Saturday, June 19, 2004

Found Among My Baseball Treasures

A Commemorative Ticket From Opening Day At Pac Bell Park Posted by Hello


Mike has this nailed. He has a quote in a recent Reuters story in which he says people don't need a new device to view videos because they have the PC.

So right on! The PC already is a home and work hybrid tool; in the future, it will be even more so a home and portable entertainment device.

Yahoo! News - New Intel Chip Aims to Boost Features of Home PCs

Slow Death Of Prime Time

I am going to take a quick diversion into my real life world, the world of digital media. I cannot go too far; I work for the biggest IT research company on the planet, and people pay good money for this kind of thought, but I want to share the tip of this emerging iceberg.

Check out the “Jerry and Superman” TV “commercials. It’s about five minutes in length. It’s hilarious. It’s four minutes and 50 seconds of humor and 10 seconds of thinly veiled commercial. It appears on TBS and on the Web (see site link below).

Mike and I talked about this very concept the other day. In the future, these sorts of branded commercials will be commonplace. These commercials may be delivered on “TV,” but only if the networks wise up. More likely, they will be delivered by alternative sources. That, I cannot go into right here.

For anyone who is not familiar with infomercials, you know they are more than 30 minutes of Ron Popeil with the Veg-O-Matic. Infomercials are a blend of art and science. In the future, advertisers will divert huge amounts of money to this new form of delivering messages and calls to action. If you watch the Jerry ad on the Web, there is an opportunity to click on the ad and apply for a card. Simple, but effective.

This art form works better than those strange product placements. Is seeing a Starbucks ® cup on a TV show going to make me go out and buy a cup of coffee? Maybe it’s a branding exercise, but the TV venue if so superficial and artificial, it just does not work. This new form of infomercial works.

This trend is one element that will lead to what we call “the slow death of prime time.” More to come.

The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman


Yesterday, we had occasion to go down to the Camelback Inn, in Old Scottsdale, to visit a friend of my wife’s. The Camelback Inn, as my wife tells it, is a life-changing place for us. It’s where we stayed in 1989 when we decided to move to Arizona.

It’s a gorgeous mountain that has streaks of red based on the time of day. It’s not quite like Sedona (which I have not visited, but have heard about the red rocks), but considering it’s in the middle of an urban area, it’s quite the site. The mountain sits there, a calm force in a hectic setting. It’s peaceful and beautiful, and I look at is an anchor that welcomes me back from travel. It’s one of the reasons Phoenix is and always will be my home.

Friday, June 18, 2004

A Gold Star For This Idea

They are building one of these "waiting lots" here at Sky Harbor. It will not work everywhere (would be a nightmare in New York, for example), but will help in those places it makes sense.

USATODAY.com - Airports chase waiting drivers further from terminals

Almonds Are Forever

I joke all the time about how when Pac Bell opened, Webvan sponsored the seat drinking cups. And, I joked (at the time) about who’d take over sponsorship when Webvan went down the toidy.

Here’s my answer: Almond growers of California. Mike says if they go out of business, the state’s in big trouble. Indeed!

Home @ Last

What started out as a brief delay ended up being two and a half-hours. There was bad weather somewhere-my wife says it was in South Dakota—and it screwed up flights around the U.S. The flight I was in originated somewhere and got diverted and so on and so on…

Could have been worse. When I arrived at Sky Harbor, close to 11 PM, I noticed the non-stop from Washington Dulles was six hours late. I have been on that flight.

My original thought was that the flight was late because United had its 1.66 billion loan guarantee shot down by the government. I may have to switch primary carriers at this point.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Not Getting Home So Fast

It appears my trip does not want to come to an end. I sit here at the gate watching my flight be delayed by increasing amounts. We’re now up to 95 minutes late. That means I might get home at some point tonight. Might, that is.

I go through streaks when it comes to flight delays. I’ll have five in a row, and then none for a year. I’ve had quite a few already this year.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

In The Seat Next To Me...

Over the past 45 years, I have been to baseball games with lots of people in tow—friends, girlfriends, relatives, work colleagues, etc… Naturally, I have enjoyed going to games with some folks more than others.

Without a doubt, my father is in an elite class. He’s No. 1, untouchable, unbeatable. Let’s top there. My Uncle Mare (dad’s brother) is 1A. Mare is not his given name—he gave that back.

So, next comes a list of baseball friends who stand apart. My wife is in a category by herself. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have a wife who enjoys going to games. Yes, I am. She rarely watches the game, but loves the experience. She’s fun and easygoing and just has a good time. In the old days, we would share a beer at the game. Can’t do that anymore.

Mike (see above) , after two games, joins some notables as All-Star baseball friends. The ranking is based on knowledge of the game (without being a baseball nerd, like me), general sense of humor, overall demeanor (not sure what that means) and attention to detail. For example, asking why they are playing a specific song when a player comes to bat, ranks high. To sum it up, rankings are totally subjective.

The All Star Team (aside from dad, uncle and wife): Mike, T.S, (he used to work for me and remains a close friend), John (former business partner), Al (my former brother in law) and Mark Thomas. I’ll post about him separately

SF Morning Radio Blahs

Back in late 1994, I began the near daily ritual of driving from Marin County to my office in San Jose. It’s a nasty ride, no two ways about it. No short cuts available and the ride requires a section that takes you through San Francisco with lots of stoplights. There is no way around it.

So, to retain sanity, the radio is your best friend. I first listened to Frank and Mike on KNBR (The Sports Leader) on my way to San Jose. They were old school morning radio hosts and they felt like your best friends ushering you comfortably from here to there. Cammy was their traffic person. She became a personality on her own and switched to KFRC as an afternoon host.

Frank and Mike retired and KNBR has not been the same since. I am listening to some morning host who is neither funny nor compelling. His news/sports guy Chris Townsend just gave some news/sports headlines that were..well…illiterate. He must have failed High School English. Ugh. Sadly, it’s the only station I can get clearly in my hotel room.

KNBR has tried all sorts of morning hosts. The worst (til now) was Gary Radnich, a TV sportscaster who has the self deprecating bit down to the point of absurdity. I believe they should just reply the syndicated ESPN Radio feed.

My morning drive hero became Howard Stern. I listened to Howard nearly every day for fix years. He was funny and cutting edge in an accessible way. Knowing radio, I knew it was an act. An act, mind you, not suitable for children, but what adult would let his child listen to Howard? Aren’t we about freedom of choice? Howard is not for everyone, but for the guy with the 68-mile ride, he’s a savior.

Footnote: I listened to Howard yesterday on my way to San Jose. He’s just not the same. Mike and I say that Howard needs to take his show to XM Radio or go to the Web. Who needs the FCC hassles?

SF Giants @ SBC

Yep, I know the things that make me happy. A great night at the ballpark.

Mike and I had a great time. The Giants won, we talked sports, music, pop culture and even a little work stuff thrown in. It was chilly, but we lasted until the 8th Inning. Woody (Kirk Reuter) had his game on, meaning it went along quickly. The Jays were cowards and walked Bonds intentionally. Bonds had two hits. Happy Pedro (Pedro Feliz) hit a home run, which was cool because he signed my glove at Spring Training a few years ago.

Even the garlic fries were great.

The night did a lot to erase some bad memories at Pac Bell during some rough family health years. Maybe changing the name of the stadium did the trick

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Deja Vu, Part II

I had a great day in the office. Had a great sales meeting with a top media company; a great time where all sort of futuristic scenarios were passed back and forth. Good talking with people who are willing to think about the future with such a daring perspective.

I saw lots of colleagues and friends. It felt like the old days, which is mostly good. I did not leave the company in 1999 easily; I was presented with the proverbial offer I could not refuse. I am glad I did not refuse. It worked out. I am glad to be back, nonetheless.

It’s easier working remotely, but it is also a very collaborative business, and while I do well collaborating on the phone, in 90 minutes, Mike and I built the foundation for another far-out media scenario. Can’t do that on the phone.

Life works out. I am where I should be. I need to do a better job to not worry about things out of my control. Years ago, I was in a cab in Paris with a former colleague who was based in London. She told me I needed to worry less and enjoy the little moments of life a lot more. I am trying. It’s not easy for me.

Tonight, I will enjoy the Giants whooping the Blue Jays. I was at the Giants first Interleague Game at Candlestick Park. They played the Angles and J.T. Snow hit three homers against the Giants. Next year, he was a Giant.

Office Deja Vu

At the moment, I am a little overwhelmed. I am sitting in the building in which I spent the better part of five years learning the ropes to becoming a research analyst. Mostly all great times. I also worked in the building next door, but I think we’re consolidating people into one space. Not sure.

The ride down sucked as always. Traffic on 101 sucked as always. The exits from 237 have changed and I actually got lost. Really. I found a familiar street name and went on sheer instinct.

I am only here in the office for the day. I see familiar faces, looking at me quizzically as if to say, “Wait, I know that guy… where has he been?” Most don’t know I ever left the company and some don’t know that I came back a year ago.

It’s a strange feeling. Could I take the 68 mile commute again? Only if I had to

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


What can I say about SFO? The airport here was my gateway to a successful career from Nov. 1994 through Nov. 2001. During my career at my current company (first go ‘round) and then NetRatings, I probably flew in and out of SFO more than 100 times. Maybe 200. It was great because you can fly from SFO nonstop to NY, Boston, D.C., Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, London, Seoul, etc.. And, I have flown to each of those places from SFO. Each destination was filled with excitement, adventure and a great learning experience.

Sadly, I remember two flights home the most. The first one was in March 2000 from Tokyo. While in Tokyo, I learned that might wife had breast cancer. We knew with some certainty before I left, but she called me with the news on my trip. The next day, in Tokyo, I gave two, one-hour presentations on sheer heart and courage. On the flight home, with my boss in the row behind me, I quietly cried myself to sleep and slept the entire 12 hours.

And then there was a flight a few months later from Singapore. I was scheduled to fly home and go right from the airport to take my wife to chemotherapy. I arrived at the airport in Singapore on the wrong day. After great hysteria, United graciously changed my ticket. After all, I was a 1K flier having flown in excess of 100,000 miles six years in a row. I arrived home and off we went, both laying on a bed in the infusion lab.

There were more great flights in and out of SFO than the two mentioned above. I’ll think of them over the next two days… I am set to start a new chapter with SFO.. and there it is, right outside my hotel window.

Leaving LA (Thank Heavens)

It’s not that I hate LA, it’s just I don’t understand it. Aside from Joe Friday, who on earth would choose to live here? I know that a former colleague of mine who covers the entertainment industry for The Wall Street Journal lives here perhaps that’s a good reason. Or maybe a pitcher making $20 million a year playing for The Dodgers. And in that case, he’d only have to live here part of the year.

The session I moderated on the future of search engines did not go well. The previous keynote went overtime and butted up against the start of my session. At start time, there were two people in the room. After a short wait, we started and (as moderator) I sacrificed most of my time in deference to my panelists. By the end of the session, we had maybe 35 or 40 people in the room.

One guy who came in later looked just like Albert Einstein. It had to be put on, because no one accidentally looks like that.

The ride to the airport was pure LA: hot, smoggy and loaded with traffic. Ugh. Even New York seems gentler than LA. Can’t say why; maybe it’s because I am originally an East Coaster and can put up with rudeness more than smog.

My love/hate relationship with United continues. I hated them yesterday, love them today. A nice counter person at the Premiere area put me on an earlier flight, allowing me to eat dinner at a relatively normal time. Nice. If the car transaction at SFO goes smoothly, I am in my room by 7:30. I can listen to the Giants game (Jon Miller at the mike), eat dinner, stare out the window and reminisce. And blog.

My plane is filled with (rather large) people from Tonga. I have no idea how you get from the U.S. to Tonga. I suspect they are headed to New Zealand because a few other passengers look like rather foreign. I cannot even fathom a late night flight from SFO to Auckland. Would have to be an Ambien ® trip for me.

All told my trip to LA was OK; the panel was less than stellar, but I had a great meal/meeting last night with an executive from a major IT vendor. He loves the research we’re doing.

One last question—Do people realize when they are on the cellphones in a public place—like an airport waiting area—that when they speak loudly, we can hear every word? Like this woman at Gate 70A who had this loud (and inane) conversation with someone who put their child on the phone to say hello. That’s a bad enough experience in closed quarters, but when you have to share that with others in public, I say shut up. Or maybe I should have.

Travel Day II

I just must be getting old. A long day ahead and I am not looking forward to it. Not for any particular reason, but business travel has lost its allure.

I am moderating a panel at 1:30 PM here in LA. Then, I am off to the airport to fly to SFO. I have to pick up a car then drive to my hotel, which is right by the airport. Been to the hotel a million times for meetings, but never have stayed there. It has an awesome view of SFO with planes taking off and landing. That will make for a great blog posting.

So, this type II diabetic already wonders about dinner, but I just cannot stress about it; stress will bring on my asthma. Funny, isn’t it.

I will try and adopt the laid back California point of view. Since I never had such a mindset when I lived here, it’s doubtful to arrive today.

Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

I was watching this music special on KCET last night (LA's Public TV channel). The show fetaured musical stars from the '70s and '80s, and it was, by and large, pretty good. Then The Stylistics came on. Yikes--no Russell Thompkins, Jr. Without him, the act is a sham. The guy trying to sing his falsetto lead just didn't have the goods. Sad.

THE STYLISTICS - R&B Artists - Corporate Entertainment Booking

Monday, June 14, 2004

Big Fun in So Cal

Anyone, who believes business travel is glamorous, come with me.

The day starts early with anxiety over getting to the airport. Do I leave earlier in case there’s traffic on the freeway? What if that great lot across from Terminal Two at Sky Harbor is full? What if the security line is extra slow? So, I get to the airport, sans traffic, two hours early. No check in line, no security line.

The Red Carpet room in Phoenix is at the bottom of United’s barrel. It’s well located in the terminal, but it’s vintage ‘80s. No broadband service. Marginal food. I’ve been to just about all the Red Carpet rooms in the US (and most overseas), and this one is lightweight.

Can you imagine a flight between two of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. is on a Skywest Regional Jet? Seats 50. A/C does not work. We’re 40 minutes late. The bags take another 30 minutes. We’re cooking.

Cab line at LAX is long. I really wanted to get a cab that takes credit cards, but that would have added another 15 minutes to the line. We venture out into the brown haze and traffic. The cabbie is rambling in some Afrikaans language to someone on his cell. Everyone is on their cells in their cars. Traffic sucks as we snake our way to the 405 (San Diego Freeway). The haze gets browner.

We exit at Santa Monica Blvd. No Sheryl Crow in site. Traffic gets worse—there is construction. We get to the hotel and I am beat and really haven’t done anything yet. I get my badge for this conference at which I am moderator. I eat lunch and I have dinner with someone tonight at the same hotel restaurant.

The Internet in the room is working marginally. I stayed at this some hotel in 2001 a few months after I had foot surgery and could barely walk. I spoke at a conference held by some magazine company; my speech coincided with the lunch keynote. I had three people in my session; I think they were homeless who wandered into the room.

Let’s hope tomorrow is better

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The "Sex & The City" Plan Is Sheer Genius

I have been wondering who is going to watch the PG version of “Sex and The City?” After all, anyone who had an interest in the show has seen it, either on cable or DVD. So, who’s left? Well, my pre-teen daughter and her friends, for one. Every time the ad appears on TBS (cool new logo), she asks if she can watch it.

My sense is the PG S&TC will be about as racy as your typical PG-13 movie. But here’s the sheer genius of it all. My daughter and her friends will watch it for a few years and then be old enough to graduate to either the HBO or DVD versions. And then my daughter will be replaced by an entirely new generation of pre-pubescent girls.

Since the HBO-DVD version is like an entirely different show, graduating from TBS to unedited version will amount to an entirely new viewing experience. With a new audience waiting in the wings, the show—in both versions—can and will run forever. Put it this way: Sara Jessica Parker’s great-grandchildren will never be hungry.

Yahoo! News - 'Sex and the City' Gets Sanitized for TBS

On The Road, Again

Tomorrow, I am headed off on a short trip to California: LA and the Bay Area. I am moderating a panel on the future of search and then off to “my office” and some assorted work stuff.

I will be visited the building where I used to work for five years, driving 68 miles from our home in Marin County to San Jose. My commute was the source for a lot of discussion by a lot of people that were never impacted by my daily ritual. In retrospect, I am not sure how I got through it… but I did. Keep in mind, I would travel to my office on an average of one or two days (at most) a week. Generally, I was on the road or working from home.

Mike and I are off to Pac Bell/SBC to see The Giants this week. We will be in the same section in which I had season tickets for two years. It will bring back memories—mostly sad ones. Time to erase those and create an entirely new chapter ….

Season Over

Last night, the curtain came down on my daughter’s 2003-2004 synchronized swimming season. Her club had a season-ending water show, dinner, silent auction and “banquet.” I used banquet loosely, as the food did not contain anything I could eat. The best-laid plans, and all of that.

It is bittersweet for me. My daughter did not make the cut to go to the national tournament. She certainly has the talent. She is a totally stud athlete (luckily, not inheriting ANY of my prowess) and can do it all. If she were a boy, coaches would be hanging around my house just for the chance to have her play on their team. As I said, she did not make the cut. From the get-go, there were issues with her been paired up with someone with whom she had no chemistry. In addition, my daughter’s trait of standing up for herself probably rubbed the young coaches the wrong way.

The coaches are young and inexperienced in people skills and are doing the work as add-on jobs to their college schedules. My daughter has hooked up with one great swimming coach, an Ironman ® triathlete named Joe. Sadly, the facility that Joe teaches at does not have its act together. Another story for another time.

I don’t know if my daughter will be back at syncrho. Somewhere—just like her recently completed year of 6th Grade—there is a teacher/mentor who will unlock her athletic talent with the right motivation and guidance.

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