Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sail on Silver Bird

Well Black Friday is over, and it still doesn't feel like 'the holidays'...probably because the weather has yet to turn really cold, something for which I'm actually thankful.

Jimmy the turtle doesn't seem to be eating much, but then again I don't know how much a turtle eats.  He ate some cabbage the other day, but he won't eat lettuce, and he doesn't seem to be eating the turtle/reptile food I was given to feed him.  I suppose he'll eat when he gets hungry enough.

A big thunderstorm rolled in around 3am last night and woke me up, this just after I finally got back to sleep following my awakening at 1am by drunken neighbors shouting and singing in Spanish.  I tell ya, if there's a language to shout and sing in while drunk, Spanish is it...much more mournful than if it were in English.

We have these Twilight wall banners at the store, and I told one of my employees I'd buy them a beverage from the cafe if he wore it for an hour.  Well, he draped it around his back, and we spent the next hour calling him Captain Twilight.  I also told my staff that I would wear banners front and back plus reindeer antlers if they reached a particular book drive goal by 3pm.  I taunted, I teased, they reached the goal, and I donned two banners and the antlers and proceeded to prance about the store.  Then my boss arrived, and we gave them another goal which they reached, and I made my boss wear a banner and the antlers for a few minutes.  I specifically made her walk up to the cashwrap and show all my cashiers her outfit.  The customers thought it was hysterical, and one lady told me 'good job for delegating up!'.  

I need some more ideas of things I can do to keep the staff happy and engaged and motivated.  Obviously, I am not above personal humiliation, so give me all your best ideas.  I mostly need ideas that don't cost any money and are fairly simple to execute.

And in other news...nah, I really don't have other news.  I'm tired and going to sleep a really long time now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Enjoyable Thanksgiving

I thoroughly enjoyed myself today at my parents' house for Thanksgiving.

We had 17 people, including 3 people I had not met before.  Two of the new ones are brothers of my younger sister's boyfriend, and the other one is the former roommate of my sister's boyfriend.
All 3 of these guys were fun and intelligent and appeared to be quite comfortable among so many strangers.

After we had all eaten (I was at the kids table, woohoo!, where the average age was probably 40) I suggested a game of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.  Trivial Pursuit won, and 6 of us broke into 3 teams to play the 20th century edition.  

At first I was a team of one, as I was waiting for my older sister and her husband to join the game, but they took too long playing another game in the dining room, so Eric from another team offered to join me, for which I am enormously grateful.  At one point, the 2 other teams had gotten pie pieces already, so I grabbed our pie and put a brown wedge piece in it.  I don't remember exactly what was going on, but other than Eric, no one ever noticed that I had done that.  Eric and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves laughing over it, and the others couldn't figure out why.

The game lasted 3 hours, and near the end, my sister and her boyfriend gave up, so I asked them for their half-ish full pie (ok, I took it), added our 2 pieces, then we only lacked one piece.  I thought it was hilarous.  Then Eric and I rallied and WON the game, off of stolen and confiscated pie pieces.  It was during the confiscation that we finally told the other players what I had done TWO hours prior!

Too funny indeed.

I also enjoyed it because in such situations, I'm not expected to have all the answers for everything and to be able to solve any problem.  I am expected to know such and do such all the time at work, and it is very refreshing to just be ok with not knowing the answer to some random baseball question and such.  And I got to spend hours talking and interacting with people who have absolutely nothing to do with my work.  I loved it.  Boy, I really need to get more friends outside my work, don't I?

Well, I'm exhausted, so I am going to take care of Jimmy the Turtle then head off to bed...gotta get up early tomorrow, though not too early.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turtle Sitting

I am taking care of Jimmy, a pet turtle belonging to one of my Cafe Sellers who is out of town for several days.  He'll mostly be staying at the store, but tonight I brought him home because we're closed tomorrow...thank goodness!

I let Jimmy crawl around my office this evening before we left, and I let him crawl around my living room earlier.  He ate some cabbage from the salad I made for Thanksgiving, and he's now back in his temporary big-tub home, hopefully settling down for the night with some of his pet store turtle food in there, too.

I'll take some pics and post them tomorrow.  He's a big boy, probably 10 inches long, or so.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nutty Jenny

We're having a bookdrive at work, all our stores are.  We are in the lead in the district overall, but a couple other stores beat us on Sunday and Monday, so we needed to turn up the heat on the effort today.  

At 4pm we were only 1/3 of our way to the daily goal I had set, and the staff was getting frustrated.  So, I decided to change things up a bit.  That hour I had a cashier at every register, half of them being new people who just started work yesterday and are doing wonderfully well.

I told the team that if they got a certain number of book drives items in one hour, from 4-5pm, I would sing a song to them...any song they wanted...on the salesfloor, right then.

By golly if they weren't keeping me updated every time they sold another book for the book drive (which is benefiting kids at a local foster care and family care facility, almost like an orphanage, though we don't have those in Texas).  We have walkie talkies that are incredibly useful, and I kept taunting them over the walkie that they'd better hurry up and meet their goal or they'd get no song from me!

But they rallied and they worked and they got the good people of Dallas to donate enough books that hour to meet their goal!  They told me they wanted me to sing Over the Rainbow with bookstore lyrics, so I quickly wrote some lyrics about the cashwrap and working as a cashier and such.  Everyone in the store wanted to see/hear me perform this song, my lyrics chicken scratched on the back of a piece of paper I was going to recycle.

Of course I couldn't have the entire store in one place at one time, so I waited for the right moment of few customers in the area and sang my song to the cashiers.  I then sang it again over the walkies.  Customers were giving me strange looks, but the staff loved it, and I received applause.  Yay!  I signed my lyric sheet and 2 staff members were discussing which of them should get it.

But wait!  The team was bound and determined to make me sing again!  They met the goal again that next hour, so I regaled them with a tune about Chaucer the holiday bear set to the tune of Climb Ev'ry Mountain and sung like Il Divo (the 4 classical crossover singers who wayyyy overuse vibrato--they have a new CD out and we're playing it overhead because it's selling really well).  I really got some strange looks with that one, because it's difficult to sing like Il Divo and be quiet about it.  I gave that signed lyrics sheet to a cafe seller.

The next hour they almost doubled the goal, but I told them I was through for the day.

Whew!  Nutty Jenny.  Now we'd better be back in first place.  I just worked really hard to get us there.

(And I think the part that tickles me most is that they wanted my signed lyrics cute!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Food, Actually

I went to the grocery store after work this evening to pick up what I need to bring to Thanksgiving.  It cost me way too much to get all the ingredients to make my Asian Salad and also to buy 4 kinds of cheese to cube and crackers to go with my tortas.  I'll be bringing tupperware-ish containers and ziplock baggies to bring home leftovers.  

Last night I popped Love, Actually into the DVD player and enjoyed it immensely, again.  I really need to buy the soundtrack.   I simply adore that movie.

I have a friend whose birthday is Friday, and another whose birthday is Sunday, and I don't have any bright ideas of what to get/do for them.  Any ideas?

Also, I keep coveting the heavenly fleece line of clothing at Land's End.  Me want.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


How's that for a blog title, my friends?

I got my hair cut today.  But before that I went to my old store and spent some time working with their Cafe Supervisor, their GM, and my DM on par worksheets, ordering, and the need for an auto-populated-restocking-report-fed order sheet.  My boss called our home office and left a message for our man-of-all-things-operational to see about getting this created.  It's all in who you know, isn't it?  Did any of that make sense?  

Anyway, after we went to ludinner, or dunch, hey it was 4pm so it was lunch + dinner...sushi and bento boxes and hot tea, yum...I went to the hair cutting establishment.  "I need a haircut," said I, as I was greeted by the friendly young lady who called me sweetheart.  I don't mind being called sweetheart...we're in Texas, and it's not uncommon.  It is, however, a bit odd when someone younger than I says it, and when this younger person is a lady.  But I just chalk that up to friendliness and go with the flow.  

The sweetheart-saying girl matched me up with Drew, a cutie pie young man who spent a fair amount of time feeling my hair and talking to me about what he could do to add texture and volume and style.  He was adorable, and I didn't mind one bit that he was touching my head.  It didn't feel freakish at all.  I even asked about getting highlights, and he talked to me about those options, too.  In the end I just got it cut.  Drew did a wonderful job.  He created many layers and took a fair amount of time to cut it from the inside out, in all dimensions, and from all angles.  He had interesting conversation to share as well.  I really like the result.  

And so, I did it...I got my hair cut.

And now on to cookies!

I bought 3 magazines with cookie recipes in them and have been thoroughly enjoying myself reading them.  My mother has a 1978 Southern Living Holiday Cookie recipe magazine, and it's the best I've ever seen in 30 years for cookie recipes, but these 3 magazines are fun as well.  One is a Land O' Lakes special issue, another is a Better Homes & Gardens special issue, and the third is a Martha Stewart Living special issue.  It is too early to say if I'll actually spent the time and money making holiday cookies, but I sure am having a good time perusing the magazines.

The wind is blowing a cold front in, and it's supposed to be 36 degrees tonight.  I'm looking forward to it.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is one week from today!  I'm responsible for making and bringing the Asian salad, cheese tortas, crackers and such, and something else I have written down somewhere.  Maybe I'll bring some wine for those of us who would like a glass.

What wines go well with Thanksgiving dinner and are not too expensive?


I admit it...I don't like getting my hair cut.  

It's not that I don't like neatly cut hair, it's that I find it freakish for a stranger to touch my head.  I've never liked it.  

But I think my squished eyeball is telling me that it's time to get my hair cut again, seeing as how the last time I cut it was in late Feb or early March.  I'm also toying with the idea of getting some highlights, but then I know I'd have to go get them retouched frequently which would require more money and more touching of my head.  

I don't see how guys do it...get their hair cut all the time.  Ick.

I get so hot at work that I usually pull my hair back, anyway.  

I'm off tomorrow, though I'm spending the day helping out at my old store (wait, so that means I'm not really off, right?), and there is a nice hair place across the drive, so maybe I'll go get it cut.

Then again, maybe I won't.  

O squished eyeball, what shall I do?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I squished my eyeball

I slept so hard that at some point last night I squished my left eyeball.  I can't see correctly out of it, though it was better than it was early early this morning.

I have no idea what I could have done.  This is not the first time I've squished my eyeball.

I need to go google 'squished eyeballs' and see what there is to do.

I'm such an idiot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Four Pesties in My Kitchen

I returned home from work this evening about 8:30 or so with my sushi and a salad from Central Market in a paper grocery bag.  Several times today I had though about how lovely it is that my apartment was being nuked today.  

Still, I hesitantly entered my apartment, put down my things, then found the kitchen light.  Whew!  So far, so obvious buggies in sight.

The I turned and noticed one perching on my Black & Decker electronic pest control device that is plugged into one of the outlets on the bar, near the sink.  There he stood, taunting me like several of his brethren had done recently...all of them perched on that worthless device (don't waste your money on these things).  So, I grabbed my yellow can of Raid and kilt him dead.  

Not a minute or two later, one of his friends comes scurrying out from behind that device, and I kilt him dead, too.  I am thinking there is some gap between the bar sides and the topper that is a harborage for these lil' devils.  I guess these bastards were seeking a 'safe' place since their former abode was sprayed.  

I had an apartment in Sherman, TX, for a few months when I got my first store.  I had a pest problem there, and after a few weeks I found that they were coming up and out a gap where the bar walls and the top met.  I remember one night I sprayed Raid or Bengal or something and dozens and dozens of small buggies came racing out.  It was thoroughly disgusting.

Anyway...I went to the dishwasher to get a clean glass out, and I found 2 buggies right inside the door.  They surely had scrambled once they smelled the killah spray.  I kilt them dead, too.

I just did some research online, and it takes a few days for the spray to kill them all, so I will not-so-patiently wait for this to occur.  

It can't happen too soon.  This morning, I smartly inspected the TP before I used it, which was a good call, because there was a lil' devil on the dangling end of the TP.  I kilt him dead.  I'll kill them all dead.

All my under-counter cabinets in the kitchen were open when I got home, so it seems like the exterminator probably sprayed them quite well...I hope.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Apparently enough people in my apartment building have complained enough times that the entire building is going to be exterminated tomorrow.  Thank goodness!

There was an almost non-existent roach problem until the Skanks and Nasties moved in below me.  I've been here over 4 years now, but it wasn't until a few months after the S&Ns moved in that the problem began.  They were also the ones to leave trashbags on their balcony for days before finally taking them to the dumpster.  And I think they skipped out on their lease a couple of weeks ago, or perhaps they were evicted.  I kept seeing notices for unpaid water bills on their doorknob.

Regardless of where the problem started, I'm sick of it and am glad to have the entire building nuked tomorrow.  I hope they spray the fuck out of the place.  Then I'm going to have the apartment guys come and caulk around all the plumping fixtures and holes in walls...anything where a buggie could come through.

Oh, and I made chili tonight for dinner.  I'm about to go have some.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


The store visit with my boss and my boss' boss went very well on Friday.  Once again, my boss believed we were the best looking store.  Last time, they believed we were the best looking store, and that was when I was at my former store, so I guess you could say I'm consistent, wherever I go.

It is very important that double boss maintains his high opinion of me, as he would be the one to promote me to DM at some point in the future.  

My team worked smart, hard, fast, and long, and the results are spectacular.  One of the employees who has been in the store since it opened (12 years ago) said this is the best he's ever seen the store look....ever.  My boss said the same thing, and I think so, too.  Our service scores are excellent, our merchandising is impeccable, I have my team in place, and we are set for the holidays.  

The advances we have made in the not-quite-six-months that I've been in this store are astounding.  I have a team of Superstars.

Next challenge, please.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moldy Cheese--Unable to Return

See below for my email complaint to Tom Thumb (Safeway).  Unfortunately, their website gives me an error message when I try to submit it, so I'm just going to post it here, then try to submit it again tomorrow.  I tried to be professional and not too nasty, but I am thoroughly irked.

Here it is:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Zicam is Bliss; Comfort Inns is Bust; Bigger Boss Visit

A few months ago I found this wonderful OTC item that works amazingly well for congested sinuses.  It is called Zicam Extreme Congestion.  It's a nasal spray.  This is what has made it able for me to function this week.  I love it!

And on an unrelated note...I have nothing good at all to say about the Comfort Inn where we stayed and held our training session this week.  This particular one is on Natural Bridge Rd in St. Louis, by the airport.  Hideous on almost all fronts, repeatedly, over 4 days, even after our giving them feedback on what to correct.  I will now personally do my best not to stay at any Comfort Inn hotels in the future.

We have another Big Boss visit on Friday.  This is my boss's boss, the one who could promote me at some point in the future.  It's a big deal.  We'll be great.  We're always great.  Anything less just simply won't happen.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Am Come Home

I forget where I heard someone say this phrase...probably some Jane Austen movie adaptation.

I have returned from St. Louis, wielding a mighty sinus infection (my 3rd in the last 7 months, a lot for a person who 'never' gets sick), and being extremely tired.  

The training session went well, and my contributions were adequate, though I did not think I was stellar this time.  The participants were very engaged, and I certainly delivered all the key learning points through the facilitation, but I had to refer too much to my notes on the second day.  

Being sick really affected me.  I was my usual exuberant personality in front of the room, but I was so tired and feeling so poorly after hours that I had trouble focusing and therefore couldn't do my usual 3 or 4 quick run-thrus of my sessions the night before.

There's a point in my last session, which also happens to be the last session of the entire she-bang, when I got a little out of synch with the powerpoint because several of the slides look very similar.  It turned out ok, though, as I got it all sorted out while the participants were engaged in small group activities.

I really get a kick out of facilitating.  It's challenging, and I like challenges.  It's very different from presenting.  Doing a presentation usually involves a person speaking about a particular subject, usually with supporting powerpoint slides.  Perhaps there is a Q&A at the end.  It certainly requires skill, but it is a lot more straightforward in format and such.

Facilitation requires coordination of the entire group to reach particular points at particular times.  The ppt slides do contain vital information, but most of the learning happens through the guidance of the facilitator as they ask questions of the group.  The challenge is in knowing what point you need to hit, when you need to hit it, what information the group needs to have leading up to that point, if there is a particular workbook page or activity that builds upon it once you get there, and which questions to ask to make it the most effective.  

Because the group is offering answers, you have to manage that aspect while also being mindful of pace, available time left, the physicality of the situation, etc.  I plan out my main questions ahead of time...the ones that will help lead the group to the learning point, but there are always opportunities to dig deeper into the participants' answers, and that makes you have to be quite adaptable.  Fortunately, I am great at thinking on my feet.

I'm convinced that part of the reason I'm really really good at facilitating is because I was in marching band for all those years.  I have to be able to make my way around the physical space, moving and talking at the same time sometimes, and not step in front of the ppt projector beam, not trip on the extension cords, not turn my back on the participants, not run into the table where the laptop sits, etc., while still ensuring that when I'm ready to move on, that I am close enough to the laptop to hit the right key, that I am close enough to a flip chart with a marker in hand when I need to be, and that I can get to my notes quickly if I need to.  And then there's the part about actually listening to the answers of the questions I ask!

It's like performing really, but in an environment where the players and the spoken words change.  I love it...I absolutely love it.  Unfortunately, I don't do it often enough to get amazingly, spectacularly, unerringly fabulous at it.

So, I am come home, and I am done rambling for now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis

I am off to St. Louis to train a group of managers.

I ended up working 5 hours at my store yesterday, then 3 hours at another store moving fixtures.  My knees and legs hurt!  I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep before going back to work this morning.  

I am tired, so I'm going to drive until I'm ready to stop for the night, then...I'll stop.  I only have to be in St. Louis by noon tomorrow, so there's no great rush.  The whole drive is just 10 hours total, and I can easily do half of that today before dark, if I get going.

Have fun while I'm gone.  I'll be back Friday!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Such a Range

This past week was all over the place.

On Sunday I returned from camping.  Monday I voted.  Tuesday I returned to work to learn of a situation that exploded while I was gone camping.  I trained a new GM Wed-Fri while trying to handle the explosion plus another issue.  We had a biggish-wig visit on Thursday morning.  I spent hours and hours preparing for my upcoming training session in St. Louis next week, I learned I get to reprise my trainer role again for next year, and we had a massive sale rung in on Friday.  

So I worked 7am to 11pm all those days, got little sleep, and am still alive.  I logged 85 hours of training time in October, and that is above and beyond the time it takes me to run my store, which can be anywhere from 45-80 hours a week, depending on time of year and situation.  Just running a store is too easy and too boring, so I love that I have the trainer piece to supplement that.  

Today I am off, but I have to go in for a few hours to finish up my training prep and show a couple people a few things, and have some more conversations, then I have to go to another store tonight and help them move fixtures around.  That pisses me off, but I do it anyway.

Tomorrow I work until noon, then drive to St. Louis.

How was your week?