Sunday, September 30, 2007

Top Job

As I was reading some blogs tonight, I clicked on a link that led to a Peoria Journal Star article. I looked in the upper right hand corner and saw a banner promoting "Top Jobs". I'm always looking for a "Top Job", so I decided to check out this one. Now how does this figure to be a "top job"?

What's that in your ear?

I remember 30 some years ago, the hearing aid industry kept looking for technological ways to reduce the size of hearing aids. Over the years, they have managed to shrink an aid down so small that it is almost unnoticeable in one's ear. Remember the commercials and advertisements that touted a new, smaller aid pointing out the fact that the larger, more noticeable aid was unsightly and embarrassing?

Well, with modern technology there is Bluetooth wireless communication devices which allows us to have this trendy, colorful object protruding from your ear which is all the rage.

First, we make hearing aids smaller because it is supposedly embarrassing, but now we can hang colorful orbs on our ears to prove how fashionably cool we are while giving the appearance of talking to ourselves.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Haylumoon Restaurant

Huh, hay, what? I looked at funny, too the first time I saw it. However, I was very pleasantly pleased by this restaurant in Chillicothe.

Located at 142 N. Fourth, it is on Rte. 29 not too far north of Hardees. The entrance is confusing as it is on the side of the building close to the back. The front entrance goes to General's Fish & Chicken.

Haylumoon is an Asian Style restaurant as it looks to have influences of both Japanese and Chinese items. My DA order the crab rangoon and I the eggrolls. The rangoon were shaped differently than a lot of rangoon I've kind of resembled a flower. The flavors were delicate and mild and held quite a bit of crab (but the imitation kind..but aren't they all). My eggrolls were tightly wrapped, crispy and had a very good amount of filling. A touch bland on their own, they came to life with a bit of soy sauce.

If I'm not mistaken, my DA had the Yu Heung Pork which is somewhat spicy combination of pork, green bell peppers, a few other veggies and peanuts in a brown sauce. My gripe with a lot of Asian places' sauces are that they are salty and sometimes overly so. Not this one at Haylumoon.

I had the Sizzling Wor Bar which was a combination of shrimp, chicken and shreds of BBQ pork with carrots, waterchestnuts, broccoli and peapods in a very light seafood tasting sauce. Shrimp were very tender and seasoned. The amazing thing was the chicken. It appeared to be pounded flat and thinly sliced... not big chunks. And it did come out on a sizzle platter, sizzling....just like fajitas!

Not too many people there. Actually, we were the only ones there when we left, but a ton of take out orders when out while we were there. Very friendly and attentive service from an elderly gentleman.

We just had water. The bill wasn't quite $19.

The particular DA I went with last night lives between Peoria and Chilli, so we plan to make many returns. The Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and the Loon Foon Kow sound interesting!! Oh, and they have steak, burgers and fried chicken for the unadventurous.

See You Around The Table.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This is kinda fun

Since Billy Dennis is slacking on his eye candy posts, I had to go in search of some myself. I didn't get too far in my endeavor. I came across this silliness:

Who would be your celebrity cellmate?"

Greeeeeaaaattt.... Gary Busey. Can't Elisha Cuthbert get a speeding ticket or something?


According to Yahoo sports, the guy who bought Barry Bonds record breaking 756 home run baseball is planning to donate it the Baseball Hall of Fame....with an asterisk imprinted on it.

Now, I, as with many others, have a sneaky suspicion that Bonds likes to stick a needle in his ass and pump into his body a substance that makes him expand to the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. But don't we live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not what the public and media think?

I don't think that the Baseball Hall of Fame should accept the altered ball. Either accept it unadultred, or not at all. Let's say Brett Favre retires at the end of the year. Some fan ends up with the last jersey he wore. The fan donates to the Football Hall of Fame with an asterisk on it. The fan, a disgruntled Packers fan, thinks Favre should have hung it up years ago as his last few years have sort of stunk, caused the Packers to have losing records and while Favre won't admit it, he is only doing it so he can break a bunch of records for his own glory. There are people who think that. Maybe not as many who think Bonds is juiced, but that thought process is out there. Yeah, there is a difference, but each is sort of slanderous if not proven in a court of law, right?

If the current owner wants to put a legal stipulation on the ball saying if he donates it and Bonds is later found to be an illegal substance puppet, THEN they either have to brand the ball with an asterisk or return it.

The 4 AM Liquor License Debate

After reading several area blogs about this subject and commenting on a few, it seems that I am in the minority on the subject. I say let them be.

I have other reasoning. I'm not in the restaurant biz anymore, but I'm going to put my two cents in for restaurant and bar employees, non traditional shift hospital workers and other second shift personnel. I guess it is OK for all of you 9-5, M-Fri. people to have a drink or several after work with your colleagues or friends, but because I'M the person behind the bar serving them to you, or in the kitchen cooking for you, or in the emergency room patching you up until the wee hours in the morning, I can't have the same right to go out and have a drink?

Don't give me the bullshit line of "you picked the profession". Yeah and if I and millions like me didn't, who would be serving, cooking and patching your ass up?

I got an idea. Since sooooooooooo many people are so concerned that it is going to cost more in police labor to maintain order with all the 4 AM bars, how about this: Alcohol can only be served between 11 PM and 6 AM. With this short of time span, it will be less costly to maintain police presence. Also, it should decrease alcohol related traffic issues because there won't be as many people out on the roads for the intoxicated to run into. And if they are intoxicated, since there are less people driving around, the drunks will be easier to spot and get off the streets. And that is what we want, right? Lowering police costs and safer driving.

Oh, sure, it sounds ridiculous to the 9-5 people, but I bet it doesn't sound ridiculous to the second shift workers of the world. It is the norm to get up at noon, go to work at 4 PM, get out at midnight, then go enjoy our "after work" relaxation, just like the 9-5ers, except it is 2 am.

However, during the week, 2 am is probably late enough. Weekends, let them stay open until 4. Give all bars that option. They don't HAVE to exercise that option. If they want to close at 10, they close at 10. I doubt many bar owners will stay open until 2 AM just because they can while there are no customers in their bar. Also, any bar that stays open after 2 am must provide their own security. If the police are called, there is a $5,000 fee for that service. Goes unpaid, liquor license doesn't get renewed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Think I Laughed Up A Lung..

I was looking through some old VCR tapes last night and came across the movie "Four Rooms". I totally forgot about this movie. I popped it in (yeah, I've still got a VCR hooked up) and laughed myself stupid last night. In my opinion, it has to be one of the funniest movies ever. Tim Roth is brilliant. It also has some other big name actors\actresses in cameo roles.

If you haven't seen it and want a good laugh, rent it. I have three comments: Make sure the kids are asleep (or away), be prepared for some foul language and tawdry subject matters and don't drink anything that might burn your nose hairs if it comes back up.

Customer Service

There has been a lot of complaining about customer service in the Peoria area of late. From 3 or 4 chain eating establishments, a "warehouse" store, a gas station, and probably a few I forgot, I too, am amazed at the lack of service sometimes. And the trouble is, that there are some places or people in Peoria that do offer some outstanding CS and once you experience it, everything else seems mediocre at best.

As a person who has always been in customer service and now interacts directly with the public, I feel compelled to say a few things.

First, CS people. If it is just a job to you and you have little drive or passion for CS (or you just plain suck at it), please go find a job that allows you to sit in a cubicle only interacting with all your other cubicle-ites. If the NORMAL customer is a hassle for you, then become a shepherd. Yeah, there are people who are a pain in the ass and treat you like it is your fault that their iPod quit working, your steak is over cooked, the store is out of stock of an item, hell, even have to wait in line pisses them off, but you have to grin and bear it. It is what CS is about. The average person is happy if you do your job with a good attitude and present some friendliness. If you can't do that and are skating by with minimal CS in a CS job, get out. So to all younger CS people out there, let me pass along a word of advice to you that was given to me (at the time) by a younger, and wise beyond her years, manager of mine: "Kevin, listen to what they have to say, not how they say it. People are upset over a situation, not at you, so don't take it personally". Those words have done me well. Still tough to take someone who is belittling you and using the "F" word so many times in a three minute phone call that you think you are watching "Scarface"..... But suck it up, smile and get it done. So, yeah, there are some shitty CS people in every industry and I can go along with it is probably getting worse. As more and more eating places, malls, etc. open, the CS is undoubtedly going to drop as there aren't enough "good" CS people to fill those positions and the employer is stuck taking the best of the worst. On a side rant, the attitude and lack of any type of committment or enthusiasm of potential job applicants is so low, I really hate talking to most of them. A simple question as: "As you will be doing the same job 90% of the time, would you rather do job a or job b?" The "high percentage" reply is: "I don't care, whatever you're hiring for (in sort of a defeatest tone)" doesn't show me any committment or drive to even HAVE a job.

Wouldn't have expected the above from a CS person, would you?

HOWEVER (knew something was coming, huh?) hanging on my wall are several nominations and awards for my CS signed by various "higher ups" in the organization for which I work. I must do something right on occasion because these are the direct result of customers writing letters or filling out comment cards...they aren't from some internal "have to nominate someone" nomination. This next rant isn't going out to the average consumer. This is for those of you with something sharp stuck up a part of your anatomy and you take things out on a CS person.

I have been in the customer service biz going on 30 years. Most of the time I really enjoy it. I'm finding customers today are more rude, more self centered, want things now, do not know the words please and thank you (which can go a loooooong way) and above all, really talk down to service people. In all my years, I don't think I have ever been so talked down to in such condesending fashions as I have in the last 5 years or so. I've even have had other customers step in and tell the "offending" customer how rude they are. That situation is something that would have not been seen or heard of 15 years ago as it was not necessary.

CS people sometimes act as an intermediary between the producer of the product and yourself. Ever hear the term "Don't shoot the messenger"? Bet you've even used it in your own defense. Can the waitress help that your steak is undercooked? Can the sales clerk help that the store is out of medium-sized brown sweaters? So, why beat THEM up over it? They have absolutely nothing or little to do with it. See my point? That is what managers, owners and corporate offices are for. Yet, I see it every day. I've seen younger sales people in tears, IN TEARS. Terrible way to treat someone who is trying to help you, don't you think? Think the repeated use of the "F" word is going to help your case? I can't magically make employees appear from their living rooms at home because you are the 10th of 10 people who just walked in the door and you "are in a hurry". I can't drop my shorts and "Squeeze out a solution" for you.

Yes, it is our job to be polite and helpful, that is why we are there. Over the years, I feel MY CS has become much better. I enjoy putting a smile on peoples' faces. I'm happy they have a great experience. I enjoy a good challenge of trying to find something they want. I enjoy helping people out of a jam. Yet to others, I don't know what the "F" I'm doing, I'm not finding something fast enough, "You're mistaken, we've bought it here before" (when our competitors label is on the side of the box they are holding.....) and I don't know what I'm talking about. One of my favorites: "Im sorry, my company does not do business with the company that makes the product you are wanting, so I can't get it." "Well, why not?" How does my "award winning CS" go to hell in 2 seconds? Is it me?

Case in point: a gentleman (loose term here) brings back an item that broke. He just wants a new one in exchange. According to the manufacturer, he needs to send it to them and they will deal with it. It explains this procedure in the warranty information if he would have bothered to read it. Now, I'm every name in the book, piece of shit there is. If I give him a new replacement, it is my ass. I look up the manufacturer's customer service number, write it down and hand it to him. "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST GIVE ME A NEW ONE!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!" Because I can not. I, even as a manager, do not have that authority. The item was flung in my direction, was told he was calling the Better Business Bureau and "I was going to get mine". (Nice threat, huh?) Me: "Can I help the next person, please?"
Woman: "How do you deal with that? I couldn't handle it..I'd tell him what he could do with it".
Me: (figuring she could take a joke) That will only take a Sam Adams or two to get over. I've had worse.
Woman: He needs to be drowned in a vat of Sam Adams.
Me: Why would we want to screw up perfectly good beer?
After a good chuckle, her issue was dealt with.

And if I hear one more time "If you would stay in school and get an education then you could get a better job" (etc.), I'm going to go off. I have an education. I'm a 1994 Culinary Institute of America HONORS graduate along with a few ICC degrees. I had many lucrative job offers out of the CIA. I'm doing what I do because I WANT to. That 19 year old waiter just might be an engineering student at Bradley or an education major at ISU. Yes, they need to put on a positive face in their temporary CS gig until they are making $200,000K a year designing bridges. I just get sick of that judgemental attitude that if you are a sales clerk, waitperson, etc. you are assumed to have made nothing out of your life, dropped out of school at 14 and you are stuck shlepping tables. That is just the condescending prick attitude I deplore.

So, if you get bad CS and have done nothing to deserve it, bitch away. However, if you just "went off" on someone for something that is out of their control, get over yourself.

If I Had The Absolute Power.... change one thing as the mayor of Peoria, it would be....

While I'm at it, if I had the absolute power to change one thing as the governor of Illinois, it would be...

Since we're dreaming, if I had the absolute power to change one thing as President of the United States, it would be...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Most Athletic Athlete

We were having a discussion about which sport has the most athletic athletes. We were thinking soccer as they are nearly running back and forth all the time. Hockey seemed to draw some nods as there is constant motion plus the physical nature of the sport. Marathoners. Basketball has to be up there. Tennis was mentioned. Boxing wasn't mentioned but now that I think of it.... Baseball was scoffed at as was golf.

So, which sport do you think you have to be the most athletic in which to compete?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Too Many Jokes Possible

I subscribe to several food and wine feeds\articles, but I never get ANYTHING quite like this.

Go ahead, make jokes. I know you want to.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Car or Old Wine?

Occasionally, I like to buy some hard to find wines from K&L Wines in CA. While I was looking to see if they had the new vintage of Panari Ne in stock yet, I stumbled upon this

1945 Mouton Rothschild

Yep, that is right. $13,000 for a single bottle of wine. That is a decent downpayment on a nice car and might even buy outright a no frills Chevrolet Cobalt.

Oh, and in unrelated news, Chef Kevin Appreciation Day is October 13th .......... ;)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An Open Letter

Dear Neighborhood Dog Owner.

Obviously, you are deaf or your hearing aid battery has failed. It is 6:45 am on a Saturday morning and your dog is outside barking it's f***ing head off. It is easy to blame the dog, but you're the idiot's head that I should be lining up the red dot on my .308.

I'm quite sure you will replace those batteries right before I have my next social gathering so you can call the cops about the noise (that the cops couldn't hear last time and the only reason they picked me is I was the only house with lights on...guess it was a slow night in the East Bluff).


Grumpy & Sleepy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

AP Athlete of the Year Scorecard Heats Up

Two of the biggest names in sports took a bit of a backseat in the sports world (just watch ESPN) due to the opening weekend in the NFL. Two of the obvious forerunners were at it again.

Roger Federer wins his fourth straight US Open tennis title, something that has not been done since the 1920's, in three straight sets. He picked up three Grand Slam events this year to bring him to 12 which is closing in on Pete Sampras's record 14. He has compiled a win\loss record of 53-6 so far this year.

Tiger Woods won his 60th career tournament, and number 6 of the year, by taking the BMW Championship in Chicago with an impressive, course record tying 63. Number 60 finds him closing in fast on Sam Snead's all time 82 wins. He has won 13 majors which I'm sure will make Jack Nicklaus's 18 fall.

In last year's AP Athlete of the Year voting Woods (and LaDainian Tomlinson) both whooped Federer in the voting: 260 to 230 to 110, which even surprised Woods: "What he's done in tennis, I think, is far greater than what I've done in golf," Woods said. However, Federer beat out both Woods & Tomlinson to take the USA Today's Outstanding Athlete of the Year Award.

Well, Mr. Tomlinson, your season is just starting while theirs are ending. Your work is cut out for you. Your cohorts in last's years voting are keeping a dizzying pace. You didn't have a great game yesterday, but the season is young. However, that pass to Antonio Gates was a beautiful thing. Hell, you have more touchdown passes this year than Rex Grossman....hmmmm....there is an idea.

And where does Barry Bonds achieving baseball's home run record fall into this?

And other contenders out there? Should be another interesting year!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

To Support or Not To Support....

...that is the question.

On Sat. September 8, one of my favorite hangouts, Panache, will be hosting a fundraiser and the proceeds will be equally split to help support two identities: The Peoria Jazz Society and the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

I try to support the local jazz scene and Panache is the oldest continuously running jazz venue in Peoria providing jazz every Tuesday and Thursday night for the last 11 years. I'm fairly good friends with the owner and even cook there from time to time. A lot of local area jazz musicians, which will display an almost obscene amount of talent, will be providing all star quality music all night long.

Unfortunately for myself, I will not be attending. I don't have to work or cater or have a hot date that despises jazz music. It is because I can't support the "rails to trails" part of the fundraiser. I'll probably pop in, hand $10 (the cost of admission) to the president of the jazz society and leave. Current plans are Sam Adams, Jambalaya and Southside Cindy and the Slip Tones at Po' Boys.

Save the Kellar Branch!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Who said she had to be nice?

The media is being all whiny because after Serena Williams' loss at the U.S. Tennis Open, she was "snippy & rude" to them and one may even say she insulted her opponent.

Sure, it is OK for your media cohorts to show up at funerals where you are requested not to be, use long range lenses to take photos, to call 14 year olds on their cellphones to get comments and pry into private moments. That's OK. But be rude to you? Oh, my God, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got an idea. Why don't you go over and interview a few Marines in Iraq. After a few bombs go off nearby you causing a harrowing experience, how about if Serena drops by, sticks a tennis racquet up your @ss and asks you how your day was going?

Get over it.

Marc Broussard

This past Christmas season, I came across a song called "On Santa's Way Home" by a guy named Marc Broussard. This summer, I looked into his music a bit more. I gotta say I'm now a fan. Kind of a Louisiana blues\rock\soul thing going on in his music. So, instead of putting out a third originals CD, Marc decides to release a cover CD of some great soul tunes. Ok, I would have rather a new "Marc" CD, but I thought it was pretty good. However, it seems on some internet sites he is catching some criticsm that he doesn't have "the pipes" or the range to be covering these songs. Fine, I say to myself. His first song he has released in an Al Green cover of "Love & Happiness". So, I went to YouTube to find an Al Green version. It has no video:

Ok, it is a corny video (in my opinion) but here is Marc's cover:

So, does the 26 year old Louisiana kid have the "pipes", the soul, the range, or no?

But "Love & Happiness" isn't really a Marc tune. Here is the song "Home" which a better representation of his voice and music:

And a "live in a record store" version of "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know":

Put on one heck of a show live..

Credit Cards

I was recently talking to a local merchant. He was disgruntled because his credit card company (or processor) is going to increase the percentage they were going to deduct for each sale. He said fees are starting to get ridiculous and if he can not find a better deal, he might just stop taking credit cards. I had my own business and I can relate to what he is saying. Someone has to be paying for all those frequent flyer miles.

I'm not quite sure of the numbers, but I'll bet I'm close. If the credit card company (or processor) takes 35 cents per transaction and 7% of the sale, let's look at some numbers.

$10.00 sale leaves $8.95
$20.00 sale leaves $18.25
$50.00 sale leaves $46.15
$100.00 sale leaves $92.65

So, if you had $30,000 in credit card sales per month at $30 per sale, you get $27,650.

Ever see signs that say "No credit card purchases under $10" (or $20)? Has not yet happened to this merchant be he has heard that some credit card processors are charging a surcharge for purchases under $10. Is it really harder to process an $8 instead of an $80 purchase?

And I believe it is against the law to directly pass this cost along to the consumer. Thusly, if you use your credit card for a $20.00 purchase, I can not pass the cost along to you & charge you $21.75. Remember when gas stations used to offer cash back if you paid cash? It pretty much amounted to what you were saving them in credit card processing fees. Of course I can up my price to make up for it, but when I've just upped them to pay higher CILCO bills and minimum wage costs, I'm going to up myself out of business.

Want to help the little guy stay in biz? Pay cash.

And remember, someone is making 10, 14, 18, 22, 28, 32 % interest off of you on the other side.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

No Kidding?

Reuters reports that Liverpool John Moores University has determined that rock stars are more likely to die prematurely.

Gee, ya think? Good to see research money is being well spent at the university level. I think if you asked the question "Do you think rock n' roll stars tend to die earlier than regular people" to 1000 people on the street, one would have came up with the same conclusion.

I'm sure aging rockers like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar, Bob Seger and a few others are extremely excited to hear this.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How about a $100 breakfast?

Eggs, ham, toast, coffee and O.J. $100. -

This takes the saying "living high off the hog" to a new meaning:

A new ham from Spain could cause your breakfast price to skyrocket. A Spanish ham producer is working on a $160 per pound ham that is only sold by the whole leg at $2100. His exclusively acorn fed black Iberian pigs are treated as well as Wagyu cattle\Kobe beef. The 2006 (yes, vintaged dated ham!) should be ready by Christmas 2008 for all your holiday entertaining needs. But act quick, because all but 25 are spoken for....

I'll make a buy the ham and serve it and I'l make the omelets........