In case you haven't seen me in 12 years, I rock a goatee 98% of the time... 

About once a year, I normally get a bit sick of it and decide to shave it off.  For most people this isn't a big deal (and it's not for me), however, I look like a COMPLETELY different person when I shave it off.  So much so that I've honestly had people who've known me for over 5 years look at me like I was a crazy person for talking to them at a party because they didn't recognize me without it...

The truth is, as I told Amy, I am not yet ready to fully commit to being a goatee guy for the rest of my life...While many signs point to this happening - I'm not ready to declare it.

About a week ago I shaved the goatee off.  Partially because I was sick of it, partially because I wanted to see if Alexa would recognize me, partially because everyone says she looks like me so thought I'd enable a much better viewpoint for that observation ...

Anyway ... It's a week later and my goatee is fully back.  Why? 

Well - first of all - every single person that sees me without it says "whoah."  Not the kind of "whoah" that the ultra conservative woman who suddenly dressed a little slutty would get... It's moreso like the 40 year old who suddenly came to work with a mohawk... 
Secondly, I've been asked by at least 10 people "why I did it?"  That kind of question, again, should be asked when there is something more permanent done.  If my sister suddenly got a "mom haircut" - I'd ask her "why she did it" - which to be honest would be my way of telling her that she should grow it back....  My goatee grows back in a week - so if you want to know why I did it - the simple answer is because I can. 
Thirdly, I under-estimated how my goatee provides a bit extra warmth when it's cold out - and it's been freakin freezing this past week.  Note to self -- do my once a year test-run when it's not 9 degrees outside.  (Yes - it's challenging in the summer too because it could provide a strange look if I'm rocking a tan...)

Bottom-line is that I think people are just so used to me with a goatee, that they think I look crazy without it.  I never would have imagined that I'd marry a jewish girl who actually prefers me to have the goatee rather than shave it - but I did...   For now - Amy's vote is fairly influential in the decision - but we'll see what Alexa has to say in a few years ...

Next time - I'll take pictures and post them to the blog...  Until next year, then... 


Tiny Prints - NYT Article

In case you want to know more about what some of my conversations are with clients at work - this NYT article has some insight into it the day-to-day.

I was happy to read that TinyPrints (which is a company Amy and I financially support since the arrival of Alexa) understands the positive impact Adwords has on their business.  ;)


Entertaining is the New Effective

There is a guy, Adam, at work who works in facilities.  (Facilities at our offices deals with building related stuff - maintence, conference rooms, etc) I've never officially met him, never even had a conversation with him. 

Before Adam, there was Carl.  Carl did a similar thing - but was more focused on cafeteria/food responsibilities.  Ditto on never meeting or interacting with him at all.

What the heck am I talking about?

Well both Carl and Adam wrote (and in Adam's case still writes) the most entertaining emails I get in a given week.  The topics border on filtering straight to the trash (meaning I don't have high interest in them), but due to the fact that I have laughed out loud from their emails multiple times in the past -- I'm reading them without question - and I really don't care what their about.  Adam writes an email almost every other week telling the NY office that the elevator is broken.  He makes up long elaborate stories on how The Elevator called in sick, or will write an email in Yoda's voice explaining why elevator working is not today.  No matter what -- I'll read it.  And why is it important? 

Well because when the company wants me to read his email on topics like swine flu prevention or fire safety .... Guess what ... I read them (and I'm not even annoyed by it).  He's got me as a loyal fan - and he's effective at his job because of it.

Marketers should do this! Rather than pay ad agencies all this money for "the killer idea" every other year ... pay some comedians to write emails/twitter messages/whatever and promote it.  Every once in a while, include a message you want me to read.

If I followed my twitter feed (which I don't) and Jim Gaffigan tweeted about Siera Mist every once in a while (which he used to be a spokesman for) - I wouldn't mind.  I may even crave a Siera Mist (or a Sprite - but whatever).
When the Sports guy and Cousin Sal talk insecently about getting beaten with a Subway sub (which I do find as a lame penalty for losing a bet) - I really don't mind that they're talking about it.  They've entertained me - and I like that - and will continue to follow them...


Update on ... SPORTS!

OK - So - I've been a little preoccupied with "life stuff" over the last few months and I just figured it was WAY too long since I've written a sports related post... I don't have any specific topic to dive into - so I just thought I'd give my take on my favorite teams and some other random commentary ...

My Favorite Teams:
  • I told myself that I'm going to give Rich Rodriguez a couple of years before I jumped to judgment.  College Football is all about having players to fit your system - and especially in Rich Rodriguez's case - he needs time before being fairly evaluated ... This all said ... I've watched most of our games this year - and while I recognize we have a lot of young players in important positions - I have found myself saying "that was not a good coaching decision" on a number of occasions ... I can't say that I'm necessarily "hopeful" that UM is less patient than I'm trying to be .... I just want to beat Ohio State in 2 weeks .... You do that Mr. Rodriguez and we're cool.
  • I like what I'm seeing as a long-time Dol-Phan.  There will be no play-off appearance this year - but I feel like we have a solid situation brewing ... I believe in The Tuna and Tony Sparano .... Although I like Chad Pennington, I feel like giving Chad Henne this year full of low expectations will do wonders for him down the road.  Our offensive line is solid and we have good mix of veteran and young pieces on both sides of the ball ... Look for the Phins to win the AFC East in 2010 ... Yes - that's right.
  • The Miami Heat are 6-2, although they haven't beaten any team that is going to fight for an NBA Championship.  Both losses were to teams that should be doing that in June...  This said - we all know that the Heat are playing for 2010 - without coming out and saying that because D. Wade has put the pressure on to be competitive now.... I think the Heat are doing that.  Jermaine O'Neal has potential to be a solid #3 contributor as does Be-Easy Beasley but Jermaine is a couple of years removed from being a #2 and Beasley is a couple years early from being a #2 (and I think he can be ... I think he's Rasheed Wallace-esque when it's all said and done for him).  Pat Riley did a good enough job in the off-season getting Q. Richardson (D. Wade's friend) to help with veteran play during crunch time and signing Carlos Arroyo as the back-up point-guard.  (I'm sorry but Chris Quinn was never the answer there).  If I'm any team in the East, I don't want to play the Heat in the play-offs merely because Dwayne Wade can single-handaly win a Championship himself (like he did in 2006) depending on the match-ups.  So as of now - I have the Heat getting to at least the 2nd round of the play-offs this year and perhaps farther depending on the match-up...
  • Michigan Hoops is getting some hype.  Top 15 pre-season ranking (Honestly cannot remember the last time this happened ... Fab Five maybe ... seriously). My favorite player on the team is DeShawn Sims (he's so under-rated) but the hype is around Manny Harris (I think he's over-rated).  The pieces around them both are typical John Beilen shooters/scrappers - but I'm not buying that Michigan is any true National Championship threat just yet.  I will enjoy watching games this year - and will be rooting/watching with a lot of interest - but it's just been so long that I could have confidence in our hoops program that I forgot what it feels like...
General Sports Commentary:
  • I have a genuine love the NFL - but I'm starting to get really annoyed but the NFL Media Machine... I don't care that Vernon Davis "called out" the team that he's playing this week... I didn't need to hear about Brett Favre and his trip to Green Bay 1000 times in the week leading up to the game ... It's gotten to the point that I really don't like mainstream NFL media coverage.  I get enough from my weekly fantasy research that I do on my own online...
  • I saw pieces of that Tim Donaguey book that the publisher canceled.  Seemed REALLY interesting - and while it appears he has Jose Canseco-like credibility - I still think it's interesting... Can't we get Mark Cuban to pay someone to look back to the video on all the specific cases he mentions to see if there is some validity?
  • I've heard of some fantasy leagues that kick-out teams if they come in last place for two years+ in a row ...  Can't the major sports leagues do the same?  The Cleveland Browns, Memphis Grizzlies, Pittsburgh Pirates .... There needs to be some penalty for not competing over a certain stretch of time ... call it 10 years then ... Just seems fair.  Plenty of cities would support franchises and expansion just isn't going to happen in any of the major sports leagues anytime soon.
  • Seriously - the NHL is still in business?  Crosby, Ovechin, blah, blah, blah.  I've got no interest - and only have one friend who even follows the sports anymore ...
  • Loved watching the World Series of Poker.  I know a lot of people (especially women) don't get it -- but I love watching Hold em on TV.  A 21 year old (from the University of Michigan!) won the Main Event!  Can you imagine getting $8.5 Million after graduating college??  Nuts.
That's it.  Hopefully it won't be so long in between my sports related posts...


Oh Crap - I'm "that guy"

It's inevitable - but when you get to certain points of your life - you sometimes look back and say, "Shit - I promised myself when I got here - that I wouldn't do X" ... Well, earlier this week - I got that feeling...

You see - my daughter is obviously the cutest thing in the world in my mind. And you combine the general cutest thing in the world + a very cute Halloween costume, and you get a father who is busting at the seams to share pictures with people.... So - Yes - I was "that guy."

Ideally, I'd be someone who is happy to share pictures - but acknowledges that seeing pictures of peoples' kids is a polite, socially acceptable thing - but not something most people will value even close to as much as each individual parent. Ideally I wouldn't be someone who shoves his iPhone in front of people who haven't even finished the sentence of "Oh - do you have (shove) ........ pictures?"

I hate being the cliche'. I don't feel any less proud or amazed at my daughter's cute-ness -- but I would like to not be "that guy."

So ... please be patient as I get used to this new phase of my life - and I promise to try and not be "that guy" for long....


My New Punctuality Reality

Apparent from my long delay in blog posts ... The concept of "Time" is something I recently have lost a bit of sense on.

Traditionally, I HATE being late. For some reason - I get this anxious feeling in my gut if I told someone I would meet them at 8 PM - and 730PM rolls around and Amy is still asking me which dress I like better ... Even if I KNOW the person/people I'm meeting don't care if I'm late or not - I just hate being late - period. Maybe it's because I remember as a little boy - waiting at various after school activities and being the last one picked up. At the time - I don't think I really cared - but perhaps it did something to my future subconscious...

Anyway -- fast forward to current times. Being on time is pretty much now a pipe-dream for me. I have a 9 week old - and we are first time parents. Our "schedule" is fluid - and there is no way to change that. So ... From now on - I will always include "ISH" at the end of my scheduling conversations....I still get a bit anxious if I'm running late - but perhaps now I care more about making sure my daughter is happy/comfortable/safe than anything else... ;)

So - this is my warning. I'm not sure how long it's going to last - or for that matter if it will ever change - but I'm most likely going to be late to things. I'm going to try my best - and I will feel bad if I'm late - but just know that you've been warned.

See you later-ish.


My life will never be the same

There's an obvious reason why it's been 4 weeks since my last blog post... 3 weeks ago - my life changed forever. Amy and I welcomed our BEAUTIFUL baby girl, Alexa, to the world on August 17th, 2009 at 4:59 PM. She weighed in at 6 lbs. 15.4 ounces and was 19.25 inches long.

Needless to say - we've been overwhelmed on several different accounts. We are first time parents - so it goes without saying we've got a lot to learn. I was telling a few people the other day that the past 3 weeks have felt like 3 months+. It probably wasn't the best time to start a new job - but at this point I feel like it gives Amy and I story #1 that will annoy the heck out of our daughter ("When you were born - your dad started a new job ... you had a hard time digesting... oh brother!).

Anyway - a couple observations from the first few weeks:
  • People warned us that we may not feel the love and connection to our daughter right away - and that it's natural to learn to love over time ... Well - it may happen to some people - but it definitely didn't happen to us. I get a smile on my face when I see her blank stare - my heart hurts when I see her cry ... Amy and I were both there minute 1. Now, I can obviously see my love growing as I get to know her and she's able to communicate - but the unconditional love started at 4:59 PM on August 17th.
  • After about 42 hours of being parents - the hospital sends you home. Amy and I hired a baby-nurse (the original one we had planned for 9 months had an emergency the day we were going home). I feel lucky to be able to financially afford the luxury of a baby nurse - but I have no clue how people do it with any sanity without that kind of help. Sure - you can read books and go to classes (Amy and I went to 15 hours of birthing class) - but nothing will prepare you for the real-thing. I keep saying to myself, "Hey - it's been done for thousands of years" and "tons of people less intellectually gifted than Amy have done this - so we definitely can do it..." I still don't understand how those people do it...
  • Breast feeding is CRAZY-hard. I'm so proud of Amy's patience over these first few weeks. People say "breast feeding is hard" - but I didn't come close in my mind to knowing really what they meant. It's damn hard - and fellas - not sure we could do it given the proper equipment - Just sayin...
  • People love babies! I think we've gotten more presents for Alexa than we got for our wedding! If you're reading this and you haven't gotten a "Thank you note" - know that you're not alone. There is a 99.9% chance we got the gift - love it - and will be sending thank-you's, um - shortly (and by shortly I mean - I'm not sure when - but asap).
  • If you haven't met Alexa yet - know that she is ADORABLE. (I'm not biased at all) I'm not sure if she cries as much or more than typical newborns - but I feel like that's just her way of getting her lungs ready for American Idol 2029. Amy thinks she'll be more of a "So You Think You Can Dance" prospect - which I'm totally supportive of - I just think the vocal practice in these first few weeks shows her dedication to AI.
  • Finally - just a heads up that I'll probably be blogging less ... Watching MUCH less TV and movies ... Talking on the phone less ... watching less sports ... You get the picture. My hope is that you, my friends, will love me just the same - even though I may not be as "cultured" as I once was (HA!) and I'll probably talk about my daughter every 5 minutes or so (OK - If I do this - you can roll your eyes).
That's it for now ... Until the next time I get 30 minutes of free time...
Welcome Alexa! Your mother and I are SO happy that you're here and promise to love you forever!! ;)


A New Role at Google

Two weeks ago I passed the 6 year mark for working at Google. Over those 6 years I've really enjoyed what I did on the day-to-day. I would joke that it was "Retail Sales Strategery" - but it really was an amazing sales and marketing job. In the role - I was viewed more as an individual contributor who was an expert on particular topics that various advertisers were interested in learning "best practices" on ...

With that experience under my belt, it is time for me to do something a little different (where I can leverage the last 6 years), yet I still think Google is the best company in the world to work for - so - I'm really psyched to continue working at Google - but having a different job.

Starting in about 2 weeks - my new official title will be "Head of Industry, Retail" where I'll lead a team of 7-10 people who call-on and service some of the top retailer advertisers on the east coast. I'm really inspiring to become a great "people manager" and doing my part to attain our team goals.

Starting a new job is always exciting - and given that I'm doing so with the same company I truly believe in - I'm really looking forward to it...


DirectTV vs. Cable -- Need Advice

As football season approaches ... I've got an interesting decision to make.
In our new apartment - I'll be able to set-up a DirectTV satellite dish. In NYC - I've only ever known the Time Warner monopoly... I am pretty sure cost is about the same for both....

At this point - in terms of the "PRO'S" to keep Time Warner - I could only come up with a few:
  • It's done. No more appointments, etc.
  • My phone, Internet, and TV/Cable is from one provider - one bill.
  • NY1
The PRO'S to change to DirectTV:
  • NFL Package/NFL Network
  • I don't have to deal with TimeWarner
  • Tons of HD options
  • Did I mention The NFL Package?
In terms of the CON'S for Time Warner - let's just say that I've hated them for 10+ years - so we can move on...Cons for DirectTV are:
  • Internet comes from another provider and is "Satellite internet" - I'm a little sketched about it.
  • Is the DirectTV connection/service in NYC gonna be clear given all the large buildings?
  • Is Amy gonna be able to figure out the new DirectTV controls, etc? ;)
I'm looking for advice people .... Thoughts?


The price of drinks

If this was 10 years ago - I easily could have written a blog with the exact same title but talking about totally different kind of costly drinks. At this point - I'm not surprised when I order a $7 beer or $12 Jack-on-the-rocks. I'm not happy about it - but at this point - not surprised.

What I am surprised about is what I've noticed as the ridiculous inflation of non-alcoholic beverages at restaurants. On many occasions this summer, Amy or I have ordered a standard "Lemonade" because it's what we are in the mood for. Beverages aren't the typical menu item that you order off a menu ... You just know what you want .... Well - maybe I should start - because I've noticed that the price of lemonade in NYC is often $5- $6. Six dollars for 12 ounces of lemon, water, and sugar!?! Seriously? I can buy 128 ounces of lemonade for less than $6... Iced tea, sodas, etc are now all over $4 at a diner in NYC. Again - seriously?

Fast food companies have long known that beverages are where the REAL profit margin occurs - but at this point - I think I'm priced out of the non-water order. Now, I'm of the mindset that when you go out - you should order what you're in the mood for and should you not be able to afford it - that maybe you shouldn't go out to eat... but at the same time ... Knowing myself, I just don't think I'm ready to be able to enjoy a $6 lemonade.

Am I crazy?


Autographs in the Digital Picture Era

I was talking to my friend Chad last week - who was telling me the story of when he met Jose Reyes in the baggage claim at LGA. Chad is a huge Mets fan - so it's like the equivalent of me meeting D. Wade or Zo Mourning.

A very interesting part of the story is that in their discussion - Jose told Chad that he wasn't coming back anytime soon, but when Chad went home, he saw on ESPN that the Omar Minaya said that day that Jose would be back soon... Two days later - the truth came out - but still was probably pretty interesting to be Chad and know that you theoretically had "the scoop" (and posted to his FB status) two days earlier than ESPN ...

But ... this isn't what I wanted to blog about .... What I thought was most interesting is that what Chad was hoping to get out of meeting one of his favorite ball players had NOTHING to do with getting his autograph. His first priority was having a conversation with him (knowing if he's nice or a jerk - in which Chad says he was super-cool) and his second priority was to get a picture with him... And Chad is not alone. I totally agree with that philosophy and have ZERO interest in a players autograph.

I believe that in the digital camera era - "autograph demand" is at an all-time low ... and with internet publishing/scanning technologies, "autograph supply" is probably at an all-time high.... Which is to say that the "Autograph market" is probably at rock-bottom right now. I'm not an autograph valuation expert at all - that's just my hypothesis. (Maybe Maze or Colediggy who used to hang out at Don Carter's for baseball memorobillia signings could weigh in on the current market).

I think the personal digital photograph means so much more in terms of capturing the memory. I can't tell you I have any pictures with people I'm huge stars of unfortunately. Partly because I can't say I've run into many - but those that I have run into - I never have the guts to annoy them in public. But ... maybe I should... and who knows -- maybe the day that I do ... I'll be sharing that experience with all of you via this blog ... Something I don't think would be as interesting if I only got an autograph....


Phone Sushi - It's a money saver

OK - A bit cheesy blog post title - but I witnessed something at work today that I wanted to share ... Who knows - maybe one day it will save you some money...

A co-worker came in complaining that she dropped her iPhone in the pool over the weekend and now had to buy a new phone ... Given that it's summer - we have young interns sitting among us ... Anyway - one of these bright young kids overheard her - picked up the phone - confirmed that it was in fact dead and said "I bet I can fix it."

When I asked him how - he said - you submerge the phone (and the crevices of the device) with uncooked rice. You wait - and the rice magically dries out the water in the device.

Well - you can guess the end result. The intern came into work a day later with a big smile on his face and handed my co-worker with her iPhone in complete working order.

I clearly don't want to encourage testing the methodology out - and I'm sure no one can vouch for the long-term validity of the device working well ... However ... I just thought it was something pretty cool that I never would have thought of...


Is my skin learning from my metabolism?

Most men over the age of 25 have had the realization at some point that they "just can't eat like they used to..." Their metabolism doesn't allow them to rotate daily dinner options between bacon cheeseburgers, pizza, and burritos. Even if you work-out regularly - it's pretty well-known that your metabolism over time just doesn't work like it used to ...

Well, this weekend I became curious if my skin was following this trend.
(Disclaimer - I acknowledge that "sun-bathing" is bad for you and can cause skin cancer)

When I was in high-school (living in south Florida), I went to the beach at a minimum of once a week and I was out in the sun every day... During this time, I honestly do not remember putting an ounce of sun protection lotion on my body ... Obviously there are health issues with this - but from the vanity standpoint of being happy with one's skin tone after being out in the sun - it just happened naturally for me... Similar to the way my body would allow me to eat whatever I wanted and not notice a difference to my body...

Anyway - over the years - this has drastically changed ... When I sit in the sun for any time over 30 minutes - not only do I need hefty sun protection lotion (we'll call it "30"), and not only am I like a 4 year-old who will miss spots through-out my body ... But I'll get burnt rather than tan...

My question is -- WHY? Is it my skin or is it the sun? I know the sun in Florida is different than New York, etc -- but it happens when I'm in Florida as well...

Has my skin gone the way of my metabolism? Has the sun gotten just 10 times more fierce in the last 15 years?


"Free" in debate

Some of the minds that I respect the most have sounded off this week on a recent book written by Chris Anderson (Editor of Wired Magazine and Author of The Long Tail).
Malcolm Gladwell set off the debate with his book review... Seth Godin respectfully disagreed with Malcolm .... and Mark Cuban also weighed in (Interestingly enough - both Seth and Mark often blog about the relative topic for quite some time)...

Anyway - I'm obviously not as insightful as any of these people - but from where I sit - I think the clearest reality is somewhere in-between where the two sides sit...

The very brief overview:
(Disclaimer - I haven't read the book - just the commentaries above)
Anderson and Godin argue that information is expected to be free for end consusmers - and that the parties that fight this (ie Newspapers) will wither away... Gladwell and Cuban says that free isn't sustainable and that anyone who thinks it can will end up losing a lot of money in the long-run (ie Youtube/Google).

My personal take:
In the digital era there is a certain amount of information that is expected to be free. With "free" comes lower expectations of how well that information is displayed, written, consumed. Everyday I expect to get "the headlines" for free. I expect to read sports stories on the Miami sports franchises for free. I expect to get hotel reviews for free. I expect to watch an entertaining 3 min video clip for free. With free - I don't expect that I'm going to be blown away by this information... I'm just looking to casuaully consume it. In these cases - it's up to the providers of this information to monetize this content via other methods than from my pocket (hence the "FREE"). The only way the industry has seen fit to try and do this is through advertising. I work in the industry for 11+ years and rather than get sidetracked on this post - please trust me when I tell you that the online medium as a technology is way too amazing for smart marketers and publishers to not figure it out in the long run ... It's just not an over-night exercise...

There is another set of information that I don't expect to be free. Professionally written and insightful material. Top notch video. Trustworthy medical and legal advice.

I still pay $20 per month for weekend NYT delivery. I'm not looking for headlines when I sit down, drink my coffee, and read my weekend paper. I'm looking for valuable, professionally written material (some people may not value this - but I do). I still pay $12.50 per ticket to go see movies (and some of them shouldn't even be considered "professionally done").

So the "net-net" is that the good ol' information superhighway has commaditized certain elements information. It is merely the evolution of our economy. What happened to the railroad when airplanes began to become affordable to everyone? What happened to 411 when the Yellow Pages were first published? On the flip side - people used to pay $0.25 for a cup of coffee until Starbucks convinced people their coffee experience was 4x better than what they were used to...

It's been said for a while, but newspapers will have to change their model ... but that doesn't mean they have to go away or that it's impossible for consumers to value quality journalism. It just means they can't be in the mass-market headlines business anymore ... And it means that they can't sell advertising the same way... but they can figure it out.

There is a market for free information - and that market is enormous. There is a smaller market for professionally published information than there was 10 years ago - but it's just different that what existing providers of free information are used to...


Search Engine Optimization tools

At least once a month, I'll have a friend-of-a-friend or relative or acquaintance ping me and ask me how they can show up at at the top of Google search listings for particular keywords...

I'd say the aggregate knowledge over the years has definitely gotten better ...Nowadays people usually know that I, personally (or any one person for that matter) can NOT make their websites show up with a better ranking.

Typically - I will give the very basic overview of how search and PageRank generally work - and then will usually give a tip or two that is sure to improve their site SOMEHOW ... (sometimes it's just renaming URLs) ...

Well - I stumbled upon a blog post that did a very thorough job of listing all of the relevant and free SEO tools that folks can use to improve their rankings. Not only did I want to share it with my loyal blog readers - but I wanted to document it on my blog so I can send people to this post when they ask me how I can help their sites with better ranking. ;)


Moneyball for Business

Micheal Lewis is in my top 2 favorite writers/authors (Malcolm Gladwell and him go back and forth). He originally got me hooked on his style and insight with the book, Moneyball. I am not a particularly quick reader (both in dedicated time and actual pace of reading), but I think I read the 300+ page book in a 48 hour period.

Moneyball is about one baseball General Managers' (Billy Beane) statistically focused approach to a sport, which traditionally tracks stats, but often mis-used these stats to make decisions... The book was revolutionary in a lot of ways. First, 5 years after it was published, it's fair to say that almost all of the Major League Baseball teams reconsidered their approach - and many hired quant guys to fill top positions rather than the traditional baseball guys. Secondly, other industries and sports began to think how they could apply the practices to their worlds. In particular, Bill Simmons talks incessantly about the MIT Sloan conference last year where several owners/GMs etc. of various sports leagues (the NBA in particlar) spoke about how they all have terabytes of data that help them make decisions - but different from Billy Beane and the A's ... they're choosing to keep their strategies private.

Now ... I work for a company that is notorious for believing that fast is better than slow and that most importantly DATA TRUMPS OPINION. In the classic business world - it's my belief that this is NOT the norm. Opinion and tradition are the reigning rulers - and there is always some way to cut metrics where they can partly defend such opinions...

I've had somewhat of a new role the past 6 months at work which is trying to QUANTIFY the tangible business impact (sales lift) that online media has on offline sales. We have sucessfully done this - and it's really exciting to see. I get to interact with a lot of smart Quant people - and I get to see some truly amazing ways that data metrics CAN be used to help make decisions... The challenge is getting people to buy-into the fact that DATA SHOULD TRUMP OPINIONS.

For Major League Baseball, holistic buy-in was attained through the success of a book. What is it going to take for the Marketing/Advertising/Media business to follow-suit? We shall see .... Maybe when it's all said and done - I'll need to play the role of Micheal Lewis, but for now, I'm merely on my soap box saying that this is the next big thing. Data models/algorithms/sophisticated math is 100% the way that successful businesses will make decisions in the future.


Scruff is in (?)

I was hanging out with 2 of my single guy friends last weekend. They are both more on the "metro" side vs. typical "guys guys" ... but even so ... I was still pretty surprised to hear that they both have a strategic planned out implementation for their facial hair... Having a method for one's madness around shaving isn't that crazy - each person is different (Example - I like to shave in the shower every morning as I feel like a get a better shave that way).

However, their strategic plan revolved around ensuring that their "scruff" was at optimal length for the weekend. And unfortunately for these two guys - it takes 5 days for said optimal length to materialize... But let's go back to the original premise ... Chicks dig scruff?? So much so - that it requires an orchestrated plan in hopes to look optimally scruffy for the weekend...??

Lucky for the two of them, I guess, they both have jobs which don't require a daily shave.

Maybe my beard is different from theirs - or maybe I feel differently because I've rocked a goatee for 10+ years, but after 5 days of not shaving, my face gets itchy and I feel like my face looks like it has dirt on it (which my grandma used to tell me about my goatee).

I'm not questioning their methods at all -- I just felt the need to ask my loyal blog readers if they, too, have found that "scruff is in"???


What do you want for your birthday?

My birthday is next week (June 12).

I’m a man – so friends don’t really buy presents for one another at this point in our lives outside of either big number birthdays or perhaps a goof-type gift that one may stumble upon…
Parents and relatives, though, still buy gifts for their children, son-in-laws, etc...

This said – without fail EVERY year – I get asked the question, “what do you want for your birthday?” Now, when I was 9 years old – this makes some sense. There is no way for a parent to know exactly what to get a 9 year old in the sense that 9 year olds could have temper-tantrums if, say, their parents bought them the “not cool anymore toy” for their birthday. So - my parents would ask me what I’d want – I’d say a skateboard or Colecovision (the smurf game was my favorite) and assuming the gift wasn’t too costly and I had been a good kid (which to be honest – I almost always was) – I’d receive the answer to the question "what do you want for your birthday?"

Fast forward over 20 years later – and the same rules do not apply.
  1. I will not have a temper-tantrum if you buy me a present that I didn’t necessarily have my heart set on.
  2. I have my own money to buy things if I really really want them. When I was a kid, it would take me all year to accumulate $50 in weekly allowance in order to buy the new Donkey Kong game – so getting the game for my birthday was the best way to get it. That’s not really the case now. I’m not saying “I’m rich bitch!” – and I can afford anything I want – but yes – at this point I can afford something in the range of where parents spend money on birthday gifts (say $50-$100) if I really really want something…
  3. When I was a kid – for some reason even if I said that I wanted a skateboard, there was a mystery if I was really going to get it. I didn’t have a sense of if a skateboard cost $50 or $5,000 and so, I really would still be surprised if I got the skateboard. Now – if I tell you that I really want the new Micheal Lewis book – and you buy me said book, that’s not much of a surprise. It’s not really as much fun if I tell you what to buy me. (I don’t think I’ve ever written a post on registries – but trust me when I say I could easily fill up some space with my thoughts here)
Sadly, I just thought of this response, but had I thought of it 2 weeks ago when both my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday, I should have said that for this birthday – I wanted them to never ask me what I wanted for a gift ever again. (I would have said it nicely - and tried not to sound like the wise-ass the response COULD read as - but is not intended)

I don’t want to come off as a brat. I understand why my parents are asking me the question: They would rather spend money on something I really want – rather then something I may not desire or use very often. And I get this – but at this stage of my life – I have greater appreciation of the thought given to the gifts then the actual gift/value/etc.

This all said – if anyone wants to know of a can’t miss gift for me …. An iTunes gift card is a great idea. For some reason – I enjoy buying $1.29 songs a lot more when there is already a balance in my iTunes account versus when there is not. So- - If my parents bought me $50 each of iTunes gift certificates – they would essentially be buying me “Music of my choice for a year.” That sounds like a great thing for me!

I don’t know if everyone agrees, but the reasons above is why I really try to never ask anyone what they wanted for their birthday.


The Next Level of Weather Information

Amy asks me to turn on New York 1 (channel 1) at least 3 times a day on weekends. Not because she's a huge fan of Lewis Dodley's monotone delivery ... but because the temperature is always listed on the bottom left of the screen and there is supposed to be a weather report every 10 minutes (except when you really want it - like when the dorky guy talks about his obsession with NYC Transit or "On Stage" are on...)

Anyway - there is something inherently missing from standard weather reports - and it's an idea Amy's had for some time. While it could be a business idea that I'm exposing to the world - I haven't really thought of a way to make money off of it - so if someone can think of a way to do it - and Amy can benefit from it -- then go for it!!

Here's the concept: Traditionally - a weather report will tell you:
  1. The Temperature
  2. Is it sunny, cloudy, or rainy?
  3. Wind conditions (on occasion)
As functioning adults - we then equate these 3 variables into our heads to figure out what clothes we are going to where for the day. If it's 80 degrees and sunny - well then Amy knows she can wear shorts, a tank-top, and flip-flops ... That's easy. If it's 20 degrees and snowing - well then Amy knows she should wear a cashmere sweater, leggings, boots and her "big dog" down coat ... That's easy too...

What I don't think is as easy (especially for women) is when it's 52 degrees in the morning, but could get up to 70 for the day - and it may rain later on ... What should they wear?

My solution is to simply create a large database of clothing options (cotton sweater vs. cashmere, wool pants vs. cotton, etc) and match them up with appropriate conditions (No leather jacket when it's raining, 50 degrees = long-sleeve shirt + sweater, etc) ... You could then match all of the conditions with clothing options to come up with what's appropriate. When the traditional weather reporters gave the traditional conditions - it could automatically be cross-referenced with the appropriate clothing index?

Look - it's obviously not a debilitating loss not having this information - and clearly people have gotten by just fine without it - but I do think people will find it a lot more useful than the current information that's given...


Longest Craps Roll of All-Time

Quick story that blew my mind today ...

This past Saturday night in Atlantic City - a woman who played Craps for only the 2nd time - apparently broke the record for longest craps roll of all time. The news story said she rolled for 4 HOURS and 18 MINUTES! (for non-savvy craps players, think of an average "roll" lasting 3 or 4 rolls - or roughly 1 minute ...)

The news story mentioned that the woman came to the table with $100 - but it didn't say what she (or the fellow players at the table) left with (had to be thousands of dollars... had to be!)
... It's stories like this that all people who enjoy playing craps dream of...



Amy and I moved this past week.

The obvious statement here is that "moving sucks" (although interestingly enough my sister told me earlier this week that she "loves moving" ... so maybe not such an obvious statement)

Anyway - this was the first time Amy moved in over 8 years - and only the 2nd time in 10 years for me ... Needless to say - I was not looking forward to the actual process of moving - and was very much looking forward to it being over.

We are still getting settled (have a bunch of boxes to unpack, things to organize, hang, etc), but the actual move was not bad at all ... I mean ... We ended up paying a company (FlatRate) to pack us up and move us. I just sat there while they were packing up and instructed them what goes/stays/etc.

We are all about saving money where we can ... but honestly ... there was about a $250 difference between having the Flatrate movers pack us vs. us doing the packing ... I'm not rich - but I think that is money well spent. We've been unpacking for 2 days - and guess what ... I would pay someone $250 to unpack, set-up electronics, etc. in a heartbeat.
* So I wrote the above before this Memorial Day weekend ... (After the fact - I realize that it would be difficult to have someone truly unpack for you - unless of course that person is a professional organizer like Barb).

We moved to a new area - so there's a lot of new stuff to get used to - apartment, building, neighborhood, commute to work, etc., but we spent a lot of time setting up our place this weekend - and we both feel great about the move...


Eminem - Relapse

For any hip-hop loyalists who read this blog - when Eminem's new album "Relapse" comes out next week (5/19).... GET IT!

It's been a very long time since I've gotten a hip-hop album and haven't been able to stop listening to it. That is definitely the case with this album.

He talks about a lot of the same topics in all the songs - but the production/execution of the album is just really really solid. I've been hooked since I got my hands on the tracks - and if you're a fan - you'll feel the same way...

If you're a "hip-hop fan" who is more into the songs on the radio -- I can't promise that you'll love the album - but the tracks already available on iTunes are definitely the "commercial tracks" - so you can probably just buy those songs and be satisfied.

BIG FAN! Enjoy!


2 Television Insights regarding Major League Baseball 2009

Growing up in South Florida (pre-dating the Marlins), I didn't grow up the biggest baseball fan. I did LOVE the 1986 Mets (I lived in NY in '86) - but that was about it...These days the lack of a "hometown team" hasn't hampered my desire to follow Major League Baseball - it's just evolved it to be 100% focused on my Fantasy Baseball teams.

As I've mentioned before on this blog - I definitely root for both NY teams because I think NYC is much more enjoyable when both teams are in the hunt (people are definitely more friendly when this is the case).

Anyway - I follow baseball activities daily (both online and on TV) - and I wanted to comment on 2 baseball related television notes...

1) I really really like MLB Network (In HD).
There is always something so relaxing about falling asleep to a baseball game - but with MLB Network - I can now fall asleep to a culmination of baseball games (They have plenty of "live look-ins" because they own the content) and highlights/box scores (which fits in really well to my fantasy-based interest). I think some of the "analysts" are annoying (such as Mitch Williams and Joe Magrane) - but some I really like (such as Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds)... For the most part - I've really enjoyed turning in and winding down as I go to sleep. I recommend it for any baseball fan...

2) I really like Dave Winfield on Baseball Tonight.
Overall - I've been spending more time watching the MLB Network over Baseball Tonight because I found it more fantasy friendly, but when I know Dave Winfield is on - I definitely check out Baseball Tonight. My first-gut opinion is that he's very well-spoken and has TONS of great insight as a long-time ball player... Again - if he's on ... Check him out and let me know what you think.


"The Next Google"

About a week ago, a co-worker came back from a conference and proclaimed that there was a lot of rumblings at the event that "Twitter was going to replace Google" and she really thought the speaker was on to something ... I have respect for the co-worker, but my first reaction was a simple - "What? Wow - I just lost a lot of respect for you..."

I'll first say that this clearly wasn't a nice way to start a discussion - and to that note - I didn't genuinely mean it. Let me explain..

I started working at Google in 2003, before it went public and right before the hype of all hype of IPOs. Throughout the first few years - I could not read the NY Times or WSJ without seeing multiple stories about Google. (BTW - this was first-hand lesson that you can NEVER trust 100% what's in the paper - even if it is one of the apparent reputable ones) ... Anyway - Google was (and is) a huge business success. With this success comes the naysayers and the ever-popular game of "who's next." I can't tell you how many stories I've read over the years that have proclaimed that XYZ company (icerocket, Kanoodle, myspace, etc) was the "next Google." So - yes - when someone says that XYZ company is the "next Google" I'm touchy and defensive on the subject.

Facebook, Twitter, and tons of other companies are innovative and unique in their own ways... I'm sure they'd love to be as successful as Google one day - but right now - they are not there yet...The argument for Twitter replacing Google went as follows:
1) Mobile devices will dwarf PCs in the future in terms of ways to connecting online (I agree).
2) Twitter is far more mobile friendly than Google (I agree it is today - but don't think that means too much)
3) Social connections are a growing way that consumers are getting recommendations, etc. (I agree).
4) Algorithmic search will be secondary to social search in the future (sometimes - yes - but not always and definitely not for everyone around the world).

Anyway - those 4 points are the crux of the argument. And as you can see -- I agree with some of the facets. But I don't see how anyone can think any of it means that Twitter will replace Google.

There is a lot that makes Google ridiculously unique - but at the core to it's success is the business model. I've never seen a business scenario where EVERYONE involved (Consumer, advertiser, publisher, and platform) are happy with the outcome consistently. In the Google ecosystem - they are ... Google creates holistic satisfaction (well - not everyone - but 95% of those that interact with it) Google focuses on the end users happiness - but the fact that advertisers and publishers are happy too - definitely doesn't hurt. Google does this GLOBALLY in both highly connected countries (more mature) and not (with tons of growth opportunity). What about Twitter? How is their business model set-up? How many satisfied paying customers does it have? Is it able to put ~$1B in the bank every quarter (for the last 8 quarters+)?

I think Search will evolve - but Google will evolve with it. The company knows that search in 2009 is a fraction of what "The ultimate search experience" will be. I drink the kool-aid - but yes - I think the resources at Google's disposal will allow it to be the leader in search - whether on a PC or elsewhere...whether it's algorithmic, vertical, or social search.

So - in summary - until the business questions are answered - I don't see anyone joining the online business success ranks of Google. It is bound to happen some day. I would just recommend that before any journalist or speaker at a conference say that some company is going to replace or is the next Google - that they stay away from the hypothetical. The proven business model is obviously something that evolves over time - and while I have confidence that Google will continue it's success - that doesn't mean that someone else can't/won't come up with something better. I just haven't seen it yet...


Sorry for the Silence

Loyal Readers - just wanted to apologize for the lack of posting lately ... Things have been crazy.
Amy and I have been in NY rental real estate mode ... Both finding people to sublet our apartment (which we have) and finding a new apartment for ourselves (which we hope we're close to). Maybe I'll have a post when it's all said and done about our experience - but let's just leave it as an "emotionally exhausting" experience...

Work has also been very busy for me. I've taken on an additional project which has amazing potential - but there's a lot of work to do...

Speaking of work - if you want to make fun of how I look interviewing someone - check out the Google Retail blog where I did a two part series with an industry expert.



As I have mentioned before - I am a passionate TV watcher. I don't think I'm lazy (as the "couch potato" tag implies) - I think I appreciate the form of entertainment it provides. In fact, I believe that if I had more time to watch TV - that the supply of quality entertainment would be able to fill that time. (I think there is A LOT more garbage on TV than quality -- but there is just so much to programming out there that there still more quality programming out there than I have time to watch).

Anyway - enter the DVR. Clearly a revolution for passionate TV watchers everywhere. "More efficient television watching" couldn't be more up my alley... So much so - that I drive my wife crazy about managing the "efficiency" within the "efficiency producing machine..."

Here's what I mean...

When you record a high volume of television - but don't have the equal amount of time - it puts pressure on the storage capacity of your DVR. Things build up and should too much time elapse, the system will erase programs at the end of your queue. I'm a fan of constantly cleaning up our DVR to ensure this doesn't happen. I can't explain why I feel less stress when the DVR is at 65% full rather than 88% full... I just do.

Below are 5 Rules that I would recommend other want-to-be DVR CZARS:
1) Any daily program (PTI, Oprah, Ellen, The Daily Show, Conan, etc) needs to be maintained twice a week at a minimum. Erase the ones you don't care about - save the ones with good guests - but stay on top of it. 5 hours per show per week is a lot of "fat." Stay on it.
2) Be selective with HD Programs. 24, Lost, any show on Discovery - totally worth it. 30 minute comedys - no way. Just no need.
3) Have an expiration date. If there are shows that have been on your DVR for over, say, a month - I have to imagine the odds of you really prioritizing to watch it after that amount of time is REALLY low. Sports, especially, have an expiration date - closer to 5 days. I'm not saying you delete it on the spot - but I'd definitely suggest removing the "save until you delete" feature if the expiration date is reached.
4) No movies. There are enough movie sources out there (Cable, Premium, OnDemand, Netflix) without the need of your DVR to do it as well. 2 hours+ investment in front of the TV takes a lot of time to schedule. I've made the mistake and DVR'd movies I wanted to see - they stayed on the DVR for months - only to feel stupid that when I actually watched it - I used HBO on Demand (I was in the bedroom when the movie was on the DVR in the living room).
5) If sharing - Be responsible for your own programs. Examples: I watch PTI. Amy watches Oprah. I watch 24. Amy watches Gossip Girl. We both watch How I Met Your Mother. The only thing I am comfortable deleting is PTI and 24. This is my responsibility. Even though I may see 4 "Ellens" on the DVR (all with B list guests) - I can't touch it. Amy needs to be the one who deletes that.

As my "savvy" as DVR CZAR matures - I will try and enlighten others.



Boys and Girls - it's about that time when I use this blog as a shameless plus mechanism.

My wife and I are looking to rent out our 1 Bedroom, 725 Sq Ft apartment on 28th and Park in Manhattan.  It's an amazing home - and is perfect for a couple or someone looking for additional space.  

If you - or someone you know is interested - please check out the webpage we created for the apartment.  Thanks!!


Wolverines Going Dancing!

As many readers know - I am a guy who likes to dance (to the right music).

My alma mater hasn't gone "dancing" (been invited to the NCAA Tournament) since I was there. So it was great watching the selection show (online - as I took a train to Boston) - and see that Michigan is in the tournament... "We" play Clemson in round 1 - and I'm hopeful for a first round win - but even if not - it is great to finally get invited after 11 years of not.

Hats off to Coach Beilein - who only after his 2nd season got us to the dance. While Manny Harris gets a lot of the media hype - DeShawn Sims is the real engine to success for the Wolverines (Both are top 10 scoring an rebounding in the Big Ten).

I've enjoyed watching the team play this season - and they seem to rise up for big games. I'm not a fan of how Coach Beilen plays 10 in the rotation, but I guess he wants guys fresh in his 1-3-1 defensive scheme...

That's it -- had been a while since I had a Sports post and will try not and make it so long next time... GO BLUE!


My First Surgery

I had my first ever surgery on Monday.

It was fairly minor - but given that it was my first time going to a hospital, "going under," being cut and waking up patched up - I thought it was worthy of sharing...

First - why did I need surgery? Well, some months ago - my wife noticed a golf-ball sized bump on my back. I figured it was a boxing bruise of some kind that was taking a while to heal ... After a few weeks (and having a physical therapist verify I should get it checked out) - I went to a doctor who said he was pretty sure it was Lipoma (a collection of fatty cells), but that I should go to a specialist to get further instructions.

After waiting a month to get an appointment, within 10 minutes of seeing the doctor, I pretty much had surgery scheduled to get it removed. Of course after I scheduled it - I had a million questions from everyone: (Why couldn't they just Biopsy it?, Should I get a second opinion, etc)

Basically - I was satisfied with the doctors rationale - which was:
1) The Lipoma was bigger than usual and less mobile than usual - which didn't have the doctors overly concerned - but they basically said that if I was their brother - they'd advise it come out soon.
2) I'd need to take it out regardless - Lipoma isn't overly concerning - but do I really want a golf-ball sized lump in my back? There was also a chance it burst if it stayed in...
3) I'm on the younger side - so might as well get surgery now rather than when I'm older and it's more dangerous.

So - I got it done.

Given that it was my first time - I was a little nervous - but I could intellectualize that this was an extremely minor surgery. This said, when I was being walked into the operating room - and I laid down on the cold silver slab and looked up at the bright lights, being surrounded by 6 people in blue pajamas and masks - I definitely felt "exposed" and nervous. Here I was, voluntarily putting my body up for the slicing enjoyment of people I didn't know all that well - but am forced to trust given their profession. It freaked me out for like 30 seconds - and then the IV sleep-aid kicked in.

I woke up as I was being wheeled to the "recovery" area. Nurses were very nice - but I never spoke to the actual doctor who cut me and sewed me back together (Kinda felt like a piece of meat). My wife picked me up - and I walked out of the hospital totally cognisant of my surroundings...

I've been a little sore the past few days - but for the most part I'm feeling good. I go back next week to get the "pathology" of the Lipoma and for the doc to check on the wound/stitches.
I'll keep y'all posted if anything is newsworthy...


Being "Bleeding Edge" Sucks

I'm at a conference today - and was having a generic conversation about business/technology with someone - and thought about an interesting misconception about business and timing...

There is this thought process among entrepreneurs that if they are THE FIRST to think of something that success is largely correlated to that fact alone... I don't think anything could be farther from the truth. I think there are huge disadvantages to being FIRST these days. Business moves at such a fast pace, that "first mover advantage" is not what it once meant. It is now something other companies leverage to capitalize on what not to do vs. what to do.

Being first makes you the guinea pig. Being first means that the odds are way against you to get it right off the bat. Being first is expensive. Being first makes you an evangelist of a future competitors success. Bottom-line - this concept was learned when we were all 6 years old ... First is the worst -- Second is the best! ;)

Was the iPod the first MP3 player (or for that matter - was iTunes the first online music store/organizer)? Was Google the first Search Engine? Was Youtube the first video sharing site? Was Facebook the first social network? (I can go on and on) Oh, and by the way, The Snuggie wasn't the first (or definitely last) blanket with sleeves....

What you notice, though, is that all these example are from recent business successes. The gentleman I was speaking with earlier today is in the mobile space (and he's the one who said "being on the bleeding edge sucks") - a GREAT example of an industry that has a handful of people trying to figure it out - while others are waiting on the sideline because they know it's bound to explode -- they just want to gain the 2009 benefit of the "second mover advantage"

How do you protect against this? (I have no idea!) Patents take way too much time and are easily overcome with slight modifications ... Legal action is too expensive - and nothing entrepreneurs can sustain ...

What's my point in all of this? Am I trying to dissuade people from being cutting-edge with their thought processes ? Not at all -- I just thought it was an interesting shift and the alternative to perceived common sense. People should continue to follow their passions - because that will lead to success.

Whether or not you think of an original idea or innovate on someone else's -- Any successful business person I've heard from says - it comes down to passion (which insinuates "hard work" as well), met with timing met with luck ... And my point of this post is that the "timing" piece definitely doesn't have to be first, especially today...


Top TV Shows in the last 5 years

My previous post on How I Met Your Mother has sparked some further conversations with friends (which is the part of the blog I love the most). Most of the conversations were agreeing with me on how great of a show HIMYM is (although - interesting point from Ryan who once lived in NYC and now lives in Michigan saying that none of his friends in Michigan appreciate it like he does cuz they've never lived in NYC).

The other conversations I've had were about the "what else?" What other shows would I suggest?

Below is a lost of top 20 shows on DVD that I'll recommend. With my work travel schedule and Netflix - I'm able to watch more shows than most (and I love TV). This said, I obviously don't watch every show (example - I've never seen any of the CSI/SVU stuff) - and my sense of humor definitely isn't the same as everyones' (example - The Office won't be making the top 20 below). I've excluded Reality Shows - and because I'm a man who doesn't appreciate Gossip Girl, The OC, etc - I've only included one "soap opera" on the list below...

The Top 20 TV Programs I've watched in the last 5 years and would recommend on DVD:
20) Rescue Me (60 min - Dramady)
19) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (60 min - Dramady) - No idea how this only made it one season
18) Breaking Bad - (60 min - Drama - on AMC ;)
17) Two and a Half men (30 min - Comedy)
16) Weeds (60 min - Dramady)
15) Grey's Anatomy (60 min - Soap Opera)
14) Prison Break (60 min - Drama)
13) Heroes (60 min - Drama)
12) Californication (30 min - Dramady)
11) Dexter (60 min - Drama)
10) Entourage (30 min - Comedy)
9) Scrubs (30 min - Comedy)
8) Alias (60 min - Action)
7) Lost (60 min - Action)
6) Mad Men (60 min - Drama)
5) 30 Rock (30 min - Comedy)
4) Friday Night Lights (60 min - Drama)
3) The Wire (60 min - Drama)
2) 24 (60 min - Action)
1) How I Met Your Mother (30 min - Comedy)

So - that's my top 20. I'm sure I've left some shows off - either because there are a lot more than 20 great shows out there or because I've never watched it. So ... I'd love to hear which shows you think should be on the list or which of the above should not be...


Economic Stimulus

Thus far in my life - I have not been an extremely politically charged person. I'm not going to start now, but I had an opinion I wanted to share on the Economic Stimulus situation...

Am I crazy - or does anyone else think it's a REALLY stupid idea to have Senators and House of Representatives figuring out our "Economic recovery plan"? I mean, seriously ... We are talking about Trillions of dollars. Not what I would call "petty cash" that I want someone unqualified deciding how or how much is spent....

Let's get 5-10 of the smartest economists in a room and have THEM figure it out...or at the very least have them create 3 options to be voted on...

I've met a handful of Senators and Representatives ... While most were charming and fairly bright, I can't tell you that I want their brains to be the chosen ones to decide the economic fate over the next 10+ years... I mean ... I think I'm charming and fairly bright (oh - and have an Economics degree from the University of Michigan) ... but ... I DEFINITELY don't want myself having ANYTHING to do with that kind of decision ... There are just SO many more qualified people for the job....

When you go into surgery - do you want the general practitioner to operate on you? Do you want your neighborhood handyman building your house? Do you want the bank teller to be your financial advisor? Do you want the Best Buy salesperson to be the one to install your new home theater?? You get my point...

If our government officials want to vote on something ... they can vote on who these EXPERTS are... But again ... This job mandates specialists and not political figures...

Mr President ... Having the spending be more transparent is a great first step ... But the lobbying of this "package" is politics as usual... Let's get the BEST Americans to figure this out...



I realized the other day, that although I've been writing this blog for 5+ years, I've left out expressing my passion for what I believe could be one of my favorite TV series of all time... Yes, when it's all said and done - I think this show could be better than Friends, Cheers, Frasier, or any other highly touted TV Sitcom (putting it in the same class as Seinfeld is difficult, not because I was the biggest Seinfeld fan, but more so of how successful it was/is).

"How I Met Your Mother" is not a show I started watching from the get-go, but it's one that I refuse to miss when it's on...I've been privately promoting the show to friends for years and have been frequently teased about doing so on many occasions.

From the uninformed, I can see where people don't expect it to be a GREAT show. For starters - it's on CBS, which isn't what I would consider the "hippest" of broadcasters. It also is not heavily promoted nor widely critically acclaimed...

This said - I HIGHLY recommend anyone who has not followed the 4 seasons of the show, to put Seasons 1-3 on the top of your Netflix queue right now. While it's not necessarily a show where you absolutely have to watch in chronological order, you do certainly have to understand and know the genius character development in order to appreciate the show. So, if you watch an episode or two (which is becoming more and more possible now that it plays on Lifetime in syndication) and "don't get it" at first ... It's not because it's not funny ... it's because you don't have the background on the characters - which is a huge part of the genius.

The other part of the genius is the writing. Anyone ages 25-40, living in NYC can attest that the writers constantly NAIL the time period, life stage, and comedic relevancy of that reality. (So yes - now that I'm thinking about it, I could perhaps relate HIMYM to Seinfeld...).

As dorky as it sounds, I've actually thought of who my favorite character is on the show - and I cannot come to a conclusion... I love them all.
  • Barney is possibly the best character on Television (and one of the best acting jobs going)
  • Marshall is so funny/interesting that his character was unintentionally the star of a very successful movie (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
  • Ted is probably considered the "main" character - but he's not always the focus of the show.
  • Robin has arguably had the best and most memorably funny story lines of the 4 seasons
  • Lilly is the perfect fit for Marshall and a great Slap-bet Commissioner (The role also successfully un-type-casted the very difficult to overcome - "one time in band camp" character from American Pie. I mean - who thought she was ever going to be anything but that??)
So this is one of many personal recommendations my loyal readers will receive from me. If you haven't watched this show .... and if you like to laugh while watching TV ... then watch HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.

If you want to buy my a birthday present and can't think of what to get me -- get me a HIMYM T-shirt (here's my current favorite - but the site is updated regularly) ;)

And if you do watch it and want to talk about how funny it is ... Then email me.... I'm happy to oblige. ;)


It's 2009 - Do I need a "home phone"?

I have 4 Phone Numbers:

  • My Cell Phone (primary)
  • My Apartment
  • My Office
  • My Blackberry (Think of it as "work mobile")
If I was to breakdown my overall usage by number I'd have to say:
  • Call Phone - 75%
  • Home - 10%
  • Work - 14%
  • Blackberry - 1%
If I was to breakdown the cost of my phone bills (considering I don't pay for my business calls directly), I'd say:
  • Cell Phone (which is also an internet device, mapping service, video iPod, gaming device, etc) 60%
  • Home Phone (which provides me with - um - a phone) - 40%
Yes - Something is wrong with this....

I have (and pay for) a home phone for mental state of mind ... "Just in case" my cell phone service is down, or there is a black-out like there was in August 2003, or if I lose my cell phone (you get the picture)... 

I listen to my Cell phone voicemail everyday.  I listen to my home messages maybe once a week (the avg number of messages waiting for me is 4)...

I have one home phone in my house - and yes - I've left it off the charger a few times and had to use my cell phone at home ... I lived ...

In my current cell phone plan, I end up with PLENTY of minutes to spare at the end of the month....

On the flip side - if I get rid of my home phone - what number are the tele-marketers going to call during dinner time or Saturday mornings?? (Is this worth the monthly expense???)

I've tried Vonage in the past - but it was way too much of a pain in the ass - and had spotty service.  I'd rather pay the $15 extra if I'm gonna spend the money in the first place ...

It's 2009 - I'm guessing that most of my loyal readers are more sophisticated than I and don't bother having home phones ... I left a poll on the right hand side -- please enlighten me.
Thank you.


Zo Mourning Part 2

I'm guessing this is something that my loyal readers probably are not aware of - but the subject and title of the first EVER blog post on this blog was: Alonzo Mourning (almost 4 years ago).

Yesterday, Zo announced his retirement from the NBA and I wanted to pay my respect. Before there was Dwayne Wade - there was Alonzo Mourning. Zo was the superstar and symbol of my favorite sports franchise of all time. I loved what he represented: Heart, Passion, Dedication, Hustle, Defense, Emotion... All things that I like to think define my own personal sad excuse for a basketball "game."

Zo is 10th all-time in the NBA in total blocks (shocked btw that Shawn Bradley is 11th). He is the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat all-time leader in blocks. He was a 2 time all-defensive player of the year. And...He owns a Championship Ring (his role in that will always be VERY under-rated. He was a man determined in the NBA finals in 2006).

Zo is most recently known for his courage and comeback with his rare kidney disease and he's ALWAYS been known in the Miami community as charitable with his time, money, and celebrity.

In his 15 year career, Zo had his ups and downs. I've written about this before, but he's certainly evolved as a player and role model. It wasn't always pretty - but I always knew that he took great pride in representing The Miami Heat - and he gave it his all ALWAYS.

I'm gonna miss rooting for you, Zo. Hopefully you'll continue to be a role model in the community and beyond. Much Respect!


Our 44th President

Given that this blog is a pseudo journal of sorts ... I thought it appropriate to document the historic Presidential inauguration that occurred yesterday...Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the US, the first black president, the 5th youngest President ever, and I'd argue the most "with it" President that I'm aware of (the only proof I have of this is the extreme turn-out of the 18-35 demographic, his reluctance to give up his blackberry, etc)...
BTW - Kudos for the TV Show 24 for predicting a black president in the form of David Palmer ... Could they be on to something this season and predicting a woman president next?

For the first time that I can remember, massive amounts of people are excited about Politics. I've said for a long time that kids growing up in recent years would MUCH rather strive to be Bill Gates than Bill Clinton ... Politics as an industry has quite a sour brand ... I'm not sure President Obama is going to completely change that brand perception - but he seems to be a great inspirational leader with great moral values and determination.

He's got such a huge task ahead of him - but I think he's done a real good job leading up to day #1 setting the expectation that he is only one person - and every American has a role in turning the ship around.

It's Day #2 in office for the new President ... I'm hopeful and optimistic. Only time will tell, howver, if our country is ready for a turn-around and if Barack Obama is the leader to take us there. Good luck Mr. President. I'll be rooting for you. ;)


Reminder - NO DELTA out of JFK

This is more of a reminder to myself (any Amy) than a true blog post ... I never want to fly Delta out of JFK again. While it feels like every airline sucks these days, and traveling is such a crap shoot .... The terminal at JFK that Delta operates out of is the shit-show of all shit-shows... The chaos that intertwines check-in traffic with the confusing long line for departures with no method behind the madness is crazy ... I just don't want to experience that again ... and Amy and I have experienced it collectively about 3 or 4 times - so I just want to learn from my life experiences.

Feel free to take the advice, obviously ... but even if it's cheaper on Delta, I believe the Jetblue experience is well worth the $30 or whatever.... At this point I'm willing to spend the money for much less airport stress.


A bar tab first...

Last night I went to meet up with a buddy for drinks at Maxie's Grill.... It was "happy hour" time, which meant the bar wasn't crowded, but I'd say there were 6-8 people at the bar.
I got there a little early, ordered a drink and put my credit card down to start a tab - rather than pay cash after every drink ... This is the standard if you're having multiple drinks - and I can't say I've ever done anything else ...

Anyway - about an hour and a half later, I ask for the bill. I notice a few other people get their bill before me, but don't think much of it... Then, the bartender comes over very jittery, and explains that she can't find my credit card... She even says "if I were you I'd be furious" ... and it's not really my style to be furious, but I'm annoyed but trying to be rationale....I mean, what was I going to do? Get really mad and cause a scene? What good is that going to do?

I ask the bartender to look again - as I would be even more annoyed to cancel my credit card and then get a call tomorrow that they found it... But ... no luck ...

So - I'm going with the theory that she gave my credit card to someone else ...

I can only hope that this someone realizes it today and returns it to the restaurant. I called AMEX and put my account on a 24-hour hold with this hope... (So if you're "that guy" and you Google'd my name and are reading this ... PLEASE return it ... it would be REALLY appreciated).

Anyway - that's it. I'm going to try and not let this effect me in the future (meaning the next time someone asks me to start a tab - I won't hesitate.... BUT ... should it happen twice, I think I'll stick with paying cash or leave it to someone else to start the tab....

UPDATE - I got my card back. The bartender found it at the end of the night with all the lights on... What I thought was pretty interesting was how aloof the manager was about the whole thing. Definitely the last time I buy drinks at Maxie's Grill....


Motivation During Down Economy

Recession, Poor Economy, Lay-offs, Bankruptcy ... All words you will see 10 times each day in the local newspaper... And in this economy, people clearly are nervous about job security - "White collar," "blue collar," or otherwise. I would take this to mean that people would want to do anything and everything to keep their jobs - right?

BUT ... over the last few weeks I've encountered handfuls of working class people who I am convinced either don't understand what's going on (and what it means to them) or ... Just don't care...

Here's a CRAZY idea ... In a down economy, focus on being THE BEST at what you do. If you are a media buyer, an accountant, an airline representative, or even if you work at Duane Reade. There is a lot that is out of individual contributors hands' when it comes to particular jobs, but what we can control is how good we are at our job. If you don't like your job - that's on you - but in an economy like we are in - you BETTER appreciate it. And appreciating your job means being good at it. Being good at your job often means that you are overly nice to customers, you ask your boss what more you can do, you have a smile on your face while working...