Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wikipedia has a very good explanation of the game and a few of the variants. The basic idea of the game is that everyone who wishes to participate will purchase a gift (usually there is a max budget amount that is set when planning the game). This gift can be serious, funny (a “gag” gift), thoughtful, used, or a re-gifted item – as long as it doesn’t go above the budget.
On “game day” everyone will draw a number (1 to n) and this will determine the order that the players will take their turn. Player one will draw a gift from the pile and open it. Player two has the option of stealing player one’s gift or opening any of the other unopened gifts on the table (or in the middle of the circle). This continues with each subsequent turn. If a player has their gift “stolen” they cannot immediately take the gift back and they have the option of either drawing a new gift from the pile or taking one from someone else. Then that person has the same options. This continues until all gifts are drawn and there is no more “swapping” going on. Usually a “max out” or max trade rule is established whereby a gift becomes “dead” after x number of trades.
I would like to tell you some of the cool observations I have had in the several years that this has been played. In addition you will get some great bonus tips that will ensure you have a great white elephant game:
• The best gifts are ones that have some sort of nostalgic value or other value (see tip #2). Some of the gifts that always max out are: Starbuck’s gift cards, other dining gift cards, playing cards, Nerf guns, wireless weather stations, and other card/board games.
• Bonus tip #1 – “The Twofer” – I call this the twofer because it accomplishes a few things a once. I’ve done this one a few times over the years and I am always pleased with the results. First I would go to the store and purchase something that I would like to have. Then as the gift rotations begin I stealthily watch until I can either a) grab my gift on the “max out” turn or b) get my gift from someone and try and hide it until the end. This is really nice since you buy the gift, play the game, and still get to take it home and use it. The only downside is that there might be an even cooler gift in play at which point you would take the cooler gift and stick someone else with your crappy junk. This year I added to the twofer by not only getting my gift back but I also took it back to the store. This accomplished 3 things – I brought a gift, played the game, and got my money back at the end (it’s one of the few times you can “have your cake and eat it too!!)! I thought that was a classic moment in work politics and personal financial frugality. The financial bloggers would be jealous!
• Bonus tip #2 – “The Giver” – the second idea I had was one I like to call the giver. This is a cool gift because it can come back to you 10, 100, or 1000+ fold. Last year one of the guys brought in a bar of chocolate (50 cents or something) and all the rest of the gift was a combination of 9 scratch lotto tickets and powerball tickets (our max was $10). Then, with the remaining 50 cents he got a card and in the card he wrote that the stipulation of the gift was that all proceeds over $10 had to be split with him. To which the recipient agreed (who wouldn’t in a large group setting like that – you don’t want to be know as the jackass that wouldn’t share the money right!). I think one of the scratch tickets got a $20 so he basically cruised for free as well.
• Bonus tip #3 – “Light?” – Finally, and as a personal plug, I’ve tried giving away gift cards for my own services. Basically everyone I work with knows that I run my own “side hustle” so I gave a $10 gift card for one of my headlight restorations ($75 value) which resulted in a job. I made money on that gift, not too shabby!
Hopefully these were some ideas you could implement at your next gift exchange whether it’s a Yankee Swap or a White Elephant. Thanks for visiting!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I figured I had better touch on this before it becomes old news what with President Bush considering using the TARP funds for an auto bailout as we speak. By the way, my wife warned me that I shouldn't write really long entries as people wouldn't have the time or desire to read them... I told her that that was exactly the point of minutiae, it's all the details - and that's how I am!
A few months ago I had a strategic international business class where I had the arduous task of writing a weekly essay on current events as they pertained to international business. I found an article from MSNBC regarding GM’s efforts to cut costs to stave off the serious dangers that it was facing. It’s funny how hindsight really is 20/20. This article was from July 15th – long before they would be faced with the major issues that they now face. I have included some analysis from that essay. It basically had to do with the fact that GM needed to cut costs or increase sales in order to have the cash necessary to pay its bills – it was the proverbial writing on the wall.
According to the text from one of my previous classes, a business can make money in only a few ways. Logically, two of the most effective ways to manage this are to increase revenue and to lower costs. As with personal finances, these management tools are fairly simple to understand – either you need to make more money or spend less.
There are several strategies for increasing revenue. Basically the goal would be increase sales of your good or service, raise the price, or expand your company footprint. Several volumes have been and could be written on any one of these approaches. A company will usually try to increase sales or raise their prices before they look to increase their footprint – assuming they are fully expanded into their domestic market. This is usually due to many of the hurdles that have to be overcome as a company expands its global footprint. Some companies may need to expand globally but are constrained by various internal and external forces. Externally they might have a corporate structure or ownership that isn’t permitted in a different market. Much like some government controlled companies from
At first brush I didn’t think that this article really had much to do with the assigned reading for the week. However as I read this and ancillary articles the picture it painted was pretty clear. GM has clearly become a huge international company. In many of its markets outside of the
Much of the success that GM has experienced outside of the
In essence they have to determine how to stay in business in the market that they call home. The landscape of the
As we now know they have gone to
But why are so many people opposed to this and not the financial bailout? I think it is for many reasons but a big part of it is the fact that the Big Three are three of the Biggest Whiners in the country. Not to mention the fact that Chrysler is privately held by Ceribus Capital. But they are continually strong-armed by the biggest union in the world, the UAW. And every time they get kicked while they are down by the UAW’s arm twisting (mixed metaphors, I know) and they end up conceding just so they can continue production, fully aware of the fact that they will have to do it again in a few month’s time. They continue to cry that their woes are the product of the economic downturn, but I think that it’s just the downturn that exposed the festering sore that was being covered by bandaid after bloody bandaid. Let’s just see if the newly appointed CAR CZAR (just what we need, someone else who will get into a pissing contest with Ron Gettelfinger) will have any power to make the changes necessary to keep the big three from crawling back a third time.
I could go on, but I need to finish working…at least I don’t cost my company $73 an hour!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I'm hoping that I'm not biting off more than I can chew. I keep adding to The List but I don't seem to be knocking stuff off very fast. I can say that I think about writing stuff all the time (hence the expansion of The List) and I do plan on writing. I was emailing a brother-in-law today trying to get his stamp of approval on the blog and he said something that made me think... He said "hopefully in two months you won't add to your list 'why I don't blog anymore'" I figure that the best way to prevent that type of demise for the Minutiae Report is to keep at it - eventually I will get where I want to be. So I am trying to define some of my goals for this blog to help me stay focused.
I will most likely continue to bring this up as I refine what it is that I want to accomplish by writing The Minutiae Report. As I've said all along, this blog is my attempt (albeit conservatively paced) at purging my mind of the "clutter" that consumes me. I've already eluded to the fact that I start thinking about stuff and it begins to consume me, I can't think, I don't listen to the people around me, I can't work and I can't focus on the things that will actually get me to where I want to go. Instead I stray down these distractive paths in a hope that they will bring me to some sort of shortcut. I don't think they will! This is why I want to get them out of my head, explore them "electronically" in front of tons of people, and move on.
A secondary goal is to attract readers to the Report and hopefully provide answers to questions that keep them up at night as well. I can potentially lead them (you) down a path that I have already explored and give you a head start on the research and learning curve. To do this I will have to be entertaining…this might be a stretch for me but I think I can try. I don’t take this too seriously so you can’t either.
Oh, and one other thing…I know I am probably going to bring up some stuff that could be potentially incriminating so I am hoping that it is used for informational purposes only. My dad used to always say “a smart person learns from his mistakes, a wise person learns from others’ mistakes.” This holds true here. I just hope the statute of limitations has expired for some of this stuff!
So with that said, I am adding to the List…and it ain’t Santa’s!
50. The beauty of Free-Agency…You have a choice
51. Dust to Glory
52. Rally Cars
53. Hacking an Xbox
54. Le Tour de France vs. Il Giro d’Italia
55. Our home is a Petri dish
56. SME Server
57. Internet over powelines
59. Bigger Faster Stronger
60. Microlending – Kiva.org
61. Book Reviews
62. Netflix vs Torrents
63. Structured Procrastination