Sunday, January 28, 2007

Whole Foods Market

As a lover of food, I am a huge fan of the gourmet food markets. There's a ton to choose from in the SF Bay Area, and sometimes one get can dizzy just trying to decide. One of my favorites is Whole Foods Market, headquartered in Austin, TX.

I think of Whole Foods as the Nordstrom's of food markets. I visit the San Mateo location near work at least once a week. Their best feature is the food bar. There are so many choices which include pizza, rotisserie chicken, sushi, olives, salad, soup and ethnic entrees. Their meat and seafood selection are among the freshest and prettiest I've ever seen.

This afternoon I visited for the first time the South of Market location on 4th and Harrison with the primary intention to buy swordfish for our anniversary dinner. I ended up circling like a vulture (I had just come from the gym and hadn't eaten all day) the food bar at least 6 times because there was Asian, Indian, comfort food all featured. The San Mateo location only features 1 of these 3 on a rotational basis.

Prices are a bit steep, but well worth it. If I lived nearby, I would find myself visiting there nearly every night. Screw the restaurants.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

extended family tree

As mentioned in my blog entry on January 15, I've been catching up with my cousin Kit. She is the youngest daughter in my aunt's family (Mom's sister). It's been probably 12 years since I last saw her, which was her wedding in Chicago to her husband Shannon. We've probably caught up those 12 years in e-mails this past week.
Also this past week, I was floored to get an e-mail from Kit's brother Ming. I've been exchanging e-mails with him all week as well. For many years Ming and my brother Sherman were close, but drifted apart the past few years. I'm hoping that will change over the next few months, but we'll see.
The biggest changes in my cousins' lives are marriage and children. All of them are married, two of them childless, one of them officially separated. The above picture are all offspring of Kit's twin sisters, Ping and Ting. With 2 from Kit and Shannon, 3 from Ting and David, and 2 from Ping and Steve, totals 7 children. Kit's children are not in the picture.
I won't tell you who's who's because I'm still not exactly sure myself. I had to get a quick synopsis from Kit. Fortunately, I've already memorized the their kids' names and know which belong to whom. I'm glad they're still young enough that they're not married and have children yet. Then I'll really be confused.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

cracked windshield

It must have happened Monday night. On my way home from work, a rock hit my windshield and caused a slight crack. Because it was evening, I didn't notice the crack until Tuesday morning. I've heard debris hit my windshield many times in all my years of driving (knock wood), but this is the first time I've ever seen damage.

The actual damage was only about an inch long, slightly right of center, and about 2 inches from the bottom of the windshield. I really wanted to get it fixed, but thought it'd be such a pain. I thought I'd have to file a claim, get estimates, and then pay my comprehensive deductible. The only saving grace was that I wouldn't have to rent a crappy car to wait for completion of the repair.

I found out otherwise in a casual chat with my co-worker Jodi yesterday. I was coming back from lunch and saw her at the table eating her midday meal. Her husband Dante works nearby and they usually carpool together. Last Friday, their Saab died in the parking lot and it seemed like half of her department (Customer Service) hung out with them to make sure they got home OK.

I asked Jodi if they found out what caused their car to die. This led me to describe my windshield mishap and she advised me to call my insurance carrier immediately. They experienced the same incident and their insurance company had the windshield fixed without having to replace it. For FREE. I never knew about this kind of service.

Immediately upon returning to my desk, I called CSAA. They had an option on their menu for glass repair. Wow, major cool. I spent the next 10-15 minutes giving the vitals to the service representative. She gave me the option to have the car serviced that day or the next, and whether I wanted the repair to be done at home or work, or at their facility. Gee whiz. I chose to have the repair done at work. She scheduled me for the 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. block and apologized it couldn't be sooner. Wednesdays are usually my late nights, so it wasn't inconvenient at all.

The repair guy from Safelite arrived at about 12:45 p.m. today. It took me about 5 minutes to show him the where the crack was and sign the paperwork. The job itself is only about 30 minutes. Repair work of this kind will yield best results when the damage is minimal (no more than 6 inches) and reported immediately. The warranty is good for the lifetime of the car.

Compared to the body shop/repair experience I had in 1995 after my 8 month old Acura Integra was broadsided in an accident, this was a walk in the park. I wish all service experiences were this easy!

One last shameless plug. Safelite's headquarters are located in my birthplace city, Columbus, Ohio.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Severance package cut

My morning routine at work includes reading a daily e-mail newsletter from the National Retail Federation. Today, it featured an MSNBC article stating that Sharper Image founder and former CEO Richard Thalheimer had his severance pay cut by approximately $3 million.

As mentioned in previous blogs, I did 2 stints at The Sharper Image, nearly 4 years each, from 1983 to 1987 and again in 1989 to 1993. It was my first full time job in my newly adopted city, so I will always have a soft spot for the company. Salary and benefits for a lowly rank-and-file person like me really sucked, so for me to hear Richard's severance package being cut got my undivided attention.

The touchy feely part of me thinks this action is a bit harsh because Richard founded The Sharper Image. He's got terrible management skills and is far a from a person of the people, but the company wouldn't have gotten its start without him.

In contrast, the professional and former employee side of me thinks this is a well-deserved action. The salary gap between rank-and-file and executives has only widened over the years. This "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore" attitude is long overdue. A company sinks or swims with its CEO, and if it sinks, so should his or her severance package.

Friday, January 05, 2007

short week, long days

Today ended the first week of work for 2007. This past holiday season was the busiest for me in many years. After taking 2 days off to go to San Diego, I knew I would return to work busy, but not at the volume I experienced this past week. We had a system crash this afternoon for about 90 minutes, which didn't help.

On Tuesday, I left the office at 8:45 pm. On Wednesday, 9:45 pm. Che and Jawa have noticed my late arrivals home. Once I did get home, they both climbed on my chest, curled around my arm, or sat on my lap as if to say, "Where the hell have you been?"

Right now, Che is sitting on the end table next to the couch, looking over my shoulder. He wants to sit with me. He has already this evening climbed on my lap and chest on 2 separate occasions. I know he's wondering when I'll be off the damn laptop. If the boys had it their way, they'd walk over the keyboard and block the screen, which they did manage to do Tuesday night.

The long work hours will continue for a few more weeks (or so I hope). I looked at my vacation hours again and I'm only 7 from maxing out. I plan to go in tomorrow just to catch up on work I couldn't get to or haven't touched. And I'm only doing this so the work on Monday will seem a bit more manageable.