November 2009 Archives

Rocco Week 20

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It's been 10 weeks since his last photo shoot, look how big he is!

Rocco and I are off to visit the family in DC and Virginia over the weekend. I'm thankful for another year of my health, life and liberty in our country. I'm thankful that the voters of Hoboken came out and voted in real change into City Hall. I'm thankful for my new best friend, Rocco, and everyone who made it possible. I'm thankful for all the members of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies club, to Paul at Mulligan's and the bartenders Tina, Will, Tommy, Jimmy, Gary and Craig.

Last but not least i'm thankful for my family and everything they do for me. Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tipping & The Holiday $pirit

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One of the things I have learned from my parents is tipping.

I don't think i'm a lavish tipper, but I do take care of good service and make sure I take care of those who take care of me.

I wrote up before my guide on tipping in a bar, and that mostly holds true today. This was an article I read called "Be a Generous Holiday Tipper, Without Overspending" and figured it was worth reprinting:

By CANDICE CHOI
New York (AP) -- This holiday season, a leaner budget might
clarify which people truly make a difference in your life. The
challenge will be figuring out how much to tip them.
Determining what to give during the holidays, if anything,
will likely be more complicated than in years past. Even if
money is tight, it's hard not to feel guilty about skimping on
the usual year-end bonus. You might also worry that not tipping
will create an awkward tension, or result in shoddier service.
Still, you won't be alone if you scale back. About a
quarter of respondents to a recent Consumer Reports survey plan
to tip less this holiday season than they did last year. Only 6
percent plan to give more. If you're among those on a tighter
budget, here's how you can save without appearing cheap.

KNOW THE CUSTOMS
Before you start doling out money, you might be curious
about what others are giving.
There are no hard-and-fast rules, but year-end tips are
generally the cost of a single session. So if a haircut costs
$40, that's how much you could give as a tip.
And holiday bonuses are generally reserved for people
you've relied on for at least six months, said Mary Mitchell,
author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Etiquette."
So don't feel obligated to tip a hairdresser you've only been
to a few times.
For someone like a paperboy who doesn't charge per
delivery, ask others what they're giving if you're at a total
loss. Practices usually vary by region, however, so don't use
your sister in Wyoming to gauge what you should pay in New York
City. You also shouldn't feel pressured to keep up with
others.
Remember that some workers have guidelines on what they can
accept. Mail carriers, for example, can only take non-cash
gifts valued at $20 or less. That could include a gift card,
but not personal checks in any amount. Alcohol isn't allowed
either, even if it's worth less than $20.
Teachers generally can't accept cash either. The rules
vary, however, so be sure to check with the school. There could
also be guidelines on tipping other employees, such as bus
drivers and teacher's aides.

FOCUS ON KEY PEOPLE
One way to save is to focus on those you feel must be
tipped.
Last holiday season, for instance, the downturn didn't
affect how much housekeepers and teachers got. But fewer people
tipped their barbers, garbage collectors, mail carriers and
manicurists, according to Consumer Reports.
"The dollar amounts aren't changing so much as who is
getting tipped," said Donato Vaccaro, who helps conduct the
magazine's annual holiday tipping survey.
Since the economy hasn't improved, Vaccaro said more people
will likely trim their lists this year.
If the strategy sits well with you, start by identifying
those you feel absolutely should get tips. They'll likely be
people you have frequent or intimate contact with, such as
child or pet care providers.
You might also want to consider financial situations when
drawing up your list. A yoga instructor might not need, or
expect, a tip as much as a manicurist. Another reason you might
leave someone off the list: you already tip them generously
throughout the year.

CONSIDER NON-CASH GIFTS
If cash tips aren't in the budgetary stars, you can still
give small gifts that don't cost a lot.
Baked goods, jams and candles are the perennial crowd
pleasers. But use your knowledge about the person to be
creative. For instance, someone who recently took up knitting
might appreciate a subscription to a knitting magazine. Or if
you know someone who wants to start a side business, you could
offer to teach them how to set up a Web page.
Another option is pooling resources to buy a nice gift. For
example, tenants in an apartment building could team up to buy
an iPod for the super. It shouldn't be hard to find people
willing to participate, with so many looking to save right
now.
If you feel you can't afford a tip or gift, thank you notes
can still make a difference. You could even spruce it up with a
Godiva chocolate; one box should be enough for all your
envelopes.
Of course, you might feel sheepish about giving a card that
doesn't have any cash inside. But at the very least, a warm
message can help ease any awkwardness that might come from
avoiding the issue altogether.
If you still can't shake your guilt, consider lightly
touching on your economic situation in the note. Business
etiquette author Mitchell suggests thanking the person for
bearing with you during these tough times.

My Baby Boy Rocco!

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Ok, i'm kidding with that headline.

I won't be one of those gushing types who thinks their dog is a baby with fur. You know who they are. They dress up their dogs in pink colors and talk to them in a "coo-coo" squeaky voice and blow them kisses like their dog is a two year old.

But, that doesn't take away that Rocco was the best decision I have made in a long time.

I'm bad with change. I like to think things through, weigh the decisions, worry a bit about how things MAY change drastically, and then usually shelve my idea and go back thinking about it later.

Like one thing I was worried about was waking up every morning to walk him. I love to sleep. A lot. I'm the kind of person who falls asleep in cars, trains, airplanes, at the doctors office, while watching TV, I sleep in until 11am on weekends - then take another nap around 3pm that same day.

I didn't like the idea of waking up EVERY DAY at 6am to have to walk my dog.

Good news is that I got used to it. Even better news is that it actually forces me to get up, rather than hit the snooze button, and i'm getting into work on time. That's rare for me.

Plus, Rocco has been good about our morning walks. I go out, we do our business in less than 5 minutes, and he gets fed while I take a shower. He plays with his toys, I get out of the shower and he runs over to lick the water off my ankles while I towel myself dry. He's funny like that.

He only takes 10 minutes out of my mornings, and it was well worth it. What was also made things easier was our time we did with dog training.

I got him into dog training early. We have been practicing a lot, and last night we had our second class with Joana Watsky of Sit And Stay. This time it was a group lesson, held in the Elks Club on 10th and Washington. There were about 12 owners and dogs, being taught various commands by Joana. Rocco did great, he was excited to see the other dogs, but listened to me when we did our commands.

The other owners noticed he was well trained. Some were having issues with their dogs, and I told them what I did with Rocco while we trained to get past some of his walking issues or his fear of stairs.

While talking to the other owners outside, I was telling them how you have to be patient. You have to be consistent. I told them how puppies make mistakes (Sorry Randy!) and you just have to work through it. I told them that Rocco knows when it is time to pee.

I was telling this to a young couple who owned a yellow lab puppy. They looked at me incrediously, like I was lying.

I turned to Rocco and said "Park Time!", which is his command word for "It's time to pee, dude!"

Rocco sniffed for a moment and squatted on the sidewalk.

The lab owner's eyes went wide while watching Rocco and said, "NO WAY!"

After he was finished, I moved Rocco aside, and the tell tale pee spot on the sidewalk was there. I winked and said, "Like I said, he's a good boy."

Thanks to my sister Stacey for that training tip!

2009 Phillies Post Season Thoughts

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First off, hats off to the Yankees and their fans. It was a fun series and the better team won.

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With that said, this is what I think of the Phillies:

Good team, with a good core which just needs a few minor tweaks to contend for the next three years.

1. I would sign Cliff Lee to a contract extension. He is playing for the Phillies through 2010, but I would look to extend that to 2012.

2. I would look to sign Brett Meyers, who will be a free agent, but his injury will probably cost him a bit.

3. Tell Cole Hamels that he has 2 months vacation, but report to Clearwater early to learn how to throw a curveball. He needs a 3rd pitch. That may even mean a demotion to minor leagues for until he gets his pitch.

4. While Hamels is getting work, and you have Lee and Meyers as your #1 and #2 and Happ as #3, bring up Kyle Drabek (the guy we didn't give away for Roy Halladay).

5. Have faith in Lidge. 2009 was a tough season. He will bounce back.

6. Find a (reliable) left handed pitcher for the bullpen.

7. Sign Victorino to a multi-year deal.

8. Sign Blanton or part ways with him. My pitchers would be for 2010: Lee, Hamels (after he learns the curve ball, even if it means missing some of the regular season), Meyers, Happ, Drabek. That's your 1,2,3,4,5 pitchers, along with whatever minor league players we want to experiment with.

9. Find a better bat than Dobbs, Bruntlett, Francisco or Stairs - maybe time to promote Dominic Brown, another player we didn't want to give up for Roy Halladay. "Brown was hitting .303 (72-238) in 66 games at Clearwater with 41 R, 12 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 44 RBI and 15 BB. The 6'5", 200 lb. left-handed hitter owned a .386 OBP, .517 SLG and .903 OPS."

10. Don't panic. We have a good core and just need to make a few tweaks to be contenders again.

Andrew Tavani wrote up one of the best articles I have read about the Philadelphia Phillies Club of Hoboken. Here are the PDF files, and the picture above was from the front page of the paper.

HP_110609_1HP_A001[1].pdf
HP_110609_1HP_A006[1].pdf
HP_110609_1HP_A007[1].pdf

Also in case you missed it, our club had two other write ups.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about us here. The Philadelphia Daily News wrote about us here.

Just remember that next season we will meet once a week, every Friday night, at Mulligan's to watch the regular season Phillies games. I hope to see you then!

Congratulations Dawn Zimmer!

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I am very excited to see change come to Hoboken. After Cammarano gave our city a black eye, I was very pleased to see over 5,000 Hobokenites voted for Dawn Zimmer in today's election. I have been close to the election campaigners and Dawn during this whole race, and i'm really happy to see her win. Dawn is the first female mayor in the history of Hoboken, and someone that I hope will bring new, fresh change to City Hall.

Congratulations to all her supporters, workers and family on this historic day!

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