Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Introducing myFinancialAnswers!

In case there's still anybody reading over here (besides a few algobots and a couple of stray dogs), I thought it might make sense to mention that the Crimson Cavalier is not dead, simply reimagined.

If you're interested in reading some of my more recent material, head on over to myFinancialAnswers and check out my personal finance-themed "Insights". While you're there, feel free to check out our web-based comprehensive financial planning tool (currently in beta), and maybe even sign up for a free trial financial plan!

Thanks and see you over there.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tail. Wagging. Dog.

Presented without comment, except to refer you to my previous columns on the topic here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(h/t Tyler Cowen)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Is Water

Oh, hey. Long time, no see. As usual, I've got a few posts that I'm thinking about/working on, but for now, in the spirit of graduation season and clever commencement speeches that sometimes go viral, I'd like to share with you this excerpt from the late author David Foster Wallace, delivered at Kenyon College in 2005. I've seen this video a few places lately, and I think that it's ten minutes very well spent. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Photo of the Year candidate

This is from last night's Brewers-Giants game (a walkoff win for the Brewers), and it is absolutely awesome. Great work by the cameraman, AP's Morry Gash; not such great work by number 8, Ryan Braun. Thanks to Deadspin for the heads up.

You'll get him next time, Brauny.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The cupcake bubble bursts

Courtesy of my main man The Red Cowboy comes this gem from the Wall Street Journal. Sadly for all you folks out there with a sweet tooth, it seems that the great cupcake bubble of 2011 is in the midst of bursting.
The icing is coming off America's cupcake craze.
The dessert became a cultural and economic phenomenon over the last decade, with gourmet cupcake shops proliferating across the country, selling increasingly elaborate and expensive concoctions.
The craze hit a high mark in June 2011, when Crumbs Bake Shop Inc., a New York-based chain, debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol CRMB. Its creations—4" tall, with fillings such as vanilla custard, caps of butter cream cheese, and decorative flourishes like a whole cookie—can cost $4.50 each.
After trading at more than $13 a share in mid-2011, Crumbs has sunk to $1.70. It dropped 34% last Friday, in the wake of Crumbs saying that sales for the full year would be down by 22% from earlier projections, and the stock slipped further this week.
Crumbs in part blamed store closures from Hurricane Sandy, but others say the chain is suffering from a larger problem: gourmet-cupcake burnout.
"The novelty has worn off," says Kevin Burke, managing partner of Trinity Capital LLC, a Los Angeles investment banking firm that often works in the restaurant industry.
Yeah, that'll happen. In part, it's something I discussed in this post about "Brie Syndrome" back when Harry & David filed for bankruptcy. Once something becomes ubiquitous and commoditized, its days as a viable business tend to become numbered, unless the original purveyor adapts quickly and capably.

Either way, this article had some absolutely amazing gems in it. This passage here, for example, was fabulous.
Husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Jason and Mia Bauer opened the first Crumbs bakery in 2003 on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Today, the company, which also sells $42 "colossal" cupcakes that serve six to eight, is one of the largest players in the gourmet-cupcake industry, with locations in at least 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Crumbs went public in June 2011 after a shell company bought it. The buyer, 57th Street General Acquisition Corp., had raised money the previous year for its Crumbs purchase. 57th Street changed its name to Crumbs Bake Shop shortly after the merger.
A "cupcake" that serves six to eight?? IT'S CALLED A CAKE, YOU IDIOTS! A CUPCAKE THAT FEEDS SIX TO EIGHT IS CALLED A CAKE!! I mean, honestly people, what are we doing here?

And a shell company? Really? You people set up a shell company just so that you could buy a cupcake shop and take it public? Seems a little over-the-top, don't you think? But hey, what do I know, right? These people are all way richer than I am by now, and all on the back of a nice little cupcake bubble.

Man, I can't wait for the scone bubble. It's gonna be EPIC.

[Wall Street Journal]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Piezoelectricity update

I've spoken very briefly about piezoelectricity in blog posts here, here, here, and here, so I think it's worth giving a quick update on the recent goings-on in that space. At last week's Paris Marathon, piezoelectricity took a bit of a leap into the mainstream, with a creative project from British company Pavegen Systems. From a Bloomberg article written prior to the race:
Paris Marathon organizers will lay energy-harvesting tiles across the course on Sunday to ensure not all the effort expended by the race’s 40,000 runners goes to waste.
The flexible tiles made from recycled truck tires will span a portion of the Champs Elysees for about 25 meters (82 feet) of the 42.2-kilometer course, according to Pavegen Systems Ltd., the U.K. maker of the tiles. Each footstep generates as much as 8 watts of kinetic energy, which is fed back to batteries that can charge display screens and electronic signs along the route, the company said.
Schneider Electric SA (SU), the race sponsor, aims to eventually make the Paris Marathon an event that generates energy rather than consumes it, Aaron Davis, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in Pavegen’s statement. London-based Pavegen aims for its tiles to help cut carbon emissions and boost energy efficiency in cities around the world in the future, it said.
“Imagine if your run or walk to work could help to power the lights for your return journey home in the evening,” Pavegen Chief Executive Officer Laurence Kemball-Cook, who invented the technology, said in the statement. It’s “a viable new type of off-grid energy technology that people love to use and which can make a low-carbon contribution wherever there is high footfall, regardless of the weather.”
Pavegen declined to say how much energy the tiles will produce because there is a competition for the public to guess. Schneider Electric will donate an extra 10,000 euros ($12,850) to charity if generation tops 7 kilowatt hours. That’s enough to run a light bulb for about five days, according to Pavegen.
According to this article, it was unclear immediately after the race whether the 7 kWh goal had been met, but I nevertheless applaud the race organizers and the company for their creativity.

It's of course way too early to know if this technology is realistically scalable or viable, but it's clearly a step in the right direction. The more energy we can harvest from our own activities, the less we have to "produce" or mine or burn. I'm hopeful that this is a method that can catch on and become economical enough to achieve wide acceptance.


Daily Show on the NCAA

I've got a few posts here and there that I'm working on, but this is absolutely beautiful and needs to be shared. We'll go ahead and call this your Clip of the Week, from Aasif Mandvi at the Daily Show.