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.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN FRINGE FROM FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25TH, BEWARE OF SPOILERS.

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.

http://bearbook.com/q9JPm

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 aggrivating

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 some times 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 more easy, in that you were simulating the process of commands in a computer. In that sense, one wrong more (process), and the program doesn't work. I 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 friends 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.