Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Preliminary ratings for the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast were 14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever, according to Nielsen Media Research.

I boycotted the Oscars this year. Apparently, I was not alone. To be fair, I never watch the Oscars, but this year I actively prevented Nico from watching them either.

At no charge, I am going to give you network executives a little advice:

Jon Stewart is funny for exactly 24 minutes (sometimes less, but never more). There is no possible way anybody can be expected to sit through four hours of Jon Stewart. Do not offer him a late night talk show, unless you plan on shortening it to a half hour. On the same note, Stephen Colbert is only funny for 5 minutes at a time....subjecting me to 30 minutes of Stephen Colbert is torturous.

Monday, February 25, 2008

One of the perils of being born Jewish...

Nobody has given me a red envelope since my wedding. Actually, I thought that once I got married, I had to start giving out the envelopes to my friends' children (which I can't say I have ever done).

All that changed this morning, when I passed up an offer for the "best Vietnamese coffee" there is. (I am drying out for the marathon). In addition to a couple of packets of G7, I am in receipt of a cute little WaMu envelope; coffee is for after the marathon, and the red envelope contains some denomination of money that I am not supposed to spend (or else I'll have bad luck).

Thank you Jade, my new favorite pharmacist.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Correspondence with coworker regarding French Laundry Reservations. [I added a few links, and omitted the names of the innocent.]
From: xxxx xxxxx Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 4:46 PM
To: xxxx, xxxxxxx x

I just called and they said reservations are only accepted two months ahead, so that means I have to call back on Sept. 3rd.
From: xxxx, xxxxxxx x
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 4:47 PM
To: Lasko, Michael B
Subject: F.L.

french laundry. we want to go on nov 3rd but they said we can only make reservations 2 mths ahead. are we screwed? what kind of game are they playing?

Here's all I know about making a reservation at the French Laundry.

1) They take reservations 2 "calendar months" in advance*
2) Reservations for parties of 8 to 10 are accepted 6 months in advance**
3) Reservations are accepted by phone starting at 10AM (two calendar months in advance)***
4) Reservations are accepted on Open Table (two calendar months in advance)****
5) Be flexible*****
6) Consider a new career******
7) Lower your expectations******

*How they go about calculating calendar months is open to interpretation. Today, they will be taking reservations for April 20th. This strikes me as 2 months + 1 this because February only has 29 days, or is 2 months + 1 day the norm. At any rate, I would recommend trying to call on September 2nd [for your November 3rd reservation].

**Parties of 8 to 10 are considered private parties, and are likely more expensive than the standard $240/pp + tax, tip, coffee and doughnuts, and drinks. But if you're worried about money, this is not the place to be eating.

***Start calling at 8:30 or might want to take some PTO on September 2nd, as it might take a couple of hours to get through. Of course, all the tables will be gone by the time you get through, so taking PTO is a waste of time. If you're staying in an expensive hotel in Yountville, the concierge can take care of this step for you (Some people say that's the best way to get a reservation).

****Only two tables (for parties of 4) are available for dinner on Open Table...they also have one table for two, but it's for lunch only (they only serve lunch on Fri, Sat, Sun, if memory serves). If you make a reservation for 4, and decrease it to 2, you get charged $100/pp. But if you consider the average cost of a meal, that's only a 16% surcharge...not too shabby. If you can make lunch, the menu is the can easily spend 5 hours there, so it's like eating an early dinner, too. Again, the exact time they start taking reservations is subject to interpretation. I've heard midnight, midnight EST, and 9 AM. I recommend staying up until at least midnight 2 months + 1 day out (and have a few friends at other computers doing the same thing) to try for that single table. You do need to give them a credit card to make the reservation, and you will be charged if you modify the reservation (I do not know if they charge you for cancelling a reservation).

*****As with lunch above, the laws of probability state that the more days you are available, the more likely you are to get a reservation. Many people schedule their vacations around a French Laundry reservations. Try calling on August 31st for an October 31st reservation. When there is no availability, will the person answering the phone make you call back the next day, and the next day? Maybe, but he/she does have the power to make things happen for you. (See below).

*****Many (otherwise unconnected) people in the Valley get jobs (or have their kids get jobs) at the French Laundry just so they can make reservations. At one point, they offered an internship for aspiring chefs/restaurateurs (you had to pay $1200, or something like that for a week of service). I see no reference to this currently on the website, but they are hiring for "real" positions.

******Consider one of the many other fine Thomas Keller Restaurants. Bouchon is where all the French Laundry servers eat (though that might just be because no one else in the Valley serves dinner until 1:00 AM). Ad Hoc is the poor man's French Laundry, and [Burgers and Half Bottles] a gourmet hamburger place will soon open in the same building as Ad Hoc.

PS: I might add this treatise onto an existing post on the subject. Which brings up another point, reservations at the French Laundry are easier to come by in the off season. November is not peak season, but it is by no means the off season.

PPS: You seem to have a habit of providing me with email addresses of people you probably don't want me emailing...Hmmmn.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tour de Cure(s)

It is a little early to start celebrating, but I am dominating Nicole in Tour de Cure fundraising by so much, that I guess I will start celebrating early.

If you have a tandem (or want to rent a tandem), please join us for the Napa Tour de Cure (5/4/08) or the Long Beach Tour de Cure (6/14/08).

If you are not a cyclist, please consider making a donation to the American Diabetes Association. (I cannot continue my domination of Nicole without your help).
I am no marketing genius.

But if you are trying to convince people to learn how to sail, is this really the best promotional photo?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Saint Valentine's Day Massacre everyone!

Sadly, The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company will not ship me a pizza to mark the occasion. If I still have any Chicago readers: They do sell frozen pizzas. I will gladly reimburse you for any pizza and shipping related costs if you will kindly Fedex me a couple of one pound pies (vegetarian, one with mushrooms). Maybe we can work out some kind of trade...though I should warn you, Double-Doubles do not travel well.
"There are better things to be doing at this hour of the contemplating your second martini."

I had to agree with the old man sitting behind me at last night's Newport Harbor Commission meeting.

If you are really curious about what I was doing at a Harbor Commission meeting, take a look at Tuesday's OC Register.

In case you cannot wait for the meeting minutes to be posted online, the end of sailing in Newport Harbor does not appear to be upon us.

Interesting note about sailors in Newport Beach (at least sailors who attend Harbor Commission meetings): They are all 20 to 30 (or more) years older than me...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentine's Day Advice

--Given to my (male) coworkers after one of them reported he could not make the Wednesday (2/13) Poker Game (because he has to make Valentine's Days plans):

I realize some of you have not been married as long as me, so I shall impart a little wisdom:

1) You need not purchase roses ahead of time. Many of your female colleagues will be receiving flowers at work. Some will be unhappy with their flowers, and will be begging for you to remove them from their desks...also, nobody is going to miss one or two roses. Just take one from each lady, and you'll have an exceptionally nice bouquet.

2) If you must take your wife/girlfriend somewhere expensive to impress her on Valentine's Day, you are likely setting the bar too high the rest of the year. Fortunately, it is not too late to fix things for this Thursday: Just make sure the missus does not eat anything until Valentine's Day...she'll be hungry enough to eat at Arby's.

3) Get an ecard. Nothing says "I love you" like a Valentine's day ecard...especially if it's one of those talking Valentine's day ecards that says: "I love you".

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I would like to retract that last post. Pharmacists are boring.

Did I mention Scarlett Johansson called me yesterday, urging me to vote for Barak Obama? I don't know how much money she donated to the campaign, but Jennifer Aniston has given the $2300 maximum. Wow, you can almost buy a cheeseburger with that.

53% of California pharmacists prefer Mitt Romney...or at least they prefer to give money to Mitt Romney.

I am not running for president this year, so please do not bother voting for me.