Feliz ano nuevo!

Amy and I are heading to South America for the next 11 days. We will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio, and Buzios. Hopefully we will have plenty of pictures to share/post when we get back.

I'm not sure if I'm going to post while traveling, but in case I don't, I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays and New Year!!


MTA Transit Strike - Day 1 (Chaos)

Today was the official start of the transit strike here in NYC... I definitely do not think that it's the end of the world ... but to describe it in one word is just "Chaos" ... You add more chaos, on top of the one of the most chaotic cities in the world, during one of the most chaotic times of the year - and it's just, well, CHAOTIC.

I was one of a handful of people who made it into my office today...although my company was VERY cool about working from home. When a got into the office, there was a false sense of hope for those that thought the drama was all hype... a few women I work with were saying how surprised they were because of how many cabs were OPEN ... I felt bad bursting their bubble, telling them that in fact the all cabs "available white lights" on them were on due to the fact that none of them were turning on their meters.... (Cabs are able to pick up multiple rides and are operating on a "Cost per zone" basis)

Anyhow, the day went by (with a few calls from out-of-town friends asking what was up)...
When the work day was over, Amy and I met up and walked home. Yes, the sidewalks were packed and I noticed a lot more bikers on the streets.... Yes, it was a little creepy going down Madison Ave where NO CARS were allowed to roam (for emergency vehicle sake), and yes there seemed to be A LOT of traffic in different areas.... However, there wasn't any rioting or people going crazy.... Just a lot of people in a small space... Pretty chaotic....

So now I am home and beginning to worry about tomorrow.... Not how I'm going to get to work, but how Amy and I are going to get to the airport during primetime traffic tomorrow night...
Stay tuned...

A Rarity - A Quality SNL Skit

I don't think there is any debate that Saturday Night Live has been AWFUL for the past few years (we'll call it the Post-Will Ferrell era). Although there is a bright spot here and there, (such as Amy Poehler or Tina Fey) I have given up watching the show altogether...

Anyhow, today, someone sent me this funny skit from this past week that I wanted to share. (Warning - you may be singing the song for the rest of the week after watching)


Stan Van Gundy

In a news conference today, Stan Van Gundy announced that he is resigning as Miami Heat coach. Stepping in as coach will be current General Manager and previous Head Coach, Pat Riley….

As a loyal heat fan for the last 17 years, I am torn…On the one hand -- I really have grown to like Stan Van Gundy. He is honest and I always seem to respect his comments during post game interviews, etc. On the other hand -- Pat Riley is a coaching legend. I certainly cannot complain that the 3rd most successful coach of all time is taking over the reigns on my favorite team..

What seems to be at the heart of the public debate is whether or not he was FORCED to leave. Today, I watched (via webcast) the entire press conference. In case you missed it, Stan claimed he was resigning due to the lack of flexibility within his role ty to be a family-man… When you read the description “leaving for personal reasons,” I understand why people are skeptical, but after listening to him and hearing specific details – I do believe that he has had enough of the demand of putting his family as a second priority…

This being said, during the press conference, a reporter asked if the fact that the team was 10-11 had anything to do with his decision …. Stan was adamant that this has been a long time coming and had nothing to do with the record…. Sorry, Stan, I don’t buy that…. If they were 15-3, I think you put your inner feelings on hold at least till the end of the season… This coupled with the fact that Pat Riley is clearly an ego-maniac and has been dreaming of coaching again since we landed the Shaq-daddy… Oh and perfect timing – Shaq came back last night….

I think I’m somewhere in the middle of where the purists and the most of main-stream media will be ….
- I am sad to see Stan go, but also have no complaints about Pat Riley being the head coach
- I respect and believe Stan’s rationale, but I don’t think it’s 100% accurate to say that the teams lack of success had nothing to do with it
- I don’t foresee Stan coaching anywhere else other than in South Florida… That includes smaller colleges, high schools or even the Miami Heat again down the road…. His brother left and then came back….

Finally, Stan Van Gundy has consistently been said to look like adult film star, Ron Jeremy, but
I think I he looks more like my buddy Andrew Salis. Hard to say without the mustache, but I think it’s spot on… Posted by Picasa

Business Class .... In Session

I consider myself a low-maintence guy... This is not to say I don't appreciate the finer (read: more expensive) aspects of life, but I generally don't REQUIRE any of it to be satisfied.

Over the last 2+ years, business travel has been a fairly steady requirement for me. Nothing like my boy Brian, however. (He travels from Florida to Ohio every week - living away from his wife and baby girl Monday through Thursday). Anyway, the business travel has enabled me to accumulate some frequent flier perks every now and again.

Today, I type this from my plush Business class seat on my way back to NYC from SFO.

The first thing I noticed when entering "the zone" (ie. First class/business class) was that about 90% of the people "up here" are men. On top of that, I think almost all of these guys are wall-street types. I've already seen 2 Salomon Smith Barney bags and UBS briefcases...From the sounds of over-hearing conversations ... most of them either live in Conneticut or in the burbs of Northern California...
And then there is me...the young kid with his Google bag trying to fit in - so I break out my blackberry and act like I have important business to attend to... (I'm really playing video poker)...The truth is that once most people I sit next to in airplanes see my Google bag - that's it. Curiousity kicks in and the questions start...Sometimes what I really think they want to ask is..."are you worth a million or a BILLION dollars?" I then have to disappoint them by telling them I'm nowhere near close to either of those, BUT ..."I love what I do..."
Truth is, I can't even say that I think the "Google attention" is annoying. One would think that I get sick of answering (or avoiding) the same questions - but I don't... Perhaps more on this in another entry...

Anyhow, back to the perks of business class. You start by having the flight attendents take you jackets to be hung up (they will later bring it to me when the plane lands). I then sit in my cushy seat which has four different options of extended comfort (Recline, Leg-rest Extend, Leg-rest, and Footpad extend). About 5 minutes after take-off, I am served a nice cup of hot, salted nuts and choice of beverage (Jack and Ginger please). 5 Minutes later - round 2. 15 minutes later - round 3...(This is nice) Now it's time to grub...To start, some lettuce with a nice vinegrette dressing, alongside tomato and Mozzerella and a piece of multi-grain bread. Offer for round 4, but I opt for some water instead. Main course arrives (I chose the chicken over the beef and pasta). It's ok. Jack and Ginger part 4 arrives as well. Desert is a choice between a vanilla ice-cream sundae (with choice of hot fudge, caremel, strawberries, whip-cream and nuts) or a apple-carmel cheesecake. I chose ice-cream with strawberries.
Might I add that the "clean-up" process is almost instantanous upon completion. Quite a difference from coach - where I typically am forced to stare at the remnants of my $3 Snack box for 30 minutes.

Throughout the flight, if there is something I want (round 5 perhaps??) it's well within my reach. There are 2 flight attendents who seemingly only service this cabin.
Speaking of well within my reach ... I should be snooring outloud listening to the bankers next to me talk about the "upside or working for a large firm..."

Anyhow - before I make you snoor outloud - I'll get to my point...Although traveling in First/Business Class is certainly more than twice as good as traveling in Coach, I don't know if anyone on the plane today would pay double as much if it were on their own dime. I, luckily, was rewarded by the airline for my frequent travel. Most of the men sitting in first class now are rewarded by their companies for traveling cross-country. This being said, however you are able to swing it, I certainly recommend it.

Ah... Round 5 has arrived. Good Night.


Happy Birthday Amy!

On Friday (December 2nd), Amy turned 30. As most who move on to the 3rd decade, Amy wasn’t thrilled about the occasion, but I must say that once it actually came….she embraced it.

In celebration, we had a multitude events (in various locations) that ranged from a surprise party to a romantic dinner to a pre-party that led into a party throw-down…

The “throw-down” as we’ll call it, was a blast. I know this, not only because I had a great time, but because I looked at pictures of the event… (and there were a lot of pictures). In almost every picture – people have enormous, genuine smiles…. And I’m not talking about the “hey let’s pose for a picture” type smiles … I’m talking about ear-to-ear grins from everyone (even those people that aren’t known for smiling very often)…

Organizing 2 weeks of festivities is never easy, but is something you do for someone you love, and I have to say that is was well worth it. Amy was so happy throughout. (see picture)

Happy Birthday Amy!!


How many Jews are in this country?

Just ran across this random data and thought it was interesting...

According to a 2001 study done by the "United Jewish Communites", there are 5.2 million jews that live in the US. Additionally, according to the Census Burea population clock, there are 300 Million people that live in the US, which would make the Jewish population 1.7%....

I was actually fairly suprised how small that number was considering about 98% of my summer camp and about 90% of my college social scene was Jewish... :)


Cyber Monday

My title here at Google is currently “Retail Vertical Specialist.” In short, I work with the large retail companies who advertise with us….
For retailers, the holiday season (that just officially started this past Friday) is the most important time of the year…. For some sub-industries (like toys), over 90% of their sales come from this 2 week period!

Because the holiday season is so important, the media world intensifies it’s coverage and analysis over these months …. They do things like blame low retail sales on high gas prices or the weather… They also feel compelled to come up with cute names for particular time periods. The most famous to date has been “Black Friday,” which is the Friday after Thanksgiving... It’s called Black Friday because this is usually the day that retailers go from “the red”(unprofitable) into “the black” (profitable). To lure shoppers on Black Friday, retailers have been known to offer incredible deals for a small window of time. This year – this tactic caused some pretty interesting commotions, such as people getting trampled on when doors opened or fights among customers for remaining merchandise….

Anyway within online retailing, today(11/28), the Monday after Thanksgiving was usually called “Blue Monday.” Blue – referring to the typical blue hyperlinks on websites ….

This year, however, someone has dubbed today as “Cyber-Monday” …. CYBER-MONDAY????? Doesn’t that sound like a 1989 Movie title, starting Keanu Reeves???

Everyone from Katie Couric to Barbara Walters is talking about “Cyber Monday” today… It's like a flash back to my college professor talking about "the information super highway" ....

I guess I shouldn’t complain …. The fact that the media finally acknowledges that customers are using the web (and Google) to shop for holiday gifts - should make my job easier.

Truth is that several CEOs still believe that the internet channel is too minor to ever focus on…. (Example – TJ Maxx and Marshalls recently shut-down their e-commerce completely) The interesting thing is that today isn’t even the biggest day to shop on the web. That will come in 2 weeks…..

Anyway – I am sure over the next few years – someone will come up with an even more lame name than “Cyber-Monday” … Until then, we seem to be stuck with it.

Merry Cyber Monday everybody….


The Move

As many of you know, I moved in with Amy last week. For the majority of people who ask me, "how is it," I can tell you it's been a week -- but it's great.

Surprisingly enough, what was actually "great" as well was the actual move .... NOW ... Before I discuss why, I can firmly declare the following 3 things:
1) I 100% do not have any desire to ever do it again.
2) The next time I move I will certainly be hiring movers and will be directing rather than doing physical labor.
3) Moving causes a lot of anxiety and, as a whole, sucks.

So - why was it great? Well, first of all, it was an experience. I firmly believe that both good and bad experiences create life lessons that in turn make better individuals. I had never rented a uhaul and moved out of (and into) a place before on my own. I'm glad I did it.

Secondly, I realized that my new building has an unbelievable staff of doormen and a super. When I was moving out of my place - there was only 1 of the 2 elevators working. This caused my super to give me grief about moving...(he really just wanted me to give him money for allowing me to move - but I didn't budge). When Amy and I were moving heavy objects, the super and his wife (the usual morning door-person) didn't even get up to open the door for us! When Amy and I got to my new place, we had an elevator waiting for us - and the doorman helped organize some of our stuff downstairs, which made it so much more efficient. Overall - the move made me realize what a better situation I was moving into.

And finally, I realized that my girlfriend is a straight-up trooper. A lot of woman would resist from the second any kind of discussion about moving without paid movers occurred, but Amy was always in favor. She was also the other half of physical labor AND drove the Uhaul van (on her own request even). I appreciate Amy for so much, but the move gave me another way to appreciate her.

[Side note: Uhaul has a shady re-fueling policy that I doubt you are aware of. Like most rental vehicle places, you have to replace the fuel you used, but in Uhaul's case - they start the van with 3/4 of a tank. Why is this? Well, I can only assume it's because most people are too lazy to realize how many miles per gallon they utilize and over-fill the van]

Anyway - Amy and I truly felt accomplished after the move. It went smoothly and it certainly was an experience.


2 Shout-outs

Quick props to 2 of my boys who had some accomplishments this week...

Chris Heller (and Brad Grossman) opened up their restaurant, 24 Prince, this week. Here is a clip from a recent review in New York Magazine:
"The owners of 24 Prince, opening this week, think they’ve nailed just what Nolita’s been missing: a loungy restaurant with homey d├ęcor and a comfort-food menu of meat loaf and mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese (24 Prince St., nr. Mott St.; 212-226-8624)."
I'll give it my own review after this Saturday night ... But definitely give it a try if you're looking for a new spot to get your grub on... Congrats Chris!!

Props are also due for my boy Tuna Glantz ... We all know that Tuna (of former "Thursday Thoughts" fame) has a talent in writing ... What you may not know is that he recently got his BUSINESS opinion published by a very prominant internet advertising source recently. Check out Glantz' take on Ad Targeting here. You can also TRY and check out his not-so-serious-commentary here, but, don't hold your breathe ... he likes to keep his fans in suspense.... Congrats on the article, Tuna..



I don’t know if this has always been the case, but in the last 5 or so years, I feel like it’s become really trendy for Adults to embrace Halloween more than kids… It could be that I have merely lived in a kid-unfriendly city during that span … but I like sticking with the “trendy” theme …. Anyway - every year – I like to throw a pre-party on Halloween, followed by a night out of dancing and drinking. This year was no different. Pre-party followed by bottle service at a crowded club that played hip-hop…. Obviously over-priced entertainment, but it really is a once-a-year thing, so it’s fine…. This year – I noticed that most of the going-out public was dressed up, but there were a few people not dressed up ….

Who goes to a Halloween Party without dressing up? Halloweenies do – that’s who (I’m coining the term)!

Would a vegetarian go to an all-you-can-eat meat buffet? Do Jews go to Church? Do blind people drive cars?

I don’t think that everyone should embrace Halloween as much as I do … But I don’t think you should go to a Halloween party if you are not willing to dress up … Go to the movies, go out to dinner, go to a wedding (a popular one this year), stay home, whatever…..

If you are someone who feels compelled to go out, it doesn’t even have to be the best costume (I am not a costume-elitist) As long as you try (and saying “I dressed up like myself this Halloween” doesn’t count) that’s fine … Borrow your friends army fatigue pants, Basketball jersey, or pick-up Doctor’s scrubs….. Just make an effort…..

I believe that all 4 of my blog readers are loyal Halloween observers, but if you know people who are not, make sure they know that we now refer to them as a “Halloweenie” …


"You want to have your cake and eat it too"

Can someone PLEASE explain to me what this phrase means?! It is not very often that I actually have cake, however, when I do - I always intend to eat it... What other options are there beyond throwing it in the face of someone who says that?

I think next time someone uses that phrase - you should ask them what it means...


Hotlanta on Bid-naz

Since Amy and I are both in media sales, a reciprocal aspect of our jobs is business travel. For the last 2 years, though, we have been unable to coordinate a business trip to the same place… Last week, however, we finally worked it out – and we both had meetings in Atlanta.

The standard business travel perks (i.e above average hotels, meal allowances, etc) definitely are better when I can enjoy them with Amy… We aren’t cheap-asses when we travel together outside of business, but we also don’t book a room at the Ritz on the regular, etc…

It was also nice to be able to grab a drink at the Lobby before going to bed, without feeling like I was either a big loser or an alcoholic….

Regarding the city of Atlanta, it wasn’t my first time there, although it was my first time staying for a couple of days. It seems like a city with a good mix of diversity, friendliness, and business-minded people. I could be wrong – but that was my impression. My other impression is that I couldn’t live there. First of all, the traffic in Atlanta is just as bad as anywhere else – if not worse. Like LA, everything is so spread out, which means public transportation is just not a practical option…Second of all, I think the whole “Southern mentality” is great in small doses – just not full time. Feeling obligated to say “yes ma’am” 100% of the time when answering a question from the girl behind the check-out counter is just not who I am. I’m polite – but not “Southern polite.”


ICE - In Case of Emergency

Just read something interesting and wanted to pass along...

Vodafone believes that over 75% of people do not specify any "emergency contacts" in their cell phones. A local paramedic from England realized this as well and has since launched a program called "ICE." This program is nothing other than the desire for EVERYONE to designate someone in their cell phones as the emergency contact. Today, this can simply be done by adding a contact into your phone under the name "ICE" (including the appropriate phone number obviously). In the future, the hope is that the mobile phone companies will add a section into the phone that designates emergency contacts....

It makes sense, right? How many times have you heard people say, "you should carry a cell phone in case of emergency." The ICE contact helps to do this, but takes into account the possibility of the cell phone owner not being able to proactively dial.

Of course for this to work, the concept must be understood by all parties, including the paramedic community. So - this is my PSA ... I think it's a small thing that could go a long way.


The Time Warner Monopoly

As many of you know, Amy and I are switching some things around in her apartment in order for it to be feel more like OUR apartment when I officially move in. After scheduling an appointment 3 weeks in advance, we finally had our Time Warner cable appointment last night. I don’t want to go into intricate details, so I will try and be brief. The cable guy came in rearing with an attitude … He was snippy, with a grasp of the English language that I would rate a 3 on a scale of 10. He claimed that what we were asking him to do was not on his order form. He refused to do it and told us it was our problem and not his I asked him his name about 30 times – but he wouldn’t give it to me. I am VERY even-keeled, but this guy got me heated. After he left (and Amy blocking the elevator so he couldn’t leave), I finally got him to come in and call Time Warner…. While he was on hold with them, he must have realized that it wasn’t worth the politics so he decided to implement what we wanted… He continued with an attitude, but I am confident the job he did was satisficatory. His attitude CERTAINLY was not.

This all being said – I called Time Warner this morning to report him. The service rep and the manager were both very nice and empathetic, apologizing and promising to report him. BUT … I still feel powerless. So I’ve looked this morning to see what I can do – and there are really very few options. I am writing this post so I can share it with you all.

As cable providers are controlled by the government, our only options are to complain to Mayor Bloomberg. (It’s not like I can realistically not chose to be a customer of Time Warner) Here are out options. We can:

Consumer Service Department—Cable TV
75 Park Place, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

New York State Public Service Commission
Office of Consumer Affairs
1 Penn Plaza, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10119
Phone: (800) 342-3377

I am going to do all of the above. F-Time Warner Cable!!!


Google Video: Everybody Hates Chris

Google has teamed with UPN to offer the Premiere episode of "Everybody Hates Chris" on Google's Video site. Click Here to watch it (commercial free I may add).

It takes about 20 minutes to watch. The site will only stay up for 3 days, so take advantage while you can.

For those of you who don't know, "Everybody Hates Chris" is about Chris Rock's teenage years (and is produced and narrated by him).



Vegas Nuances

While in Vegas, there were a handful of things that stood out at me. Yes, beyond the obvious non-stop drinking and gambling going on - there were subtle things that I noticed. For example:

1) A 100 dollar bill was more common to see than a $20. And this is not becuase I'm a high roller. Anytime there is an exchange for money that is greater than $100 - you are almost certain to receive a $100 dollar bill. From the ATM, Cacino "cage" or anywhere else....What other place does this happen? I couldn't help but think that my wallet seemed unuasually light (which it typically is in Vegas), but it was only because I'd be carrying MAYBE 3 bills in total....

2) Taxi lines EVERYWHERE. Before leaving New York airports, I had never before waited in line to take a taxi. In Vegas, I feel like Taki lines are a law in Las Vegas - right up there with Prostitution and legal drinking ANYWHERE.

3) Speaking of the law - I have never seen a police officer in Las Vegas. Although my buddy DooDoo Brown swears they exist (or was it really in Delray Beach, FL?), I am convinced that the real "law" in Vegas are in the form of Casino pit bosses. Think about it...They are the only bodies in the city that actually put fear in anyone, they are almost always obied, and they never smile...

4) I had a blackjack dealer complain to me that every guy thinks she's a "working girl" when she goes out. I told her not to take it personally... When you mix testosterone and Las Vegas air, some kind of chemical mirage occurs where ANY woman under 50 looks like a "working girl"... Perhaps it's just wishful thinking for fellas, but it happens. I have friends that NEVER approach women without a clear indication that she is interested...but when they come to vegas they somehow find the courage to approach random women. I firmly believe because they imagine this so-called "mirage."

Final thought on Vegas is that I think the city finally has some smart people in their marketing department around the "whatever happens in vegas stays in vegas" theme....but this is a new thing that they actually stole. When coming up with city nicknames, they were the perfect fit for "the city that never sleeps," but New York had already taken that name...I love New York, but I think Vegas really deserves this title... Whatever ... I'm still going back even though they got stock with "Sin City"


World Championship of Fantasy Football

I write this post from Las Vegas, Nevada. Although I am out here for a business conference this week, I also had another "conference" of sorts this past weekend...It was called The World Championship of Fantasy Football. In short, it is a high stakes Fantasy Football gathering, that has 60 leagues of 12 teams a piece, all vying for $200K and a trip to the Pro Bowl.... Each league has a champion which is dictated by a week 12 Super-Bowl. This team wins $5K. From there, all league winners (plus a handful of second-place teams) vie for the big prize in a 4 week aggregate, roto-style point format.

To say I had been excited about this would have been a drastic understatement. I went with my buddy Jared, who also was a WCOFF virgin. Although we both had friends who went last year, we really didn’t know what to expect. We were equally anxious and excited to get to the event, pretty much talking non-stop the night before about players, strategies, predictions, etc.

Considering the amount I drank on Friday night, one would think that sleeping wouldn’t be a problem ….. WRONG! I was so excited for the draft, that I didn’t sleep at all. Fast forward to what seemed to be an eternity, 9 AM …. I registered for the event – joining my fellow 1400 men and 50 woman participants. They gave us fancy leather folders, an orange “lance Armstrong-type” bracelet and told us “good luck.” 10:15 the doors to the draft open, and you walk into a massive room filled with 60 tables in a large “U shape.” 30 minutes later, the organizers say a few words and have a color guard march in for the star spangled banner. Nick Bakay also had the mic for about 10 minutes and did a very funny speech on the multitude of random team names (i.e. “Seeking Suzy Kolber” among others), as well as gave props to the entire league for putting their money where their fantasy trash talking mouths were. (He drafted in Jared’s league … I wasn’t very impressed).

Anyway – the draft finally starts, and my heart is pumping very fast …. My “worst-case” scenario happens with the 8 guys I want going right before me on the 9th pick. No big deal, I pick my 9th guy in the requested fashion: “Running Back, Tiki Barber, New York Giants.” (This format continued throughout the draft, although it was a little strange, it kinda made the picks a little more formal, which I thought was cool under the circumstances). As soon as I get my first 2 guys, I text message about 3 of my friends including Jared who got Tiki AND the guy I wanted at 9 (Westbrook, who went # 8 in my draft). Jared has the 12th pick, so he came over to my table a little more frequently than I went to his … After the 8th round, they give everyone a 45 minute break. I felt like it was halftime of a high school basketball game I was playing in – but it was missing those great orange slices someone’s mom would pack. I reflected a lot on what I did the 8 rounds prior and what I needed to do in the later rounds….. Jared and I actually had many of the same players, which I was psyched about. No doubt that all the talking we did the days before influenced us both, but I think that’s a good thing….

The next 12 rounds flew by …. All 12 teams in my league knew what they were doing, which meant that every team looked scary to play – INCLUDING mine…. Although I was really happy with my squad, I was so mentally drained from the intensity, that I couldn’t really show it after the draft was finally completed ….

Jared and I agreed that best thing to do next was: Bet on the Ohio State-Texas game, buy a lot of Jack Daniels, and order as much fried food as possible. It was PEFECT. Him and I analyzed each other’s league’s in and out …. Concluding that my league was certainly more competitive (which is good for Jared), but that we both wouldn’t do anything different in the draft after-the-fact. That is a good feeling to have….

On Sunday – Jared and I were in Heaven…. Watching every NFL games, drinking and eating like fat-asses….End result … Both him and I are 1-0 in WCOFF! I’ll try and keep the blog updated with this throughout the year….

On a final note, if you know me at all, you know that the original “BigTime Fantasy Football league” is one of my biggest sources of pride. This league is different than the WCOFF in that it is 14 team, very competitive league that I started and will always be commissioner of. I can honestly say that I would rather win “The BigTime” than win the $200K at WCOFF. (that is IF I had to chose one or the other).

This being said, I really enjoyed the WCOFF experience and hope to do it again for years to come…. I will be recruiting other friends to join me next year …. Hopefully returning as the reigning champion.


What was Kanye West thinking?

In case anyone didn't see Kanye West during a telecast to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, you can check out Kayne's selfish, bumbling rant here. During this chance to raise money for victims, West instead took the opportunity to attempt to boil the racial anxiety surrounding this tragedy. In his semi-in-comprehensible babbling, he said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" .... and that the media is saying that "black families are looting and white families are looking for food ... they're giving the (Army) permission to shoot us" ...

It is interesting to me that just last night a buddy about how we thought his recent album was on a level rarely seen in music today... Him and I both virtually proclaimed Kanye a "genius" in music production.... But just as he's a genius in music production, I guess it doesn't mean he's a smart man beyond that... And I'm not saying that he's not entitled to his opinion ... I'm saying he sure as hell didn't choice the right venue/time/place to voice this opinion....

In listening to his lyrics, I've always believed that he certainly was extremely "pro-black," but wasn't sure if he was a racist .... well I guess it's almost been confirmed. No man who is not a racist has the anger built up inside of him to turn a FUNDRAISER into a racial conflict.

I suppose this makes me happy that I didn't actually buy Kanye's album, but still have the joy of listening to it on my hard drive...(although I didn't steal it)...It is a very well put together album. Seems like it's too bad that the person who produced it isn't well put together himself.



Hey Folks ... sorry for the delay in posting ... been crazy-busy at work AND preparing for my 4 upcoming fantasy football draft ... more on that in future posts) ... ANYWAY...

This past weekend Amy and I went to Montauk. It was really nice! Perfect weather, we could throw a pebble into the Ocean from where we were staying, we ate great seafood...NO STRESS .... well, that's about 99.9% true. The weekend was perfect, but there was something I noted as a standard annoyance with resort-type hotels. This is the expectation of the staff of the hotel that you not only have the dough to fork down on a pricey room, but you've got plenty to pass their way as well. And I want to be clear - my issue isn't with being CHEAP or knowing WHEN to tip ... it's "how much"?

Working in the service industry during my teenage years, I certainly learned quickly that people who don't tip are almost better than those who tip way too little. It's almost like someone not leaving a tip genuinely forgot - and sometimes that just happens. Someone tipping too little was saying "I know I have to tip, so I will, but... F-U!"

Which brings me to my issue with resort-type tipping situations. What do you give someone who sets up your chairs on the beach? What about the guy who drives you during your "complementary transportation from the train?" $2? $5? $10?

Truthfully, I really wasn't stressing about this decision, but I can't help but almost physically feel these employees hands in my pockets when I approach them. I would rather pay one fee with ZERO expectation that I was to tip again while I was there, even if it ended up being more than I spent in aggregate with tipping. I guess I just believe that it would be the cherry on top of a truly "no stress" weekend. (Fresh Direct does this for grocery delivery. They charge you a $4.95 delivery charge with a strict no-tipping policy)

Finally, one last off-topic note on the weekend. Montauk is a 3 hour train ride each way. It's certainly not close, but Amy and I both agree that it really didn't seem long at all. Her and I watched a total of 5 West Wing episodes on DVD (there and back) and the time flew. I highly recommend the DVD while traveling...


An example of why blogs are great

This Sunday, I read a New York times article on how Register.com sold for a lot less than Mark Cuban thought it should go for. (Cuban owned 13% of the company, which was sold for $202 Million)

As you know from the link portion on my blog, I read Mark Cuban's blog regularly.
In a post today, Cuban posted the entire interaction between him and the NY Times columnist on his blog...

First of all, I love the fact that Cuban now has a platform to counter the old-school journalism of the likes of the New York times. Secondly, I find it beyond interesting that the NYtimes wrote an interview-type article based on 2 brief email exchanges...
Again, I think the fact that there is a platform to bring this to light is awesome.


Redefining "Bathroom reading"

Have you ever gotten a random text message at 10 AM on a Tuesday from a buddy who works in corporate America? Do you get emails from friends during the normal business hours that say "this email was sent from my blackberry"? If so, chances are, your friends are talking to you on the toilet.

Today's "young adults" (myself included) are all about efficiency through multi-tasking. It's everywhere, whether it's scrolling through a cell phonebook to see who to call on the way downtown in a cab or random women putting on their make-up on the subway to work...

I got a Blackberry 2 weeks ago for work. I think it's great, but not because I think I'm so important and hence needed to be connected to the job every minute. I think it's great because it makes my general lag times (commuting, waiting in Doctor's office, etc) so much more fulfilling and efficient. And it's not only from a work perspective. I'm hooked on this Texas Hold'em game that I downloaded. So now, yes, when I go to the stahls in the bathroom at work, I bring my Blackberry fully equipped with Texas Hold' em. And the sad part is that I hear the same clicking in the stahl next to mine...

What used to hold people back from talking on the phone while doing their business was the possible noises, sounds, grunts, or whatever that would make a phone call turn uncomfortable real quick... With email or instant messaging - that risk is gone. So keep your ears open in your work bathrooms... the clicking and communicating toilet-talk revolution is here (at a bathroom near you!).


Restaurant Review: Mainland

Quick neighborhood restaurant review... Last night, Amy and I went on a double date with friends in the neighborhood to a place with a location that seems to be a revolving door of failed. Mainland is located on 3rd Avenue and 64th Street. All in all, I am happy we went there... Highlights of the evening go as follows:
  • The reverend Al Sharpton was dining with his wife 2 tables away. He was unavailable for comment, although Amy did the inconspicuous walk-by 2 times...
  • The last page of the menu consisted of particular important employees, one in which included the "MIXOLOGIST". After a "smart-ass" inquiry of my own, our table learned that this was just a fancy way of saying a bartender. The waitress, or should I say the "Servoligist" wasn't sure if there was special training or schooling in order to gain that title
  • An old Chinese man who didn't speak English came over to cut our full duck in front of us. What's with that? I still don't understand why this happens, but whatever...
In terms of what the place needs to work on...It was certainly trying to play "Manhattan trendy" in an area with plenty of strollers and walkers (although is getting younger). Amy was quick to point out that we were some of the last to leave (at 10:45). Although we had a reservation, they still did the typical "it will be about 10 minutes" routine - just enough time for us to spend $40 at the bar...(I looked and did not see anyone leave the place before we were seated).

In a 5 star rating system, I'd give it a 3. A little on the pricey and it certainly didn't need to be. The food was good, although I have come to the conclusion that duck makes a much better appetizer than it does a main course. Wait staff was pretty on top of things, although they took a little bit to warm up.

That's a rap on my first restaurant review blog post. Let me know if you think I should do more of them. Peace.


Rockin my Rolley

...And I'm not talking about a Rolex.

I'm talking about my preferred form of luggage. When I first started working at Google, the leader of the National Sales meeting used to ask all the “Nooglers” one or 2 questions on the spot… It can range from “What was you’re your first concert or What is your hometown,” etc.: One of my questions was, “Shoulder bag or Roller bag?” and my answer was “Roller bag” – much to the dismay of most of the men in the room. Now – I am a fairly masculine dude, and as many of you know, I do a pretty decent amount of traveling….and I fully support male use of the rolling bag. Why? You don’t sweat half as much when you’re wheeling a bag around versus carrying it. You don’t have a huge wrinkle is your shirt or suit from the heavy, shoulder handle pressed accross your body. And most importantly, you don’t get a sore shoulder from wheeling a bag…

This all being said, there are some “no-no’s” to consider regarding wheel-bags.

  1. NO backpack-turned-wheeley-bags allowed! That’s just being lazy, plus you look like a big weenie.
  2. NO “wheeling your bag down the stairs so that everyone here’s the 20 thuds with every step” Pick it up if you’re walking down stairs – there is a handle for a reason.
  3. NO talking on the phone when wheeling a bag in New York City. When you’re wheeling a bag – it’s the equivalent of 4 people walking as a pack, and for some reason when people are on the phone, they forget this… Be respectful and concentrate on getting from point A to point B with your luggage.
Other than that, I think you should be fine. So, fella's, don't buy the hype around wheeled bags lessening your masculinity... Rock em without stress and watch the too-cool-for-school fellas sweat, wrinkle, and ache.


Cool Blog post

Anyone who likes both college football and hip-hop music will appreciate this blog post, which compares different college football programs with particular rappers and gives some rationale on why. It's pretty cool, and wanted to share.


New Marketing Vehicle

I am a big fan of inovative marketing tactics, but I am not quite sure how I feel about this one: Branding cows with URLs and painting them purple and pink.

The owner of the cattle sold the "real estate" of these animals to an online gaming site. Who said Sarasota, Florida wasn't a marketing hot-spot??

The part of love best about the story, is that the owner sold the bovine advertising space on eBay.
How awesome are internet marketplaces?!

It took a six-person team two days to color the cattle and paint the casino's Web address in six-inch letters on the bovines. With cow-safe paint, of course.


The HEAT is on!

It's August 3rd, which means I have 2 main sports interests (in order):
1) Fantasy Football preperation
2) Fantay Baseball final run

This being said, I'm taking my attention today briefly to my favorite sports team of all time, The Miami Heat. Over the last 2 days, GM Pat Riley has been quite active. He resigned Shaquille O'Neal for 5 years, $100MM (worth every penny) and he completed the largest NBA trade of all-time.

Of course no one knows how it is going to turn-out, but I must say - I like it! Putting all the financial variables on the side, the Heat get 3 quality ball players, and give up 1 fading player in Eddie Jones and a couple of "possible talents". Don't get me wrong, I totally appreciate Eddie Jones as a quiet leader, as the guy who plays great defensive and knows the system.....but I can't say the tears are about to flow...

Of the 3 players the Heat get... The "Haters" (you know who you are) will be quick to sprinkle the bitterness on Antoine Walker and Jason Williams. Both of these guys have had somewhat troubling pasts, but I'm honestly not worried that this will be an issue. With Shaq as the regulator and D. Wade being the clear "go-to-guy" - I think it can really work.
I certainly have never liked the way Antoine Walker plays defense (if you can call it that) or how he goes into convulsions if he doesn't shoot the ball every 24 seconds .... but again ... I honestly believe it can work. Shaq may need to lay the law down once or twice -- but if there is ANYONE who can check these guys egos .... it's the Diesel.

James Posey has tons of upside.... A little banged up the last 2 years, but the talent is certainly there. A new scenery should do him nicely...

With regards to who the Heat gave up .... Eddie, Rasual Butler, Quintel Woods, a Spanish rookie I never heard of and 2 second round picks......... Enough said. Great move Pat!

OK - that was enough of that .... Now back to Fantasy Football research.


Tonight's Specials are...

Is it me or is this what you hear when the waiter comes over for the first time at a restaurant these days:
Waiter: Good evening, can I get you some sparkling or flat water this evening?
BG: No thanks, tap water is ok.
Waiter: Can I tell you my specials tonight
BG: Sure
Waiter: OK, tonight for an appetizer we have a "skamsdkly with tomato and a sheshmatrodkdsoai with a side of hurmskufrums". For our main course we have chicken with krulitsdlskj einejkhsnki as well as yusduhsdkjkash."
Bottom-line - I NEVER can de-code what the guy is saying,. I usually pick up words here or there, but it's never fully clear. And after once or twice asking "I'm sorry - what was that?" I feel bad, because they obviously memorize it and I am clearly messing up their "flow." And it's not like this only happens at authentic Italian restaurants or other ethnicities - I feel like lately it happens everywhere!

I suggest that specials are printed out and given with the menus. If the server wants to recommend the specials - that's fine - but before I even consider it, I want to actually understand what it is. Another benefit of it being printed out is seeing the price. I'm certainly not cheap when it comes to food, but I once made the mistake of ordering directly after the waiter explained the specials (not looking at the menu at all) when I was out with Amy one night. The meal was great, but the bill was over $300! Lesson learned I suppose.

I'm a big fan of "specials" especially at authentic restaurants in New York City. Apparently, restaurant owners like them too... So what I suggest if every owner is only going to hire employees who speak as little English as possible - is to print the specials out every night. It's really not that hard.


The NHL finally did something I agree with

For those that do not know, I have never been a major hockey fan.... (besides brief stints in 1995 and 1997, when the Florida Panthers went to the NHL finals and Michigan won the Frozen Four) This is mostly because I didn't grow up with the sport, but also because I thought it was run by a bunch of idiots. During the 1998-99 NBA season, there was a strike...and I am a huge sports fan, which means that I was virtually begging the NHL to market to me and get me to watch it's sport.... Did they? No! They stuck by their laurels and didn't do anything to attract the sports-thirsty NBA fans (the blue-light puck on Fox does not count)...They literally claimed that they were happy with their established fan-base...

Anyway - for the first time ever - I think the NHL did something good recently. Upon agreeing to a new deal, the league announced a slew of rule changes. I like them all, especially the "no tie" rule. Next season, there will be no ties! If a game is tied after overtime, the game will go into a shoot-out. Finally!

What was most interesting to me is that a few of my hockey "purist" friends seem to embrace the new rules as well... Perhaps they are just happy that the NHL didn't announce that it was going out of business, but regardless, I have to take my hat off to the league for finally doing something right. I'm not saying that I'm joining a NHL fantasy league just yet - but - perhaps this upcoming season I will not fast-forward through all the NHL PTI segments...


Sean "P, Puff Diddy Daddy" Combs

Amy IM'd me today the following "news" brief:
Diddy, formerly known as P. Diddy and Puff Daddy, has agreed to host MTV Networks' MTV 22nd annual VMAs, scheduled to be held in Miami on August 28.
My first reaction was one of annoyance. After thinking about it for about a minute, I came to the conclusion that I really don't think I like this guy as a "celebrity"...however ... I definitely respect him and root for his success as a businessman. In his world, I suppose the two one in the same...but...is this a good thing? I am not sure...

I think there are good and bad examples of both scenarios. Those who rise in the business world and then become a celebrity and those who are celebrities that rise in the business world afterwards.

What annoys me about the P. Diddy instance is that he is perceived as an "expert" in so many fields (Music, Fashion, Politics, Marathon training, you name it...) but I question if he really is an expert. I doubt it ... But I don't doubt that he surrounds himself with experts and then uses his "brand name" to sell whatever the product is.

Regardless, I definitely will not be watching the VMA's because he is hosting (or for any reason at all). I hope he finally decides on one name AND one (or 2) business focus(es) - but I don't see that happening anytime soon.


Another Google Service Announcement

Well - I can't help it. Periodically I will write a quick post about some cool Google technology. I have told many of my friends about it, but Google SMS is really an awesome, helpful tool.

Bottom-line, for all of you text messagers, say good-bye to 411. Text message the number "GOOGL" (46653) your message text should be f
Well - I can't help it. Periodically I guess I'm going to write a quick post about some cool Google technology. I have told many of my friends about it, but for those that haven't gotten the memo yet -- LEARN ABOUT GOOGLE SMS! It's really an awesome, helpful tool.

Bottom-line, for all of you text messengers out there, say good-bye to "411." Here's how it works:
If you text message the number "GOOGL" (46653) with your message text being a local business (restaurant, store, etc.) along with the city name (New York, NY) or close zip code (10021), Google will promptly (10 seconds) send you back a text message with the appropriate address and phone number of your query. Sometimes, it will send you a few results if it's not 100% sure it has the right one - but, to date I have been satisfied almost every time.
Try it - you'll thank me later.
Click here for an online demo if you are still confused.


Family Announcement

My blog posts are typically "here's what I'm thinking" oriented, however, this post is merely to announce that I'm scheduled to be an Uncle in late January of 2006!

Jill, Fred, and the entire Goffin and Stern families are very excited!

Regardless of gender - I'm already preparing my "Fantasy Football guide for 2010 " (I think 4 years old will be a good age to start). Congrats Jill and Fred! I can't wait to get my "Best Uncle" award in the form of a mug or t-shirt...


My Solution to Summer Subway Misery

In the middle of summer, one could confuse walking down the stairs of any New York City subway station with entering the depths of Hell. Well, maybe it'’s not that hot, but it easily could be compared to a your standard sauna. Anyway, the other day, I was standing on the platform when a train going in the opposite direction darted by. Usually, I would have a sense of disappointment because I was tricked that the train going in my direction was coming, but in this case, I didn't care. The trains entrance into the station supplied me with a very nice breeze… Yes, there was still sweat dripping down my face, but it was a such a good feeling… This got me thinking…

Why don'’t NYC Subways have air-conditioners? Well, as we learned a few months ago with the fare increase, the MTA claims that they are broke. With this being the case, I cannot imagine that installing air conditioning is on the top of the budget priority list…

This brings me to my idea. My first thought was to have air conditioning companies supply their products to particular stations and in return they would receive sponsorship or naming rights of the station. But when I thought about it some more, truth be told, the air conditioning industry isn'’t necessarily the most aggressive when it comes to ad spending - so this wouldn'’t necessarily work. This being said, there are several other industries that DO. For example, the beer industry which in many cases promotes "“cold"” as a key marketing message. I believe there is even a current Coors light commercial that has images of a frozen subway car… I would have no problem with taking the F from Coors Light station on 63rd to the Miller Genuine Draft station on Houston. Would you if it meant air conditioned platforms?

I suppose realistically, the Beer industry cannot single-handedly subsidize the air-conditioned platform project… What about supplying portions of select, high-trafficked stations with a "“(Submit advertiser here) Cool Zone”," similar to the airline lounges at airports. Customers willing to pay more would get access to "“the cool zone."” Between the advertising dollars and the additional passenger payments, I think this could definitely happen. It won'’t -– but I need something to think about while I'’m sweating my ass off on the platform...


No Sports Day

I believe that July 11th and yesterday, July 13th, were supposed to be the two days of the year, where there is no activity within the 4 major sports* (and sorry Bryan Spellberg - the Tour de France does not count as a major sport). This year, obviously, is a bit different as the NHL is non-existant. Ironically, on this day of no sports, Hockey has finally agreed to come to terms and agree to have a season in the fall. (Foreshadow to a future post: Why the NHL is stupid).

Anyway, I seemed to have survived the 2 days without sports just fine, but did find myself watching 3 hours of batting practice and the same commercials over and over again on Monday. The Home Run Derby is smart in practice, but I'm over it. The funny thing is that to fill the sports void the past 3 days, I have found myself talking more fantasy football with my friends ... I have to slow down and not get too excited, though. There still is 54 days until the BigTime Fantasy League draft...



In my opinion, there are only 3 legitimate reasons to utilize the speaker-phone function of a phone:

  1. If you are truly doing something else important with your hands (i.e. Driving)
  2. If there are multiple people you want to include in one room
  3. You have no arms

…And that’s it!

My office is an open environment, with no employees having offices. (It’s seen as “Googley” for no one to be more important than others…Larry and Sergey have their own offices, but they share it with random engineers….) Anyway…For some reason, all of the people who THINK they should have their own office are lashing out to the rest of us by making us sit through their voicemails and other annoying crap. It’s like their way of trying to say, “I’m important” is by using speaker-phone. To me, it’s their way of saying “I’m a loser.”

Although the concept around the speaker-phone is to make people more efficient, I am not convinced it actually does this. How many times on a call with speakerphone is the question “What?” spoken?? Between the volume quality and the fact that people are multi-tasking and not focusing – I would argue that speakerphone actually makes calls much less efficient!

So, in the future, I’m giving everyone 10 seconds on speakerphone – either to explain why it’s on speakerphone – or for them to finish up whatever they are doing with their hands. After that, I’m hanging up. Don’t waste my time. Don’t disrespect me. And don’t make other people around you miserable. Bottom-line: Say NO to Speakerphone!!


7-Eleven Coming to Town

Just a short post to my NYC'ers to drop knowledge that 7-Eleven has landed. Fitting - considering that today, July 11th, is the 78th birthday of the convenience store (It is also my mother's birthday - but she is much younger than 7-Eleven).
Here is a NY Times article discussing 7-Eleven's expansion plans. Click here to see is the first location.

I don't know if any of you are excited about this, but I think it's certainly a value-add to the city. If for nothing else, the chain is well known for their Slurpee and I think their coffee is under-rated.
If you want to read about random facts about the company, such as how many millions of gallons of soda they sell, click here.


F-Duane Reade

If you live in New York City and you don't hate Duane Reade then you will need to explain yourself. There is no doubt that the customer service industry in general is at an all-time low, but this company takes the cake for THE WORST. New York Magazine did a great piece on how the stores are messy, the prices are far from discount, the employees are bitter individuals - yet somehow it still is in business. The article points out that there is a group of ex-employees who have started a site: www.duanegreed.com. That's interesting, because I'm thinking of starting the site: www.duaneNEED-to-get-new-employees
For those that haven't had the pleasure of witnessing the horror known as the Duane Reade check-out line, don't feel bad. Here is a synopsis:
  • It's like YOU are burdening them by actually wanting to buy something.
  • They are offended when you ask them a question (kind of like when someone gives Colediggy their finished drink at a club, thinking he's the bar-back)
  • It's like they play a game: how big can we make the check-out line before someone gets too frustrated and leaves. To them, this is better, because that's one less person they have to ring up.
  • The Pharmacy is "that place" that will tell someone their prescription will be ready in an hour, then claim some mix-up, and tell you, "it's ok - the bottle said to take 2 per day, but you can just take 4 tomorrow..." (TRUE STORY)
The ONE redeeming quality about the store is that they are open 24 hours, but without fail, there seems to be only one employee working late night, and that is usually the security guard who doesn't speak English.

In closing, I would estimate that over 75% of blog entries are complaints, rants, etc. And my blog posts aren't any different. TO justify this, though, when companies like Duane Reade are actually in business and making money - I think it's up to consumers to do something about it and this is what I'm doing. (I mean - it's not like I'm going to stop going there, it's ON my corner...I do find myself, however, ordering more items from Fresh Direct that I would be buying at DR).


One of those days...

June 29th, 2005 was certainly not a fun day for me. I thought about describing in chronological detail each thing that went wrong - but instead got tired just thinking about it. Here's the summary: 14 hours - All but 3 hours spent in ALL THREE New York city area airports, 4 car service rides in traffic, 3 cancelled flights and a 3:30 AM wake-up to be in Minneapolis for a 10:00 meeting in front of 40 marketing executives at a Fortune 100 company.

So - let's just chalk it up as "one of those days..." What I'd like to focus this post on, however, are 2 positive things I took away from the experience.

First Lesson: Everyone needs a little sympathy sometimes...
- I probably called Amy 16 times throughout the day, in hind-site for no other reason just to vent about what hell I was going through. Although I don't like to think of myself as a complainer (or a "hater" like my boy, Felch), I just needed a sanity check. Luckily, I have a great girlfriend who not only was mad supportive all day, but came to be with me for the 4 hours I was home.
(Side note: for all you peeps keeping track, today is the 2 year anniversary of Amy and I being together)

Second Lesson
: 90% of customer service people are miserable people...but... the other/best 10% tell it straight, offer all possible solutions, and do it with empathy and sincerity.
- I must have interacted with 20 customer service employees throughout my experience and 18 of them were rude, non-solutions oriented, and flat-out bad at their jobs. There were 2 people, however, who weren't - and I can't tell you how nice it felt to deal with them at the time... And it's not like these 2 people necessarily just gave me what I wanted (cuz a direct flight to Minneapolis, regardless of price was apparently not possible). It was the fact that they were empathetic and actually helpful. They outlined the 3 or 4 options I had and let me decide. No "company lines" like, "I'm sorry sir we can ONLY..." (fill in the blank). This bodes the question ... Who am I more frustrated with for the other 18 dip-shits... The actual people or the companies that employ them? Well - as much as I want to say both, it's the companies. If you are in the service business, then you have the responsibility to actually SERVICE your customers. If you fail to do this, you should - over time - fail as an organization.... But it's like all the airlines and hotel companies got together and said "let's just lower the bar as much as possible, and sooner or later customers will just get used to it .... AND WE HAVE!
It's for reasons like this that I try and fly JetBlue as much as possible. It's for reasons like this I try and get status at hotels so employees are mandated to kiss my ass... (well - maybe not).

Anyway - quick shot out to Amy and the 2 cool customer service peeps who helped me during "one of those days..."


Anyone in Philly on Tuesday?

In case anyone is in Philly on Tuesday (6/28), come to the DoubleTree hotel to hear me speak to the Philadelphia American Marketing Association (AMA) about Search Marketing. Click here for the event agenda and details.
Also, if anyone knows of a good spot to get CheeseSteaks while I'm there, please let me know.


My Bitterness with the NBA

Last night, the 2005 NBA season came to a close with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs claiming the NBA title. I was actually very interested in the 2005 NBA season, until the play-offs really annoyed me.

Yes,– I am quite bitter because my beloved Miami Heat were ousted by the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, but there were things throughout the whole play-offs that rubbed me the wrong way (and yes, there is a right way to rub me). Anyway...I propose that next year 2 new rules are put in place for the NBA:

  1. No players other than the captain is allowed to speak to the refs. If a player speaks to a ref, regardless of what is said, it should be a technical foul. It seems nowadays ANY player (other than Shaq) has something to say to the ref on every call. Not every player does it every time (i.e. Kurt Thomas who has never committed a single foul according to him), but at some point I have seen the majority of players turn into cry-babies. Now clearly these players don'’t believe that by them arguing, the ref is going to reverse the call... BUT... What they do hope is that they guilt the ref into the next call or the one after that. So not only is it painful to watch, but I think it has some un-natural effects of the flow of the officiating.
  2. Technical Fouls for all flops. For those that don'’t know what I'’m talking about, anytime a player over-exaggerates the impact of contact, it i’s called a "flop"”Players flopping is beginning to become a worse and worse part of the game and there needs to be a penalty for it. Players cannot believe that there is no harm in doing it and the only thing I can thing of to get this point across is an immediate technical foul. I'’d even go as far as having a committee reviewing game tapes and fining players after the fact, even if the refs miss the call during the live game.

I have often believed NBA games were way to controlled by referee’s. It is for this reason, there is always up and down flows in most games…It is also the reason why David Stern is consistently being accused of having control of the outcome of games. Although this conspiracy theory is quite interesting, I don't buy it. If this was the case, the boring San Antonio Spurs would not have been playing the boring Detroit Pistons in the Finals… However, David does have a lot of power and control. I like to consider him a smarter, more successful version of Vince McMahon. Just as much a bully, but with his brain rather than brute force. And he, too, prefers his organizations'’ single personalities to be the face of the entire league. Will he face the same fate as Vince and his Organization? No, I don'’t think so, but he is endanger of his league becoming more of a soap opera than a competition, and that is just not cool with me.


The "Create-your-own" concept

Growing up, I was taught that if I wanted something at a restaurant a certain way - that I should ask for it. If I wanted chicken instead of turkey, my fries well-done, or a lime with my iced tea instead of lemon (and in my dads case - "LIMZE-AH" - to emphasis the desire for multiple pieces of lime) that it was my right as a consumer to ask and receive that.
In some parts of the world, this is seen as a rude or pushy thing. Now, I agree it is all in HOW you ask, however, I firmly believe that a paying costumer should get what he/she wants, as long as it is in reason AND asked politely. Furthermore, if the requested change goes beyond what the menu offers, we should be willing to pay for it.
In New York and LA, I feel like most waiters expect to write a paragraph per customer on their pads rather than 3 words - but outside of these 2 cities, I feel like you are viewed as "that guy.
It is this belief that I propose to ALL every-day restaurants nation-wide (sans fancy places) to begin adopting the "create-your-own" concept. In New York, I have become hooked on the make-your-own salad. I give the servers a bowl of lettuce and pick-and-choose what vegetables, proteins, cheeses, dressings or whatever I want. The server then mixes it all up, puts it back in the bowl and charges me $8.00 MINIMALLY. But, this is fine with me - I'd much rather pay $9.00 for something customized exactly what I want, than $6.50 for the standard.
So, my question is why can't every place do this? Charge a base amount for the main ingredient (chicken, pasta, sandwich, omelet, sushi, whatever) and corresponding variable costs for all of the possible toppings or ingredients. If you wanted tomato, but not lettuce, you wouldn't have to pay $0.50 for "lettuce and tomato" you would just pay $0.25. It's truly a simple concept. I can't seem to think of financial reasons, inventory drawbacks, or anything else...so why don't places do this now? I have no clue. If someone knows why, please leave a comment. If you agree - then continue to ask your favorite restaurants for this. We are consumers and we are who decides which businesses succeed. If we want it - they will offer it!


Iced Coffee Mark-up

In case anyone living in New York didn’t notice … Summer is here! The clear signs of this are: City being empty on the weekends, the feeling of needing another shower within 2 minutes of leaving your home, and the prevalence of Iced Coffee.

The burning question in my mind, though, is what makes the price of regular hot coffee at $1.00 versus the price of iced coffee at $1.75? Is it the cost of ice? Do these places use freakin bottled water to make their ice? Is it the fancy clear plastic cups? Is it the shelf-space within the refrigerator? Although it certainly doesn’t make sense to me, the most logical explanation I can think of is that due to the ice, in order to fill up a 12 Oz. cup – 75% more coffee is needed. (I’m sure the local corner coffee stand guys have done thorough scientific measurements on this in case you doubt the system)

Just as we have decided that good ol’ H20 packaged in a fancy bottle is worth $1.50 (Rant for another post), it seems as consumers, we have also decided that the mark-up from hot coffee to iced coffee is worth $0.75. And the truth is that if you tried to “beat the system” by buying hot coffee and pouring it over ice – it just doesn’t seem to do the trick.

Speaking of not doing the trick – I firmly believe that 75% of Iced coffee drinkers use artificial sweetener rather than sugar. Although using sugar makes the last few sips of that iced coffee damn good – the fact that sugar just doesn’t seem to dissolve equally throughout the cold liquid versus the hot liquid has made me go back to using sweetener after a 3 year absence. (I’m on a Splenda-yellow kick right now…)

So anyway - Enjoy the empty city on the weekends, make sure you wear an undershirt, and bring some extra quarters for your coffee (with sweetener) this summer!


Google now most valuable media company

I definitely love the company I work for, but, by no means want to consistently write blog entries about it. That being said, I was reading this article, and the first paragraph just made me say "wow" outloud, while I am unfortunately alone in a hotel room. (Thus ... I thought I would share):
(Reuters) - Google Inc. took over the top spot as the most highly valued media company this week, surpassing Time Warner Inc. in just 10 months of trading as a public company. Google's share price on the Nasdaq rose another $2.18, or 0.75 percent, to close at $293.12 on Tuesday, an all-time high.


Sportscenter-aholics Anonymous - Not anymore...

It is safe to say that 4 years ago, I watched at least 1 full hour of Sportscenter a day. It has taken quite some time to pull away from my addiction, but thanks to 2 things in particular, I have been able to successfully halt most of my Sportscenter watching :

  1. The invention of Digital Video Recorder (I’m a Tivo loyalist)
  2. Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser from PTI
First, the DVR...This is definitely not the last time I will include my love for the invention in a post, but I believe it is the first. For those of you who don’t have it, GET ON IT! Beyond the reasonable price and ease of use (even my consumer-electronics-challenged father knows how to operate it – sorry PG), my TIVO has truly made my day more complete. It allows for more efficient television watching, which means no “filler”. I’ve learned over the past few years that Sportscenter was just that for me … A time-passer in between TV programs. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy watching the program, as I certainly would rather watch sports than the Lifetime movie of the week – but now I have a multitude of saved programs to chose from. One of these programs is PTI, which gives me the Sports fix I need in about 22 minutes (thanks again Mr. Tivo).

For those that do not watch the show, PTI is a sports opinion show of 2 Washington Post writers, Mike Milbon and Tony Korheiser. These two guys are old friends and have been compared to an old married couple who bicker about everything. The format is clear and concise with the topics of discussion displayed on the right hand side of the screen - each given a strict time limit. Once that limit is hit, they move on to the next topic, as not to spend too much time on one topic throughout the show. This enables a complete wrap-up of the major sports stories, along with the entertainment value of Sportscenter. Although the show cannot cover everything, I find that the internet can certainly provide the box scores, etc that are missing from PTI.

So that's it. I still appreciate Sportcenter, but I'm no longer an addict. Thank you PTI. Thank you TIVO.


Google Homepage

For those of you who don't follow internet news, you can now customize your Google homepage if you so desire. You can now have the Google search bar, as well as your Gmail account, weather, stocks, and other customized material. Click here and click on "Personalize your homepage" to sign up.

If you need a Gmail address -- email me.


Taxi cab dilemma

I was on a business trip this week in Minneapolis. The last time I was there, the cab that took me to the hotel asked me where his "big tip" was after I paid him-- and he was serious... (think I tipped him $5 on a $25 fare). This time - the cab driver exited the airport without turning on the meter. Which begs the question -- what do you do? Do you strategically wait as long as you can, thus in theory, making your ride less inexpensive? Or do you fess up and tell the guy right away avoiding the conflict that is sure to erupt past the point of no return?

I opted for telling the guy - but only because I believe that cab drivers have a distinct stereo-types - similar to the profession of the "used car salesman," but not exactly... When talking about "fares" they almost always raise their voice and instantly become confrontational...I mean why shouldn't they? The chances of them ever seeing you again (on top of either of you remembering each other) is like 1 in a billion...
So, yes, instead of negotiating the difference or to have the second cab driver in Minneapolis think I was a cheap tipper...I made the comment "is the ride a fixed fare or meter"? Turns out that after I told him he ended up apologizing for 5 minutes, which obviously got annoying - so - I did what anyone would do and put on my headphones of my new XM Satellite Radio...


The Bathroom Attendant

Here in New York City, many bars and restaurants are trying their best to help the economy by employing people to watch you use the facilities and "help you wash your hands." I have never met one person that actually thinks this is a good idea...

First, let's look at it from the consumer's point of view: Sure, people may love the convenience of having a pseudo candy shop waiting for you in the same room you relieved yourself, but other than that - I cannot think of any positive attribute of this so-called job. The incredible pressure to tip the "attendant" merely for supplying you with a hand towel makes it so uncomfortable that sometimes one may just avoid washing his/her hands altogether - which - in it's own right makes the world a much worse place.

Now, from the actual employee's standpoint: I mean, is there really a job that is lower on the totem pole? Confined to a room in which the entire purpose is to host and then dispose of human extrament seems more like a method of torture rather than a way to earn money. Furthermore, the only interaction you have while in that hell hole is either with slurring, drunkin fools or people who are trying to avoid you. If you can seriously think of a less desirable job - please elaborate in the comments below.

And finally, from the employer's point of view: Do these people actually believe that costumers value these services? Can they seriously not think of a more valuable way to dedicate resources towards? And what is the job description and interview process like? "Um...stand there for a few minutes, I'm gonna fart constantly, and I'd like to see how you react..." In all seriousness, a few months back there was some "industry controversy" over the way employers compensated these folks. This article explains that some owners were literally pimping out their restrooms to bathroom attendants...I mean - is the market in that much demand?

I don't get it - and I don't think I ever will. There are certain services out there, which may or may not seem like such an extreme inconvenience - such as valeting your car, serving your meal, or setting up chairs on the beach at a resort - but, I truly don't mind someone making a living that way (I've actually worked as all of those, personally). When it comes to washing my hands after using the restroom, however, please just leave me alone.


Congrats DooDoo and Jamie

Quick shot out to Doo Doo Brown and his new wife Jamie! They got married this past weekend in New Jersey. The wedding was a blast with a great mix of cool peeps and the "happy-family" vibe. (both have large family's and Jamie's family is known to be rival's with Swiss Family Robinson). Much love among everyone, except for maybe the guy who completely thought he was Bruce Springstein/Mic Jagger combo while on 4 hits of speed...

Highlights of the night were:
a) Great band - which played several crowd pleasers. Even I was dancing to the non-hip-hop...The one tease of the band was that the guy singer (big black guy) kept saying "Remix, Remix, Remix" after every song - which got me thinking there was gonna be a hip-hop jam coming up next... but it didn't happen.
b) Great peeps - Between Scotty Marks, Andrew Fried, and Greg March - I had my fill of drunken entertainment and laughs.
c) Not having to baby-sit Colediggy. Colediggy likes to think he could be a professional wedding dancer ... And all this leads to is him getting quite intoxicated, while scaring 16 year old girls like the first time watching Michael Jackson's Thriller video...It was good to not have to see the pathetic display for once.

All in all - Amy and I both had a great time.
Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Doo Doo Brown.


The Fattening Salad

Living in New York City, I've often got a front-row seat to many hot new trends. Obviously not all trends start here - for example - current trend of "Poker" or the beyond annoying previous trend of trucker-hats were both started somewhere else. However, one trend I have witnessed come of age recently was the "Fattening Salad." Eating healthy isn't anything drastically new, however, the PERCEPTION of eating healthy is...

And...I am certainly a culprit. Whether it's the "fixins" such as cheese, bacon, or avocado or the dressing alone - plenty of salads are NOT ideal in almost all diet scenarios. Yet, when your friend/significant other asks you "what did you have for lunch today?," there is something satisfying about saying "a salad." No questions asked - the belief is that you ate healthy that day, yet in reality, you probably had more calories and fat than if you would have had if you ate a burger... (I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds good).

So, check out the menu's of many of your favorite restaurants and you will find plenty fattening salad options. Especially with summer approaching this trend is clearly in full swing. Keep you eyes out for it - and beware of the mirage...

Side note and start to a future post: I firmly believe that a salad is always better when it's "chopped." I don't know why ... it just is.