Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, June 03, 2021

big red
Of all the things I could have photographed with the Nikon D80 camera I got on loan from MWW Group, it figures one of the first would be a three-dimensional representation of the red M&M character.

I found this little sucker (not so little, actually — he’s an alarmingly sizable 24 inches tall!) on Houston Street, at some overflowing junk yard/flea market. Good place for a shutterbug maiden voyage.

You can see a more complete picture of the above scene here. And you can see more Manhattan snapshots right here. Finally, check out more D80 shenanigans on the Flickr group.

This is my first foray Flickring. It’s a lot of work, frankly, just with all the tagging. I’m going to have to find a quick way to get my uploads searchworthy, for the future. I’m not going to go hog-wild with the photo-posting, but just a handful of batch uploading is time-consuming enough.

Expect to see at least one more pic from this series on this blog. I’m not committing any great works of photography here, but I might stumble onto something visually worthwhile.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/03/2021 10:30:28 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Photography | Permalink | Feedback

Ever since my late twenties, I’ve gotten advice from all directions to stop renting — NOW! — and buy a house already. It’s a rock-solid investment, versus “throwing money away” on rent.

To date, I’ve yet to lay the money on the barrel toward home ownership. And investment-wise, it looks like I’m better off for it:

Perhaps the best measure of housing-market appreciation is the S&P National Home Price Index. This index represents the actual appreciation of the same house over time, whereas a portion of overall housing-price increases occurs because new houses are generally much larger than old houses and people frequently spend substantial money upgrading and expanding their houses. Looking at the index, from 1987 to 2006, we see that the overall average appreciation in the U.S. was only 5.6%. Even cities showing huge gains during the final years of the housing bubble — including San Diego, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. — showed gains slightly above only 7% for the 19-year period. If we adjust these returns for inflation, we end up with real returns on housing in a range of 3%-5%. Subtract our annual expense ratio of 2%, and the return gets pretty thin…

Those who think renting is “throwing money away” should consider that mortgage interest, maintenance, taxes, and insurance are also “thrown away.” Having a place to live costs money no matter what, and a rational evaluation of your local market should let you know which one is a better value. Before you start plugging overly optimistic numbers into the rent-vs.-buy calculator, just remember that past performance may not be indicative of future returns.

This is mostly a symptom of the overheated housing market of the past decade. When you’re paying silly premiums based on nothing more than future flipping possibilities, there’s scant chance that the longer-term valuation will pay off. Maybe once the bust settles in, it’ll be a saner way to sock away equity.

Until then, I think I’ll defer that mortgage application for a while.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/03/2021 09:53:28 PM
Category: Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

This MarketWatch article on the pre-steps a small business owner should take before starting out, while useful, doesn’t underline what I consider to be the most crucial factor for early-stage survival.

At least, it doesn’t say so directly:

Entrepreneurs usually focus on their new product or service, and sometimes they forget a necessary task: connecting with their customers. “What is the pathway to connecting with the customer? I’m amazed at how many folks don’t pay attention to that,” [Babson College professor Stephen] Spinelli said.

He said entrepreneurs often fail to answer basic questions, including “How am I going to get to the customer?” and “How is the customer going to get to me?” This includes things like getting customers into the store or to a Web site as well as physically getting a product to a customer.

“Connecting with their customers”, I presume, is a high-level way of saying “advertise”. From my experience, one of the first thing start-up small businesses neglect is old-fashioned advertising, often eliminating it from their launch budgets (if it’s even on there in the first place). Somehow, an entrepreneur convinces him/herself that there are enough friends, contacts and foot traffic to keep thing humming for months/years. There’s not, of course, which accounts for the 56% kill ratio after the first four years of hanging up a shingle.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/03/2021 09:20:14 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business | Permalink | Feedback

As we all know, rap music was born in the Bronx in the early 1970s. From there, it spread out globally, including northward up the Hudson River (where it reached my childhood ears, circa 1979).

Thirty-plus years later, it looks like it’s finally hit the northern climes of Vermont, where three teenagers collectively known as X10 are dropping dope beats about the Green Mountain State:

The boys had planned to pen a rap only about Montpelier, the state capital, where just a handful of establishments are open past 10 p.m., cars stop for pedestrians along clean streets, and teenage loitering on Main Street is the only thing that comes even close to outward flouting of the law.

Instead, they decided to rap about all of Vermont, having concluded that the state could not get by on street cred alone. They included lines about Cabot cheese (they like cheddar “extra sharp,” which they rhymed with “roof tarp”), local pizza places and the Vermont State House, where, along with the streets of Montpelier, most of the video was shot.

“Our state capitol might be 200 years old, but our dome is so blingin’ that it’s plated with gold,” goes “802,” which is set to the beat of a Mobb Deep rap.

Watch these whack white boys in action on YouTube, naturally. Hardship breeds the words from the street; having no place to chill after 10PM might or might not qualify.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/03/2021 02:36:15 PM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback