Leveraging Your Assets

This week, Cringely talks about how Wal-Mart could use their massive store count (nearing 4000) as platforms from which they could launch WiMax service, effectively blanketing the country with high-speed wireless data services, and in so doing, bring in another $50 billion or so in revenue.

I think this is a sweet idea. I mentioned a similar tactic a few months ago when I decided that they needed to offer mail services. I’ve since expanded this idea to conclude that Wal-Mart could pretty easily compete with most package services (DHL, FedEx, UPS). Imagine if you could walk into Wal-Mart, do your shopping, then run through a shipping lane that would allow you to have those packages delivered to your family across the country. Especially important at this time of year, and it wouldn’t cost Wal-Mart much, as they don’t actually have to ship that package – they could just transfer goods frome one store to another, shuffling nothing more than paperwork.

Of course, offering a shipping service for other packages would be pretty cool too, and likely could be done pretty easily. All those trucks that deliver stuff to stores surely have enough room that they could handle a few extra packages in them. Not to mention that if you’re using Wal-Mart as your depot for these packages, you get people into the store to pick it up and you end up selling them something else! They could probably offer shipping services for free, or charge a bit more if you’d like home delivery. Roughly equivalent to an advertising-based model, where you get ads with the otherwise free version, or you pay a bit more not to be bothered. Wish I had a distribution network and a few thousand locations across the country.

Aruba to Bonaire

I’ve fretted about this enough, so I’m going to write the entry. You see, it really, really, really bothers me that we went to the ABC Islands, but the way in which we toured the islands makes it nigh-impossible to write about them in the correct order. Yet if they aren’t in order, then they are, well, out of order, and I think that I’ve finally decided that that bothers me even more. So on we go.

Bonaire was really the third of the three islands we visited on the trip, but was our first destination country. As I mentioned previously, you have to actually stay somewhere for a night before they’ve really admitted you to the country, and we hadn’t done that yet.

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Disney Doesn't Get It

That last post reminded me of one of my pet peeves, and specifically how I was reminded of it over and over again last week while we were at Disneyland. While we were wandering through Tomorrowland, we passed the Buzz Lightyear-themed eatery. The place apparently also hosts a show or two. There’s no problem with that. The problem is with the tagline. It reads Lightyear’s Above the Rest.

I see two options. Either the folks who created the signage don’t understand how to use the apostrophe or they do understand it and figured people wouldn’t get the reference unless they spelled it out.

Option 1: Some moron thought that the plural of lightyear is lightyear’s. Not the case. The plural is lightyears (no apostrophe). I don’t know why people don’t get this, but the apostrophe denotes possession – as in belonging to Lightyear. Not the case here. They seem to be going for a play on words, and they miss.

Option 2: Another use of the apostrophe is within contractions. When you drop letters, you use the apostrophe. Witness can and not, which contracts to can’t. Perhaps they are thinking that Lightyear is would contract to Lightyear’s, which I could handle, but it seems to demean the wordplay, as if they have to point it out to you so that you’ll get it.

In the end, I suspect that it was just someone who didn’t understand. Rather than the quite catchy Lightyears Above the Rest, they had to screw it up with an uneccessary apostrophe. You’d think Disney could afford better.

ABC Islands

I figured that it was time I got caught up on some travel info. Way back in June (the 17th, to be precise), we took a trip to the ABC Islands. Where are these islands, you may ask?

They are just off the coast of South America, and the three islands aren’t particularly related. They are, in fact, three separate countries – but they do have a nifty naming mnemonic. Specifically, their names are alphabetical, and right at the top of the chart: Aruba is A, Bonaire is B and Curacao is C.

We visited all three, since we were there and all.

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Focusing on the Negative

It seems to me that our society likes the negative. That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone, whether you get your information from the Internet or from the nightly news. What I don’t understand is why we don’t focus more on the positive. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not an optimist. Far from it. I’m not talking about the power of positive thinking or anything like it.

I just think it’s strange that we are so enamored of the bad things that happen. Which celebrity marriage is headed for divorce, what sort of carnage is happening in the world, was anyone hurt in that horrible wreck? I suppose those things are titillating and that’s why we are attracted to them, but focusing so much on the negative has to have an impact on our lives.

To take one example – why do we focus so much on the high rate of divorce? Instead of trying to figure out why people are breaking up, why don’t we try to figure out what keeps them together? There are all sorts of reasons why the divorce rate is so high. Yet there are still marriages that can be measured in decades rather than minutes. Why is it we don’t spend more time learning what we should do, rather than what we shouldn’t?