Sunday, May 26, 2013

What-What?! Week of May 26th

This week has been pretty slow.  I’ve spent a few days visiting my parents, which has been nice because I lived like a hobbit for the last month or so of school.  Today (Saturday), I managed to get some items ready to be listed on eBay, which is an achievement considering the last few days.  Thursday, my middle son threw up while at my parents (still no idea why), and since that evening, my littlest has had a fever ranging from 101-102+ degrees.  He’s been fussy, but otherwise okay.

I applied to a few jobs locally, and have another possible opportunity in the pipeline, so that’s good.  I am anxious to get some kind of employment, with the hope of being able to leave behind apartment living.  I genuinely, truly hate the thought of moving, but living in this apartment is the pits.

WoW: Pandaland Review

This last Saturday (Sunday?), the husband installed the newest expansion of the World of Warcraft franchise, The Mists of Pandaria, which I’ll refer to as “Pandaland”.  It’s my opinion that Pandaland was old before it was even released, due to the popularity of Kung Fu Panda way back in 2008.  The public has already had martial arts panda characters.  Give us something new.  Along with the expansion of the world setting, the Blizzard team further streamlined talent trees and abilities, which creates less flexibility for a character; it does prevent you from inadvertently breaking your character, though.  Since we’ve only been playing less than a week, the husband and I have yet to get into the new dungeons, challenges and scenarios, as well as the pet battles.  The pet battle thing also makes me sad; it’s like Neopets.  Or Pokemon.  If I wanted to do those things, I would go play Neopets or Pokemon, not WoW.  Why did Blizz do this? Why?  The more I look at Pandaland, the more I think that a bunch of execs got into a room and said “this would be cool, let’s do it!” without really examining the ideas closely.
Also, for whatever reason, the male pandas are quite rotund, while the female pandas are slim.  Mind you, by "slim" I mean "normal person", but compared to most of the other races, she is a plus-sized model.  The male fanbase demands sexy women, thus the female panda is curvy rather than appropriately plump.
So far, I am not so impressed with the newest expansion.  Will update next week.

TV:  Ramsay’s Best Restaurant

I ran out of the British Kitchen Nightmares series on Netflix, so I started on Gordon Ramsay’s other series, in which he searches for Britain’s best restaurant.  I would be watching the U.S. version of Kitchen Nightmares, but it isn’t subtitled, which is a requirement when watching it with children about.  Ramsay’s Best Restaurant is all about pitting one restaurant that serves traditionally styled foods versus one that pushes the envelope; these restaurants serve the same types of foods (Italian, Indian, Thai, etc.), but how they go about it is vastly different.  Each restaurant is put through a series of tests, like feeding 30 diners at once, and being visited by a difficult undercover agent, then one restaurant is allowed in to the semi-final.  Nearly all of these restaurants have service issues, which is pretty staggering considering that these are suppose to be some of the best in the country.  Part of this is because service is hard to measure, while things like quality and taste of food isn’t.

Not much else goin’ on this week.  Next Saturday is my birthday, and I will make sure that I take photos of the special cupcakes I’m making. :D

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What-What?! Week of May 19th

Thursday, I completed my final presentation of the strategic analysis of Monterey Language Services.  It went wonderfully!  My team mates were fantastic, totally spot-on with their parts.  After the presentation was over, we didn’t get many questions; I think partly because our presentation was very complete, and partly because of the confidence we expressed while discussing it.

Saturday was the commencement, which I didn’t attend.  But still and yet, I have graduated!  I now have my bachelor’s in business administration.  Now to figure out what I’ll be doing next.

Cooking: LOL, What?
This week, I didn’t do much cooking at all.  Sunday I made a beef, asparagus and mushroom stir-fry.  Monday, we had barbequed try-tip at my parent’s house, and Tuesday we had leftovers of that.  Wednesday, we ate pizza.  Thursday we had dinner out.  Friday, the husband cooked.  Saturday, we ate leftovers and fast food.

But I did make mushrooms on toast, which is a classic British breakfast food.  It’s very simple to make: Just sauté mushrooms with a bit of butter, and then served on toast.  It’s usually topped with a poached egg, but we had ours with fried eggs instead.  I really liked the earthiness of the mushrooms contrasted with the eggs; Peter thought it could use a little something, but he’s not sure what.  Either way, it was a hearty, delicious breakfast.

This happened about mid-week; a business that Ramsay was working with on the United States version of his Kitchen Nightmares show was so awful and backwards that he refused to work with them.  One of the things that came about was a social media war against their detractors, who had gone onto Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Yelp and trashed the business for their misleading practices.  I bring this up not so much because of the connection to Ramsay, but because I keep seeing this happen to small businesses, even good ones.  I think that the issue here is that these businesses are built by the blood and sweat of the owners, and they are very defensive, even when they are wrong.

I’ve seen this happen to Franklin Goose and Help Remedies; they do something wrong, and rather than admitting that they’ve made a mistake and trying to fix it (or even just apologizing), they blame customers.  It turns into a huge flaming internet war, posts complaining about the company are deleted from Facebook, and so on.  I think one of the most important things to remember in situations like these is that humans are fallible; people make mistakes, and companies make mistakes.  Customers are much more accepting if a company owns up to its mistakes, acting constructively, rather than destructively.  Blaming your customers and acting rudely to them does you no favors, no matter who is wrong.
Forbes even published an article describing lessons that can be learned from the dabacle.  Pretty spot-on.
See you next week! :D

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What-What?! Week of May 12th

This week, I will be graduating.  Thursday I have my final business strategy presentation, which should be very good.  I have been pretty pleased with our results and I think that our findings and recommendations are convincing.  I’ve spent almost everyday this week going to school to prepare, and I expect this next week will be the same.  This past Monday, my husband took my middle child and had his hair cut for the first time – it is very odd still, seeing him with short hair after having it long for his entire life.  It’s good, though; the baby isn’t pulling his hair anymore, and it’s a lot easier to keep ice cream out of it, too.   I went grocery shopping yesterday, and managed to forget a bunch of stuff.  Now I have to go back if I want to cook anything interesting this next week.  Sigh. :P

Cooking:  Saint Stephen’s Day Pie
This is a variation of cottage or shepherd’s pie, only using ham instead of beef or lamb.  Peter and I thought this was delicious, though I think that it needed a little extra something; Peter suggested mushrooms, which would be a great addition.

  • 1-1/2 cup Diced ham
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 Onion, chopped
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped
  • 1 small can Chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups Mashed potatoes (about 4 servings)
  • 1/4 cup Shredded cheddar cheese
  • A few tablespoons Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an oven-safe skillet, sauté the cabbage, onion and carrot until almost cooked through, then add ham until hot throughout.  Stir in flour and let cook 1 minute, then add half the chicken stock.  At this point, if you’d prefer looser gravy, add more chicken stock.  Top it with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, until top is browned.

This is pretty awesome; the Medieval town of Dunwich was previously nearly as large as the current City of London, but was slowly swept out to sea after a series of storms.  It now lays covered by 10 to 30 feet of muddy water, which is why it hadn’t been investigated sooner.  It fascinates me to read news like this, as ruins and history is one of my personal interests.  Head over to LiveScience for more pictures.

Food Review:  Kirkland Signature Chewy Granola Bars – Chocolate Variety

I picked these up at Costco the other day, because I like to feed the kids granola bars for snacks on days when we get home late or there isn’t a lot of time.  In comparison to Quaker Oats bars, these are made up more of oats and less puffed rice, giving them a chewier, more rustic texture.  The amount of chocolate is just about right, maybe even a bit much.  I think they are good, and prefer the more rustic texture and flavor to Quaker Oats brand granola bars.  I checked out the nutrition statements, and the bars seem about the same, as well as being the same weight.  This box of 80 Kirkland bars was about $8, compared to the Quaker Oats, which were $12 or so for a box of 60.  Overall, delicious and a good value.

That's it for this week.  I'll be so busy this coming week, I don't know how much of a post I'll have.  Happy mother's day everypony! :D

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What-What?! Week of May 5th

I woke up yesterday morning and realized I hadn’t written a word for this post.  Normally I start about Thursday or so, writing about whatever I’ve already got.  This week, though I’ve had all my major papers due and that has made the week rather nutty.  I have feedback for two of my papers already, though, including my final capstone paper, which got a score of 97!  Whooo-yeah!  My teacher had to go through half the paper before he found a mistake. :D

Shopping: Merona Red Trench Coat

This week at Target, I went shopping for a new pair of slacks for my capstone presentation.  While I did buy a pair of slacks, the highlight of the trip was this beautiful red trench coat, on clearance for $18.  I put it on, and my husband made the comment that all I needed was a red hat – then I could be Carmen Sandiego!  So now Pete and I are planning on dressing up as Carmen Sandiego and one of her goons for this coming Halloween.  I’m voting Peter dresses as either Baron Wasteland or Baron Grinnit – an aristocrat with an eyepatch, or a fighter pilot.  Either way, I think it will be brilliant.

After picking up the coat, I went a-Googling for photos of goons.  I gotta say, you find the oddest things searching for Carmen Sandiego, like this review for a film titled The Limits of Control, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and John Hurt, among others.  Overall, it doesn’t sound like a film you’d watch on purpose, but the author of the review points out that the meaning of the film is open to interpretation – so he preferred to imagine it as a live-action Carmen Sandiego.  I suggest you follow the link to the review and read this section of it, because it is hilarious.

I accidently came across this nonprofit, which is funded by large tech companies like Google, Twitter, and eBay.  The idea is to encourage young women to pursue education and jobs in the tech sector by teaching them programming, robotics, web design and so on.  I think this idea is a really great avenue for getting women to take that first step towards a tech career.  As a previous computer science major, and someone who still loves coding, I think programs like these are incredibly important.  This year, they are operating programs all over the U.S., including here in San Jose.  The organization’s website is a little obtuse, and I’m actually kind of annoyed that there isn’t a more direct way to get in contact with them to volunteer; they only seem to have options if you are currently working with an organization or company.  Maybe this next week I can work on finding contact information about this, because I would really love to volunteer.

TV:  Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares via Netflix

I started watching this show on Netflix on a whim.  I have to say as a warning, though, that if this show were bleeped out, there would be very little dialogue left.  However, I like that it looks at the restaurant as a business, not just looking at the quality of the food.  Gordon Ramsay goes to these failing businesses and looks at the management, the marketing, and the operations.  He looks at whether the restaurant is selling food that the local people want to buy, if they are overpriced, if they are using ingredients or wasting them, if they have local, inexpensive sources for food, if the staff is managed well, and so on.  It’s pretty interesting to watch from a business student perspective, and I think it’s entertaining as well.

That’s it for this week.  Tuesday my littlest will be turning one!  I don’t know that we’ll be doing anything formal for him until school gets out on the 16th, but I was planning on cooking him some oatmeal and banana cookies.