September 30, 2011
How much time America wastes in line at Starbucks

Recently, my friend Kirill asked, "Wonder how much time America wastes in line at Starbucks". Interesting question, I thought. Let's do the math.

According the Starbucks 10K filing in 2010, there were 11,131 stores in the US.

According to this analysis by Trefis, there are an average of 449 visits per store daily.

Doing the math: 11,131 stores * 449 visits per store = 4,997,819 visits per day by Americans.

If we estimate that the process averages 5 minutes per visit to go from entering the store to have the coffee in hand is five minutes, we get these numbers.

The time wasted in line at Starbucks by Americans, per day is:

24,989,095 minutes = 416,485 hours = 17,354 days = 48 years

Obviously these are just rough estimates, but the time is significant. Also, some might argue that time at Starbucks is not wasted, as you do get your drink or food. Everyone's views on the value of Starbucks will vary.

Personally, I don't mind going to Starbucks, but prefer a lighter roast coffee made from better beans.

Posted by michael at 07:00 AM
September 12, 2011
NFL Widower

It's September. That means that once again I am a NFL Widower.

The Superbowl is Feb. 5, 2012, so there are 5+ months of football ahead. My wife is thrilled.

I like sports. I watch football, baseball, cycling, hockey, and pretty much anything else. Sports are always better than police procedurals, medical dramas, music/dance competitions, and reality voyeur shows.

But my wife, she LOVES football.

Her favorite hat to wear out running, working in the yard, or doing anything outside is her beloved NFL cap. We've been through so many, you can see the amount of use she puts them through. She rejects the individual team hats. It's the whole NFL she loves.

We have the full DirecTV Sunday Ticket so we can watch every game without fail. Now that the kids are older, she's even more into football. I wrote about this in 2005, but now she's taken it to new levels.

This year, she's in a fantasy league, so we've expanded from beyond her favorite group of teams to in-depth analysis of every team.

On Sundays, I pretty much plan that I need to make sure that the kids get fed and all the errands get run. There are slight breaks when between the morning games and the afternoon games, and sometimes before the Sunday night game. Monday nights are football. Later in the season we get football on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. In the playoffs we get football on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm not really complaining, it's just that I can't consume as much football as her.

Many guys would love their wife/girlfriend to like football, but I say, be careful what you wish for. You could end up being the one to make the snacks rather than the one sitting in the recliner with your feet up.

Posted by michael at 10:46 AM
September 11, 2011
Ten Years

Ten years ago I was awaken by a call from my mother-in-law asking "Did you see? Did you see?".

Ten years ago I was driving to work, to send everyone home, when I heard on the radio that the Twin Towers had fallen.

In those ten years, I have seen the best and worst of America.

I have seen honest debate about the future of our country, and I have seen citizens call each other traitors simply because they don't share the same politics.

I have seen America unite in joy and in grief together regardless of race, gender, or politics, and yet at other times question the foundational concept of America that "All men are created equal."

America, we are a better country than this.

Our forefathers deserve a better legacy that an era of personal name calling and character assassination.

Our descendants deserve a better future than an era focused on fear.

That which unites us is stronger than that which divides us.
Posted by michael at 08:29 AM
September 01, 2011
The cost of comic books over time

Recently, DC Comics rebooted their entire line of stories. I hadn't read comics in a year or two, but I was intrigued. I stopped by the local comic store and picked up the new books. The price of the new issues was $3.99 a copy.

I thought to myself that the price is really rising. When I got home, I read a great article on comparing the price of comics to the minimum wage by Von Allen.

Soon I was wondering what the relative cost of comics was in the past. I mean, I know they were 10¢ in the 50s, but what does 10¢ in 1950s dollars compare to in 2011?

So I did a little research. I looked up the cover price of comics over the years on Wikipedia and I used a site called Measuring Worth to covert prices in the past to prices today based on the Consumer Price Index.

I threw all the values into a spreadsheet.

YearCover CostCost Adjusted To
2011 $ (CPI)

Graphed it looks like this:

Looking at the graph we can see that the relative price of a comic book stayed around a buck until 1970 or so, slowly ramping up to a buck fifty over the next 15 years. That's a 50% increase. From 1985 to 2000 the price almost doubles (100%) getting neat three dollars. From 2000 to 2011, it's around a 33% increase.

It's a fact that costs increase over time, so I'm not saying prices could remain at a buck forever. But it is hard to see how young kids and teenagers can get into comic books, it's simply too expensive. For $20 you get 5-7 books. Serious comic readers will pick up 10-20 books a week. A few years ago, when I was a more regular reader, I would the totals of other people routinely $30-50 a week. That's $120-200 per MONTH. There can't be many parents helping pay that much for a kid's comic habit.

Perhaps comics are now becoming a purely adult pastime. That would be sad. The joy of reading, sorting, and collecting comics was a wonderful part of my youth.

Posted by michael at 08:01 PM