Spitzit’s House

Where serious topics come to relax

Random Acts of Kindness

I have not written here in some time.  I had become busy with life, distracted by the bustle and and the noise of other things I considered more important.  But like my journals as a kid, this is where I turn to…my forum when something affects me or weighs heavy on my soul.

This world we are living in, if you are paying any kind of attention to the media, whether it be traditional or social media, it seems is a world filled with hate, radicalism, evil, and random acts of violence.  It is truly astounding as many of these stories are quite real and horrific while others are manipulations of the media; but they all resonate throughout our society to the point that it is overwhelming and almost impossible to discern what is true and what is not…so it is just easier to believe it all, right?

“It’s interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry”

The laundry basket runneth over, and it seems bottomless as it continues to spew more and more dirty laundry into our world until we are literally consumed by it, obsessed with it, controlled by it.   However,  the question that has been bouncing around in my head for weeks now is how to combat this overwhelming flow of negativity.   That really is the big question isn’t it?  And if you ask, a hundred different people will give you a hundred different solutions…for example (and not in any particular order):

Pray, buy more ammo, buy more guns, blame it on a political party, ban weapons, ban use of certain words or phrases, ban certain religions, ban images, ban certain flags, ban certain races, and the list of ridiculousness goes on and on.

Personally, I think it may be more simple than that.  There will always be mean spirited people, rude people, annoying people, and just bad people in general.   There always has been and always will be.  But I refuse to be controlled or concede that the world has become this shit storm of evil and hate the media portrays that is hell bent on turning human against human.   There is more than a shred of humanity left in this dude and I will be damned if I will let this jedi mind trick be put on me.

“Random Acts of Kindness”

The random acts of violence are committed by real people.  They are everywhere, in all walks of sociaty, and the truly scary part is that many of them look just as normal as your everyday Joe.  The important fact, is that we outnumber them.  We outnumber them in a huge way…so why are we being overwhelmed by them?  I have this theory that our own self-absortion with our own first world lives has led us astray from our fellow man as we have been led in a direction where we consume every piece of information put in front of us as if it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Call it selfishness, shallowness, call it first world problems, call it whatever you want.   I am as guilty as the next guy…

  • My iPhone fell in the lake, I am so screwed.
  • My lawn is dying because my city is on a water restriction, this absolutely sucks!
  • My damn Lexus as a flat tire at the worst possible time, late for a meeting
  • My vacation was ruined because of problems at work, UUGH
  • My air conditioning went out and its hundred degrees outside.  My life sucks!
  • My girlfriend broke up with me and took the dog and all my CDs. Just kill me now!
  • My stock just took a dive and a lost a ton of money, I am ruined!

I don’t care what your religion is, your race, your politics, your size, your height, or your sexuality…We are absorbed in our spoiled lives and have let the dirty laundry get the best of us.   The only way I know to fight the bad is with the good. Therefore, my strategy has become fighting the random of acts of violence with random acts of kindness.

It seems ridiculous, I know but it is the oldest battle in the world, good vs evil.   It isn’s an original thought at all, and I am just one dorky little guy and my name  isn’t Clark Kent, but I really believe in my heart that true human compassion, as lost as it may be, still far outnumbers the bad.  And the only right way to stem a burning shit-show of evil and violence is with a massive overwhelming sunami of kindness.   I am not remotely suggesting that we start sending flowers and poetry to ISIS or other evil violent people.  I am still very much on the side of bad people getting whats coming to them in a big way.

The real battle is in the media and the minds of the people.  I would love to start seeing random acts of kindness points in social media and on the streets outnumbering the violence points.  And for clarification, random acts of kindness are exactly that…they are random, generally unplanned and untargeted. That is what makes it special and real.  Putting money in the dish at church, donating to your favorite charity, raising money for a foundation are all great and valuable things to do, but they aren’t random.

To walk up to some homeless person on the street and give them a bag of food or a $20 bill and tell them that they do matter, that is random. To pay for your groceries at the store and then pay for the groceries of the poor little lady in dirty clothes behind you in line, that is random.  To look those people in the eye, and let them know that you notice them, that they matter and  are not forgotten or invisible in this world,…well it can be life changing for them and for you.   It can be world changing if we were all doing it.

The reality is, most of us won’t.  Most of us remain too consumed with our lives and sensationalized media, while others simply do not believe in helping less fortunate humans due to the belief that they are all “lazy, drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill, dangerous, etc”, and that giving to them only perpetuates there expectation that everything should be given to them for free.  In fact, often times this may be true in some cases, but it doesnt matter at all.

Random acts of kindness are random.  You do not profile, you do not judge, you just act with dignity, a pure heart and kindness.

I am sticking to that.

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , | Leave a comment

2010 Texas State Fair Tour of Fried Foods

This years tour of fried foods at the Texas State Fair was fun, filling, and at times painful.  Its always an experience and this years did not disappoint.  So here it is, a review of this years new foods as well as re-dos on some of our faves from years past.

The chicken fried bacon has been a favorite for the last two years.  But, this year they changed it again and it was awful.  It was like eating fried raw bacon.  The bacon literally was like biting into a thick raw piece of bacon fat.  It was nasty, and we coudn’t eat it.  Very disappointing after two years of greatness.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Continue reading

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Everything Else, Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update: Wylie’s Angel Identified

On Thursday morning, April 15, 2010, the dead body of a small child was found in brush at a small park just south of Lake Lavon on Skyview Drive in Wylie, TX about 20 miles Northeast of Dallas.  The boy is thought to have been approximately 6 years of age and had special medical needs due to signs of an apparent feeding tube, was 39 inches tall, and weighed only 28 pounds (approximately half the weight of a normal 6 year old).  As of this date, the boy has not been identified, as no one has stepped forward to claim him.

This is sad and heartbreaking in so many ways.  Police do not believe at this time that this is a missing or abducted child, which I guess can only mean that the child was evidently dumped by a parent, guardian, or caregiver.   I don’t know and am trying not to speculate.  I just want the word spread so this child can be identified and anyone responsible be caught and held accountable.

I live just a couple of miles from where this child was found and drive right by this park often on my way to East Fork Marina.  I know the area well and I know that this exact little park with a stagnant pond is rarely used.  The parking lot is dirt and rocks and almost always vacant.  It is across the road from East Fork park and camp ground.  This boy has become known as Wylie’s Angel, but I know there is a real name out there somewhere and someone who knows and loves him.

If you are reading this from other parts of the country or other parts of the world, please review and distribute the computer illustration of this boy and contact the Wylie police department with any viable leads at  972-442-8170 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST).

North Texas Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the identity of this child and the person(s) responsible.   If you know anything at all, or even have an idea that you might know who this is, please call the numbers provided.

UPDATE (APRIL 24, 2010) :  WYLIE’S ANGEL HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS GERREN JOSEPH ISGRIGG.   HIS PARENTS WERE SEPARATED WITH ONE IN CALIFORNIA AND THE OTHER IN OKLAHOMA.  HE WAS LIVING WITH HIS MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, DARLENE PHILIPS, IN WYLIE, WHO WAS HIS PRIMARY CAREGIVER AND THE ONE ARRESTED FOR CAPITAL MURDER AND BAIL SET AT $500K.

THANK GOD THE WORD GOT OUT AND THIS CHILD WAS IDENTIFIED.

GERREN, REST IN PEACE LITTLE MAN.  A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE ARE THINKING ABOUT YOU.

For more info on this update visit: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-bodyfound_24met.ART.State.Edition2.4c511da.html

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret Society of Santas – A Guide on Letting Your Kids In On The Secret of Santa Claus

santa-claus-arrived

I love Christmas time and everything about it. For years I have gone to great lengths to immerse myself in the spirit of the holidays and to make lasting memories for my children so that they may carry on with the traditions that I had started. Therefore, it has always been very important to me that they know and believe that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ…but it was equally important to me that they know and believe in Santa Claus. So much so that for the last 8 years I have dressed in full Santa Claus regalia and toiled around in my living room on Christmas Eve, lit only by the dim lights on the Christmas Tree, snacking on cookies and milk, while my children quietly peeked from their bedroom doors and the stairs thinking that they were secretly spying on Santa Claus while he ate their cookies and stuffed their stockings. The first year I did it, my wife said that my daughter was so excited after spying on Santa Claus that she could not stop shaking when she got back in bed. I don’t care what anyone says, this is Christmas greatness.

Now, before anyone gets their religious feathers ruffled, you have to hear me out.

You see, I believe in Santa Claus…passionately. He is as much a part of Christmas as the baby Jesus himself, and for all the right reasons, which I will explain in a moment, but first…

The hard part about all of this is knowing that the day will come when my kids will no longer believe in Santa Claus. That day to me symbolizes a rite of passage for them, or a big kick in my shin reminding me that my babies are not babies anymore. Well it happened. Just this week, the very week before Christmas, my eight year old son told me that other boys at school were telling him that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, and how he argued with them that there absolutely was such a thing and how he had secretly spied on Santa with his own eyes eating cookies. My nine year old daughter listened on, and with a raised eyebrow, she waited for my response and for the other shoe to drop…she suspects something, and is waiting for her trickster father to ‘fess up. My mind raced…I can’t let my son become the object of school ridicule, and my daughter is already suspecting and very aware of my tricks…I was cornered and had no other choice…so I played the stall card.

“I don’t care what your friends at school say, there absolutely is such a thing as Santa Claus…I believe in him with all my heart and so does your mother, and that is that.”

That’s right! I said it, and I meant every word of it too...

My son glowed with the satisfaction of being right, and my daughter’s eyes were wide with surprise as if that was not quite the response she was expecting. When the coast was clear, my wife asked what I was going to do next, because the gig was up and I can’t let this go on. We had just discussed it the day before and I had gotten all misty and emotional that my kids were on the cusp of moving to the next level, and here it was 24 hours later becoming a reality. Dang, this sucks and I have to be a baby about it to boot.

The fact is, I am not the kind of parent that can just come out and say “They’re right kiddo, there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, ha, ha,” and just be done with it. It isn’t that easy for me and it is not my style, and again…I actually do believe in Santa Claus. So, the trick now was to tell my kids there is no Santa Claus, but at the same time…there really is a Santa Claus. This was going to require some creative thinking and I needed something really fast.

baby_jesus-724805This is where the Secret Society of Santas was born...After a few hours of quick research, I devised a basic plan, and that evening I told my wife and the kids we were going to P.F. Changs for dinner and a special surprise (What better place than quality Chinese-American food to discuss Christmas, secret societies, and the truth about Santa Claus). So during the course of steamed dumplings and crab wontons, I laid it all out on the table, while they listened on with wide eyes and amazement. While my plan was fundamentally sound enough to bridge this important transition for them, I still had to make much of it up as I went in order to keep it compelling. As I spoke I watched them go through a range of emotions from disappointment, to sadness, a little anger, confusion, and then contentment. I know I’m running long here, but it was important to me and maybe for you too, so here it is in a nutshell…

First, I started with a refresher course in the birth of Jesus, the manger, the star, the wise men, frankinsense, gold, and myrrh, etc. I then parlayed that into the story of Bishop Nicholas who was born in the 3rd century and how he was a devout Christian and dedicated his whole life to serving God, and became very famous for his extraordinary generosity for those in need, his love for children, and concern for sailors and ships. So famous and loved by the people that after he died on December 6, 343 AD, he became a Saint and was thereafter known as Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of…well, a lot of things to do with generosity and protection and so on, and December 6 was celebrated as St. Nicholas Day. I then explained how Saint Nicholas when spoken in certain languages and dialects phonetically sounds like Santy Claus and how that over the years evolved into Santa Claus…but the reality is that Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, and Saint Nicholas was a real person whose spirit of love for God, Jesus, and generosity was so powerful that it still lives on today in all of us…and therefore… (Deep Breath and… wait for it…wait for it) I. Am. Santa Claus. This was where the emotions kicked in for them…stnicholas

I then explained how the jolly fat red Santa came about from Washington Irving’s creative writing and how flying reindeer and Rudolph were really just other evolutions thrown in over the past 100 years or so, but have nothing to really do with the real Santa Claus, but that Santa Claus appears in many different forms and images for different cultures around the world.

And now to bring the story full circle and make it all special for them…

“You have both come of age and the time is now for you to cross over to the next stage of your life and be inducted into the Secret Society of Santa helpers, whereby, you will now be aware of the world’s biggest and greatest secret and are obligated to now assist in carrying and protecting that secret close to your heart and to help me continue in the tradition of being Santa for your cousins and other children that have not come of age yet. Because, you now see, Santa Claus is in fact real…he is real in me, and now he is real in you. It is our duty to embrace this responsibility and carry on the work in the spirit of Saint Nicholas, and to pass on his work to our own children, and advise them of their responsibility to pass it on to their children, and down for generations to come as it has been done for centuries before us. It is an important responsibility not to be taken lightly. Are you ready?”

And with great dignity and pride at now being apart of what they perceive to be a huge leap toward being apart of something “grown-up”, I received a resounding “Yes”…followed by many requests and ideas for elf suits.

At any rate, tonight, Christmas Eve, we will have the official cermony where I will light some candles, we will hold hands and say a prayer, eat some cookies and drink some milk as a kind of Communion, and I will have them take an oath to the Order of St. Nicholas , because no secret society is complete without a Secret Oath ;-). Then I will become Santa Claus as I have every year, only this year they will help with their three year old cousin and begin to learn the excitement from the other side of the Santa Society.

I. AM. SANTA

And for good measure, I also threw in that I am the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, and I will explain it all in greater detail later.

That is my Joyful opinion…and I am sticking with it.

Want to join the Secret Society of Santa? Just let me know and I will put together a more formal guide on the rules and bylaws.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Unforgettable Christmas Encounter

This video needs no description. You just need to watch it…and then think about it and everything around you. I read a lot of blogs saturated with whining about everything from Sarah Palin, to the state of our country, our lives, etc. Guess what? It really isn’t that bad, and we all just need to stop the whining and start doing what we can as humans, and as God’s children to really and truly help our fellow man. There are a million more kids in this country and around the world just like CJ Mcgehee. Everything we do, can and will make a difference in another person’s life and the world as a whole. It is a long video…but you need to watch it all.

This is my opinion and I am sticking with it…Forever.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “An Unforgettable Christmas Encounter“, posted with vodpod

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Obama Nation – Are You Ready For Some Change…Really?

So the election results are official…no hanging chads, recounts, or other such nonsense. Barack Obama will now be the next president elect of our United States of America. This is one for the history books and it was definitely an exciting and drama filled campaign to observe.

I believe the overwhelming and undisputed theme of this election would be “Change”, because the state of things now evidently sucks and something needs to “change”. There are about a million sound-bytes out there of Obama as well as other candidates preaching how they will bring “change” to our country, thereby implying that everything will be better under their leadership.

So for the record, I am in agreement…something does need to “change”, but the word itself is rather ambiguous. My own experience in business indicates that people generally do not like “change” even in the worst conditions…it is scary, sometimes painful, many times disastrous, and often times beneficial. You either embrace it or hate it, but either way it rarely goes as planned.

When it comes to “change”, you have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, run before you fly… then warp, beam, and so on. We all experience some form of “change” on a daily basis from the most inane to the more dramatic, and if we aren’t careful too much change too quickly can be dangerous…even deadly. Lets take a look at the spectrum…

The most simple “changes” are generally the most important…

  • just this morning, I “changed” my underwear (which I hope everyone does…unless you just don’t wear any at all)
  • I thought about playing hooky from work, but as usual…I “changed” my mind.
  • On the way to work I “changed” lanes, “changed” radio stations, “changed” direction, and even “changed” air temperature.
  • In the past I have “changed” diets, diapers, beds, channels, hair color, tastes, opinions, products, hands, blah, blah, blah…

Some more important “changes” that many of us have had to make in our life that require a bit more adjusting to…

  • Changing College Majors
  • Change of Jobs or employment status (This one can really SUCK)
  • Changing cars
  • Changing cities or homes
  • Change of religion or churches
  • Change in relationships

Turn it up a bit more and you have “change” that many have experienced and many have not, and these are things that can deeply impact a lifestyle for better or for worse…

  • A change of financial condition (Maybe from having money to having none, or from having no money to having lots)
  • Change in personal health/wellness
  • Change of Marital Status (which is different than relationships)

And even more dramatic that most of us have never experienced…

  • A change in culture and the way we live our lives
  • A change in gender…because some people are just trapped in the wrong body. (but not me, I’m good with mine)
  • A change in government and political infrastructure
  • A change in environment

So I think of the changes that Russians went through, that the Afghani people have gone through … Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aborigines, Native Americans, and a whole plethora of ancient cultures that once ruled the world and are no longer here.

And I think to myself…’change is good’. While it may not seem that way to those whose life status changed from alive to dead, or from employed to unemployed, etc. I do believe that all “change” happens for some kind of reason. Whether that reason be to improve on a current situation or provide for some kind of lesson in “what not to do”, each “change” will incur some kind of effect on the scale mentioned above and thereby force adaption.

Other countries around the world are celebrating our new found victory and leadership…they want us to change too. Therefore, in the spirit of “Change” I say “Bring It!” This country is obviously starving for a big steaming heap of “change” of the seriously sweeping and dramatic kind, and we want it as quickly as possible. We know that “change” takes time, but we are a culture that needs instant gratification, and that is one thing that won’t change….We are ready now, now, now! Give us a shot of change…lay it on us, make us feel it, lift us up and change our big fat flat tires, because we are sucking some serious air and going nowhere. Please “change” our big American diaper because we are getting a bad rash and no one wants to be near us….*&^%$^& AAAAIIIIIIGGGHHHHHhhhh!…… hrm… queue a little Ziggy Stardust please.

That is my insane opinion…and it just changed.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Chainsaw Maid Halloween Costume!

My 9 year old daughter in her infinite wisdom and attraction to unique and gory halloween costumes this year elected to go as the Chainsaw Maid. I am very proud and happy that neither of my kids have ever had a desire to go for the conventional costumes you see at Halloween such as super heroes, princesses, cheerleaders, etc. I meam the sidewalks runneth over with Spidermans, Batmans, Cheerleaders, Princesses, Darth Vaders, etc!

At a very young age, I instilled in them the importance of original Halloween costumes, and that you can’t just dress the part, you have to act it as well. I personally have never lost any costume contest I have been in, and have felt it an important lesson to pass on to my children. These are important lessons in life, and if the other kids aren’t scared of you at Halloween then you aren’t doing it right. We had a one year lapse in judgment where they insisted on the lame princess and warrior costume, but since then it has been nothing but head turning gore. It is a thing of Halloween beauty.

The Homicidal Spider Clown – Made from scratch of her own imagination. This costume was both original, creepy, and downright terrifying for those that have a fear of small murderous clowns with a giant spider on their back.

The Mummy – Truly a classic that is rarely done, and is even more rare to see it done well. I have won contests with my mummy costume and it takes quite a long time to get it on and then get the rags looking old and ratty. Remember, you want the costume to look like a mummy that escaped an ancient tomb…not an accident patient that escaped an ICU ward at the hospital.

The Chainsaw Maid – This one is from the popular viral video on YouTube. A very gory claymation that that is absolutely spectacular and very doubtful that you will find another 9 year old girl in America wearing. She wore it tonight to the downtown Halloween party in our little city, and man did she turn heads. She was self conscious at first until she realized that the teenagers really recognized the costume and were giving her the thumbs up. She went out on a limb this year, but I think it was a home-run. Here is a picture and here is the video…judge for yourself….And before you freak out, she has never seen the video, except for the very end.

Viewer discretion is advised!

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Election 2008: I voted…Have you? If you don’t care…then “Don’t Vote!”

Went this week and cast my early vote…Took me every bit of about 5 minutes. No line, no wait, no nothing. It was great. There were more volunteers working there than there were people voting.

If you give a damn…then I highly suggest getting your vote in now. If you don’t give a damn, well…Don’t Vote…Loser! If you procrastinate…then wait until election day and wait in a line that wraps around the the building…twice.

This is a tough election, with some tough choices. No doubt about it, this is as important an election as any we have had before. So when it comes to voting…you need to put up, or shut up.

Vote for freedom, because you have the freedom to vote.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tour of Fried Foods at the 2008 State Fair of Texas

So…now that the Texas State Fair is officially over for the year, I thought now would be a good time to write my opinions on this year’s menu of fried food offerings. My logic being that I have in essence graciously thrown myself on the “fried food grenade”. Therefore, you can simply read about the experience without having to succumb to the misery, the calories, and the general health issues associated with taking in about 97,000 calories, 37,000 fat grams, and a whole other medley of heart stopping dietary statistics.

The date of the “Fried Food Tour of Death” (FFTD) began Saturday morning, October 18, 2008. These are the items I consumed, what I thought of each of them, and whether they got a thumbs up or I flipped them the bad finger. So here we go…

Chicken Fried Bacon – This was the first one I ate within 10 minutes of being at the fair, which was fitting since it was still breakfast time…and I love bacon. Really, though, bacon is good any time of day. My wife’s first comment was “whats the big deal about fried bacon? All bacon is fried, right?” To which I replied “actually, we microwave our bacon, and… this here is not just any fried bacon, it is chicken fried bacon!” This stuff was better than good…it was fantastic! It was early, I was hungry, and here was this heavenly little pile of deep fried bacon nestled in my little paper carton just waiting to be lathered up in ranch dressing and shoved hungrily into my big salivating pie hole. Definitely a double thumbs up. It rocked!

Fried Truffle – I learned an important lesson with this one. Just because I love chocolate truffles, does not mean that passion translates to it being fried. By far the messiest of the foods I sampled, this innocent looking little fried ball was actually more like a little chocolate meteor just waiting to be cracked open so it could spew its scalding chocolate lava all over my hand. Rich molten chocolate and hot frying grease just didn’t go well here. I shot this one the bird with one red and burned middle finger.

Fried Latte – This one was good…yet disappointing at the same time. You ask yourself like you do so many of the items ‘how do they fry a latte’?  Half of the experience is eating the food, but a big part of it is marveling at how they figure out ways to fry stuff that was never meant to be fried.  The answer in this case is that the latte is not really fried. As you can see, you have some “fried” little pieces of “dough stuff” on the bottom which is topped with a scoop of coffee flavored ice cream and then some whipped cream, and voila…”fried Latte”…NOT! It tasted great, but I still felt gypped. Reluctantly, I ate every bit of it…then I flipped it the bird.

Fried S’mores – I love me some s’mores, but one was actually enough this time. I was expecting this to be kind of gross, but was pleasantly surprised. The chocolate and marshmallow were blended nicely in a smooth creamy texture with a full rich flavor and just a hint of day old grease. I was only slightly miffed by the fact that there was no graham cracker present in this dish, so by definition it was not a true s’more. It would have been even better with the graham cracker, but was still delicious. I recommend a dry chardonnay with this one and give it a thumbs up and half of a high-five.

Fried Apple Pie – I was really psyched for this, and could not wait to see how they fried a slice of apple pie. I mean it is America’s favorite dessert, and now I was going to eat it fried…YAY! Wow, am I ever an idiot…I mean how many times in my life have I heard someone ask me through a drive-thru speaker “would you like fries or an apple pie with that?” That is exactly what this was…a McDonalds looking fried pie covered in whipped cream…and I paid the equivalent of $5 in coupons for it…D’OH!! This one got the double-bird…one for the pie and one for myslef.

Fried Chocolate Covered Strawberries – See the trend starting here? The fried stuff is mostly desserts, and so far they aren’t batting too well, so I was skeptical at this point. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of the better items of the day. Two chocolate dipped strawberries deep fried and skewered, and actually quite mouth-watering. I could have eaten more of these, but I really needed to leave room for lunch. These got a definite thumbs up!

Fried Grilled Cheese – The sad fact is that this one could be really good if done right…but in this case it was really bland and tasteless. I waited in too long of a line with great expectations for what turned out to be the biggest let down of the day. The sandwiches were batter-fried in what appeared to be panko bread crumbs to make them crispy, and were served with chips, a pickle, and a little cup of what I believe was tomato soup. I doused the sandwiches in salt and pepper and dipped it in the soup to give it some kind of flavor, but outside of that it was the most flavorless cheese and bread I have ever had. The chips and pickle were good though…but not good enough to keep me from flipping it the bad finger!

Fried Moon Pie – While I was waiting in line for the Fried Grill Cheese, my wife brought me the moon pie, which was a nice surprise considering that it was not on my original scheduled tour of foods. This actually was not as bad as it sounds. My only problem was that it was a banana moon pie, which I was never a fan of in the first place. I would have preferred chocolate, but evidently you were not given a choice. I thought it was OK, but my wife really liked it, so…thumbs up for the fried banana moon pie.

Fried Pineapple and Strawberries – I believe the official name of this item was “Fire and Ice”. I don’t know why it got that name other than the fact that it was evidently deep fried pineapple chunks, with drizzled frozen strawberry goo on top. It wasn’t great, but not terrible either. I ate it as a dessert to wash the dusty flavor of the grilled cheese out of my mouth, and it succeeded. It is important to note though, that while many things were not meant to be fried…pineapples rank toward the top of that list in my opinion. I would normally flip this one the bird, but it saved my taste buds from the lunch so it is a wash.

Fried Snickers – It is late in the day at this point, and just when I think I can’t eat another fried food for the rest of the year, I find a second wind and the will power to keep plugging along. I really thought the Snicker bar would do me in for good. Nothing sounded good at this point and my eyes were crossing and stomach churning, but I managed to eat it all for the sake of getting some good writing material. Like all Snicker bars this one resembled a fried turd that made my stomach lurch at first, but it was good if I remember correctly. I gave it a thumbs up and I promised myself no more…

Fried Oreos – And I broke that promise less than five minutes later. Man, were these things great and one of the highlights of the day. I never thought I could eat an Oreo without a glass of milk, but there is a first time for everything. Who knew that Oreos all warm and soft from soaking with greasy batter could be so good. Fortunately, my system needed just this fix of sugar and hot vegetable oil to keep me going for the home stretch. These definitely got a double thumbs up!

Fried BBQ – It is very late in the day now and I am just trying to unload a pocket full of coupons while I stagger my way for the exit. I am seriously close to over-dosing and convinced that some fried protein would be good for me. The fried BBQ is actually some pretty decent brisket rolled in an eggroll and deep fried…imagine that. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well and my eyes were no longer able to focus which is why the remaining pictures suck. I did like the BBQ and gave it a thumbs up…but I could be wrong since all of my senses were kind of dull and discombobulated at this point.

Fried Green Tomatoes – A Southern staple and favorite, my wife insisted on getting these. Nothing in the world sounded good to me except a bucket of Tums and a bed. I did eat one of them, but my taste buds had checked out for the evening. What remained was a blurry vision of what strongly resembled fried grasshopper guts, and I resisted a very strong urge to hurl right there on the steps of the Pavilion. I closed my eyes and courageously choked it down like a Fear Factor champion and slowly raise my middle finger in victory…Must go home.

This was it, except for the giant smoked turkey leg my wife got with the remaining coupons on the way out of the door. So the 10 mile walk to the car was a torturous march of watching my wife and kids slowly gnaw the meat off a giant leg bone. UGH!

Also, I actually skipped the Fletcher’s Corn Dog and never got to the fried banana split, jelly beans, and a plethora of other fried foods that are available. I love the corn dogs, but they just take me out of the game so quick that I had to make the sacrifice this year for the sake of trying some other stuff. I just don’t think it is humanly possible to eat all the fried offerings in a single day unless you just have the stomachs and constitution of a cow. I guess I am just an amateur, but I did succeed in my tour and am glad I did it, but I do not recommend it for everyone. A food tour of this magnitude will result in a Texas size trip to the bathroom. You may need to take a couple of magazines and a crossword puzzle.

I do recommend putting some of these items on your list to try next year and I hope I saved you the time and money of trying some others. We will be having Chicken Fried Bacon for Thanksgiving this year and thanking God for blessing us with such a great fried food.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Story Review – The Mouse and the Snake ; a fable by Zane

This is a short story I read recently…so short in fact, that I have placed the entire story in this post. It reminded me very much of the “scorpion and the frog” fable, except that this one was written by an 8 year old boy that has never heard of the “scorpion and the frog”. This is his very own original story…

The Mouse and the Snake ©

Once there was a little mouse who liked to play, and one day he met a snake.
“Hello,” said the snake.
“Hello,” replied the mouse.
“Do you want to play?” asked the snake.
“I’m not sure” answered the mouse. “My family said that snakes eat mice.”
“Nope. Us snakes are really friendly.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
“OK then” said the mouse.
And the mouse never came home.

So, what we have here is a new and original fable written unknowingly by an 8 year old genius. The snake, of course, has a long history represented in many different ways in many cultures. There is the snake of Genesis and Revelations; the snake you should not tread on in American history, and many others. In this fable, the snake could represent the same kind of cunning, and deceitful creature seen in the Bible. However, this fable isn’t really that complicated.

This really just represents the simple nature of things. Snakes can’t have friends, even if they want to. It is the natural order of things for them to eat just about any animal they can fit in their mouth. Also, mice may be frugal, industrious, and good at reproducing..but they are still scampering around the bottom of the old food chain of life. Moral of the story, “if you knowingly play with snakes, you are going to end up dead.”

Of course, my son,…I did mention the author was my son, didn’t I? I think he was just going for the shock factor of a tricky snake gobbling down a cute little rodent, and did so without actually saying it. The ending of his story is simply implied, which is Geniuuuus!

This is just my honest unbiased opinion, and I am sticking with it…until snakes and mice start getting married and having tea-parties together.

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Book Reviews, Everything Else | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama, McCain, Politics, Partisanship, the media, and the Great Hypocrisy

As expected, this election year has so far been an interesting if not humorous circus with the usual suspects and antagonizing cast of characters. There are of course the politicians, all slinging their profound words of political wisdom around and posturing for the voters on how they are the more stand-up and qualified guy…or woman, to lead this country into its next four years. Its the normal “baby kissing”, hand shaking photo op BS that they have all done for many years.

‘Here you go senator, put on this hard hat, sit down for breakfast in this country cafe and small-talk with the little people so they will think you give a damn and are one of them.’

The media, God Bless Them, are the biggest group of circus clown hypocrites in the entire show. While the politicians are throwing knives, swallowing swords, and doing impressive tight-wire acts, the media clowns are running around the arena and falling all over each other to get the attention of the audience.

What ever happened to fair and unbiased reporting? The tricky answer is nothing happened to it because it never existed. “Fair” or “Unbiased” reporting is the stuff that myths, folklore, and fairy tales are made of. But the media need not fear for there is a medium of information and news even more ridiculous than their own newspapers and TV talk shows.

Viral email propaganda is a wild and wondrous phenomenon filled with curious half-facts, plain lies, and inane jokes that are sure to captivate the attention of a vast culture of village idiots and actually sway their votes. Largely utilized by Republicans I get crap-loads of this partisan spam forwarded to me from many different people.   While they are often humorous email, I am aware that some people actually believe the anti-Obama or anti-Democrat garbage in these emails from total strangers. Case in point, I have received on more than one occasion an email that portrays Obama as un-American for painting his campaign airplane and removing the American Flag from it. I have advised the senders and everyone on the mailing list that McCain’s plane does not have an American flag either and does not even have American colors on it…I guess that makes him a communist? Unfortunately, no one responded to me, and I doubt that my email ever got forwarded on. Dang it!

The sad thing is that the poor GOP is simply reduced to passing their goofy propaganda through viral emails because they can’t get two words squeezed into the democratically controlled newspapers. I am going to take a wild guess that almost all of the newspaper media, and much of the TV media are Democrats? Actually, its kind of obvious. They are like a bunch of love-sick dogs humping the leg of Obama with eyes all lolled back in their heads and slinging slobber off their big stupid tongues with each passionate hump. It is quite sickening and painfully obvious who they want to hump and who they want to bite.

Geez, sometimes one just wishes they would all just get a room, because some of us are getting tired of watching the blatant “public display of affection”.

Another example for you from the other side of the fence…Let’s suppose, just for a moment, that Obama, and not McCain, had been the one to suggest delaying the debate to focus on resolving the economy crisis and proposed “bail-out” packages. How would the story have been reported in the papers then? I will GUARANTEE you that Obama would have been hailed by the media as a conscientious super-hero putting country before politics while McCain was playing partisan politics and trickery.

You see, It is not “what” is said that is important, but rather “who” says it, which then leads to how any statement made by either party can be spun in favor of the democratic leg that is being humped. That is a fact of life, politics, and the media.

About all the GOP has going for it in the media is Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Shawn Hannity, who are all a bunch of ego-maniacal windbags I wouldn’t want on my team anyway, but at least they are right up front and honest about the fact that they are biased Republicans and make no beans about it…they are still clowns just the same though.

This is a dangerous and volatile time in our history. No one knows what the future will hold, but I certainly hope it doesn’t hold a country full of people slapping themselves in the head in retrospect with a resounding “D’OH!”

Just remember…if you read it in the newspaper or read it on the internet, then by God it must be True as the sky is blue. When your done with that, I have some ocean front property in Nevada I want to talk to you about.

That is my brilliant opinion and I am sticking with it…until the media says something fair and unbiased…which means forever.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CERN flips off the switch to the LHC due to “Glitch”??

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has officially announced that they have temporarily flipped the switch off for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), also known on this blog as the Big Super Colliding Muther (BSCMF), due to a “glitch”. In case you are wondering, “Glitch” is scientific terminology for “it’s broke”.

Here is the tricky part…They revved up the BSCMF on September 10th. They successfully spun some stuff this way for a while, then they successfully spun some stuff that way for a while…then something broke, and they flipped that infamous switch to turn it off just one day after turning it on. One week later, they decide to let the world know that they encountered a “glitch”.

After so much fanfare on this machine why would they wait a week to release news that it is broke only a day after turning it on? If the press hadn’t inquired on some rumors, they would probably still be keeping it a secret. I guess on some level we should be happy that they aren’t telling us about their “glitch” from inside some “doomsday” bunker and wishing us all the best of luck.

So, the BSCMF overheated or something like that. No big deal. It is bound to happen when you have mega-tons of equipment and about a billion moving parts. These scientists are smart, but they are still human and therefore aren’t perfect. They may be certain that their big science project is safe and not going to cause the end of the world, but how could they have known it was going to over heat?

“Glitches” are no big deal, right? They are just harmless little errors that occur and rarely lead to anything bad happening like nuclear meltdowns, airplane crashes, ships sinking, etc. Sure, it is rare, but it does happen on occasion, and generally when it does it is isolated to large or fairly new technology with lots of moving parts. Here are just a few examples of some of the worlds most famous “glitches”.

  • ChernobylApril 26, 1986 at 1:23:45 a.m., reactor 4 suffers a massive, catastrophic power excursion, resulting in a steam explosion, which rips the top off the reactor like a soda can, exposes the core and disperses a crap load of radioactive junk, allowing air (oxygen) to contact the super-hot core of combustible graphite moderator. The burning graphite moderator thereby increases even more the emission of radioactive particles.
  • Space Shuttle Challenger January 28, 1986 – Disintegration of the shuttle began 73 seconds into its flight after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The seal failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it filled, allowing a flare to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent attachment hardware and external fuel tank. The SRB breach flare led to the separation of the right-hand SRB and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.
  • Japan Airlines Flight 123August 12, 1985- All 15 crew members and 505 out of 509 passengers died, resulting in a total of 520 deaths. About 12 minutes after takeoff, as the aircraft reached cruising altitude the rear pressure bulkhead failed. The resulting explosive decompression tore the vertical stabilizer from the aircraft and severed all four of the aircraft’s hydraulic systems. No stabilizer and no hydraulic systems pretty much means you have no control of the aircraft other than velocity of your engines. Therefore, you have several minutes at a high altitude to contemplate your life and your impending death while the plane flies around at its own volition waiting to crash into something. Many of the passengers on this flight had time to write letters to their loved ones.
  • The HindenburgMay 6, 1937 – The German rigid airship Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within one minute while attempting to dock with its mooring mast at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died in addition to one fatality on the ground. No one knows for sure what caused the fire on the Hindenburg. There are some sabotage theories, but most relate to some kind of electrical spark from somewhere that caused the chain reaction. My guess is the latter and I quantify that as a “glitch” in the engineering of this gigantic flying ball of fire.

So, technology is created by humans, and humans make errors. Irregardless of how many brainy scientists check, double-check, and triple-check, when there are a million moving pieces you are never going to think of every possibility. “Glitches” happen every day that we don’t know about, and the world keeps turning. However, when it comes to giant machines that have massive power to create and destroy, then the word “glitch” is not so innocent and harmless sounding. In fact, it can be a little ominous or scary.

Do you really want to hear the pilot on your flight say “We seem to have a glitch in our landing gear, so…”? Maybe that is cool with you, but it would have me reaching for a clean pair of underwear in short order.

All I am saying is that “glitch” is no simple word to be dismissed or taken lightly at any time. It is serious business that costs companies billions and in worst case scenarios it costs lives.

As for the BSCMF, I am sure that glitches will be a normal routine in the beginning, and I really hope that it has a very long and healthy future ahead of it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that one of the glitches doesn’t cause some unforeseen chain-reaction that sucks our world down some huge cosmic toilet. That would really suck.

That’s just my opinion…and it ain’t worth much.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lipstick on a Pig? How about a Politician?

Come on folks, do you really and truly believe Mr. Obama meant something mean and sexist with his “lipstick on a pig” remark? Heck no, I don’t think his remark was directed at Sarah Palin, and I don’t even like Obama…not even a little bit. In fact, I don’t believe that even McCain’s camp really believes their own crap on this matter.

This is what I would call political “Abra-Kadabra”. You see, politicians are all hypocrites at heart. They all know the game and they are all guilty of using the same “smoke and mirror” tactics. John McCain and Barack Obama didn’t invent this style of politics, they are just continuing the political legacy of campaign foolery. During the battle of campaigns, it isn’t really important what candidates know or really believe to be the truth, it is what they want you, the voter, to see and believe that matters.

It is like magic, “slight of hand”, “parlor room hypnosis” or distractions that are used to temporarily capture the attention of the media and the public, and therefore derail the opponent into a defensive posture instead of talking about what is important.   If they can seize on anything and manage to get the media and public focused on some trivial crap, then they have managed a successful distraction and a couple of days click off the opponents clock to election day.  When time is of the essence, and every day counts, then to distract your opponent from the real issues for a couple of days can be a little victory that makes a big difference at the finish line.  As you can see, it is very effective, but in reality it is all just part of the game filled with tricks and strategies to get a competitive edge.  As a famous magician would say…”it’s all an illuuusion!”

The real trick is to not get caught up in it…which is impossible for the media or even some hard-core partisan folks who believe everything. It is almost humorous to watch the insults and accusations fly back and forth, when each side is just as guilty as the other for all the same stuff. It is political hypocrisy at its greatest.

Which brings me to my final and most significant point…You can put lipstick on a politician…but they are still just a politician.

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it!

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CERN, LHC, and The End of the World, Oh My!

What is the LHC?  It is the Large Hadron Collider.  But don’t let those silly scientist fool you with the word “Large” because this thing isn’t really large.  It is Colossal; It is Huge, Massive, and Gigantic.  Large just doesn’t really do it justice from what I can tell.  It is one Big Super-Colliding Muther (BSCMF) is what it is.

It is the largest Collider in the world and they “turn the switch” on in the next day or so.  It’s ironic to me that among all of the scientific terminology that they use to characterize this machine and what its capabilities are, the one consistent term they use leaves me with the image of some janitor flipping on a light switch in the next 24 hours.  Is it really that simple?

So CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research (the acronym is based on the French translation, I believe), and the worlds most brainy physicists from around the globe are really eager to get down to business in Geneva with the greatest scientific experiment ever.   This ain’t your run of the mill chemistry set.  This big baddy or BSCMF and the brain trust around it appear to be looking for the secrets of the universe by recreating the Big Bang in some sort of way.  Sound a little scary?  No worries, they have assured all of us ants that they know exactly what they are doing and we have nothing to worry about.  You won’t feel a thing.

Doomsday theories and predictions have been circulating for decades, even centuries.  Fact of the matter is, it really will happen one day…the end of the world that is.  Nothing lasts forever, not even us.  Will that day be sooner rather than later?  Who knows, but the LHC or BSCMF is the kind of stuff that Star Trek and Star Wars movies are made of.

Here are some worst and best case scenarios when they get around to smashing the crap out of particles in the BSCMF.

Best Case:  We learn all the secrets and answers to the Universe and have a disease-free future filled with immortality, and free digital cable television delivered in HD over a light speed internet.

Worst Case: We learn all the secrets and answers to the Universe, and God gets really ticked that we figured  it all out and decides to vaporize Earth and start all over again.

Best Case:  Science learns awesome revelations that brings about a new era in science and physics.

Worst Case: There is a bright white light, then everything goes black, then we are flying through a giant  worm-hole and end up being pets sold on some galactic black-market to lonely aliens around the Universe that need companions…or snacks.

Best Case:  They safely smash some particles and learn some complicated scientific mumbo jumbo that won’t matter or affect me and you, at least not in our lifetime.

Worst Case:  They unsafely smash some particles and learn that they have unleashed some horrible radio-active crap on the planet.  But instead of warning us all, they run to their safe doomsday bunker and hide buried deep in some mountainside and wait for us all to die a horrible flesh-peeling zombie-like death, so that they can come back out in a few years and start the human race all over again.

Best Case:  Their findings bring about a World filled with unity and peace

Worst Case: Their findings bring about technology that evolves into a super-weapon like the Death-Star that can be used to vaporize continents or even planets, and eventually brings about our own demise.

Bottom line, the world is what it is, and as long as you have peace with yourself and God, then bring it on.  The BSCMF or LHC is most likely not going to do anything but get a bunch of scientists all excited about finding out something…well, new and scientific.  But, if I am going out by the hand of a bunch of over-confident, know-it-all scientists who think they have my best interest in mind, I have two letters for them…”OK”.  In the meantime, I’m just going to sit back and watch me some CSI, play a little X-Box 360 with my kids, and eat some good ice cream and pie.  Just let me know if you do something important like finding a cure for cancer or AIDS.  Outside of that, I don’t want to know if the world is about to explode into a gajillion pieces of anti-matter, or melt down because some janitor accidentally “flipped a switch”  that turned on the “Death Ray”.

That’s my unreasonable uneducated opinion and I’m sticking with it…for now.

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Albertsons – Modern Grocery Shopping at its…well, mediocrity.

Remember the good old days when going to the market to get your groceries was a positive experience. That was back in the days when ‘customer service’ wasn’t even a necessary business catch-phrase. That’s because it was just a cultural norm in the way people treated each other.

The grocery market has been the epicenter for social interaction for hundred or even thousands of years for many cultures around the world. It is the center point of the community where the local denizens must come to purchase or trade for their daily and weekly food staples and living necessities, where they visit and catch up on news, gossip, etc. Maybe that still exists untarnished in other parts of the world, possibly in other parts of our country. For the most part, it is a long lost part of American history, that took its last breath probably some time in the late seventies or early eighties when the corporate grocery giants began to really take over and virtually snuffed out this iconic part of American culture.

I used to actually enjoy grocery shopping. I enjoyed the whole process of selecting fresh produce, interacting with the people, seeing my neighbors, talking to the butcher about how to prepare different cuts of meat, etc. But then the grocery shopping experience changed, and what was once a fun weekly trip to the market became a dreaded chore.

I will focus primarily on Albertsons, because that is where most of my negative experience has been, but I have experienced the same or similar at Kroger, Tom Thumb, and other like stores. The negative experience can clearly be defined as just plain bad customer service. We have all experienced it time and again. Maybe many of even became desensitized to it to the point we didn’t care anymore, but I personally had finally had enough one day last December and wrote the following letter to the executive corporate staff and customer relations of Albertsons, LLC…

Gentlemen,

I recently submitted the letter below to your service email address. Like yourself, I am a corporate executive and I want you to know that I rarely write letters of this nature. However, in this case I was compelled to do so because I truly felt that it was warranted after so many bad experiences with service in your stores. As executives, I am not sure that letters of this nature ever reach your desks. I know the positive ones do, simply due to the fact that most are quick to wave the flag when it comes to receiving kudos which is fine. Unfortunately, I am not able to bring kudos to you on customer service. I feel obligated to pass this to you directly for your own review. True customer service seems to have become a lost cause in our country as the paradigm has shifted to “self-checkouts” and minimal human contact with the customer in the store. Good intentions to create “convenience” have in fact diminished the virtue of customer service. Fortunately, for the consumer there is a new generation of stores being born, and they are focused to the neighborhood grocer/market service we all knew when we were growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I apologize for going long and I do appreciate your consideration and attention.

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is not to notify you of your products, or whether we were charged incorrectly or received damaged goods, etc. which seems to be the main focus of your “Customer Satisfaction Guarantee”. This letter is to constructively inform you of how unbelievably poor your customer service is in general. Of course, it is only my opinion, but I will be objective, constructive, and detailed.

For years I have shopped in your stores and been patient with the immaturity and indifference of your staff. I am not talking about any particular one of your stores as it has always seemed to be pretty consistent with any Albertsons I have ever shopped at. The point is, when I am being checked out at an Albertsons grocery store, I, the customer, feel invisible to the person checking me out. My final straw was about a month ago when I was shopping at one of your stores in Wylie, TX….

My wife and I are standing in line to be checked out. A young male employee had just requested us to get into this particular line to be checked out. There is one lady in front of us being checked out by a female checker. The young male employee is at the checkout line next to us and he is having a conversation with the young lady checking out our line. He seems to be very concerned about when he is going to take his break, and is wondering when she will be back from her break. Keep in mind that we are the customers, so we are invisible to these two and their important conversation. At one point in the conversation, the girl replies back to him that she would have been leaving and getting back from her break sooner if he had not just put these people (meaning us) in her line. At this point my wife looks at me and asks “did she just say what I think she said?”. Yes, she did. The conversation continues, and then she says a similar statement about “these people in her line” as if we are stupid and can’t hear them talking about us. At this point my wife has had enough, she calmly states “we are terribly sorry to inconvenience you and your break time, so we will just go ahead and leave.” At this point we walk out and leave a basket full of groceries sitting in the aisle. Both of them look dumbfounded as we walked out, as if they can’t understand what just happened or can’t believe that we aren’t stupid and we can actually hear them. The young male runs out into the parking lot yelling for us to come back and stating, “sir, ma’am, she was talking to me, not to you!” Well, that is kind of the point isn’t it. She was in fact talking to him…about us…and their stupid break time. Needless to say, I am not going to stop in the middle of a parking lot to have a conversation with some 18 year old kid on the fundamentals of customer service.

As I stated before, I had become quite used to the poor service of your checkers and baggers talking to each other about their weekend, or what they are going to do that night, etc. They talk to each other and not the customer standing in front of them. When they do talk to me, it is generally forced, almost robotic, and obviously insincere. I have even experienced the managers talking or scolding employees right on the floor in front of me, which is unprofessional and I have no desire to see. I have another Albertsons down the road in Murphy, TX and these are the two closest grocery stores to my residence. I have shopped at many others as well, but I am done now. Yours are the only stores that I have experienced such consistently bad service in. I now drive 20 minutes out of my way to a Market Street grocery store to pay more for my groceries and receive attention and service that is not even in the same dimension as your stores.

Your “Customer Satisfaction Guarantee” is empty and meaningless if you do not train your people to live by it, and if you do not put the proper leadership in place that will lead by example and truly watch over the staff in place. I understand that much of your staff is often minimum paid high school kids, but that is your choice and you are accountable for their behavior. Even kids are trainable if it is done properly and they understand goals and ambition, etc. Your stores are nice and clean and your products are fine, but that is not good enough if you want to continue growing and stay successful in a highly competitive industry. You are in a new world of competition with a new age of grocery stores appearing that focus on quality products and more important “outstanding service”, which seems to be a long lost and forgotten quality from the past.

I am a senior executive in my company and I demand excellent customer service and accountability from my staff. I would not say I am hyper-sensitive to the issue of customer service, but I am aware of what is good, average, bad, very bad, or otherwise, and I assure you without any hesitation that Albertsons lacks true quality in customer service. It is bad and for that, I am no longer a customer. I hope this is helpful and hope you will begin to make the necessary adjustments in your organization to correct this before it is too late. Thank you for your time.

I did get a phone response from at least one of the executives and a call from the store manager. I appreciated the apologies, but my question to them was “do you shop in your own stores, and are you really satisfied with the service you get?” I didn’t really get a direct response, but after nearly 10 months, I returned to the stores to the pleasant surprise of friendlier service and what was evidently a possible change in customer service training. Don’t get me wrong, the service was not stellar, but was a vast improvement over the crap that it was before.

Market Street and Central Market are a new breed of grocery stores that cost more, but provide way better service in most cases. I personally love Market Street because it reminds in a lot of ways of how it should be in a grocery market. Friendly people, smiles, and a staff of people that seem to genuinely care how you are doing and what they can do to help. Alberston’s has since improved somewhat in my neighborhood, but it took more than 9 months before I would even step foot in one of their stores to give it a try again.

I can only imagine that this is a highly competitive industry with Walmart on one end of the spectrum capturing the frugal demographic with their low cost and decent service, and the new breed of Market Streets and Central Markets on the other end providing excellent product and customer service. Albertsons and everyone else is in between and quite possibly feeling the squeeze. How do you adjust to stay on top or even stay alive for that matter? First thing I would suggest, provide better customer service to your customers.

UPDATE November 17, 2008: I have returned to shopping at Albertson’s after a long hiatus and received some unexpectedly friendly service from none other than a girl that was bagging groceries. Being fair, I wrote another letter to Albertson’s management letting them know of the positive experience. They of course were happy to hear of it and advised me of the training they implemented and a new policy called the “four (4) tile rule.

The four (4) tile rule basically means that if any employee of the store is standing or passing within 4 floor tiles of a customer they must speak to them or greet them in a friendly manner.

As it turns out, upper management may have implemented such a rule on paper, but I can assure you that it is not followed in the store. My positive service experience was just an anomaly in that Albertson’s just seemed to have accidentally hired this one girl who is just naturally friendly. She is nice every time I encounter her at the store. Everyone else is pretty much the same.

I have personally tested the “4 tile rule” several times to the point of coughing or sneezing to make sure the Albertson’s employee is aware that I am there…within four tiles of them, but to no avail. They do not respond or acknowledge at all. It is actually very humorous, and has become a game I play with my children in the store, where we see who can get an employee to actually speak to us without us speaking to them first. Our only rules are that it has to be an employee out in the store, no cashiers, baggers, or deli employees. You can not touch or bump into them either. You just have to be with 4 tiles and the rest should just happen. Sounds easy enough, but trust me, getting an Albertson’s employee to initiate speaking to you on their own is no easy task at all.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hilary Clinton, what’s on your mind right now?

'WTF?'

'WTF?'

So I was wondering recently what must be going through Hilary Clinton’s mind in light of everything going on right now in the political landscape. I can only imagine it is one excruciating nightmare after another, but it was an interesting satirical exercise to try and imagine what I would be thinking right now if I were in Hilary Clinton’s shoes.

Hilary is a no nonsense pit bull of a woman and a fierce American who doesn’t like to lose. In private, I imagine that the profanities flow through her lips like cheap beer at a red neck family reunion, and that she has thrown more than a few obscenities and blunt objects at slick Willie in their time together. It gives me comfort to think that Hilary was privately F-Bombing like a drunk sailor when she conceded the nomination to Obama. I know I would have been. Obviously, Hilary is very loyal to her party, but privately, I like to imagine that she secretly loathes Obama with every grain of her being.

What about now with Palin as McCain’s running mate? This is a tough one.

On the one hand she could be thinking ‘HOLY S**T!! I am some odd $20 Million in debt breaking my friggin neck to get back into the White House. It is bad enough I lose the Democratic nom to that a-hole Obama, but if I have to watch that Brady Bunch bitch from Alaska, who was taking notes at a PTA meeting last month, go waltzing into the White House without ever dropping a dime…well, that would just FRIGGING SUCK big time!’

However, on the other hand, Hilary may secretly be rooting for Sarah Palin just due to the whole “girl power” and “I secretly hate Obama” thing. I like to imagine that this is the more likely thought just due to the fact that Hilary is a woman first and a Democrat second. I understand that Hilary and Sarah are on polar opposites of the spectrum in their political and personal beliefs, but sometimes in the emotional rage of those you may despise (Obama), one may secretly latch onto individuals that you may not otherwise have much in common with (Palin), and possibly even find some comfort in the few things you do have in common.

Of course, I don’t know or claim to know Hilary Clinton or Sarah Palin from a hole in the ground. I do know Hilary has a huge debt, and lost out on making history of the first female president to a young smooth talking guy that no one really knows that much about. Admittedly, I am not a Hilary fan, but I would have rather seen her get the Democratic nom than Obama. I do empathize a little for her. I know if it were me, I would be beating my head against the wall, or at least kicking old Bill in the groin to blow off some steam.

Hopefully, one day in her golden years, not too long from now, The Hil will write an honest memoir that will recount her true thoughts around this election, and I will have my fingers crossed that she really wanted to kidney punch Obama, and hug Palin, but on the surface remained the ever loyal Democrat and privately took all of her suppressed anger out on Bill instead.

I guess we will never really know, but it is fun to imagine.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sarah Palin for Republican VP – WTH?

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is no relation to Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, but wouldn’t that be the “funny as hell” icing on the cake! What a shocker of a running mate for McCain! McCain/Palin 2008. It has a nice ring to it.

I am not a politically active or opinionated person, as I pretty much believe that all politicians are fork tongued, double speaking…well, politicians. I vote every election, but I don’t get caught up in the partisan banter and mud slinging garbage that every election devolves into. They generally all make fools of themselves in the process anyway. But I just can’t resist watching what continues to be a historical election year. And to think that I thought that the last “chad counting” election would be hard to top. You just don’t have to be an avid fan or follower of politics to know when you are seeing something unique and strangely exciting happening. History has already been made in the Primaries and we are now guaranteed to have either our first female or black man in the White House, sort of. I know the VP doesn’t live in the White House, but you know what I mean.

Palin has very little political experience, and I have to admit that it is a little scary considering the thought of having someone so green sitting behind the helm of the Oval Office desk if the President died or was unable to serve. Then again, this woman may just be one ball-busting kind of gal that will turn Washington on its head and have it swooning in the gaze of her dark smoldering “hockey-mom” eyes right before she plants her ethical knee of justice squarely in the corrupt groin of modern politics. She ain’t hard on the eyes either, but that won’t be relevant when it comes to the task of dealing with foreign policy, an unpopular war, and a questionable economy.

I am now even more excited to see what happens. The feeding frenzy has begun and I hope Palin is prepared to handle the attack of a million hungry sharks in the Democratic party and the razor sharp words of a Democratic slanted media that are ready to shred her pretty little image apart. The game is on, and the question is will she blink? Will she break down and cry? or will she weather the fury storm and come out on top and have us all endeared to her charming smile?

Palin, I just hope you don’t have any skeletons in your closet; no drugs, no stripping, sex tapes, or nude photos buried in some obscure drawer somewhere just waiting for this moment in your life to suddenly surface. If you’re pure of heart, with a stiff back-bone, and are as hard-assed as some seem to think you are, then this ticket may just have a better than average chance of taking this race to the White House.

God Bless America!

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments