Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Around here we have our fair share of robins, jays, crows, and misc. small brown birds. I even saw a little group of quail earlier this summer - our state bird! But this week I've seen two amazing birds that I don't usually see. First, I saw a hawk! I caught sight of its wingspan as it landed in a tree near where I work. Wow! And today I saw this lovely - a blue heron. I've never seen a blue one before - only white ones. It was amazing - a slurry of slate blue, gliding a few feet above the river. It was so exciting.
Some cultures believe that birds are messengers, or bringers of signs. One source says hawks are messengers that appear when we need to pay attention to our surroundings. About herons, it says their grace, agility and presence reflect balance in life.
Hmmm. Do you believe animals and nature provide messages for humans? Are the messages from the Creator? Or does nature just reflect random creativity and continuity, and animals are just part of the landscape?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Book Report

This weekend I finished *Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Great read if you enjoy psychology and cognition. Gladwell discusses how we make snap judgments, and what was refreshing to me was how the book showed that snap decisions are a valid way to think. There is a lot going on in our sub-conscious that, if we were to stop and think about, would cause our brains to overload. So, our brains tuck knowledge and information away, till we find ourselves needing quick access. Fascinating stuff. Here are some interesting quotes/concepts (all from Gladwell, M.: Blink [2005]. Back Bay Books.):

1. pg. 52. "we need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that - sometimes - we're better off that way."
2. pg. 71. "...people are ignorant of the things that affect their actions, yet they rarely feel ignorant. We need to accept our ignorance and say 'I don't know' more often." This one had me thinking for days. So many times I'm afraid to look ignorant or stupid if I say 'I don't know,' yet I think I've probably been most comfortable with myself when I admit ignorance - because then I've opened my brain to learning.
3. pg. 208. "We think of the face as the residue of emotion...[but] the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can also start on the face." What this means is that if we want to change our emotions, we can do so by changing our facial expressions. Wow! This is something to try next time I get frustrated at work - let's see if I can alter my thoughts by changing my expressions. I'll let you know how it goes.

Go get this book. Good stuff.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

How NOT to Provide Customer Service, Lessons 1-100

TH and I were eating at a casual restaurant today for lunch, enjoying ourselves, when suddenly, a child begins a tantrum, to the accompaniment of a loud banging sound. Ten minutes later (I'm not kidding), the kid is still screaming and banging around, the parents have done NOTHING, and my food is curdling in my stomach. So I go to see what the restaurant is going to do. I figure, restaurants are hospitality industries, right? So the comfort and enjoyment of their guests is important to them, right? I wouldn't go so far as to say the customer is always right, but apparently they are if their kid is tantruming, because no one was willing to do anything. Check it out.

The first employee I approach (must have been 15 years old), I ask very politely, "Is there anything that can be done about the child who's throwing a fit? It's affecting our enjoyment of our meal." She says "I don't think we can do anything." Silence. Ohh--kayy. I ask to speak to the manager. She gets her supervisor, who was about 18 years old. He says "We can't really ask them to leave." Oh really? I ask, "Don't you have the right to refuse service to anyone?" He shrugs. I say, "So what you're telling me is that even though one person is ruining the restaurant environment for everyone else, there's nothing you can do about it?!" He says, "Yeah." I'm like, ooooooh - UH-UH. Meanwhile the tantrum has still been going on - so it's not like they couldn't hear what I was talking about - for a total of 15 minutes of straight meltdown (I gotta hand it to the kid for sheer endurance - wow). So I ask him if I can speak to his boss. He says, OK. He comes back with a business card, "He must have stepped out for a minute, but you can call him." You betcha.

A few minutes later, after the kid mercifully shuts up (still at no direction from his parents, who we had been observing), the manager starts walking around the restaurant. He's dressed in denim shorts and a T-shirt that says STUD and doesn't even identify the restaurant. He's asking everyone, "how you doin?" Well, fine, I love screaming with my onion rings, thanks...So when he gets to our table, I speak up. (Oh crap - I'm turning into my mother.) I very calmly mention that our lunch was disrupted by the tantrum, and how when I discussed this with his staff, I was told there was nothing to be done. I explained that this whole scenario bothered me on two levels: 1), what if the child were in danger, and making a ruckus? Would the restaurant say "nope, sorry, nothing we can do." And, 2) as a patron, it did not make me feel respected when the staff told me they couldn't help out. I then suggested that the manager (who turns out to be the owner) train the staff on different responses, so they can respond to complaints and disturbances appropriately. He totally blew me off.

He says, "Well ma'am, this is a kid-friendly restaurant, and so we expect there to be a certain amount of noise. If a child is in danger, we're limited by laws but would probably call the police. Otherwise, we can't do anything." I pointed out that the child was quite obviously not having good clean kid-friendly fun. He said, "I only just stepped out for five minutes, and I don't hear anything now. I'm a parent, and my kids have had tantrums in restaurants, you just do the best you can. In the thirty years I've worked in restaurants, I've never asked anyone to leave, and I never will." Wow. This guy's a winner. I reiterated that our meal was ruined, as were many other diners'. I asked him the same question as I asked his lackey - "so, you're going to sacrifice the comfort and experience of the whole restaurant because you don't want to step in to correct one person?" He said that's the way it was, and said he was sorry but there was nothing else he could tell me. No offer to pay for lunch, no apology for the negative experience. No placating, no nuthin'. I was so angry at this point I was shaking, but I managed to say, "I completely disagree with how you've handled this." We got up and left.

Now, I don't need someone to kiss my tushie, but in my opinion, this is how NOT to provide customer service. TH, after having worked in restaurant management himself, was also appalled - and he is tough to ruffle. When did kids' tantrums become normal behavior? When did people stop enforcing appropriate restaurant behavior for the common comfort of their patrons? My god, I feel like I stepped into bizarro world.

ps. Don't go to Fuddrucker's on Sunrise Ave in Citrus Heights. Ever. I'm telling everyone. And I'm toying with calling HQ on his ass.
pps. It occurs to me that I've been ranting a lot on my blog lately, so I will try to bring back some love tomorrow. I've got a great book I want to share with you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Work Pet Peeves

It drives me crazy when people at work say phrases like, "It's Friday Eve" or, "Wednesday - Hump Day." (Didn't Jerry Seinfeld do a routine about this??) As if life revolves around the weekend! I suppose for these sad people it does, but luckily I love my job, I love going to work, and I enjoy the weekdays as well as the weekends. Live in the now, people!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gender Roles

I was talking to a coworker today about one of my most favorite-est topics, gender roles. We were comparing how we were raised, and how our genders affected assignment of household chores. For instance, she was raised with the idea that doing laundry is a woman's job, and so girls should do the laundry for the family to train them for motherhood. I was raised with the idea that laundry is a life skill that both boys and girls needed to learn to do. We both took a moment of silence to imagine each other's lives. Interestingly, she is younger than me by a good 10 years.

I naturally feel most comfortable with how I was raised, but sometimes I wonder...what would it be like to have very structured ideas about what each gender "does?" Is there comfort in that? Is there confusion when all people can be all things? I guess this issue will keep coming up as long as there are still arenas in which women and men are not equally represented (hello, US Presidency and politics in general).

It's interesting to hear what people say on this topic (hint hint). Also, I think that culture plays a huge role in how gender roles are defined. And generation, and religion, and on and on... So I guess another question is, is it possible to separate the concept of gender role identity from that of culture and generation and family environment, or are these strings of identity eternally intertwined?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Your TSA: keeping you safe from petite, white 34-year-old women with apple butter

TH and I went to Indianapolis a couple of weekends ago for our daughter's (technically my step-daughter's) wedding. It was a sweet wedding and we are happy to welcome her new hubby to the family. We got to enjoy brunch at the Cracker Barrel, a fine down-home establishment with yummy big breakfasts (eggs! ham! grits! biscuits! apple butter!). I loved their apple butter so much, I decided to buy some - since, like all fine down-home establishments, the Cracker Barrel has a country store where you can purchase all kinds of goodies.
Flash forward to the next day, when I try to take said apple butter home. TH and I only packed one bag between us, and it was carry-on. We mosey through security at 5:00 am and get stopped at the x-ray. The TSA guy opens up our bag and starts going through everything. He pulls out the jar of apple butter (sealed, mind you), and says, "You can't take this." I argue that the bottle is obviously unopened, and not really a liquid. Like the fine down-home government employee he is, he doesn't budge. Kindly, he states that it's not allowed. Miffed, I tell him I hope he enjoys my apple butter since I won't be able to. Hmph.
So there you are folks. The friendly skies are safe, once again.

ps. I really don't have a problem with enhanced security, but come on. Apple butter for cryin' out loud!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sabra is Awesome

The finale for "So You Think You Can Dance" was last night, and my girl Sabra won! I'm so happy for her!! She has been consistently one of my favorites; it's so amazing that she's only been dancing four years. And, I loved Wade Robeson's "Foxes" dance. I thought it was wonderful, so imaginative and evocative, and poignant...the judges did not share my feelings on this. Still, there was some amazing dancing this season. And I like this show so much better than "Idol," as the judges actually give helpful critiques and comments, and don't spend a lot of time bickering. Also it seems the dancers are more talented at dancing than the singers on Idol are at singing.

Now what am I gonna watch??

ps. Pasha, you're still my favorite guy. [Swoon.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


As if I didn't already love to shop, I just found another great website, http://www.buckle.com/ That sound you hear is TH (the hubby) groaning...to which I say, sweetie-pie, don't make me tell them about you and your games..."Fear the Gamer!!"

Anyway, how cute is this sweater? And how good would it look with a black pencil skirt, crisp white dress shirt, and the dark red suede shoes that I already own? Mm-hmm. BTW, I wanted to show you-all the equally cute fleece coat I just recently acquired from http://www.oldnavy.com/, but it is no longer on their website. I can only assume that I must be more of a trendsetter than I thought. Yeah. Me and hundreds of other women.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I am fascinated. It blows my mind how we can estimate the age of something so old...a 1.5 million year old skull?? How can we possibly measure this kind of time? What was life like on Earth that long ago? How different was the land, the air, the sky? How did people interact with each other - were they self-centered or community-oriented? Did they have any concept of issues like "gender roles," "mental illness," "politics," or "spirituality?" What was language like?

I'm interested in bones, too. It's so amazing to me that scientists can tell so many things just from bones or fragments of bones. I think the area of forensic anthropology is riveting. [Sigh.] There's just not enough time in my day to study all the things I want to. Is anyone in the market to hire a professional student? I would apply for that job.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there has read any good books on these subjects, please let me know.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I'm a nerd. I admit it.

It's that time of year again...time for school supplies!! I love school supplies - paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, folders, scissors, glue sticks, binders, backpacks. Love them all. Loved getting ready for school, putting binders together, labelling notebooks, loading up my backpack, the whole enchilada. In my life, one of the great tragedies of being a grown-up is that I'm done with school, ergo no more back-to-school shopping trips. I miss school.

Yep, I'm a nerd. Any other nerds out there??

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bloom where you're planted

In the middle of the river levy, this dauntless plant is thriving. I love how it's not bowing to the peer pressure of the surrounding dried-up late summer grass.

There's a lot I need to learn from this plant.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Originally uploaded by shesingsforjoy
Here's a picture from Annecy, France. This falls under the category, where I went on my summer vacation.

Looky there, I posted a picture. :)

New beginnings

Hello? Did it work? Am I actually technically savvy enough to start a blog? Hey, that's pretty good. Now if I can just figure out how to post pictures...