Fresh groceries from Amazon

November 22nd, 2007

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Amazon has come out with a fresh groceries in the Seattle area.  It’s a pilot program called AmazonFresh where they provide fresh food (meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, etc) for delivery or pick-up.  Lee & Sachi tried it recently and on their recommendation, I tried it as well. 

First impression: AWESOME!  The whole experience is painless and a little bit better than shopping at a real store.  The list of products is extensive and they will likely have what you want (but maybe not the brand you want).  I found everything I needed, plus a few things that I didn’t need.  I’ll break down the pros and cons to help you out.

    Pros: 

  • Delivery is free (if you purchase certain $$ amounts)
  • Saves time by allowing you to click a few buttons instead of driving to the store
  • Quality of produce is exceptional
  • Can purchase small amounts (1 bulb of garlic, 1 onion, etc)
  • They deliver it within a 1-hour window during the day, or deliver it to your doorstep before you wake up (by 6am)
    Cons: 

  • You have to purchase $25 for free early morning delivery or $50 for free daytime delivery
  • Can’t purchase food for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow is the earliest delivery time.  (Note: you can order up till midnight and still get delivery by 6am)

I ordered food last night and scheduled it for delivery this morning (Thanksgiving day no less).  I only ordered $27, so I got free early morning delivery. Around 4:30am, I woke up from the TV noise (yes, I fell asleep in front of the TV) and checked to see if my delivery had come.  Sure enough, I had 3 plastic crates outside my door.  Each crate had a tamper-proof plastic tab on it.  Inside the crate was a styrofoam cooler with reusable ice-bags.  I will put the crate, cooler and ice-bags outside my door the next time I expect to receive an order, so they can pick it up and reuse it. 

In the 35 degree November morning, the food was never in jeopardy of going bad (being in a cooler with ice).  When I unpacked my groceries, everything was perfect.  The eggs were unblemished and the eggplant had no dents or bruises that all eggplant seem to have.  I don’t know where they get this exceptional produce from, but I think it’s better than grocery stores just because they want to prove to customers that online purchases can be trusted.

I’m definitely a believer and if you live in Seattle, give it a try…. since you’ll be pleasently surprised by what you get and how easy it is to get it. https://fresh.amazon.com

How many Facebook friends do you have???

November 17th, 2007

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Hey everyone…. The laptop got lost for awhile.  Well actually, the blog got pushed aside while my life focused on work.  I’ve been debating keeping/losing the blog, since the Internet is more social communities rather than individual blogs these days.  Everyone is into Facebook or MySpace or some other form of keeping large networks together.  This is where people are migrating to…. but maybe for the wrong reasons. 

Do people want to build the largest group of friends possible?  If so, that’s just like highlighting an entire textbook… where by including everything you end up noticing nothing.  If someone has 500 friends on their list, I doubt they care what 90% of those folks are up to.  Do people want to really keep in touch with what their “so-called” friends are up to?  I’m not sure if folks know why they join social communities…. most probably do it because their friends are in the community and there’s a low cost of entry to join.  But what good really comes from joining such communities? 

The value of a community site is to let others know what you’re doing and to keep up with things that others are doing.  But to really add “value”, the community site needs to provide information that people care about.  I haven’t figured out what that information is….. what do I want to find out about what my friends are doing?  Maybe trips they’ve been on…. or something cool they’ve done recently.  I don’t need to know that they’ve taken a quiz or joined a group called, “People that want to see someone eat something crazy”.  The ability to sift through the meaningless dribble to find the gems is tough. 

I think over the next few years, the cream will rise to the top…. in that people will figure out the sites that add value versus those that eventually get ignored.  Similar to how the glut of retail and auction sites in the late 90’s led to Amazon and Ebay prevailing as the top dogs, the community sites of our current time will lead to the one or two sites that maintain people’s interests.  Personally, I think the world will move away from community sites and move toward direct communication between people.  The world is getting used to passive communication (i.e. text messages, twitter posts, etc) where the communication is available when the receiver is ready to receive it.  That will probably change, once direct communication becomes more mainstream.  People will actually communicate with each other via some sort of Internet video/phone thingy that will make communicating as easy at watching your tv. 

For now, the blog will continue…. I like having an outlet for thought and insight, rather than trying to maintain a generic MySpace or Facebook page that can easily get lost in anonymity.  Happy early Thanksgiving everyone.  Looking forward to deep-frying that turkey… mmmmmm

Why I boo teams I root for

September 28th, 2007

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When I’m rooting for a team, whether it be the Eagles, Seahawks, Phillies or Mariners to name a few, I cheer for the team when it does good and boo the team when it does bad.  What?!?! You boo at teams you root for?  Yes, I do.  I want them all to win, but I boo when a player does not perform or worse, when a player just does something absolutely stupid.  I feel they deserve a good lashing of boos.  We’re not in grade school, where everyone gets patted on the back for trying hard and expresses the “maybe you’ll get them next time” attitude.  This is the real world with professional athletes that are paid big $$ to perform.  So when Richie Sexson (Mariners’ first-baseman) bats .200 for two years in a row while collecting one of the largest salaries in the clubhouse, I feel I have earned the right to boo.  Or whenever Kenji Johjima (Mariners’ catcher) steps on the field, I do my best to express in the universal language (boo-ing) that I don’t appreciate him grounding into 21 double-plays this season (tied for most on the Mariners) and swinging at first pitches all the time. 

Philadelphia fans are known for our blue-collar mentality and short patience.  We applaud the outfielder that catches the ball and runs into the wall, and boo loudly when the Eagles go 3-and-out… heck, Philly fans boo-ed Santa Claus when he parachuted in during halftime of a Christmas Eagles game because the team was losing.  I’ve brought that same attitude here to Seattle… so when a Mariners pitcher walks a guy with the bases-loaded, I stand up and yell, “BOOOO, toss the bum out!” all for the purpose of trying to get someone in there that can help the team win. 

There’s a nice article by Bill Simmons from ESPN’s Page Two that explains the art of boo-ing in sports… my thought is that if you don’t boo when they stink, you must not care.

Margaret’s new handmade jewelry business

September 20th, 2007

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Not to sound like advertising, but my friend Margaret has started a new business selling handmade jewelry.  I think they look awesome and I know she’s going to do very well with this new venture called Baby Duckles.  Check it out if you’re looking for cool looking handmade earrings (with additional items to be added in time).

Capture the moment with a Twitter

September 17th, 2007

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Twitter is a cool application that takes blogging in a new direction.  Instead of posting a whole entry onto the blog, I can just capture a moment, an activity, or a thought as it happens, through Twitter.  When I’m doing something, or have an interesting thought, or want to share a moment, I can send a short text message from my cell phone that appears on my Twitter page.  This seems somewhat random and vane, but you’d be surprised what things people share on twitter that sometimes don’t seem big enough for a whole blog post.  If you want to check it out, I’ve started twittering.  You can do it too… it’s really easy and others can keep up with the things you’re doing.  If you do start your own free twitter account, drop me a line so I can follow your goings on.

Bumbershoot weekend

September 7th, 2007

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I know people always say they need a break after a busy weekend… but bumbershoot really means it.  The 3-day music & arts festival in Seattle had 10 continuous stages of various acts all weekend.  The big draw was Wu Tang, Fergie, John Legend and Joss Stone.  One cool thing about seeing some of the upcoming acts, like Rodrigo Y Gabriela, was a few days later they’re on the Tonight Show with Leno working their way down the west coast.  The 2 things that make bumbershoot less than fun are the large crowds of people…. it’s almost as if you want to see smaller acts just to get away from the big crowds.  The other negative is the cage-like beer gardens.  In other festivals and even at baseball games, you can buy a beer and walk around.  At bumbershoot, beer is only available in fenced off beer-gardens that are located in various areas around the Seattle center.  The kicker is that all beer must be finished before leaving the beer garden.  I guess that prevents giving beer to minors, but it also prevents many folks from getting beer at all…. since who wants to be in a caged-in area everytime you want a cold one?   Not me. 

This weekend also included a trip to SBK…. a.k.a. Seattle’s Best Karaoke.  Now the “best” probably is in there since I don’t know if there is another competitor, so by default, I guess they’re the best and the worst at the same time.  3 hours of questionable singing always makes for a fun night where everyone agrees that singing should be left to the professionals.  But it’s still fun to belt out any song…. wheter it’s Billy Joel or Avril Lavigne…. the latter was not my best moment.  My lone OTS representative Jen held her own all weekend and shouts go out to Jen’s buddies who also made the long trek from LAX to experience a bumber-raoke weekend of fun.

Grand Slam update: Michelle makes it to semi-finals

August 27th, 2007

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This is an update for those who weren’t able to watch the Game Show Network this weekend.  My friend Michelle beat John Carpenter to advance to the semi-finals in the game show Grand Slam.  Carpenter received his fame by being the first person to win $1MM on “Who wants to be a Millionaire”…. in fact, he used his last “lifeline” on that show to call his father during the last question, not to ask for help on an answer, but to let him know that he already knew the answer and was about to win $1MM.  That cocky attitude soon disappeared once Michelle started beating him.  Michelle won the first 3 rounds to give herself a comfortable lead going into the last round.  A couple tough questions had her sweating a little, but she pulled off the win in easy fashion. 

Michelle competes against Ken Jennings in the semi’s this Saturday (4pm PDT).  Jennings is the guy that won something like 80 jeoardy games in a row.  To say he’s a nerd is like saying the sun is a little hot.  Michelle has a good chance though, so set your tivos and root Michelle on.

Mariners post-season ticket screwiness

August 17th, 2007

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The Mariners don’t normally make it to the playoffs…. in fact, if Seattle is still mathematically in contention come September, that’s considered a good year.. heck, a GREAT year.  As of today, the Mariners are 3.5 games behind Anaheim in the AL West.  But, we are 1st place in the Wild Card standings (a half game above the NY Yankees).  This is good stuff.  The Mariners control their own fate and have a decent shot at making it to the post-season… which starts in 45 days. 

I’m also a Mariners season ticket holder.  Granted, I only have a 1/4 season, but still, I get all the rights of a full season ticket holder. The team just came out with post-season tickets.  Apparently, the league “authorized” them to sell post-season tickets since they were likely candidates to make it to the playoffs.  So, given that I have a quarter season ticket license, I assumed that the Mariners would enable me to purchase a quarter of playoff games in my regular seats.  Makes sense, right?  That if you have the rights to the seats during the season, those rights should extend to the post-season too.  Well that argument fell on deaf ears in the Mariners ticket office. 

I was offered the rights to purchase post-season tickets…. but not in my normal seats, or even seats close to it.  The way the Mariners ticket office explained it to me, was that I got the best available seats after fulfilling team and league requirements.  I’m sure that sounds very official and all, but really, I’ll translate it for you. What they’re really saying is, “We’re giving all our season-ticket holders worse seats in order to be able to sell the best seats in the house to higher-paying customers and give friends/sponsors of the team/league the seats near the field.”  As a customer-service based business, the Mariners need to realize that the season ticket holders are the ones that pay the team’s salaries during the good years and bad years.  We’re the ones that show up to games throughout the year…. and we should be rewarded with at least the seats we normally have.  The ticket execs may want to reward their friends/sponsors just because they have the power to…. but that’s wrong.  This equates to standing in a long line and watching someone cut in front of you just because they know someone. 

I think this builds bad customer relations and keeps the best fans from the best seats.  Really, would they want a bunch of team/league VIPs sitting down close to the field, who may not be avid fans?  Of course not… you want the die-hard crazy fans up close to show lots of spirit…. not some old executive who doesn’t get out of his seat to clap, or who can’t even name 3 players other than Ichiro.  Wake up Mariners, it’s time to reward those fans who’ve been there this whole season… it’s time to dance with the one who brought you…. it’s time to man-up and play fair with ticket allocations.  Otherwise, you’ll lose the true fans and be stuck with those VIPs who just want to show up in October.

My friend Michelle is on the Game Show Network

August 7th, 2007

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The Game Show Network has started a new game show, called Grand Slam.  This game is like the all-star competition of past game show winners.  The contestants are top winners from other game shows.  They include Ken Jennings ($3 million winner from Jeopardy), John Carpenter ($1 million winner from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”) and many other top winners from other shows. 

My friend Michelle was the top winner from the Weakest Link back a few years ago.  I knew Michelle back when I lived near Washington D.C. and we all knew she had won the Weakest Link, but never figured it would lead to additional game show opportunties.  This game show is a little bit different than others. 

Grand Slam pits two contestents against each other.  The first person is given a question to answer, and 1 minute on the clock.  As the clock ticks down, if the person answers the question correctly, the clock stops and the clock for the other person starts, and they must then answer a question correctly.  It reminds me of chess, where a player plays a move (answers a question correctly) and hits the timer so the other person’s clock starts.  When a player’s minute clock ticks down to zero, the other player with time still remaining wins.  This is a fast-paced game, where if you get flustered, time seems to fly by and you’re gone before you know it. 

Of the 16 contestants in the single-elimination tournament, Michelle is ranked 14th (based on career game show earnings).  This made her compete against the 3rd ranked player (who was a quiz bowl teacher that won on both Jeopardy and Millionaire).  It came down to the final few seconds, but Michelle ended up beating the 3rd ranked player with just 3 seconds to spare.  WOOHOO!  Now she advances to the next round to compete against either the 6th or 11th ranked players (based on who wins that match).

Here’s the short of it all.  Michelle’s next match is on Sunday Aug 19th.  If you have Tivo or a DVR, search for “Grand Slam” and record it.  Even though the entire tournament has already been taped, the results are kept secret, so I don’t know what’s going to happen on the 19th.  Root on for Michelle Kitt and hopefully she continues to win and advances to the final four and eventually becomes the Grand Slam Champion. 

12 innings and 4+ hours

August 2nd, 2007

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Tonight’s game lasted over 4 hours, but in the bottom of the 12th inning, the Mariners finally pulled it off.  The game seemed well in hand in the 7th inning, with a good 3 run cushion on the 1st place Angels.  The 8th inning went off without a hitch and our shutdown closer J.J. Putz was supposed to finish the 9th.  Putz ends up giving up 3 runs in the 9th inning and off to extra innings we went.  A few times both teams had great chances to score, but defenses came through and the night kept going on.  The crowd dimmed only a little, from about 30,000 at first pitch, down to 18,000 at the final out.  With bases loaded and only 1 out, the Mariners seemed destined to win in the bottom of the 12th.  The Angels brought the centerfielder in to play infield…. making 5 infielders and only 2 outfielders.  Even with this unorthodox defense, the Mariners were able to get a ground ball through the infield and the crowd erupted with appreciation that the team won, AND that they were able to go home.  I think another inning or two would have made me put my feet up and take a nap during the breaks.  Now the Mariners are only 3 games behind the Angels and only a half game back in the AL Wild Card race, behind the Indians.



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