June 17, 2013

Piña Piña Piña Piña

Side note: So, this is a first post over here on the blog concerning plants...and should be part of the death of the "gardening blog" which I had.  I am going to consolidate many of the "separate blogs" into one, probably just leaving a blog, a beer recipe page, and the poems, but we will see.

Several years ago, I got a wild idea to grow a pineapple plant.  I knew from somewhere deep in my past, wandering around in a memory from my childhood, that you could grow a pineapple plant from just the top of any old pineapple that you bought from the store.  I did not, however, have any clue what I was doing in how to grow it.

Insert the Internet.

This page helped me understand what I was doing, and I followed the instructions pretty much with a pineapple top.

After about a year, I had a pineapple plant with two leaves.  That was it.  Still, I kept up with the sunlight and occasional watering, hoping that one day, I'd have a plant.

Here we are, probably three years later, and you can see from the picture above, I've got one.  I can't tell you when or why, but one day last year, the plant just started growing.  It started sprouting new leaves out of the center, and the ones it sprouted kept growing and growing.  I moved it to the office when we moved houses, and have kept it here a couple of months now where it can get ample sunlight (and some good flourescent light, too), and it seems to be happy here as well.

Suffice it to say, it is not the easiest plant I've ever grown, but it definitely has been rewarding the past few months to see it actually sprout more than the two measly leaves it had.

So go over to that "How to Grow a Pineapple" site and check it out.  You might actually want to grow one, too.

June 14, 2013

Funny - conversations with my 2 year old

This is funny, and I have totally had similar conversations occur in our household.

The second episode is pretty great too....  Subscribed.

June 10, 2013

No thanks, I won't pull up

By Coneingcrew (Own work) [CC0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Every now and again, I am going through a local fast food establishment, and I get to the window to pay and receive my food, and, after paying, the restaurant employee asks me, "if you don't mind, please pull up," accompanied with a gesture to some nebulous blacktop waiting area where I am supposed to sit in my car, out of line, and wait for someone to inefficiently bring my food out to the car after they have prepared it.  Often, the request is much ruder: "Pull up over there and we will bring your food."

At times, I have complied with this request, pulling into side parking spots or just moving the car up a few feet, or even wrapping around the front of the building to wait.  But this practice has become so frequent among fast food establishments that I begin to wonder if we should remove the "fast" from their moniker.

The worst part about it is that I have occasionally had issues with the "pull up" routine.  The absolute worst of the worst experience is that on more than one occasion, the workers have just completely forgotten that I was waiting, leading me to exit my car, march inside, only to find that they have not even made my food, and I will be waiting longer.  They already have my money hostage, so there's a sense of powerlessness about it that I find frustrating.  Other disasters include waiting a long time and then receiving the wrong food, missing condiments, etc., all requiring a physical exit from the car to go back into the establishment to correct.

So, why do they even do this?  I can only think of two reasons.  The first is benevolent.  Something in my order actually will take longer to make than the order behind me, so they are just rearranging the queue to allow the first food ready to be the first food served.  I don't really have an issue with this, as it might benefit me one day.  The second is a bit more self-serving.  Lots of fast food restaurants are measured on "time to service" sort of metrics that measure (even electronically counting inside the restaurant) the amount of time that a car sits at the drive through window.  In some restaurants (I know because I worked in one), the timer starts beeping annoyingly if the car exceeds some allotted service time.  In this instance, there is no customer service mentality there, just a desire to artificially deflate the average service times or to avoid getting "dinged" for long wait times.  The problem is that you can't ever tell if the motivation is the first reason, second reason, or just plain conditioned behavior.

So what can you do?  I say you refuse to pull up.  Period.

I got introduced to this idea from a friend who said that he "refused to pull up on principle" and would just stick with that.  The response generates confused looks and repetition in the ask, but kept him at the window until receiving his food.  I loved the idea so much, I've taken to some adjustments of my own.

The first thought I had was to answer the question "Can you please pull up?" with some enigmatic response, like "I am not allowed."  I thought this would generate some sort of suspicion that I would play into, along the lines of my being a secret shopper or something like that, unable to falsify service times in my reports back to corporate.  But that opened itself to the same issues as "refusing on principle."

And then, it hit me.  A great response, that I (and others, now) have used with some level of success.  It is predicated on a two-pronged approach:  First, you let yourself believe that they are asking you to pull up as a courtesy to you, to generate great customer service.  Second, you let yourself believe that you will do the more polite thing and not require them, at their minimum wage job, to have to run out and serve you food when you are perfectly capable of sitting and waiting on them.  The response, "No, thanks, I'm fine."

So, here's how this conversation goes in practice.

Cashier: Sir, can you please pull up?
Me: No thanks, I'm good.

Cashier: Sir, if you can pull over there, we can bring your food to you.
Me: Oh, you really don't have to do that.  I'm OK, I will wait for it.

I've tried some other variants, like totally ignoring the request, or pulling up only two or three feet, which negates the purpose of my pulling up but doesn't allow them to protest anymore, but I've found the "polite refusal" is most effective, and generally only results in being asked once or twice.  And after you've done it a couple of times, it's just as easy as the obligatory "No thanks" when offered new credit card offers to save 10% off of your $14 Target purchase or the like.

My goal: to eventually end the "please pull up" automatic request, and get it really back to "total exception" scenarios.  But I need your help.

Will you join in the refusal?

June 3, 2013

Off the face of the planet

By NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team
 (STScI/AURA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
So, no.  I did not actually fall off of the face of the planet.  Nor did I apply for a one-way pass to colonize the planet Mars and get accepted and shipped off.  No, nothing that exciting.

Instead, I just disappeared from my own website for a while.  It happens.

In the meantime, we had another baby, I moved, and all sorts of other delightful life changes took place.

If you have stuck around this long, chances are you have seen me pull the disappearing act a couple of times.  And now I'm back.  For a little while at least.

I'm not sure I'll continue all the site in its present form, or if I will just start merging some pieces of it together - I have a feeling I may combine the writing blog with the brewing log with the blog, and just have one place with some different tags separating it.  I know I just split it out a few years ago, but honestly, the updates on each one individually are spaced out enough that I don't think there's a continuous stream of content.

So, maybe that will happen.  If I get motivated.

In the meantime, I am looking at doing some flash fiction and poetry stuff, which I will talk about on the writing blog.  Maybe.  For now, hi, and know I'm still somewhere out here - not somewhere out there.