Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo Fun #2

It was so much fun last time, I want to keep on posting. I love looking through my pictures that are just sucking up bandwidth.

The idea of sharing them is a fun one for me, so here is the second photo:


I took this pic at my hotel. Don't steal.
There is something about going to Arizona in March for Spring Training to see the Indians play. I have gone each year that the team has been out there and I think I will continue the tradition.

I enjoy the occasional beach vacation, but on those trips I just get bored. I can only bake on the hot sand for so long and then I start to lose my mind. But Arizona in March is perfect. The weather is warm, but not scalding. The sun is shining, the sky is a gorgeous blue. The mood is completely relaxed. How stressed out can you be sitting in the stands, watching a game and eating a hot dog?

The vibe is great. The players are friendly, the fans are fun. Although, I do admit, it is painfully obvious who is at the game from somewhere cold. We all have shorts and t-shirts on and the oldtimer locals are slathered in sunscreen under their layers of sweatshirts and wide brimmed straw hats.

This picture in particular was taken at my hotel. I'm a huge priceline fan, and I usually get a hotel in Phoenix near the airport. It is convenient, right down the street from Tempe and a 5 minute drive to the airport.

When I walked out of my room and into the courtyard by the pool and looked up at the sky, my midwestern frozen brain started to thaw. Looking up at the palm trees just reinforced I wasn't in snowy Cleveland anymore.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

True Halloween Story

Hopefully, we all have fond and funny memories of Halloween. I have quite a few. There was the time I was sick and my dad went trick or treating for me. I remember him coming home with a pillowcase full of candy. Little plastic pumpkins are for rookies. I remember trying to buddy up with friends in good candy neighborhoods.

After an evening of trick or treating, I run in the house and collapse on the living room floor, then dumping all of my loot on the green shag carpet where my aunt would help me go through it. She would put aside wrapped pieces to make sure that some whack job didn't put in a needle or razor blade. It was either go through this process with my aunt or my mom, and I always picked my aunt. Higher edible candy ratio with her than mom.

As a little girl, two of my mom's sisters lived with us, and to me, they were like older sisters. In fact, I used to brag about my older sisters in high school. That was a fun conversation that my mom had to have with my kindergarten teacher.

Anyway, my aunt would help me gather the "safe" candy into a giant bowl that would then go in the fridge for fresh keeping. I would also share candy with her, and only her because she was saving me from the evil people that wanted to hurt little kids by giving them bad candy. I would have a fit if anyone dared to take a piece of my candy without my expressed permission.

One thing that I was always grateful for was my aunt taking all the Three Musketeers bars. She used to put them in a special pile. She told me that they were awful, terrible, yucky candy bars and she was saving me from eating them. She told me that she would eat them, because we didn't want to just throw them away on account of the starving kids in Africa.

This went on every year. I would gleefully toss any Three Musketeers bars I found to her and I would tell my friends at school about them. That they were these awful gross things and about how my aunt was so awesome that she would take them for us.

I don't think I even tasted a Three Musketeers bar until I was in my late twenties. And I have to tell you, they aren't too bad.

Last year at Christmas I shared the Three Musketeers story with the family during a rousting game of Yahtzee. Mom yelled at my aunt and she laughed so hard she had to run from the table to avoid peeing in her chair.

Good times.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Red Onions Are Evil

Italian Chef Scott Conant, self professed raw red onion hater.
A true fact is I hate cooking. I don't find it soothing or relaxing. I don't find it some warm and fuzzy communal activity.

But...

I love to watch cooking shows. I dream of the day that I would actually order quinoa and enjoy it. I am admittedly a beer and chicken wing kind of girl, but I am intrigued by these shows. I love them all from Top Chef to Iron Chef to Rachael Ray and her 30 minute meals. In fact, I even love to watch one of the shows of my arch nemesis Bobby Flay - Throwdown. The premise of this show is that Flay goes in and tries to challenge a "pro" at whatever dish they are famous for. I gleefully chuckle when his assistants openly mock him and he loses.

Ahem.

One of my favorite shows is Chopped on the Food Network. They have taken the best thing about Top Chef and made the entire show a quickfire challenge.  Each contestant is given a basket of mystery ingredients and they must make something out of them. Round one is an appetizer, then someone is chopped. Round two is an entree, then another chef is chopped, and finally a dessert which results in the winner. Awesome.

The Chef/judges are interesting and snarky and full of themselves. But, so are some of the contestants. Some of them (like in most of these shows) think that they know what the diner *should* like. They come up with these random and scary concoctions that if the diner doesn't like it, well, then they have an undeveloped palate and they are poopy heads.

Enter Scott Conant. He is a successful chef and restaurant owner in his own right, and he is quick to give the "don't you dare give me a pathetic excuse glare." I came to love Scott when during one challenge, a chef presented him with an unholy amount of raw red onions with his appetizer. Scott railed on him for that, informing him that his palate was overpowered and destroyed by the evil that is the red raw onion. For the next course, the cheftestant thinks he knows more than Scott and gives him more raw red onions in his entree.

It was with giddy excitement that I watched Scott open a can of proverbial whoopass on the silly young man.

Scott made it very clear... as a chef, you need to listen to your diners. Listen to your guests. You don't know better than they do.

Every time I hear someone talk about a stinky office, or smell an onion, I think of Chopped and the tirade against red onions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words, Or At Least 100

Like oh my God, smile ok?
For as long as I can remember I have loved to take pictures. Early on, I saw it as a way to remember things forever that might otherwise be forgotten. Well, at least that is the answer I gave my dad when I was 5 after he developed a roll of film that was completely of my hunky crush down the street. I think my crush was 9 and he helped me learn to ride my bike without training wheels *swoon* so I adored him.

Wow, was my dad furious. He still brings it up about once a year, and shares with anyone that will listen about the time I took an entire roll of film of Nelson down the street. This was back when you had to pay for film, flash cubes, and developing. So pops had a bit of a right to be cranky.

This was also the time that you had to make tough decisions about what pictures you were going to take. With my digital camera, I might take a *hundred* pictures in a night or at an event.

Why not? It doesn't cost anything extra and with websites like Photobucket, I can store them forever.

With actual film, you only had a certain number of pictures to take, maybe an extra one or two at the end of the roll. I remember actually having to remove people from pictures because I didn't want them in the shot. Ouch. Harsh, I know, but everyone did it. Sometimes you would even have to take a "fake" picture and get the real one later.

Now however, there is no cost to taking hundreds of pictures until you print them out. I have over a thousand pictures on my phone. I have thousands more online. I share some through social media, but the rest collect virtual dust in a server somewhere. And that my friends, is just sad.

So, once a week, I will post a picture that I took and share a little about it. These are my personal pictures (unless otherwise noted) so please don't try and snag them or post them other places without permission, because that just isn't cool.

My friends, welcome to picture one:

Bonavox hearing aids in Dublin, Ireland.
My first trip to Ireland was rainy and dreary. I went in February because the price was astronomically low and it was the off season. I didn't want to bump into other Americans. I see enough here.

When I went to my hotel, I was surprised at it. The hotel was down a winding side street in Dublin. When I got to my room and I opened the door whack the door hit the bed. I walked to the end of the bed and tah dah, I was in the bathroom. It was less than half the size of my college dorm room. I had always wanted to visit Ireland, and I was only going to sleep in the room, so I didn't care. I had a fantastic time exploring and making new friends. My first trip to a foreign country.

One night while walking home from one of the local pubs, I saw the Bonavox Hearing Aid store and I let out a little squeal. I quickly fumbled for my camera and took the picture.

For any die hard U2 fan, you would realize that this is the place that Bono's name came from.

From the Bonavox website, here is the story of Bono's name:

You accidentally became linked with U2 when Paul Hewson started using the stage name Bono Vox. Do you know how he came to settle on a wrongly spelt version of the shop's name?
Paul Hewson has a good friend, an artist called Guggi Rowan. They were school pals and Guggi was around when U2 was being formed.
Guggi, Paul and they were talking about names. Guggi had seen the name above our shop and said to Paul "I've got a brilliant name for you, it's Bono Vox, which means 'Good voice'." He got the name slightly wrong – we're Bonavox, not Bonovox.
Paul took the name Bono Vox in full, later shortening it to just Bono. That's the truth of how he got the name.
It was a great souvenir from an amazing trip.  Now you all have a random fact to share with your friends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hmmm...

Charles Rex Arbogast - AP   


Tipping Is Not A City In China

The subject of tipping has come up quite a bit lately. From Peyton Hillis leaving a tiny tip to a bartender being left the tip of "you can stand to lose a few pounds" to a push in San Fransisco for servers to get a mandatory 25% (which has since been proven bogus).

Working in the hospitality business is tough and not for the weak or flat footed. You are at the mercy of the customer to make a living wage.

I have been a bartender and server for what seems like eons. Here are a few tips...even in a recession.

If you can't afford to eat out, don't.
Yes, I know, like Donna, you work hard for your money. But so does your server/bartender/hostess/busser. If you say to yourself that you deserve a good meal and nice night out, by all means, go for it. But, treat the tip like part of the bill. I will freely admit that there have been times that I would have loved another cocktail, but in doing so, I wouldn't be able to tip. So, sadly, sobriety had to win out.

The server that is waiting on you is making about a third of minimum wage. And then on top of that, a grumpy manager looks at their sales and requires them to tip out the hostess, food runner, busser, bartender, etc. The tricky part here is that if I work all night and heaven forbid not making any tips, I still have to tip those people out. I can lose money by going to work.

I had a table once that was a family of four. They shared meals and ordered one root beer for the table. Ugh. I refilled that root beer so much that at one point I looked under the table for a barrel that they were dumping it in.

Even though I was irritated, I was still friendly and I was pleasantly surprised that at the end of the meal, they left a 20% tip. Awww.

Yes, the server/bartender remembers you from last time
This is a true fact - I am horrible at remembering names. Terrible. I can meet you 10 times and still not have the vaguest clue as to your name. But, I will remember exactly what you ate and drank. Try it sometime. I'm a fun party trick. Likewise, if you come into a place a couple of times, the bartender/server will remember you.

Well, let me throw a little caveat in there. Your server/bartender remembers you if you were an awesome tipper or if you were a cheap jackwagon. Anyone else falls off the meter. If you are trying to build an alibi, leave a great tip.

I can point out in a crowded room a crummy tipper.

A few years ago, I was bartending at a swanky partay thrown by a law firm in Indy. I had a guy that was such a pain, ordering drinks that we didn't have ingredients for. I even, to be nice, hunted around and found a pint of creamer for his Kahlua and creams (here is another note, if you are at a bar for an event, unless the planner forked out big bucks, options are limited, deal with it). He later picked up the habit of *snapping his fingers* at me from across the bar. This from the guy that had not left a dollar all night.  Kids, nothing will get you ignored quicker and cause dirty looks to go xxx than snapping your fingers at someone.

The last tip...Servers and Bartenders are people too
In the above example, the foolio lawyer clearly thought it was appropriate to treat us like some sort of servant. Yes, I'm there to wait on you, but I'm not being paid enough to put up with your nonsense.

Maybe that is why some servers have gone to pubic shaming of bad tippers. In the above example, the bartender that received the weight loss tip, she posted the guy's name on the web and called him out. Yay. But, oopsie...she called the *wrong* guy out.

In the new world of immediate feedback, the pressure to get your order right and give you a great experience is huge. One cranky customer tweet or facebook post can send a server packing. I remember cutting off a girl once who screamed at the top of her lungs that her father owned verizon and I was as good as fired. She later came back to complain about the tall blonde girl that was so mean to her (note: I am not blonde and most certainly have never been described as tall). If that was a direct tweet to the boss, who knows what would have happened.

The point is, let's try to be nice to one another. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Peyton Hillis - A Footnote in the Cleveland Sports Fail Reel?

Photograph by Elizabeth Griffin for Esquire.com
Being a Cleveland fan continues to be painful. Right now, my biggest fear (besides of course Bobby Flay attacking me with an army of hairy spiders), is that Peyton Hillis is going to become a footnote or passing blurb in the latest edition of the Cleveland Sports fail reel.

Last season, fans were overjoyed to take a chance on Hillis. The trade with the Broncos seemed like finding a priceless work of art for a dollar at a garage sale. in 2010, Hillis became the first Browns player to be AFC Offensive Player of the Week since Eric Metcalf, almost 20 years ago.  And let's agree how fitting it was that he was selected as the cover for Madden 12...over Michael Vick.  Hero of the Dawg Pound over the Dog killer. Good against evil. You name it, we as fans ran with it.

I don't know Hillis personally. All I know of him is that he tweeted me that he would sign my football.  But, he strikes me as the "aww shucks, ma'am" kind of guy. I haven't heard wild stories of him at strip clubs or getting loaded and tearing up bars. He isn't getting in fights or cussing fans out. I'll bet he has a gun, but I would go on a limb and say it is for hunting only...during season of course. If he spends his money on anything it is a new shiny pick up truck.

Point is, he is a hard working guy that wants to play. Remember folks, this is the same guy that during the off season harnessed himself to a half ton pick up truck and dragged it through his neighborhood.

And then the games began.

Word started to leak that Hillis and the Browns were having trouble coming to an agreement on his contract.

And then Hillis got sick. Word around the water cooler was that he had strep throat. He was sent home from practice by the team. He lost 12 pounds. Then, he was too sick to play with the team against Miami. his agent claimed that he told Hillis to stay home.

That my friends is where things began to explode into a slimy mess of confusion.

Did Hillis' agent tell him to stay home because he was sick or he was "sick?" Was Hillis on his sickbed wishing his mommy would bring him some soup or was he chillin' in his jammies watching sportscenter with a teeny weeny sniffle?

Hillis is on his third agent in a year. I would humbly suggest he look for a fourth. This controversy brewed up during the bye week, which meant it was dissected and poked and prodded and speculated within a hair of its life.

Cleveland talk radio and the interwebz were burning up with angry armchair callers, furious bloggers and don't even get me going on the tweeters. Josh Cribbs tried to douse the flames of sports fail rage with a call to a local sports station. He believed that Hillis was sick and leave the man alone.

I agree.

I think Hillis was sick and couldn't play. If he did, he could have gotten hurt or dear lord, spread his cooties to the rest of the team.

Hillis took to Twitter to tell the fans what he thinks...





Whew. Controversy over. Let's play ball and win some games people.

That is of course, a dream that I have. Sadly, Coach Shurmur may have something else in mind.

For some reason known only to the Coach, Hillis barely touched the ball since sitting out the Miami game. This of course caused Browns fans to lose their collective marbles. In the Raiders game, Coach called plays for Montario "bricks for hands" Hardesty. OK, that was a little harsh, but when the guy was clearly having a tough time, get him out and send Hillis in.

Hillis was seen trying to convince the RB coach on the sidelines (watch before the NFL yoinks it), but nothing.

Fans continued to scream and throw nachos at their television sets.

In the third quarter, the Browns said Hillis was not in because of the coaches.

More nachos hit the flat screens.

Then the Browns told everyone that Hillis was injured. The Coach would later say it was in very early in the game, the first or second quarter.
A collective barrage of curses cut through the air as Browns fans everywhere were out of nachos to throw at the screen. How can we lose Hillis?

Then...
It was at this point I was screaming in the middle of the living room with my arms flailing about.

If Shurmur is trying to show Hillis and his agent who's the boss, yes we get it. You sir, are bossy Angela to Hillis' Tony. Got it. I think I speak for everyone when I say, we all got it. We understand. You proved your point.

Can we just play ball now? Please?

Yoinked from Deadspin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

NBA Lockout + Cavs Tickets = ?!?!

She really was right.
The NBA is in the midst of a lockout with the possibility of the owners and players coming together to save the season just as likely as me winning the powerball.  The fight is billionaires (the owners) vs. millionaires (the players) and I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble finding sympathy for either side.

The NFL lockout almost cost a season and more importantly the fans. The players seemed to get that, and it was not a point lost on the owners either. If you lose the fans, you lose everything.  I'm not sure that the NBA however, understands that.

Last word was there needs to be a resolution in the next day or so or the first NBA game we will see will be at Christmas.

Maybe everyone needs to sit out. Go to your corners until you can be good boys. There are several things that infuriate me about the lockout. What honks me off the most is the effect it is having on everyone else. I don't care if the owners or coaches miss a couple of paychecks. But, there are more people with something on the line. When you go to a game, look around. Look at the restaurants and bars...they brought on extra staff for the game. On your way to the stadium, look at all the parking attendants, police officers, security. In the stadium, all the ushers, ticket takers, hot dog makers, cocktail shakers. The guy running up and down the sections hawking beer and peanuts. The people in the merchandise stands. There are a lot of people that depend on the games for their livelihood.

In the current economic climate, people that are struggling to keep their homes and families together are not inclined to hear the whining of people that make more in a game than they will in years.

Keeping that in mind, I am more than a little ticked off at the Cleveland Cavaliers right now.

Let me backtrack for a moment.

If you are a regular reader, you know I have a *ahem* a few days on my hands right now.  I was downtown and I thought it would be a great time to see if I could get a Cavs locker room tour. The tours have been advertised outside of the Q and inside the team shop. I've been on the Browns and the Indians tours already, and they were interesting. The Browns was the most expensive (10 bucks I think) and the least informative. Don't get me wrong, you get to see everything, but there aren't dedicated tour guides. I think my guide was some intern during his second week.

The Indians. Whoa. The Indians have a tour guide staff that, I am confident in saying, know everything. These ladies have it down. If was in a situation that I needed to phone a friend on Indians stats, these ladies are the go to.

I figured the Cavs would be somewhere in the middle.

Umm...yeah...not so much. 

 As I mentioned, I was downtown and went into the Cavs team shop to see about a tour.

The girl behind the counter didn't have any times or information, but she was nice enough to call for me. She got transferred around and the person that she ended up with told her, "I don't know."

I thanked her for calling for me and I looked around the store. When I looked up at the flashy monitor, the number for Locker Room Tours popped up. Call! So I did.

*headshake*

I called the number and the gentleman that answered the phone seemed a bit bewildered when I asked about a tour. I repeated again that I was calling about a tour.

*note to readers, this would be the point my little buttercup that you should buckle up*

He told me that the tours were really for season ticket holders and that he didn't recognize my area code.

A bit irritated, I told him that I was calling from my cell and I wasn't really interested in tickets right now until I see how the lockout shakes out, although I had been to numerous games last season.

He told me again that the tours are really for season ticket holders and everyone was leaving for Canton but sometimes they do tours on Friday, but they are for people buying tickets and he could call me next week to talk about tickets if I wanted.

I told him that I was going to be in and out of town and I would call back some other time. He said, "ok, bye."


Let's evaluate this situation for a moment.

We are in the midst of a lockout. Fans are irritated. The Cavs had a bad season last year...breaking the professional sports record for consecutive losses. Fans are irritated. Last year, before LeFoolio made his decision, Cavs season ticket holders were strong armed to make their decision about their season tickets *before* LeFoolio. Again, fans are irritated.

With that in mind and the thought of "dear God we have yet another rebuilding season," the Cavs are playing hardball with tours that they advertised? I don't mind paying for the tour (the other teams have the fees go towards their respective foundations) and I don't mind hearing a little about season tickets during the tour.

I had considered getting Cavs season tickets this year, if for no other reason than to watch LeFoolio choke and to see the Mavaliers, but, on second thought, I'm not that stoked to see where Samardo Samuels leaves his dirty socks.

The Cavs can keep their bait and switch tour. I'll just buy tickets on Stub Hub, I'm sure it will be cheaper.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When I moved back to Cleveland, I thought I found the perfect job. Amazing mission and amazing people.

And then, well, then it wasn't the perfect job anymore.  I was presented with a fantastic chance to work for a company that not only pays more, but offers a vast array of opportunity. When I was offered the job I remember hearing the Mary Tyler Moore theme song in my head. This is my chance professionally to do what I want to do.

On Monday, I turned in my notice and thanked the company for the opportunity and offered to do whatever I could to make a smooth transition. I went to lunch and came back to find my computer locked down.

Boss came in and told me that since I work with what could be considered confidential information, that it would be best if I left now. I would be paid for my two week notice and paid for my vacation, but I should leave now.

I think I was the straw that crushed the camel. So, while initially I was shocked since this wasn't the normal procedure, I'm not surprised.

I packed up, left my projects and desk in a bit of a shambles and I started my vacation.

A new chapter is being written...hopefully this is a long one.