March 9th, 2017

Thursday's Activities Include: UBS conference, walk with M., convo with J., Hailey Knox / AJR at BMH

Back to Boston for the second day at the Four Seasons. Valet parking is not cheap there, but it sure does make this easy and they are very nice. Today's presentations were a couple of private equity guys discussing the space. Lots of interesting details, but one stood out: the first question in contemplating an acquisition/deal is, how defensible is the business model from Amazon. Yikes. I knew the sector was kinda defensive but I had no idea, clearly, what it feels like from inside it. Second presentation had a recently ex-Walmart guy and a current or recently ex Aldi's guy. For a German, he was amazingly aggressive, provocative and honestly downright rude. Wouldn't make any kind of eye contact with Wal Mart but would with the moderator. Despite the general demeanor, he made an incredibly solid case for Aldi's and similar "hard discounters". My sister really likes Aldi's, and we did our California shop at an Aldi's. I had zero issues with the merchandise, which was not quite exclusively private label. Happy to be able to get good quality and organic, and don't care about the branding if those constraints are satisfied, and that's their goal. Hilarious story about a time and motion process engineering approach -- one store manager told employees to police cardboard on their way to the loo, assigning aisle to each employee. He also said that when recruiting "maths grads", he described Aldi's as a process engineering firm, rather than a retailer. These people are hard core.

I had a 2 hour convo on the phone with J., which is always fun. Then I had a walk and chat with M., also very pleasant. Then A. came home. She has play therapy coming up and I'm taking T. to see AJR this evening after dinner. I'm looking forward to tomorrow being a more normal day -- the only excitement is a play date in the afternoon.

ETA: Made blondies today, since I was out. I think I made waffles yesterday. On the one hand, I feel like I've been super busy and got a lot done. On the other hand, I'm really noticing more and more things around the house that are not getting taken care of.

ETAYA: T. and I had dinner at Julie's Place. We rode our bikes. It was windy and cold, but dinner was good. Then we drove down to Brighton Music Hall to see AJR. We hadn't been sure who the opener was going to be. It turned out to be Hailey Knox, with an assist from Ashlee Juno. They were good to listen to, and then they took pictures over by the merch table. We had snagged a table by the merch tables, so T. got in line for a photo. Then during the AJR set, some of Juno's friends were sharing our table and we wound up overhearing conversation. And T. was dancing and Juno was dancing and she was just the sweetest person ever and instead of getting annoyed at him being in her way, she wound up dancing with him part of the time. Knox and Juno made a point of saying good bye to us when they headed out -- very classy people! AJR did a nice job. They are fun and goofy, and have a very dedicated fan base that knows all the lyrics.