Bloomingdale's. Or, Obscenity in Cost


I went to the Beverly Center with some friends yesterday, because I needed to buy a new jacket after losing the one I owned and really liked. After doing all of our actual shopping, we wandered around Bloomingdale's for a little while.

Now, I knew it was a fancy store, and that stuff was going to be expensive. But I was completely shocked when I found myself looking at a nice dress shirt for almost $200. Then a jacket along the lines of what I'd gone to buy for closer to $300. Or the blazer/sport coat (whatever it was) for over $800.

To me, this is OBSCENELY expensive. I can understand shelling out a bit more money for a nicer brand and quality product, but much of what I saw there was at least 4-5 times as expensive as something of a similar style and look. So I'm going to do a little experiment, to show just how ridiculous their prices are.

Let's construct an outfit from the Bloomingdale's store that mimics what I'd wear on a given day. That is, plain shoes, socks, boxers, jeans, a t-shirt, and a light zippered jacket. These are all things that are comparable in appearance to what I normally wear:

Boxers ($17.50)
Socks ($6 for one pair)
Shoes ($95 - these are slip-ons, but it's closest in appearance)
Straight-Leg Jeans ($170)
Solid Color T-Shirt ($35)
Light Zippered Jacket ($295)

Total Outfit Cost: $618.50

Now, let's construct the same outfit, only we'll buy stuff from Kohl's instead:

Boxers ($9.50 for one pair)
Socks ($4 for one pair)
Shoes ($45)
Straight-Leg Jeans ($45)
Solid Color T-Shirt ($12)
Light Jacket ($28.90 from Heritage, the jacket I own)

Total Outfit Cost: $144.40

The outfit from Bloomingdale's is rougly 4x as much as the one from Kohl's. Granted, these are stores on two opposite ends of the spectrum, but really, you wouldn't be able to notice a significant difference between the outfits from afar. Possibly not even up close.

And I have a hard time believing that the difference in structural quality (or comfort quality, or whatever) is worth that significant of a price increase. It's ok to spring a little bit, but really, the prices at Bloomingdale's seem obscenely high.

Though I'm sure my fashion-conscious friends will disagree with this assessment...

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Google Buzz Is Genius


Google Buzz is a new social networking service/feature launched recently that integrates with your Gmail account. And I think it is fantastic. Once people start messing around with the API and making some good clients for it, amongst other things, I can see this replacing Facebook, for anybody willing to take the short time to make the switch.

Before I go on, I do want to point out that Google Buzz is INCREDIBLY easy to turn off - just go to the bottom of your Gmail inbox, and click "turn off buzz". Done. BUT, before you just dismiss it as another "Twitter-y piece of shit", at least read over this, and see why I think it's cool. If you're still unconvinced, then turn it off! But don't pass snap judgments, ESPECIALLY if you already have any kind of social networking profile.

The first thing to understand is that when it comes to social networking, Facebook is king right now. There are other sites that are similar to Facebook, of course, and some are definitely preferred for certain things (MySpace for band profiles, or LinkedIn for business use are a good examples). But really, Facebook, and the sites most like it, rule social networking.

This, to me, is a problem. Because Facebook sucks. It really does. Here's a list of things you can do with Facebook, as well as a site that does that thing just as well, if not better:

Status updates (Twitter)
Messaging (Gmail)
Photo sharing (Flickr)
Video sharing (YouTube)
Chat (not a site, but applications - AIM, Gchat, etc.)
Events (Google Calendar - you can create events, invite people, set reminders, etc.)
Notes (Blogger)

Facebook is just an amalgam of a bunch of other ideas, but poorly implemented. It would be far better if people just used a combination of the above (or similar) services - and by combination, I do mean that you pick and choose which ones. So if you don't plan to use Twitter, then you don't. (side note - I've never understood why people rail against Twitter, then proceed to post short status updates on Facebook. It's the same damn thing!)

The only reasons people won't do this, and will instead stick with Facebook, is that it's all in one place, and all (or most) of their friends/contacts are there too. The install base is what's keeping Facebook alive.

Google Buzz threatens that, and in a good way for users. See, remember when I said that if we'd all use a combination of better services, you could pick and choose which of the services to use? Google Buzz allows you to do this, without sacrificing your access to what your friends choose to use!

So say you don't want to use Twitter. That's fine. But I like to use Twitter. And if we're both using Google Buzz, you'll be able to see my tweets (still think that's a silly term, but whatever), even though you aren't on Twitter (since I've linked my accounts). This, to me, is awesome.

Anybody who wants to follow me on Buzz will be able to see when I update my blog, add pictures to Flickr, send a Tweet, add a video to Youtube, etc. It's all there, in one central location, like with Facebook. But UNLIKE Facebook, it doesn't require ME to use the Facebook photo/video/etc. upload - I can use a superior service.

And if there's somebody that I don't want having this kind of access, I can block them. But the other cool thing is that Buzz pulls from your common contacts, which means the people who can follow me by default are the people I already talk to on a regular basis, and thus are people I'm likely to want to have this access. And again, I can block anybody I don't want.

It isn't perfect, and it really should've had some kind of configuration thing so you can set privacy BEFORE you start using it, but it's still pretty sweet once you set it up. Better than Facebook, by far. Pretty sure that once I graduate college, I'll cut my Facebook page down tremendously. Those people I'm "friends" with, but don't really talk to, will still be able to look me up and contact me if needed, but I'll have these other, better services (congregated via Buzz) to contact & interact with the people who matter.

Long story short: Tweak the privacy settings, play around with it for a bit. It really isn't obtrusive, and if you still don't like it, the turn it off. But let's not freak out at the first sign of progress...

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Google's Super Bowl Ad


Some of this year's ads were pretty good, some others were pretty bad (the overuse of variations on the "dramatic chipmunk" meme being a prime offender). But I think the 'Search Stories' ad by Google was the best one overall.

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Umbrella Etiquette


The rains are back. And so are the umbrellas. My opinions on umbrellas are well documented. I was talking to my boss about it, and she mentioned posting a link on "umbrella etiquette" on Facebook during the last set of rains.

I found the post, which you can read here, and I was very pleased. If people would follow these rules, we'd all be better off. It doesn't change the fact that umbrellas, by their nature, lead to more inefficiency in walking, but following these rules does help to minimize this inefficiency.

Hell, if EVERYBODY followed these rules, you could make a case that the benefits of staying dry(er) outweigh the costs in efficiency. But until people do, I stand by my dislike of umbrellas.

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