Automatically Throwing Money

I’ve always been curious about people’s ATM habits. When I was in college (90-94), I had the option to take $5 out of the ATM. I miss those days. Then they had minimums of $10, which I hated, because it meant I could impulsively go get $10 out of the bank and go buy a CD. This meant I’d probably have to skip a lunch or a dinner and beg a roommate to share food or whatever. That problem was easily solved, though: I had two jobs in college, one was at the local supermarket and the other was at the Kent Student Center – both offered plenty of, uh, secret eating opportunities. 

Anyway, I don’t remember when it became the de facto minimum of $20 at the ATM. As I’ve gotten older and advanced in the workplace, it became less of an issue, but sometimes I wish I still had the option to take less than $20, at least. Because it seems the more I take out, the quicker it exits my wallet. 

The amount I take out most often now is $60. What is your “go-to” amount when you take money out at the ATM? 


Music and Baseball

Two good little tidbits captured from the internet over the last week or so:

  • Interesting little ditty written by Nirvana’s Krist Novaselic about that night at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards (in my old man voice: when they were actually interesting to watch) when Novaselic tossed his bass up into the air, only to miss the instrument on the way down and have it clock him in the head. The actual event isn’t as funny as the backstage interaction Cobain had with Axl Rose. Novaselic apparently pops up occasionally in this column. Drummer Dave Grohl also has a decent story on the event.
  • Now – to sports. I swear to you that before this baseball season (2008) even started, I was thinking to myself about David Ortiz. And I kept coming back around to the Mo Vaughn situation the Red Sox had back in the late ’90s when he was about to become a free agent. The two stories have very similar parallels. Their physical makeup is very similar and their five year arc of being unbelievable, fearsome power hitters are very similar. Ortiz, of course, has proven himself to be a far superior clutch hitter. But the similarities between the two cannot be overlooked. Here are Vaughn’s career numbers and here are Ortiz’s. So anyway, I was thinking back before the ’08 season started that given the similarities, we might expect Ortiz to run into the same health issues as Vaughn did – slowly sort of falling apart. Of course, one never knows, but I do actually agree with Chad Finn’s article about trading Ortiz while the gettin’ is good. I have felt this way since spring training last March.

Oh Redwood Tree, Please Let Us Under

Lots of people think the music business is falling apart. It is, to a certain extent, and that’s a good thing. Ever since recorded music became available for purchase, it’s largely been class warfare – the record labels (the rich) and the artists (the poor). Exploitation repeated itself time and time again and the artists were the Charlie Brown’s, always having the ball pulled away at the last second. 

No more. It’s not a done deal yet, but the collapse of the music business as we know it is almost complete. More and more artists are realizing that the emergence of downloads/digital is their chance to cut out the bullshit, i.e., the labels. As much as Lefsetz babbles on and on about everything in his blog, one thing he repeats a lot sticks as gospel to me – labels need to evolve themselves more into artist managers than the big-stick wielding entities that they are. Or they’re done. It’s kinda that simple.

A recent article over at Techcrunch showcases a telling tale. At a recent music industry conference, the keynote speech was given by Ian Rogers, who used to run Yahoo Music and realized quickly that DRM and copy protection will NEVER be the answer. He now leads the forward-looking Topspin, which is looking to be the pipe for music’s new “middle class.” Among other things, he pointed out how the recent album release from David Byrne & Brian Eno (which is actually quite a good record) might be the norm sometime in the future:

The first example is David Byrne and Brian Eno’s new album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. By distributing digitally and keeping most of the profits themselves, the gross revenues of the album matched what they could have expected to get as an advance from a music label within the first 50 days. The second example is a lesser-known artist in his twenties, Joe Purdy, who has sold 650,000 tracks on iTunes and was able to buy a house from the proceeds.

How about that? I’ve never heard of Joe Purdy, but good for him. That’s the way things should be. Here’s the full piece at Techcrunch (not that long). And here’s one of the tracks from that surprisingly good Byrne/Eno album. It’s the best work I think Byrne has done since his Talking Heads days. 

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UPDATE: Here’s a more detailed analysis of the Topspin/Byrne-Eno story – excellent read.


I Feel Safest Of All

It is a very tempting time to buy a new car. Years ago, I might have done so on a mere whim. The economy is horrendous, the automobile companies are a disaster and based on a few friends I know who’ve purchased lately, the deals are fantastic. I might view it as a good opportunity to finally get myself into a Hybrid vehicle. But as I make my way into my late 30s, my fiscal conservativeness continues to apply me in a tighter headlock. We probably could get a car, but we’re not. For some reason, this recession feels more threatening than the 2000-2001 recession did. Part of it has to be the new spawn that now live with us. Like they say, that changes everything. But it’s more than that – there’s a quiet nervousness about everything given the plummet we’ve seen since late summer. It’s frightening.

So I’ll continue driving my 2002 Camry. Hell, it only has 76,000 miles on it and I get it serviced every 3-5K miles. So if Consumer Reports is right, than I have another 5-7 years left on this thing. At least. We’ll see if my, um, vanity can last that long.

I see that Blitzen Trapper, one of my new bands-of-the-month, made an appearance on Conan O’Brien on Monday. Here’s the video:


Not A Dream

Last night Steph went out for a bit and I was sitting in our kitchen after dinner, getting caught up on some work email. My father-in-law, Steve, stopped in to pick up something that we had borrowed from them and we started talking for a few minutes. The day after Obama was elected, he had sent an email to both of his daughters with a brief reflection of the historic moment that had just occurred in our country. Steph showed me the email and something caught my eye that I could barely believe, so I had to ask him about it.

Turns out I wasn’t imagining things. Steve spent Martin Luther King’s 33rd birthday WITH him. King was speaking at Steve’s college and not only did he get to introduce King to the student body for the speech King made at the college, he also had dinner (cake and all) with King and about ten other people afterwards at the home of one of the college professors. This was 1962! We are talking about arguably some of the peak years of civil unrest in the United States. 

So we spoke about it for a few more minutes and Steve went on to say that in observing King, the way he spoke, the way he carried himself, there was an obvious resolve in the man to solve the problems our nation was facing through non-violent means. It wasn’t a facade when the speech was over and the lights turned down. This man lived it. Breathed it. Believed it. And Steve also mentioned that despite the resolve of King, there was also a true sadness to the man.

Amazing story. I told him and Steph that there has to be a book soon, because the work he did and the life he pursued probably deserves documentation of some kind.