The Old Guard

As the years pass, I am forever reminded of my first 5 or so years in the foodservice business, how I acted, and what I got away with and today's youth or, teen to twenty somethings. I was no treasure to work with in the kitchen in my late teen, early twenty's up until about 22-24 was when something clicked. I had already been a manager of sorts (Sous Chef or Salaried cook, meaning work me 70-80 hours for 40 hrs a week pay) for a few years at this point. 

I had some levels of responsibility which I loosely interpreted to mean, I can get away with things, however I am responsible for the failures of others in my team too. I was not really managing anything well at this time. I was however rapidly improving my cooking skills and really learning. Within a matter of a few months to age 25 I'd actually have my first real Exec. Chef job.  I like to romanticize about these times, often referring to myself as dedicated, and loyal to my tasks. Today, I get all consumed with my younger managers wants and needs, they seem to want everything else accept for the work and time it takes to get the job done. Not a fair statement of everyone for sure, but certainly for many.  
I'm always hearing of their family and personal time needed.  Did I do this too? I know I did not dare make the same comments back in my time, if I expected to stay employed.  

I work in a business now that at some of it's locations has periods of downtime, and they last sometimes for more than a week. I never had this luxury in my first 18+ years in the business. Holidays, weekends, I worked them all sober or not.  But today I work with young managers whom don't understand the amount of real work that goes into developing a career in foodservice. I struggle tremendously with it.  It also terribly points out my age of pushing the back side of my 40's.  When I think about it I understand, I too was not terribly focused back then, however I put in the time to get it done no matter the cost, now here I am 30+ years later still doing some of those long hours and weekends while the newbies are enjoying more time off than I ever knew, and show the arrogance that it is deserved that they should have this off time, regardless of months or years served.

In this day and age, this work ethic for most is clearly at an all time low. However I think I understand why. It is harder than ever to secure a job anymore.  And if you do, young managers have a miriade of expectations ranging far and wide away from just managing and producing great food, in fact food is only a tiny fraction of their responsibility. For myself, I generally had the luxury of focusing on the Food. This is no longer the case. To answer that same call in my time, I don't know that I'd have been able to, and still be a good Chef manager or successful in my responsibilities for producing great food.

It's is alot to ask in this day and age for between 40 to 50k, maybe a bit more or less. Looking back, at my first Exec chefs job, outside of food cost, procurement, labor controls, sanitation, and menu development, that was where I was centrally focused, and maybe that's why I had the success I did, and yet see so much higher a failure rate today. 

I was not concerned with HR, Accounting, Marketing/Merchandising, Customer relations,  Computer programs, and their maintenance. To name just a few,,,today's manager covers far more than in my time. With that, maybe it all makes sense.

A Hot Summer Break

July has become a month where Tami and I have started another little annual thing. The trek to Ocean city in the summer. We do go there in the cooler months, but this trip is a little longer. We are full blown tourists. Blending in with all the rest of em. 

On the trip I will be wearing out my camera's and my 35mm fil. Yes, I said it. I have reverted back a bit to the old method of photography. Using older Nikon and Minolta SLR's and hoping to see some decent pics when it's all done. I'm still torn as to what to do with Cookenstein, I want to make it something that has more direction but am still at a loss as to what it should be..

Ancestry, Family and the Civil War

  All of the above, I have had a facination with over the years and have dabbled in trying to improve my knowledge of as well support of my family. That is always an ongoing and oftentimes area that stumbles. I am currently reading a book on the Civil war, "1861 The Civil War awakening".  I am listening to it using Audible.com.

This week has me getting my Ebay page working and purging some of the old, and catching up on all of my outdated material. It's amazing how much useless crap I have posted out there ( this included). This week also brings me ever closer to father times middle age ( pretty much there) as I will be hitting 48 this coming week.

The Ancestry component, like all else has been something I have been loosely looking into as well. My aunts were very helpful getting me a far cry more bit of info than I could have hoped for.  I do recommend Ancestry.com, however state emphatically that this site while very useful, does not do ALL the work. You have to do some leg work in order to get some success. The price is worth it considering the backwork that has to go into this line of service.

Like all else, I'll be working on this off and on,, forever?? 

Took a long Winter break

It's been many months since I've been on the Loading dock. Since then, (November 2011's last post)  I have traveled thousands of miles. The New Ipda recently came out, and the Retina display is georgeous, and another cool thing about the display, it makes the Iphone apps of the Ipad decent looking int 2x full page!

In fact almost normal. I have yet to take advantage of the camera, but feel like it is worth the upgrade if you are coming from the Ipad 1. Which I was. My wonderful sweetheart will soon be getting he suprise in the coming week. As for restaurants, I am enjoying Rocco's Pizza Lounge in South Miami's Dadeland area. That rather off kind of hip looking dark place has great thin crust pizza's, and pasta's and the salads ( especially the Arugula Salad is awesome.

I was recently considering walking away from Cookenstein, I really am unsure of what to do with it. So for the the two of you that actually read it, your suggestions would be great! I can't believe I am going to be mowing the lawn on March 31st today!

Cookster

It is not often I write about a website but this one deserves the attention and maybe more than it gets.

Cookster, is a site that has great and loft goals of making itself the place to go for both recipes and cookbooks on the net. Once you set up an account, your page on the site is easy to customize and ad recipes, make favorites and even access books in ways that maybe you never had before.

Cookster also has a real team of foodies, both nutritional experts, dietitians and Chefs that analyze the recipes for maximum content and information being displayed to you. This is not just a recipe site. It is a true meal planning guide. And if you are  Mac or Apple gadget user, the books available from Cookster are in the Ibook store for easy access. 

I have arguably not spent enough time on this site, and need to delve even depper than what I have done thus far. Cookster is worth the visit.

The day Apple changed

August 24th 2011, Steve Jobs resigns as CEO

I had followed Apple from a distance roughly since the mid to late 90's and of course Apple had already seen great success in the 80's. When I started following Apple, they were on the downside of their glory years. Down and sliding further into obscurity every day.

Steve Jobs had returned to Apple between 96 and 97 I believe, and while I am no expert in all the details here, I thought, why after such a bitter ending would he do such a thing after being seemingly treated so poorly in the 80's during his dismissal? He had a growing successful company now in Pixar entertainment, and a new company called NEXT, that had potential however was not going anywhere fast. He had successfully moved on.

Steve Jobs love for Apple and all things Apple became clear to me in about 2000, and 2001 around the time of the first Ipods. I bought one. It was my first Apple product. It was a little clunky, and until version 2, I think did not work well or much at all with Windows, which was still my OS that I had been using for more than 11 years at that point.  Ahh the days of firewire.

There was something about that player though. Tami and I both wanted to like it, and it was great in concept and it's sound was better than anything in it's class at the time in my opinion. However it was just missing something. It also looked cool and you felt as if you had something valuable in your hands. "Value" That was the key that would eventually draw me all in.

Along came Itunes within a year or so. Within 4 more years I finally bought all in and bought my first Mac. A Mini. It was early 2005, and now a couple of ipods, in the halo effect for me had happened. Believe me when I say that Halo effect thing is real.

Today I am enjoying a really zippy super mobile 11' Macbook Air, and Lion and our household is all things Apple.

What does any of this mean? It means that in all liklihood I'd never had bought into Apple had it not been for Steve Job's vision, and tenacity for what is today the worlds most successful technology company that has come from almost certain bankruptsy in 97. In fact one of the top 5 companies in the wolrd as far as Market value only second to Exxon as of this writing.

It is nothing short of unbelieveable and not likely to be repeated in my lifetime. My hope for the man who turned that Dinosaur into a Dynasty, somehow made it through his incredibly rough health problems he has endured for many years now.  It has been painful to watch, but also another lesson. If you love what you do, nothing but death can stand in your way of getting you there.  Steve Jobs is not only there, he has far surpassed it. Unlike his leaving in the 80's, he has firmly positioned this company that clearly has his face stamped firmly on it for years to come, to have both a positive growth roadmap for the coming years without him.

That is the mark of success x10. Unlike my PC past, I feel like as a customer, there is a sustainable clean, secure and well run ecosystem here, that will continue to improve. I'm sold. But on this day and the day prior, I am a little sad but knew it would come. As Jobs steps down I look forward to the September announcements with a little angst but great hopes for this company in Cupertino. 

The Ipad just keeps getting better

Barely a year later, the Ipad is now a global sales phenomenon. While I'm still enjoying my first gen model, the 2nd gen just keeps looking better all the time, but I'm holding out to skip a Gen. That said, this version of the Ipad thats been out now since about April has been impossible to get hold of due to stocking issues, so the wait is likely to be much longer.

The use of my Ipad is also growing into some real productivity too. Oh sure I usually use it for media consumption,, book reading, news and photography, it is also becoming more of my quick communications tool too.  I can't wait for IOS 5.  That will re invigorate my ver 1.0.

 

May Flowers

We certainly benefit from the many rains earlier in the month. My Lillies and Snapdragons really soaked it up and look beautiful. Much like the herbs that have been benefitting. The Oregano like usual is like weeds everywhere, but the curry and Thyme is coming around too. So I have hope. I want more basil this year as do I want to see the Arugula come around.  Today was the first day in awhile I got to spend some real time in the Wilson gardens.. More of these flowers on my Smugmug homepage.

Driving into Summer



The hot days of summer are around the corner. I'm already feeling it in the humid state that is MD. In my travels that take me to DC, VA, and FLA of course it's even hotter the further south we go. We have fortunately had some great rains, that have really helped my second garden recently planted in the past couple of weeks. This years, garden more simple. In other words, if I get this one right, or most everything grows properly, I'll try and expand on it maybe next year.

Roma Tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes, Scallions, Chives, Lavender, Sunflowers, Basil, Fennell, Spinach, Arugula, Carrots.

I am not sure why I put the root vegetable in there, but last year, nothing came from the carrot portion of the Garden, so I have better hope this being much closer to the planting time table according to the Farmers Almanac. A great resource by the way. 

 

Proud of Sis

My sister recently spent more than a year ridding herself of a person I am ashamed to admit was once a close friend of mine. Unfortunately I will always carry that. She is now free to start growing and moving her life forward and I could not be more happy and proud for her. She recently has started to take on a concept that will put her into a form of nutritional consultation, that I believe may be the perfect fit for her.

She is going after it with an excitement and voracity like I have never seen before. She is finally seeming to grow again, and get out, see and spend time with old friends, and creating new opportunities. It is a breath of sunshine that I am so happy to see for her.

Ipad 2 and the hooks in me

So, here it is barely a year later actually 9-10 months to be more exact, and we have a second rev of the Ipad.

I use the above image, to show what many thought this device would look like about the same time in January, February of 2010. But what has happened is that this thing is quickly becoming universal, and other tech companies are struggling to really get into the fight with it. While Samsungs galaxy tab is certainly a good contender, and the new Xoom model from Motorola and of course HP, and RIM are still scratching their heads as to where to start, the Ipad keeps surging forward and with plenty of momentum.

It ships this coming Friday and I am heavily considering replacing my first IPad. It is simply a much improved communications device, with greater power for future apps and services.

It will keep Apple on the forfront of Tablet sales for certain into 2012. While there are many under the hood improvements, the device on it's front looks much the same as the original, but thats where it stops, speed, video, weight/heft ease of use features are certainly all things that make this a great buy, and still one of the "less" expensive options on the market. Which for Apple is nothing short of amazing.

As Apple becomes more a part of the home consumer market in media (it pretty much owns it these days) I am closely watching how they do business. The updates to the IP2 are not huge, however just enough to keep em ahead of all others. Androids honeycomb OS really looks great, and if Samsung gets a hold of this soon, I can see them becoming a viable competitor before years end, however at this time, that is all they will become for 2011. 

The year of the IP2, as Steve Jobs has stated, has just begun.

 

Lunch with Dad

It's been many months since I've been on the Loading dock, but today seemed to warrant a note. Time with my Dad just never seems to be enough. It never ceases to amaze me as to his intelligence of the things happening around us and his interests in other countries.  I hope that I can carry a tablespoon of his wisdom into my old age.

Another bonus to today was having lunch with Kelly as well. We ate at a little place called Punks Grille in Annapolis. The three of us just always seem to click. We talked about the goings on in the entertainment world of today, and the Charlie Sheen "world' that seems to rule the airwaves, to Egypt, Lybia, and how we consume media in general.

Of course family, and some history always blends into these conversations. Hopefully later this evening, and rounding out the day will be a nice dinner with Tami in Annapolis tonight. It's been a good day, and it's nice to be back here too. 

The Hobby and vacation

Today, is another beautiful weather day in Palmetto. I have been vacationing since Saturday, but get to stretch my chops a bit, in helping a family member with the dreaded Vista, printer drivers issue. Now, of course Windows 7 has been out now for over a year, but many people still have and use Vista for better or worse.

I feel for all of them, my father included. Vista also has been much improved through updates, and patches since the early days of this OS. So today, I venture "back in time" to see if I can help remedy a problem, and to get the HP Printer to simply PRINT!!!

Ipad, February 2010 and Today

On February 1st of this year, I'd made some proclamations, and I am quite sure I was not alone concerning the Ipad, that was several months away from hitting the market.  At the time, I'd stated that I felt that this was going to change how we look at Apps, and the delivery method to PC,s and Macs in General, and I was ready to go there. Well, a short 9 months later, this and many other articles sum up what I'd felt for sure to be true.

The Ipad is a monster. I have owned one now for several months, as well has my beautiful wife, and we are both very taken with them. The ipads ability to be of increased usefulness is only going to grow. What is really amazing though, is that the whole industry is playing catch up on technology that is arguably 8-10 years old.  Microsoft had tablets out around 2002 or so, maybe earlier and of course it fit only in very niche markets.

What's crazier still is when it did not take off (because of MS poor interface basically XP/touch on a Tablet) nobody did anything with it..? Or did they. Apple claims to have been working on this project for several years prior to 2010, and I believe it.

This much like the Iphone is the first iteration of this device, and IOS 4.2 is right around the corner this month and I can't wait. This thing will only gather steam. While Apple will VERY likely not hold a 95% share of this market for long, however has a nice entrenched user base, that will likely hold pretty strong going forward. I can't wait to see the competition!! Where are they?? 

A weekend in Miami

I would never had guessed that I'd spend a weekend in Miami Fla, serving up to 3000 kids Ham n Cheese Sandwiches and Bagels all hours of the night and into the morning of Sunday but this is the food service business. No matter what makes you think you've seen it all, along comes another un expected curve ball.

We actually worked late into the night last night setting up the sandwiches and getting everything prepared for the truck to move to the athletic field this afternoon/evening. It is my hope that the weather which has been nothing but thunderstorms here, improves over the next 24 hours at least. While not too likely, I can always have hope. This little component down south here was an addition to my district this past August, and added 3 more to my responsibilities. Like Colorado, it is of course a great length from all of my other business, and flying has once again been added to my monthly routines.

This weekend however has me wondering a bit about my own tenure once again with those of whom I am employed with. I am now split between 2 Vice Presidents, and coming off a year where I'd made many mistakes most of which I could have controlled, but simply did not think through very well. At any rate I feel like I am in the most fragile of positions in which I have ever held in the 13+ years I have spent with this company. These past several weeks too have been a whirlwind that has kept me very occupied and away from Cookenstein, as well thoughts of the future of this particular site among others that I spend arguably a great deal of my online time with. Could this be the last version??  

Sometimes you actually connect

Over this weekend, I made a connection with a smart and humble person of the younger generation. It is rare that I connect with anyone, and almost never do I connect with someone I've ne'er even met. But on this weekend. I feel like I made a connection. I of course have this affliction for technology and gadgets. Arguably un healthy at times. I felt like I may have met a guy who understands the tech disease that I have. He just happens to be a great deal younger. It is fantastic to see someone who's future looks so bright and he actually is so humble as to listen to what this old guy has to say. I was so taken back and impressed with this, and hope that we are able to keep in touch. The more amazing thing was this great conversation took place with little technology around us. Assateague island on the beach of all places. Making a friend can happen in the strangest of places And where we least expect them to.

Homestead Gardens Tomato Festival

In the following couple of weeks I am going to take a stab and enter my Tomatoes via, this contest at Homestead gardens, in Davidsonville MD. It is a simple Salsa, and Chili contest. Now I say simple, however there is nothing simple to winning it.

Local restaurants and Chefs from around the area will enter this competition, so there will be plenty of flavors as well, very established names with a long history of making just these types of items daily. The contest is coming up quick on Saturday the 28th of August. In a wonderful twist of fate, I am hoping my sister will play a role in this contest with me. Even if only to just be there, her presence and ability to talk to people as well put a team/family shine on this, may very well help this little cause. The cause or future business might be, Peggy Jo's Cafe.

Hotels, Travel, Points, Packages, Bonus Miles

One of the small benefits of travel is that if you stay at hotels or fly the same airlines frequently, you have opportunities to sign up for rewards or benefits for using their services frequently. After some time, you could bank some serious points if you travel frequently.

I do, and for many years rarely if ever took advantage of points earned for stays at hotels, or airlines until recently, when Tami and I got to stay at a nice hotel in Ocean city Maryland. While this was a short stay, only 3 nights, it was truly a nice break and at a nice location, which for a moment made all of the travel and work seem a little more worth while.

Shortly before taking this trip, while booking this one in fact, Priority Club Rewards, the program of which I am a platinum member these days, tried to sell me ( and did so successfully) on a getaway package where I could choose up to 4 days and nights at a location in Orlando Florida, a Sunspree resort to be exact, and because of my status actually get passes to Disney and enjoy the area.  Now, I was hesitant, but agreed to listen on, and this seemed like a good thing, and as I agreed that this was something I was interested in, the person, promptly put me on hold and sent me to the "next" person.

Now at this point, I was given the impression that this was a form of gift because of the many nights I'd stayed with them, and that all I had to do was relinquish some of my points and I had a great little package. Then the pitch begins. Now the second phone person in, this one now tells me I need to make a deposit of $150.00, which for this package to me seems a bargain. I am apprehensive but agree, he takes my credit card info, and lets me know that I have to give up 15,000 points regardless of if I change my mind, and I again say ok.

At this time, I am passed on to phone person number 3. This one is the one who drops the hammer. Yup, I'm committed now, and at this time they tell me I have to give up 2 hours of my time for a briefing for a timeshare at a location close by (15 minutes away so they say) and now I am feeling a little taken, but say ok, and figure I can give up a couple of hours in return for 3 - 4 days at this resort, and Disneys theme parks.

I am told I have 45 days to make my decisions as to the dates I want to do this. Well,, within 48 hours the nagging phone calls begin, and then the spam mail for Flip key vacation rentals. The nagging phone calls were almost daily over a period of 3 weeks.  So today after letting them know last week, that I was busy when they called, and they asked what was a good time, and I stated Monday morning between 8am and 12pm that day, so naturally they called me 4 times between the hours of 3 pm, and 8:30 pm, of course no respect at all to what I'd said or my time. Am I a customer here or a number?

Keep in mind, this is the hospitality industry I am speaking of. I am supposed to be a valued customer?? Arguably in the past 1+ years my overnights with them have been in excess of 10k. That's alot of room nights and a lot of travel just for one customer with them.

So today I pick up the phone ( they have called me nonstop sometimes 2-3 times over a 5 minute period, and mind you Never leave a message!! Hmmm kind of suspicious yes? ) , and am hesitant still but committed to confirm some dates, however also little aggravated as I feel like I am being pushed. Not a great way to go into this huh?  I let them know of some dates and that this is one of the few times my wife and I can travel and pick a few days that reside around the Thanksgiving holiday, in fact one day is the day before Thanksgiving. The man promptly tells me that will be an additional 99.00 because it is on a holiday. Now I know this, I have been going to Florida for many years now, and I know that Disney and their hotels are not terribly busy during those days. I have been there enough times to know this. So, I am not staying on premium nights. And even so, really??? Given what I have spent with them, I know see the nickel and dime process happening, and at this point, I say ENOUGH. I can't go forward and would like my deposit back. Of course the man on the line, says it's non refundable. Wow, what a bonus package for a platinum member!!! 

I understand keeping my points, but now keeping my money too, and so I explain to this person, that this was not how I understood the deposit to work. His comment, I will go back and listen to the tapes of your conversations, and counsel with my supervisor, and they will be in touch. Well of course I have heard nothing back, and am for sure out money as well. A nice bonus,, some humiliation on top of all of this too?? I'm a liar too? I have been in customer service for most of my adult life. In this business what the customer perceives to be real is in fact real. These folks are so tied up in selling timeshares they forget that these names are from loyal customers whom fortunately in this line of service actually do have plenty of choices.

To me what has just happened is nothing more than old fashioned extortion. This is my bonus prize for being a Platinum Member of Priority Rewards for Holiday Inns brand. I cannot even express how absolutely stupid I feel for falling prey to this practice of phone marketing, and truly feel had. What really bothers me, is that this brand is tainted for me for the indefinite future, and I have no reason to believe they will do anything to right this ridiculous situation. However, I also know, that Never again, will I fall for this, and highly reccommend to everyone, if it looks too good to be true,,, well you know the answer. Buyer and Loyal customer, be loyal to yourself only.