a little more on Starbucks Rewards

The NY Times has chimed in on the Starbucks Rewards program changes, so I thought I’d post a link to that as a follow-up to my earlier post. They raise a few interesting points, such as how the “we like seeing you” philosophy of the current program, based on visits rather than dollars, doesn’t really make sense, since corporations aren’t people and don’t have emotions.

And, no, I’m not going to start going to Dunkin Donuts instead. Their dark roast actually isn’t that bad, but it’s still not as good as Starbucks.


Not !Important

I’m currently working on a SharePoint project that’s going to involve a number of fairly kludgy bits, mostly because… SharePoint. I think I may be able to get a few mildly amusing blog posts out of this project. Today’s one is about the !important directive in CSS.

This article titled “When Using !important is The Right Choice” should probably be one word long: never. Understanding specificity in CSS is important, and there are occasions where it’s appropriate to use !important, but only a few. Using it in a site-wide template for a SharePoint site is not one of them, under most circumstances. I had to write a little JavaScript (using jQuery) to hide part of a SharePoint page, and that task was made more difficult than it needed to be due to overuse of !important in the site template.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know nearly as much about CSS as I should, but I know enough to know when I’m looking at a careful design, and when I’m looking at “let’s just try random stuff until this looks right.” Heck, I probably shouldn’t criticize; the base CSS on a SharePoint site is probably already pretty bad, so someone designing a custom template likely has an uphill battle getting his or her own CSS to work well within the framework provided by Microsoft. SharePoint is old enough that it’s supporting a lot of dead weight from old versions, most of which probably can’t be trashed without breaking too much stuff.

Starbucks rewards

When I decided to lose some weight a few years back, one of the big things I did was to stop going out to lunch every day. Now, I usually bring a modest lunch and eat it in the office. But that uses up only about 10 minutes of my lunch hour, and doesn’t get me out of the office, so I usually follow that with a trip to the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

So, previously, consuming too many calories at lunch time was a problem. Now, consuming too much caffeine and spending too much at Starbucks is a problem. Really, it’s not a big problem. If I feel like I’m consuming too much caffeine, I’ll switch to decaf for awhile, and I frequently get only a $2 tall coffee, which isn’t going to bankrupt me.

I’m a member of the Starbucks Reward program, too, so I get a free drink after every twelve, which isn’t much, but it’s something. Well, now they’re changing the program so it’ll be more like one free drink for every thirty. The details on the new program are here, and one (of many) media articles about the change can be found here. The new program will be pretty much the same for people spending around $5 per store visit, but for cheapskates like me who usually just buy a $2 coffee, it’ll take about 30 of those to get a free drink. There’s more about this over at Consumerist.

I do realize that this is a classic first-world problem, and the fact that I make enough money to spend $2 a day on halfway-decent coffee is something I should be thankful for. And I am. And I appreciate that Starbucks doesn’t have to give me any free coffee, so I should be happy regardless. But I am also an old man who likes grousing about how much money he’s spending at Starbucks, and how they’re making plenty of money, and they could really afford to give me a lot more free coffee.

Somerville redevelopment

There’s a lot of redevelopment going on in Somerville right now. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. I do know that I’m not happy about the parking situation. I liked it a lot more when I didn’t have to worry so much about whether or not I could even get into my own reserved parking spot. (But who wants to hear an old man crab about his parking spot? No one, right? I should save that kind of thing for my Day One journal.)

It’s nice to have a Starbucks in walking distance, and it’s nice to have a supermarket too, after a few years without one. But most of the other development doesn’t really help me much. In theory, maybe having more apartments in town helps keep my rent reasonable. (On the other hand, if they’re all expensive “luxury” apartments, maybe that’s not so good for folks like me.)

no SDCC for me this year

I went through the motions yesterday, but unsurprisingly, badges sold out in an hour, and I didn’t get one.

Today, I went to New York and paid a visit to the Met and MoMA. There wasn’t much going on at MoMA, since the Picasso sculpture exhibit has closed, and the Edgar Degas exhibit hasn’t opened yet. There were other exhibits going on, of course, but nothing much that was of interest to me. I think the Degas exhibit is the only one coming up that I’m really interested in.

At the Met, I really enjoyed the Power of Prints exhibit. There were some really great prints on display, from a wide variety of artists, including Edward Hopper and Toulouse-Lautrec. It’s not a high-profile exhibit, and I really just stumbled into it, but it was a pleasant surprise.

The Vigée Le Brun exhibit seems to be the big thing right now; it was pretty crowded. But I didn’t really get much out of it. It’s not the kind of art that really does much for me, generally speaking. The historical context is interesting, of course. Maybe I should go back and give it another look when it’s less crowded.

Pee-wee’s Big Comeback

I just finished reading a long NY Times Magazine article about Pee-wee Herman, and his new movie. I was a big fan of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, back when it was running on Saturday mornings in the late 80’s. It aired from 1986 to 1990, which roughly matches up with my years in college, but I don’t remember watching it from my dorm room at all, so I probably only caught some of the episodes, possibly in reruns, during the summer, when I was home and had time for TV. (Which means I should probably buy the Blu-Rays, and watch all of them. Or just add the show to my Netflix queue.)

I’ve been following Pee-wee on Twitter, and his blog is fun too.  I’m looking forward to the new movie, which is being released directly on Netflix. The trailer looks promising!

SDCC 2016 open registration

It’s just one more day until open registration for SDCC 2016. I last went in 2012, and haven’t been able to get in since. So I think I’m due, right?

The 2012 con, now that I think of it, was pretty much the last time I went on a real vacation, not counting occasional overnight stays in NYC and a couple of short trips to Georgia and Florida that really weren’t vacations. If I don’t manage to get in and snag a ticket for SDCC this year, I should probably plan some other vacation, just to keep myself sane.

The economics of very high taxes

From Bernie Sanders’s Tax Plan Would Test an Economic Hypothesis in the NY Times:

That is, a 73 percent top rate would generate more revenue than the existing tax code, but it would not generate proportionately more revenue — meaning Mr. Sanders’s revenue estimates, based on applying rates to the existing tax base, will tend to overstate revenues available to pay for a plan that is already facing criticism for too-low cost estimates, even if 73 percent is the correct estimate of the revenue-maximizing tax rate.

I don’t normally post anything political on this blog, but this article reviews an interesting issue in economics. How high can you set a tax rate before revenues actually start going down instead of up? And it touches on the subjective issue of what happens when you reach that tipping point. Does “greed” decrease? It’s interesting to think about, though it’s largely an academic argument, since it’s unlikely we’ll see tax rates go that high in the USA, even if Bernie does somehow get elected.

Of course, all the candidates’ tax plans are pretty much nonsense, and would never work as they say they would, even if they could get them through Congress.

And, speaking of Bernie, his appearance on the Late Show this week was pretty good. I’ve been enjoying Colbert’s Late Show, mostly, though some of his new bits don’t really work for me, and some of his interviews aren’t really that interesting to me either. But I’d say about 60% of the show is generally worth watching, and I can fast-forward through the parts that don’t interest me.

The article I quoted from above is from The Upshot, which I’ve been following since I started my Times subscription. It’s a pretty interesting blog that is, apparently, the replacement for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, since he left the Times back in 2013. FiveThirtyEight.com is pretty nifty too, and I’ve been following that on and off since it was re-launched under ESPN in 2014.