Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sooo long Steve Jobs..

Steve Jobs passed away today.  It's a sad day for innovation in the computer/electronics business.  His visionary ways created a slew of new high tech devices that we never knew we couldn't live without.
From the Mac to the iPhone to the OS X software created to work seamlessly between each, he inspired and created some of the worlds best new ideas.  He brought our world into the future faster than we could have done on our own.  My first Apple was a LCII.  16 Mhz speed, 40 MB hard drive, floppy drive and small color screen.  At the time it was very cool.  I remember spending over $2200 on it, which at the time was more than I probably should have spent, but from then on I was indoctrinated into the Mac Culture and I never looked back.  From there I bought a Performa then a PowerPC tower and now I am still using a 7 year old Powerbook.  And ya know what?  It still beats our desktop PC that is supposed to be more than 2 times faster based upon the GHz speed rating.  My power book is only a 1.25 GHz but I still love it.  I'm saving up for a new Macbook Pro since the newer software isn't compatible with the older laptops but I'm in no hurry as it still works great.  I can only hope that Apple continues to design and produce the quality products they've been making since Steve retook Apple from it's spiral downward several years ago.  Somewhere up in heaven there's a guy upgrading all the computers and software..and won't heaven be an even better place when he's done, because he sure made our world better while he was here.  Sooo long Steve, you will be missed! 

Monday, September 12, 2011


I'm frustrated.  Lately I've been frustrated more frequently than usual.  Is it as I get older my fuse gets shorter?  Am I losing my patience as the years pass by?  I just don't know.  I see so many things lately that just seem like a bunch of bureaucratic bull feathers (MASH Col. Potter euphemism) that it makes me frustrated.  Whether it's work rules and the inability to get things done due to the plethora of restrictions placed on everyone from regulations and government incompetence to plain ol people being just damn rude and inconsiderate.  I'm not sure if it's me being more sensetive or people are just getting more idiotic.  As for the constraints placed on us at work I find some people rely so much on computers that they fail to see the easy solutions in front of them until it's too late.  From simple things like how to use common sense to a little more challenging things like managing people effectively to ensure fairness and accountability.  As a supervisor in my previous position one of the things I learned early on was the need to be consistant.  Consistancy makes for good employee relations as long as you deal fairly with everyone the same way.  It was hard at times but tended to make for good steady relationships. 
I'm usually a slow to burn type of guy.  My temper flared rarely and disappated quickly.  I liked being like that.  The calm I had inside was a source of stability and comfort.  Seems I've lost some of that.  It affects more than just me, and that I know, is not acceptable.  I just don't remember being so busy all the time.
Anyway, I guess I have to retrain myself to just start chillin' out more.  Perhaps I need to get another heavy bag.  That was always a good way to release some tension!  Or perhaps it was because it's been almost a year since I've blogged!  Yeah, I'll go with that one.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Customer Service

Customer Service.  I've been in that business for over 21 years in my current position.  Add another 5 with my previous positions.  I would like to think I've got a good grasp on what it is and how to provide it.  I've been through numerous courses and training classes to learn how to provide Customer Service.  Not just Customer Service, but exceptional Customer Service.  I've also noticed that I observe Customer Service in every business I visit.  It's rare to see exceptional Customer Service.  The type of service that not only meets but exceeds or surprises the customer.  I had one tonight.  A few weeks ago we ordered some take out at Taco Bell on FM2499 in Flower Mound just south of FM407.  It's a new Taco Bell.  As happens with take out occasionally we were missing 1 item.  When that happens I usually call because not only did we pay for that item, I believe or hope they want to know when that happens.  I believe in giving them a chance to rectify the problem.  Sometimes the response is for me to return and get the item, which I usually won't do as my time is valuable to me.  Sometimes they tell me to mention it next time I'm in and I'll get the item then.  Occasionally they will even take my address and send me a gift coupon to make it up.  That's a nice gesture.
However this time when I called, the Manager said to let them know when I come in next and they'll not only give me my missing item, they'll add another item from the menu.  Anything I choose.  So tonight I went in to collect.  Since I was getting my dinner I not only ordered the missing item and the free additional item, I added a few more things to complete the meal.  That's when I was surprised.  They gave me my whole order for free.  And it wasn't even the manager, it was the person working the counter.  This person had the freedom to make the call.  That was very good Customer Service.  Enabling the person who is on the front lines to take care of the problem.  I was impressed.  Not only did they meet my expectations, they exceeded them.  I can tell you I will be back and even though I have a Taco Bell that is much closer, I will be driving a few extra miles to visit this Taco Bell again.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Righters Block

The day before election Tuesday and with all the political pundits sharing their version of what will or should happen and I'm at a loss.  Something seems amiss.  Sure the Republicans will take the House back.  The Senate is in play.  The political war is at it peak mud slinging, yet something just feels strange.  I am hoping for a major change in control of the Legislature.  If only to stop some horrible bills from being brought to a vote.  Cap n Trade, Card Check, and hopefully even some repeal of the Health care that already passed.  I know my insurance has only gone up.  I have a plan that is, oops, was a very nice plan for my family.  Now it's less benefits and more costs out of my pocket.  For less coverage I am paying more a month.  That doesn't seem like positive "Change" to me.  The only change I see is the little that will be left in my pocket.  Perhaps the new party in power will be able to do something about this, but in all reality I doubt it.  They don't have enough of a majority to force it over a veto.  If anything we'll have to wait and hope that in 2012 there will be another "change", only this time in the Executive Branch.  I wonder what it will take to find, nominate, and elect a true conservative into the White House who will keep common sense and have the courage to do what is needed to reduce the deficit, national debt and restore this Country to where it needs to be.  Hopefully, 2012 will come quickly. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Home Alone

No it's not like the movie where I'm home alone and some clumsy criminals try to break in and rob us while I outwit them with made up booby traps. Besides, I will defend our big screen TV to the death!  It's the version where Robin and the kids are visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Missouri and I sensed the opportunity to accomplish some of the things that have been gathering dust on my to-do list.  The big ticket items were moving 2 ceiling fans from their respective rooms to other rooms and installing a new fan into a 3rd room.  It's not easy to do but well within my abilities.  In order to assist me in my home improvement I needed a tool.  Now Bob Villa always said and I'm a firm believer in "The Right Tool for the Right Job".  I've found that simple statement made by Bob many years ago to be true in many home improvement projects I've undertaken.  Well, here's the tool I found to make my recent projects go more smoothly.

DeWalt 7.2V Cordless Screwdriver
This made the job much more manageable and saved me a bunch a time.  The adjustable torque and light weight as well as battery life and easy handling proved to be just the right tool to help me finish my projects in one day.  The only thing I wish it had was a magnetized plate to hold onto screws while you are working and a slight magnetized drill bit to keep screws on the bit head.  Other than that this thing was great!  I also got it for $20 less than most places advertised.  Lowes had it for $60.  Score!!
Anyway, the projects got done in 1 day and although my back was protesting quite loudly that night and the next day a few motrin and some rest and I can take it easy now that I got some of the major items checked off my list.  I had 2 days to get a lot done and at the end of those 2 days I can enjoy the sense of accomplishment.  I cleaned the garage, defrosted the freezer, installed 3 fans and 1 new light switch and still had several other things completed.  All in all my weekend was a success in knocking out some big ticket items on my to-do list.  Honey, I'm ready for you and the kids to come back home!  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ribs, My Recipe

I'm not a great cook.  I grill but I've had to learn better techniques as I went.  I, as many guys do, tended to overcook the chicken, fear pork tenderloin, and cook my steaks the same way for everyone.  But I've learned along the way.  The best thing I've learned is how to make pork ribs.  So I thought I would share my recipe for making, in my opinion and several others, some pretty tasty ribs.   I like my ribs to have a good flavor yet also have a little jerky feel on the outside.  That helps sear the flavor and juices inside yet I also want the meat to fall off the bone.  As I like to say, I want my ribs to be the kind Fred Flintstone ate.  The kind that when you eat them, the bone is clean.  I don't want to have to gnaw the bone to get all the meat.
So here's what I do...
First I pick out 1-2 nice slabs of baby back pork loin ribs.  I've tried several kinda and haven't found too much difference if they are prepared properly but I do stick with baby backs.
I use McCormicks Grill Mates Pork Rub.  I like the flavor and it has a slight bite to it.
The Rib Rub I use

Then I prep the ribs the day before.  Make sure you have a nice clean large area to work with to ensure you have room to work and an easy clean up.  I remove the ribs from the packaging and place them on a large cookie sheet.  If the rib racks are large I cut them in half to make handling easier.  I flip them to expose the backside and score the membrane on the back of the ribs with a knife to allow the flavor to seep into the backside.  I then take some Virgin Olive Oil and coat the ribs front, back and edges.  Then I take the rib rub and coat the entire rack front, back and edges and pat it into the ribs to make sure it is well adhered to the ribs.  My nephew Pat did the patting this time.  It was only appropriate.

                                             My Assistant Pat (Nephew)

I then wrap them tight in some cellophane and place them into Ziploc baggie to ensure they do not leak inside the refrigerator.  I fridge them overnight to allow the rub to soak into the ribs.  
The next day you want to plan the next stages to ensure they are finished at dinner time.  
About 5 hours before dinner I take them out and let them sit for about 30 min to bring them closer to room temperature.   I kick the grill on and get it nice and hot.  You may at this time spray the ribs or the grill with Pam for Grilling to keep them from sticking to the grill, it just makes it easier.  
FYI:  Do not spray the grill while it is on!  No I did not learn this lesson personally...
(I know you were wondering..)
Place the ribs on the hot grill for 5 minutes each side ensuring no flame ups.  
                 On the grill

Remove from grill and place back onto large stone cookie sheet.  If you only have a regular one that's fine, but make sure it has a lip around it to prevent spills.  I pour a little bit of beer into the bottom of the cookie sheet.  Do not pour directly onto ribs as it will wash off some of the rub.  You may want to use a regular beer, nothing fancy or heavy.  Place foil over the cookie sheet and make sure it's a tight fit to keep the moisture inside.  Preheat oven to 260-270 degrees.

   Sealed up in Foil and ready for the oven..  265 Degrees

Cook for 3 hours at 265 degrees.  Remove from oven.  Coat with BBQ sauce.  I like KC Masterpiece Hickory and Brown Sugar.  It makes for a nice balance with the rub spice.  Coat really well but don't over coat it.  Usually 2 layers is good.  Make sure to get all the crevices and edges and the exposed bone as well as they make for great flavor as well and when the meat is gone, some people may return to chew on the bone!  

                  Adding the BBQ sauce

Now here you have 2 choices.  If you are using a stone cookie sheet, you can re-cover it with foil and leave it out as the stoneware will continue to cook it, caramelizing the BBQ sauce.  You can also leave the foil off and place back into oven at about 150 degrees for about 20 minutes for the same effect.  

                         Ready to Serve

Serve as you like and Enjoy...  Send the leftovers to my house.  

          Enjoying the Fruits of labor..

           Patrick Approves!!!

The Finished Product.

Now what's for dessert?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Police Chase onto Dallas Airport Runway

So I'm watching the news today and there is a police chase in Dallas.  It's like candy for the eyes and I can't stop watching.  The guy drives in to Dallas Love Field Airport.  I'm thinking, "ok, take him now!!"  If he gets too far, the airport will lock down and knowing there are up to 15 flights arriving and departing every 30 min, I realize that the airport will start putting flights into holding patterns and then diverting to other airports shortly thereafter.  But no, they continue to follow him.  He drives behind the terminal and then rams through a security gate leading to the actual ramp area and out onto the runway.  At this point I'm thinking this guy could be going to try and ram an aircraft.  He drives out onto the runway and they finally box him in and do the pick maneuver to stall the vehicle.  In a cloud of dust next to the runway they surround him and take him into custody.  Meanwhile in the background you can see 2 small Lear jets and 1 Southwest Airlines 737 sitting waiting to take off.  I can't help but wonder how this guy was able to ram through a gate with 4 police cars behind him and get direct access to the secure airport area.  I realize that the the main goal is to safely end this chase with no one getting hurt or killed and the job of a police officer is fraught with difficult decisions,  but once the guy rams through a security fence he has gone from a chase suspect to a direct threat to other people.  I'm glad it all ended with no one getting hurt, but I can't help but to wonder "what happens next time?  Will we be so lucky?".