The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Marylebone and vicinity

When visiting a familiar place, it helps to sit on the plane next to someone who lives there. The local person, recognizing that you've already done the tourist stuff, can recommend places that you might not see otherwise. I had this good fortune yesterday.

This afternoon I traipsed around Marylebone, which is just north of Hyde Park. My seat-mate recommended two places specifically, so I went to them. First, Daunt Books, on Marylebone High Street:

I love bookstores; I miss real bookstores; I could spend a day in this one:

After wishing for half an hour that I could buy half a tonne of books, I went around the corner to La Fromagerie. Next time I'm in London, I'm going to eat everything in the store. Even the little cold cheese room made me swoon. Instead of getting a 10-kilo variety pack, I settled for a simple, £2 medallion of unpasteurized goat cheese. Words are insufficient to describe it, other than to say, it was yum.

Then I hopped on the Tube to this famous location:

Yes, that's Abbey Road, and those are a bunch of tourists blocking traffic. In the 30 minutes I hung out there, no fewer than 10 groups posed on the zebra crossing. (I confess, I took photos for two of them.)

Now, off to find food and ale. Relatively early bed tonight: tomorrow the Chunnel.

Kodak on its deathbed

The Economist this week examines the imminent death of Kodak, which in the 1970s commanded 90% of the film market:

Then came digital photography to replace film, and smartphones to replace cameras. Kodak’s revenues peaked at nearly $16 billion in 1996 and its profits at $2.5 billion in 1999. The consensus forecast by analysts is that its revenues in 2011 were $6.2 billion. It recently reported a third-quarter loss of $222m, the ninth quarterly loss in three years. In 1988, Kodak employed over 145,000 workers worldwide; at the last count, barely one-tenth as many. Its share price has fallen by nearly 90% in the past year (see chart).

Despite its strengths—hefty investment in research, a rigorous approach to manufacturing and good relations with its local community—Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.

Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm. Working in a one-company town did not help, either. Kodak’s bosses in Rochester seldom heard much criticism of the firm, she says. Even when Kodak decided to diversify, it took years to make its first acquisition.

Management matters. And all things end. It's still sad.

The year in numbers

In 2011, I:

  • took 8,198 photos, including 4,352 in Chicago, 881 in Japan, 588 in Portugal, and 337 in the U.K. (and only 71 of Parker). This is almost as many as I took in 2009 and 2010 combined (9,140), and more than I took in the first 8 years I owned a camera (1983-1991, 7,671).
  • flew 115,845 km but drove less than 4,500 km
  • visited 5 countries (the UK, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Japan) and 8 states (California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) in 35 trips. Sadly, this meant Parker boarded for more than 100 days
  • spent more than 186 hours walking Parker, which partially made up for all those days being boarded
  • wrote 539 blog entries, with the most consistency in the blog's 6-year history (averaging 1.48 per day with a standard deviation of only 0.11)
  • got 2.3 million hits (object views) on the Daily Parker, and 1.7 million on Weather Now, including 47,956 and 181,285 page views, respectively. According to Google Analytics, the blog had 28,613 unique visitors, and Weather Now had 26,539.
  • read only 34 books, but as these included the first four of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series, it should count as 46
  • started and ended the year in the same place (Duke of Perth, Chicago)
  • went to only 8 movies, 3 plays, 3 concerts, and 3 baseball games, which is terribly sad

Oh, and I also got a master's degree. (Almost forgot.)