Sunday, December 18, 2011

Habit Burger

This week I tried Habit Burger. They just opened one in my area. I wasn't impressed. The service was friendly and fast, and the place was clean. However the food wasn't memorable. I got the original Charburger and it tasted a lot like most burgers at Burger King. The fries were good, but not as good as Five Guys or In-N-Out.



I don't think I'll make a habit of this place.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brandwashed

I just finished the audiobook "Brandwashed" by Martin Lindstrom and it was very interesting. The author is an expert in the field of marketing and how to get people to buy your product. In the book he describes and explains the very many methods employed by companies across the world to get their hands on your disposable income. Here's his web site for the book. The amazon page includes favorable reviews (as if they'd post anything but) from famous people, including Dr. Oz and Steven Levitt. Here is a list I copied from that page about the book's contents:

• New findings that reveal how advertisers and marketers intentionally target children at an alarmingly young age – starting when they are still in the womb!
• Shocking results of an fMRI study which uncovered what heterosexual men really think about when they see sexually provocative advertising (hint: it isn’t their girlfriends).
• How marketers and retailers stoke the flames of public panic and capitalize on paranoia over global contagions, extreme weather events, and food contamination scares.
• The first ever neuroscientific evidence proving how addicted we all are to our iPhones and our Blackberry’s (and the shocking reality of cell phone addiction - it can be harder to shake than addictions to drugs and alcohol).
• How companies of all stripes are secretly mining our digital footprints to uncover some of the most intimate details of our private lives, then using that information to target us with ads and offers ‘perfectly tailored’ to our psychological profiles.
• How certain companies, like the maker of one popular lip balm, purposely adjust their formulas in order to make their products chemically addictive.
• What a 3-month long guerilla marketing experiment, conducted specifically for this book, tells us about the most powerful hidden persuader of them all.

The book covers all sorts of aspects, from careful placement of merchandise inside a store, to manipulation of muzak content, to social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter, and more, all carefully designed to get us to buy more, and to buy specific merchandise.

The author carried his research into marketing efficacy to an interesting extreme. After seeing the movie The Joneses, he decided to do exactly that: hire an affluent family in a suburban neighborhood to secretly pitch products and brands to their friends and neighbors. Amazing! He called it The Morgensons. Here's a nice video overview of that experient.

While his results from that experiment were no surprise to me, it was very interesting to hear about how it unfolded. I don't doubt his prediction that the future will see many companies doing exactly this for what they call "guerilla marketing."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big Daddy's

Yesterday I tried the new burger joint in town, Big Daddy's Fire Grill. This one is located in Pasadena at the corner of Foothill and Craig, right next door to an In-N-Out.

I had the Hawaii Five-O Burger. It was very good. The meat had flavor and tasted like other angus burgers I've had in the past. It could have used some teriyaki sauce (or something) though, and so was a little dry by itself. I got the "combo" which adds fries and a drink, and it cost me $10.

This meal cost me the same as I spent last week at Five Guys in Valencia. However the big Daddy's burger was much larger and had more flavor. Also, Big Daddy's fries was much larger than Five Guys. There were so many fries, I could not eat them all. I liked the cajun fries at Five Guys better. Heck, I like the fries at In-N-Out better than Big Daddy's. All said, I'll probably eat there again.



One more thing. I'm not sure what to think about the tag line on Big Daddy's web site, even ignoring the typo. I've included a screen cap below in case they change it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Palen Pass Continued

Just on the west side of the pass sits the most difficult challenge. A small hill leaving the wash. It might be rated 3 or 4 (depending on conditions) and it was easy and fun to climb up. These two videos posted on youtube make it look harder than it is (video 1, video 2). I mounted my gopro to the left passenger door and the resulting video sucks, so I won't post it here.



Here are some shots of the rock shelters at the top of the pass.


East of Palen Pass, the trail heads down the Arlington Mine Road which is in a very wide wash. Luckily, it's a somewhat graded surface and very easy to follow.

There were some sandy sections in the wash itself and that was fun as the trail twisted around the brush in up to 4 inches of sand with a gentle downslope. I almost coasted through that at 25 mph.

Approaching Blythe from the north, I came across citrus groves, then cotton fields.

I had planned to also drive the Old Palo Verde Road, Milpitas Wash Road, and Graham Pass Trail, but decided to head home. That turned out to be a bad decision. A big car crash on westbound I-10 just east of Red Cloud exit held up traffic for a long time. The news reports said that traffic was stopped for 4 hours. I was near the front of the held traffic and was stopped for about 45 minutes. People were walking around outside their cars, walking their dogs, kids were peeing along the the side of the road. At least it wasn't real hot or real cold. I could see the flight-for-life helicopter land and then take off.




As far as I know, nobody died. But it was quite a bad crash scene.