profitability. Costco pays even non-union employees nearly twice as much as any of their competitors, even during lean years. As a result, their employee retention rate is the best of any retail business. More productivity, more sales per square foot. Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco, pays himself a whopping 350,000 dollars a year. Care to know what Walmart pays theirs? Around 5.3 million. Costco pays nearly 94% of their employees health care costs, even part-time employees.

“Wall Street is in the business of making money between now and next tuesday, we are in the business of building an organization, an institution that we hope will be here 50 years from now. And paying good wages and keeping your people working with you is very good business.” (Jim Sinegal)

I posted this partly of of frustration at not being able to succinctly write down my thoughts about business ethics, and the future of Americanized capitalism. So, it occurred to me to just highlight some people and companies that actually serve as possible models to save us from this dangerous race to the bottom.

I’ll talk about Publix on Wednesday…

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I Can’t Help My Commie Leanings

OK, I’m wondering about something.  Do you have kids that have, or will have a gaming console?  If so, wouldn’t it be nice to have a network of people you knew that had the same system, so you could trade out games?  I’m shocked at the prices on these kid’s games.  49-99 dollars seems the average, and, well, how many games can you afford?  Like most families, this year will be lean with respect to the Christmas budget.  My kids are still young enough that we enjoy splurging a little for them, but I’d like to know if there is merit to the idea of sharing games, either with friends, or through some enterprise you join, and pay a small fee.  Does this exist?  I’m going to ask my friends what system they have, and float this idea out there, particularly if they are purchasing a new system this year.  I need to get Ivy on this, she’ll know…

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At My Age, I Don’t Buy Small Trees

Thats quote from T. Boone Pickens, the 79 yr old multi-billionaire oilman and now, college philanthropist. He was responding to a question from Bernard (nobody cares about his politics) Goldman as to whether his 165 million dollar gift to Oklahoma State University was part of a 5 year plan to produce winning football teams. He’s saying that he wants to change things around fast, to see an immediate impact in the win/loss column.

Heres the deal. Pickens donated the 165 million to his alma mater for the purpose of building a Xanadu-like facility for the University’s athletes. Beautiful new stadium, 3 separate practice fields, training rooms equipped with latest and best of everything, including waterfalls, 72 inch LCD televisions and a fully stocked juice bar. The idea is that better facilities will attract better recruits, which will bring in more fans, who will give more money to the University.

His Management company is overseeing how the funds are disbursed, and charging no fee for doing so.

He “suggested” that the golf pro at the University be named Athletic Director. He was.

The new Stadium’s name? You guessed it, T. Boone Pickens Field.

Pickens has stated that the 165 million was essentially a ‘down payment”, and that he would spend “whatever it takes” to see Oklahoma State University become a college football powerhouse.

I’ll start by saying that I believe the man has the right to spend his money however he pleases.

That said, I’m wondering what a 165 million dollar investment in say, the science department might have produced in a few years? Perhaps a cure for the common cold? A cure for AIDS? How about a totally clean and abundant fuel?

Also, Mr. Pickens has said that if the time came to pick a new University President, he would “definitely be involved.” Has he purchased this right?

There are a handful of professors and students that are opposing his efforts, (I love their chances) but its an understatement to say that they are a tiny minority in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

I’m of the opinion that if he gave the money with no strings attached, I have no problem with it, though I would have been impressed with matching funds for some other departments. Right now, I’m wondering how long before the team mascot is morphed from Cowboy to say, Roughneck? Will the school someday be known as T. Boone U. ® ?

What say you?

H/T:  The best show on TV, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

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Upset Pick of The Day

Buffalo over the Patriots. Bet the ranch.

Updated:  Ok, We’ll double down next week.  ♥

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