The Siren: why art thou so complicated?

Did you have your Caffè Americano? Perhaps you wanted to caramel your morning and settled down for a Macchiato? Or maybe, just maybe you share the same preference as me and went with a Vanilla Latte? Only you can tell.

Not just you, however, your wallet as well. Your phone too, if you complete your Starbucks purchases through your handset (iPhone & Android), in which case you win an extra point from me.

You’re perfectly aware that the green Siren on your white cup came at a higher price than many other coffee companies, yet you’ve chosen its temptation. Why? Is it the incomparable taste that gets you running back for more? Is it because it’s socially considered more attractive than any of its competitors? Is it because it gives you that extra boost of higher class materialistic confidence? Once again, only you can tell.

What becomes an issue however is when Starbucks becomes generally praised as being overrated amongst the general public. There are many reasons as to why Starbucks consumers and more specifically its non-consumers feel this way, so your daily dose of TDJ is about to break it down nicely and easily for ya.

When people say “Starbucks is so overrated” they often confuse two words: overrated and overpriced. Yes, this is indeed the case especially when you begin to question them as to why they feel this way. People of all kind, aliens from many light years away (or here on our planet, dammit stop messing with my Wi-Fi), animals that ravage through food, stop for a second. Breathe slowly and read the following. When something is overrated it is appraised, overestimated, or rated too highly. Thus, when you say Starbucks is overrated what you’re saying is the quality of their coffee & food & other consumable products are below that of what is a normal standard, or simply underwhelming offering for what’s offered elsewhere. Mind you, it is perfectly okay to think and reason this way but let’s make some sense of it shall we?

These people (and there are many, many of them) go around saying Starbucks is overrated, which should mean there is a wide variety of established/upcoming/unknown coffee companies that offer a much better quality in their menus. Great, however there is a reason Starbucks has been featured in just about any movie, seen in many people’s hands on daily average, piled to the max with no free seats, and generally speaking highly preferred among consumers worldwide. You may argue it’s all in the brand, but it isn’t. If the quality of coffee in Starbucks was that bad, and the hype around the company was that high, there is no way people would pluck down their hard, earned cash for it much longer.

You’ve got to understand consumer trends and how insanely quickly they can change in a matter of weeks. Exhibition A: take a look at how Android overtook iOS in preference and usage on the mobile front. It happened nearly all too quickly. Thus, despite the fact that it is a well-known brand, it doesn’t mean that it gets strong consumer sales just because of its name. In another example, take a look at RIM’s BlackBerry. Is it a widely known brand? Absolutely. Is it selling phones like hotcakes? Absolutely not. BlackBerry was a top vendor of mobile handsets at one point in time, but its consumer interest has dropped colossally. The brand is still there, but are people buying it? Nope, not much anymore. At some point you’ve got to stop and really understand that a brand will indeed play its game when the product being offered is of high quality and preference among average consumers. People enjoy their Starbucks coffee + people buy more of it + the brand becomes confident and popular = winning profit.

In turn, what many of these folks really mean is that Starbucks is overpriced. That, my good friends, is what is really meant when people brag about this coffee company being overrated. Come to think of it, overpriced it certainly is. While generally offering good quality of coffee for such a large worldwide chain, the prices seen on the menus are assuredly too high for what’s being offered. You can certainly feel this when getting a grande Vanilla Latte (yes my favorite) which is nearly $5 in United States & Canada (depending on your location it may be a little high or lower), but the real pain can be felt in Europe where the same latte comes up to nearly €5 (also depending on location, but generally speaking true) meaning you’re basically paying $7 for a medium cup of coffee.

Oh green siren, why art thou so overrated? Just kidding, I meant to say overpriced.

What’s your personal take on this? Sound off in the poll above (right-hand corner).


Why We Love & Hate Valentine's Day

As we know, Valentine's Day started off with a Christian legend. Once upon a time, there was a boy with a bow and an arrow...

just kidding!

Basically, Mr. Valentine (whoever he was) was 'beheaded' on February 14 and the world decided to celebrate love.

On February 15, Ancient Roman priests created Lupercalia celebration and established its customs which involved a  (Lupercal) cave and the sacrificing of a goat and a dog. After the sacrificing, noble youth went about the town with goatskin thongs as these were sacred to good child bearing. The thongs were called februa and februatio, which is also where the month "February" gets its name. The celebration was likely established in the hopes of good crops.

After Paganism became frowned upon, certain festivals like Lupercalia were given Christian names. "St. Valentine's Day" was born and became a celebration of mating in light of springtime and fertility. The celebration quickly spread and various cultures adapted the tradition with some variations to its customs.

Now, Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate consumerism. No longer a festival in its old, cheerful  and sacred form, it is now a day many people come to hate. Of course, consumerism plasters love all over everything and anything. In the process, consumerism takes all the fun out of love and makes us think of the fact that love should exist all the time and not just on the one day. Of course, we don't argue over the idea that a celebration is usually meant to be sort of a spotlight or a snapshot to an ongoing thing. And so we go all out.

Celebration of Valentine's Day becomes a chore, hence all of the anti-Valentine's Day bitterness going around. I personally like to claim that the things people now do on Valentine's Day, they should practice daily/weekly. But apparently some couples actually don't get this idea or don't love each other enough to get cheesy more often.

Then we get people who are not in relationships and feel lonely even if they don't necessarily want to be spending the day with someone. Seeing every other couple prance around, even if they look like they completely hate each other, tends to bring that emotion. And let's not forget mating. That shit comes in the form of overbooking every single hotel in the city and going at it all at once.

Now that's a celebration!

Of course, if we look at it in that way, Valentine's Day is kind of...nasty.

So, what ruined Valentine's Day for us? Consumerism. The second we let everyone else make money off of us, they jumped at the chance just like they do around Christmas time and any other hot holiday. I would do the same, wouldn't you? And let's not forget the crazy girlfriends who threaten to break up with their significant others if they don't receive candy, flowers and teddy-bears from them. I am serious, this is 53% of women according to a U.S census.


So, really. We create the hype and then complain that we suffer from it.

Anyways, I am going to go mate drink love potion. Not because it's Valentine's Day but because it is my Anniversary. Yes, we couldn't pick a better date. There is reasoning behind my irony - I am like a guy and I don't really remember important dates. In order to help both of us, I rounded it to a holiday we could both remember.

PS: Don't propose to your woman today or I will personally come to your house. And you won't like me when I'm angry.


One fruit that never goes bad

Stop me if you've seen that white, shining fruit before. Yup, chances are you see it several times a day.

Apple. You either love it or hate it. For the most part, that's how it is today. What you can't deny however, is that Apple has become one of the most influential brands of our time, and moreover has developed into something greater than just a brand - it became a culture.

On its successful road Apple manages to fulfill 3 seemingly easy categories : 1) visual 2) simplistic 3) marketable


Take a gander at the above iPhone 4S. First thing (or one of the first things) you notice is how attractive and precise the design of this handset is. This has been the golden spoon for Apple in all of their successful products ever since the iPod Nano. It may seem a little stupid to you but think for a second, how does a tech company win over so many people's minds? It sure as heck is not gonna be listing all of its boring specs to many people who otherwise have no clue what a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU is. Sure, there may be many tech-savvy folks but for the most part what really draws all the attention of all age groups and genders is what's visually cooking. Ranging from all the available products Apple offers today, you will always find a beautiful looking MacBook Air, iPad 2, iMac and so forth. It is the exact implementation of the right classical colors and carefully thought out hardware where you'll find a visual appeal and you'll know exactly what it is: an Apple product.

Simple & Easy:

When did anyone ever think of Apple's software as something on par with rocket science? The answer would be never, of course. You know what they say, simple does it. Simplicity accounts for big success in many aspects, as many people seem to forget that. Just take a look at immensely popular web services like Facebook and Google. While they have many tweaks to them, in the overall picture it is something any person can understand and navigate through with ease. Well, that is just the exact same thing with Apple. Its software is constructed in a way that make things faster, snappier, easier, and quiet frankly requiring little effort of mind. This is a huge bonus if you think about it, as simplicity particularly attracts the non techies who just want a computer or a phone that is very easy to handle. Generally speaking, the one thing everyone loves about Apple products is how snappy and fast everything works. While Apple does include some very respectable specs to run their products this way, from an average consumer's point of view, the software just sings along the hardware giving you here, now, easy, understandable, and fast.


Let's face it, where would Apple be without its tremendous marketing and advertising skills today? Every time you see an ad from Apple it screams of the two things I've talked about thus far: great visual, simple as ABC. Nearly any time Apple advertises a certain product they put in a few clever words, no more. The main object is always at the center of your attention, while the headers serve as a little tease of what's "awaiting for you" if you choose to pluck down your cash for what's being advertised. At times it's not even clever or unique, it's just words put in such a short mannered way and context, that it really gets you almost believing that you can't possibly go wrong when you go with this product. We all know how Apple loves to mix up some pleasant, upbeat music in their commercials where nearly everything is white but the product being presented. I guess one easy way to summarize Apple's advertising policy is to "keep them in focus".

In conclusion, what the aluminum fruit really thrives on is your appetite for "easy does it". While Apple products are by no means meant for dummies or for people that know nothing about technology (in fact far from it), they do manage to be the #1 preference of consumer choice among many average folks.


Freshman versus Graduate

Sometimes the Uber Frosh or the Sheltered College Freshman memes do your first year in college no justice.

As a graduating student, one of my current favourite hobbies is to poeticize about my last few years in university (okay, not really). Basically, university was a general waste of time if I were to analyze the career from my freshman mindset - college didn't get me a job or make me any smarter. From my graduating student perspective, university allowed me to gain experiential learning, gain professional experience and contacts, meet people who changed my life, and discover opportunities that are beyond anything that I expected.

Here is a gist of the differences in a chart. Click to see in its original size.


Why you shouldn't read sexy magazines

Dear TDJ, your expert in love-o-logy is back and is about to put certain sexy headlines to shame in an open letter.

Just to put it out there, I haven't picked up any sort of magazine for maybe over a year. Even when I would waste money on that type of stuff (usually to appear cool on the beach or to cut out some pictures for my room), I never took anything to heart and only followed my intuition and past experiences. But, I feel that it is time to take some of these things to heart.

Example 1 - Cosmo: 
Cosmo tells me that when my man is stressed I should fix him up with a bowl of chips and a fruity cocktail. No, I'm not kidding. That is what Cosmo says!

Dear Cosmo, when MY man is stressed, the best thing that I can do for him is to leave him the f#@k alone! Because HE, like any other man, needs his cave to figure stuff out. He definitely does not need a fruity cocktail. I need that when I'm stressed. Did a girl write that advice?

Example 2 - Ask Men
Ask Men magazine writes on what women consider to be good sex: something with vibrators, cuddling and women being a "knob" versus a "switch" (aka not always ready for it like men are).

Dear Ask Men, first of all, I mind your wording. It comes across as if all women consider this to be good sex. Next thing you know, a man goes ahead and pulls out vibrators and sprawls out all sweaty on top of me afterwards. Gross. Maybe a shower first and maybe stop advertising cuddling cause it totally sounds stupid by now? Second, not all women use vibrators. In fact, not many at all. Third, women are just as much of a switch as men are. Yes, they are probably moodier but it is a proven fact that women want sex more often than men do. Don't break your beak wooing me now, dear.

Example 3 - Cosmo #2
Cosmo ignites fumes in me by telling me that the perfect age to get married is 29-30, because these are "great positions to have a happy, stable marriage" due to stabilized money and completed education.

Dear Cosmo, it is because of propaganda like this that both men and women run around in their 20's and early 30's chasing the perfect career or the perfect marks, and then settle for whatever just to get married at the "right age." If for half of your life you made sure to stay away from commitment you will A. not know what commitment is at this proposed golden age, and B. enter a relationship for a wrong reason (just to get married). I can assure you that I made it through school with the highest marks in most of my classes, with professional experience, and wait for it... while being in the best relationship I could ask for.

Example 4 - Men's Health
Men's Health magazine encourages men to find "the one." Here is some proposed judgement criteria: she buys you shaving cream when you are all out, she initiates sex while cooking, and she works out.

Dear Men's Health, before I get to your lame tips, I would like to request that you stop telling men to look for "the one." That is why we get those creepy douchebags throwing around pick up lines like they just got some sort of a disease that limits their vocabulary.  And in terms of the criteria you propose, there isn't a check-mark type of thing in dating. When you really fall in love, you don't test that person's performance and you learn to compromise if things get sour. Also, the only time I will buy MY man new shaving cream is when I am buying myself new shaving cream. Otherwise, he isn't a baby and is perfectly capable of doing it himself. That's how men get spoiled. 

This list could go on endless.

Ladies and gentlemen, you don't need me to tell you that sexy magazines are lame and in many cases, provide totally wrong advice. Trust me, Bob and Joe don't know what you should do with your sex life.

Cheers mates.


Why do men like beer?

Believe it or not, this question has not been answered concretely. My suggestions do not measure up as an answer, but I can assure you that this habit has nothing to do with gender or any type of beer-loving-gene.

Every time I visit a bar or a pub, I see a few bros drinking the fizzy drink. Of course, I've also seen business partners (and the like) share a bottle of wine. However, these wine drinkers are normally dressed in suits while sharing this romantic beverage. So, that must be the thing: men drink beer because everything and everyone tells them that it is the manly thing to do (without having to wear a suit every time).

I've inquired why men like beer so much and they gave me some lame responses, such as: "it is the most hydrating" or "it is what we do when we watch games." Obviously. The answer they are avoiding is: beer is a socially accepted standard between men; and they are simply afraid to appear less masculine (men will never admit fear).

Based on this preliminary observation, I propose that men drink beer because...

1) Men are conditioned to do it: ever since they are boys, they are exposed to advertisements all over the place in the same way that girls are exposed to thin thighs and Kim Kardashian's boobs. These ads showcase beer half the time and contribute to the man's internalization of cultural meanings, interpretations and values. Porno can also fall under this category and probably cologne as well.

2) It is easy to drink and because men also like to drive cars, beer allows them to slow down the pace of their drinking. As we know, beer normally comes in super-size-me jugs.

3) It is the "bro" thing to do and because a man's identity revolves around his money and how manly he dresses, smells and feels, beer naturally falls into his 'top 10 cocktails.'

4) Beer is kind of good for doing business (and men love doing business!). When you meet with your  boss, you won't order vodka shots. But you will order a beer to, ironically, look more professional.

5) It allows men to get into debates over whether Heineken or Stella tastes better and to try to figure out what their current beer of choice says about them (kind of like how women match their misfortunes to Cosmo horoscopes).  A(n) enlightening piece of research declares that if you drink Corona, you are a partier... or a college freshman.

6) Beer is good to marinate meat with and to have with chicken wings. Because men, being the cave-like creatures that they are, love red meat, it is only normal that beer is paired with animal slaying. Beer is also good for passing kidney stones and washing hair. Just and FYI.

7) When men need to "talk" they don't say "let's go out for coffee." Beer makes all men problems better.

Taking all these things into consideration, it is now more clear as to why men have such an attitude towards beer drinking. Eventually, having a beer becomes a normal habit and a staple for bro-gathering and at-home relaxation.

Cheers, bros.


How to live, love and work like a superstar Part I

Here are a few starting tips to help you boost your work ethics, re-think your approach to relationships and gain peace in life. This is not research based but they say experience and observation can go a long way.

Save Energy: I'm not talking about Earth Hour. I mean YOUR energy. Whether you are at work or with your partner or looking for a place to rent. I will give you an example: penguins waddle because it is the most efficient way for them to move around with short legs and big feet. Like the penguins utilize their nature to cut their losses, you can utilize your habits to cut your losses in energy. There are smarter ways to doing anything if you know your habits. The first part will be learning a bit about your habits if you haven't paid attention to them already, and the second part will entail figuring out a way through which you can stop obsessing over details and working/loving/living smarter. For example, if you habitually bicker with your husband over the fact that he forgot to lock the door or switch off the lights before bed, you can save some quality sleep by pushing it out of your mind for the night, and then figuring out a creative way to remind him by writing a nice/funny note or a text message in the afternoon (not the morning). Or don't remind him and just check the door yourself next time. Pay less attention to details that are not significant to bettering your life.

Sleep on it: You know how they always tell you to sleep on a decision? Well, I am reinstating that it is one of the best things you can do in a relationship or at work. This relates to my motto: "don't make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions." Before you get tangled up in a project, decide on a salary or decide that you want to take a love break, sleep on it. Another thing you can do is keep a dream journal and write down your question in the journal before bed. In the morning, you will wake up with a clearer head and will be better prepared in your decision. You might even discard that decision altogether. If one night's rest does not help, try two or three nights by asking the same question in your journal.

Discover originality: Not all ways have been exhausted in the world and will likely never be exhausted. But, creativity is currently the selling factor. There is something that you can discover within yourself or in your office or in your bedroom. Spend ten minutes innovating something on a small scale. Plan a brunch every Sunday, throw a pub night with co-workers, organize a game or play with PhotoShop. Working your brain and switching up your routine is essential to good mental health.

Find a coffee shop: We often complain about our daily routine but seem to not do anything about it. If you are tired of working from your school library or are tired of always going home after work, go somewhere else. Find a coffee shop or a different library or a park.

Fall in love with failure: Do you have "detail-oriented" and "perfectionist" written all over you (and likely your resume)? Many of us do, but it is not necessarily working in your favor. Finding an opportunity in life's greatest misfortunes is legitimately a winning moment. So you just got fired and fell into a depression and debt. Maybe this is an opportunity to discover some freelancing opportunities, to network with new people or to spend more time with your friends. On a side note, people pleasers and perfectionists tend to be unhealthy people because they give into social pressures and do things like overeat.

Vent in a journal not on Twitter: You don't need me to tell you that everything you post online is out there for the rest of your life, even with the fancy privacy and security settings you enabled onto your account. Unless your tweet or facebook status is truly funny in its venting abilities, don't spill your heart out. Pick up a cheap journal and freestyle whenever you feel like you want to explode.

To be contd in Part II.