Monday, August 24, 2009

Mystery Shop Career Path

Last fall I decided I wanted to make a little extra money and signed up with several companies to do mystery shopping. I wasn't sure that it would be something I liked as I wondered why I would go out to find hassles in my life when they come to you unsolicited (I mean things like bad service, poor attitude, etc.)
The first adventure was a dinner that needed to be done at a certain time to make sure the crew wasn't closing up too early. The food was bad; staff was dis-interested. The time required to do the report, have it critiqued, revise it and wait for payment would have been ok if the food had been decent. So, is a $23.21 free dinner worth it? No.
Then we did a few snack type ones, which were fun, but took more time to get there than it was worth it for a free coffee.
My final experience was one where I think I was misled. It was for valet parking and reimbursement was for the parking fee, a tip, a shop fee and, from the instructions, a snack while waiting to pick up the car from the valet. I re-read the instructions many times to make sure I got it right. But, in the end, the snack wasn't covered and the adventure COST me $12.00 more than I netted from the shop fee. Lesson learned. Done. Not the career for me.
As my husband just said when I told him this story: "Next time, make a career choice where you don't end up in the negatives." Point well taken.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009: Why is today significant?

Today is the last day of our Wall Street Journal subscription. We love it when we have time to read it, but more often, it piles up unread.
The WSJ always has the most interesting stories, those ones from the famous middle column on the front page. The one about how a woman arranged to have a favorite baseball player meet her husband at a gas station on the Turnpike comes to mind. There are countless other, saved in boxes around the house, exemplifying the WSJ ability to get just the most interesting story and share it with the world. I will miss those, though they are still available online....just not sitting on my coffee table. For one thing, I know I personally will never read it. Maybe a Kindle or e-reader version; not sure on that one yet.
My first subscription to the WSJ was free in 1974 when I was getting my MBA at Kellogg Business School. I progressed to a student rate and, since then, for 33 consecutive years, have gotten the WSJ. In some places, it arrived in the mail; others it was delivered. I have learned so much from this newspaper, and will sincerely miss its daily arrival.
Why are we not renewing our subscription? Well, mostly it is finding the time to read the entire paper, but, truthfully, it is the cost is high if we don't get to read it everyday. I personally love the Saturday WSJ and the "Weekend Journal" section (there are many of those piled around the house) but, I cannot only subscribe to get the Saturday paper.
So, for now, my last standout story today is about dandelion greens. And I totally identify with Sue Shellenbarger's engaging report about retaking the SAT 41 years later (that's when I took it, too! I can relate as we have a high school junior currently dealing with the SAT challenges.)
WSJ -- we have come a long way together. Thank you for all the thinking that you have stimulated.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pete Seeger Turns 90

I didn't know that I knew so many Pete Seeger songs. I sang them at camp and the recent sing-a-long in Madison Square Garden in honor of his birthday sounds like it was an amazing evening. I guess that I know many of the protest folk songs without even knowing it --"Where Have All The Flowers Gone" is a favorite.
If he has a 95 year birthday sing-a-long, I will want to go and sing really loud and really off-key.

Dom Deluise Recipe

In honor of Dom Deluise's passing today, I must acknowledge a favorite recipe from his cooking video.
My husband and I have prepared this recipe many times and it is great hot, and even better cold!

Dom Deluise Mama's Lemon Chicken:
6 pounds chicken, whole two whole birds, cut up
1 cup lemon juice fresh
1 x parsley leaves chopped
1 large onion coarsely chopped
2 cups bread crumbs seasoned
2 tablespoons parmesan, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated grated
1/2 cup olive oil


Place bread crumbs in large plastic bag, add 2 Tbls chopped parsley.

Dip chicken pieces in lemon juice.

Put chicken pieces (3 at a time) into bag with bread crumbs.

Close bag and turn to coat chicken pieces.

When coated remove from bag and place in glass baking dish which has been coated with a thin coating of the olive oil.

Sprinkle chopped parsley and chopped onion on top of the coated chicken.

Drizzle olive oil over the chicken pieces.

Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about one hour.

Remove from oven and drizzle more lemon juice on top of chicken before serving.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"If You're Out There"

John Legend sings about passion, with passion and style. The concert last night at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix was memorable, especially the view from the fifth row, allowing a close-up view of the performer. I was probably the only person in the crowd that did not know all the lyrics, but I could feel the intensity of his words and now understand why the crowd is drawn to the music, as the words and music truly display the love that they are about.
I love watching all the instruments and backup musicians, with a tower of electric pianos mixed with Apple computers but, truthfully, I loved the parts where John Legend sat at the piano, sometimes backed up by a variety of instruments but often just singing alone.
"If You're Out There" was his closing song of the encore (not really an encore but a short, two song second act) backed up by a slide show of leaders in history, ending, of course, with Obama. The choices were interesting -- Nelson Mandela, Lincoln, John Lennon, to name a few. He also talked melodically, between songs, while playing light melodies. One section was about his foundation that supports a village in Tanzania, while showing a slide show of his visits to the village. The audience could text a message to help eliminate global poverty, which goes on your cellphone bill. He told people to make sure and pay their bill, giving a glimpse of his background that goes well beyond the world of music.
It was memorable, there was love in the air and on the stage. If we see him again, I know that now I too will know all the words.
Now only if we could figure out how to eliminate the poverty closer to home, with the homeless people and their pets sleeping on benches in the blocks surrounding the Dodge Theatre. The man shown in the final picture in the slide show has a huge task ahead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I Would Have Like To Be Included

I was fascinated reading about the lunch held today at the White House, Jan. 7, 2009, for all the living Presidents. I don't know why really, but I would have like to be included in that lunch. The discussion that went on at the event is being kept secretive, but the five participants did order off the White House Mess menu.
Obama appeared very at-ease in the two minute photo session; Clinton was beaming. All deferred to the outgoing and incoming Presidents. It was the first gathering of its type in 27 years, held at Obama's suggestion.
Say what you will, experience as a Community Organizer works in any group of people, even all the living US Presidents.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thank-you Notes

I have always been expected to write thank-you notes for gifts from family, and carried that on to engagement and wedding gifts. Thankfully, my husband helped me with the myriad of notes from our wedding gifts as we did a system of 3 per day.
I have passed that obligation of a written thank-you on to my daughter. Incentives have been varied: only open the gift if you write the note that day; not able to use/play with the gift until the note is written, and, of course, there has been bribery. It seemed to be a good way for her to learn to write notes, in complete sentences with coherent thoughts. My sister and cousin have been sticklers with their sons to do notes.
Sadly, others have not continued the courtesy of a note. Often I don't even know if the gift was even received. I have sworn many times that I wouldn't send a gift if I had not heard from that person on a previous gift. But then, on Dr. Laura one day, I heard her ask a caller, "Do you send the gift just to get a note or because it is the right thing to do?" I thought I may be petty.
But, I am now, several years later, invoking a new rule: if I don't get a note (or call even, or an email) from the recipient, there will be no more gifts. Simple as that; if you are so rude as to not express gratitude, I am not sending another one. I am not a schmuck.

The following article is such a perfect description of why a note is done, and how to do it right.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Do Women Feel Colder Than Men?

Thank you, Dr. Weil. Your "Weekly Bulletin" in my email on 12/18/08 resolved an issue that has continued through our 25-year marriage. It explains why I am always complaining about the cold in our bedroom -- home, and on the road.

Why Do Women Feel Cold More Than Men Do?

The proper setting for the thermostat can spark fierce disputes among couples, and while there are exceptions, typically, women complain of cold temperatures more often than men do.

Ironically, this is probably because women are better at surviving extreme cold than are men. Mark Newton, a clothing-industry consultant and researcher at the University of Portsmouth, explains that women have a more evenly distributed fat layer and can more effectively pull all their blood back to their core organs in cold temperatures. While this fosters survival in sub-freezing conditions, it also means less blood flows to their hands and feet, and as a result they feel cold at higher temperatures than men typically do.

There is no simple answer to this disparity; it simply suggests that in cold weather, men and women should be more willing to compromise in the thermostat battle, as their differences are determined genetically - a fact no amount of arguing will alter.