The Value of Vocation

For three weeks this summer Henry and I stayed at our first, and probably last airbnb. We have no true horror stories to share, we were not robbed, or cheated, nor were we in any danger. At worst we experienced a few minor inconveniences or injustices. However, what airbnb gave us was a reminder that Hotelier, like Chef, or Writer (to name just a few), is a serious vocation, not something just anyone can play at (my written word is evidence enough). Continue reading

All Borders Are Fiction, Perhaps Especially Food Borders.

I came across a rather silly, surprisingly stupid article from NPR yesterday. Surprising because regardless of leaning NPR is more often than not known for intelligent content. Still we must try to imagine all experts as if they are mammals, and in this NPR helps us out. The piece in question (at once answering a common question on the existence of stupid questions) asked: “When is it OK to profit from cooking other cultures food.”  Continue reading

Mostly Vegan

In March of 2015 I learn of, and then mostly adopted, a change to my eating habits that has been relatively easy (for me) and had a relatively positive impact to my size, weight and blood pressure. I became mostly-vegan. “Mostly” in part because of my job, which does require me to eat meat on occasion. Also because I enjoy meat, believe dietary science urges omnivorous nutrition, and don’t subscribe to the “animals are peaceful” philosophy of many vegans. Indeed I believe if the tables were turned the animals, even my beloved dog (to say nothing of our evil cats), would have no hesitation in making a meal of me.

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And let me tell you why…

Last week I may have been misunderstood to by wining about my lot, or perhaps some even thought I was depressed. Far from it, I assure you. I have a near bulletproof emotional state in this regard, and while melancholia occasionally graces my doorstep, I quickly and easily shoo it away.

Rather, I was, and remain woefully disappointed in the state of both the culinary industry as a whole (at least in my small town, but likely on a global scale in some respect) and perhaps more-so with the culinary associations with which I have become intimately involved. Continue reading

Happy Cho 15!

I’m Rich, I Tells Ya!

The end of the formal festivities of the Year of the Goat has arrived with day 15. Tonight is the night of the lantern festival, and of course one must prepare ones lantern…but forget all that. The real importance of the day is that those of us who get Lai See (red pockets full of cash) get to open it and see just how lucky we’ve been at bilking our friends and loved ones out of cash. This year I did better than usual, but only by coercion and trickery. I intentionally sought out those who by tradition must to give me a packet – those in superior employment positions – my supervisors. Oddly I also had one sister-in-law insist on giving me double lai see, maybe she was showing her disapproval of our marriage, who knows, and so what, her money (like my bosses) still spends.

Of course to net my haul I had to dish out about 20 times that in bait…fishing is often a loss making institution.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Spreadsheets! (Cough Cough)

In the late nineties a good friend and colleague and I presented a politically challenging project we were both excited about, to our boss. He shut us down with the phrase of the headline. The boss used those words in disdain of the fact that we had dared bring our data (data that would have saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars) in handwritten notations, on various documents. We saved him the time of actually thinking about how to dissuade our unpopular (but profitable) plan by failing to present that plan in spreadsheet format. That, just a mere 2 decades after spreadsheets were invented.

Since then, but I don’t think because of that, I have found a slight perturbation every time I see spreadsheets used for words or pictures, or worse for numbers but with only manual calculations. In any case to say they have revolutionized the way we work is an understatement. Planet Money has a podcast out now, on just how revolutionary spreadsheets are, and how they came to be. It is well worth your time.

Not a Magic Fan

Airflow-Image_1aA friend of mine, who has no money, but a lot of time to dream of things he would buy if he had money, has for some time, urged me to buy everything ever made by Dyson. Not the sphere guy, that I could get behind, but the appliance guy. I looked over his vacuums and found they used a lot of the same gobbledygook the food marketers do, when they have no real point but want to sound all science like and official. The vacuums have one thing going for them, they have a price comparable to market, but otherwise I remain unimpressed. Continue reading

75¢ Service

The two on the right were customer made.

The two on the right were customer made.

In my industry, and in my current company we often talk about superior service in terms of universal superlative memes like “Million Dollar Service,” or “Five Star Service.” I am often suspicious that these memes are just paying lip service (a common meme used for insincere service) to a nebulous goal that is unattainable in part because it is ill defined, and in part because there is no apparent actual ambition to reach it, as in budgets, training or other real-world initiatives that would at least move a service team closer to the goal. At any rate, it has been a hot topic recently, with a lot of energy being spent and fuelled by the alleged pursuit of the height of service excellence. Continue reading

Fitbit: New Technology, Old-School Service

IMG_5660I remember once my Mom sent a letter to Jays potato chip company (A Chicago favorite) about some burned chips in a bag of chips. A few weeks later a truck arrived at our door, unannounced, delivering a sincere apology letter and several cases of free potato chips. When I was a kid, this kind of customer service was a more-common reaction for reputable product vendors. Continue reading