In re: Secret world of Trader Joes

Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried theyll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. “People dont want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isnt quite so large. Trader Joes organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it wont increase the chances theyll buy.

via Inside the secret world of Trader Joes – Aug. 23, 2010.

I really like Trader Joes, always amazed how cheap it is and they usually have something I wasn’t expecting, but gotta admit I knew very little about them.  Well guess what, seems like nobody knows much about them, but Fortune Magazine tried to dig up a scoop and didn’t get much, but still found it real interesting.  Did you know it was owned by some Germans?  (the Aldi Nord owners if your curious)


In re: Van Halen’s Brown M&Ms Contract Rider

Heard about this recently on an episode of This American Life talking about the Fine Print in life.  One of the stories was about the story behind Van Halen’s contract rider specifying there should be M&Ms backstage, but the brown M&Ms needed to be removed, and failure to do so resulted in full payment of the contract and no need to perform.  Over the years I had heard about this and indeed thought it was an example of the crazy excess of rock musicians living in their own world.  On the show they had They Might Be Giants explain the real reason behind the crazy restriction on brown M&Ms and it turns out to be sensible and actually pretty smart.

The reality was that Van Halen was bringing into their shows 2 or 3 times the amount of equipment and trucks that a venue was used to, meaning that their floor might not support the weight, the lights, the electricity etc.  There was real danger if the venue didn’t read the contract rider specifying all the minute details of how much weight everything must support and how much power was needed.  How did you know if the venue was paying attention to the fine print and not be putting the band and crew in danger?  Easy check the bowl of M&Ms, which if they could get that right meant they found that strange request buried in the contract and probably followed up on the rest as well.

Snopes the debunking website also has a good explanation of this and has some quotes from David Lee Roth’s biography that explained this as well, including a story of trashing the dressing room when he found the brown ones.

In re: Amish Space Heater: Is that an oxymoron?

““I think a lot of it goes back to the irony of the Amish and an electric fireplace,” he said. “How can that be? It’s like skintight baggy pants.”  

Amish Space Heater: Is That an Oxymoron? is an interesting article in the NY Times details the strange product that is apparently right here from Ohio that has been appearing in infomercials and print ads touting the miracle heater.  Although the product has gotten a bunch of criticism for false advertising and for having the strange impression that Amish designed the product, but supposedly they do make here in Ohio (the casing that is, the heater as you guessed is made in China).  But with a state crumbling, why not bank on the reputation of the Amish and scam a few folks…

In re: Audiophile review of Playstation 1

“A year ago, when I heard that some audiophiles were using Sony’s original PlayStation 1 as a CD player—my friend Michael Lavorgna, who writes for, was the first to cross my attention—I was more than a little confused. Sure, I’d heard of the Sony PlayStation, just as I’ve heard of the Game Boy and Nintendo (and Starbucks, and American Idol, and Anderson Cooper). But which is which? What do they look like? How do they work? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know” via  Stereophile 

Came across this fairly recent review of the Playstation one, the now dated video game machine.  What made the review interesting is that they don’t plug the playstation into their TV, instead the audiophile in question is hooking up the PS1 as a CD player to high grade audio equipment and using his audiophile grade ears to examine the results.  Why would anyone want to use what is now obtainable for $15 on ebay as audiophile grade equipment?  Well according to the results: ” the PS1’s midrange was remarkably clean, present, and tactile. On Tony Williamson’s “Boatman,” from Still Light of the Evening (CD, Mapleshade 08952), the guitar fills and G-runs were notably more audible, more nuanced, and more impactful through the PS1 than through Sony’s own SCD-777ES SACD/CD player. Amazing.”  

So the moral of the story?  Well among other things its is certain audiophiles are strange creatures and that while for half of us, knowing that something is labeled newer, better, etc we assume it is, who knows maybe LPs do sound better…

In re: Blu-Ray? Only if your 20/20

Apparently vision experts in England have concluded that the gains in resolution via Blu-Ray aren’t worth it for many folks, as they can’t see the difference.  Why is that?  They don’t have good enough vision.

“But many consumers are wasting hundreds of pounds on high-definition equipment because their eyes are not sharp enough to pick up the superior resolution and colour, experts say.”

via Hi-Def TV a waste of money for many, they’re too short-sighted to tell the difference | Mail Online.

In re: Advertising 2.0 – Sacrifice your friends for a whopper

“Fast-food chain Burger King has created “Whopper Sacrifice,” a Facebook app that will give you a coupon for a free hamburger if you delete 10 people from your friends list.”

via Delete 10 Facebook friends, get a free Whopper | The Social – CNET News.

Gotta give them some points for creativity,  Burger King ads will be showing up on Facebook news feeds that read “Tom sacrificed John for a free Whopper.”


Update: Apparently Facebook decided sacrificing friends wasn’t good and pulled the plug on the campaign.

In re: Hound & owl (kinda sounds like a pub?)

“”It won’t come as a surprise that they love nature documentaries, but they also like soaps like Coronation Street and Emmerdale.”




via the Telegraph (UK) one of those heartwarming stories that everyone seems to love and half the time I hate, but occasionally even I can get into (come on this is pretty cute – right?)  Anyway see the story of how an rescued owl & dog became TV watching buddies here: Bassett Hound and owl strike up unusual friendship