Early Spring at Duke Gardens

I’m starting to find myself having more in common with former NY State gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, whose total campaign was based on the fact that the rent in NYC is “too damn high.”  I totally agree, but then again, free market economics is kinda hard to argue with: location, location, location.  I’ve spent time in a 10th floor Upper East Side apartment overlooking Central Park.  $3000/month for that view… I have no question in my mind why people say that was a steal.  Yes I know all about rent stabilization and rent control, but I seriously doubt it plays a huge role in the Manhattan rent game.  But back to my point: Jimmy has found a new “cause” to lend his talents too… weather.

So here in the southland, it appears winter is over.  The plants are already showing the signs of an early spring.  And to celebrate the fact, I loaded up my iPod, put a 4 GB card into my trusty D300, and made the 10 mile trip to Duke’s Sarah P. Duke Gardens to see what’s happening in the plant world.  Turns out I was a little early to this year’s spring fling, but there were a few early arrivals.  The fact that the sky was a deep Carolina Blue, the temperature was 60 some degrees Fahrenheit, and UNC and DOOK battle today in what looks like a classic match-up… I wasn’t really complaining.  Well enough of my banter, click the picture for a small gallery.

 

The Warren Buffet Concert Investment Theory Part 2

The realization of an investment can be a wonderful experience or in the case of a loss, a feeling similar to putting a trusted horse out to paster.  Luckily for me, my investment not only resulted in a positive gain, but it was a large enough gain that I’m going to both the Cut Copy and LCD Soundsystem concerts for zero cost to me.  I’m sure I could of held out for more, but I achieved my goals and being greedy was an extra risk I didn’t feel was needed.  It’s kind of like going to Vegas: just because you won one round doesn’t mean you are going to win the next.  Know when to cut your losses, but more importantly, know when to take the money and run.

While I’m happy with my win, I’m not the only one who is playing the NYC concert market for what it’s worth.  Take for example the insanity surrounding LCD Soundsytem’s last ever show.  The rumor mill has been hard at work coming up with theories about what happened and to be honest, I’m inclined to believe they may have some truth behind them.  Withholding tickets and slowly selling them off for outrages gains thanks to the hype is a pretty crazy idea, but this is the music and entertainment industry.  Rules don’t really exist.  My experiences playing the market tells me something isn’t exactly black and white.  I can understand Terminal 5 selling out quickly for an indie band like Cut Copy or LCD Soundstystem, but Madison Square Garden?  Last time I checked, the Strokes concert at Madison Square Garden the night before LCD still has tickets available.  It’s hard to believe that LCD Soundsystem sold out the venue within seconds while the Strokes concert still has tickets left…  Just my thoughts.

 

Bail Insurance: The Best Bet in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is apparently a great city to visit.  I would never want to live there , but it’s one of those places I’ll put on my list of “places to experience.”  Notice how I say “experience” and not “see.”  If traveling has taught me nothing else, it’s that travelers go to experience places and tourist go to see a place.  Vegas isn’t  in the same league as places like Paris or Athens, but Vegas has soul and I love cities with soul.

That being said, what makes Vegas such a gem is the fact that it’s a place where ordinary people visit with the specific goal of going crazy.  And that sound sounds like the perfect recipe for an “experience.”  Think of the great movie, “The Hangover.”  Where else could such a movie be based?  Not to many: gambling is legal and highly suggested, you can get married at a drive through wedding chapel (that’s totally the American Way), and last time I checked, Las Vegas consumes almost as much shrimp per day than the rest of the United States combined even though it’s roughly 275 miles from the nearest ocean.  If that’s not the iconic American Experience in a nutshell, what is?

But with such a recipe, does that mean people really go crazy in Vegas?  I’ve got my doubts and in the spirit of America, that’s a gamble I would be more than willing to make…

INTRODUCING

THE LAS VEGAS BAIL INSURANCE THEORY:

How Insuring Tourist against Bail may be the Best Odds in Vegas!

Yes, you read that right.  You are not going crazy.  The basic idea of the theory is that people generally say they are going to go crazy in Vegas, but in fact don’t.  And I personally think it’s the best bet in Vegas outside of owning a casino.

According to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the city’s police force makes around 75,000 adult arrest per year for what the FBI classifies as Part 2 offenses ( everything that’s not: murder, negligent and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated and non-aggravated assault, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson).  So basically the Part 2 offenses are stuff that tourist are generally going to be arrested for and if you are tourist and get arrested for a Part 1 crime…  I’m pretty sure that bail is the least of your worries.

So that leaves 75,000 arrests for the roughly 36,500,0000 visitors Vegas saw in 2009 plus the 500,000 residents of the city.  So for convenience, let’s combine those and say Vegas host 37,000,000 individuals per year.  Do a little simple math and that’s 1 arrest per 493 people.  That’s not bad sounding.  But how does that compare to the US Average?

Well thankfully the FBI keeps great records on crime statistics and according to their estimate, American law enforcement personnel made 11,377,221 Part 2 arrest during 2009.  And as the total US Population is estimated at roughly 300,000,000 (and that’s including the under 18 crew)…  Do the math and that comes out to be roughly 1 arrest per 26 people!  That’s a huge difference between the Las Vegas average and US National average.  And I highly doubt the under 18 crew is really getting arrested at a rate great enough to cause such a difference.  At least I hope not.

So what does that say about Las Vegas?  I honestly don’t know for sure, but I’m leaning towards the theory that people are pretty well behaved when they travel to Las Vegas.  And just for another comparison, the national arrest rate for all Part 2 offenses in suburban areas is  roughly 1 arrest per 28 people.  In other words, I’m not messing with soccer moms.

Anyone want to start a new business?!?

The Warren Buffet Concert Ticket Investment Theory.

I’m currently undergoing live music withdrawal.  Yes, it exist and it generally sucks.  There really isn’t any other way to put it.  But I’m proactive and I have a solution!

The Chapel Hill/Carrboro area of North Carolina used to be a live music hotspot.  It’s location between the Atlanta and the DC area made it an ideal location to stop for the night, play an extra gig, and hang out it in what can be argued as one of the top college towns in the United States (The picture is of people jumping fires on Franklin Street following UNC’s 2005 NCAA National Championship win).

Venues such as the Cat’s Cradle and The Local 506 were popular venues for artists that normally played much larger venues, but decided to play a smaller, more intimate show for the local music lovers.  Along with attracting groups from pretty much anywhere and everywhere, the local scene produced a lot of local bred talent in the 1980s and 1990s including such groups as Superchunk and Ben Folds Five.

Unfortunately, the mighty river of musical talent has experienced a major draught and is dare I say it, dried up to an almost wet-weather drainage stream.  I hate to say it, but since 2008, here is the list of groups I’ve seen in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area: Interpol, the Artic Monkeys, Of Montreal, and the Soft Pack.  And the first two were in Raleigh.  Needless to say, but I’m going to anyway… that’s sad for a metro area with over a million people in it.

Well, I’ve come up with a solution.  I travel to see bands and it’s awesome.  Over the same time span that I’ve seen 4 bands in the Triangle area, I’ve traveled to Atlanta to see the Kings of Leon, Portland to see Metric and K’naan, and New York to see Spoon and Vampire Weekend.

And it’s been worth every penny.  I make it a point to travel and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do so.  And it doesn’t hurt to have friends and a sibling whom I can normally bribe with a ticket for a place to stay!

Well, I’ve got a new theory I’m going to try out… I’m going to try and make a concert pay for itself.  How you might ask?  I’m going to play the concert market and invest in tickets.

So how does this work?  It’s easy and my method of investment is based on Warren Buffet’s method of investment: buy undervalued, but solid equity.  In the case of concerts, buy tickets to concerts of quality artist that are undervalued in price.  In a city like New York, it’s tough to find a concert that is seriously undervalued, but I’ve found my concert: Cut Copy.  Other bands I’ve wanted to see have had their tickets triple in value on the secondary market, so let’s see if I win!

Revisiting Europe

While I was doing a little re-organizing of my massive collection of digital photos (A gigabyte is chunk change for me) I pleasantly found an old lost set of photos from my time in Europe.  So I decided to do a little revisit of my time in Europe.  All of these are circa 2008… I think.  Click on the image below for a gallery!

MSH

Return to Portland Part IV

Mount Saint Helens, Washington.  Today was such a pretty day and the sky was crystal clear.  From Portland, both Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood were very easy to spot.  More than I have ever seen.  Atop Saint Helens, both Mount Adams and Mount Hood were pretty much impossible not to see.  I think if I made it to the summit, Mount Rainier and maybe a few others would have also been possible to spot. I didn’t come prepared to really climb, so no summit today.  It’s a non-technical climb (5 or 6 climbers were headed down the trail while we headed up), but I did get 4,000 feet from the summit.  Oh well, another trip…  Click on the pic for the gallery.