Tip of the day

If you’re a middle-aged man who loves dogs, and your way of expressing that love is to blow kisses at a cute dog who walks past you, whatever you do, please don’t make eye contact with the dog’s owner while blowing said kisses.

Satellite radio

I have XM Radio in my office at work, which is a delightful place to have a satellite radio signal. At home: great idea, not all that much use. At work? All day, every day. Jazz in the morning, singer-songwriter stuff over lunch, harder music in the afternoon (or when no one’s looking) and the occasional diversion when the mood strikes.

Lately I’ve been keeping an eye on the display in the hopes of discovering new music. I’m learning as I go, too, combining my ears and my memory, things like

Henry Thomas, “Bull Doze Blues” = Canned Heat, “Goin’ up the Country”

and so on.

The diversity is great. I’ve been listening to nothing but blues for the past two days. I have found that Starbucks, which programs the Hear Music channel, really does know a thing or two about quality background noise.

But most of all, I’m starting to rekindle my passion for music. I spent a long while battling my ears (which is well chronicled elsewhere on this site, and which is rearing its ugly head again, but that’s a story for another time), and its aggravations—no more live shows, no more loud radios, and for a while everything sounded funny—dampened my interest in listening to anything. But with a diverse and multiplicitous feed, and some decent speakers to go with it, music has re-entered my life, and my entire day is better.

What I’m also noticing is the newly transitive quality of my music awareness. Time was, I’d hunt down music, with the passion of a true collector. Now, I’m becoming happy to just tune into a station that suits my mood, and leave it at that. I’m not buying as many albums or learning as many band names. That has me a little sad, though, and it’s why I’ve been peeking at the radio’s display more often. It’s one thing to love music, but regaining the passion will be another level entirely. I hope I get there.

Market pricing

Frank Bruni, having visited new restaurant Butterfield 8 in its opening days, asks: “Like other new restaurants, Butterfield 8 was charging anyone who came through the door full price. And if a restaurant is going to do that, shouldn’t it take full responsibility for the quality of the experience it provides? Shouldn’t it be ready to roll?”

Yes and no. The same could be asked of Broadway shows in previews, and the first year a new car or computer is on the market. They all charge what the market will bear—in Bruni’s case, retail price less $10 after mistakes were made.

And indeed, theaters in preview often serve up discounts to entice people to fill the seats. But a hot ticket is more than willing to charge full price, because people are willing to pay it. The same goes for new restaurants with buzz: 5 Ninth and Butterfield 8 (obviously the hip trend is to throw a number into the restaurant name) have full reservations and busy dining rooms, so they happily operate in dress rehearsal mode, right down to the cost.

Bruni should be impressed with the out-of-the-box apparent success of the new restaurants, and pleased that his industry’s consumers are willing to support such endeavors. In an expensive new launch, full pricing early helps defray costs and encourages profitability. More power to them.