Dilemma, sorta…

Every time I process a [rewards-earning] credit card for a customer, I’m conflicted:

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  • On one hand, I as a merchant know that even though charged transactions bring in a good amount of volume, a bunch of other [unknown] parties are getting a piece of the transaction [due to interchange fees for one] and subsequently “screwing” me over, more so if the customer uses an American Express, World [Elite] MasterCard, and/or a Visa Signature.

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  • On the other hand, I as a consumer do the same thing on a regular basis, even if it starts to make me feel more and more uncomfortable every time I do so.
    • On a similar note, esp. for the rewards-earning cards, do I REALLY want to screw someone over from earning cash back, obtaining a few nights at a five-star resort property, and/or flying first class on a top tier airline? Who in their right mind would not want that after working their asses off non-stop?

You can imagine, then, the mixed reaction whenever I see certain metal charge/credit cards:

AMEX-centurion-black-card

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  • Ahh s***, fees galore…
  • Ooo la la…
  • Make that time off worth it!

2012-08-12 – Perseids, I hope…

Around this time of the year, the Perseids meteor shower hits the earth at its peak intensity.  While it would have been nice to see more cosmic debris, if not GET it on camera, I can not say that the results I got were complete failures.  And, at least I know how to locate Cassiopeia next time around :-).

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That’s a plane, FYI.

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Screen saver, yes?

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I think this is one?
PS: Do you see Cassiopeia, the W-looking constellation?

Yale University Day Trip

This past weekend, one of my boys and I took a ride to Yale University to listen to one of our friend’s graduation recital from the School of Music; in short, it was quite well done.  Some of the pieces she, a cellist, played included:

  • Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 and Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70.  While I am not a fan of his works, I have to admit that these pieces had a seamless flow to it, much like his better-known piano pieces.
  • Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in d, aka Impressionist music at its most “experimental” and fun.
  • David Popper’s Wie einst in schöner’n tagen, Op. 64 and Nocturne No. 4, Op.47. And I thought this dude was only the Hanon of cello music (see http://www.amazon.com/Hanon-Exercises-Acquirement-Independence-Schirmers/dp/0793525446).
  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69, a piece that I remember slaughtering back in ninth grade because it was too difficult for me to play at the time.

Also of note:

  • Being back on a college campus felt rather surreal for me, especially considering this is one of the top universities in the United States.   It felt like everyone around me was infinitely smarter simply because they attend Yale.
  • In many ways, New Haven is a microcosm of how economically stratified society has become today.  Within a span of less than one mile, you can find a bustling, affluent college town and a deteriorating inner city.
  • Having all-you-can-eat sushi is asking for a death wish.
  • Lastly, and because my boy and I did pass through Stamford CT, wanna raise some hell :-P?

WWE Headquarters in Stamford, CT

French Wine = Cars

Explaining the French term cru [or “growth”] to someone is like trying to explain cars.

  • Most everyday, inexpensive French wines from regions like Bordeaux or Burgundy do not carry the cru moniker, and in some cases keep it simple by stating what kind of grapes they are made of.  Think of these wines as the equivalent of a:
    • Toyota Camry
    • Honda Accord
    • Nissan Altima
    • Volkswagen Passat

These are your everyday, workhorse wines/cars that do what they are supposed to do.

  • To quote Wikipedia, “cru is often used to indicate a specifically named and legally defined vineyard or ensemble of vineyards and the vines ‘which grow on [such] a reputed terroir; by extension of good quality’…they designate levels of presumed quality that are variously defined in different wine regions.”  Wines that carry the cru moniker usually do not come cheap, so think of these as a:
    • Lexus ES
    • Acura TL
    • Infiniti G
    • Audi A4

These wines/cars represent a step-up from the usual and an increase in substance and style.

  • Within the cru classification system exist sub-categories that rank wine, wineries, and vineyards.  It is at the top where all the fun is at, whether it is the Premier cru of Bordeaux or the Grand cru of Burgundy, Think of this particular sub-category, the crème de la crème, as a:
    • Lexus LFA
    • Acura NSX
    • Nissan GT-R
    • Audi R8

You pay for what you are getting at this level.

Having said all that, do not be easily led astray by a label.  Just because it is not Premier cru Chateau Latour does not mean it is going to stink; a good ~$20 Cabernet-Merlot blend from the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux is very easy to find.  Likewise, just because it is a Lexus LFA does not mean it is going to always get you from Point A to Point B faster, especially if you plan on doing a lot of city driving.

And this is only French wine ;-).