And I Made Pizza Again (Snapshots)

I am told I include my cooking details to irk people or else they would not belong in a wine business blog. I got more tools for cooking pizza last week and haven’t found pre-made doughs yet. I think what I was shown in the frozen section last week is as good as it gets. I will have to try soon. The package I tried is same as last time and turned out same as last time except worse. Aluminum foil made a decent pizza with too much tomato sauce then. Today I used pans and is still too much tomatoes and I should have sprayed the pans. The instructions said nothing but my hunch was right. I think my pizza has improved and finally will happen. Good dough is the key and what I have been using is not it. We see next time.

Written on Blackberry Curve WiFi-only Handset

I Thought Pizza Turns Round Easy (Mentioned)

I had plans to try and make pizza at home but did it by accident today. My memory served me well that I could buy the premade pizza dough balls at the grocery store but since nothing showed online I postponed that. I did find by accident packages that did the job. The only problem is when I visited Kmart they could not be found contrary to the online quantities. I did find another package by accident and gave it a try! The photos of kids playing with the pizza (on the box) made sense when I was to spread the dough. I made no effort to round it up because original pizza is cooked and cut into rectangular. This was close enough but I know what they meant. There is no way to get this pizza right which means it will be made my way regardless. I added cheese and made one with cooked chicken. I will do it again but differently.

Written on Blackberry Curve WiFi-only Handset

Raj Parr: Parr Selections and some of the wines that inspired them at Ferry Wine Merchant (Tasting #46)


I am not surprised that Debbie Zachareas was made wine professional of the year (where did I read that a few years back? and many other honors). Where would the SF wine bar scene would be without her first rate events? Doing flights of their favorite wines on Tuesday nights? There is a lesson to be learned: Good events are what is lacking at the static food and beverage establishments which have to stop and cry about bad business often and regularly. Their only problem is it takes so much to do a first class event and there is such a big difference with the run-of-the-mill stuff everybody does. Here is a good one for you


Raj Parr: Parr Selections and some of the wines that inspired them
Party – Bar Night
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
4:30pm – 7:30pm
Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
Join us on Wednesday, March 24th, from 4:30-7:30pm, as we welcome special guest Rajat Parr, of Parr Selections and the Mina Group. We are thrilled to have this very special guest and dear friend join us at our Wine Bar for an evening of great wines personally produced by this heralded expert compared with the wines that inspired him to make them. Raj, as his friends call him, was a trained chef before beginning his wine career in San Francisco as an apprentice to Larry Stone at Rubicon. He soon blossomed, taking over the wine list at Fifth Floor, earning a Grand Award there, and then joining Michael Mina as Wine Director of the star chef’s burgeoning empire of stellar restaurants, including Michael Mina and their latest superstar, RN74. He has since branched out to start his own wine company, producing wines to his refined taste from various regions. Tonight we will feature a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, and a lovely Syrah paired with the wines that originally inspired Raj to make those particular wines. You will have the chance to compare and contrast the old world wines that served as his muse for the new world wines. Plus, you can discuss first hand what made those wines special in the mind of the man that took that inspiration and turned it into a line up of delicious California wines. Don’t Miss It!

We know you won’t want to miss this opportunity to taste a wonderful range of delicious wines with this wine star and quiz him about all aspects of wine, from his favorites to his selction methods. Learn from a famous sommelier. So come down and help us welcome this charming wine czar, Rajat Parr to Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.


MARCH MADNESS comes to Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and Oxbow Wine Merchant! We are not immune to this Spring ritual of college basketball zaniness. We will be showing all of the games available on all of the big screen, high-def TV’s at the Ferry Plaza Wine Bar and at our sister store in Napa, Oxbow Wine Merchant. Come on down and join us for a tasty beverage and some game time snacks and enjoy all the thrills that the NCAA Basketball Tournament has to offer! Starting today all the way through to the Championship Game on April 5th. See you there.


The featured wines are served as a series of two ounce glasses. If you would like a full glass just ask your bartender. The wines will also be available for retail purchase while supplies last….

The cost of the flight will be $38 and will feature the following six wines served as three pairs for comparison:

2007 Parr Solomon Hills Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County
Retail $45, 5oz. glass $14.50

2006 Domaine Leflaive Macon-Verzé, Burgundy, France
Retail $35, 5oz. glass $12.00

2007 Parr Seven Springs Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Retail $45, 5oz. glass $14.50

2007 Domaine L’Arlot Nuits-St-Georges, 1er Cru, Clos de L’Arlot, Burgundy, France
Retail $75, 5oz. glass $22.00

2007 Parr Purisima Mountain Syrah, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County
Retail $45, 5oz. glass $14.50

2006 Yves Gangloff Cote-Rotie La Barbarine, Rhone Valley, France
Retail $88, 5oz. glass $25.25

Hope to see you all there!
Peter, Bo, Jeff, Debbie and the entire Ferry Plaza team.

Also, don’t miss the complete schedule of our highly popular Ferry Plaza Wine Classes in San Francisco, at 6:30 pm in the Ferry Building’s Port Commission Hearing Room.

Click Wine Bar for the complete Wine Bar Event Schedule. Many of our wines are available online at

Join our Wine Club!

For questions, comments:
call (415) 391-9400.

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
One Ferry Building,
Shop 23
San Francisco, CA 94111

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

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From Virgin Mobile to Boost, Unlimited Flat-fee without A Contract is the Future of Cell Services (Short Piece #28)


A nice lady from Virgin Mobile wrote on my blog I misstated that Virgin is getting rid of their contract service but do have monthly service. That is my mistake but also brings me to a point that monthly unlimited service (or limited flat fee) is not necessarily a contract service.

I have been looking some phones over mostly because the keyboard on my phone is not very big. It is actually small but no different than a Blackberry. I had to explain to a customer, who was buying a cellphone with a keyboard, last week that contrary to what people believe one does not hold these small phones by two hands and use thumbs to type by visually dividing the keyboard into two equal halves. The reason my fingers do not get tired is because I divide the keyboard to two unequal halves. My right thumb does most of the pushing buttons and my left thumb helps with less than ten keys that are on the far left of the keyboard. It is a trick that works but in the long run, it is better to have a larger keyboard and a fancy phone with good keyboard can go a long way.

I looked various services over and frankly I am afraid of any contract service because I will have overages. I estimated I must have spent $5000 to $7000 with my last carrier which was an excellent provider thus no name mentioned but even with a $35 plan that I had forever, I never could figure out how I went over so much. I looked a few things over and Virgin carries Rumor 2 which should do everything I need to do but I also found Boost has new phones that work on Sprint network for flat fee. Sanyo Incognito, by my research and we also sell it but hardly ever in stock, costs a flat $50 each month which means the damage will never be over $600 per annum but works on Sprint network. That technically makes it Sprint service on an unlimited monthly basis but without a contract and I believe that is what the nice Virgin lady was saying. Virgin contract and Virgin monthly are not the same and the point is now well taken. Sprint contract and Sprint monthly are not the same either. I now know I can have Sprint service without a contract as Sprint monthly unlimited under the name Boost. That is great since Incognito will allow me all the social media privileges (as Virgin does and has been ahead of them in providing) but also has a very nice keyboard that I can type till I drop.

I think I have made my final decision and when my next bill is due with my phone (unless something better and more interesting comes my way) I just port my phone number into Boost as long as Incognito is available for sale. Why all this talk about my phone shopping? I think the days of contract phone service are coming to an end quickly and the signs of the times are here. I have had my present phone for four months and is a great device and is time for it to go. Incognito will do everything I need to do with a few things my present phone cannot do (which are very important by the way) but I figure it will last me 90 days before I have to move up again. Technology is not the only thing that changes rapidly. Our business needs can change quickly also and these devices are not made to last forever or do the job perfectly forever. A phone locked into a contract is great for non-professionals with static needs but the rest of us will have to be flexible and ready to change often.

Virgin purchased Helio (or whatever is its name) and the contract service was inherited from them. That is out the door and Virgin mobile will do pre-paid and monthly flat fee no contract service. That may be a strategic move by Virgin to take care of their niche market but is also a sign of the times. Phone contracts used to be one year and that scared people and have been two years for so long nobody cares any more. The cost of the monthly fee has gone up so much a $100 fee is nothing both by getting used to and the inflation of money. $100 is same as $40 three years ago but nobody notices the loss of purchasing power. I think the trend will be to provide equal service to contract carriers with phones that can be changed more often than two year periods and no contracts to tie people down. We can blame Sprint for that one by introducing phones that work on Sprint network but are also unlimited and flat fee through another carrier (which they own as they own Virgin). Phone service will be different in the near future and everyone has to work harder and better to keep their customers or just buy out the competition and be able to give the public a hard time by the lack of choices of providers. I think I know what I need and the solution works for 90 days. Who knows what I will need beyond that?

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

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Edition Twenty Nine – 15 March to 21 March 2010 (Wine by Cush)


Edition 29 has three posts. First is a tasting announcement and the other two are about data-only cellphones. I write articles that do not directly relate to wine and they show up in this blog or writing by Cush. I believe many relate to the wine business and wine professionals and this blog is a good place to post them as is this short piece about the need for non-voice phone lines. I should have more posts in the near future as I am reading my Google reader and getting into the field visits also.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

Non-voice Cellphones Look Even Better Now (Reflection 40)


I have found out since I wrote the piece that ATT offers a data only plan for Blackberry phones but costs $60. That defeats the purpose if one is to have multiple cellphones. A data-only with optional voice usage or a small voice package is invaluable but should cost little so the general population would want to have multiple cellphones. One cellphone with current plans is too expensive as is and the need for multiple cellphones will not be met with expensive plans. I think the final outcome will be some carriers will specialize in such plans. Virgin mobile was bought out by Sprint and will lose its monthly plans soon. They offer only pre-paid and have a text-only plan for $20 or something. If that plan was $30 and had unlimited text, web and email with optional phone call, it would make a great deal of sense to pack a second phone on Virgin for that purpose. The fact that no contract is needed and nice phone with keyboard costs only about $100 would speed up the process. I think there is solid potential in this area and should be explored but also customized for professionals and those who need a second and third line without crazy costs or commitments. Those lines will serve many professionals and will stay around benefiting both the carriers and the customers.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

Data Plans for Cellphones Look More Attractive Everyday (Short Piece 26)


I was reading an article about iPhone users at Microsoft. iPhone appears to be as popular with Bill Gate’s employees as with everyone else but the politics of Microsoft are no different than any other company. The article mentions how iPhone is ubiquitous until a top management person is around and everyone hides their phones. I don’t have an iPhone but experience a similar situation. I sell cellphones, including iPhone, as part of my job and the rules of political correctness require I subscribe to one of our vendor companies. It did occur to me that the employee plans offered by vendors are cheaper than public plans but I have been very happy with my fake smartphone and its unlimited all-inclusive plan, I cannot find a better replacement and have no problem paying a bill that is 3 or 5 times the employee plan rates (depending on which vendor I pick) each month. Officially only one person knows I have a phone of the competition but unofficially it is an inside joke what I personally use and what I sell to the public. I feel Microsoft employees and myself are amongst the millions who find better solutions regardless of the obstacles.

One of the things I have noticed about my cellphone usage is how little of voice time I actually use. I have always been in favor of not talking on the phone and still don’t know why. I have a theory that I am very used to interpersonal communication or written communication and can pick up and send enough cues to be in strong communication but telephone lacks both thus my dislike for voice-only communication. I don’t think my theory is complete but is partially accurate. In any case, unless my work activities require me, I make the least use of the voice feature of my phone. What I have found more beneficial is the text feature. I was one of the original text-fanatics before texting was even popular. That is another story and I can only tell many people disliked receiving and sending text messages because it was such a novelty.

I have noticed I use my phone the most for my email. My phone updates my emails non-stop daily and I go through my two email boxes anywhere from 50 to 80 times daily reading and deleting and sending (to a less extent) emails. That is the most used feature of my phone. I may use the web a few times or many times each day without any real pattern to this usage. The text message has always been my favorite for doing the job of voice contact and I can think of another reason why I like text: I can get down to business without all interpersonal stuff customary in personal contact. That saves me a great deal of time. I can also be in contact without imposing on people. Text has its disadvantages also but I see text as a useful feature. The least used feature of my phone is voice. I have had jobs where I would have to make and receive many phone calls and I am fortunate to get by text messaging. I spoke to a customer a few days ago who had two phones. One Sprint phone, as part of his family plan, and a Blackberry given to him by his company. The Blackberry had no voice feature and he was allowed to only use the device for data work which is web, email and text messaging. I found that interesting and later thought that is not a bad use for a phone line. Why not have cellphone plans that allow heavy data use and only allocate a few minutes of voice minutes.

The trend seems to be toward making and using cellphones that handle information. Cellphones are now classified into two major categories of voice use and information use. Some people purchase cellphones mostly or completely for making and receiving calls while others have voice as a minor necessity. I searched the available plans for public cellphone users and could not find any plan that would offer unlimited data with only a little (100 anytime minutes maybe?) voice minutes. That would be ideal for someone like me who dislikes making and receiving phone calls unless absolutely necessary but has no problem sending and receiving 50 text messages each minute. I think such plans should exist and should be much cheaper thus attracting more people. When cellphones first became commonplace and reliable, I started to hear people talk about disconnecting their landlines and only using cellphone thus having only one phone bill. That is very common today and less usage of cellphones for making and receiving calls is the next step. Cellphones have already advanced to the level of being tiny computers with full features and everyone buys and uses them. Why not have one more plan for cellphone users? Why not have a cheap dedicated data line with a small voice package attached. I think such plans will attract many who want to have lower cellphone bills and access to voice as a necessity. The standard cellphone monthly bills are already in three digits for smartphones and will be going higher in the future since inflation takes its toll regardless of how much the government lies of low inflation. Why not have a cheap plan that encourages heavy text use and voice only if necessary? The companies that offer such plans will be serving a new and strong niche and if the plans are not much cheaper than other or inclusive plans, they won’t catch on. I think if such plans existed, I would have two phones by two different carriers since I cannot find everything I need in one carrier and so would others. I have had two cellphones in the past and works out great because if a person travels, does business, has a social life and so on one phone and one cellphone plan will prove to be a huge handicap while two phones, two phone numbers and two competitive plans will prove great. I think some cellphone companies can offer such plans by making a small change in their offerings and will attract many new loyal customers who are heavy users of their services. Let’s hope for that in the near future.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.