Friday, September 30, 2011

"256 Shades of Gray"

First off, no, I am not talking about my hair, which currently is a lovely shade of salt and pepper.

Yesterday, I was discussing, with a very great friend of mine, my moms "theory" on the 256 shades of grey. but, let me start at the beginning of our conversation. We were discussing the two main types of homophobia, which are listed as "those trying to repress a part of themselves, and a background of abuse when younger". The conversation then turned to my mom, as she was a very wise and lovely woman, who like me, felt that everyone you meet is a potential friend. Of course she could get pissed off at lot quicker than I ever could, but I digress. Anyway, I was telling my friend that when I came out, my mom was like a community mom while I was living in Tucson and Phoenix. She would go to the gay bars with me, she would talk with all the people there, she even tried hooking me up with a few of the guys. But mainly, she was there for some of the guys when even their parents would not have anything to do with them. As a side note, my friend wondered why we don't see or hear more about community moms, and I think it might be because over the past 20 years, parents have started to become more accepting, but again, I digress. So I eventually ask my friend if he had ever seen me post about my moms theory of 256 shades of grey. He said he did not, so I gave him the story I am about to write here. My mom was a true angel, and this is but ONE of the many stories I can tell about how she worked to make a difference in her own part of the world.

"256 Shades of Grey" a theory by Saundra Sue McKeown, as remembered by Edward G. McKeown.

"Most people look at the people in the world and they see things in absolutes. To them, everything is either 'black' or 'white', and there are no compromises. What they tend to miss, or not see in larger picture, is that their really are not absolutes. Their are no 'absolute black' or absolute white', there are only the 256 shades of grey between those two defining points. For the comfort or enjoyment of another persons company, the absolute on one end would be a person that has absolutely no contact with the same sex, while the other absolute would be a person that has absolutely no contact with the opposite sex. Since these two options are relatively impossible, unless stranded alone on a deserted island or the choice to live as a hermit, these absolutes cannot be defined. Men communicate with other men, they go to bars together, they watch sports together, the have some point of contact with the same sex on a daily basis; while for ladies, the same is also true, ladies tend to do things in groups, go to ladies night out, go to bathrooms in groups, etc. And yet, we have no problem with these daily interactions, because it is assumed that ALL of the people involved are strictly 'heterosexual'. The same is true for the other end of the spectrum, where gays and lesbians interact with people of the opposite sex, yet we assume that at least one or more of the people are homosexual, when in fact, it is almost impossible to tell who is homosexual versus who is heterosexual. So this is where the theory of 256 shades of grey comes into light. Everyone, falls somewhere within that scale, and it doesn't really matter where you fall on the scale, just that their are no absolutes. Once you start looking at people in this way, will you truly understand the meaning of tolerance and acceptance."

Monday, September 12, 2011

The proposed 28th Amendment: some information

Earlier today, I received this from my very best friend that I have known for about 20 years and I consider my brother, Rob Walters. I thought it made sense, in part, so I decided to share it and hope that you find it as partially true as I do. Rob had stated that he did not know where it originated, as he received it as an email. I have posted it exactly as it was shared with me.

Unfortunately, lists this as "Mostly false" for several reasons and The World According to Opa notes some interesting views on the subject as well.

As always, you should do some research before passing along a chain email.


Edward G. McKeown

 The 28th Amendment - Please read and pass along

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took  only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people  demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail,
before cell phones, etc.    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or  less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

 If you think these are good ideas, I'm asking each addressee to  forward this to a minimum of twenty people on their address  list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.   In three days, most people in The United States of America will have  the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

 Congressional Reform Act of 2011

 1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options below.
     A. Two six-year Senate terms
     B. Six two-year House terms
     C. One six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

 2. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in  office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

 3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

 All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social  Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social  Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

 4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans can.

 5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional  pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

 6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in  the same health care system as the American people.

 7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

 8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

 The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for  themselves.   Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers  envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s),  then go home and back to work.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day comes to a close

As this Independence Day comes to a close, I am reminded of the enjoyment that comes from watching fireworks and celebrating this grand day.

For some, the 4th of July is just another day on the calendar, yet for those of us still in school, it marks the middle of the summer and reminds us that our break is about half over. Except for those of us taking summer classes, anyway.

In just under two months, 7 weeks to be precise, I will be starting my 4th year of PhD studies at Purdue University. If all goes well, I will be done with all of my course work by December and only have to work on my dissertation for the last year and a half. This is an exciting time for me, as I will be the first in my family to achieve a PhD degree and I hope that by making this achievement, I can be a role model for my sister and her kids.

This is a dream come true for me and I have had to fight for this dream. The United States of America was a dream 235 years ago and we have had to fight for that dream ever since as well. For me, Independence Day is our way of showing that we will do whatever is necessary to keep our dreams alive.

Cheers, Edward G. McKeown

Monday, June 27, 2011

Politics 101 and the Debt Ceiling

Now, I am not an expert in politics. In fact, I have only taken one class in college on the subject during my undergraduate studies, but I did get an 'A-' in the class, so I theoretically learned something.

Anyway, I pay attention to the news and what is going on in the world of politics and this argument over the debt ceiling has really began to become what I consider a serious issue, but is being treated as a joke by politicians.

It is my understanding that all the members of Congress take an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic, and it is the job of Congress to raise taxes, borrow money on the credit of the United States, and basically be the financial portion of the government.

I will admit that I have difficulty budgeting my own money, so some may call me out on my inability to judge congress on this issue. The major difference here between Congress and I, is that I don't have the ability to raise my own income (taxes), especially when I am unemployed, or raise my debt ceiling to give myself more credit to pay other options off.

With that in mind, I find the tactics that are being used by Democrats and Republicans as nothing more than partisan politics being used as a way to try and divide the nation. Unfortunately, playing games with the countries finances, to me, appears to be in violation of there oath of office to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. By forcing a default on the debts of the United States of America, Congress is in clear violation of Section 8, #'s 1,2,3,& 5. It would be great if the media would pick this information up and press Congress about these parts of the Constitution.

So what happens if a Congress person violates their oath of office? Does anyone know?

As I see it, there are really only two options, with several sub-options, that would resolve this issue and I am sure that they (Congress) already know this but are trying to gain political points on this issue.

Option #1: Do not raise the debt ceiling
Sub-Option #1: Increase taxes without spending cuts; increases would need to be intensive to bring down the debt before it hits the ceiling.
Sub-Option #2: Increase taxes with spending cuts; increases income, decreases spending.

Option #2: Raise the debt ceiling
Sub-Option #1: major spending cuts to keep the debt from getting too high too quickly
Sub-Option #2: Increase Taxes with some spending cuts, in hopes that the deficit will go down
Sub-Option #3: Increase Taxes with major spending cuts; deficit drops faster
Sub-Option #4: Increase Taxes with no spending cuts; nothing may change

The object is, that we can not keep going like we currently are. Taxes do need to be raised in order to pay the debit of the United States Government, which everyone benefits from in one way or another. Spending also needs to increase to provide jobs and money for those that are currently out of work. Increased income results in increased tax revenue and increased spending by individuals provides capital for companies to hire and expand. It is the age old issue of you have to spend money to make money, and with the amount of government jobs that could be available again, the economy would again prosper and America would be able to come out of its problems more quickly.

That brings me back to my question earlier: Are Congress members violating their oath of office by threatening to allow the federal government to default on its obligations?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th, 2011.

With good news there is sometimes a little bad news as well.

The good news is that I got all A's in my classes this last semester for a 4.0 GPA. Ever since my issues from Spring 2010, my grades have been steadily improving and for that I am extremely happy.

The bad news is that I was discharged from working at Walmart last night. I am not going to go into specific details about what happened, just that I am upset at loosing what I thought was a wonderful job. I will miss working there and seeing all the friends I made while working there. Luckily most are either friends with me on Facebook or we text occasionally.

Walmart will still be covering the medical bills associated with my leg injury under workers comp. In the mean time, I will be focusing my energy on getting better, working on parts of my dissertation, and preparing for the beginning of my prelims.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My leg injury, or how to really piss me off.

Okay, so I go to the leg doc, nice man, very professional, explains things if very fine detail.

While I was waiting in the exam room, the A/C came on and I got a major chill that caused me to get goose bumps and the tingling sensation that goes along with them. Well, the tingling sensation stopped just below my right knee on my right leg, but went all the way to my toes on my left leg. I tell this strange sensation to the doc and he discusses with me that I am experiencing the symptoms of nerve compression from the contusion. He says that when my leg got essentially crushed, the swelling and bruising caused the nerves to basically overload and quit responding to stimuli. I go take my paperwork to work, they asked how the doc appointment went and I told them what the doc said to me. Unfortunately, the paperwork did not include this information, so I essentially looked like a lying idiot. I called the doc with a MAJOR WTF!!!

The doc just called me back and I reminded him of the discussion we had in the exam room and how when I went to take the paperwork to my employer, the fact that the information we discussed was not on the paperwork made me look like a lying idiot and that is not something I feel comfortable with. As I stated earlier, he is very professional and said that he would contact my employer and let them know that he inadvertently left that information off the paperwork. I thanked him for doing that and said that I would see him on Monday for our next appointment.

Aside from that, The doc feels that I am improving, that I should start putting weight on my right leg as tolerated, and has placed my work restrictions on alternating sitting and standing for the next week. I do not go back to work until Thursday, and I was told I will remain on door duty for the duration.

So that is what is going on with my leg. As far as the title goes, the part about really pissing me off refers to making me look like a lying idiot. I learned from my mother that lying does not help anyone and telling the truth is easier to remember. I live by that and have lost people I had thought were my friends because of it. Apparently some people do not like it when you tell them the truth, no matter the consequences.

I am done ranting about that, I will end with the poem my mom wrote shortly before she passed away that speaks about her position on lying versus telling the truth.

There once was a woman
I considered my friend
but I caught her in some lies
she could not defend.

Liars and thieves I cannot stand
as far as I'm concerned
they go hand and hand.

A thief will take the possessions you have
and very likely leave you flat broke
A liar can lie to you right to your face|
then laugh to their self, saying, "What a joke."

Soon it will be her judgment day
I'll say, "Take her devil and make her pay."
for our friendship she lost
by lying to me today.

Saundra Sue McKeown

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Summer is coming (hopefully)

My BFF from high school, Alicia was talking about snow in the forecast for where she lives up in the Minneapolis area. We here in Purdue land (aka West Lafayette, Indiana) have been dealing with about 57 degree (F not C) weather and lots and lots of rain. It is almost May, and while summer doesn't officially start until mid June (the 21st to be exact), The weather we are having right now is comfy for me here. I also really enjoy the rain, it was something I missed while living in the desert heat of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson.

But enough about weather.

This summer, I will continue to work at Walmart. Last week I was training for a new position but I think I am going to withdraw my name from consideration from that position. Friday night I may have strained a muscle in my back from climbing a ladder and placing boxes of infant diapers on the top of the back room storage shelves. I have no way of knowing if that were the case, as I woke up the next day feeling like I had been in a major car wreck. I could barely walk or even raise my arms to chest level. I still have a little bit of pain once in a while, but it has subsided for the most part.

Also this summer, I will begin taking my prelim examinations from two of my dissertation committee members. (Dr. Almanza will test me on my research and food safety, while Dr. Nelson will test me on food service industry experience). To do that, I had to register for dissertation credit, of which I am registered for four credits. My third prelim exam will not be until December, as I am taking two statistics courses dealing with linear regression and some of that will be on the third prelim which I am getting from Dr. Jang. After I finish my three prelims, I then have to do my oral prelim, which is where I present my official outline for my dissertation and answer any additional questions my committee might have of me. Once the oral prelim is complete, the clock starts ticking and I have to complete two more semesters of work before I am able to graduate. With all this taken into account, I am planning my graduation for May of 2013.

As for this semester, I won't know my grades for a couple more weeks, unless I can pry the information from my two professors; however, according to my calculations I will be getting a 4.0 this semester.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

End of the Semester, Beginning of a journey

Tomorrow (Monday April 25, 2011) begins the two week march to the official end of the semester for us here at Purdue. I am anxious for the semester to end, but also pensive about the summer, as I have lots of things to accomplish.

This summer, I will begin working on my Prelims which will allow me to move into Dissertation and Candacy mode for graduation. I have three written prelims and one oral prelim. Once all four are completed, I then have to have two semesters of dissertation credit before I can defend my dissertation and apply for graduation. So if I complete all four by the end of the summer, I can graduate in August 2012; however, if I finish all four by the end of fall term, I am eligible to graduate by December of 2012 and so on.

On the work front, I feel like I am doing well. I have been getting trained in a new department, but I think I did something wrong on Friday night, as my back has been killing me since Saturday morning. It is so bad, I can hardly walk or raise my arms much higher than chest level. Thank goodness I have text to speech on my computers or I would not be able to get anything completed.

If all calculations go as planned, I will end the semester with a 4.0 GPA.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Less than a month in the semester left.

I am home sick again tonight (Friday), after coming home sick from work last night (Thursday). I hate being sick, but this does not feel like a flu, but more like something else. I have gone back through what I have eaten over the last week, and have found some sketchy items, but nothings that I can narrow down as being a cause of the symptoms. I am lucky that I know the symptoms that are related to certain food-borne illnesses, I can pretty much narrow down where a possible contamination might have occurred. So far, the only thing I can find is a possible issue with a place that Andrew and I went to eat at on Tuesday night. Of course, if could have been from Tuesday Lunch, as I had something that I had not had in years and it may not have set well with me and ultimately, it could have had something to do with my diabetes. Unfortunately, most illnesses can take anywhere from 8 to 72 hours to even up to and including 7 days for an illness to incubate in a persons digestive tract before symptoms are noticeable. Just for that reason alone, I recommend everyone keep an eating diary so that you can go back at least a week or two of food that has been eaten, in case there is an issue.

It is required that two, non related people be diagnosed by a medical professional in you feel that you have been infected with a food-borne illness. The reason they say two, non-related people, is because almost all home cooking is not done properly and the odds of getting a food borne illness from food cooked at home is greater than getting one from a professional establishment. Remember, it is not impossible to get a food-borne illness from a professional establishment, they just have more regulations to deal with that home cooking does not have to deal with.

Enough with that, time for what I really wanted to talk about, the end of the semester.

After today, we have two more weeks of classes, then dead week, followed by final exams the week of May 2nd.

On Tuesday April 26th, I have a meeting with my committee (Dr. Almanza, Chair; Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Jang; Members) to go over how we will be proceeding with my Prelims, which are defined as "...the determination of the: 1- student’s general understanding of the field, including appropriate theoretical constructs, and how this field fits into concerns of the overall industry; 2- student’s depth of understanding of his/her particular segment of focus within the field; and 3- degree of mastery of the methodological approaches and statistical tools appropriate for the student’s field of concentration."

1. is Food Service (Dr. Nelson)
2. is Food Service Sanitation and handwashing (Dr. Almanza)
3. is Statistics and Methodology (Dr. Jang)

Each professor gets one of those topic areas and asks a series of several questions in which I must answer within a certain time frame, lets say two weeks.

I will be doing parts one and two over the summer with Dr. Almanza and Dr. Nelson; However, since I am registered for two more statistics courses for Fall 2011, the third part which involves statistical tools will be done during that semester. Finally, in last Fall 2011, I will have my Oral examination. It is kind of like the pre-conference I had with my masters committee, where they agreed to my choice and methods of research. It helps when it comes down to final examination and defense when a committee member asks "what about this" and the advisor says "why didn't you ask that during the oral exam?"

I have received financial aid for the summer, but am only taking one, 1 credit class as I am still considered out of state. My request for in-state tuition is still being processed and I should have an answer shortly. If I am denied, I will appeal the decision. That class is 1 credit dissertation. It feels so strange to type and read. I am getting down to the wire. After I complete the oral exam, I have a two semester minimum wait until I am able to graduate. So that will include Spring 2012 & Summer 2012. The earliest I can graduate is December 2012; however I am giving myself an extra semester to ensure I have a perfect dissertation, so I am shooting for May of 2013.I hope that I can get extra tickets for those that really want to come visit me during this prestigious time in my life. Since both my parents are deceased, I would like my sister to be able to attend with a few of her children, but I also have friends from around the country that I was to invite as well. Even if someone doesn't get to see me walk across the stage and get hooded by my committee advisor, I would still like to have friends here in town for the part afterwards. If you are reading this, and would like to be included in any extra tickets I may have or just for the party afterwards, please let me know.

I am currently working on about 5 research projects at the moment. putting finishing touches on the gaming chip study, making calls on the festival food competition study, waiting for a custom computer program to be written especially for me by my boyfriend Andrew, to help determine handwashing effectiveness with glo-germ, black-light, and a computer, I will them be Creating a survey of health inspectors inside and outside areas that have festival food competitions to determine their responses to the findings of the other 2 studies (not gaming chips), and a marketing strategy internal branding for the new "School of HTM" within the NEW Department of Health & Human Sciences. It is a class project, for a 600 level class which is like a UNLV 700 level class, where our results will actually be published, so I have been very busy.

My two classes I am taking right now have been very fun. I especially like learning how to use AutoCAD in designing a restaurant concept for facility design, and the use of focus groups and interviews along with surveys for the marketing class. I think I have started to annoy Dr. Nelson with my constant finding of errors or omissions in homework or assignments. But he did ask two special favors of me recently, one was to proctor an exam for him, and the other was to attend a presentation being arranged by the dean of the college. The first one was easy, the second may be a little harder as I generally work on Thursday Night, so the time of the event is during my normal sleep cycle, so I would need permission from Dr. Sydnor-Bousso to skip her class so that I can sleep later into the afternoon and then go to the presentation before work. Or I could contact work and tell them that I am needed at school for an emergency. Not sure how that will work, but we shall see what my options are.

When I had my meeting with my advisor (Dr. Almanza), we were talking about my schedule and stuff, then she told me that my name was being considered for an assistantship next semester. The fact that she brought up the subject was extremely surprising. She even gave me details about what the job would entail, which leads me to believe it is all but a done deal, which makes me really happy. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE working for Walmart. Just having a BS I have more degrees than almost everyone else in the entire building. You have to have at least a BS to move into management. So my MS is overkill, and the fact that I am working on my PhD I think actually scares them a little. They have difficulty talking to me. Like one day, the manager was trying to explain something to me, when she said 'hold on, I almost forgot who I was talking to" She then proceeded to use bigger polysyllabic words to help me understand what she was saying. Then she said, "you are the only one that I have ever had to reverse the process of dumbing down things that I tell employees. Apparently if she tries to explain something two simply to me I get confused. She has to try and bring it up to a higher level than for other people. At first I thought she was being rude, but then she said "we have never had anyone as smart as you working here as just an associate." She also told me that right now I have more college experience than the store or market manager. I are proud.

If I get the assistantship, it will start in Fall and I will have to put notice in for Wal-Mart, which I will miss. But I may still work one day a week, if they want me. Of course that also depends on how Andrew feels about this. we barely get to spend any time together now due to my schedule at 'Walmart. We are hoping that the summer will be much easier to be together.

Finally, as a side not, check this out, I made a web-presence on Purdue, kinda like the site I had a UNLV, but Purdue colors and stuff. Take a look:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16th, a day between days.

On this date in 1958, Ford Motor Company produced its 50 millionth car, the thunderbird, while ten years later on this date in 1968, General Motors produced its 100 millionth car, the Oldsmobile Toronado.

Only two of the interesting things that happen between the ides of March and St. Patrick's Day.

That, and it was my day off today, as well.

So, I finally remembered the funny story about my sister, which I spoke about in my last entry.

I was at work, the other night, straightening out the spices, when I was reminded of something my sister did, many, many years ago. I think it was around 1991 or 1992. Anyway, she had been to a bar the night before and she contacted me to see if I could find out some information on a drink she had tried. I asked her if she knew what was in it or the name of the drink. She stated that she could not remember the name, but that from what she was told and how it tasted, she knew it had some form of butterscotch in it, some cream, and a bay leaf. I told her that I had no idea what she had had, as I knew of no drinks that contained a bay leaf in them. Upon a little reflection, I realized that she had misheard the ingredients and that what she thought was a bay leaf was actually Baily's Irish Cream. Mix that with butterscotch schnapps, and you get a great shot that I do not actually want to post the name of on here.

So anyway, that was my other laugh of the day. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi day and other musings

Happy Pi day everyone. The day of the year when the date is 3.14.

Anyway, So last night at work I had two things happen. One reminded me of my mom and the other one reminded me of my sister.

While working last night, the manager went on the intercom and called for a specific employee to report the 97 wall. (Just FYI, the 97 wall is meat wall, lunch meat, bacon, etc). So I thought to myself, well at least he wasn't called to the 86 wall. This reminded me of when mom and I were working at Waffle House in Tucson Arizona. She was working the afternoon shift with a grill operator named Tony. Usually, the grill operator is the person in charge of the shift when the manager isn't there, but the manager would always leave my mom in charge and mom would let Tony "think" he was in charge. Anyway, Some people were being obnoxious, so Tony was going to throw them out of the restaurant. He told the people "That's enough, I want you guys out of here you are being 69'ed". My mom then yelled "Tony! The number is 86!".

Ahhh, funny stories.

Now if I can only remember what it was that reminded me of my sister, so I could tell that funny story as well. Maybe I will remember later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Super China Buffet

First, let me point out that I am not really a fan of buffets. But I do enjoy them every once in a while, and as with buffets, I am not much of a fan of Asian food, but I do enjoy it at times as well.

Recently, I received a group of coupons in the mail for various businesses. While looking through it, I noticed about 3 Asian restaurants that I had never heard of before. So, when the Cubbie came over for this weekend, I let him choose the one we would go to for dinner.

His choice was the Super China Buffet.

The location was south of Purdue, in Lafayette, off of Old Hwy 231 in a shopping center with a Payless grocery store and other businesses. The decor was what I would call typical of most Asian establishments that I have had the pleasure of dining at. Andrew pointed out a lone picture on one of the walls in what appeared to be a faux antique gold frame of a vase of flowers. His comment was "it must have come with the place".

I found the atmosphere to be very pleasing, and the buffet and dining areas were in a constant state of being cleaned. If a spill occurred, it was wiped up almost immediately. The staff was friendly and ensured that empty plates did not stay on our table for long. Apparently while we were there, a group of locals were also eating. When they left, they each gave the waitress a hug on the way out. Of the other patrons at the establishment, they appeared to be having a great time as well. The occupancy was not crowded but approximately 1/3 full, yet the food was constantly fresh.

At most Asian buffets that I HAVE had the pleasure of experiencing, most had served food that was, in my opinion, dryer than I would have liked it. Everything was served hot and fresh, and the flavor I found to be magnificent. Andrew, who is very critical about Chinese food in general, especially after living and working in China for a year, actually stated that it was the best buffet he has found in Lafayette for Chinese food, even though he stated that the amount of items he felt was lacking in quantity.

Overall, I will give this location 8 out of 10 stars. The food was excellent, the staff was friendly, but several of the dining room chairs had major rips with foam stuffing hanging out. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the Purdue area.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why is there always room for jello?

I went back to work at Walmart this past evening, after having about almost 3 months off from work. I was actually due to start back a while ago, but the person in human resources forgot to change my status from Inactive to Active, so that I could be placed on the schedule.

But all is well. Had a good time, working aisle 8 for most of the night. For those that don't know, aisle 8 is the general location for all baking ingredients, spices, marshmallows, Jello, etc.

During the course of the evening, I like to watch people as they shop and offer my help if needed. One of the best things to watch is the college students as they come into Walmart to purchase Alcohol. So then I spend time judging them for the types and amounts of alcohol they purchase in addition to any mixers they purchase. It is a fun game that I like to play while working.

The best part about working in aisle 8, includes the area including all the jello. There is always room for jello. We all should know this. But most of the people that purchase jello at 1am or 2am in the morning, are college students looking for ways to make jello shots. Such amateurs. My boss thinks it is fairly funny that I have spent time talking college students into the proper method for making jello shots, what flavors go well as jello shots, and what flavors do not go well as jello shots.

I don't just teach people about things like that, I also spent about 10 minutes teaching two really cute guys, I think they were brothers because they were arguing about how each remembers how their mom made biscuits and gravy. So I took the time to make sure they understood the different methods and ways of making gravy for biscuits. Now, I did not give them all my secrets, but I did give them some pointers on how to make sure it cooks properly.

I think it is one of my favorite parts about the job. In addition to putting stock away, I offer people advice on different products and answer questions they might have. I don't think anyone else in the group of people I work with know the differences between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and regular olive oil.

I am thinking about making a proposal to the general manager that employees should be trained and specialized in different areas of the grocery department, to help people make informed decisions. My recent title as Certified BBQ Judge, should allow me to discuss with customers the different types of BBQ and proper cooking techniques for an excellent BBQ experience.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a good day, I am about to head to bed, so I will chat with you all later in the day.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Treasured Family (blood & extended)

Recently, several friends have lost family members. Almost all of them talk about the pain of watching their loved ones as they fade away. It, along with my work on genealogy, has made me evaluate the ties to my family.

For those that really know me, I have lots of friends I consider my extended family. As for actual blood relatives, I can count each of them on both hands (and maybe one foot, my sister has 6 kids, that takes up one hand already). Then there is my one and only sister who is 22 months older than me. Other family members I talk with regularly are my mom's only living sister, Judy & her husband Bob, there son Tommy and another cousin in Pensacola (Mika). Those are just the family members on my moms side of the family. My dads side of the family is very different. They do not regularly speak with me, and as far as I can tell, they NEVER speak with my sister (Kay). Now I can tell you that my dads side of the family considers Kay and I to be sinners, but apparently they feel that my sister is more of a sinner than I, which is really confusing, considering Kay just had children out of wedlock, while I am gay. I think Kay told me one time that she had given up trying to be nice to dads family, while I kind of force my way in during most major holidays and birthdays. They have also apparently shunned two of my cousins (Robbie & Eric), which I would be happy to see or speak to someday.

Anyway. as the song say's, time keeps on slipping away. and I cry deeply for those that have lost loved ones, especially due to debilitating illnesses or just the passage of time. Even the loss of a young child is hard to grasp and deal with, and I guess that is why we have emotions.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. When my mother passed back in August of 1999, it was totally unexpected. She had an unknown brain aneurysm that just popped, and while she remained conscience for a very short while, she was gone within minutes. There was no apparent suffering or warning, she was just gone. I can not imagine what it has been like for those that have had to watch their parents deteriorate into mere nothingness and pass on. I know the pain I felt when it happened suddenly, but to watch it happening and knowing there is nothing that can be done has to be excruciating.

My dad was another story. He and I hardly spoke for a long time, but towards the end, we had started talking more regular. He had been in and out of the hospital due to complications with his knee and hip surgery. He was in the hospital due to a nasty infection that had developed within his new hip. So they removed his hip and packed it full of antibiotics. Unfortunately, that was not enough and one evening he went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be saved. That was January of 2000, five months after my mom had passed.

We just passed the 11th anniversary of my fathers passing and are coming up on the 12th anniversary of my moms

To my friends that have lost family members recently, you never truly get over the loss, but it does get better. Certain holidays are still very difficult for me to handle, such as mothers and fathers day, birthdays, and special occasions. I do know in my heart, that they are with me always, as a part of me. What they have taught me, I have gained from their knowledge. I use their knowledge to pass on the information to others, so that the memory stays alive.

For know, all I can say is I am here if you ever need someone to talk to, cause I know what you are going through.

Monday, February 28, 2011

TV Shows: do the writers even pay attention?

I DVR a lot of shows, so that Andrew and I can watch them over the weekend. We recently started watching Season one of Fringe on HULU, but we have also been keeping up with the show currently as well.


So, in the first season, we get to know everyone and how they come together to form the plot line that is to be one of my favorite shows, Fringe. Unfortunately, this past episode on Friday took a look back to 1985, when Walter was performing his studies in Jackson on the children, to include Olivia. I think Andrew got more of a kick out of the opening sequence then the entire show, but that is a different story. Anyway, in the development of the plot, it becomes apparent that Peter KNOWS he is from an alternate world and even attempts to go to it, where he say's it is at the bottom of the lake. Frightened, Peter and his "MOM" arrive at Walter's work, where Peter eventually meets Olivia and helps her return to the day care center. As Walter said at one point, which Andrew actually tweeted "The beguiling Olivia Dunham beguiles" when he notices that Olivia has caught the eye of Peter.

The question that bugs me, and it may appear in a later episode. I only started watching in the second or third season. so I have missed some of the episodes. But I wonder about the fact that they met, and Olivia spent a lot of time with Dr. Walter, why does she not remember it, and the same for Peter. Walter obviously remembers, and there was the episode were they go back to the day care center and Olivia feels something, but seems to be unsure if she were really there.

Fringe is not the only show to do things like this. Now I am not talking about continuity issues, such as those that can be found in numerous Star Trek series (Original, TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise).

I am talking about Medium, where in the first season, Allison is convinced that a man is going to abduct and kill a girl named Sharona. It is later found out that the car she is dreaming about has a license plate from 6 years in the future. It originally aired on February 7th, 2005. Unfortunately, the show was canceled and we were never informed of whether the guy tried to abduct Sharona or if she remembered and followed the crazy Allison's advice.

These are things I hate when it comes to some programming. I know that sometimes they withhold information and present it at later times, but if you are going to present something that happens in future date and time, even if the show is being canceled, they should at least wrap up and explain what eventually happened to certain people that you might think about.

That is how I feel.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thoughts: Restaurant Servers

I have been told that I can be a royal bitch when it comes to dining out. Unfortunately, no one seems to bring my actions to my attention when they are apparently occurring, so I have no basis for this opinion.

Having worked in restaurants for many years, in addition to hearing stories that my mom told me about her time as a waitress back in the 50's & 60's, I feel that I should have at least some understanding of what should be going on within a restaurant with respect to the servers.

Lately, I have gone out to dinner with friends and found them to be quite judgmental about service and food quality. Hearing someone say "I didn't tip the server because the food was awful" really makes me angry, as the server can really only check to see that what was ordered is what is on the plate. It is the cook or chef that determines the quality of the food. Penalizing the server for something beyond their control is not something that should be done.

All my life, I have been taught by my mom, that tipping was a way "To Insure Prompt Service". Mom would always start the tip at a certain amount, and then adjust up or down, based on the level of service. I can remember each and every time my mom had increased the tip substantially due to what we deemed "going above and beyond". Mom trained my sister and I to be very respectful of servers, as stated before, she had been one for many years. Please and thank you were required when speaking to a server, while special requests or bringing something to the attention of the server was always started with an apology, such as "I'm sorry to ask, but could we get a new glass of water, there is something in the glass" or "I'm sorry to ask, but could I get that hamburger with no lettuce or tomato"? Generally, these requests were taken care of immediately with the server responding with an apology or a simple "no problem at all, I will get that taken care of for you".

Most servers make their livelihood completely off of the tips that are left for them. When I worked as a server in Tucson, my life depended on the tips I earned, as I was only making $2.42 per hour. Certain states allow for employees that receive tips to make a lower minimum wage in hopes that they will recoup the difference in the tips they receive. However, some states, such as Nevada, where I lived for 12 years, was not one of those states. Servers in Nevada were required to be paid the actual minimum wage or higher and still expected tips on top of their hourly wage. I will admit that I found some of the rudest servers working for restaurants in Las Vegas, and it made it difficult to even contemplate leaving a tip, but my lessons were instilled at a young age and I utilized my moms method of tipping.

Moving here to Indiana, I realized that I was returning to a state that allowed a tipped minimum wage and I was ecstatic to return to a place where service was important. Unfortunately, I have found that at some places, the term "service" is not very well defined.

For me, when it comes to proper service, which results in a fairly decent tip, I have some unspoken rules that the server needs to follow. These rules are things that the server should have been taught while being trained, and some actually deal with sanitation issues, so I don't think that my calling them "Unspoken" rules makes it difficult for servers to receive good tips.

My rules are as follows and are numbered in what I feel is how important that aspect is to me:

Rule 0: Be there.
Rule 1: Greet me and tell me your name
Rule 2: Listen
Rule 3: Repeat the order to avoid confusion and so I know you were listening
Rule 4: Offer suggestions
Rule 5: Anticipate my needs
Rule 6: Do not ask "How is everything"
Rule 7: Thank me for coming and invite me back

I do not feel that these rules are difficult for any server to follow on a daily basis, in fact, most establishments have some sort of customer service requirements that may include some or even all of these rules. I feel that these rules are self explanatory, but if you would like clarification, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try and explain it further.

As always, I hope you enjoy reading my blog and welcome questions and comments on any topic.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Already at the end of February...

Not that I am counting the days or anything, but I do know that we here at Purdue have two weeks until Spring Break, approximately 8 weeks left of the semester, and about 7 months until I turn 40.

I am actually happy to be turning 40. Not exactly sure why.

Of course, things have been going very well for me for the past few weeks. I got a clean bill of health from my doctor, as my diabetes is under better control and I am still slowly loosing weight. I am anxious to go back to work at Wal-Mart, even though I just found out that they were a contributor to the campaign of Governor Walker in Wisconsin. They apparently made a bad choice, but I am not going to boycott them over one bad choice. Additionally, Wal-Mart has treated me exceptionally well so I have no complaints about them.

I am still waiting to hear back on the Panama Project that I interviewed with the HTM department head for. It would involve going to Panama and assisting a company by developing a feasibility study for a new restaurant concept they are interested in pursuing. I feel that it would be a great opportunity for me to show what I can do, plus give me a chance to travel outside the United States for the first time. Which reminds me that I need to start working on getting a passport.

Today, I interviewed for a position within Purdue. I should hear something, hopefully by Friday February 25th. The interview went very well, I think they liked the fact that I am already a Notary for Indiana, so I hope that is a plus for me. I am not going to discuss the position, as I want it to be a surprise if I happen to get selected for the position.

So that is pretty much an update of what has been going on in my life. I do need to post some rants about subjects that have been brought up recently that I have strong opinions about, but I will leave those for other posts. As always, feel free to question me about anything that I post to this blog.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sometimes I have to be who I am.

Hello, my name is Edward and I am a Bear. If you are a bear, think you may be a bear or a cub, wolf, otter, etc. feel free to click on the following link and join the cheap bear site of Bearbook. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Laughter is truely the bestest medicine...

As I mentioned before, I had a wonderful weekend with my Cubbie, Andrew.

At night, as we cuddle in bed, we talk about different things that happened during the day, such as my frustration with my homework, and his frustration with certain people in the math department which will remain nameless.

We each have a silly side, he loves to tickle me, and I love to play jokes on his mind. Of course, when it comes to math, I yield to him, but when it comes to everyday wisdom, he tends to yield to my expertise in dealing with life. On our next birthdays, I will be 40, and he will be 26, but when I am with him, I feel like I am 21ish again. I love meeting his math friends, and having him meet my HTM friends, and if you saw the post about Valentines day, you can pretty much see how much I love and adore him.

So the other night, we started discussing plans for Spring Break, which is coming up in about a month or so. Both of us are trying to save extra money for the summer to help when school is out and jobs in West Lafayette are a bit slower.

So he asks me about Spring Break, and I respond with, "well, it depends on whether it comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, or in like a lamb and out like a lion". He responded with "you are my lion. I then went on to state that "then we April Showers, which bring..." and I leave the statement open for him to respond with "May Flowers", I then say, "Okay, and then the May Flowers bring..." and he said something incoherent about "June something", to which I said "No, silly, Mayflowers bring Pilgrims, you should know that". Well apparently he had never, ever heard that joke before, because he could not stop laughing, which got me in turn laughing at him. It was a good 10 minutes before we settled down and tried to find out how he didn't know such an old joke like that. He was unsure. So I said "I bet you don't know the answer the question of a rooster sitting on top of an A frame house, lays an egg, which way does the egg roll. Apparently he had not heard that one ether, as I explain to him that roosters don't lay eggs. More laughter.

I more on to the next one, that he surely must know, "a place crashes on the border of Canada and the US. Where do you bury the survivors?". His response: "Wherever they are originally from". Now I can not stop laughing long enough to tell him that you don't bury survivors, but I manage to get it out between gasps of air. Now we are both laughing hysterically at both the stupidity of the jokes and the fact that Andrew had apparently never heard them.

For the next two days, whenever he tried to make fun of something I had done, I would respond with something like "at least I know not to bury survivors" or something like that, and we would start laughing again and again.

Final thought on this situation, I feel that our relationship is healthy enough to deal with the everyday banter that two people place on each other in a fun and loving way, and that is one feature of Andrew that makes me love him more and more.

Valentines Day Drama...

I had a wonderful Valentines Weekend. Spent the majority of it with my Cubbie, Andrew, who I feel is the greatest love of my life. The kind that makes your chest ache when you think about that one person when you are away from them. That is how I feel right now, even though we spent the last 4 nights together in addition to most of the days. On Sunday, he had lunch with his parents who were in from Ohio to celebrate a delayed Birthday for Andrew's mom, Margie. I have had the great opportunity to chat with her online from time to time, basically through messages and I can tell that she is a very classy lady. Additionally, I can see it in the way that Andrew was raised. You can tell a great deal about a parent by the way the children turn out, but that is not an actual science, it is a theory I have about behavior is something taught through nurture and nature. Respecting elders, respecting parents, a lot of different types of respect that is taught both at home and in communities. A lot has changed over my almost 40 years here on earth.

So where was I, oh yes, laughter. Well, a few weeks ago, I contacted a friend that works at a florist shop and ordered some flowers to be delivered to Andrew at his office at Purdue. I learned where his office is and when he is "supposed" to be in his office, in addition to his class schedule on Mondays for the delivery. The deliver was arranged for a before noon delivery, but when the delivery person arrived, he has already left for class and missed the delivery. I went to his office after my class and noticed that he had not received the flowers, so I cautiously called the company and asked the status. I was told they tried to deliver but no one was there, so I asked them to redeliver as he would be in his office until at least 4pm when I got done with my scheduled meeting.

I then go to class at 1:30pm, but get out around 2:30p, as it was an early day. I go back to his office and he is not there. Now I am panicking. did they try to deliver again and he wasn't there, where is he? While I try calling the florist and keep getting voice mail, Andrew thinks I am ready to leave for the day and packs his stuff up and says he is ready to leave. I begin to freak. I told him to go get some coffee and I will be waiting right where I was. I finally get in touch with the florist and find that the second delivery had NOT been made as of the time of the call but that it would be there soon. Now all I need to do is keep Andrew in his office until 4pm. Biggest problem: Cookie Hour. Apparently all the math graduate students are invited to a coffee and cookie hour from 3pm to 4pm. When Andrew returns, he tells me that the coffee will not be ready for another 10 minutes. I then tell him that I need to make sure he waits in his office until 4pm and that it is very important. He gets confused by goes to his office. I follow him, have a seat and start chatting about my day and about the meeting I will be having at 3:30pm. Right at 3pm, the delivery arrives. He knew I was up to something, but wasn't sure what, he was thankful that it was not a singing telegram, though.

Suffice to say, he loved the flowers and the blue teddy bear hugging the vase. For dinner, we went to Applebee's just before the dinner rush and had a wonderful time.

Over analyzation of homework is aggravating

I had a wonderful weekend, well, aside from that awful homework assignment where I had to draw a flowchart that involved removing a case of lettuce from a walk in cooler, taking it to a sink/work area, and chopping it for salads.

So here I am, a person that has done a lot of cooking in his life time. For those that do not know, I will be 40 in September and I am very much looking forward to it. Anyway, I had also taken basic culinary preparation courses at Pima Community College in 1996 (well before that Jarrod Lee Laughner went there). I earned my Associates degree in General Studies and a Certificate in Hotel Food and Beverage Management. Not to mention that for my first 1.5 years here at Purdue and sometimes at UNLV, I helped teach basic cooking methods and techniques, such as proper knife handling and control, the different cooking methods and types of heat and so on.

So here I am making a flow chart on chopping lettuce for salads. The instructions tells us where everything is located, to ensure that we instruct our person to go and get the items from this location and bring them back to the work area. Here, I must point out, that the reason I got an associates degree in general studies rather than in any hospitality or other field is because I could get the Associates within 1 year, while any other associates would take 2 years. I had already spent 2 years at Pensacola Junior College from 1992 to 1994. I didn't like the idea of taking 4 years to get an associates degree, so I piled all my credits together and applied for graduation. So to get a feeling of what my focus in general studies includes, you would have to look at the courses I was taking. I took some basics, algebra, English, etc. but my electives were in things like Nutrition and nutrition for food service, Hotel law, Foodservice Sanitation, Pascal & FORTRAN 90 program, Introduction to programming the internet (that was back when everything was programmed using text editors and writing HTML, WYSIWYG came later.

The computer programming gave me great insight into designing flowcharts for programs. Those were a bit easier, in that you were simulating the process of commands in a computer. In that sense, one wrong move (process), and the program doesn't work. In the flowchart I was doing for class, one wrong move and a person could get hurt, equipment could be damaged, food could become contaminated, etc. By Saturday, the homework was driving me so crazy, I had to lie down in bed and literally stare at the flowchart on my computer and try to figure out what my problem was. Come to find out, I was over analyzing the assignment. I finished the assignment on Sunday in time to pick up Andrew later that day.

Of the equipment listed in the assignment, there were pans, a knife, a cutting board, and a lettuce chopper. All these newfangled equipment that I actually had to Google a lettuce chopper to figure out how it works, since I had never used one. You basically put a clean head of lettuce in the open chopper and pull down on the lever and it dices the lettuce into neat 1 inch squares for salad. Pretty neat invention. So then I start the assignment with a decision question that I personally feel should be a "NO" every time you enter a new work area. And that decision is "is the work area clean and sanitized?" So I am off and working on my flow chart, I make another decision question, "do you have all the equipment needed to complete the task at hand?", of course the answer is no, because the equipment is still in its original location, so I have them collect the pieces of equipment and bring it back to the work area. After that, I go through the process of removing a case of lettuce from the cooler and bringing it to the work area and opening it.

That is where I hit my first roadblock. This is homework, so I am sure he is expecting us to show some sort of initiative in developing this flowchart. I put myself in the position of following the flow chart, and I actually go to my kitchen and perform the steps with real items. Unfortunately I did not have a head or lettuce or a lettuce chopper, but the blender stood in for the lettuce chopper and one of my friend's grapefruits from the cupboard simulated the lettuce. So here I am with a knife, a pan, a cutting board, a head of lettuce, and a lettuce chopper. I close my eyes and walk my way through the steps that need to be completed. I start very basic and move outward. I pick up the lettuce and say that the dead and wilted leaves need to be removed and the core needs to be removed as well. I then ask myself, Okay, so how do we do this. I go, okay, simple, take the heal of my right hand and while firmly gripping the head of lettuce I slam the heal of my right hand firmly into the core of the lettuce, thus ripping it from all leaves attached and it is now able to be pulled out and tossed in the trash. I then decide that the head of lettuce needs to be rinsed/washed, so I turn on the cold water and run the head of lettuce under the water and fill the hole left by the core like a cup with water running out among the now somewhat looser leaves. I turn the head over so it can drain a bit and I methodically remove pieces that were connected to the core, such as interior leaves with a red rustic tint. I place a full size deep hotel pan under the lettuce chopper to catch the lettuce, and I place several rows of towels to help dry any excess water that may pool towards the bottom of the pan. I decide that now would be a good time to make a decision on whether the pan is full or still has available space. Once the pan is full, it is removed and another plan is put in its place. I stop and rest for a pit and continue to walk myself through the steps that I have written.

While walking myself back through all the steps and following along, I stumble across an issue that I did not notice before and am unsure of how to fix it. Of course all the directions and decisions are what I consider perfect; however, I never used the knife or the cutting board and I now have no use for them in the near future. My ultimate decision is to remove them from the list of items that are gathered towards the beginning of the flowchart. But it originally frightened me, because I knew he had those items there for some reason. Unfortunately, when it comes to chopping lettuce, I have never used a knife or cutting board. In all my previous jobs, if the lettuce didn't already come prechopped, we would pop out the core and then just rip the pieces by hand due to the issue that metal knives have been known to cause the oxidation to appear quicker (that is the rusting of the lettuce or red tint that appears where the cuts were completed.)

After talking to one of my co-students in the class, I found that I was not the only one that did not have a use for the knife and cutting board. She took the head of lettuce firmly in both hands and smashed the core on something solid to remove the core.

I guess you can see that I am pretty set in my ways when it comes to working with certain items

Only 7 more homework assignments for this class. I know that a future assignment will be about Therblings, which is a way of measuring what one hand is doing while the other hand is doing something else. We have heard that it involved the movement of hands involved in chopping some piece of food where it is important that the hand not doing the chopping is out of the way when the chopping hand comes down.

Anyway, this is my ranting about that homework that was turned in on Monday. It is a great learning experience.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My beef with the Taco Bell lawsuit

I used to eat Taco Bell all the time, and I mean constantly. Having eaten at Taco Bells since the mid to early 80's, I can tell you that it was a place where I enjoyed the food. It was comfort food.

I have since reduced my intake of Taco Bell dramatically to about once or maybe twice a month, depending on my mood. I still love Taco Bell, I just have other foods I like to eat as well.

When I first heard about the lawsuit being filed against Taco Bell, regarding the amount of beef in the "Seasoned Ground Beef", I was amused and curious. I have still been unable to determine how the test was performed that resulted in a determination of less than 40% beef in the item. In addition, it left me with some nagging questions, that I hope will be answered in the near future. Here they are in no particular order:

1. How many items were tested for beef content?
2. Was a random sample of beef related items tested from multiple locations to determine a mean value of beef?
3. How were other items removed from the test beef, such as lettuce, cheese, rice, etc, in order to establish results that were not affected by these variables?
4. Are your conclusions generalizable to the rest of the Taco Bell population? For instance can we go to any Taco Bell, at any given moment, and receive a product with less than 40% beef?
5. Is your results repeatable? Can a team of scientists follow the exact same procedure you used to determine the amount of beef and come up with a statistically significant response that supports your hypothesis?

I feel that these are reasonable questions that need to be asked before a determination is made in this case. Any thoughts?

The search for our roots.

During the recent "SNOWPOCALYPSE" that we had up here in Indiana (and most of the north, but this is about me, not them), where I had two snow days from school, I decided to work on my family tree for a bit. Of course, it helped that my sister had emailed me and told me that she received a notification from the family tree site about upcoming birthdays of her children. I had inadvertently misspelled one of her kids middle name.

So I started researching more and more information about my ancestors and had a great time doing it. I found information that took my moms side of the family back to the 1600's. My fathers side of the family was much harder, as most information I had was contradicted by other research that I was conducting. I just recently found out that the reason my moms side has been so easy, is that Missouri has just about everything online from before 1959 for deaths and before 1910 for births. While I thought that my fathers family was from St. Louis, Missouri, I located my Grandfather (Robert Raymond McKeown) death certificate in Missouri where it stated that he had been born in Illinois. I go to Illinois and find that just about nothing is available online from that state, so if my fathers side of the family is more from Illinois than from Missouri, that would explain the lack of information available online. As a side note, I was able to locate death certificates from the state of Missouri of other relatives that I knew had passed before 1959.

The use of Census records has also been helpful; however they are sparse and only really include names, ages, and current location. It does help determine a pattern and verify information, some of it is difficult to read. The census records have helped me determine that information listed on a photograph of my great-grandmother (Edith Moody) was incorrect in that it stated that she had come to the U.S. from Scotland around 1918. The census records state that she was born in Illinois and that her parents were born in Illinois.

I will continue to do more and more research when I have time, I really do find this stuff interesting.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Groundhogs Day

May you not have to repeat your day several times until you get it right.

Yesterday, Tuesday February 1, 2011, was a snow day recess from Purdue. So instead of going to meetings and classes, everyone (non-essential) got the day off. For me, that meant that I would be missing two meetings, one with the Department Head in regards to a Project that I am interested in and they are looking for PhD students to help with, and a meeting with my PhD adviser to go over information on my Dissertation. I also missed my HTM 631 Strategic Marketing course.

I was able to get my homework done for the week, which consisted of an article review for HTM 631 and designing an employee restroom in AutoCAD for HTM 523. Once those where complete, I went downstairs and watched the TV show "V" with my BFF Bruce.

We are now told that tomorrows classes are canceled until at least 10am on February 2, 2011. Of course, depending on how the night goes, more closures might be included.

Hopefully we will be hearing about it soon.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My dining experience

I am by no means a regular customer when it comes to eating at restaurants. My PhD research area involves food service sanitation, so I try to avoid being too critical about the places I eat.

Unfortunately, yesterday (Sunday January 30th, 2011) was an exception.

The Purdue hospitality graduate student association held a social lunch at a relatively new restaurant in town called HuHot Mongolian Grill. Being a new place in town, it was very busy while we were there, and this was my first experience with Mongolian food.

I was LESS than impressed, in fact I don't really know how express my lack of impression of this place. I will admit that I had fun choosing the foods I wanted included in my meal; however having to deal with frozen/raw meats and raw produce, then adding sauces and seasonings over the mixture and then waiting in line to present my creation to the cooks at the grill, could potentially cause food-borne contamination. the longest I had to wait to have my ingredients placed on the grill was about 5 minutes, where I had about 6 people waiting in line in front of me and the grill area, which is a circular cooking surface about 6 foot in diameter, already filled with other peoples food. By the time we left the restaurant, the line waiting to enter the grill area was about 30 deep, and I can imagine some of the people waiting an easy 20 minutes to get to the grill area.

Once my food was placed on the grill, it basically sat there until the person doing the flipping and stirring made his way around through every ones food. You really had to keep an eye on where they placed your food on the grill, as it was easy for them to try and hand your food to someone else. So my food got stirred and flipped once, then another cook came around and verified that the meat was at least thoroughly cooked, platted it up, and handed it to me. Unfortunately, while they ensured that the meat was apparently properly cooked, the other items were given less attention. Some pieces were over cooked and other pieces were undercooked or even still raw.

Suffice to say, I will not be returning to this place anytime in the near future, if at all. I give this restaurant 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First week of classes

On Thursday, 1-13-11, I will have my last class of the week. My schedule for classes is great because I will always have a three day weekend from school.

I love my classes. Facility design is going to be a lot of work, but fun at the same time. Learning how to use AutoCAD to design a kitchen will be interesting work. I am the only PhD student in the class, and there is one other grad student (she is working on her MBA) and the rest are undergrads. Some were even my students back when I was a TA in the John Purdue Room kitchen.

The other class, Strategic Marketing Management will also be a fun class, as it has lots of my bestest friends in it. The class is pretty much evenly split with 5 PhD students and 4 MS students.

Overall, it will be a fun and exciting semester. On a side note, my research is coming to a close on the cook-off events. I just need to finish the states that start with "W", of which I have already gathered the information I only need to enter it into the spreadsheet. Once that is complete, I will go back over the entire spreadsheet and ensure that I entered everything in a consistent manner. Once that is completed, I will then begin contacting the events where I need some additional information, such as estimated number of public attendance, etc.

I am also looking forward to the Certified BBQ Judging class I will be taking in February. It will give me a better understanding of cook-off competitions from the judges point of view, which will greatly enhance my final paper.

I will update more later.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A few words on Numerology.

Today, several friends posted something on their facebook walls that had me thinking. first was the absurdity of the claim, and then second, I thought about my mom and my dad and something that was said to my sister and I shortly after they had both passed away.

The posts on facebook state that: "I'm not superstitious, but this year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So copy this to your status and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese Feng Shui, the one who does not copy will be without money. I can't let that person be ME!"

Of course, being fairly good about remembering dates, I remembered that 2011 is following the same pattern as 1993. So I checked and verified that indeed, July 1993 was the same as July 2011. Another friend looked an noticed that the next time 5 weeks line up on a Friday, Saturday, & Sunday is in March of 2014. This person, having majored in Mathematics and currently teaching maths, had not realized that all months with 31 days will have five weeks of three days in a row. It is a mathematical certainty, just as the months with 30 days will have five weeks of two days in a row and February has five weeks every 4 years.

But that was not what got me thinking. what got me thinking, was just the number 5. I am sure that everyone has heard about lucky and unlucky numbers, such that the number 7 is considered a lucky number in western civilization, while the number 8 is considered a lucky number in most Asian cultures. The Numbers 6 and 9 are generally considered unlucky whether it is a belief about religion and whether 666 or 999 represent the number of the beast. Rarely do we hear mention of the number 5. However, in Christianity, 5 represents the number of wounds on Jesus Christ (Crown of thorns, Scourging at the pillar, staking of the hands, staking of the feet, and the side wound). Even in other religions, the number 5 is found prominently, such as how the book of psalms was made into 5 chapters to parallel the 5 books of Moses. The Torah contains "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy" which are collectively called the 5 books of Moses. and I could go on to include other religions.

Suffice to say, the number 5 appears to have more of an impact than many people may realize. Now, about the piece of information that was told to me and my sister shortly after our mom and dad passed away was this: There has to be something significant about the fact that your mom and dad both passed away exactly 5 months to the day, apart.

What it means, I have no idea, it is just something that has had me wondering.

Sunday January 9th, 2011

As Sunday the 9th of January comes to a close, I need to reflect on some issues of the day.

Today would have been my fathers 68th birthday. I keep him in my thoughts, especially today and even prayed to him at his burial flag that is in my living room. I was extremely happy that I got to call him and wish him a happy birthday back in 2000, because it was 7 days later on January 16th that he passed away. For many years, we had not spoken, after I moved from Pensacola to Tucson in 1994 up until 1998 we rarely if ever spoke. From 1998 until his death, we spoke more often and he and I tried to mend our relationship. I felt much closer to him when he passed and it affected me deeply.

Fortunately, I pretty much kept myself preoccupied with my research, which has surpassed the 200 pieces of data and is currently at 212. I still have the states of Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington DC. That is also not including the approximately 109 cook-off events whose websites basically stated "Check back soon for 2011 information". My advisor was wanting me to get between 200 and 250 pieces of data and I have met that goal and could actually surpass it. Incidentally, each piece of data has about 50 or so variables. I think this research is going to make for a great part of my dissertation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

So today I suffered from the "Blaghs" or however you want to spell it. I just didn't want to do anything. Of course I had to put my carpal tunnel wrist immobilizer on, as I felt like I sprained my wrist with all that mousing around the internet looking for research. It feels much better now, but I still have the immobilizer on my wrist as I type.

For everyone that reads this blog, I want to thank you for your assistance in whatever fashion you have provided, in my efforts to collect data for my research. Some of the information has been very insightful and some has even helped me a little. In all, I want to say thank you.

I did not complete my set goal of 20 pieces of data for today, so I will have to work much harder the rest of the week to make up for my shortfall. So with that in mind, I will get back to work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Research can be fun, at times.

This morning (as in Monday 1-3-2011), I spent several hours working on my research for my dissertation. The process is slow and very time consuming, so I had set myself a goal of completing 20 items of data entry per day. This would put me at the 200 items of data by Sunday January 9th. But today, inspiration came and I not only did my 20 for today, but also did 13 extra. That may not seem like a lot, but considering the amount of searching I have to do for each data item and then transcribing it into my spreadsheet, I think I am doing pretty good. In fact, my advisor had expected me to complete about 25 data items PER WEEK. I have also been lucky that I have not had much to distract me from the task over the last few weeks, as I have been working on getting my diabetes in check.

My last visit to the doctor was not very good. I had not been taking my diabetes medication properly, based on my odd working shifts and class schedule for the fall. In fact, I wasn't eating properly as well and the medication has to be taken with food, so my doctor lectured me and his nurse yelled at me, and when I informed everyone else, I continued to get lectured and yelled at for my improper control of the diabetes. Suffice to say, my doc put me on a leave of absence from work so that I can get a better grip on the situation, and I will say that I have been eating more regularly and taking my medication as the doctor prescribed.

In addition, I have been rewarding myself for the better eating and medication by allowing myself more time on the xbox. I have really gotten into the Lego Harry Potter years 1 - 4, for some reason, but when I tried playing the Harry Potter: Half-Blood Prince game, I was less than enthused. In fact, I quit playing it and went back to Lego Harry Potter. I have also been playing Mass Effect A LOT lately, having fun changing the settings and going through the adventures with different characters and powers. I have even upped the difficulty of the game and am currently set on Hardcore mode. It is much easier to advance in difficulty on Mass Effect than it is on Guitar Hero.

Anyway, this post has gone on longer than I anticipated and I want to get back to more research. I am going through the states alphabetically and am about to start on the state of Missouri.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A new year is upon us...

I sit here wondering what to write, as I have not updated this blog since March of last year (2010). I had originally meant for this blog to be a place for me to write about how I was progressing through my PhD studies at Purdue University, but I found out quickly that I was ignoring the blog more and more.

Now that I am in my Third year of PhD studies at Purdue University, I find that I want to make more time for things outside of research and studies. Don't get me wrong, I love the research I am doing and the classes have been great, I just need a break every once in a while. I have started playing my xbox a bit more, I think it is the best birthday present I have ever bought myself.

I think I will be posting to this blog more often now. I may even be able to post from my phone. I may have to test that fairly soon.

For now, it is back to research and data entry.

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