Category Archives: Thinking Long Term

Smart Bike DC Launches. Will the Bikes Last?

I rode my bike to work today, so had I not run an errand in China Town, I wouldn’t have noticed that SmartBike DC launched today.

Ironically, I was coming back from the camera shop and had a real camera this time.

According to SmartBike’s website, 10 locations opened today, and the one I visited (Gallery Place) had about 12-15 slots for bikes. This is a far cry from the 750 lockup stations and 10,000 bikes that Paris launched on its opening day (they’ve since doubled both numbers), but still infinitely more than have ever existed anywhere in this country. Continue reading

My Standard Wedding Advice

My friend Forrest is getting married this weekend, and I just gave him my standard advice on getting married. Keep in mind that I’ve only been married 2 years (all happy, I might add), so I don’t have any pearls on growing your marriage such as “don’t go to bed mad” or “every new day is a blessing” or anything like that. Sorry, I can’t help you there. This stuff is the solid fundamentals to survive the day and give yourself a fighting chance as a married man.

1. Show up on time. This no-brainer bears repeating, even if your family, friends, and would-be spouse normally tolerate your lack of punctuality.

2. Show up sober. If you’re not responsible enough to do the math, get someone else to be your teetotaler. Probably not the Best Man.

3. Don’t lock your knees. When you’re standing up at the ceremony, keep a slight bend in your knees. Locking your knees out for a sustained period of time cuts off the blood supply to your brain, causing you to faint. They actually teach you this in the Army, where soldiers are required to stand at attention for hours during certain ceremonies. One friend in the 82nd Airborne told me about a time when his company was standing at attention with bayonets affixed to their rifles. Someone locked his knees, passed out, and gored the soldier in front of him.

Three points is a nice litany and easy to remember. As a corollary though, I should probably warn people to watch out for wedding pranks, such as friends who kidnap the bride between the reception and honeymoon.

Motely Fool: Beazer Homes Worst Stock of 2008

There are actually a slew of local and national builder award shows like “the Nationals” and such that are the Emmy or Oscars of the builder industry. During my stint at Beazer, both corporate and division offices were constantly vying for one award or another; Beazer even lobbied (unsuccessfully) for Forbes “Best Places to Work” on more than one occasion.

The past 9 months haven’t been kind to Beazer. Current pains include a DOJ investigation for mortgage fraud, an accounting scandal stemming from aforementioned alleged mortgage fraud, at least 4 class action lawsuits from shareholders and customers resulting from said accounting scandal, loss of most of its veteran employees and management, not to mention the larger national subprime mortgage collapse, ensuing credit crunch, and persistent rumors that the company is bankrupt.

Even in dire straits, Beazer has made the short list of a major national award, albeit Motley Fool’s worst stock of 2008.

I left Beazer 6 months ago and haven’t thought much about it in recent months. I’ve long since given most of my Beazer logo’ed apparel to the Salvation Army. I still have the umbrella (in a metaphorical irony, Beazer protects me from the rain) and I kept my old Beazer to-go mug. Now that I commute by bike to work each day, I’ve taken to brewing a pot of coffee and carrying it the mug to work in my bottle cage.

Like the company, the cup has seen better days. It used to be so shiny and brilliant. The brand logo is battered and the once glossy copper-esque body is now tarnished and scratched. The cup was built to look good in the short term, but not built to last. I used to think the cap was mostly stainless steel, but in fact it was a thin facade that fell off this week as I pedaled. A lot of home flippers (and speculators to whom we sold homes) loved to add to stainless steel kitchen appliances to “put lipstick on the pig”, so to speak, and dramatically up the resale value without putting any real lasting value into the home.

I definitely have some opinions about the state of the U.S. housing market and my experience working in it for nearly 6 total years. Mostly, I disagree with the lack of planning, poor resource use, environmental and energy impact, and conspicuous and gratuitous consumption that has gotten us to where we are today. I’ll think about that some more tomorrow as I drink my coffee.