Notes from the field: Behind closed doors with Sinatra

It's been a tough week at the gym, sweating on a stairmaster in front of a 20-foot bank of televisions, each one covering the Hoboken memorial service of Frank Sinatra.

Wanting to pay my respects, I hitched across the desert to visit my Uncle Roland, a high-rolling professional gambler living in Viva Las Vegas, baby.

"The chairman of the board is gone," I said to my Uncle Roland.

"Yes, no more Jerry", he responded

"I'm not talking about Jerry Seinfeld."

"Oh, you mean Bill Gates?"

With that, he slammed the screen door shut behind me, opened a six-pack, and sat me down at his kitchen table.

It seems that everyone is gunning for Bill G these days, and not just the Feds. Oracle's Larry Ellison was seen ranting and raving with delight about the pickle Microsoft is in.

My Uncle Roland, being a betting man, knows the odds of survival.

"Data General," Roland whispered in his raspy voice. "After a rocky first quarter and being in the red last quarter, they're going through a round of layoffs with regional offices being hardest hit."

"Anything you can tell me about Big Blue?" I asked.

Roland sighed and said IBM is partnering with Sun on a major outsourcing project for Lucent Technologies.

Roland also told me that Ray Ozzie, the original kingpin behind Lotus Notes, has named his new company Group Networks.

Vegas vs Disneyland

I asked my Uncle Roland if there was anything I could do for him. Maybe take him to Disneyland?

He said no way. Sinatra would never have gone there. It's too squeaky clean. I asked him what was the last big act he'd seen.

Frankie Sinatra, Roland said, at The Sands. After the show he bought Sinatra a martini and asked him what to do when a lady cries.

"You cry with her," Sinatra said.

"Should we be crying for Microsoft?" I asked.

"Naw, there's plenty of other big acts left," Roland said, looking for his cat.