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March 20, 2006

Forearm Forklift™


Do not try this at home.

Wait a minute — this is for your home.

What was I thinking?

From the website:

    Take it easy on your back—and your floors!

    The patented Forearm Forklift allows two people to move heavy furniture and appliances weighing up to 500 lbs. without dangerous back strain or scratched floors.

    Just cross the two straps, place the item in the center, insert arms through end loops, lift and carry with arms at a 45º angle for maximum leverage.

    Allows you to lift up to 3x more weight.

    Adjustable straps are super-strong polypropylene webbing, each 9'4" long, with padded areas for the arms.

    Stores easily in a drawer or tool bag.




As your personal physician I must advise you that, chic as you are even in your private time at home, wearing high–heeled, bare–toed wedges is inconsistent with best moving practices.

I'm just saying.

$24.99 (furniture not included).

March 20, 2006 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Absence of Discomfort


Look at the picture above: what do you see?

I see one Ali Kasikci, general manager of one of the world's finest hotels, the Peninsula in Beverly Hills.

He's doing a chinup on an armoire in order to check that its top has been dusted properly.

I love it.

Kitty Bean Yancey wrote a front–page profile of Kasikci for the March 10 USA Today Life section.

Some bits I liked:

"Kasikci heads to Room 567 to make sure it's ready for a guest. He frowns. "See it?" No, the room looks perfect. The seam of one bedside lampshade is showing. He spins the shade till it's hidden. "How many guests would notice that. I don't know. But I do. The minute a guest notices, it's too late."

'"Absence of discomfort' reads a plaque on his desk, a gift from a regular. "Comfort is a given at a good hotel. It's the absence of discomfort, the details... that make a hotel great."

Tell you what: Kasickci gonna be a first-round pick for bookofjoe's crack research team when the reincarnation draft takes place.

Here's the article.

    His hotel lights up the stars

    Oscar time was crunch time at The Peninsula Beverly Hills.

    The French Renaissance-style stone hotel near Rodeo Drive was sold out last weekend, packed with movie moguls and nominees in town for the ceremony.

    Nominees Felicity Huffman and Terrence Howard were spotted.

    So were Uma Thurman, Joan Collins, Sean Penn.

    Chevy Chase jammed on the piano in the lobby lounge.

    Latecomers not accustomed to hearing the word "no" begged to get in.

    Some didn't.

    Turning thumbs up or down on such pleas was longtime general manager Ali Kasikci.

    The 50-year-old Turkish-born Kasikci (Ka-seek-ee ) is known as a top performer who has elevated The Peninsula's profile in his 14-year tenure.

    Its February occupancy was 85%, vs. 62% for the average U.S. lodging, according to preliminary figures from Smith Travel Research.

    A guest lecturer at Cornell University's famed hotel school, Kasikci also is the man behind such industry innovations as 24-hour check-in, which lets travelers arrive and depart when it suits their schedules.

    On a recent Monday, he allows a visitor to check out one of his 11-hour days.

    It's an eye-opener, showing that while a luxury hotel may look as graceful as a swan on the surface, underneath there's a lot of frantic paddling.

    8:05 a.m.: Natty in a navy Italian-made suit and one of his nearly 500 Hermès ties — presentation is everything in Beverly Hills — Kasikci strides through the gleaming Carrara marble lobby. He zips past power-breakfasters in The Belvedere restaurant and joins a hotel lawyer at a patio table underneath blooming hibiscus to go over a valet parking contract renewal. Among concessions Kasikci demands: The parking company must supply workers who won't change radio settings or the position of driver's seats. Class-act valet parking is part of the hotel's image, Kasikci explains.

    8:30 a.m.: Department managers file into his office for the daily briefing. An intense Energizer Bunny with salt-and-pepper hair, he's multi-tasking: checking e-mail, taking calls on his cellphone, while being updated on everyone checking in today.

    The 196-room hotel, where the smallest quarters rent for $475 a night, succeeds by "customizing our service to each guest," he explains. Before arrival, first-timers are asked for preferences (room location, pillow type, newspapers, special requests); a record is kept of repeaters' likes and dislikes.

    Names of the 80 check-ins are read, along with room assignment, welcome gift (from small fruit plate to monogrammed pillowcase or robe for regulars and VIPs).

    One arrival requests a room that meets feng shui requirements. An Oscar-winning actress checking in under a pseudonym wants calls screened and is assigned a favorite waiter to serve her.

    TV's Judge Judy is arriving via private jet. She's a regular who's receiving a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and bringing family and friends to celebrate.

    "Are we doing anything for her?" Kasikci interjects, leaning forward in his leather chair. "Let's do it properly. Why don't we do a Hollywood star cake in the room waiting for her? A cake, not a cupcake."

    9:35 a.m.: Kasikci's assistant brings in messages and guest comment cards. He reads every one.

    There's a message from a filmmaker who promises to feature The Peninsula in his movie in exchange for a free stay. "I want to see the script," Kasikci says. "I don't want (a character) just to say 'I stayed at the Peninsula,' and then, gone."

    10:10 a.m.: In the hotel's rooftop garden, Kasikci checks the progress of a renovation that has to be done by Oscar weekend. The $200-a-day poolside cabanas are being spruced up and a fireplace lounge installed. The lounge, unlike some at other L.A. hotels, isn't intended as catnip for club-hoppers such as Paris Hilton. "God, no," he says. "Our guests want refinement."

    Tony Bennett, Michael Caine and Nicole Kidman are among class acts seen at The Peninsula. Carly Simon recorded an album in Villa 139. But anyone is welcome, says Kasikci. "To us, a loyal guest is a celebrity."

    Like most hoteliers who serve VIPs, Kasikci is tight-lipped about who has checked in or acted badly. But like most, he's seen his share of outlandish behavior.

    Rowdy rocker Courtney Love made headlines when police came to The Peninsula in April 1994 after a suspected heroin overdose. It later was ruled a bad reaction to prescription drugs. All Kasikci will say is that it happened around the time her husband, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide in Seattle.

    10:43 a.m.: Kasikci heads to Room 567 to make sure it's ready for a guest. He frowns.

    "See it?"

    No, the room looks perfect.

    The seam of one bedside lampshade is showing. He spins the shade till it's hidden. "How many guests would notice that, I don't know. But I do. The minute a guest notices, it's too late."

    It's the details that make a hotel great, says Kasikci. He chins himself on the top of the armoire, checking for dust. He feels under a chair cushion for dropped change — a habit since he was a hotel-school student in Munich. In the marble bathroom, he steps into the glassed-in shower and rubs a jacket sleeve on the side. Making sure there's no soap scum, he explains.

    11:12 a.m.: Kasikci calls the head concierge with a Judge Judy brainstorm. "Get the song Hooray for Hollywood and have it playing in her room with the cake," he says.

    11:18 a.m.: He dials Judge Judy's suite. "My favorite TV judge ... congratulations." Told a reporter would like to meet her, Judy Sheindlin comes down to praise The Peninsula. "They take care of you," she says. She lives in Florida and has stayed more than 500 nights while taping her show. The Peninsula even stores the clothes she wears under her robes.

    11:48 a.m.: Kasikci, in the hotel business since age 16, explains his philosophy. A hotel succeeds by building loyalty, anticipating guests' wishes and fulfilling them fast. If you order room service for 7 a.m. here, it's likely to arrive on the dot. A hotel doctor is on call 24 hours.

    "Absence of discomfort" reads a plaque on his desk,


    a gift from a regular. To make sure guests stay in their comfort zones, staffers e-mail "incident reports" around the hotel when a feather is ruffled. The alert notes the guest's emotional temperature (calm to livid) and what was done to rectify the situation.

    1:45 p.m.: After lunch in the unglamorous basement cafeteria that serves the hotel's 415 staffers, Kasikci makes his rounds. He stops at the steamy, clattering kitchen, where waiters and cooks are scrambling. He claps a hand on the shoulder of assistant pastry chef Miguel Franco, who offers one of the just-baked scones that will be served at the hotel's afternoon tea.

    "Hey, freedom fighter," says Kasikci, who has a nickname for most every member of his team. Franco's refers to his El Salvador roots.

    2:25 p.m.: After kidding with his assistant, he calls in comptroller Jim Hizo to run some numbers. Hizo's nickname: Jiminy Cricket. "He's my conscience," Kasikci says with a laugh. Kasikci's job is to make money for The Peninsula chain (it manages the hotel and has a 20% share in it) and for the Beverly Hills family that owns most of it. It's a juggling act to "determine what the market is willing to pay" and deliver a first-class product that turns a profit.

    2:35 p.m.: Head concierge James Little stops in to say that Hooray for Hollywood has been located at a CD store and is in Judge Judy's room. This was easy, Little says. Once he jetted to London just to retrieve a regular's Jack Russell terrier. She missed Millie, but didn't want her pet in the cargo hold. Renting a private jet would cost about $75,000. Little found an airline that allowed an accompanied pet in the cabin, flew over and fetched her. Cost to the guest: $15,000.

    3 p.m.: Eight recent hires enter Kasikci's office nervously. He asks them to name the most important part of a car. The engine, says one. The driver, another volunteers.

    A hotel is like a car, Kasikci says, and "every part is important. In the eyes of the guest: Who delivers the service a guest needs right now is the most important person. The guests pay your salary."

    He pauses. "The day we don't meet your needs, you will leave. The day you don't do things the way we want, we will part ways."

    3:37 p.m.: In a call to Peninsula headquarters in Hong Kong, Kasikci runs over weekly numbers. Revenue per room is averaging about $600 daily — a very good number.

    3:54 p.m.: A waiter delivers Kasikci's third latte. He animatedly goes over plans for a PR campaign for the renovated spa, suggesting a promotion to offer a free paraffin hand-and-foot treatment with a booking. The skin-smoother is priced at $50; the material costs the hotel about $4, he says.

    4:51 p.m.: The hotel's security chief enters to say that an unnamed dignitary from Washington is arriving soon with a police escort. No sirens, says Kasikci. His phone beeps.

    5:02 p.m.: Department managers report on revenue. The average room rate is up $65 over last year. But there's too much overtime for room service staff ("Good God, that's the gross income of Turkey," Kasikci snorts). Banquet revenue is down.

    "We're $70,000 short on food and beverage," Kasikci says, calling for ideas for goosing sales.

    6:08 p.m.: Kasikci and John Rucci, his second in command, inspect Room 224 before a regular arrives. A copy of the magazine the guest publishes is not there, as it's supposed to be. At least the welcome fruit is fresh: During a mid-'90s interview for Buzz magazine, Kasikci spied a spoiled peach and hurled it against a wall.

    6:25 p.m.: The two repair to Kasikci's favorite corner table on The Belvedere patio for a daily ritual: "half past wine." As a waiter pours pinot noir, they go over the day, while Kasikci keeps an eye on the dining room to make sure all's well.

    Despite what one would think, his strength is not schmoozing stars, he says.

    That's a job he leaves to the hotel's "ambassador" — Frank Bowling, former manager of the rival Hotel Bel-Air and Nancy Reagan's pal.

    "I'm a businessman, a strategist," Kasikci says.

    "My job is behind the scenes."

    His cellphone rings for the hundredth time today.

    The magazine has been delivered to Room 224.

    "It feels good," he says, as he heads into The Belvedere to dine with his wife.

    "Like someone just took a pebble out of my shoe."


When I find a mistake in bookofjoe that wasn't noticed by anyone else (something that happens on average a couple times every day), I'm mildly annoyed and irritated with myself.

When I get an email or comment from you with a correction, I'm ecstatic.


This cuts to the very heart and soul of what makes me me.

I'm happy because having the error being pointed out — when I'd missed it despite the very best efforts of both myself and my crack research team — means that I'm about to make bookofjoe better by correcting it.

That makes me happy, really happy.

Little things mean a lot to me.

So rather than apologizing for being nitpicky when you note a mistake here, rejoice — because that's what I'll be doing.

It's a milder version of scourging oneself to purify one's soul.

The pain I feel on having published a misspelling or misstatement is mightily overshadowed by the joy of recognition and the exquisite pleasure of making it right.

March 20, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Motion–Activated Electrical Outlet


This would appear to be the solution to a problem that's vexed me for years — not enough to make a concerted effort to solve but, rather, with my saying to myself "gee, that's annoying" about once a week.

I've got this lamp with a rotary switch on the cord about three feet from the light.

As it happens, that places the switch behind a table and down along a wall that's difficult to get to.

I've been half–heartedly looking for a foot–controlled switch for it but then I happened on this device.

From the website:

    Sensor Plug

    Instantly Makes Any Outlet "Motion-Activated"

    You don’t have to be Bill Gates to have a room automatically light up each time you enter.

    Simply plug the Sensor Plug into any 115 volt outlet — no wiring involved.

    The motion sensor detects motion up to 25 feet away and automatically turns on whatever electrical device is plugged into the Sensor Plug.

    As you enter a room have a lamp light, a coffee maker begin brewing or a radio begin playing, whatever you wish.

    Especially convenient when entering a room with your hands full.

    The Sensor Plug’s variable timer supplies power to electrical devices from 2 to 5 minutes, once activated, before automatically turning power off.

    A built-in timer resets to zero every time motion is detected.

    A two-position slide can prevent power from turning on during the daytime.

    Maximum load rating of 500 watts.


Could be fun.

The only thing that's unclear to me is how the switch knows not to turn off the light once you're in the room to stay and not moving.

I guess I'll find out when it arrives.


March 20, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

NewspaperArchive.com — Searchable database of 29 million microfilmed newspaper pages


"World's largest historical newspaper archive."


[via Frank Ahrens and the Washington Post]

March 20, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Color–Coordinated Peanut Butter & Jelly Spreader


Got bread?

Then you're gonna be in PB&J heaven the minute you get your sticky fingers on this baby.

From the website:

    Two–Sided Silicone Spreader

    Use this all-in-one tool to scoop and spread peanut butter and jelly, mustard and mayonnaise, or other delectable duos.

    Silicone surface allows non-stick spreading and easy cleanup.





March 20, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Your stupid


If I weren't a TechnoDolt™ I could create wonderful things like the little graphic above instead of having to rely on blind luck and fate to occasionally stumble upon them.

The tart admonitions are from Lynne Truss's best–selling book, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves."


[via illumina]

March 20, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

'Rumination Station' — Desk chair transforms into a full–length recliner


Slackers will please skip this post.

Hey — where'd everybody go?

The rest of you will enjoy seeing how they live.

From the website:

    "Unbelievably comfortable"

    A leather desk chair that turns into a recliner and works optimally as both — are we dreaming?

    It’s true: you can shift gears on this Rumination Station and go from desk chair to reading lounge to flat–out sleeping chair.


    And in the process, disengage your mental gears so that you do the kind of relaxed thinking that's most productive.

    • Rich leather

    • Cushy arms and headrest

    • Spacious, first-class seat

    • Headrest is adjustable

    The footrest appears out of nowhere for reclining (that's because it's tucked way back for working)

    29"W x 31"D x 35-43"H, reclining to 68"L

    Seat height: 17"–25"




March 20, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Just like it says.

March 20, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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