March 2009 - Posts
My title, though technically accurate, is completely unfair though - Dr. Mankiw is way more experienced than I am - he's a PhD damnit - and he's written books and many other wonderful things.
But it's also very fun.
It all stems from a webcast for CAs, to teach them how to use social media effectively. They showed Chartered Accountants how to make it easier to set up their "online brand" and to appear like more of an authority by making it easier for people to find you online.
And with that I got an excuse for a short excursion into navel gazing and teasing of a distinguished academic, the former being something I generally avoid unless I can put some good spin on it, and the latter always serving as an excellent way to get yourself blacklisted from Harvard.
So onwards, to the patting of ourselves on the back.
How do you make yourself easier to find online and look like the authority figure you basically are?
Write about something you consider important and add some useful observations, sharing your witty insights with the world.
Then watch Google searches steer people straight over to you.
Getting away from the self-congratulatory aspect of this little screenshot, is it not absolutely bizarre to find what you're saying on a rather serious topic get rated so very highly?
I suppose the obvious response is "well sure, it's because no one else
is writing about it" and "they just happened to hit on the right set of
But perhaps not - the CA webcast was all about this topic, and other well respected people have also shared the advice that writing about what you know and keeping at it with a laser-like focus will ultimately pay off in the long run.
I would've ignored the Bell security referral had it not happened a day after I found that my writing about "perfect price discrimination" is ranking stupidly highly too - depending on which region you're in, you'll find me just below or a few slots above renowned Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw's observations on the same topic.
It's a good thing I get paid for writing stuff at my day job too, though. It's a pity that it's mostly confidential and secret stuff you'll most likely never find on Google, but I do try and keep those readers awake too by including some flair whenever possible.
I wonder how many auditors with aspirations to become writers do the same thing?
Do you? Let me know - leave a comment by clicking here .
In case you're new here, I work as an IT auditor.
And she's a "warfighter" in a Washington DC ad who has pretty much nothing to do with today's article.
It sounds really sexy when you picture hackers running around performing penetration tests on big fancy computers guarding trade secrets and billions of dollars.
And while there's some of that, I can't really write about it - confidentiality, you know.
I can, however, give you some free advice that you can use, especially if you're a customer of Bell Sympatico internet access - though this advice is equally useful for people who just bought themselves a new wireless router, or even those studying for the CISA - they expect you to know this sort of thing on the exam.
If you are given the choice of WEP or WPA encryption, always pick WPA.
Why do I find it so important to write about this?
Because despite some relatively clear instructions to enable WPA, it seems like people persist in the practice of "leaving things the way they hand them to me."
My laptop ran a scan of the wireless networks and found four wireless Access Points that are being used by people who are obviously customers of Bell ("BELL" is part of the access point's name!).
My scanner immediately identified that all the Bell APs are using WEP. In my travels around Toronto I've seen this before as well - this is no mere coincidence.
It looks like the Bell hardware uses WEP by default.
If you don't care about security, you might as well just turn off WEP. It's just that easy to break.
It would be immensely smarter of Bell to just make WPA the default, but I suppose they want to make it easier for wannabe hackers to try out all the WEP hacking tools that are out there.
Seriously - read anything about WEP and you'll know it's possible to hack it in under a minute or so. This is very old news - pretty much a decade old.
And yet Bell decides to play the CYA game instead by including the disclaimer "No service provides absolute protection."
This is actually one of the smarter things they do: pointing out that WPA is hackable too - this is a fact. It's not as easy, however, do attack WPA - it'll likely take a little longer than a minute, and there are options to make it much more difficult to break into.
What would actually impress me would be a rollout of a VPN service or something else that's less trivial to hack - until then, Bell customers should rethink any false sense of security they may be basking in until they read the instructions on how to harden their wireless security.
So. Will you ever get to enjoy job security? There's only one pair of answers that can adequately address that sort of question:
"...short answer: "Yes" with an "If," long answer: "No" -- with a "But."" - Rev Lovejoy, 4F07
I write that, inspired by comments in response to one of Francine's popular blog posts on big four layoffs, this time with a tail of comments over 300 postings long and counting, including the following question:
"Is at-will employment fairly common for 1st years? When can I expect to gain some sort of…security?"
I couldn't help but quote the Simpsons in response to that question because in many ways you can give a simple "yes or no" response, but what you say, your words will be empty without some kind of explanation.
If you want to treat "job security" the way classic unionist types look at it, not only is there no such thing in this field - a job for life - but the idea of "at-will employment" isn't something restricted to new hires on a 'probationary' period of work.
Everyone is essentially "at-will". I should point out before going further that I'm speaking about the labour climate in most of Canada and the US. Europe and many other parts of the world have employment rules which vary wildly depending on what sort of contract you've signed.
If you want to have a safe, stable job for life, the Civil Service is for you - working for the government, preferably in a union-protected job.
Ah, sweet sweet job security.
The problems with that approach are many and well known - it's very often hard to get in, you're restricted to working according to government rules and regulations, and the 'hard' structure of government bureacracies means that you will have a pretty limited role, unless you have some strong connections or happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time. But the stability is legendary, and it's one of the most secure sources of a solid pension you can find.
You could also get a new job and sign up with a guarantee of a minimum severance payment, but that'll only happen once you've established yourself as Hot Stuff.
First off, there's a flood of layoffs hitting the news faster than tomato sauce exploding in a microwave, so let's look at the concept of job security as it relates to audit staff working in a Big Four firms, whether CA, CPA, CGA, CMA or some other variation of the designations.
Do you have job security?
Well in this economy, no one does at any given company - even star performers, so if things don't work out, do ask yourself "could I have done something differently?"
Don't be surprised, however, if the answer is, "no, other than leave voluntarily when the economy went south."
So should you be worried right now?
That depends on your situation. Let's look at four scenarios.
First, for those fresh out of school, take solace in the observation that most firms don't touch the newest staff unless a particular office is doing incredibly poorly. Anything's possible, but your local grapevine should tell you how things are going. Plan accordingly if the grapevine reports doom, but most people in this position should be ok.
For the remaining three scenarios, you've been around long enough to write your professional exams - so did you pass?
Those who passed will be discussed in a moment. You're in "Scenario two" if you didn't pass on your first attempt. Depending on your individual situation, you may have anywhere from one to four attempts before you're on the short list for cuts, if your office is experiencing them. Most places I know have consistent policies, so find out what your local rules are, and keep your resume up to date, just in case.
The happy people who successfully passed exams are split into two camps: those with their "full" designation, and those without, and are "CA students" or something similar.
If you don't have your designation, it's because you need to work a minimum number of months and hours to get your chosen credentials: 2500 hours and 30 months of employment at an approved CA Training Office, for example, with a breakdown of those 2500 hours that varies according to your province.
Even when the economy's doing well, this is a tense place to be - you're so close to being a "Full CA" but just need to go through another busy season, a few weeks of tax returns, or just a few more months until you reach that happy day.
There's two bits of good news, though: since you've passed your exam and are going to be fully qualified soon, your firm is more likely to keep you. Plus, you'll soon get your designation.
I feel incredibly bad for those who haven't passed their exams. Not only do you have the stress of re-writing the exam later in the year, but you have the absolute worst "job security" scenario: it's much harder to get employment if you're still attempting to pass your exams rather than once you've qualified. Successful writers who leave voluntary or get laid off have more limited options as they need to find another CA Training Office, but they should ultimately find a position somewhere.
Not surprisingly, being fully qualified is a good place to be - and it's the point where you can answer the question, are you getting "some sort of .... security?" in the affirmative - you've arrived, and you're Hot Stuff, as strange as it sounds.
Despite being busy and getting positive reviews, anyone can find themselves surprised with instructions to clean out their things and go home. It can happen to anyone, so make peace with this nebulous state of affairs and accept it as a fact.
Of course, it's easier to fatalistic when you're fully qualified - and you're getting calls from recruiters in the midst of what the economic implosion. It's hard to believe, but just this afternoon another recruiter called my desk - I still don't know where they get my number - and left a voicemail talking about some exciting opportunities. Ironically I met with a friend from another Big 4 firm later today - and the same recruiter called there too. Perhaps a mutual friend put us on the same calling list, I have no idea - but that's quite a coincidence. And yes, it cheers you up a bit - all that hard work to get some advanced designations counts for something, in terms of job security.
Another friend who I went to school with told me the recruiters keep calling you - even after you hit private industry.
So remember - you will one day be considered "employable" simply because you're an energetic, experienced and skilled person. You do volunteer for more work and try and learn as much as you can as a matter of habit, right?
XGreendot summarizes things thus: "Didn’t you pay attention in any of your business classes about the “new economy”? job security=your skills & contacts."
Adopting this mindset - you're employable, you may get canned, but you'll get up again - is, I admit, strangely weird, comforting and disconcerting at the same time, and not necessarily in that order. But that's the life of a professional, and if you're comfortable with it, consider becoming a CA (that's #2 in the series).
This post may have simultaneously disturbed and cheered you up - in which case I declare it to be great success. Let me know what you thought by clicking here to leave a comment.
Read the biography about Metric here on thesixtyone - there are some really interesting insights into the process behind the creation of the new album, Fantasies.
When I was still a student journalist Metric was just getting started - and I the only reason I didn't try and set up an interview for my newspaper was because it just didn't seem right for some stupid reason to use that as a cheap excuse to meet the band - but I love the interview clips here, regardless of whether the site author got them from an actual interview or just from a press kit put out by the band. I've inserted some choice quotes with my commentary here:
When you hand over your money for a concert ticket, what are you really
paying for: some idea of the performer you've gleaned from gazing
longingly at album covers and compulsively clicking YouTube videos, or
the performer as they choose to express themselves on that given day?
Is the consumer entitled to a certain expectation of the performance —
a satisfaction-guaranteed procession of "the hits"— or should the
artist interpret the fan's investment as a vote of confidence, that the
fan is willing to follow their every whim? In other words, is the
customer really king, relegating the artist to the role of a court
jester whose sole purpose is to entertain on demand? Or does the
artist, elevated up on the stage and paid for the privilege, still
dictate the terms of the contract?
For Metric frontwoman Emily
Haines, all these questions came to a head on the evening of March 30,
2008 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. She was all set to
perform the sombre piano-based ballads that comprised the two releases
from her solo venture, The Soft Skeleton: Knives Don't Have Your Back
and What Is Free To a Good Home? — much of which were written following
a time of great sadness and personal loss. But having performed those
songs so many times since Knives' September 2006 release, Haines had an
epiphany during that Phoenix show — she didn't want to be sad anymore.
And she didn't want to play those songs. So, about 40 minutes into the
show, she stopped "Dr. Blind" mid-verse and said just that: "I don't
want to play these songs anymore." Instead, she spent the next half
hour talking to her fans, encouraging them to join her at the piano on
stage and, for the grand finale, pulling a kid from the audience for an
impromptu duet on Metric's "Live It Out." She was up for anything —
except playing those songs. Some disappointed Soft Skeleton fans in the
crowd probably thought the show was a trainwreck. But for Haines
herself, it was about getting her mind back on track — to the business
of completing Metric's long-awaited fourth album, Fantasies.
I think I'm one of those people who would've been thrilled had I seen this show. Oh well - I couldn't make it to that performance, but such is life. As much as I try to be everywhere at once, that doesn't always work out.
for me comes from a process of trying to piece things together," says
Haines. "The function of music in my life is to help me understand what
the hell is happening. This new record was about ending the
fragmentation of my existence. Everything in the world right now — all
the technology, the way we listen to music or watch films — everything
has changed so much in my lifetime. People are allowed to have multiple
identities — you're somebody online, you're somebody else in public —
in multiple dimensions, scattered across the world… I wanted to bring
all that into one place, one band, one record… I want to be one person."
One of the many things I like about Metric is how intelligent the music sounds - you want to crank it loud not just because it's good, but to hear the gentle nuance in the songs.
in order to come together, Metric first had to drift apart. After
touring non-stop between 2003's breakthrough release Old World
Underground, Where Are You Now? and 2005's frenzied follow-up Live It
Out, the four members of Metric sought sanctuary in sideline pursuits —
Haines threw herself into the Soft Skeleton and took a soul-cleansing
sojourn to Argentina; guitarist/co-founder Jimmy Shaw built a
neighborhood recording facility, Giant Studio, on Toronto's burgeoning
Ossington Avenue strip with his neighbor Sebastian Grainger; while the
Oakland, California-based rhythm section of bassist Joshua Winstead and
drummer Joules Scott-Key toured their own garage-rock offshoot, Bang
Ironically I saw Sebastian Grainger's live show last Friday. It was LOUD and fun.
"We didn't have a moment where we stopped," says Haines.
"When I look back at the touring, it really was like 300 days a year
for those three years [between 2003 and 2006]. After that, I thought if
we went straight into recording the next album right away we would end
up just writing about being in a band on the road because that's all we
had experienced. We had to reconnect with our humanity first."
If you ever complain about a band not putting out anything new - this is most valid reason why they should take their time doing exactly what Emily describes. The next couple of paragraphs are a very fun insight into the writing process.
Formed in Toronto but, at various times, based in Montreal, London, New
York and L.A., Metric boasts the sort of history that requires one of
those connect-the-dots redlined maps you see in an Indiana Jones movie
— and the story of Fantasies is no different. First stop: Bear Creek,
located outside Seattle, Washington.
"The four us went out into
the woods as a band with no expectations and did whatever we wanted"
Haines recalls. "We were coming from London so it was a serious
contrast - it felt like we had left civilization and all that mattered
was music again. We wrote a lot of songs there including 'Gimme
Sympathy', 'Collect Call'… and 'Black Sheep', which isn't on the album
'cause it has a life of its own. When I listen to the finished record,
I feel like all its warmth comes from that place in the woods."
That was good - the description of Stadium Love is even better.
And no song better encapsulates the utter surreality of dreaming — that
peculiar combination of bliss and terror — than Fantasies' massive
glam-rockin' closer "Stadium Love," a song meant to be heard in the
building it's named after, but whose candy-coated "ooh-ooh-ie-ooh"
chorus just might distract you from all the crazy *** happening during
the verses in between.
Haines explains: "I had just gotten back
from Coachella, and I walked into the studio and noticed on the
bulletin board that Joules had written 'spider vs bat,' i think he had
been obsessively watching all these National Geographic
animals-fighting-each-other-videos in his hotel room. For me, that
phrase triggered an entire narrative that was about a gladiator-style
enormo-dome where everything turns in on itself, with every form of
aggression on display for spectators: monster trucks ramming into each
other, bull fighting, sweaty men wrestling.
She goes on to describe swans against elephants, pigs versus tigers, and other madness which you'll miss unless you listen to the song carefully - which will prompt leave you feeling five kinds of delighted. The ending to the article waxes poetic on this - the last sentence is a bit cliched but that's ok, the rest of it was a fun read.
And so an album that began its life as an acoustic jam session in the
bucolic woods outside Seattle ends in a cartoon orgy of bloodshed in
some mythical arena that exists in the darkest recesses of Emily
Haines' mind. Each extreme represents a fantasy in their own right: the
ideal of hermetic artistic purity versus the spectacle of excess and
decadence. Being yourself versus being what they want you to be. Emily
Haines stared down these very polarities on her own that night at the
Phoenix, but with Fantasies, Metric are now free to define their
reality on their own terms. So when, amid the daydream electro of
"Gimme Sympathy," Haines invokes that age-old existential dilemma —
"Who would you rather be: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" — it's
only because she already knows the answer: neither
Go check out the full article!
Realizing that I a healthy number of readers - and friends! - come to me asking for career advice, it struck me that I should probably start sharing this advice in an organized fashion.
So I’m starting a series of posts filled with quirks and trivia that will you a vague idea about what the other aspects of becoming a Chartered Accountant are like - such as the first entry:
Consider becoming a CA if you have a good eye for detail.
For example, if you noticed that one of my site’s ‘tag’ categories just got renamed to Brilliant Career Advice from something else, you should consider becoming a CA.
If you remember what that tag used to be called, you get bonus points - and risk being accused of being a stalker... unless you’re really just proving how much you want to become a CA.
Mentioning stalking and how it's a Bad Idea, however, is one of those brilliant Good Ideas: I'll get back to that topic in a future post.
Just yesterday I wrote about an example of extreme price discrimination. As cool as it was, I didn't actually spend money because as good as Josh is, I'm not a big fan or anything. I just thought the story was cool.
Last November, however, I wrote about the new album coming out for a band I do care about - Metric!
Before we get into the sales - there's even a freebie. An acoustic version of the new single "Help I'm Alive" is available as a free download. It's very different in its own way - listening to the 'real' version I can imagine the missing echo of the acoustic version's supporting vocals. Interesting.
They've been offering pre-ordering for a while now - turns out the digital download copy of "Help I'm Alive" is about a minute longer than the radio edit people have heard so far. But now comes the musical marketplace's version of shock and awe:
The name of the album has been confirmed - they announced it's called Fantasies.
And check out the "menu" of delicious options, ranging from a pure digital download ($7.99), 3 combinations of CD, digital download and vinyl ranging from $15.99 to $36.99, and the super deluxe $64.99 limited deluxe edition featuring the following:
- Limited to 500 sales
- Personally signed autographs from all band members
- Set of 6 (4x6") high-quality postcards featuring "Hollywood in Cambodia"
imagery and personal messages from band members (comes as one 12x12"
print that can be poster-ized or cut as individual postcards)
- High quality 12x12" collage print of band photos taken throughout the creation of Fantasies (from inspiration to live shows)
- Bonus, new studio track, "Waves", not available in any other package
- 7 inch "Help I'm Alive" vinyl, including the exclusive "Help I'm A B-Side" B-side, and a Metric logo sticker
VIP Fan Pass - a limited edition laminate that brings you early and
sometimes exclusive access to unique offers from the band
- Deluxe, hardcover digipack CD, exclusively available at ilovemetric.com and live performances
- 180g, 12 inch, gatefold album vinyl and 12x12" print featuring "Hollywood in Cambodia" artwork
- Full-color album artwork booklet and liner notes
download of "Waves", a brand new studio track not available in any
other package, "Help I'm Alive" (album version), and 2 other exclusive
Oh, and those are US dollars, unfortunately, but oh well, they've worked hard for them.
Despite that boourns to not using the weaker currency of the Great White North, I call awesome again on the whole idea.
I'll be listening to a few new mp3's on repeat-loop tomorrow!
Ironically one of my junior colleagues asked me yesterday whether it's ok to have headphones on in the office.
Despite what Francine may feel is appropriate, yes, it is.
Tomorrow's going to be awesome on so many levels.
I was going to embed the video on Metric's site but it doesn't seem to be working, so just go there and enjoy.
Tomorrow's going to be a long day, and I'm looking forward to it.
It's going to be my first time since I got my Chartered Accountant designation that I'll be working at an ICAO low income tax clinic.
The way it works, the ICAO allows CA students to volunteer their time, as long as a "full" CA is there to oversee them and provide assistance if needed.
For the past three years every time I went, there was always a CA present to oversee the clinic, since I was still a CA student. Though I had technically fully qualified by March last year, the paperwork to recognize the fact that you've completed your 30 month 'apprenticeship' takes a couple of months to get processed, so I was not able to serve as an official clinic supervisor.
In terms of preparing the returns, it doesn't make much difference whether you're a full CA or a CA student: if you know how to fill out your own tax return, you'll know what to do.
It's both much easier and faster because when you do returns at the ICAO clinics because they restrict themselves to those earning under $17,000, or under $25,000 if they have kids or other dependents. And if you're earning that little, your return is generally easier to complete than those of high flying executives.
And this year is special because...
The trick is that when you're the supervisor, you're the person the less experienced volunteers turn to if they get stuck.
This simple point was reinforced during the volunteer training session where the new volunteers were reassured, "don't worry, if you're stuck, just ask the CA on site for help."
A couple of my friends are 'first-time supervisors' having gotten their CAs in 2008 as well, so we chuckled, "that's great, but what if we need help?"
Well we know each other cell phone numbers, and the CRA (Canada's "IRS") is surprisingly helpful - in a pinch you could even call them.
But in reality, the returns are pretty straightforward.
A few low income tax return reminders
The key things to remember are that social assistance payments are added early on in the return, and then taken out at the end. If you forget to this you may find that taxes are owed, which is not supposed to be the case with most of these returns!
Checking "yes" for the "claim a GST refund" box is another important thing to keep in mind. And volunteers aren't supposed to sign off on the returns - so the "tax preparer" fields should be left blank.
The only thing that Ontario clinics offer in the way of interesting challenges is the ON479 credit form, simply because you may not have had a chance to use it. Anyone fortunate enough to be earning over roughly $30,000 a year is
not eligible for the credits - they get 'erased' as your income climbs.
The cool part about the "479" credits is that even if you didn't pay any income taxes due to your low income, this'll be a source of refunds - most other credits, such as the public transit credit only work if you have taxes to apply them against. Click the link above to review the form. It's actually quite straightforward.
And if you're new to this, and you're devoted enough to read all the way down to here (thank you for reading), then once you're done going over the paperwork you may very well say to yourself "gee, that's not so hard."
And, no, it's not. Most taxpayers can do this themselves.
But you have to remember that many people either
- Don't have time, because they're busy working multiple jobs or taking care of their children
- May have physical or mental ailment which makes it harder for them to read and write on these forms
- May speak and read poor English or French, and as such would have trouble understanding the instructions.
That's where the super-rockstar CAs come in, to help those in need. When your income is already this low, the $20 or $100 that a tax preparation or website will charge can be the difference between eating or going hungry for a week or more, or other hardships that you will hopefully never have to face in your own life.
If you want to do some good this tax season the ICAO's website includes contact info to sign up for clinics. I don't know if clinics in your area still need people, but click here to get Paula Duncan's contact info to find out if you can be of help!
As with all posts here, this is not tax advice, it is not accounting advice either, it should not be construed as such and if you're crazy if you think it is. But if you have comments feel free to leave them here.
Well I do, and if you don't write about confidential things you're not supposed to discuss outside your audit team then you're ok.
On a higher career level, check out what Evil HR Lady has a few clever things to say about it including the idea that you should be proud of your ideals, to some extent:
"I came to the realization that the next time I'm on a job search, I
want to work for a company that likes Evil HR Lady's views. If they
don't, I really don't want to work there. (Unless I get desperate, then
I'll deny, deny, deny!)
But my blog is related to my job. I'm very careful not to comment on
companies I've worked for or even specific industry related things. I
want everyone reading this to know that my views represent MY views and
not any company's views.
You aren't looking to do a professional
related blog. You're interested in politics, religion and ideology. Can
that hurt you? Sure. Especially if you take super whacko views on
Would I be careful about what I put in the
internet? Absolutely. Would I want to know before hiring someone that
they held a firm belief in the the flatness of the earth and want
Kansas to be declared the center of the universe? Umm, yeah.
I advise recruiters and hiring managers to scour the web looking for
any bit of evidence of what a candidate writes? No. Would I label a
recruiter remiss if she didn't run a google search on the candidate in
addition to a background search? Yes.
So, can your blogging hurt
you? Yes. Be careful what you say. Blog anonymously, but as you do so,
remember that your anonymity is really a false sense of security. It's
not THAT hard to figure out who someone is if you really want to know.
Don't write about your job while you're working - particularly if you're being paid to do something else.
Price discrimination is the economic concept where you charge some people more if they value your product more than others.
Charging more for hardcover books which come out first versus softcover books that get released down the road is one example. The high initial prices of computer games followed by the discounted prices are another: you charge more to the people who want it first.
That's all well and good, but there are much more interesting extreme versions of this concept. Next time your economics professor drones on and on about a textbook example of price discrimination tell him he's boring and you have a much better story. It might not be "perfect price discrimination", where the seller gets the exact highest amount each person is willing to pay, but it gets close.
It features Josh Freese former drummer from Nine Inch Nails:
"I’m not sure whether he’s joking or is this for real, but what he’s
offering to his fans is definitely funny as hell. Here goes (courtesy
* Digital download of Since 1972, including 3 videos
* CD/DVD double-disc set
* Digital download
* CD/DVD double-disc set
* “Thank you”
phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you
like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked.
Ask whatever you want, like “Is Maynard really THAT weird?” or “Which
one of Sting’s mansions has the comfiest beds?” or “Are Devo really
suburban robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of dads from
Ohio?” or “Why don’t the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?”
It’s your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.
$250 (limited edition of 25)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* Signed drum head and drumsticks
* Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you’re into)
$500 (limited edition of 15)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* Signed cymbal and sticks
* Meet Josh in Venice, Calif., and go floating together in a sensory-deprivation tank (to be filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 steak and “all you can eat” shrimp on)"
I'll skip over the $1000, $2500, $5000 and $10,000 options - read about them on this site instead. Let's continued at $20,000:
"$20,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour
* Maynard James Keenan, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Josh take you
miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all
filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the
coffee shop on 2nd Street where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up
tile just weeks before joining Nirvana. See the old Vandals rehearsal
spot, the liquor store he got busted at using a Fake ID when he was 17
(it was Dave from the Vandals’ old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg’s high
school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt
live. For another $25 he’ll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks
from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
* Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the “Ghosts and Legends” tour. (Separate rooms … no spooning.)
* Josh writes 2 songs about you and both are made available on iTunes
and appear on his next record (you can sing back up on ‘em, clap, play
the drums, triangle, whatever)
* Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again … couples welcome and discreet parking available)
* Pick any 3 items out of Josh’s closet
$75,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* Go on tour with Josh for a few days
* Have Josh write, record and release a 5-song EP about you and your life story
* Take home any of his drum sets (only one, but you can choose which one)
* Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini OR
play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while
* Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.
* If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
* Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)
* If you don’t live in Southern California (but are a U.S. resident)
he’ll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks
* Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to
Robins place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna
Now, if this isn’t changing the way music business works, I don’t know what is"
Some will argue that this isn't price descrimination since you're tossing in all those other things. I say "bah." The key item is the album itself. Computer games are sold in "Collector's Editions" that give you a dinky trinket and a few other items to just their inflated price. They're cases of price discrimination and this extreme version is just as valid. You have a core item, and you're using special perks to make your version of the core item more special.
Except this example is the current epitome of awesome. His site even has an official promo video advertisement.
The spam tracking continues. 642 pieces of junk mail hit me last month, a very similar count to the 639 in January.
If I had more time I'd tie this into some sort of global spam tracking tool. But I'm sure someone else has already written up all this - I'm not really putting a huge amount of effort into this lazy little record keeping project at the moment knowing that there are much larger repositories of this sort of information. Yet it would be a pity to stop tracking my own stats for some reason.