Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Month: November 2007 (Page 1 of 2)


I have been married for four years and cohabitating for five. My wife and I have bought and raised a puppy together, traveled around the world and integrated with each other’s families. We share a home, a computer, chores, jokes and our deepest, most emotional thoughts.
Through it all, we have had separate CD collections.
This afternoon we had two 9′ tall bookcases installed in our living room. The one on the left has the express purpose of holding music, for despite my embrace of technology–including a first-generation iPod and an extensive MP3 collection–I still maintain a library of 1200 CDs, the majority of which are in our apartment. Amy, to her credit, has a few hundred discs of her own (and also to her credit, she tolerates the sheer bulk of mine).
So it was sensible enough when, as I began carrying music from my old racks to the new bookcase, my wife said, “Let’s keep all our CDs together.”
You’d think we’d have tackled this years ago. After all, we share a common iTunes library, Amy having given up on a her-only subset on her side of the Mac.
But even today, I paused. My collection is going to cheerfully swallow hers. The crazy category system I created, to avoid alphabetizing a thousand CDs, will turn my wife’s Cheryl Crow discs into “female vocal” and her Melissa Etheridge into “rock/alternative.” I suspect Amy will never even attempt to find her music in the sea of CD spines, much less succeed in locating her albums.
And her tastes create confusion in areas I had reconciled on my own. Peter Gabriel? For me: classic rock. To her: “Classic rock? Really?” Where does her Maroon 5 disc go? Seal? Barry Manilow? (Seriously, Amy–Barry Manilow?)
So far I’ve managed to integrate her classic rock with mine (though not, it should be noted, her Peter Gabriel discs), which has already thrown my organization out of whack, as the category has doubled in size. It’s kind of fun. And terrifically nerve-wracking.
My wife and I are deeply connected in our values and desires. We do not share much in the way of musical taste. But somehow, in some way, her Deep Forest and my Kiss CDs are going to find a way to coexist.

Opting out

[updated Dec. 13]
I have been inundated with catalogs this holiday season. Big, tree-killing, mailbox-cluttering, useless, unwanted catalogs, from companies I haven’t heard of selling products that are useless to me.
Something happened with my good name this year, either via my change of address card at the post office when I moved in April, or from agreeing to a few too many things as a consumer marketer at Clarins. The privacy-oriented environmentalist in me hates this. So I am diligently using Catalog Choice to opt out of these wasteful things.
Every one of these catalogs opted me into their lists without asking my permission. I figure turnabout is fair play. Below are the companies who harm the environment and invade my privacy in the hopes that I’ll blow a few bucks on their products. I refuse to patronize them and urge you to do the same.
Update, Feb. 11, 2008: I keep receiving catalogs and I keep opting out of them on So far only one unsubscribe has gone through; I will monitor them in the coming weeks to see if they do any better. The list below has been updated.
The offenders (those with an asterisk are companies who have my name from legitimate means, but from whom I never requested a catalog; those with two asterisks sent catalogs in 2008):
Back to Basics Toys
Brookstone (2X) *
Charles Keath **
Campmor (2X **) *
Coldwater Creek
Expressions **
Frontgate **
Grandinroad (2X **)
The Great Courses **
Harry & David *
Herrington (2X **)
HP * **
Lord & Taylor
Mohonk Mountain House * **
One Step Ahead **
Sensational Beginnings (2X)
Smith & Hawken
Victoria’s Secret *
Victorian Trading Co.
I will continue to update this list through Christmas 2007. I hope it doesn’t get too long.

links for 2007-11-27

They grow up so fast

Scene: Thanksgiving dinner, in between courses. Seven-year-old Noah is roughhousing with his cousins on the floor. At one point he takes a hard hit on his thumb and cries out in pain.
Noah’s mother, sitting nearby, scowls. “Noah! Don’t say that.”
“Shit, then!”

Buy online… but remember, we didn’t tell you to

USA Today: Retailers gear up for Cyber Monday. “Almost three-quarters [72%] of Internet retailers will offer special deals on Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday online shopping season, a National Retail Federation survey out today shows.”
BusinessWire: ”Black Friday” & ”Cyber Monday” Play Crucial Roles in Holiday Shopping Season According to BDO Seidman, LLP Survey of CMOs. “According to CMOs … a majority (59%) of retailers say they are not conducting any special promotions to encourage customers to buy online.”
This is corporate conflict in a nutshell: the Internet is a still-growing retail force warranting holiday promos like the rest of the retail world. Yet retailers are loath to intentionally drive consumers online, potentially decreasing foot traffic and same-store sales, and angering field sales staff.
Savvy retailers already know the best bet is to encourage purchasing via any channel, be it in-store, online, or over the phone. In time the rest of the industry will catch on.
(This kind of observation will soon find a home on the Ai blog, which will be relaunching in December with me as a contributor. See you there.)

Culture Shock, Day One

Going from a conservative consumer-products company to an Internet agency is about as startling a contrast in work environments as one could imagine.
Number of people not wearing jeans today: 1 (me)
Number wearing leather-soled shoes: 1 (me)
My office welcome: an interoffice email announcing my hire, which included a photo of my dog that the office manager grabbed from this website, followed by several enthusiastic replies from coworkers with photos of their own dogs
Suggestions from the team: install any apps I want on my computer; ask for anything at all from the Staples catalog; install AIM right away so the office can IM you
Number of challenges to play foosball and Guitar Hero: 4
Common space: the table and chairs behind my desk are called “belly dancer corner,” so titled because of the belly dancer hired for the co-owner’s birthday who performed on the table
Prominent page on the Ai office wiki: “Rubik’s Cube Solution Times”
I have office whiplash. In such a good way.

The new gig

I am pleased to announce that I report for work tomorrow as Director of Strategy for Alexander Interactive.
Ai is a boutique agency based in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Founders Alex Schmelkin and Josh Levine have built a fast-growing, fun-loving company around their individual talents, Alex as a developer, entrepreneur and client contact nonpareil, and Josh as the talented and dedicated creative director. I have been their client, colleague and friend since 2005 and am delighted to join their company.
My focus will be multifaceted, including but not limited to client business analysis, project vision, and information architecture, and a little corporate strategy as well. I’m also going to dive headfirst into the Ai blog, giving tech lead and coauthor Loren Davie a run for his money, and bringing the company into the greater industry conversation about online trends and opportunities. All of this is remarkably close to my dream job description at this phase of my career. Plus they have a foosball table.
The adjustment to a new business culture is going to be pleasantly overwhelming: jeans instead of suits, cubicles instead of an oversize office, 70% male instead of 80% female, and a shift from the geekiest person in the company to one of the least geeky. I missed the dress-your-coworker Halloween party but I did crash bowling night a few weeks back. It’s gonna be a blast.


One of the pleasures of my week of offline leisure is that I’m watching “The Price Is Right” every day. (Honest! It’s like I’m a sixth grader with the flu. Awesome.) And now that I’m old enough to pay attention to the products, I got a real wake-up call with the items “up for bids” this week.
Twice in the past three days the show has asked the four folks on Contestant Row to bid on “a pair of iPhones.” Out come two models, each carrying an iPhone, pressing the home button and not the touch-screen to demonstrate the functionality.
None of the contestants was particularly wowed by the iPhone. And none of them knew the price.
In the circles I, and probably you, inhabit, Apple is a topic of conversation, and the iPhone’s pricing structure has been a particularly hot topic. Go ahead, try it: what’s an iPhone cost right now? Right, $399, down from $499-599 at the time of introduction.
Easy, right? Then how come no one on TPIR knew it offhand? Two iPhones, $798, bingo bango, and a $100 bonus for getting the exact retail price. Obvious to me, to you, but not to middle-class, game-show-contestant America.
Which, of course, is why Apple is so excited: the market opportunity for mobile telecom devices is vast, and they’ve only just started.
Speaking of “The Price Is Right,” some other things have caught my eye. New host Drew Carey is still finding his comfort zone and comments on the crowd too much, although he does a great job poking fun at the awkward product-placement juxtapositions. (“Get this right and you’re off to Greece! …with a bunch of pens in your pocket.”) Also, the show reuses prizes frequently–I’ve seen the iPhones, a Corvette, and a candy-apple-red washer/dryer twice each–but the games have yet to repeat. The populist bent and combination of things you know and things you don’t makes it fun to watch at any age. Although the yodeling mountain climber game might not amuse me as much as it did in ’85.

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