How I saved $5000

The headline sounds pretty interesting - right? Well, in reality, I just wanted to share the fact that I figured out how much money I've saved from cutting my own hair.

With the upcoming wedding, Amy and I agreed that it probably makes sense to have someone other than her or myself cut my hair for the special event. On referral from JP (who shares my stylish hairstyle), I went to a barber yesterday for the first time in 11 years for a wedding "trial run."

The cost:
$10 for the haircut
$5 for the Goatee trim
$3 tip

I figured out - that I roughly have either had friends of mine shave my head or have shaved it myself for the past 11 years. I need to cut the nappiness about once every other week (26 times a year). So, $18 every other week is $468 per year. For 11 years - that's amassed to $5,148.

Over the 11 years, I've probably invested about $30 in maybe 5 sets of clippers...which nets my gross savings at $5,000.

If you know me - than you know I'm the type of person who is pretty proud of this fact. It's not about the $5,000. It's about "beating the system." If I truly felt that the value I recieved from the $18 a week was worth it -- I'd have no problem spending it. I can afford teh $36 per month. This being said, to date, I've been very content with the outcome of cutting my own hair - plus have the luxury of doing this without leaving my home!

I'll have to see how I feel in a few weeks. Perhaps I'll go to the barber more often in the future.


Blog Tag

Ever hear of a "Dog living in a doggy-dog world? Well I happen to be a "Nerd working in a nerdy-nerd industry." (and proud of it!)

Earlier this week - I got "blog tagged" by an industry collegue, Alan Rimm-Kaufman. Before getting "tagged" I had no idea this nerdy game ever existed. I'm 100% confident than no readers of mine no what it is either - so here's a quick run-down:

A blogger from the UK some months ago wanted to take advantage of the power of blog communities to try and help promote and increase exposure of such communities. You see - the more people who link to a website, the more popular the blog is assumed, and hence, the better the search engine listing. Various search engines - including my employer - have strict rules against "link farms" (sites that offer no value other than link exchanges - "I'll link to you if you link to me") to try and guard against manipulators of the system.

With this in mind, the UK blogger began the game of blog tag. In theory, this is a way to promote blogging (and bloggers) with staying "search engine legal."

How does blog tag work? Well - from my understanding - since I've been tagged, I've got to blog about "5 little known facts about myself" in addition to "tagging" 5 other bloggers. So .. here's my best shot.

5 little known facts about Brett:
  • I've cut my own hair for the past 11 years (more on this in my next post...stay tuned)
  • I've had contact lenses since I was 5 years old. I was told back then that it was an "experiment" (additional related fact is that my vision isn't laser-correctable)
  • I'm a 4th Generation American and currently the last remaining "Goffin" male
  • My childhood favorite hobby was jigsaw puzzles. (Yes - I'm a little annoyed that I didn't get into computer programming - apparently those 2 are connected)
  • I pride myself as the best Fantasy Football commissioner on the planet.

Now on to who I "tag." Let's just say that I don't have much hope that my "tagg-ees" will participate in the exercise (in no particular order):

  • Adam Brown - college buddy and mortgage banking guru. Recently began blogging.
  • Adam Glantz - Written articles and have always tried to help motivate to become a consistant blogger... Oh - what "Thursday Thoughts" could have been....
  • Colediggys Corner - Hard to believe that just a few years ago - his blog was being sent around like wildfire among many 20- and 30- something males. Sad to say that he truly hasn't kept up with his craft
  • Guy Hollerin - An overly sarcastic, fairly unstable blog that I find entertaining if I'm in the giddy mood


Straightening up.... For the Cleaning lady

For as long as I can remember, I've almost always been fortunate enough to have someone come on a regular basis to clean my house. This person has always been a woman - and was commonly known as "the cleaning lady." More recently, I suppose in our more "polically correct" society, these people are known by their first names like my last one "Patsy" or our current one "Pamela."

Anyhow, growing up, the following statement would drive me INSANE: "Brett, straighten up your room...the cleaning lady is coming today." WHAT!? That's like saying, "Brett - make sure you take a nap before you get ready for bed" Isn't the whole point of hiring someone to clean so that I wouldn't be burdoned with the task? Should you clean before they get there - wouln't you be doing their job for them?

Now, I'm not saying I should go out of my way to make my apartment unbearably messy. This would clearly cause one of the following:

  1. A "high-turn-over rate" of employees
  2. Someone who will feel underpaid, be resentfull and thus figure out where I hide my "emergency cash" and take consistant withdrawals.

This being said - I geniunely believe there is nothing wrong with not taking the garbage out, not emptying the dishwasher (Amy's favorite), or not puting the towels and sheets in the hamper. Employment is called a "job" for a reason. If you tell a bellman at a hotel that you would like to carry your own bags - do you tip them anyway? No! (and if you do - you clearly need some lessons on how to spend money).

I wouldn't call myself a slob or a neat-freak....I'm somewhere in between. Although I was much worse as a child, I've learned how to generally pick-up after myself and can appreciate the satisfaction of a clean apartment (especially in the ridiculously small apartment spaces of Manhattan). I believe that as long as I don't go out of my way to make my apartment the toughest job they have -- that it's ok to not "clean up for the cleaning lady."

Am I alone here?


Best SNL skit in years

Amy and I have often discussed how disappointed we are with the writing of Saturday Night Live. As she has been watching the show since she was a little girl, Amy has always DVR'd the show - primarily as an old habbit. This sesason, I think it's fair to say that we fast-forwarded through 90% of the skits, enjoying maybe 1 or 2.

This past weekend, though, a true gem was discovered. Much respect to Justin Timberlake who brought a much needed quality performance to a struggling SNL season. He was in 90% of the skits - most of them were funny - and this one below is absolutely PHENOMONAL.

Ladies and Gentlemen...thanks to the power of YouTube... I bring you the world-wide Holiday Season Instant-Classic soundtrack: Dick in a Box


Who's hot right now?

For Amy's shower, I was asked to answer a handful of questions on a video that Amy would try and guess my response. One of the questions was what celebrities would I have on a "kiss list" (not my terminology). Well, when it was time for me to answer, I was a bit tongue-tied. Not because I don't think any celebrities are hot -- but moreso because I didn't know the actresses real names. Given the fact that I'm not 15, and shouldn't be obsessed with things like this -- I got over it pretty quickly, but I was intrigued to find out the real names of 2 ladies in particular.

The first is "Lyla Garrity" or in real life (um, according to Hollywood): Minka Kelly. Minka plays Lyla Garrity on NBC's Show Friday night lights. When I used IMDb to find her real name, I was happy to learn that she's 26 years old in real life and not 16 like she plays on the show. (I'd be a little woried if I thought a real-life 17 year-old was hot)

Anyway, I truly believe that Lyla, I mean Minka, is the next "Buffy" or "Felicity" type character who's cute enough to get her own show in a teen-oriented environment. To date, Friday Night Lights is her biggest success, having minor roles in a handful of shows beforehand.

The second "no-real-name" hottie is Emmanuelle Chriqui, or as I knew her "Sloan from Entourage." I actually thought she was a little too hot to be casted as "E's" girlfriend. I love "E's" character on the show - and I'm glad he gets the hot girl - but I think she is hotter than any of the girls that "Vince" (the mega movie star) has gotten on the show. Maybe that's how Hollywood really is -- who knows. Anyway, Emmanuelle is from Canada and is 29 years old. She's been in a bunch of minor roles (including a few episodes of the O.C.) and according to IMBd has 3 or 4 projects coming out next year.

(In addition to these 2 ladies --- Jessica Alba was also in the Top 3... but given that everyone knows who Jessica Alba is - I decided to focus the other 2)

So - that's it. This blog post represents who I thought was hot in 2006. The fact that this blog documents a point of time is both scary and cool. I wonder if I'll still think they're hot in 10 years...


NYC - Open 24 Hours

When I lived in my last apartment, I loved to tell people that on the three corners other than the one my apartment building was on, there was:
  1. A 24 Hour Bakery/Deli
  2. A 24 Hour Drug Store
  3. A 24 Hour Grocery Store
I mean - if I ever needed ANYTHING at 2 AM - I was covered. New York Fuckin City!

On that note - I wanted to pass along something I just found out yesterday. In this City (the one that never sleeps), there is a 24 Hour Post Office. That's right! The USPS - the public-facing business with the most obscure and non-standard hours (each office is different) - actually has a location that is open 24 hours! I don't know any other cities that have such a luxury - but would be interested in hearing of any.

The location is on 8th Ave between 31st and 32nd Street - right across the street from Madison Square Garden - and is actually the "main Post Office" in NYC. It looks like a library inside - which is kinda freaky (and straight out of an old movie), but to go at 9PM - and not have to wait on long, stressful lines -- was an absolute pleasure.


Yahoo's Peanut Butter Manifesto

Last week, a SVP over at Yahoo wrote an internal memo to the company outlining current organization flaws and his broad-based solution. He compared the company initatives to Peanut Butter, being spread too thin. Thus, the memo being leaked to the public (via the internet), has been coined "The Peanut Butter Manifesto."

What I find interesting (beyond the memo itself) is the concept of how it is virtually impossible these days to keep such broad, company-wide messages in-house. I don't think it's a good or bad thing, frankly .... Just different.

I work for a similar type of organization - and have noticed that any "company-wide" messages (although fully plastered with "INTERNAL ONLY" messaging) are completely written to be expected to be posted on a blog somewhere.

Is this a new type of investor-relation strategy? Is there any other option other than for a company to embrace it? I don't think so...

Yes - Companies need to do their part by keeping employees loyal and putting fear in every employees mind regarding releasing such information. But beyond strong policies and high security within email -- I'm not sure what else a company can do.

Regarding the memo itself -- I actually thought it was good. I felt the SVPs passion in it - and it wasn't just complaining - it offered a plan and a solution.

I guess in today's world, the lesson is that whatever you produce/put your name on - you should go into it making sure that you are comfortable with having your name attached to it.

This blog is a perfect example. I know that maybe 15 of my friends and family are the core audience, but there are times when people outside of that are the audience. When I speak at events and people want to see what I'm about, or one day if I'm ever interviewing for a job .... People will Google my name and associate the content on this blog to my peronsal brand.

And the bottom-line... I know that going into it - so I'm comfortable with it. It's just the world we live in now and it's only going to get more transparent...


Michigan and the BCS

I've had this conversation with a handful of folks, so I thought I'd write a little bit about it on my blog.

I'll start by saying I've always been in favor of a NCAA Football play-off - even if it was for 6 teams. Every year there is an issue with the current system - and nothing is ever done about it. My buddy, Salis, had a good point yesterday (which is rare) ;) ... He said, if you ran a business and there were problems with the same operational function of your business every year - that you'd be forced to change that system - even if it meant a short-term decrease in profit.... But ... seems as if the Bowl Championship committee's doesn't have to play by normal rules. They seem to believe that controversy is good - because it promotes the series (which is such BS!)

This year - the lack of clarity continues around the "right" match-up of #1 vs. #2.

Being a Michigan fan - I clearly believe that Michigan should be playing on Jan 8th against Ohio State. I think Michigan has demonstrated it's talent, success, and it's claim to represent one-loss teams against Ohio State. I've watched about 5 or 6 of Florida's games this year - and I truly think they are not a good football team. I actually believe that LSU is the best team in the SEC this season -- they just happened to play all their toughest opponents on the road... USC isn't a good football team either.

Anyway - that's my opinion - and it means nothing in the grand scheme of things...

This being said, I've been very surprised at how I've felt the past few weeks about going to the National Championship game... Of course, I really wanted Michigan to play in the game -- but there was something missing. If Michigan played against OSU in the Fiesta Bowl and won -- I'd be very happy -- but not 100% satisfied. After losing to Ohio State - it was like even a National Championship would not have made the season a complete success. Yes - playing on the road is a disadvantage and we only lost by 3 points ... but that still doesn't erase the fact that we lost to Ohio State.

Many of my fellow Michigan fans don't agree with this feeling - and that's cool. I understand the ability for "revenge" on a neutral field, but not sure that alone would make the season whole to me.

If anything, though, I'm hopeful that Michigans impact on yet another totally botched BCS system -- helps pave the way for a better NCAA play-off system in the near future.

Go Blue!


Doctors - MBA or Med School?

I've been meaning to write this post for some time now, and after 6 hours in doctor's offices yesterday, I'm now motivated to actually write it. (I realize now that this post is on the longer side. Feel free to print out and read on the subway)

First - My day yesterday.
This weekend I noticed that my vision was a little off (yes - i have horrible vision generally speaking - but it was even worse than usual). I was traveling for work this week, so I called to make an eye doctor's appointment when I got back. I don't have a regular eye doctor - but more on this later. So after filling out paperwork for 15 minutes, then going through the initial set-up with the non-doctors (nurses i suppose) - I waited some more before seeing the actual doctor. I then took part of some annoying tests that involved big beams of light directed into my eye - with instructions to keep my eyes open. Tons of fun. After that came diagnosis #1. After more questions/answers - I took part of more tests. Hmmm ... Diagnosis #1 isn't it ... I think it's diagnosis #2. Let's take more tests ... Hmm ... it resembles diagnosis #2 - but I'm not really sure - let's send you to a specialist.... "Can it wait till next week? NO - you have to go today - it could be serious..." (In the spirit of not wanting to screw with my eye-sight, I obviously followed orders to a tee)

Retinal specialist was downtown. I had a 1:30 appointment. After filling out forms, waiting to be called, going through the almost identical pre-testing, and then waiting 45 minutes for the actual specialist -- let's just say I'm not overly bubbly.

The Doctor was actually a nice, personable guy. He explained as best he could what the charts indicated that it was a common case of Central Serous Retinopathy. Yea - I'm sure you all know what that is so I'll move on... (Feel free also to click on that link to find out more) Long story short - I took another 20 minutes of PAINFUL tests to ensure that's what it was. Unfortuantely - inconclusive...but it still smelt like it... So - what's to come of it? Nothing! I have to wait 4 weeks to see if it improves on its own. No treatment for now. Just waiting. My entire day spent to find this out... (Don't want to complain - it was just frustrating)

Anyway ... now on to Chapter 2: Doctors are merely used car salesman with some expensive schooling.
That's right - I said it. 99% of doctors I interact with as a patient are money-hungry low-lives. I have NEVER EVER heard the words "you don't need that" from a doctor in his/her office. Something is always "precautionary" or "good to make sure." And don't get my wrong - I'm always buying. No one wants to cheap-out on their health.

What really irritates me is seeing that actual profiting right before my eyes. Example - do you ever look at the statements your insurance company sends you? The pricetag doctors put on the smallest things are crazy! X-Rays $1000 (that's like $1MM/hour type revenue)... $300 for their personal "Examination" of you - which was about 30 seconds of them looking at your chart.
At the doctor office yesterday they tried charging my $300 for contact lenses that I hadn't even purchased yet!! (and by the way - i can buy my contacts online for HALF that price!!) The effect this has on me is really annoying. I find myself overly sensitive what doctors are doing to me..."Why are you doing that?" "Do I need this test?" "Is it covered by insurance?"

Maybe this is New York City specific - where the 8MM people are enough volume for doctors not to need recurring patients. They know that if you don't come back - someone else will be there.

What I hope for one day - is that I have doctors that I trust and that over time would want to know my family and I personally. I love the Hollywood concept of their being a small-town doctor who knows everyone. Someone who puts my health and well-being ahead of profit. Someone who is honest - gives customers (patients) all relevant information and then a choice.

Please don't get me wrong - I definitely think that doctors should certainly make a decent living - but I hate to see them treat patients as the sucker gravy train.

EDITORS NOTE: Upon further discussion with Felch (who happens to date a doctor), I must conceed that almost all of the doctors I have gone to come from the insurance programs web sites. Perhaps if I got doctors by referral -- my experiences would be better.


Guest Blogger - Amy Taykan (The Future Mrs. Goffin)

Whoever “APPROVES THIS MESSAGE” Should Be Ashamed

I admit I may not be someone involved in the political landscape in a regular basis nor am I one who stays up on all of the issues, but if you have turned on the TV in the past few weeks you can not help but be involved. Mid-term elections are next week and this vote is crucial for the Democrats and Republicans as to who will have control in Washington. Politicians should be in government for the people and to help right what they may feel is wrong to better our country, instead the elections have turned into a mud-slinging advertising war. I am embarrassed that the people who represent us as citizens have sunk so low in the messages they are paying to communicate. The Today Show is even conducting a poll to vote for the funniest and dumbest political ads. I think that says it all. When we vote on the ads before the election why don’t we just turn politics into a weekly reality show where every week another candidate gets eliminated based on America’s votes?

Ad Age reported that about $2 Billion is being spent on these political ads, up almost 18% from 2004. This is a lot of money to talk about one’s opponent and calling them liars, thieves or one ad where a candidate was accused of not returning someone’s phone call. When did we decide to stop focusing on what a candidate can do to make this country better and only spend money to communicate the negatives of their opponent? All of us would be much better served to hear what each candidate stands for on their own instead of trashing their opponent. Way back in my political days (High School) could you imagine a banner that read, “Don’t Vote For “Her” For Senior Class VP – she slept with 4 Football players - and 2 at 1 time -- Amy approves this message.” (Editor's Edit) I think I would have been laughed out of the election. That is how I feel about the current candidates. I can barely tell who is trying to get elected until the final part of the ad says, “I approved this message.” What the heck is this? If you were the one in the ad conveying your platform then you wouldn’t need to approve this negative message.

I hope by the time the 2008 Presidential Election rolls around that politicians can stop acting like children fighting in the school yard and focus on the people of the United States.


Blog Insight

Maintaining a blog is a hobby of mine. It allows me to express my thoughts on any topic I chose in a public forum, although, fully knowing that 90% of thus "public" are friends and family.

The other 10% are randoms... Usually stumbling upon my blog because they Googled a topic that I've written about. An example - in Septemeber I wrote about "Answer Tones" and received 50 visitors from that post...(I was on the first results page then - but now on the 3rd page when you google that term)

The way I know this is because I use an analytics program. It tells me things like how many visitors I get, where they come from, etc.

Anyway, some pretty funny/interesting insight I discovered last week...

My buddy Jared Margulies started a new job about 3 weeks ago. I have twice included his name (now 3 times) in posts. In looking at the blog analytics data - over the last 3 weeks - over 15 visitors came to my blog by Googling his name. I instantly emailed Jared and said - "Hey - looks like people at your new company are checking you out.." (Sorry ladies - if you clicked on my blog, you most likely found the post on his wedding weekend)

Just thought this was interesting ... oh ... and if you've found this post by Googling Jared's name.... you're busted! (well - not really - cuz I have no idea who you are - just how many of you there are)


Iron Man

No - this isn't my upcoming Halloween Costume... It's what our good friend Bryan Spellberg can now be characterized as.

Bryan, (as many of you will come to know as the "Bridesman" in the next few months) is crazy dedicated to fitness training. And by crazy dedicated - I'm talking about carving out time in between work and fatherhood to voluntarily put his body through daily over-drive. The guy does more exercise in his Monday morning warm-up, then I do in a month!

For those that don't know, an Iron Man competition is pretty much the end-all, be-all for "fitness freaks" like Bryan. It's a tri-athlon of freakish distances. Bryan conquered the Iron Man in Northern Florida this past Saturday. (Of important note - If you watched Donovan McNabb puke during the Tampa Bay game on Sunday due to the heat - That is where Bryan did this thing - near Tampa!!) In case you are unaware of what's involved in this event - here's how it goes (obviously as told to me by others). Start of the day (and seeing the sun-rise) by swimming 2.4 miles! 2.4 miles doesn't seem like a lot - but it's 155 laps in an Olympic style pool. (I do 2 laps and I'm huffing and puffin!!)

After you do this beyond difficult swim in the ocean or lake (and not in an easy, tame pool) - you race to your bike and pedal 112 miles! For a frame of reference - the distance from New York City to Philadelphia, PA is about 100 miles... that's a 2 hour car ride - plus 20 more miles!!

So after that.... you do something that people train YEARS for. You run a marathon. 26.2 miles! You run watching the sun set, reminding yourself of how you started the day by watching the sun rise. The sun rise and sun set reference were provided by Shelby, Bryan's wife, who was obviously there with him - and keeping Amy and I up-to-date on his progress. I thought it was crazy to think about how it would feel to spend the entire day torturing your body - and having the good ol fashion sun reminding you of that as your trying to finish.

Bryan is amazing and has surrounded himself with solely positive-minded people. In the few years that I've known him (and Amy can confirm this was the case pre-BG), his family has always been his number one fan. In fact - The Sun-Sentinel (leading South Florida newspaper) picked up on this and did a full page story yesterday on how his sister, Michelle, was going to run the marathon portion with him. It was her first ever marathon - so congrats Michelle!
Here is the interview of them two, although the large color photo of them is not online. (oh - and it's Spellberg - and not Speelberg).

So, Bryan is a loyal Blog reader - and I'm hoping after he spends the week in pools of ice and hot tubs - he'll answer some questions I have in the comments section:
1) What were your times in each event?
2) What do you do about going to the bathroom?
3) Is the Iron Man something you can now cross off the list - or are you hungry for more?

In closing, Bryan, Amy and I are beyond proud of you. We are wishing you a painless recovery. Congrats on kicking the crap out of the Iron Man!


More Rational Exuberance? NO!

I’ve read several articles and had a lot of conversations with folks over the past week about the Google-YouTube merger. As many of you know – I certainly drink the kool-aid of my current employer – so please take this into consideration when reading this…

The large dollar amounts that are being used to purchase companies that are only modestly revenue generating – has spurned some people to ask the question – “is it happening again”? Is there another “bubble” we are about to create that is bound to burst?

Putting the YouTube purchase pricetag on hold for a moment – I am very sensitive of the aura of the “dot-com bust.” The industry I have worked in for about 8 years now has had it’s ups and downs … but certainly much more impact on the perception of the industry during the “down” portion. Getting recognition amongst (most importantly) traditional advertisers has taken time. It was so easy for an old school marketer to shrug off the concept of changing his/her marketing strategy due to the very public image issue.

So when so-called respected journalists write things that insinuate that it’s round 2 of the “Dot-Bomb era” – I get annoyed.

So what is different now? It’s very simple. Monetization exists and is understood. Sure, there is definitely a lot of “future potential” still baked into the equation – but in what business venture is vision non-existent?

In earlier years (1999/2000) the reason why the “Dot-Com bust’ happened was because the people spending the money (Wall Street) treated it like a wave …People in the board rooms didn’t understand the realistic aspect of internet advertising.

Fast forward 7 years - and it's a different story. Although the industry still has leaps to grow and evolve, it (in large part to Google and other monetization engines) has figured out a model on how to monetize eyeballs and content.

So - more on this as it matures - but please don't think Google buying YouTube for $1.65 Billion is a sign that the internet marketing industry is about to take two steps backwards. I think that after testing and learning - it will actually lead to some big steps forward in Ad Formats... Stay tuned.


Getting around NYC during the day

For the most part, Google makes it so I don't have to leave the NY office very often. They feed me 3 meals if I want and they offer the latest technology available so I can communicate with customers and co-workers.

There are times, though, when I find myself traveling through New York City during the day on a weekday. On these days, punctuality usually means more than on the weekends. Whether I'm traveling to a doctor's appointment, client meeting, or running errands -- time is always "of the essence."

Since our offices moved downtown -- I've found it much more difficult to efficiently travel during the day. This is because the only Subway stop that is near my office is the Blue line (A,C,E). When we were in Times Square - there was a plethora of options.

Anyhow - the Subway is the ONLY way to navigate the city during a work-day with any kind of sanity. Cabs, although often times viewed as "easier", are not at these times. The traffic going in almost any direction is horrific. So not only do you spend 6 times more to take a cab - but you're almost guaranteed to be late. And yes - that is bad - but I think the worst part about all this is the stress. Nothing compares to the frustration of sitting in the back of a taxi and the only thing you see in front of you is car gridlock -- and the only things you hear are cars honking loudly and your driver talking in another language on his cell phone.

And to top it all off -- the extremely long 30 minutes ride (that could be maybe 2 miles), seems like an hour.

When you take the subway - you may have to exert more energy and it may not take you that much of a difference in time -- but it is such less stress. The cars are typically not too crowded and there is usually not train traffic either.

So in conclusion -- if traveling through Manhattan during a work day -- either use the subway or don't even bother leaving your office.


Shop.org Conference

The Annual Summit of Shop.org starts today at the Hilton in New York City. For any retailers looking to hear about Search Engine Marketing tips - I will be on a panel this week with experts from Yahoo and MSN. I'm looking forward to it because over 1,600 people have registered for the conference already.

For non-retailers (ie friends and family) I appreciate support, but the conference charges all attendees so I'll be happy to give a private session on SEM Tips afterwards. ;)

Also - if you go on the site and look at my mug shot -- no need to tell me I need a new picture. I am well aware of the fact (especially after the first 10 comments from co-workers).


Gas Price Resource

Seeing as if 50% of my blog readership is from New York City (in which owning a car is rare), and another 2% from outside the US (Hola Manu), I don't know how relevant this post will be for everyone... however... I stumbled upon a cool site this morning (it's an Google AdSense partner) and I wanted to share: GasBuddy.

GasBuddy lists updated gas prices and trends by city and state.

As an example, Florida (where about 20% of my blog readership occurs) is the 31st ranked state in terms of cheapest gas at an average of $2.27 per gallon. It appears, though, that South Florida is bringing this average state price up, as Miami is averaging $2.37 per gallon.

Anyway - just thought the site/information was interesting and I wanted to share.


My Email System and Philosophy

Recently – more and more people are getting Gmail Addresses. Of course, being employed by the company that maintains this service – I hear a lot of unsolicited feedback on it.

Certainly, the majority of this feedback is positive – but not all.

Spam is increasing” is a popular one – but most of the time – people are talking about their Spam folders (which users never even see) are getting more and more mail in them. This is actually a good thing! Anyway – the cases of Spam making it’s way through Gmail filters is growing as well – which brings me to my 2006 Email philosophy.

This philosophy incorporates 3 active email accounts:

1) For Work – I only give this out to business-related contacts. Today – this is also my “on the go” or Blackberry email …

2) For Friends and Family – I use my Gmail account to email with friends and family. Seeing that Spam is annoying under this context, I’ve put a period in my email username (xxx.xxx@gmail.com) as I’ve been told this helps limit Spam. Those folks who prefer an easy-to-remember address (asmith@gmail.com) will apparently receive much more Spam that those that have different/unique names….

3) For Everything Else – Credit Card Bills, Airline confirmation, Fantasy Sports, Comments on this blog, etc. I don’t check this account every day, but a few times a week keeps me up-to-date.

Thus far – this system has worked well for me – and I recommend it to everyone. I’m assuming in years to come, my system may change, but right now, It keeps my communications organized and helps limit Spam in the cases where it’s most annoying. Speaking of annoying – those folks who know all 3 of my addresses – please don’t email all 3 at once. Please use the system above. Thanks. ;)


Is the Umbrella a Failed Invention?

I believe after, say, 25 years of operating an umbrella on my own – that I’ve mastered the concept. If this is in fact the case – well then I need to marginalize it’s value to society…

The belief that an umbrella will keep one dry when it rains is good in theory – but is wrong. An umbrella will merely assist you from getting completely soaked – but it will not keep you dry.

Maybe I’m mis-holding the instrument, but I never seem to truly avoid getting myself and my belongings wet. If I choose to keep my front shirt and face dry, well then my entire back and backpack (my version of a business briefcase) gets soaked. If I chose to try and protect this bag that often holds various consumer electronic devices, well then I will look like I peed in my pants and sweat through my shirt within about 14 seconds.

Who decided that the innovation for umbrellas needed to stop? I’ve seen the “wind-proof” umbrellas (that sell for over $75) and the enormous “golf umbrellas” (which should be illegal in Manhattan – just like turning on a red light is). But - this isn’t what I’m thinking of… I’m thinking of an umbrella which casts a pseudo force-field around you … kind of like a plastic telephone booth. You know – like the Halloween custom of a guy in a shower – just without all the shower stuff….

I’m sure that there are issues with this – like how you would compact it into a woman’s purse – but smart innovators should be able to figure this out…. Am I the only one who thinks we need something else (well before we're all wearing clothes that self dry themselves like in Back-to-the-Future 2)?


Kid in a Candy Store

The phrase "Kid in a candy Store" is used to describe a sense of overwhelming happiness in response to one's surroundings. Last week ... I was an entire 2nd grade class in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory...

After the core priorities in my life (Amy, Family, Health, well being, career, etc), it'’s fair to say that Fantasy Football comes next. I know that sounds pathetic when you read it (and believe me, it feels pathetic writing it), but I really am THAT passionate about Fantasy Football. It'’s certainly my favorite hobby (and what I chose to spend countless hours on in my free time).

Last week, I had my most important and 2nd most important drafts, followed by one of the best days of the year -- NFL Kick-off Sunday…..

My most important draft is of the league I have been running for 9 years now, called The Bigtime. It’s very competitive – with limited trash-talking, mostly done between teams rathmassan en mass. I've won the league once, back in 2003, and I'm hungry for that championship trophy again.

My 2nd most important draft was for the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) in Atlantic (Sh)city. I entered last year, but went to Vegas for the draft. This was the first year it was also offered in AC, so I was able to be joined by more of my friends -– which I found to be very cool. The entry fee isn't cheap ($1600+), but the winner can win $200,000 plus Superbowl tickets...

I'm also in 2 other leagues, which I primarily enter for social reasons. I love keeping in contact with groups of friends I don't see on the regular, so fantasy football is actually a great way to stay in touch. Of course I want to win leagues like the one with my camp friends (The Funk Air Memorial), but I try not to follow who I'm playing every week so that rooting doesn't get over-complicated.

Anyway, back to Sunday... It's hard to describe with words - but I just have this sense of excitement every Sunday morning. As the season goes on, the excitement becomes a bit more intense (and competitive) -- but it's so much fun.

So in conclusion -- if you ever want to talk to me about Fantasy Football -- I'm game... If you call me on Sunday in the next 17 weeks to talk about something other than football, wait till Monday...And if you haven't yet gotten onto the Fantasy Football bandwagon -- GET ON IT.


Trader Woe's

On Sunday night, Amy and I motivated to do an evening grocery run after dinner… We are for the most part, loyal Fresh Direct customers, but we thought we’d try out Trader Joe’s.

At around 8:00 at night, the place was fairly hopping. (and by hopping I mean “a very stressful place to try and leisurely grocery shop) Trader Joe’s is known (in my mind) for it’s customer-friendly pricing and it’s nature-friendly foods… I didn’t price-compare all that much, but as a generic theme – I found the prices to be more than fair. Amy agreed. Other than that, though, that’s all of the positive things I have to say about my experience.

Here are the top 3 more annoying things that stand out duing my Trader Joe's experience:
  1. The aisles are big enough to MAYBE fit two shopping carts. If one person is looking at a product, it's tough to pass them. If multiple people are going down an aisle at once - get ready to tango...
  2. Speaking of over-crowded drama -- the lines are so long, that the rap into grocery aisles one through three. So, there you are, FINISHED with the process of stressful grocery shopping - and now you have to wait on an ultra-long line and battle on-coming traffic of other shoppers.
  3. Everything is Organic - there is nothing "standard" in their entire product mix. If I am health conscious, but enjoy Diet Coke every once in a while -- I've got to go to another store for that. This isn't what I would call a "convenience"

To sum up -- I had high expectations of Trader Joe's which were certainly not met. The drama of shopping in that atmosphere for select products was not worth the potential savings to me...

On the flip side, you'll hear no complaints from me about Trader Joe's Wine Shop. Where else can you buy 4 bottles of wine for less than $15 (yes I said bottles and not "boxes") ?? The wine isn't half bad either... Just be sure - that all people with you while you are buying wine have ID with them. Amy forgot hers one time, which prompted them to say they couldn't sell to us... Amy ran out of the store (which made it wierd), but they ended up giving in...


Hand Gash in Dallas

Last week, I was traveling for work… First stop on Monday was Bentonville Arkansas for 2 days, followed by Dallas, Texas for 2 days… Needless to say, it was a long, taxing week.

On Wednesday evening, we took out some clients to dinner (with an Evander Holyfield siting - and yes his ear is pretty messed up)… After dinner, I went back to the hotel and got ready for bed. Before getting into bed, I thought, “you know what, I should really hang up my shirt for tomorrow…" So I went to the glass closet door, put my hand on the nob to open it and pulled. In an instant, the entire mirror panel shattered in about 50 pieces. I was obviously scared out of my mind and jumped back (and dropped my shirt). The next thing I know, I look down at my hand, which is pretty much covered in blood… and not stopping. So I grab a towel, rap it firmly across my hand. I then call downstairs… security comes up about 10 minutes later. Within this time, I check out the rest of my body… I have some cuts on my feet and arm, but for the most part – the one large gash on my hand is the only major injury…

I won’t go into all the details that follow, but let’s just say that I (with the help of Hotel security) decided that going to the emergency room at 11:30 PM with a cut on my hand will probably be the last priority there…So I went to sleep with a bandaged hand… I woke up and it was still bleeding. So I got dressed, packed my things and drove to the hospital (primarily via confincing of a co-worker). This meant I was going to certainly be late to my meeting… The whole process took a little over an hour – which wasn’t too bad. They cleaned the cut and then “Stitch glued” it (new form of stitches). They also gave me a Tetanus Shot, which has provided me with a lovely dead-arm all week…

Anyway, fast forward, I race to my meeting and was only about 30 minutes late… I couldn’t shake anyone’s hand (which has been somewhat awkward all week), but everything went fine…

I tell this story for 2 reasons:

  1. If I run into you – and give you a weird left-handed fist pound as a greeting, please understand
  2. Atleast every other person I tell this story, their FIRST reaction is: "Are you gonna sue them. You should." And my answer is always "No, it's not my style."
Do I wish that the hotel was a little kinder to me, asked to move me to another room, and comped me the room? Sure -- but they didn't. When I called two days later to complain, they offered to pay any medical bills associated to it...
So, why am I anti-suing in this instance? Because first of all -- it could have been MUCH worse and I'm grateful that it wasn't... Secondly, too many people who get injured abuse the right to be financially compensated for thier injuries. And lastly, God forbid something worse happens to me in the future - I definitely don't want a previous suit to be held against me in that case - just because I thought I could end up with a little extra cash.

Through this experience I will end up with a minor scar on my hand and possibly a small fear of hotel glass closets... Other than that - I'm hopeful that I walk away from this annoying experience with my head up.


Ball Park Derby

My buddy Salis and I have a competition of sorts I felt worthy of sharing. Neither of us is the biggest baseball fan in the world - but we both found an intriguing commanality within building a resume of visitied professional baseball parks. It makes for a fun summer "thing to do" (especially with my frequency of business travel schedule and his lack their of business travel). It is with this I thought I'd give an update. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my 13th professional baseball stadium (Ameriquest Field) -- towering over Andrews' 11.

For future reference (because I think we've asked each other for one anothers list at least 10 times) here are the 13 stadiums I have been to (in no particular order):

  1. Yankee Stadium (Yankees)
  2. Shea Stadium (Mets)
  3. Dodger Stadium (Dodgers)
  4. Skydome (Blue Jays)
  5. Old Tiger Stadium (Tigers)
  6. Fenway (Red Sox)
  7. Wrigley (Cubs)
  8. US Cellular (White Sox)
  9. Pac Bell (SF Giants)
  10. Camden Yards (Orioles)
  11. Pro Player Stadium (Marlins)
  12. Miller Park (Brewers)
  13. Ameriquest Field at Arlington (Rangers)

Here are the 11 that Salis has been to:

  1. Shea Stadium
  2. Yankee Stadium
  3. Fenway
  4. Old Pittsburgh Stadium (Pirates)
  5. Turner Field (Atlanta)
  6. Oakland (A's)
  7. Pac Bell
  8. Wrigley
  9. US Cellular
  10. Veteran Stadium (Phillies)
  11. Olympic (Montreal Expos)

As we get older, I'm looking forward to visiting ball parks with Salis and checking off stadiums (with or without corporate marketing names) off our list...


Why are Smokers Exempt?

I'm no "liter policeman" (like Steve Coleman), but I'm curious to know why smokers are exempt from the traditional public courtesy of giving a hoot -- and not pollute-ing.

Now, I'm not an over-arching "anti-smoker" kind of guy. Do I think it's a gross habit, that is clearly life-limiting, and makes you smell? -- Yes. But as long as you are a respectful public smoker, than I'm not going to judge you. I could elaborate on what this entails, but I think I'll save this for another post. Generically, though, it's just about being conscious on the "second hand" effect that smoking has on people other than you...

So, getting back to the subject, why is it socially acceptable to flick your cigarette on the street or outside you car window, but not acceptable to just drop your empty Starbucks cup on the ground in mid-step? Did I miss the "cigarettes are bio-degradable" lesson in 2nd grade Science class?
Furthermore, if the cigerette is still lit when you flick it -- that lovely smell is going to linger for the people behind you to smell. I mean, what if people had this mentality for public toilets? (cuz we all know how good public toilets smell)

Anyway - I don't really have the balls to call someone out on it on the street, so thought I'd vent this way. If you're a smoker, please think twice before flicking your cigerette butt on the street. Put it out with your foot and treat it like a used tissue. Thank you.


Jamaica - Jared and Dre's Wedding

First and foremost - I must congratulate Andrea Bergtraum (Dre) and Jared Margulies, two top-notch individuals and friends who got married this past weekend. As a couple, they compliment each other and are always an absolute pleasure to hang out with. I wish them a lifetime of health and happiness - which they certainly deserve!

Their wedding took place in Montego Bay, Jamaica - mostly to avoid random wedding attendees like "Jared's mom's neighbor" (direct quote from Rehearsal dinner) Amy and I certainly subscribe to that viewpoint and it was refreshing to hear that we're not alone. What was also refreshing was the crew who was part of our weekend experience. Hanging out was fun, easy, and memorable. The resort was great - especially the pool - and the weather (for the most part) behaved.

In Dave Letterman style, here is a Top 10 random thoughts from Jared and Dre's Jamaica weekend:

10) Hellers head-shaving coming out party was a big hit (Speaking of hits - quality job on the Pool Mix, the Chill mix, and Party mixes. Poker crew wants the Party mix CD sent to them please.)
9) "Ya Mon" can be trusted 50% of the time -- but expect it to take a while.
8) Danny Cohen is easily on my top 3 funniest people I've ever met list
7) Strow is the luckiest poker player I know (but as he says, Poker is 65% luck... so he's got that going for him ... which is nice)
6) White Chedder - the under-rated omelette cheese ... Great call JP!
5) Tuna Glantz is officially a metro-sexual (although this doesn't mean I love him any less)
4) In Jamaica, the bare ass is fully part (and a large focus of) the standard sweedish massage. I'm not complaining, just was something different...
3) Tequilla shots = drunken fun (Warning may cause black-outs and hangovers) (Great call Nicole and Tuna)
2) Rain during the outside wedding reception was actually a positive thing. It clearly took the night into a unique, unforgetable evening!
1) Fun and high quality people, in an exotic location, for a happy life event makes for an amazing time.

Congrats Jared and Dre and thanks for a memorable experience for not only yourselves, but for the peeps who've got love for you as well!


Can't-Stop - Won't Stop, Weekend

Like most summers, the weekends seem to "fill up" quicker than ever expected. July is wedding month for us, but this weekend we punched in for extra-time. Ally is on my moms side of the family, but her parents have also kept a friendship with my father, which meant that both my parents would be going to the same wedding for the first time since Jills. It also meant that they would both be up here for the same weekend, plus My Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin, add Steve's birthday, and Isabella's Christening - and you've got the "2006 BG-AT Can't Stop - Won't Stop Weekend." Check it...

My cousin Snorin Lauren came into town for our cousin Ally's wedding. Lauren lives on the Left Coast and world travels as her day job (no joking), so it's not so often we get to see her. She landed on Thursday afternoon and so we met up for dinner with my sister and Fred. We went to a restaurant that opened 1 day earlier called Japonaise. (It comes by way of the Windy Cindy with a lot of hype) The overall atmosphere was pretty cool - and we were psyched that there was no "hype" drama. Amy got drunk on her 2nd martini and we all had a pretty good time. Food was touch and go and service was pretty bad - but- that is totally expected on day 2. (I'd go back there in a few months) JP came to meet us towards then end and we then went to Under Bar for a drink where my boys from high school (some visiting from FL) were randomly at. It was a great surprise - and was an overall great way to start off the weekend.

My friends from Florida were up this weekend mostly to hang with Steve - who celebrated his 30th bday on Friday. (As I told Steve Friday, he fits the saying "30 is the new 12) We started out by going to a small, family owned Italian joint for dinner. It was a great call - where the 14 of us were able to eat a good meal, hang out and celebrate Woodle's birthday. After dinner, we went to a GREAT FIND spot. Due to the desire to keep it under raps - let's just say this place was at The Nexus of the Universe. What I mean by "great find" is a cool, lounge spot that played great hip-hop, wasn't too crowded nor too empty, and had reasonably priced drinks. We partied and danced till 3 AM (Amy, Lauren, and I left before a few others, though). Overall was a great night! Pictures to prove it are available.

Saturday started the "Full Family wedding weekend" portion of the program. Brunch with my moms and Ron during the day, Amy-Lauren girly wedding preparation in the afternoon and then wedding at night. Another great time! (The Trifecta) Ally is a year older than me and went to Michigan - so - I happened to know a lot of people besides my family at the affair. Mix Free Booze, a reason to celebrate, and a bunch of friends/family - and that's why weddings are fun (versus the one's where you don't know anyone or aren't quite sure why you're there) . Of course, with our wedding planning in full-force (and having respect for Ally-Lee taste) Amy was on full detail-patrol. Well, I should say until she got her drink and dance on.... We ended up sweating most (but not all) of our liquor out by dancing (yes - i got down to some white music). Although I was talking a big game to go out afterwards (it was 2 AM), I was glad we went straight home -- I had a big Sunday planned that didn't include Home Depot or Bed, Bath, and Beyond....

The first day that I woke up feeling a bit hung-over. (I had to decline brunch with my dad and about 9 others) A quick shower, cup of coffee and a bagel and Amy and I were off to Long Island. Isabella Danielle Fornaro got christened yesterday - which marked my first personal Christening experience (outside of TV and movies). Sure, there are times when I'm in a church when I obviously feel out-of-place, but for the families involved it is a very nice thing. Different from my experience with Catholic weddings, I was happily surprised with the 20 minute service (which encompassed 5 babies). From the church we went to The Elder's for eats and hanging out. It turned out to be a great day - although given how cute Isabella is - there really wasn't much time with her.... BUT ... Nic and Fab seemed very happy and that's why we were there. Turned out that Amy and I got some quality baby hangin time when we got back into the city to hang out with Syd Stern... She's cute everyday - but was extra cute yesterday with me finding a full-proof way to make her laugh! We hung out on the roof of my sisters building for about 4 hours (included ordering in pizza and salad) with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. After that - I was pooped... End of weekend....

Except - given all the plans, Amy and I were unable to really hang with my dad -- so we'll be doing that tonight...

After that - strict CHILL policy on the next 2 nights ... Gotta rest up for Dre and Jared's wedding in Jamaica..... Can't Stop, Won't Stop .....
(More pictures to come)


Guest Blogger - Jamie Brown - Please Seek the Truth

BG: From time-to-time, readers of this blog often say things like "I'd love to have a blog, I just don't have that much to say that often." In which my response is, "Well, you can always guest blog on mine if you ever are passionate enough on a topic." Well - Today will mark the first time someone has taken me up on the offer.

Below is Mrs. Jamie Brown's guest blog entry titled:
Please Seek the Truth

JB: My memory of last night should have been nothing but pleasant. I went to an adorable restaurant in the West Village with camp friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, enjoyed good food, and great sangria. I even got to my apartment 30 seconds, literally, before the thunderstorm began! All was good…until I turned on the television.

Earlier in the day, I had been switching between MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN in an effort to get the most comprehensive reporting on the crisis in the Middle East. I guess the last channel I had been watching was CNN because it was Anderson Cooper’s face I saw when I turned on the TV. I don’t watch Anderson Cooper enough to comment on his reporting style and/or bias. However, I do know the reputation of CNN among pro-Israeli organizations, and last night confirmed for me what substantiates that reputation.

There he was, Anderson Cooper being guided through Lebanese war-torn rubble by none other than the Hezbollah Press Officer. This terrorist (and that is EXACTLY what he is!*) was being featured on CNN at 10pm, just when Americans are catching up on the news before the go to sleep, ranting LIES about how Israel has targeted missiles at Lebanese civilians, has been ineffectual at destroying the Hezbollah infrastructure, and is too “cowardice” to come fight them on the ground!

My initial reaction was, “How much Sangria did I drink?! I can’t possibly be seeing the television straight!” But as the denial gave way to reality, the shock turned into anger, disgust, and sheer disappointment in the media. I get that the media has to air the crisis from both sides of the conflict, but since when are terrorist groups recognized as a legitimate entity in the world community? This segment was blatant contradiction to the message the U.S is trying to disseminate regarding terrorism. How can we say we don’t tolerate terrorism and then show the Hezbollah Press Officer in the spotlight at prime news watching hour spewing anti-Israel propaganda?! It is a joke, and a very dangerous and irresponsible one at that!

Naturally, what CNN horribly failed to mention in the segment was the TRUTH! They left out the fact that Israeli fighter planes dropped thousands of flyers on Lebanon, a nation which is split between those who blame Hezbollah for inciting this crisis by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers and the terrorist group’s supporters, warning civilians that if they go near Hezbollah installations it will be at their own risk. Which brings me back to the images... Anderson Cooper was airing of what appeared to be apartment buildings. For all anyone knows, and what is most likely the case, is that these seemingly benign residencies were the site of “Hezbollah installations.”

Israel has been very clear and transparent with the world regarding their strategy in this crisis- To destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure, which, contrary to the Press Officer’s claims, they have completed 50% of their mission, and safely return the Israeli soldiers to their families. Israel DOES NOT want to occupy territory or escalate this crisis. Israel is strategically executing its power in such a way to minimize casualties, both of Israeli soldiers and Lebanese civilians. This, of course, is the REAL reason for not sending in ground troops, not cowardice.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of what I saw last night on CNN, but I will leave you all with this last message. PLEASE, seek the TRUTH about what is going on in the Middle East and then engage friends, family, co-workers, even strangers in conversation about the seriousness of this crisis. Undermining the misleading images and biased accounts shown in media must be a grassroots effort. Don’t think this conflict is “their” problem, it is “our” problem and we should all do whatever we can to alleviate that problem.


* According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Hezbollah, whose name means “party of God,” is a terrorist group believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 that have killed more than 800 people.


Atlantic (Sh)city

This past weekend, I had a friends bachelor party. Although I didn't know many of the other 10 or so guys that attended, they all were cool and everyone got along just fine. Overall, the time had was good with no major complaints regarding typical bachelor party drama. My one major complaint is with the "destination" known as Atlantic City.

I've now been there more than 5 times (which gives me enough experience to make the following claim). The place is a terrible place to visit, vacation, and especially throw a bachelor party. Considering it as an option over to have a bachelor party over Las Vegas is like choosing who you want on your basketball team - ME or Dwayne Wade....

Why do I feel this way?
First, the place is an overall DUMP. I've been to atleast 3 hotels there, and they are all a small step above a Motel 6. Take out the Casinos - and that's what you have... (Note: I have yet to go to The Borgata). The hotel pools are nasty, the beaches are ghetto, and the streets don't really scream "walk here late at night" alone...

Secondly, the people in Vegas are young, vibrant, and all about having a good time (cuz we all know what happens there stays there). There are 2 kinds of people in Atlantic City - Retired folks (I lost count walkers and wheelchairs I had to pass while finding a craps table) and New Jerseys finest "meatheads." (You know the jacked dudes who wear the snap-in-the-crotch shirts that look like they have a half of inch of sleeves).

Thirdly, the entertainment options were better when I was 13 thanit is there (minus the casino). The clubs are awful (I've already discussed what the crows is like), the staff in the casinos had no personality, and the "adult entertainment" options are good for one thing - and that is as a penalty for losing a bet. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to have to pay unattractive smelly women to dance in bathing suits anywhere near me.

And finally, it's not like it is right around the corner from NYC. With NO traffic, it's 2.5 hours to get there. It took us 4 hours this weekend, and it took other guys 6 hours who left a little after us...

I am slated to go to Atlantic Shitty in 2 months for the World Championship of Fantasy Football draft. But after that -- I'm really going to make the attempt to never return...


Sydney Representin!

I have been an uncle for 6 months now, and all I can say is that my neice gets cuter every day. If you don't believe me, look below.

For those of you who tease me about "always promoting the busines in my atire" (ie wearing a lot of google gear), I wanted to let you know that I'm getting the whole family in the mix EARLY.


Answer Tones

I experienced my first answer tone yesterday. An anwer tone for those of you who aren't aware, is an alternate to the standard ring tone that all us CALLERS (rather than answerers) are used to hearing when we call people. Considering that my dad and step-mom have ring-tones (an alternate to ringing for ANSWERING calls), I'm assuming that most people know about these....

At first, the "answer tone" confused me. I called my friend and the next thing I knew I was listening to C.R.E.A.M by Wu-Tang -- for a full 10+ seconds. My first thought was that I called her while she was in the car listening to the radio and she just didn't know that the phone picked up, but once her voicemail came on I was very confused. Then I called back a little later and after about 4 seconds of the Wu-Tang joint, she picked up - and that's when I put it together.

I looked online for anwer tones for my phone, and was very tempted to buy one, but I don't want to make an impulse purchase that callers will find annoying after the first 3 times of calling me. Although I'd like to believe that I would be able to keep it fresh with different tones - we all know that reality will set-in and I'll keep the same answer tone for 4 months without even realizing.

I'm sure people will say it depends on what I pick - and there is a lot of variety. Music, Movie or TV quotes, or even voices (like a sexy woman moaning a guys name)...

So I'm still up in the air on this. The price isn't prohibitive ($0.99 monthly fee plus $1.99 per download), it is more a question of the caller experience. I mean - it won't effect me at all (other than potential drop calls).

And yes - it will be a little wierd for someone calling Brett Goffin (The Google employee) and instead of the expected ring, they hear Biggie saying "Who the hell is this.....paging me at 5:46 in the morning, crack of dawn..." (Yes - this is an available option that I'm considering)

So - I'm still on the fence, but I wanted to share. If you have strong opinions either way - I'm definitely looking for "user feedback"


Why I've fallen in and out of love with the World Cup

I've been meaning to write this post for a few days. Coincidentally, I saw that The Sports Guy wrote an article on the same topic, although I have yet to read his...

When the World Cup started a month ago, I was mesmerized. I was VERY into the US run 4 years ago, waking up at 2:30 AM to watch our team play, but this year was different. I actually enjoyed watching almost every match, regardless of who was playing. It was clear to me why the US has never been as good as the rest of the world, which in a way means I actually started to appreciate and understand what makes a good soccer team. (Much like solid defense and no turnovers wins Champions in both basketball and football).

Anyway - this love affair lasted about 10 days. There were just so many 0-0 tie games I could watch. And those games that actually featured a goal or two usually did so because someone completely FLOPPED and the ref bought it. Now, I have no idea if this has always been a part of the game, (as I'm a somewhat new "fan") but this is worse than the NBA officials drama that occured this past offseason. There is no consistancy in terms of when refs give out cards - which they NEVER seem to give to players who over-act. As I said in a previous post about the NBA, the only way players will stop doing this, is if there is a penalty in lieu of today's payoff.

Anyway... fast forward to this past weekend semi-finals, and I was back in love again. I had taken a break, and now was open to zero-zero games decided in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd overtime. I am very much looking forward to the finals and will be rooting for Italy. Not only did I think that Italians were nicer to me than the French when traveling abroad, but the US tied the Italians, which could give our players some needed confidence going into 2008. (FYI - I started the tourney rooting for the US and Argentina (por mis amigos Manu, Wendy y Lau).

Finally, I just learned this weekend that there is Fantasy World Cup. (I can't lie, I felt cheated somehow that I didn't know about this beforehand). Steve - seeing as if you're the resident soccer playa - I'm nominating you to coordinate this for 2008. Until then, back to my Fantasy Football research. ;)


Adult Nap Time -- A Business?

I was reading someone's squidoo page on sleeping that caught my eye and I wanted to share the info...

Basically, the guy has several stats about how adults almost always consider themselves tired, and hence should take power naps all day. Example data points included:
  • The average adult sleeps under 7 hours a night during a work week.
  • 40% of adults admit that the quality of their work suffers when they're sleepy.
  • 19% report making mistakes and errors due to sleepiness.
  • Sleepy drivers cause approximately 100,000 car crashes annually.
  • 33% of adults surveyed would nap at work, if allowed.
What I found most interesting, though, was the fact that there is actually A BUSINESS (read as: a store) in New York City that caters to the "power nap needer!" It's called Metro Naps
"New York's New Craze: The first daytime sleeping salon in the U.S. Located on the 24th floor of New York City's Empire State Building, MetroNaps hopes to provide a quiet sanctuary where rundown corporate drones can recharge. MetroNaps has become a haven for the stressed cubicle dweller. For $14 a pop, the budding enterprise offers 20-minute naps that guarantee to leave the customer feeling rested."
Does anyone else find this really strange? I can maybe understand a massage or Yoga or something related, but paying $42/hour for a sleep cubicle? If someone actually goes to this or knows someone who does -- PLEASE let me know.


Printer Recommendation?

Amy and I are in the market for a home printer. It has to be small and doesn't need to do 25 fancy things. It would help if it was one that didn't have ink cartridge refills that didn't cost more than the printer itself and run out after 1 month....

Any Suggestions??



I think a previous post (on attending Game 3) summed up a lot of my feelings about the Heat, but below are some quick feelings after the Heat have won their first NBA Championship!

-- After 18 years of hard luck – it feels AMAZING to know that the Heat will finally raise a Championship banner in their arena

-- It also feels great that almost instantaneously after the win, I received about 10 text messages from friends. I guess I’ve done a good job over the years of branding myself a die-hard Heat Fan. I feel like even some of my Knick fan friends are happy for me.

-- Big up to my boy Steve Pugliese, who has shared the 18 year run with me. We’ve both have had some roller-coaster feelings about the Dolphins over the years – but this had never been the case with the Heat. Since 1988 – we’ve been passionate, loyal fans who have always imagined last night happening. Small props to Colediggy who did attend the first game the Heat ever played in 1988 with me (against Dale Ellis and the Supersonics), but has been a Bulls fan over the years…

-- Big ups to my old man, PG. He has gotten season tickets for every year in some way, shape, or form. (The seats we shared with the Puglieses’ next to the old lady were my favorites… Cinnamon Almonds…Cashews…)

Now for the team:

-- Dwayne Wade is getting TONS of hype after his finals performance and he 100% deserves it. Heat fans have known he’s the man for 3 years – now the whole world is privy to that. As I said in my last post, he is officially my favorite NBA Player of all-time

-- Speaking of Dwayne Wade ….. where the hell has Converse been during these finals????? They FINALLY land a superstar that Nike, Reebok, or Adidas do not and they don’t scream this at the top of their lungs during the Finals? Who is running their marketing department?? (Note: Converse is officially owned by Nike, but operated as a seperate brand.Also, Reebok and Adidas are now the same company)

-- I won’t admit that I was wrong about Antoine Walker – but I have to say that he earned my respect. It will never be pretty to watch him in the game, but the guy played a role on this Championship team and for that I must respect him. Shimey all you want Twon …. You earned it.

-- Alonzo Mourning deserved a ring. A lot of people hate him because of his jumping around from different teams in that short spurt – or maybe because he was a little immature when he first got into the league …. But I’ve always loved Zo’s game. Yes, he has the “survivor” story through his kidney troubles – and he deserves every bit of praise for it…. But that’s not why I love Zo. Again – I love his game. He’s a hustler, a defensive force, a role player – does whatever the coach asks of him and doesn’t complain. Last night, possibly his final game in the NBA was a microcosm of all this. He was awesome and exactly what the Heat needed. He’s a class act (not to forget a Pimp dresser) and I’m above all happy that he has finally won a ring.

-- Dwayne Wade was the clear-cut MVP, but large props must go to James Posey who seemed to always be doing something positive for the team. Props also to Udonis Haslem who made All-NBA Dirk look like a Dirk who wouldn’t have made the All-Star team.

To sum up, being a loyal fan for so long, I definitely feel like I’ve won the Championship too. No, I’m not one of those psycho people who actually think they’ve won the ring too – but it just feels grea!. To me, it just proves that if you stick with something and you are loyal with it – that it is rewarded over time….. LET’S GO HEAT! (or should I say CHAMPS)!


Greatest Accomplishment?

Yesterday, Amy came home and told me a story of how she went to a luncheon that honored 2 people in her industry. At these types of events, they typically talk about all the good things they do both for their company, industry, and most importantly their community. Being the self-reflective person that Amy is, she came home and shared that she was a little sad that she didn't do anything for her community. (and hence wouldn't be honored at a luncheon anytime in the near future)...

Coincidentally, the next day (today) my company sent around an employee survey that asked 7 pages worth of questions - all multiple choice except the last one: "What has been your greatest accopmlishment to date?" .... Um......... Ah.......Um..... Did the answer of "2004 BigTime Fantasy Football Champion" really just pop into my head? And....It's not like "getting engaged to the woman I love" is really an "accomplishment" in the tense of a business survey.....

On the flip-side, to say I've had no true accomplishments is a lie. Graduating with a degree from the University of Michigan is certainly an accomplishment - but is it really "my greatest"? There is a lot of pressure to define your "GREATEST" of all accomplishments...It's almost saying "this is my ceiling"....

So what did I do? I answered "My greatest accomplishment has yet to be discovered."

I recognize this is a unbelievably corny cop-out, but I really couldn't think of any other somewhat satisfying answer. (and refused to spend more than 15 minutes on an internal questionaire)

Am alone here? To help answer this, I'm asking that all readers of this blog leave what they would have answered in that box within the comments section below. (and yes - I know how many people come to my blog each day, so when there are only 2 comments -- I'll know who chickened-out)


An In-Person Instant Classic

I had waited 18 years for last night... and I'm pretty sure it was well worth the wait.

The Miami Heat are far-and-away my favorite sports franchise of all-time. My father has had season tickets for the Miami Heat since 1988 - the team's inaugural season. I can name almost every player that's every worn a Heat jersey... I have battled through the cellar years (0-17 to start the season), the Knicks Rivalry (including being at "The Alan Houston shot" game), and everything else that has been the Miami Heat journey.

Last night was the franchise's first home NBA Finals game ever --- and I was there! Before the game even started - I turned to my dad and said, "I'm so glad I'm here right now" ... which in hind-sight was the under-statement of the evening...

As a quick overview -- the Heat have inspired me this play-off season by beating all of their prior three opponents in no more than 6 games...Since game 1 of the finals, however, they have been atrocious. They have lacked any sense of confidence and it this has been exposed by a very well-rounded and well-coached Dallas Mavericks team.

Now onto game 3 - In the first half, neither the Heat nor the Mavs looked very good - but the Heat was up by 9 at half-time, so I wasn't about to complain ... The third quarter was a big kick in the nuts ... Dallas outscored Miami by 18 points, flipping the 9 point lead to their advantage going into the 4th Quarter ... 10 minutes to go in the game, Dwayne Wade (already my favorite basketball player of all time after only 3 years in the league), gets his 5th personal foul... The Heat go down 13 ....
During a Heat time-out, my father looks at me and says "If Wade gets his 6th and this lead gets extended -- we're outta here" ... I felt like I got punched in the gut ... not by my dad's statement, but more because I started to feel like the Heat were really going to go down 3-0. But, I wasn't ready to give up ....So I turn to my dad and said "we're not leaving --- you gotta believe!! Do you believe??!!) .... And the rest is well documented in any sports journalism from today... Dwayne Wade was just as amazing as he has been all year .... Udonis Haslem and James Posey played some great defense .... Gary Payton reminds us that he's actually on the Heat... and a 90% Free Throw shooter misses a shot, when a 45% shooter makes two when it counts...

Regardless of what happens in this series -- I will never ever forget being at Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals. (Thanks Dad!) For those of you who know how passionate I am about the Heat -- you should know that this game certainly made that passion deeper (if that is possible). I'm an original Miami Heat fan - and will be one until I die...... LET'S GO HEAT!!!


The Duck Walk

People everywhere do everything in different ways ... Walking, talking, and acting are all unique character traits among individuals...It is with this thought that I feel compelled to bring up "the duck walk."

There are certain people out there who just seem lo lead with their inner thigh (rather than the quadricep or front thigh) and land their foot with a bit of an angle (rather than straight) when they walk...

Fundamentally, I don't have any issues with the walk itself (although I can't say that this wouldn't have been a potential "after first date critique" of someone had I dated them back in the day)
The walk appears to get people from point A to point B just like non-duck walkers.

What I am most curious about is if these "duck walkers" know and acknowledge that they walk differently...Kind of like -- do people with bad breathe usually know and acknowledge that they have bad breathe? No - right?

If anyone has any insight - please leave a comment or email me.


ATM Fees

When I verified a hunch a few weeks ago - I definitely felt stupid...

Since I began banking as an adult - there has always been a fee for "outside network" ATMs. (I am currently a Citibank customer) In my mind, this has always been the cost for using, say, a Chase ATM...

This is not the case, however. The real fee for Citibank customers using the Chase ATM is $3.00 - which breaks down as $1.50 from Chase (and even more sometimes -- it was $3.00 in Vegas this past week) and $1.50 from Citibank. Now it's pretty clear to me why these two competitors haven't gotten together and come up with a number they agree to split - but I guess I just assumed they had...