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30 March, 2008

Re-Fueling

Just when I'm ready to throw in the towel and run out, I have a day at work that doesn't suck. How? Well, sometimes I get to talk to random interesting people on the phone. Sometimes I have fun conversations with my bosses. And sometimes they feed me.

Sometimes they feed me Ballotine of Poulet Rouge with Chicken Consommé, Hedgehogs and Black Truffles.

Sometimes they feed me Maine Scallop with Petite French Lentils, Florida Corn and Saffron Foam.

Sometimes they feed me both, and it makes me happy.

(Sous Chef is running the show today, and I somehow have him convinced that he needs to keep me fed in order to get me to do my job. OK not really… but wouldn't you like to have an arrangement like that at work?)

Just Another Day at the Office

Work has been rough the past few days. Number Two went on a little beach vacation and hasn't been there for the past two days, leaving me alone in the office with The Boss.

...with two food writers last night
...who got special menus
...and special wine pairing

What's all that mean? It means The Boss is stressed, The Chef is stressed, and I'm stressed because I need extra information from them and they don't have time to give it to me.

Last night was so bad that the only reason I didn't call in today is that neither of them will be there. I'm counting on a quiet day, being left alone, and getting work done on some projects.

Also, I found out this week that the answer to this question is 4.5%, and for some reason I am taking that completely expected news really hard. I guess I feel like I deserve more. We raised our menu prices 25% in two years, which means the servers have gotten a MUCH bigger pay raise than I did (a $25 bump translates to an extra $5/guest, which adds up over the course of the year). The Boss did tell me that I'm the highest paid person in the location, which comes as no surprise. The servers make $3/hour or something ridiculous like that, and the seaters are pretty much on the bottom of the pay scale. As for the other people on my team, a) I'm the only full time person and b) I've got more years seniority than the rest of them. I won't even mention the other reasons I deserve more money than they get!

It's not personal, and not negotiable. Apparently that's the average for people in comparable jobs who were rated the way I was. But it definitely clarifies that I should be looking for another job, maybe one that doesn't require me to jump through hoops at 10 pm.

29 March, 2008

Chocolate Cake

In a severe fit of PMS, I made chocolate cupcakes this weekend. I found out that the average box of cake mix makes 24 cupcakes, and I had only one muffin tin. So I made 12 cupcakes and 1 9" round cake. But since it was only 1 layer high, it was a short cake.

I also made some slight modifications: after I poured the cupcakes and got them baking, I added a big heaping spoonful of peanut butter to the cake mix for the round cake. The batter was overwhelmingly peanut buttery, but it was too late to turn back! It turns out that peanut butter bakes off (?) during the cooking process, and you could barely taste it in the finished product.

I also took a can of chocolate frosting and added (slightly less) peanut butter to it for the cupcakes. The result: a mild peanut butter flavor, and a significantly less sweet frosting. They are delicious.

That might explain why I had one for breakfast this morning!

27 March, 2008

An Even Smaller World

By now you may have heard that Disneyland is closing their version of It's a Small World this year to dig the canal deeper so that the fat riders don't make the boats get stuck in mid-ride. During the ride rehab, they are also making some other changes:

An “Alice in Wonderland” doll wearing a blue dress and a white rabbit in a playing card tunic... will be added near a chessboard and red rose tree already existing in the Small World attraction.

Officials confirmed that Alice is one of several Disney characters that will be added to
Disneyland’s Small World in a controversial plan that has infuriated some purists. Officials have insisted that Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will not appear in the Anaheim attraction.

I couldn't possibly verbalize how much this bugs me any better than the folks over at Re-Imagineering have done here, "Cute as they may be, Belle, Mickey, Stitch or Nemo have nothing to do with selling the core values of UNICEF, the show’s original partner. Their appearance not only trivializes the central theme but more disturbingly seems to emphasize global brand marketing and franchising above all else."

More posts about this can also be found here and here, with a little snark here.

25 March, 2008

Let's All Embellish, Shall We?

This morning, I encountered sniper fire when I got out of bed. I had to cancel my morning pee and run with my head down straight to the living room.

Yeah that's right. I'm pissed at Hillary Clinton. What the hell is she doing out there?

Speech last Monday:
"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."


The account in her book:
"Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find,"

The CBS News video (ok, I admit, it was released by the Obama campaign):
shows Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, walking across the tarmac from a large cargo plane, smiling and waving, and stopping to shake hands with Bosnia's acting president and greet an 8-year-old girl.
So yes, she got caught with her pants on fire. And I read that article twice and didn't see anything along the lines of, "yeah, sorry about that. I guess I just got carried away." But here's my favorite quote from the article:

Former Army Secretary Togo West, who accompanied Clinton to Bosnia, said he was
not surprised "that there could be confusion" when someone who has taken a number of trips tries to recall details of a particular trip 12 years earlier.


Does that mean there was another trip where there was sniper fire? I'll be frank: of all of the trips I've ever taken, I'm quite certain that there was never any risk of sniper fire. So unless she can produce video of them ducking and covering at another airport, I'm not interested in anything else she has to say.

...oh yeah, I just remembered: my morning pee happened as scheduled. There was no sniper after all.

24 March, 2008

Smelling of Wine and Laundry Detergent

Yeah, that's a knife sticking out of a wine bottle. If you are observant, you may have also noticed the bits of cork scattered across the kitchen counter or the purple splatter on that canister of bread crumbs on top of my lunch box. Out of the frame are the purple spots on the floor, my face, the wall behind me, and the upper counter by the tea kettle.

"But Jamie, why didn't you use that corkscrew right next to the wine bottle?"

I tried. That's where the bits of cork came from.

So after I failed spectacularly with the corkscrew (and yes, I realize the wine opening technology has improved vastly since the 1970's), I tried the vegetable peeler. And then I tried the paring knife.

I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but I definitely hadn't anticipated the Molotov Rioja! I'm also rather impressed that my eyes sealed themselves shut just before the shower. Sadly, I needed to open my eyes to find the paper towel, and I can report that red wine burns just as much as shampoo or face wash.

I left the knife in the bottle while I went to change, and leave my (thankfully) red sweater and brown t-shirt in the washer soaking. I took evidence photos. And I wiped up the counter before the wine had a chance to stain... well, almost. I'm sure Scott will be able to get the last of it out with something stronger than a Clorox wipe!

And then I tried to pull out the knife and cork. It didn't work, and I had to push the knife back down to get it un-stuck. And you know what happened? I bet you do! But somehow I didn't expect the same damn thing to happen again! Of course, this time the wine got all over my white t-shirt, which I'm still wearing because - meh - it's an old shirt that I only wear to bed anyway.

I still wanted to at least try the wine, despite the bad cork omen. So I poured it through a metal strainer to catch the tiny bits of cork. I actually don't think the wine is bad, especially considering the cork and the metal trauma it had been through. Sadly, I can't possibly save it. My only other vacuum topper is on a bottle of white that I enjoyed much more, and the cork is still floating in the bottle.

So cheers to you! Anyone have a story that will make me feel better about this?

23 March, 2008

Not Your Typical Easter Post

I forgot my camera today, so I have no pictures of the eggs. Hopefully they'll still be there on Thursday. I do, however, have some interesting Easter videos for you. The first was courtesy of my mom (though I found it on YouTube for ease of posting), and the other courtesy of Scalzi's blog.





If that wasn't enough for you, there's a rather amusing one from the fine folks at Cadbury. Who doesn't love the British sense of humor?

Happy Easter!


Amazingly enough, we're really slow at The Restaurant tonight, with about 20 people fewer than we had last night. I'm bringing my camera today to take pictures of the two chocolate eggs gracing our location this year, and maybe I'll actually get them posted before it's no longer Easter!
If not, they'll appear some day.

22 March, 2008

Spring Training Recap

I am so incredibly tired. Fourteen hour days are just tough on the body and the mind - there's no way around that. Of course, I did the math and realized just how much extra money I grossed this week, and it did ease the pain a little. So here's some random things about Spring Training:

* Of the 9 stations the employees rotated through, only one was the actual hotel side of The Hotel. Front Desk/housekeeping/bell services all shared one space. And their only hand-outs were the chocolates you get on your pillow at turn-down! The other stations were run by the restaurants, the bakery, recreation/spa, conventions and merchandise.

* The Restaurant this year was serving poulet rouge (red feather chicken, originally from France, but now raised in North Carolina) with lentils and a chicken cream sauce. Sadly, The Chef never did figure out a way to keep the little chicken roulades from drying out in the chafing dish. The result: more sauce later in the day! The other restaurants were handing out chocolate gelato, seafood bisque, and one-bite prime rib sandwiches.

* I think I convinced The Chef to go back to short ribs & potato puree next year. Let that other restaurant serving the prime rib go back to serving strawberry soup!

* They fed us pretty well between sessions. Cuban sandwiches for lunch yesterday, steak sandwiches the day before, plus chips, salad, and fresh fruit.

* Over the course of the two days, I had 4 cans of coke and probably 10 cups of fruit punch/lemonade. Yes, I'm weak. And I have no doubt that if I worked a day job and always had to work at 6 am, I would be a coffee drinker. Mornings are tough!

* I really enjoyed seeing all the managers let their hair down between sessions. Our station became the congregation point for the food & beverage people (including our operations manager) to hang out, and I overheard some things I wasn't supposed to, and witnessed some merciless teasing.

* I worked my butt off down there. On day one, I passed out food/forks/napkins and replenished our supplies when they were low. On day two, we drafted our operations manager to our team, and he helped us plate and serve and I took over part of the presentation. I got all of the "fun" details like the dress code, the child policy, and the reason we ask 20 questions when you call to book a reservation. I also got to mention the employee discount... when The Boss didn't steal my thunder!

* The bosses are already talking about how much better that worked out, and are planning on a 3-man team next year as well.

* Had Scott not come to see me at work yesterday, I would probably have gone 3 or more straight days without seeing him awake.

21 March, 2008

Bumper Sticker Fun

And now for something a little lighter!

20 March, 2008

Who Wants a Political Rant?

Mom,

The jobs are going to other countries. That's a fact. The blue-collar jobs are going to developing countries, and the engineering/technology jobs are going places with a better educated work force.

Do you really think the people who shop for everything at Wal Mart because it's cheap care whether that made-in-Bangladesh sweater was made by someone making 10 cents/hour? The same sweater made in the USA by a worker making a "whopping" $6/hour would cost probably twice as much.

And remember the most motivated kids in my high school? Ushma, Debanjan, Sundip, the Lee brothers… in short, the Asians and the Indians. Well schools all over the eastern hemisphere are turning out students who are better at EVERYTHING than we are. And they're not coming into the US and "stealing our jobs" anymore. They stayed at home, built up their economies, and are making it difficult for the US to keep up. It's a reality that we aren't the richest or most powerful nation in the world. We don't deserve to be. Our education system is crumbling, and it's the complacency and bickering everywhere from local school boards to the US government causing that problem. Those other countries care about their future. They care about their children's future. And they're actually doing something about it.

My generation (or maybe even the one before mine) could be the last that sees people from Europe and Asia coming to America, "the land of opportunity." Sure, things are better here than Mexico or Cuba, but does anyone really want to measure us against that ruler?

I know in my heart that you are not one of those people who doesn't care about the mess you leave behind for your grandchildren to clean up. Education is important NOW. The economy is important NOW. Health care is important NOW. Iraq is less important. In the grand scheme of things, even $4 gas is less important. Crackpot preachers are NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL.

Read the whole speech. Pretend it's John McCain or GWB or Ronald Reagan saying the words. Get past the messenger and read the message. If you must listen to right-wing talk radio, listen to the left, too. You don't have to agree with the spin, but at least you'll be exposed to more than one side's rhetoric and become more adept at recognizing it for what it is: propaganda.



Still to come if I'm still on my soap box tomorrow: health care and health insurance. Stay tuned.

Sleep Deprived Humor

Actual conversation in my office at 2:30 pm:

David: Hi. I'm David. I'm the media manager here at The Hotel.
Me: Nice to meet you. I'm Jamie. I… sit at this desk.

Eight more hours of work? Is that really a good idea?

19 March, 2008

Boo!

Well, I'm at 8 am tomorrow. Wish me luck with that! Also, I wanted to remind you all that tomorrow is March 20 - the day to wear your favorite sweater! I bought myself a red zip-up sweater yesterday just for the occasion.

Scott had a meeting this afternoon, so he and I had lunch together, and then wandered aimlessly around Disney's Hollywood Studios (can I still call it MGM?) for a little while. He left for his meeting just in time for me to catch the new "Block Party Bash" parade.

I read someplace recently that John Lassetter has done little more in his new position within Disney than put his Pixar products in as many places as possible. This parade (transported from California Adventure) does little to dispel those thoughts. Oh - and the next attraction to open at the Park-Formerly-Known-as-MGM is a Pixar-themed shoot 'em up ride. Funny, I enjoyed that the first time around when it was called Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin!

But I digress. The parade (which isn't a traditional parade by any means) is cute. The only characters are Pixar-branded: those from Toy Story, the much-ignored A Bug's Life, and Monsters, Inc. with surprise appearances from the Incredibles. The non-character performers are dressed in outfits that look like someone threw Austin Powers and Pixar into some sort of costuming blender.

The "block party" portions where the parade stops feature trampoline performers, dancers, and performers on scooters. I didn't get any pictures of those because I didn't do my homework ahead of time. I was at the very start of the parade, where the floats race past in less than 5 minutes, and then I leap-frogged the parade and caught it at the end... where the floats once again don't stop! How's that for dumb luck? Well, I got some cute pictures of the characters and some of the dancers. Next time I'll watch from a better spot!

Let it Be So...

If you haven't read or seen Obama's speech yesterday, I recommend reading the whole thing. I won't tell you what Scott said upon seeing an excerpt of it, but it brought an actual tear to my eye. Anyway, I wanted to share a portion of the speech here and keep it for posterity.

Am I alone in thinking this could be "the speech" of my generation? I just can't wait to hear what he has to say when added to the Hall of Presidents!

We can play Rev. Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words.

We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other
distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children.

This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st Century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the emergency room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care, who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.

This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag.

We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for president if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.

And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation -- the young people whose
attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this
election.

Baby!!!

Congrats Beth and Brian on your newest addition!!!

(the kid is 3 days old and has his own blog... that's impressive)

The Raise

Wow... one little line in a blog post sure generates discussion I didn't think about. Just to clarify a little bit:

* Because my job is no longer unionized, my raises are merit-based. I thought this was extremely cool last year because I work hard and I deserve more than Joe Schmoe who sits there and does minimal work and gets a guaranteed 4-5% raise. Surely I'd be recognized beyond that!

* The raises are figured out on a scale of 1-5 (of course the company has cute little names like "meets expectations" and so on... but there's 5 of them, so I'm sticking to my 1-5 analogy). In 2006, after having been at The Restaurant for 5 months, my boss rated me a 4. He said he couldn't rate me a 5 because I still needed something to strive for or something like that. Still, 4 is a "B" performance - nothing to complain about.

* I was rated 4 in December 2006, and my raise kicked in in April 2007: a whopping 3.5%. To this day, I am still making about 30 cents per hour less than I was making at the RCC. Still, it's a trade-off because a) I'm so much less stressed and b) I make a ton of overtime here. I'm definitely bringing home more money.

* This past December, I was rated 5 (the only person in my location to do so). The raise hasn't kicked in yet, and I don't know what it is. I've got my fingers crossed for 5%... but even that doesn't seem that great considering everything I did last year. Even at only 4%, it'll still bump me over what I was making at the RCC... and within $3 of what Scott makes.

Anyway, when I was talking in that last entry about justifying a raise, at this point, whatever I do won't be reflected in my pay for another 13 months... and that's only if I'm still at The Restaurant in 13 months. It's sort of academic.

17 March, 2008

Spring Training

This Thursday and Friday are "Spring Training" at The Hotel. It's that lovely time of year when the unwashed masses convene in the convention center (where better to convene, really?) to learn tidbits about aspects of The Hotel we might not know.

Last year, we got to taste gluten-free cookies from the Bakery, saw a sneak peak of the newly re-designed rooms (including the sweet flat panel TVs), learned about the Swarovski flip flops for sale in the women's shop, etc.

Each little booth is manned by the managers of the location. Last year, due to The Boss's impending back surgery and the fact that he and The Chef had an awards ceremony to attend, Girl Chef and I had fun running the last round of presentations. Ironically enough, I dished out food while she talked. And in case you were wondering, 4-star cuisine can look like dog food on a plate, but it still tastes great!

This year, I imposed my will on my bosses early. About 6 months ago, I found a stash of old menu paper and proclaimed that we would use it to make this year's hand-out. I held onto it, and last week I finally got around to making the hand-out. Actually, I made two. One was visually pleasing, but quite verbose. The other was a large print bullet point list of facts. And The Boss and I actually agreed that the pretty one was the way to go, even though half the staff of The Hotel probably couldn't read it even if they wanted to! Good for us for not catering to the lowest common denominator!

The Boss also decided he wants my help during the event. That's slightly problematic for the following reasons:

* the first session starts at 8 am. That means two 14-hour days.
* the last session runs from 3-5 pm, which I couldn't do because of my "real" job.
* did I mention 8 am? or the 14-hour days?

I know from experience that when The Boss wants me to come in for something special, it means running around doing a whole lot of random errands/odds & ends. I imagine this particular project would mean a bunch of trips between the convention center and the office.

I'll probably go... even if the days will be long and painful. The food is good at Spring Training, and I know from last year that they feed the managers even better stuff between sessions. And it'll be one more thing to add to my list of "this is why I deserve a raise" at the end of the year. Isn't that what's most important? ;-)

14 March, 2008

More Chemical Warfare

Well, Scott's late-night chili dogs didn't do me in. However, I found myself closed up in my office today for 3/4 of my shift with 15 chairs fresh from refurbishment... complete with that "new chair smell," a.k.a. fresh varnish.

Wheeze!

12 March, 2008

Farewell, Cruel World(?)


About ten minutes ago, Scott finished eating the following:

* 2 hot dogs
* with spicy mustard,
* chili,
* and cheese
* plus a bowl full of chili
* with more cheese

If this is my final entry, it is probably safe to assume that I was overcome by fumes while sleeping.

Poor Milo was the first to go. Luckily, I was able to find a 24-hour taxidermy place to mount his head on a plaque. I find comfort knowing he didn't suffer long. And I will be comforted by his presence as I drift off into eternal sleep.



Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take


Disclaimer: Milo was not harmed in the making of this blog post. In fact, since he sleeps 2 doors removed from Scott, I hereby leave my blogging empire to him.

09 March, 2008

Lifetime Movie Cliches

I'm not lying when I say that Lifetime (TV for Women) is not one of my guilty pleasures. In fact, I generally flip right past that channel when I'm surfing.

Sadly, there's not a whole lot to watch on Sunday afternoons. So today I watched two Lifetime movies. Since I did, I thought it would be fun to list a whole bunch of Lifetime Movie Cliches and let you pick which you think were woven into the two tales I watched today:

A. Teen pregnancy
B. Teenager murders her parent
C. Husband murders his wife
D. Cancer struggle
E. Adoption/infertility
F. Adultery
G. Teen daughter seduces her stepfather
H. Anorexia/bulimia
I. Suicide
J. Christmas miracle
K. Mother & daughter fight with each other
L. Blackmail
M. Mother & daughter come together in the end

Made your selections?

OK, give yourself a point for each of the following: A B C E F G I K L M. That's right - 10 cliches rolled up into a mere 4 hours of television!

The first movie, which absolutely left me in need of a shower, was Mini's First Time. I missed the actual (G) and (F) in the first half hour, but was there when the mother tried to (I), and the (B) and (C) happened, followed by (L). This movie had an impressive cast - Carrie Anne Moss, Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Jeff Goldblum... I imagine Lifetime must be paying well!

The second movie was Mom at Sixteen. This one was definitely more of an after-school special. As you can imagine, (A) (E) (K) and (M) fit neatly into a two hour package: Teen mom lets her mom raise the baby as her own, but decides she wants to raise him herself. Then she decides to give the baby up for adoption to her barren high school teacher and her husband the swim team coach.

Everyone now: riiiiight!

So how'd you do in my little quiz? I sure had fun with it... possibly even more fun than watching these movies!

08 March, 2008

Day Off!

I found someone to cover my shift tomorrow, so I'm going to spend 8 paid hours curled up on my couch watching movies.

…and drinking orange juice

…and taking AirBorne

…and consuming lots of soup and hot tea (anything to open up my sinuses!)

Sick pay: it's a beautiful thing!

That Song!

I made it through my entire birthday without anyone feeling like they needed to sing Happy Birthday to me. I made it through the visit with mom two days later. And I even made it through work... right up until around 8:00 last night.

Girl Chef brought in an ice cream cake on Monday, forgetting that I wouldn't be there, and then she took Thursday off. So last night she brought it in the office with a candle and everything and made both managers sing to me. And then I got some Spanish birthday song too!

Bonus: I cut 5 pieces out of it for me, the chefs, and the bosses. I would have cut up the rest and let her feed the kids in the kitchen (not the servers, because I'm bitter and petty), but she made me take it home to Scott. So now there's 1/2 of an ice cream cake in my freezer. Yum!

07 March, 2008

Blue Steel

I'm sick, and am working on a Nyquil hangover. So here's a picture from my birthday... at Spaceship Earth (for Dummies) between my "birthday around the world" (Japan for dinner, drinks at Italy, dessert at Norway) and the party at Jellyrolls:

03 March, 2008

Happy Birthday to... MILO???

I barely got the paper off the box before Milo claimed it as his own! (Kilo never had a chance)

And of course, once Scott opened up the box, Milo moved right in.



I hereby open comments for photo captions and birthday wishes... because I'm shameless like that!