Saturday, July 03, 2004

Things I Love: Whole Foods

My name is Allen and I am a supermarket junkie, I admit it. I love supermarkets. Of course, I love some more than others. I inherited his love of supermarkets from my father. He could not enter a market casually; he always got a cart and always walked up and down each and every aisle. I follow in his footsteps.

Back in the day, my wife and I went to supermarkets for entertainment. We were broke and we would walk the aisles to see what new products were in stock. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? No one would chase us out for lingering, plus, in Arizona, where it’s hot in the summer, the air-conditioned supermarket is a nice place to hang. Also, in Arizona, where space in cheap, the supermarkets are oversized with wide aisles and lots of checkstands. and there are a lot of supermarkets to choose from.

There are supermarkets and then there is Whole Foods. Leaving the unionization issues aside for the moment, Whole Foods is the Safeway of this century. We went to our first Whole Foods in Mill Valley, Calif., and have not been the same since. They are cool looking and have healthy (organic) products without being over the top. The staff is knowledgeable and just seem to enjoy working there. They have the best produce, fish, meat and deli items anywhere. I could wax on rhapsodically and sound like a shareholder…, which I am.

We did the supermarket taste test today. We went to a new “organic” market, Sunflower Market, before going to Whole Foods. Sunflower’s aisles were narrow, the staff was rather doofy and the checkout procedure was grueling. It’s why I say, “There’s Whole Foods, and then there’s everyone else.”

A few other supermarkets I love include Larry’s Market in Seattle; the late, great Carefours in Philadelphia, Queen Anne (Seattle) Thriftway, Woodland Market in Greenbrae, Calif., (we have spotted Carlos Santana and Sean Penn there) and, as I have posted before, Trader Joes.

I would like to visit Central Market in Houston. I saw a clip about it on Food Network. I might need two carts.

The Rookie Boys Of Summer

The Seattle Mariners bench

Scouts sit on a platform behind home plane, radar guns in hand

A Giants rookie looks down for the sign

Just when you thought baseball in Arizona was headed down the tube, you wander upon a Rookie League game between the Giants and Mariners. This is no pick-up game; the Arizona Rookie League has a schedule and teams from most of the organizations who do Spring Training in this area.

This game was played at Indian Bend Park, which is not on Indian Bend, but on the corner of Hayden Road and Camelback Road. It was at this small facility where I first saw Dusty Baker in March 1993 his rookie year as a Giants manager. I stood behind the batting cage in pre-Spring Training and talked to him and was blown away at how funny and gracious he was. People wander by the park and are startled to see these famous major leaguers practicing their trade. I can only imagine the number of windshields of cars driving by on Hayden Road Barry Bonds has broken over the years.

It was also at this facility we saw Michael Jordan when he was in Spring Training with the White sox. Never before or after have there been so many people at this park.

There are no scorecards, no scoreboards or announces at Rookie League games. The season is in two halves; the first one has the games in the morning (9:30 am local time); the second half (after July 25) has the games at 7:30 p.m.

Judging by the dialog we heard at the game, the Giants’ Latin American scouting systems is doing very well. The Giants players remain a mystery—they did no have their names on their uniforms. The Mariners had their names, and one pitcher whose last name is Snyder, is the size of Paul Bunyan and throws very hard. As with any league, the pitchers were dominating the hitters. There were no famous faces in sight, but it is a league where major leaguers who are rehabbing an injury are likely to show up.

We’ll be back.

Extra, Extra,Extra Innings

A week from tomorrow, my wife and I will be at the Phillies-Braves game at Citizens Bank Park. She's praying it does not go 16 innings.

Philadelphia Daily News | 07/03/2004 | This was hardly worth the wait

Friday, July 02, 2004

Brando in "The Freshman"

Say what you want about Mumblin' Marlon, you cannot overlook his performance in "The Freshman." His lampooning of Don Corleone in this comedy classic is a gem; secondary kudos to Matthew Broderick and the vastly underrated Bruno Kirby, Jr. (once known as Bruce Kirby, Jr.) Kirby senior is a character actor who played the DA in "L.A. Law" among other things...

Yahoo! Movies: Full Coverage - Screen Legend Marlon Brando Dies at 80

Aw Shucks, I Said This Weeks Ago!

D-Backs fire Brenly

Sounds Like A Ploy To Sell More Throwback Jerseys

But heck, I'll be watching!

ESPN televising baseball the way it used to be

No Way, No How

Putting the 'K' in Lakers?

Wonderful Night For A Moondance

Everyone I spoke to yesterday joked with me about how hot is must be in Arizona. Actually, I was inside all day, so I didn’t know how hot it was. The “how hot is it” remarks are funny now, but call me back in December, and we’ll talk.

Last night, it was a lovely 85 degrees and we sat in the backyard and watched the moon. Aside from a tropical beach scene, what could be more beautiful

Gives New Meaning To "Praying For a Hit"

Nashville Sounds

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Mr. Baton Twirler

I remember Murphy when he played at Niagara in college. He was too small to be recruited by major programs. He also was one of the best free-throw shooters in NBA history. I recall one of his odd claims to fame is being a world-class baton twirler. Really.

Yahoo! News - NBA Great Calvin Murphy Indicted on Sex Charges


So my wife comes home from picking up our daughter at summer reading camp, and because today was the last day of camp, they went to lunch to celebrate. And what celebration would be complete without a trip to Almighty Starbucks.

As is her custom, my wife came home with a new blend that Starbucks is marketing to people like her (loves coffee, has disposable income) with a cute card that contains a personal message from a “lead coffee buyer.” I am drinking a cup as we speak; BTW, we have been through a million coffeemakers, but because we like especially strong brews, we settled on an automatic electric percolator.

Starbucks is in a world apart in terms of understanding its target market. They are on the verge of becoming a superbrand in areas that have nothing to do with coffee. Mike and I have written on this topic…

Shack Comes Through

As I was digging through the rubble that is our pack-rat junk, I came upon a relic that I think was a gift my wife bought for me several holiday seasons ago. The funky purple Radio Shack—ITZ2 universal (15-999, to be precise) has been gathering dust because 1) I have never had item to futz with it and 2) I lost the owner’s manual.

A major shout out to Radio Shack for having owners’ manuals online for such obscure, low-margin products as universal remotes. A few clicks and some careful reading (I am from the anti-RTFM brigade) and I am now good to go. The vintage RCA TV in my office now is now remote-enabled. Sadly, I plan on eventually ditching my office TV and hooking the cable connection into a PC do I can experiment with new media player software.

Changing Of The Web Sports Guard

Starting today, MSN ends its agreement with ESPN in favor of Fox Sports. I like the look of Fox Sports' Website (less premium content I have to pay for) and will add it to my bookmarked list.

FOXSports.com - Today's juiciest MLB, NBA and NFL rumors

So, What Will They Call Bank One Ballpark?

Yahoo! News - J.P. Morgan Seals $58B Bank One Purchase

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Not exactly your typical mall tenant

What can I say about Luby’s? When we moved to Phoenix in 1989, we discovered Luby’s, a cafeteria restaurant based in Texas. They had a ton of branches here in Arizona, but the company has fallen on difficult financial times, so all but two are closed. The one in Paradise Valley Mall is one of the two remaining. It’s also one of our favorite places to go.

Our enjoyment of Luby’s is a joke among people that we know. Its target audience primarily is seniors. We comment that when we come in, we bring the average age down from 70 to 65. None of that bother us; we like the simply prepared, fresh food with a lot of choices. We generally need to bribe our daughter to come with as the Luby’s value proposition does not exactly resonate with her.

Part of our love for Luby’s is that it was something we shared with my father. He loved it. Luby’s is a semi-throwback to such cafeterias as Horn & Hardart (the legendary automat). There was a Horn & Hardart’s on Cottman Avenue near our home in Philadelphia that my parents and I frequented as much as possible. Luby’s is different in that the food is more down-home as the company has Texas roots.

My (soon to be former) brother in law also loves Luby’s. My wife’s cousin, who recently visited, also really liked it. Her tastes are bit more eclectic, like ours. My mother in law hated it; she asked to take us out for our birthday a few years back, and we selected Luby’s. She was horrified, but who orders prime rib at Luby’s?

We hope Luby’s lives on forever, but I doubt it will. It’s current management is headed by the two men who own Pappas Restaurants in Texas (and elsewhere). In fact, Luby’s management is tied to another of our favorites—Pappadeaux. That’s a posting for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Who's Editing Here?

Hey guys, the Braves played the Marlins, not the Mariners!

Yahoo! Sports - MLB: "Braves outlast Mariners, rain to win 6-1"

The Dumb Stealing From The Blind

The New York Times > Arts > Television > At Fox, Reality Robbery Mastermind or Just Playing the Game?

Bye Bye Bob

It’s hardly going to be big news, but sometime in the next week, Bob Brenly will be fired. It’s not his fault the team sucks—some of it is injury (Richie Sexson), some of it is bad trades (Padilla for Schilling?) and most of it is mortgaging the future for a sort-term gain. I guess the gain paid off as the team beat the Yankees in 2001 to win the World Series.

Two questions: who will replace Brenly and where will he go? I hope they do not replace Brenly with Mark Grace. Robin Yount (a D-backs coach) is probably a better choice. As for Brenly? Maybe he’ll go back to broadcasting. He started doing a short spot on KNBR (The Sports Leader) in SF when he was bullpen coach for the G-men. He later went on to be a commentator for the D-backs and Fox. It will be too weird to have him back in the booth here if he’s fired.

The Art Of Public Poking

Related the to previous posting, here are some of the strangest locations I’ve had to take out my trusty insulin pen and take care of business:

1. Airport lounges in New York, Norway, Amsterdam, Chicago... Airport restrooms—no comment.
2. At the table of some of the finest restaurants in the U.S.
3. On board many flights; causes quite the staring scene
4. At such athletic facilities as Petco Park, Bank One Ballpark, America West Arena, Glendale Arena, SBC Park and in the concourse of Wrigley Field, when it was something like 35 degrees outside.
5. In my car, at a stoplight.
6. At the food court of the San Diego Convention Center

For the record, it hurts.


Consider this a public service: if you start recognizing any signs that indicate you might have diabetes, please go see a doctor. I did not and hopefully will not pay the long-term price.

In Hawaii (see above), on vacation, in 1997, I slept nearly the entire trip. My wife figured I was tired from working so much and traveling so much. Little did we connect the fact that I ate a lot of chocolate-covered caramels in Hawaii. They are dirt cheap, and I ate a lot of them. The pattern was simple: I’d eat a bunch and then pass out. Who said smart people cannot be really dumb. Looking back, my blood glucose reading was probably around 600 or 700. Keep in mind, 110 is about the upper limits of normal.

The following year, I traveled like a madman and lost about 30 pounds. I ate, believe me, and I ate badly. Still, I continued to lose weight. In addition, somewhere in this time, I had a mysterious infection that would not heal. Hello? Did I go to the doctor? No. I was scared of what he might tell me. It’s a mental condition you develop when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer when you are young (my mother had lung cancer when I was nine).

In 1998, my wife told me all she wanted for our 15th anniversary was for me to go to the doctor for a physical. I agreed. At the exam, the doctor knew something was wrong, but he suspected a thyroid problem. He told me to take care for the next few days while he checked out the possibilities via a lab screening.

So, there I was, in Orlando, at my company’s annual major event, when I got the call from my wife—my thyroid is fine, I have diabetes. And it made sense as I had all the warning signs (weight loss, thirst, infections that would not heal…) but chose to ignore them. In addition, my father had diabetes, as did his mother. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Fast forward: my diabetes is under control, but I am heavily medicated (you have not lived till you’ve injected yourself four times a day with insulin) plus I exercise every day and am careful with my diet. People talk about The South Beach Diet and Atkins—I live those diets and did so before they were popular. I’ll be living them long after the fad is over.

Please. I beg you. If you have any of the symptoms, go to the doctor. I do not know how long I had the illness before going to the doctor, but I’m guessing it was a few years. Don’t do what I did.

Monday, June 28, 2004


We’ve been having this debate about blogs at work. Some people get it, others do not. Mike and I get it, and really see the vision. We’ve been trying to urge our employer to allow us to write blogs related to our jobs (not about the jobs, but about our areas of coverage), and we might be making some headway. There is little doubt it would be a way for us to connect with our customers and extend our brand… blah, blah… you know what I mean.

If you have any doubt about blogs, check this one out--TeeVee. It’s about television, but from a view of TV as a societal/cultural force, not as in what is Jessica Simpson wearing on MTV tomorrow night. The writers are extraordinarily polished; all of who have “real jobs.” It shows you the compelling nature of blogs and the ability it gives to empower.

There are tons of others I love, many of which I subscribe to via RSS. Another I have to mention is called “Waiting for Boof” about the San Francisco Giants. The reference is to Boof Bonser, a highly prized prospect the Giants traded along with Joe Nathan to Minnesota for AJ Pierzynski.

Tom Bodett Would Not Leave The Lights On

My wife and I both love to travel. As part of that love, we have stayed at some very strange places. What I mean to say is that over the past two-plus decades, we have sought out some odd lodgings that would not necessarily appeal to the average tourist.

Two come to mind: the one above—a train car converted to a hotel room. It is (or was) in Yountville, California, in the Wine Country. I recall it was not very comfortable, but it was near The Diner, perhaps the best breakfast place in the entire nation.

A second offbeat lodging was a “hotel room” converted from an old rice barge in Ko Samui. It was OK, but we stayed there way too long. I have pictures somewhere; when I find them, I’ll post them. The weather stunk while we were in Ko Samui, so that didn’t help matters.

Side note: we stayed in a zillion B&Bs, particularly in the earlier days of our marriage. We were younger and less demanding of creature comforts. Our B&B days ended after my wife booked us into one in Anacortes, Washington, without a bathroom and I booked us into one in Monterrey, Calif. (The Jabberwock) that was owned by a woman who was way too nosey for me taste.

And You Wonder Why They Lost?

ESPN.com - MLB - Uniform blunder: 2 Mets wear wrong jerseys

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Game Over, Season Over

Another Arena Football League season is over. The Sabercats beat my hometown Rattlers 69-63 despite a valiant,last-minute effort by the Rattlers.

I actually only watched the last 20 seconds of the game. I felt obliged because 1) The Rattlers are here in Arizona and 2) I once sat next to AFL commission David Baker on a flight. He’s about 6-10 and 400 lbs.

Found In Translation

I first visited Japan in 1994. See the movie, “Lost in Translation” as I cannot describe the Japanese experience as well as that movie did. In 1997 or ’98, Mike and I stayed in the hotel where the movie was filed as part of a work event.

As with most gadget crazy Americans, I went to the Akiahabara district, which houses every imaginable electronic toy known to mankind. I bought a few watches, a FM stereo radio the size of a playing card and some other assorted nonsense. In subsequent visits, I bought a few more watches, but nothing major.

The big attraction for me was the electronic toilet seat (see above). It keeps you warm, and for the elderly or handicapped, it will perform “sanitary functions.”

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