Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ping Pong takes over

Since Shannon is gone for close to two weeks, I'll be updating his blog with any reports we get from him. He flew out this morning for two races in RI this weekend, then nats next saturday and the liberty cup on sunday.

Latest update: there are no updates from Shannon.

With Shannon gone, I like to ask myself "what would Shannon do?" Today I ate a burrito. Then I ate some peanuts. Perhaps I will have a burrito for dinner, and a pomegranate for dessert.

Latest unsubstantiated rumor: Sir Hops-a-lot is going to gears next year. If he can do that much damage with one, think about what he can do with 18 (or maybe 20, if he gets the hookup)!

Did you notice? No mention of Walmart in this post. Except for this one.

Ping Pong

Sunday, November 27, 2005


To address some comments that have been brought up, I decided to start a new post.

Anonymous said...
I'm not too sure, but I think you were using COSTCO as an example of a buisness that is somehow better than Wal-Mart. Truth is COSTCO is just as terrible at destroying local economies as Wal-mart. The vast majority of Americans are short sighted and fail to see the big picture. Low prices come at a very high long term cost. Anyway, how is COSTCO's big box any nicer to look at than the big W?

4:53 PM

blen gennington said...
it doesn't have that stupid smiley face on it?

6:26 PM

Anonymous said... What about the families that can't afford to buy elsewhere when Wal-Mart or Costco are their only choices? Politics don't mean squat when you are broke or pinching pennies and have kids to feed and clothe.

What's the average wage of bike store employees? What about commissions? Does that enter into the equation? What kind of benefits do they have?

shannonskerritt's response:
All I'm saying is that Costco has better treatment of their employees, as evidenced by higher wages and better employee benefits.
I'm not saying it's any prettier to look at.

I'm not too into the "destroying local cultures" argument. That argument has been used against market values and capitalism as early as the 18th century (check out Justus Moser, 1720-1794). My reasoning is that a locally owned, locally produced good has a higher market value than a low-cost substitute. Therefore, it's not in direct competition, but it actually becomes a different product. To illustrate, look at the number of people who shop at New Seasons (and Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, even though those aren't perfect examples) even though numerous cheaper options for food exist.

The whole thing about people who can't afford to shop at other places is a huge issue, one that is impossible to fully address in a blog. But I've always enjoyed a challenge (that's why I love cyclocross) so here goes.

A couple points:
1. There will always be poor people, and I don't believe people are entitled to every little thing they want. So if Ping Pong can't afford a DVD player because he bought a $1500 set of wheels, then whose fault is that? It's not up to a big box retailer to provide him a cheaper DVD alternative, it's up to him to prioritize where he wants to spend his money. Having children is a choice. Now I'm not equating having kids to owning a set of wheels, but you kind of get what I'm saying?
2. Government policy (especially tax policy) is very biased in favor of the rich, because they have the most influence (money). For example, sales taxes are very skewed in favor of the rich. Let's say there's a sales tax of 6%. Let's say there is a 3 person household that makes $50,000, and they buy $25,000 worth of stuff per year that they absolutely need to survive (food, clothes, that kind of stuff). That means they're paying 6% tax on half their income. But a household making $250,000 that only needs $25,000 in absolute necessities will only be charged 6% on 10% of their income. And that's just the sales tax. There are all kind of sales tax that benefit higher income people, such as estate taxes, capital gains taxes, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that the amount of money you have to spend is directly related to the choices that you make and to government policy. One you can directly change, the other you can indirectly change. Sure, there will be other influences, but I believe these are the two biggies. Does that necessitate me shopping at Walmart? No. Does that necessitate an hourly wage earner to shop at Walmart? I don't believe so, if certain choices are made like giving up a $1500 set of wheels.

I think most bike shop employees make enough to survive without resorting to Walmart. That may be because many of them are single and have very little debt. However, I know of at least a couple Bike Gallery employees that are supporting wives and kids on a single income. It's not easy, but they do it.

As for benefits, do you think that a locally owned, mom and pop style shop is more likely to give you benefits than a store like Walmart?

And finally, let's assume the average American household makes $50,000. I'd guess that number is high. So Walmart save them $2300 last year. That's 4.6%. That's like cutting over half the WA state sales tax off a household's spendings, or it's like paying 4.6% less income tax. Again, another nugget of gold from a much hated company.

More Walmart

Check out the Sunday Oregonian. Some stats:

-Walmart saved the average american household $2300, not $830 like I previously thought.
-they employ 1.6 million people
-average hourly wage $11.52
-profit per employee $11039

compare that to Costco:

-average hourly wage $15.97
-profit per employee $13647

not to mention Costco contributes $2000 more than Walmart does to employee health care ($5735 compared to $3500) and 82% of their employees are covered compared to 47% of Walmart employees.

So apparantly you can pay higher wages give health benefits and still increase profitability.

Does anybody care?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Another fascinating insight into Wal-Mart

Cheap Laptops Spark A Brawl At Wal-Mart

ORLANDO, Fla. - Do not cut in line at a Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving.
An Orlando television station reports that security guards wrestled a man to the ground Friday morning after he cut in line to get a laptop computer that was on sale.

The television station reported that the man argued with other customers and then fought with the guards.

One man told reporters that the laptops were being thrown into the air and people rushed toward them.

The discounted computers also caused a frenzy at a Wal-Mart in Renton, Washington.

Extra police were called out to help control the crowd that pushed its way toward the electronics department and then pushed counters out of position as they tried to get those laptop computers.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

That's hilarious. Well, maybe not to anybody who got trampled, but to an outside observer. That's the reason WalMart and other discount places will always do well; people always seem to prioritize low prices over any other sort of values.

Walmart saved the average family something like $831 last year. You know what that means? Walmart in effect changed the real value of the dollar. Interesting, huh?

Thanksgiving wrap-up

I had a good thanksgiving. Did you?

It started off with a few hours on the bike with the Kona boys (the hairy one and the tall one), Dougie, and Chad. Weather was good, no rain. After that came my favorite part about Thanksgiving: the eating. First I ate a bunch because I was hungry. Then I ate some more to carbo-load (and turkey-load) for the big races coming up. Then I ate some more in honor of all those people out there who are less fortunate and are unable to have a nice meal every day. Then I ate some more.

So I had quite a few people tell me that my last post wasn't funny. What, do you guys think I do this to entertain you? If so, you try coming up with intelligent, interesting crap that's funny all the time. It's a lot harder than it looks. Or I could start doing race reports if that's what everybody wants. But I know that the people really just want to hear what it's like to be me.

I am eating lunch right now. First, I made a turkey sandwich. Then I had some more turkey so I ate that, breadless, but with some mustard. Ping Pong brought in some homemade pumpkin pie but Slaven go to it before I had a chance. Instead, I am eating peanuts right now for dessert. Less satisfying.

Somebody post a comment and I'll respond.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's about time

Looks like I finished top-nine overall in the Crank Bros series. That's good, right? First un-pro guy with a full time job. I'd like to give a big thank you to a bunch of people, including my wife, my sponsor Sacha, my nine cats and one dog, and, of course, Ping Pong.

Next up: another weekend of UCI racing, then gnats. I mean nats.

Good job to Tonky this weekend for another podium, plus wrapping up a top-6 overall in the series.

In other news, pomegranates are on sale for 2 for $5 at Wild Oats. Yeah, it seems kind of expensive at first, two pieces of fruit for five dollars. But trust me, they're worth it, plus each one is good for about an hour of entertainment while you try to eat it.

You know what else is good for an hour of entertainment? The new Harry Potter movie. Plus, you get an extra hour and a half of entertainment to go with that hour. Hour forty minutes, if you count the previews (some people do, I don't).

Ping Pong has email. I see him use it all the time at work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Shout out

Check out the lovin' I got on bikeportland.org. I am getting famous. It's all part of the masterplan for world domination, one blog at a time.

In other news, I'm getting ready to go down to San Fran tomorrow. I've been looking forward to this trip the whole year...I can't wait to ride the street car.

And finally, a top ten list of reasons why I am too vanilla for you.

10. I have a vanilla cross bike. Do you?
9. race report-less blogging
8. have you seen my calves?
7. less hairy than Tonkin, whiter than Ping Pong
6. recently voted most popular cat. 1 in Portland
5. reported by the Willamette week to be one of the most elite cyclists in Portland, then quoted as saying that single speeders are a bunch of jokers. Perhaps they meant elitist?
4. I have a second vanilla cross bike. How many do you have?
3. My wife has to use the computer
2. So I have to get off
1. I have a blog

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Today I had a chile relleno burrito from Ole Ole. Discuss.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


They're in season and delicious. Just like cyclocross...a lot of hard work to get to the sweet success. Great in martinis also.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Win a date with Cliff Shrader

Who doesn't want to go out with a guy who's tall, dark, and handsome, with an incredibly refreshing personality? I know I do! But Cliff doesn't swing my way, so for all you lucky ladies out there, here is your chance to win a coveted spot in the passenger seat of Cliff's BMW for a night out on the town.

The rules are simple:
1. You must be a female (sorry guys!)
2. In the comments section of this post, please list the contents of your shower in as much detail as possible. For example, "soap and shampoo" is not a very detailed answer. The idea is for Cliff to understand you and your personality through the skin and hair products that you use. If I were to enter this contest, my entry would say, "Jergens body soap, Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo, gillette mach 3 razor, and a refreshing after-shower mango-scented lotion".
3. Judging will be handled by me (Shannon), Ping-Pong, and Cliff.

Fire away!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Weekend report

Just got back from the East Coast this morning from rounds 3 and 4 of the USGP. So I flew back into PDX, and when I got down to the baggage claim, I got both my bags, but my bike didn't come through. I checked in the oversize luggage claim area, and didn't see it there, then the alarm went off and the conveyor stopped, and still no bike!

I went to the baggage claim desk, and there wasn't anybody there, so I went up to the Northwest ticketing counter. They weren't any help. They told me I had to talk to the people down in the baggage claim area, and they didn't seem to understand that I couldn't talk to people that weren't there. I was getting annoyed, so I called my asian helper Ping-Pong to come get me. I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have to wait until the airlines found my bike.

I got back down to the baggage claim area where Ping-Pong was coming to pick me up. There were finally people at the desk so I went up to them to find out when they were going to get me my bike. Lo and behold, there it was, sitting right next to the desk. It turns out the bike had gone through on the conveyor belt, gone into the back area where the oompa-loompas work, and on it's way back out it had gotten stuck in the hole in the wall, shutting down the conveyor belt and setting off the alarm.

Those incompetent fools.

Oh yeah, 8th on Saturday and 11th on Sunday.

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