Just write it down!

In New York City, one tends to find a bit more finicky restaurant ordering than say in Omaha, Nebraska… In Omaha, customers are probably more comfortable with ordering straight by numbers (with no modifications), so a waiter could probably get by with remembering “Two number 16’s, a number 3 and 2 Milwaukee’s Best Beers” …. HOWEVER…In NYC, I cannot seem to understand why ANY waiter would not write down a food order.

It has been mentioned by me in previous posts, that I do not have a problem with attempting to modify a standard menu item at a restaurant. I believe that if I’m going to be paying for something – I might as well try and get it exactly how I want it (within reason)…In my vast experience in New York city restaurants, I believe that many New Yorkers agree with me…

So back to the issue…. What is the possible advantage for a waiter NOT writing down an order? Am I going to be so impressed that he remember my order without writing it down that I suddenly realize that I should leave a 100% tip rather than 20%?? I don’t get it! For me, the anxiety of the waiter not writing anything down (even IF he/she doesn’t mess it up) makes me want to leave less of a tip…

Yesterday, I ordered an egg white omelet with tomato and feta (my standard), with fruit instead of French fries…. The waiter brought me a regular egg-in omelet with tomato and feta, with fruit… When I told him that I ordered egg whites, his response was, “You did? I remembered the feta and tomato” … Again … AS IF I AM SUPPOSED TO BE IMPRESSED?”

The strong aggravation is that I just do not see the downside….Similar to repeating the order before the waiter leaves the table… Yes, it takes more time, but I don’t have a problem with it….

My frustration with this has caused me to try and adopt a new practice….. For any waiter that does not write down my order (even if they get it right), I am automatically going to leave 15% gratuity….(versus the standard 20% I usually leave)…. We will see how this goes – but in case you haven’t been able to tell … I really don’t like it when waiters do not write down my order….


My Recent Broadway Experience

Although at one point in my life, I would have told you I was allergic to Broadway shows, I have been to a handful in my life…

Amy is a big fan – so I’ve definitely tried to make an even greater effort in atleast attending shows. I have been rewarded a couple of times with shows that I have really enjoyed such as Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays and Avenue Q, as well as a number of other times that I thought shows were pretty good…

Anyway, last night Amy and I went to see The Odd Couple, staring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. (I had to buy tickets over 6 months in advance) I feel like since their performance in The Producers, they have entered some kind of actor-elite club, so I thought it would be a good thing (at least culturally) for me to see them live while I live in New York.

The Outcome? Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the whole experience, although I am glad that I saw Lane and Broderick live on stage together….Their comedic timing was amazing and I definitely had a couple of chuckles during the dialog.

A big part of the disappointment for me was the overall theatre experience. Keeping in mind that theater tickets are far from cheap (especially for popular shows), I have never been more uncomfortable in a seat. My knees were fully pressed against the rail in front of me and the cushion that was supposed to support my ass (which is very sensitive by the way) was certainly far from heavenly….My ass was numb a good 15 minutes after the show. The crowd was mostly filled with bitter, old people dressed like it was a Sunrise Lakes Phase III mixer, which does include the finest moth-ball smelling perfume known to man…The urinal that I used (after waiting on an S-Shaped line for 10 minutes), was literally the most narrow place I’ve had to pee in my life. I had to stand sideways, yet obviously target straight ahead …. It was very difficult…

Anyway, Amy asked me last night what I will tell people if they asked me about the show. And my response is that I am very glad I saw Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick live on stage together. I thought that the play, itself, could have adapted some more current dialog/current events to spice up the apparently classic play a little bit, and that the overall theatre experience was way over-hyped.

I will continue to experiment with going to shows – but I’m still far from being converted into a true believer in the hype of the “Broadway Experience”


Kobe's 81

For those of you who either live under a rock or don't like sports - Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a basketball game on Sunday.

For a frame of reference....
  • After Wilt Chamberlins 100 point performance in 1962, this is the largest point total in league history.
  • My favorite player, Dwayne Wade (currently ranked 6th in the NBA in Scoring per Game) averages less than ONE-THIRD of 81 points (26.8 PPG)
  • Michael Jordan's highest scoring total was 69 points, and he need Overtime to do that.
Kobe has obviously had some high highs and low lows in his career.... let's just leave this as a top 3 accomplishment for him to date.

One of the coolest things near and dear to me is the ability to purchase the video for this game of Kobe scoring 81 points though Google Video. I have already purchased it - it's very easy. Check it out.



I spent all of last week in California – the home of the Governator… The first half of the week I was in San Francisco for the company Global Sales Meeting… Like all sales meetings of fairly large organizations, it was a full day (7:30 AM till midnight most days) of power point presentations, the occasion motivation speaker/team building, and a slew of pleasantries with people you see once a year. My cue to leave a conversation with random business associate XYZ is usually after “the three questions” (of some variety) have been asked:

  1. When did you get in?
  2. How was the flight?
  3. When are you leaving?

I’ll leave the analysis of these 3 useless questions for some other time – but couldn't help to point this out. I do, certainly, have people who I enjoy speaking with at these events – and this fact does not apply to everyone – it is more of a general random aspect among people who know nothing about one another, other that the work for the same company…

Anyhow, downtown San Fran is a lot scummier than the city would like to publicize. Not only does it have an abandon-type feel, but I found it difficult to walk a block without running into some kind of begger, bum, crazy person or all of the above. I guess it's not a horrible idea for them - as SF is certainly not a cheap city. Additionally, it’s a big misconception that San Francisco has “California-type” weather. It was dreary and cold during my entire stay. Luckily, I rarely had to go outside, but even in the short while I couldn’t help but notice that I would not want to live in downtown San Francisco.

I enjoyed the second half of the week in Calfornia much more…I met Amy in LA where she was having her sales meeting. Not only was I able to spend some quality time with family that I don’t see too often, but Amy and I were able to enjoy the beach, leisure, and atmosphere that makes Santa Monica such a desirable place. The weather was great – although a bit chilly at night. I can certainly see myself going back there many more times in my life, although, I’m not sure I want to live their full time. The whole aura of that town revolves around famous people and aesthetics. (on the flip side – the whole aura of NY revolves around business and money – so I’m not sure which is better) Amy and I were both big fans of The Coffee Bean, which I wish would make it’s way east.

Speaking of that … I just read that Trader Joe’s is coming to Union Square in New York!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be a bit jet-lagged this week - however – I think it was worth it. Amy and I had a great time, relaxing, and seeing friends and family over on the Left Coast….


My Standard Resolution

I don't like the concept about commercial New Years Resolutions, but I do like the excuse to start something. I've never been that serious about any resolutions, but I usually try and do something small (cooking more or calling family more often)... This year, I'm being like everyone else - except rather than the whole year as my goal - I'm using the first 3 months.

Over the next 3 months, I'm drastically changing my eating habits. No mayo, no fried food, minimal soda, etc. Assuming I can pull this off for 3 months - I'll see how I feel about myself. Assuming I feel great - I hope to continue it.

The hardest part of this is the drinking aspect. I know I'm not going to give up Jack Daniels - but hopefully I can limit it to 1 or 2 nights a week...Wine is fine whenever... (Rumor has it that a glass a day is even good for me).

Anyway - I'll update my status on this in 3 months. In the meantime - if I go out to dinner with you, please don't make me feel bad for ordering like a high maintenance girl from Long Island. (Thanks in advance)


I'm an Uncle!!

On Saturday January 7th, Sydney Madison Stern was born. She was 6 pounds, 8 ounces. Mother and Father Stern are both doing well.

Uncle Brett and Aunt Amy were proudly the first to hold her outside of parents/doctors. Pictures to come shortly.

A pretty wierd thing for me was calling my parents and step-parents "Grandma" and "Grandpa." Whatever I call them, though, they are all very happy and proud and looking forward to spoiling the crap out of the very cute little girl.

Congrats to Fred and Jill!!


South America -- Vacation Recap

Being gone for 11 days in a different hemisphere (covering 4 different towns/cities) spurs a lot of great blog material. This being said, I’d prefer not to post too long of a description of the trip, so instead, just tried to just give some bullet-points from each place. As a review, Amy and I went to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janiero, and Buzios. It goes without saying, but much props and love to Amy who not only made the actual detsils of the trip, but also made the trip complete for me..... Now to the review:

* The trip was AWESOME. I highly recomm
end almost everything we did, exactly how we did it to almost anyone. (For some single guys – you may have a different Rio trip planned than we did)
* It was the
perfect amount of time at each place with the perfect ratio between exploration (touristy stuff) and relaxation (beach)
* The weather couldn’t have been better. Was between 70 and 80 everyday and only rained on the last 4 hours of our trip – which we spent in a car going to the airport anyway.
* This was the first time that I have used a travel agent. Truth is that we probably didn’t necessarily save any money doing it, but, between the convenience and already-set activities, etc – it is NOT the last time I use one.

Now for a bit on each place…

Buenos Aires – 3 Days
* BA is a major city. It has an
exotic location flare-type sound to it, but it really is not a “tropical destination” (the closest beaches are 3 hours away)
* Hotel was great, Tango Show was a quality experience, and the food was very tasty… Especially the PROVOLETA and CHORIZO. (By far my two favorite)
* What made BA amazing was certainly my BA Friends (Picture below), particularly Lau and Manu. They both took Amy and I all around the City and showed us cool/trendy places as well as authentic/local joints. are the BEST and I look forward to doing the same with them when they come to New York. (Gracias Amigos!)

Iguazu Falls - 1 Day
* Came high
ly recommended by Amy’s Dad, Arie. (Particularly the boat trip – which we took and thought was awesome)
* Hotel with large mosquito issue was the only ghetto experience within the whole trip
* The Falls were pretty cool to see – although wouldn’t say this is a *must* if you are trying to shorten your trip

Rio de Janeiro – 3 Days
* Our Guide of the city (Heidi) was A
WESOME. On 2 separate days, we took 3 hour excursions where we were “supposed to go” (Pictures to prove it) Throughout this time, we asked a lot of questions about the country, culture, etc. She also gave us great recommendations on where to go to eat, where to sit at the beach, etc.
* Speaking of the beach… The vendors at the beach were so interesting to us. Amy made the great analogy of the vendors being very similar to vendors at a baseball game. Not in your face, but loud enough to let you know what they’ve got for sale. Amy did her part in supporting the “apparel vendors”, while we both did our part to support the food vendors (Cheese on a stick, GLOBO Chips, and Corn on the Cob were our favorites)

* The hotel (Cesar Park) and area (Ipanema) were a perfect match for what Amy and I were looking for. We were across the street from the best beach in Rio, in walking distance to great restaurants. One (Porcao – an All-you-can eat meat place), which just opened up 2 blocks from Amy and I. And yes – although Amy doesn’t eat meat – she loved it anyway. ;)

Buzios – 3 Days, including New Years
* The “Hamptons of Rio” – is a small, quant beach town (actually has 23 beaches) about 2 hours from Rio

* We happened to be there during probably the busiest time
of year… Every night, the streets were FILLED (I am talking about “leaving Giant stadium after a last second field goal” type feel walking the streets), mostly with Brazilian high-schoolers…there weren’t so many Americans.
* After visiting 4 crowd
ed beaches our first day, upon recommendation, we found “our spot” at Pria Brava. We stayed there pretty much 10-6 for 2 days, got pampered by Lula (our waitress) … and it was VERY relaxing – was exactly what we were looking for to wind down our trip.
* We stayed in a very nice, boutique posada (Casas Brancas), which held a private dinner party for us on New Years Eve. With great views of the fireworks show and everyone dressed in white – (WHICH, by the way, Puffy totally stole the idea of a white party from), it made for a great New Years Eve.

That’s about it. Again – if anyone is looking to go to South America – let me know. I’ll forward you our itinerary! There was much anticipation about our trip, as we've been planning it for about 8 months, but I gotta say that it was well worth the wait!