Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Complaining about that Chicken Salad Sandwich

Got a response today to my complaint -- first, here's what I wrote:

Had a very disappointing experience on Saturday, March 26 at 11:39 AM at Reno Airport, C Concourse. My check number is 1544. Bought a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of chips and Vitamin Water for $15.44. When I returned to the gate to eat my lunch, the sandwich was so old as to be inedible. It was a clump of wet greens, more like compost than chicken salad. I took two bites, then tried to eat just the bread, but the bread was wet from the compost and I dumped the whole thing. I don't mind paying nine bucks for a sandwich, but it could at least be fresh and edible. I noticed when I was unwrapping it that it had a white sticker on it and I hoped that a white sticker meant "fresh for Saturday" but it clearly didn't. I suppose I could have trekked back to the location for something else, but I was tired and out of time.

and here's the response

Your comments about your experience at the La Brea Bakery in the Reno Airport are much appreciated. We cannot thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to serve you at La Brea Bakery.

We ,unfortunately, failed to provide you with food that was worth not only your money, but time and energy as well. Being on the road quite a bit myself, I empathize with how disappointed you must have felt.

Our La Brea Bakery units in the Reno Airport are owned and operated by SSP America, our licensed partner. Although this is the case, it does not exclude us from taking action to insure that all customers are receiving a great experience in any location that bears the “B” of our company. Like us, SSP America holds all of their locations and employees to extremely high standards with both service and food. Clearly we need to follow up with the managers and make sure that all quality standards are being upheld daily.

I have included Lynne Zaborac, General Manager, of this location for SSP America in Reno, along with her Assistant Manager, Denis begin. They should be reaching out you soon. I can assure you that Lynne and her entire team take much pride in exceeding customer expectations and will follow up with their employees promptly.

Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to address your concern.

Les Echeverria
Sr. Manager-Licensed Operations

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Evening

Yesterday got away from me. Bad storms all day so I had stayed in the hotel thinking I'd have this long luxurious day to relax and get caught up with work, but no such luck. It was one of those days where every email brought in more work that had to be done immediately -- I have a bunch of clients all getting ready for the opening day of the show which was today -- so lots of last minute stuff, proofreading, etc.

I think I mentioned I was afraid I was too far from the show, and it did take me a full hour to get there today, but I took a map with me and found a better route and got it to 40 minutes on the way home. Not too bad, but tomorrow I have to be on site no later than 6:45 for this breakfast. Tomorrow's gonna pretty much do me in. A breakfast, followed by meetings, followed by a lunch, followed by meetings, followed by a customer event by one of my clients. Everything is in place, but it's just a matter of stress of "will the caterer show up on time?" kind of things. The table and chairs are set up, which in the past, has been a stressful situation. This year I said, "I am on my hands and knees begging you to have the tables and chairs in place" -- sounds dramatic, and it is, but it worked.

What had happened in the past is I'm told I'm a worry wart, you don't need them til Wednesday, it's only 9 am... stop worrying,,,they'll come -- it's only 10 o'clock, it's only 11 o'clock and on the heels of guests arriving, the tables and chairs arrive with two young guys who don't give a damn if they're set up or not.

I have made some progress worrying about the weather -- it's down to 30 percent chance of rain tomorrow, and I told my breakfast client that I am battling the notion that if it rains I am somehow to blame and I will have let him down. He said, "Yeah, but that's what I like about you."

The highlight of my day was having a late lunch at Taco Bell where I ate something new that I'd seen advertised on TV: a Pacific Shrimp Burrito. Washed down by cherry limeade. Mmmm-mmmm. Good!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Evening

My manicure place was closed on Sundays, and I opted for CVS vs Wal Mart. I did take a drive to the State Park, but first it was lunch at Sonic where you sit in your car and place your order through this microphone. When you're ready to order, you press the red button on the bottom.

I had a BLT on this thick toast and a diet cherry limeade. Both were great.

This state park has hiking trails to the good stuff (rapids, the river, etc) and the shortest one was 2 miles so I passed. There's also a swimming pool, lots of picnic areas, and even though I only did a drive through, I enjoyed how beautiful it was. It's a state park on a small scale -- so one family, for example, had this one picnic area to themselves. I could see spending time there if I lived in the area. Fran would love the trees, especially the giant oaks with all the Spanish moss hanging from them.

Sunday Morning

Wouldn't you know that despite my best efforts to sleep, including putting the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door, that my phone rang at 6:45 for "the wake up call you requested"?

The sound of the phone ringing so startled me, and I had to identify it, and orient myself and answer it. In retrospect, I should be happy that I didn't *have to* get up.

After a good night's sleep, we can often feel "like a human being" again, but I'm not there yet. I also caught a cold -- and it's almost impossible not to when you're exposed to so many people. Last night on the flight to Tampa, some man a few rows back was sneezing these juicy loud sneezes and from the sound of it, it didn't sound like he was doing anything but sneezing into the air, and I thought it's no wonder we get sick.

So here are two views of my room sitting on the bed. I was looking at the "kitchen" and thought, except for a large size fridge, this is the size of my kitchen at home! You can see the microwave, fridge, sink, then the contraption in the open closet is a safe. When I checked in, I was told that if you use the safe, you get charged $1.50 per day, but I won't use it. Then you can see the bottom of the TV on top of the closet. Not a fancy room, but it's new construction and very clean.

I have a list of stuff I need at Wal Mart, including a new deoderant. I was making do with a solid, stick deoderant that crumpled the first day I went to use it, but I sort of molded it back to shape and used it gingerly. I also want to look at hats since when I got my eyes checked I was told I should always wear a hat and sunglasses. Then I want to buy some drinks for the room.


Today was a tough travel day. Left the hotel at 10:30 -- my flight was on time and I had spent a lot of energy fretting that I'd miss my connection in Phoenix as I only had 50 minutes. Those 50 minutes can be eaten up fast. But the flight was on time, and luckily my next gate was in the same area, just about.

I had time to go to the rest room, and I hadn't eaten and went to this sandwich place and paid upwards of $17 for a pre-made sandwich that turned out to be horrid (chicken salad) and I threw away. I have the receipt so I'm going to complain.

So it was Reno to Phoenix to Tampa to rental car to one hour to the hotel, but I made it. I'm glad I decided to come straight to Florida as I can relax tomorrow rather than resentfully doing laundry and being pissed off I have to head to the airport again.

This room is great -- Microtel for $65 a night, off the beaten path, but I have a refrigerator and a microwave and sink, desk, couch, queen size bed... the works. There's a Wal-Mart next door, and I noticed a manicure place and a strip-mall variety Chinese restaurant which seemed appealing -- the food would either be wonderful or horrible.

I passed a State Park -- Hillsborough River State Park - so I might check that out tomorrow.  Glad to be here, glad to be able to sleep in on Sunday! Yay!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yesterday vs Today

Here's the view from my hotel window. The yellow glow is a reflection of the lamp in the room, but you can see it was cold and snowy.

And now today... those are the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance -- and this is where the Donner Party got stuck. The local news has two weather reports -- in the mountains, where they got two more feet of snow yesterday and in the valley (where I am, I think) where we got a few inches that have mostly melted.

I am in an "accessible" room which I love because of the walk in shower. The shower floor is level with the bathroom floor. I really get paranoid about falling -- Mostly hotels have no rugs and the tiles get slippery and there's nothing to hold onto except some rickety towel rack that I have no doubt would come flying out of the wall if I ever grabbed it. I also have the handheld shower at home and I am used to that. Here it is:

And finally, here's my new computer for traveling which I love. I am almost used to the smaller keyboard -- hey I typed that entire line without having to backspace... I put a business card on the keyboard so you can see how small it is. It's a Toshiba and cost $274 at BestBuy. I had to buy Office as well. But I love it as it weighs about as much as a medium size hardback book so it's great to carry around. I can do email and do Word documents, Excel, etc. which is really all I need when traveling. The only small challenge is I transferred some files from my office computer, but I forgot a few I kind of wish I had. All my email, old and saved, automatically is on this computer so that's good. The two cords are the power cord and then the mobile WiFi.

Day 4

Plugging along here with one more day to go. Leave Saturday for Florida. Speaking of which, it reminds me of the orange juice that's served in this hotel. The first day I thought it was a juice blend -- thought the orange was mixed with some other kind of juice -- it's so good. Fresh-squeezed, of course.

Someone from Florida said -- and this was later confirmed by the hotel -- that the wonderful taste is simply from using different varieties of oranges.

So the highlight of my mornings has been this great OJ. Nothing more earth-shattering to report.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 3

and all is well. Just watched a feature on the Weather Channel about today's snow in NY and it made me homesick. Nothing much to report other than these early mornings -- have to report at 7:30 -- are killing me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Escaping Winter

... well maybe when I get to Florida over the weekend, but here in Reno, today, this morning, it's snowing,

Day Two

Long day, but everything went well. Skipped the opening night social event -- I am just not a fan of those events, especially the themed ones, and I sort of envy the people who can get into the spirit of the event -- like the man who wore his green plastic derby, but I can't. Was talking to this woman late afternoon who paid her own way here (as opposed to her employer paying) and when she found out the ticket was $160 for tonight, she told me she had to skip it. I pulled out my ticket (which I got for free) and gave it to her. She was thrilled and so was I, knowing my ticket wasn't going to go to waste.

When I was approaching my hotel room, I noticed a woman across the hall from my room who had just checked in and her key card didn't work. She was frustrated and tired andI know she didn't want to trek all the way back to the registration desk to get another. Been there, done that.

I asked her if she had tried rubbing the key against herself. She thought I was nuts, but tried it and the key worked. She was stunned and so appreciative -- told me I "saved her life" so that was nice -- and I'm glad the trick worked.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back in Reno

After one very long flight to Phoenix and a transfer to a shorter flight to Reno, I'm back in the same room, just one floor different. It's a weird feeling in a time warp sort if way, as if I never left.

I had an interesting seatmate on the flight to Phoenix. She arrived really late, all distressed, huffing and puffing -- quite literally because it turns out she has an auto-immune disease that damages her lungs. She's OK on the ground, but in airplanes and as she sleeps she has to breathe oxygen.

She had a machine with her that sucks in air and puts out oxygen. She is a securities lawyer and had been hassled all the way in, from checking in to the TSA who didn't know this machine. She didn't start using the machine until about five minutes into the flight, but about 15 minutes before we landed the flight attendant really got an attitude and wanted her to turn it off for landing. She simply said, "If I do that, I won't be able to breathe." So Miss Thing (flight attendant) said she'd have to consult the regulations book.

She returns and said the problem is the soft plastic tubing that ran from the machine to her nose. The tube was the diameter of a soda straw, but Miss Thing said that it's a hazard for me who could trip over it if we had to evacuate the airplane, so in the future she should sit in a window seat.

I later said to this woman that if we had to evacuate the airplane, her tube would be the least of my worries. She showed me how you can just pull the tube out if the machine and then said "or pull it out of my nose and crawl over me."

Uh, no, I'll take my chances.

I haven't gambled -- didn't last time I was here either. So I'm safe and sound in Reno for another week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mary declares, "Spring is here."

She writes: I wish you could see it in person - little spots of brightness showing up all over the drab winter backdrop. I can't wait to see the new magnolia bush (white blossoms) in full bloom. The pink blossoms (much brighter in person) are from my flowering quince. I brought a branch in and took it to work and the blossoms opened beautifully - except they were white or very light pink instead of the rose color on the bush.

Pat adds: Spring has not come to New York. It's in the 40s, with continued low temps and rain forecast for the week. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Feeling Old

Ever since I turned 60, I wondered if I would turn into a senior citizen and start divulging my social security number over the phone and buying aluminum siding from traveling workers. So far that hasn't happened, but I think that every senior citizen was once young and vibrant and with it.

So today I had a bunch of errands. I won't go into the contents of my shopping basket at the drugstore, but it was depressing to look at. Next stop was Best Buy to pick up a Netbook I'd bought. Part of my cranky old person routine is that I don't want to deal with uninformed teenage sales people and I've found it easier to buy whatever it is on line and then go pick it up.

I did feel a bit better on the way out when I saw a father and his daughter who was about 9 or 10. The father's eye was drawn to something -- and he said to his daughter, "This is neat, what is it?"

Good question, Dad. It was such a role reversal, but the truth is a 10-year old probably is more knowledgeable than her 45-year old father.

The real trouble started at Staple's where all I had to do is make a copy of my driver's license. I knew you had to use a prepaid copy card -- no putting change in the machines. I see there is a machine to buy these cards, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to use it.

I finally went to the help desk and asked if the machine were working. The guy said yes, but he was helping someone and so I returned to the machine. I'd get so far, and then get stuck when you had to stick the bill/money into the machine. It just would not take it so I'm doing the straightening of the bill, trying another, trying to make it stiff so it goes in, but nothing.

I am not dumb when it comes to automated machines -- Lord knows I've used enough ATMs, but finally I spot a card coming out of a slot at the bottom of the machine and somehow you had to stick the blank card in, then the money and it took it. But "take card out of the slot A and put it into slot B" or anything like that ever appeared on the screen.

I don't have to do many copies so I only put one dollar in the card. I have my card and I'm ready to go and I go to a machine where someone had left a flyer TO ALL TENANTS complaining about a CVS store that compacts garbage late at night which makes big noise. Plus CVS stores food in the basement "and that's why we have rats and mice." Ugh.

I put my driver's license face down on the glass -- remember I just need one ten-cent copy of it -- and press START or whatever and out comes flying more of these TO ALL TENANTS flyers, as my card dwindles down from $1.00 to 90 to 80 to 70 cents and finally to nothing as I'm frantically trying to stop the machine.

So I screwed up that machine, had to go back and get another dollar, go to another machine which I realized was a color copier and although I was willing to pay 59 cents, I swear I couldn't figure out how to work it.

Back to a black and white machine, where again I put my driver's license down, and by now my legs are getting sore, I'm hungry and tired and I try to copy again and out comes a blank page, because I had put the license in the wrong section.

Ok, so finally I get one copy, made a second for good measure. Why? So in case I'm asked again for a copy of my license, I won't have to go back to Staples.

Seriously, the experience did make me feel like the ditzy old lady who can't work a copy machine. What added insult to injury is that every public copy machine place always has some crazy person endlessly making copies of newsclippings and other rants and the crazy person is better at working these machines than I am.

On a bright note, I remembered to take my driver's license out of the machine.

Best Buy Tip: In case you buy on line for a store pick up and you want someone else to pick up the item, you can do this. It used to be that the person whose credit card pays HAD TO be the one to pick it up. I noticed when I bought this netbook that you could select for someone else to do the pick up.

When I was there, I asked about it, and the (nice) clerk told me that you just label it as a gift and then anyone can go pick it up.

Speaking of ill-informed clerks, I know Melissa is reading this, and I still laugh about a trip we made in Kansas City to a Best Buy/Office Max type store for a part she needed, or a special cartridge, or some small bit and she learned through trial and error that even though it seemed obvious that XYZ was what she needed, XYZ which she bought, tried and returned wasn't the right part.

So we go in the store and this young clerk approached us and Melissa said in a calm way "I'm going to ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, just say so. Don't guess at the answer." So she asks about the part and he comes out with "You need XYZ" and she put her hand (sort of like a "talk to the hand" gesture) in front of his face and said "Stop. Just stop."

We eventually got the right part, with the clerk claiming the entire time that it wasn't, but it was.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sports Metaphor

In the early days of feminism, when women were entering higher executive levels in the workplace, we were told that men speak in sports metaphors in business and if we want to be successful, we need to understand what those metaphors mean.

I never had a problem like that; knew sports for the most part, hockey in particular so I could get by.

Had forgotten about that until today when I was sent one in an email and had never heard it.

A colleague was quoted in USA Today, and I sent him an email congratulating him, saying he was now famous, good for you! etc.

His response:

Thanks! Still trying to punch above our weight :)


Ok, so I figured it was boxing and he was making a little self-deprecating comment of being a lightweight fighting a heavyweight.

I mentioned this to a client who knew the term, said he uses the term, and said most of the time it's used as a criticism. However it can be used as a positive to make the point of how hard someone is trying.

Spring has sprung inside, too

This is Mary's flowering quince in her office.

Guilty Pleasure

I should be embarrassed to admit this, and I am, but I find myself oddly fascinated by this television show called Wipeout. I believe it originated in Japan, but the gist of the show is contestants going through this obstacle course on steroids. (The obstacle course is on steroids, not the contestants.) It's this giant cartoon-like track. When they fall off, or are knocked off, part of the course, they fall into cold water.

Two cheesy male hosts comment throughout, while a third host, a female, makes mostly dumb sexual comments about the mostly male contestants. The hosts give the contestants nicknames. Twenty-four people start, and it gets down to three people for the final.

What surprises me is that I don't typically like seeing people struggle or get hurt, but this whole show is about that. Oh, and the soundtrack is enhanced with grunts like in the first photo above.

Normally this is the point where I would suggest that you watch this show too -- but you no doubt have a better use of  your time. It's the kind of show where you stop to watch when you're flipping around the dial and find yourself mesmerized by the sheer stupidity (and entertainment value) of it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Spring Springing in DC

Fran says: Spring is getting closer... Magnolia tree budding -- shot just now in front of Albemarle apt bldg on Connecticut. Lovely day.

And a special St. Patrick's Day shout out to Phil for sending me a St. Patrick's Day card. I still don't like the day, but I did appreciate the card.

Spring has sprung in Mary's yard.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I really don't like St. Patrick's Day

I groaned when I saw that tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. That's because the big NYC parade ends on 86th Street and I live on 87th Street so when I go out on St. Patrick's Day every drunk teenager from New Jersey is puking on top of the smashed green glass of a Heineken bottle.

The litter, broken glass, papers, barf are everywhere. They'll still be there on Friday.

One year I had to run out to a quickie printer at about 10 pm for handouts I needed for a seminar and I had to work my way through a sea of drunks. I remember the printer saying to me, "Look out for the bagpipers; they're dangerous." Which sort of made me laugh inside.

Another year, I was on a bus and saw this good looking man, but he was wearing a little green plastic derby and it so turned me off, so I also still think about whether I could love a man who wanted to wear a green plastic derby in public.

There are mobs outside every Irish bar -- can't imagine waiting to get into a bar -- cops, firemen, all in uniform, mostly drunk -- it's just a scene I don't enjoy. Sometimes I wish I could buy a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" pin and go with the flow, but I can't. Tomorrow is my day that I go out for lunch, but I'll be staying in lest there be roving bands of dangerous bagpipers in the area.

Oh, and I don't like corned beef and cabbage either.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's It Made Of?

These came in an email so I don't know where or when these were taken. I'll keep what the sculpture is made of until the last photo.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fran's Photos of Spring in DC

I didn't quite get Fran's caption for this one, until I looked at the tree on the right... it really does look like a dinosaur's legs -- here's the photo and Fran's words:

Nahhh, not Jurassic Park... don't evacuate the city. Just the base of a magnificent magnolia tree ouside the National Geo building, DC.

and some dinosaur feet upclose:

And first, an actual pussy willow in the wild, followed by Cherry blossoms blossoming on Albemarle St Sun afternoon. Pat adds, "I'm glad the blossoms are blossoming -- I believe it's what they do best!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Turning the Clocks Forward

Came upon this list of what other people do in addition to turning the clocks forward tonight. I'm exhausted just looking at this list -- My computers fix themselves, but turning the clocks forward or back is enough work as far as I'm concerned -- no rotating of mattresses for me ... but in case you're feeling peppy, here are some additional 2X a year tasks.

I will say I just did the clothes dryer one, and the toothbrush one, within the last two weeks, but independent of any particular day.

Filters for Heating and Air Conditioning Unit

Batteries for Smoke Detectors and CO2 Monitors

Change Toothbrushes

Throw our old Mascara

Change back-up batteries in electric alarm clocks

Check storm windows and screens: clean, repair, replace

Change Oil in cars

Make Dentist appointments

We update our 72 hour kits Emergency Kits. We rotate the food and clothing.

Rotate the mattresses on the beds

Take down the plastic film that helps insulate your windows for winter

Clean my drains using 1/2 cup baking soda dumped on the drain, followed by a few cups of boiling water.

Change the dryer hose or clean out our dryer ventilation system to help prevent fires

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Oldest Joke

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where the flowers is.

That's one of the first funny (OK, everything's relative) things I learned and that little poem has stuck in my brain lo these many years.

Well, spring just may have sprung. I noticed going through Central Park today that there is the faintest plumpness to where the leaves are on the trees, and the forsythia had no yellow but a promise of yellow coming. I think of forsythia and pussy willows -- do they even exist any more? -- as the harbingers of spring.

If I were to photograph Spring comes to New York, I would have photographed bunches of daffodils outside at a deli. I remember picking armloads of them as a young girl, so it sort of sticks in my craw to pay $6 for a skinny bunch... but they're here, and so (maybe) is spring.

We have what the local media love to call "team coverage" of spring. Now, from Washington DC, Mary shows that Spring has sprung in her yard, and she no longer has to wonder where the flowers is.

Mystery at the Funeral Home

Some of you know there's a funeral home on my block, and over the years have seen some comings and goings of bodies and seen hundreds (probably thousands) of mourners. I only saw people crying twice -- and both times it was for young people. In fact, one day I was sitting on my steps when a funeral let out and everyone was carrying a red rose and this woman walked by me and gave me her rose, saying she didn't want it.

Anyway, today when I went out, there were two cop cars along with a station wagon from the Medical Examiner's Office parked out front. It reminded me of a TV show. When I was coming back, the cop cars were gone and there was a hearse with the back door open and inside was a pine box. Wow, pine boxes really are no frills.

It makes me wonder what's up -- why a body would be taken to a funeral home rather than to a city morgue.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Forward

I was surprised to hear on the news today that this coming Sunday is Daylight Saving Time -- ever since 2007, the switch has been made on the second Sunday in March. By the way, be a purist by accurately calling it daylight saving (NOT savings) time.

And here's a photo from Fran and her description:

Last afternoon sun under a giant magnolia tree outside National Geo building. Taken approx 420pm Mar 7 on 16th St. Near M.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Amy's Cure

Amy had the same tight chest cough (strangling, choking cough) that I have. She claims sitting right here by the Golden Gate Bridge with its warm, moist salt air cured her. Sounds good to me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pyramid Sculpture

Fran sent this photograph from one of her walks and says: The "Four-Sided Pyramid" sculpture in National Gallery sculpture garden.. Sunlight changes your view of the blocks on each side.

Wikipedia says: Four-Sided Pyramid is a conceptual modular sculpture, by Sol LeWitt, in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The artist created a plan and Four-Sided Pyramid was constructed by others, in 1999

And here's Fran's second photo where she comments: Your Congress at work on a sunny, cold day in DC..... Taken at 3pm from Seventh St.

Home Again

Long trip home, via Salt Lake City, but I made it. What's crazy is that I am going back in two weeks to the exact same hotel for another convention. Oh well, at least I'll have time to relax between now and then.