Irrational response to prices

As I was bombarded with yet another sales manager grumbling about prices being too high (we are the market leader, and if we lower our price, all our competitors will match), it dawned on me that prices bring out irrational behavior.

A classic example is gasoline prices.  As the cost per gallon rises, you hear a lot of grumbling, and people will do irrational things to respond, including:

1) Trade in an SUV at a ruinous tradein value for a Prius and pay $2K or more over sticker for the prius.  If you run the numbers, you realize that you will NEVER save enough on gas to trade in a serviceable vehicle for a new one, and pay over sticker to boot.

2) Drive all over town to save a penny or two per gallon.  Seriously, even if you have a 25 gallon tank like I did in my old truck, that is a $0.50 in saving.  If you burn a quarter gallon of gas (driving 5 miles in my truck) to save that much, you barely break even.

3) Shop at Arco.  This is the worst of them all.  They are typically a penny or two lower than the nearby neighbor.  But they attract a clientelle that will drive out of their way (see #2 above) and will wait in line several cars worth to buy gas.  Furthermore, they invariably have one pay station that is the most user unfriendly to use (you again wait in line, and have to navigate several steps to pay for gas).  It clearly is a lose, lose, lose situation, but their shoppers are convinced that they are getting a good deal.

Long week.

Well, this was a grueling week.  Our thrice a year extended management team meetings happened, and I had two (interlinked) updates to present.  It all went well, but it was a couple of 10 hour days of meetings, a seriously draining week.

Now, I am headed out for a vacation, long planned and seriously needed.  Staying in the east bay area, we will be sipping wine in Sonoma, and doing touristy things in San Francisco.  Sunday I will be participating in the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers race.

Science geek cred

How can you start a science geek thread that will quickly spread to hundreds of replies, and long nostalgic trips down memory lane?

Post something about old HP calculators.  This morning there was a Slashdot posting about the HP12C financial calculator.  Very quickly this turned into a couple hundred postings about 29C’s, 15C’s, 16C’s, 41C/CV/CX and the venerable 48 series.

Then discussions about RPN versus algebraic.

Ah, I have three of these gems myself.  A 15C, a 41CV, and a 48GX.  I have a 15C emulator (that is amazingfly accurate) on my iPhone.

Geek heaven.

What is it about deadlines?

I suspect I am not alone in this.  

How come my best work (analysis, strategy, planning etc) comes when I am under a severe deadline?

It isn’t polished.  I don’t have illustrative images.  But at crunch time, the threads in the data that are needed to justify the path forward just “pop out”.

It may not be pretty, but I am not complaining.

My guitar

Well, this is one of many, but it is my baby.


(Image is from Anderson Guitars website)

It is a very refined, extremely playable bolt on neck strat style guitar.  The electronics are squeaky clean. The action is perfect, and it has the Buzz Feiten tuning system.

A true joy.

A crying shame…

On the way in this morning, I saw a new Camaro, RS, that doesn’t even have its permanent plates yet.

The driver was driving aggressively, reving it high, and driving it hard.  Sadly, it was smoking like it had 200K hard miles on it.

Folks, the breakin period for a car is important.  It allows the rings, valves, and bearings to seat and wear in, and providing a long life.

What I saw, was a car that would probably need a complete rebuild by 20K miles.

Sad really.

Insomnia, hazard of the Product Management occupation

It struck again last night.

Planning for the planning and strategy meetings,

About 4 blog postings I NEED to write

Quarterly business review meetings next week to prepare for

And a touch of seasonal allergies (it has been windy, bringing pollen into the air)

Whatever the specifig reason, I slept little last night.  Looks like a coffee achiever’s day for me!

Vague requests really piss me off

For the record – I come from a very heavy marketing background.  I made it my business to know the nitty gritty details on my products, my markets, and the overall business.

In my current gig, I am just a product manager, and we supposedly have a marketing group that handles the product marketing aspect (think the upper left quadrant of the Pragmatic framework).

However, they behave like a service (think: Kinko’s Copies).  They are constantly coming to me for all the product marketing input that they need.

If my role formally had that responsibility, I would not grumble, but I am told that responsibility lies in Marketing (and bizarrely enough Business Development – picture my head explodign here), and that I am to not waste my time on it.

So, everytime I get a “request” to do the “product marketing” job, my blood pressure mounts. But, that is not the real problem. 

Not only that, but what they ask for comes in a message that doesn’t tell me what the audience is, what level of detail is needed, how the material will be used/distributed, and what theme or message that they believe is needed.  This is what really grinds my gears.  If you need me to fill in your gaps, out of my extremely busy schedule, please, for the love of god, give me the whole context.  If I have to turn a simple task into an afternoon of negotiating via email the true output, that is a big pail of fail.


Now to not reduce your stress

This week there is a huge effort to define our company’s way forward, with several sessions that I will have to lead on product and market strategy for the bext 3 – 5 years.

I SHOULD have spent much of the weekend preparing, but alas, I goofed off. (well, not really.  I read, washed the dogs, house sat for the neighbors who are out of town, and did music maintenance on my Mac).  

Today and tomorrow are going to be long days, followed by late nights to make up in my preparations.