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).