Happy Friday!!

OMG OMG OMG OMG - the conference celebration starts TOMORROW!!!!

We have a networking social tomorrow after work. I am assisting the set-up of the conference in the afternoon and then I go straight to the hotel to help oversee the party. I'm there until 9:45 and then I get o enjoy a nice night at the hotel in my free room - thanks to my excellent bargaining skills - and then I'm up at 6:00 am to start all the fun at the conference. And hopefully home by 5:30pm!

A slightly long day..and the end of my event planning time for now...a bittersweet weekend.

I am approaching the eight-month mark of my new job. In some ways, it feels like AGES, and in some ways, it was just yesterday I worked in that "other department" where I was mistreated and undervalued. I feel like I went from the lowest of the low to a position very near the high of the high. It's not "perfect" - but it's REALLY good.

I was able to adjust my hours and I now catch a slightly-earlier bus which allows me to get home 30 minutes earlier. It's nice to be shave 30 minutes off my commute! I still get my 20 minutes to read on the bus each way, but I don't have to wait 20 minutes for the bus and I miss out on a large amount of rush-hour traffic.

So my crazy, busy weekend begins....and then next weekend--another crazy, busy weekend as we give a local elementary school an Extreme Makeover. Just me and 120 friends, five hours of physical labor, gallons and gallons of paint, tons of bushes and trees, and lots of energizing work. The fun never stops.

For My BFF




What to get a sweets-lover for her birthday?





As much chocolate as possible!



Coordinator Extraordinaire

For the last six months I have been working on coordinating a medical conference (the first annual) at work. Well, it's almost game time....the conference is in just 5 days!! I can't believe it.

The networking social is Friday night and the conference is all day Saturday.
I have been working my ass off on his conference, trying to make sure it's PERFECT. It's the first annual and some people weren't so certain it could be pulled together in a six month period of time---but we did it. There are three of us working on it: Amy, who has spelling issues and dismisses about 50% of my emails, and Sue, aka Little Peanut, who dissects every email making sure I triple-check every detail. They are awesome to work with.




It's been a FUN process...but it's about to come to an end. Hopefully with a success story at the end, because it's my intention that there will be no mishaps, no forgotten details, no "we should have done this!", nothing we didn't plan for. Maybe an impossible feat, considering they are clinical people, not admin, and my event planning experience was slightly different and MUCH smaller - but - we have put so much heart and passion into making this successful, that I think we have a good shot at near-perfection.

And then...then I have to do other duties at work. I would say I have been spending about 40% of each month since I started on planning this conference and I have LOVED every bit of it. Well, almost every bit. Dealing with the Parking Dept has been ridiculous- their reputation is not unwarranted!

I am going to miss my Conference Committee members and the fun (and TOTALLY productive!) meetings we have had once a week.

The week after the big conference is Comcast Cares Day - I am the Project Manager at a local elementary school where 100 Comcast employees, and four Project Leaders and hopefully 2 teens, will volunteer to spend 4 hrs doing an Extreme Makeover type event, painting the school and redoing their landscaping. It's a big deal and I'm not sure why they chose me to be Project Manager...maybe my reputation is not unwarranted! :)

It will be fun - hard work and an exhausting day, but fun and very productive.

And then I have nothing big planned...but I'm sure I'll find something somehow.

Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster


What a total scam this thing is!

I told the teen we could go to Red Lobster for the Endless Shrimp special, as he LOVES shrimp and everyone has to splurge sometime and he's a GOOD kid. He deserves to eat endless shrimp. So he didn't eat all morning and we headed over there about 4pm, ready to experience something as wonderful as Disneyland-plates and plates of little shrimp, all curled up, still in their natural state, just without their skin...or their ability to breathe, swimming in a garlic butter sauce of some sort.

It started out really well. He selected two of the five choices, received his 20 shrimp and then we waited five minutes for the waitress to come back and ask what type he wanted for his next serving. This is where it started going downhill.

We were under the impression that we could get two new plates at a time. We talked about it with Lizzie the Waitress when we were getting ready to order. She told us that we can pick two to start and then the next two can be different choices. So then when Lizzie comes back, the kid orders two more. Lizzie leaves, he's happy, we're chit-chatting, life is grand.

Until Lizzie returns to say that she can only enter one order at a time, which would we prefer.

Hmm...are you sure Lizzie? Right, go check with someone.

Five more minutes goes by....the kid has now started eating my soup while he waits.
Lizzie returns to say, yeah, it has to be one plate at a time.

Really Lizzie? Can you order them back to back for us then? Okay great, thanks.
TEN minutes later (now it's been 15 minutes since he finished his first plate), the next plate of TEN shrimp arrive.
Ten shrimp will last a 14-yr old teenager who loves shrimp approximately 96 seconds.

And then.....we must wait ten more minutes for Lizzie.

sigh.
Really Lizzie....is this a joke??

My actual words to her were "I don't think this endless shrimp is going to work out for us." As if I was breaking up with her....it's not me, it's you, Lizzie.

After explaining to her that at the rate we are going it will take approximately 3.5 hrs for him to fill up with shrimp, I told her that yes, I would like her to go talk to her manager. She returned to explain that the endless shrimp is set up that way and that she can special order two dishes at a time for us if I'd like. I again explained the 96 second rule and that if we had two, it would still be approximately 5 minutes to eat 20 shrimp and THEN we have to wait until she has a chance to come back to us and THEN we have to wait for our order to go through the kitchen and THEN wait for it to be brought to our table. So now the deal on the table is 2 plates of shrimp every 15-20 minutes.

This Endless Shrimp thing would be great under the following circumstances:
A) You like to have a series of 15 minute breaks in the middle of your meal.
B) You don't like shrimp much and can only eat it in small quantities.
C) You have nothing at all to do all day and you're interested in grazing on your meal, not eating it.
D) You are not really hungry and have money to waste.

We are none of the above, and as such, asked to speak to her manager (to which the kid said I was the angry mother yelling at the principal).

Our ever-so-friendly manager John came to the table and said his name two times in 1 minute and then asked me what was wrong, as if Lizzie hadn't spoken to him five minutes earlier....

I repeated the whole thing and let him know that I am not interested in paying for the cost of Endless Shrimp if it means I have to wait 15 minutes between plates. John listened intently and sympathetically and offered me NOTHING to make me happy so I continued to talk and ended with, I will pay for what he's eaten and we will just go.
John's response was to say his name again and go get our bill and then say his name again and thank us for coming.

Where is the managerial response of "let me make it up to you" or "how can i fix this to make your visit a success" or "let me comp your meal for you, sorry about the misunderstanding."??? John said NOTHING like that.

He actually charged us for every single bite my son ingested..which came out to $2 off the price of Endless Shrimp. Wonderful. Great lesson in how to be an incompetent manager.

Just another lesson in how I have expectations of people that are not unrealistic, yet are not fulfilled.

I EXPECT that the manager will not let a customer leave a restaurant feeling as if they never want to come back to this place.
I EXPECT that if someone tells me something that turns out to be wrong and we all find out later-that she will try hard to make sure that person is happy. Right, Lizzie??? Why didn't you come back every 2 minutes and take another order of 10 shrimp??
I EXPECT that an advertisement that says something is endless will be made non-stop in the kitchen so that when an order is placed, it is ready nearly immediately....the Olive Garden does it with pasta-on the endless pasta days, you never have an empty pasta bowl. It's not a hard concept.


sigh....I hate Red Lobster. Add them to the list of places we are boycotting.

Carpe Diem!


Did I seize the day today?
I think so...
I accomplished a lot at work. I actually took a lunch and saved myself the $5.50 I would have spent in the cafeteria.

I climbed the stairs on both my breaks in my new plan to lose 30 lbs in the slowest way possible.

I came home and sat on the back porch with the cat and a book and enjoyed the cool breeze on a quiet evening before the kid got home from a friends house.

I beat the kid for the third night in a row playing Phase 10.

Helped the boy with homework, paid all my bills online, did the dishes, took a nice relaxing shower and now I'm off to bed with a book. Just a nice relaxing day.

And even better--tomorrow is wrap day at work. The best day of the week.

...now if only I knew where my library card was so I could renew my books before they are late. Again.
However----even the cost of 4 late books at 15cents a day (or whatever it is) - is a GREAT deal considering how many books I borrow from them a year.
I love my library. I wish my library number was about 11 numbers shorter so I could remember it!
Seriously, is someone out there with the library card #1043? No...probably not. Can't we reset the library cards? My number is literally 16 digits (at least). It might be 24. Once I find my card, I'll find out.

And So It Begins

My son is in HIGH SCHOOL!!!!
Remember the other day when he was a baby??




And then a toddler...



And then a youth....(he's the one on the left)


And then a young man...


And now....sigh...he's taller than my mom.



ha---just kidding! He's been taller than her for YEARS!!! BUT he IS taller than me now. But just a *little* bit.

Back to the Real World

School starts this week!!!
We went to Washington to visit the family while we had a chance, as next month our weekends are pretty full.

Here was our guest of honor this weekend:

My brother in law, Jason, flew back to visit for the weekend. He's living apart from his family, stuck in a crappy town on the east coast for some military thing-school maybe? reassignment? I think I was probably told at some point...all I know is that he's on the east coast for almost a year. All by himself. Sad and lonely. Poor Jason.

So he flew back to visit and we had a little reunion party, with my mom and dad, the kid and I, Jasons mom, sister, sister-in-law, and three kids from the two sisters. It was a nice full house. We had a barbecue at Jen & Jay's house and then played games - which is what we do. I love it. Here's a couple shots from my spot at the games table:




This little darling:
took photos for me. She's quite good.
Here's her photos:
Scooter:




















Jen & Candace











The only shot she could get of Tyler, who was not cooperating.

And a self-portrait:

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