Ramblings on Quality and Mediocrity

Ah, the public. Sometimes I think Americans are kinda like sheep. They follow each other, nose of one to tail of the one in front, in a sort of inane pack mentality. They also behave in the most interesting, contradictory ways.


The old lady who said "I've seen this place for seven years but there've never been very many cars outside until lately. We came in 'cause we see the parking lot full every Saturday night."

Overheard in a supermarket: Woman: "Well, hon, I really think we ought to go there for brunch Sunday." Man: "But their food is terrible." Woman: "Well, I wanna go. And I think the food is just fine." Man: "We always end up waiting in line because they don't take reservations." Woman: "Well, that's what I mean; that's why I think we should go there. It's popular. It's where everyone we know goes."

There's a man who lives near me who drives a big, American gas-guzzler with a "Buy American" sticker on the bumper (provided by one union or another). He bought his daughter a Kia. I asked him the other day about the car and he told me he bought it because it had the lowest sticker price of any car on the market.

I'm even guilty. There are more parts made in the United States of America in my Toyota Camry than there were in the Mercury Sable I bought my dad a few years ago. Both cars were assembled right here in the good ole U. S. of A.

About Marketing:

What causes one frugal consumer to purchase store-brand frankfurters when the all-beef, Kosher ones are only $1.35 more?

Who on earth are the folks supporting the skyrocketing growth of the "Dollar Store" or the "99 Cent Store"? Don't they know that all the merchandise within is either stale or will break upon first use?

How many times have you seen a guy who owns a new Cadillac park it and get out, only to reveal that he's wearing a polyester sport coat, a no-iron shirt from Sears and a pair of ancient synthetic pants? Don't people see your clothes more often than your car?

About Success:

Sales Managers invariably require that their underlings' sales for any given year exceed the previous year's sales by a certain percentage.

One in five new restaurants survives its first year in business. The ones which succeed offer something different creative and satisfying in a comfortable, clean environment. Price has nothing to do with the ratio of failures, statistically.

In the bookstore, the works that languish on The New York Times bestseller list are displayed in a prime location of the store, at list price. The books that don't sell usually languish on tables in the foyer or near the entrance with gigantic, day-glo orange "50% Off" stickers attached to their dustjackets.

Show me a person who gets accepted to Yale and I'll show you someone who's done their homework. Correctly.

Show me a web community with a small, eccentric user base and no redeeming value whatsoever and I'll show you this. Or this. Now, you show me a web community with a growing, diverse, intellectual, creative user base and I'll show you this.

The last employee who told me what was wrong with my management style then took a lot of time and effort to write a three page letter explaining why he thought it was unreasonable, when a crayon-scribbled sign that says "I'm leaving" would've done fine, received from me the following advice: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT.

UPDATE 15 March 07: A noder sent me two /msgs about this daylog that ought to be shared here. The first opined that I "shouldn't criticize "99 cent stores" because there are poor people." This assumes that there aren't places to get more wholesome foodstuffs at a value price nor goods that are more durable and thus a better value. I disagree. Better to buy a broom which costs $5.00 and lasts for years than one for $1.99 and breaks apart after a few uses. The second /msg I received, from the same noder, proclaimed that the entire writeup was insensitive and the small-text ending in an unsavory exclamation was downright rude. I haven't yet received a response to my /msg to this noder asking why the writeup is insensitive, nor received an answer to what was so rude about telling off (admittedly, in a very brusque fashion) an employee who thought himself indispensable and had the gall, after 2 years' experience in the business, to tell me, after over 20 years' experience, and three successful ventures, how to run my business.

I will admit that occasionally my directness is mistaken for insensitivity on my part by some, and arrogance by others. I herewith invite noders to call me on this, by way of making me a better person.

Perhaps I could've shortened the writeup and the metaphorical criticism of the "pack" mentality of fled writers and vast amounts of contradictory, moody writing which come from the same people. Perhaps I could've omitted the small type, which was indeed sarcastic and off-color, with the simple sentence, 'If you're gonna take your ball and go home, don't waste your time and mine explaining why.' So there, I've said it.

Personally I have a fine time here, and enjoy criticism, enjoy working within the limitations of a set of rules, both written and unwritten, which are to be followed or failure results. E2 has taught me more about writing in one year than I've learned in the past 15 or more. And for that I'm in the debt of each and every other noder.

UPDATE 16 March 07: 1. Thanks to all who offered constructive criticism and support. 2. The most precious of the feeback from those who were offended just made my inbox, and again, I'd be doing a disservice to those who're fans of "fair and balanced reporting" not to share it here: "Directness would be simply telling people you think their wrong. This sort of mocking diatribe is just being...abbrasive (sic) at best. Hostility and honesty are not the same thing."

UPDATE 21 March 2007: This came from a noder whose own homenode admits that he/she contributes little (but whom has been here over 6 years): "Bush was accepted to Yale, yet, by all accounts, was not intellecturally accomplished. Many notable figures in a position of power could likewise make the claim that they attended a prestigious university, but fail to make the case that it was due to their academic prowess. Bestselling books are often driven more by both the continued advertising they are given simply by being on the list and heavily displayed, but also by their ability to appeal to the lowest common denominator, their tie-in with other books or movies, or being recommended by someone with dubious standards for quality literature. Many restaurants fail due to poor location more than anything." (shaogo interrupts: Yeah. Choosing the right location is one of the myriad criteria for being a competent and successful restaurateur. I know. I've been doing it for 25 years.) "The desire to see constant sales improvement is hollow. The demands for constant improvement imply that hard work on the part of sellers is the only reason someone buys something and the completely ignore the concept of diminishing returns. Ultimately your small text close (and later explanation) comes off as arrogant. It brings to mind the same "earn your bullshit" (and more specifically, the interpretation that led to people thinking that complete bullshit was ok, but only if you worked hard enough to become one of the elite few allowed the priveledge (sic)) that got E2 into some of these problems to begin with. Not knowing the situation I can't comment on it fully, but honestly, it seems more reasonable to be honest, polite, and willing to accept criticism."

"Not knowing the situation" boy, that says it all. I responded that I guess my attempt at dry humor backfired. I guess I failed to convey (to this reader at least) my utter impatience with the acrimony of the moment continuing on and on. Another lesson learned.