Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gone to the Dogs...

Shelby knows that she isn't allowed on the furniture. I know that she knows it! She hasn't been on the furniture at all during the last 12 years that I've known her. But-- this old dog is learning new tricks. Her new little sister, Lady, likes to sneak up on to the furniture in the sunroom. Since I don't spend a lot of time in there, she knows that she has free reign of her room. She usually hears me coming and gets down before I can correct her, though.

Shelby has watched her do this for a few weeks now and she takes it as a sign that it's suddenly a good idea to crawl up onto the sofa or the chair and take a decent nap, as long as no one is looking! Today I found her in my chair. Normally I would scream a loud "No!" or "Off!", but all I could do was run for the camera. Who could deny this sad face and those puppy dog eyes of anything? I know... I'm a sucker and this chair will probably be history as soon as Betty and King discover that they can get away with this too.

Thought for the Day!

My Alex Moment...

Several months ago, Alex came into work and layed 2 cigars on my desk. "These are for us to smoke the day that we reach our sales goal for the year", he said. I stuck the cigars in my pen holder and thought- "that day will never come".

Every day I noticed the cigars-- when I was stressed out I would focus on them and think that maybe I could make it happen. The actual cigars weren't a real incentive. A $1000 check in my pen holder might have motivated me a little more. But, still, the cigars were there and became the only thing to focus on. They weren't much, but they were a physical reminder to me every day that I couldn't give up.

Weeks and months passed by, and the day finally came. Moments after we had each delivered an order, we came back to the office and did the tally-- was this the day? It was!!!

We walked across the street (I might have even skipped a little) with a photographer in tow. We lit the cigars-- we each took about 2 puffs before we realized how stale and nasty they tasted. We each dropped our cigars and "smushed" them out-- they were so dry that they immediately turned into dust. You couldn't tell the difference between the former cigar and the dried leaf next to it that had recently been stepped on and crushed as well.

But I did learn a lesson-- having a physical item to look at really helps motivate, no matter how insignificant that item is. I had a goal set and a reward in store when the goal was met.

Thanks, Alex, for inspiring me-- let's see if you can come up with a better way to celebrate next year when we reach the $288,000 level!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stop the Presses!!!

I have an announcement!

As of tomorrow, (Wednesday, November 28th- a date that will live in Biscuit history!) I will have beaten my self-imposed goal of catering sales:

  • 2005 sales: $36,000

  • 2006 sales: $72,000

  • 2007 sales: $144,207.49

Please note that 2007 isn't over yet! I still have 5.5 weeks to go! But so far I have increased sales by over 400% in a 2 year period. This is the day that I've been waiting for all year long... it's finally here! The long hours and personal sacrifices are worth it! Forgive me as I pat myself on the back for a moment, and relish in the thought that I can actually achieve some of my goals!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hoidays Past

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Recap

After reading all of the sales ads yesterday, I was a little disappointed in what was being offered for Black Friday this year. Normally I have all of the stores mapped out according to opening times, and a notebook with the clippings of various things that I want. This year the only thing that peeked my interest was a 32" flat screen HD television. They were offered at several stores, but the best bargain I found was at Circuit City. I just bought another 32" for my bedroom a couple of weeks ago, but this one was $150 cheaper, so I couldn't pass it up! No need to map out the day- no need to clip the ad. I only had one target for the day.

Circuit City opened at 5:00am. In an effort to beat the crowd, I got up early and was in the car and headed towards Camp Creek Marketplace by 2:45am. On a side note-- I got dressed last night and slept in my clothes (including shoes) so that I wouldn't lose anytime getting ready this morning!). When I got to the store at 3am, there was a pretty long line. Given my experience with Black Friday (they normally only have a few of the advertised items), I gave up and drove on home. By this point, I had already had a couple of cups of strong coffee, so there was no point in trying to go back to bed.

Joel called me a little before 5am to see if I got the TV. I told him about the line and and he convinced me to go back to the store-- they were about to open and there would be no line. They were offering bargains on several different TVs and maybe people were waiting for the other ones- the larger ones. I poured another cup of coffee into my Flying Biscuit travel mug and headed back to CCMP.

As expected, the store was open and there was no line outside. However, there was a long line inside. I asked the greeter if I should get in line. He asked if I had a voucher. I said no. They had given out vouchers to the people in the line outside prior to opening. There were only 13 of the sets that I wanted and of course, all 13 vouchers were given out prior to 5am. The greeter told me to get in line and wait-- you never know! So I got in line.

I was standing in front of a really nice lady that had her heart set on a 42" TV. She didnt' have a voucher either. We got to talking and had a great conversation. She had done her homework and knew what other stores were offering similar bargains. She had her cell phone and was in constant contact with all of her other friends at other stores.

We kept asking the employees if we were wasting our time in this line. There were no vouchers for the items we wanted. We were told that at 8am, anyone could purchase the items without a voucher, if there were any of the items remaing. So basically all I could hope for was that someone campled out all night for the voucher and then, at the last minute, decided not to use it. Doubtful. But, because I was enjoying my conversation with the 42" lady, I stayed in line and she did the same. As the line progressed and we got closer and closer to the front, we wondered what we would do when we got to the front of the line. At that point you are supposed to show your voucher and make your purchase.

Around 7am, I was close to the front of the line. There were maybe three customers ahead of me. One of the employees that we had been chatting up for the past 2 hours "found" a voucher for the 42" and gave it to my friend. She said goodbye and left the line (by this point they had opened other registers with less waiting).

Now I was 2nd in line. I still had no voucher and felt that I had wasted several hours-- I could've gone to another store and paid a little more, but by this point it would be the same situation everywhere else. I was all prepared to go home empty handed. Just then I realized that the guy in front of me was holding 2 vouchers! One for the 50" projection tv that Joel and I had joked about yesterday ("they should give those things away", we joked, "who in their right mind would want a projection tv these days?"). The other voucher in his hand was for the 32" tv that I had been waiting for. He was trying to decide which voucher to use. I turned to the stranger behind me and started talking about how great projection tvs were. She agreed. I thought a little subliminal messaging couldn't hurt at this point. It must've worked, because he decided to by the 50" and turned in his voucher for the 32". After witnessing his transaction, it was my turn to check out.

It couldn't have worked out any more perfectly. I asked the cashier (knowingly) if she had any vouchers for the 32" and she said yes and handed it to me. The golden ticket was finally in my grasp! I said "I'll take it" and handed the voucher back to her. I made my purchase and 10 minutes later I was headed back home with a deeply discounted, big screen tv in the back seat, and a story to add to my Black Friday history of bargains!

I am so glad that Joel called me and talked me into not giving up. Thank God for big brothers!

Happy Black Friday!

Missed Opportunities

There was one Black Friday offer that I didn't consider at all. It seems like a great bargain, but I wasn't lured in by all of the hype this time!

The Newest Burnett

We have a new member of the family-- Rylee! She belongs to Angie and the kids and they brought her along to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. She is the cutest thing I've ever seen-- just like a living, breathing stuffed animal!
Rylee is just a puppy, but when she's a little older they are planning on breeding her and giving Mom one of the puppies. She's a small dog, and she would be the perfect size for living in an apartment.
Rylee has been in the family since August, but this was the first time I got to meet her.
Welcome to the family little girl!

Thanksgiving Day

We had a great day, but none of us took many pictures to share. All I've got to show you is some family shots of all of us on Mom's sofa. Mom really does have more sitting areas, but for some reason we thought it'd be easier to make an assembly line project out of looking through the Black Friday sales ads, so we all sat together, and these pictures were taken.

We had a full house-- besides the family, we had one of Mom's co-workers (Marisal) and her 3 children. Also, Joel and Mom's neighbor (Michael) came and brought his 2 children. Most of the kids were teenagers and they hit it off with Jaime and Ashley. It was nice that the kids had some people their age to occupy them.

The food was incredible! Delia gave my family a turkey for Thanksgiving-- it was a 13.66-pound Heritage Farms turkey-- the same type that we served a few weeks ago at Serenbe Farms. I brought a couple of Chef Dewberry's famous pumpkin pies and they were eaten up immediately! Despite a lot of conversations the night before concerning the number of unexpected guests (I don't think we have enough food/ maybe we should get another turkey/ etc), we had plenty of food and enough left-overs to feed a small army! I really enjoyed having a "re-run" lunch of turkey, dressing, etc for lunch (and supper) today!

I hope all of you had a great day, too. We all have so much to be thankful for, and it's nice that there is a day set aside during the year just to be reminded how lucky we are, and to give thanks.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So True...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Holiday History Lesson...

I thought this was interesting.....

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated what we consider to be the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Due to a poor harvest the next year (and an influx of settlers in subsequent years), the Pilgrims never celebrated another Thanksgiving, and it remained an irregularly-observed holiday in America for more than two centuries. The first time all the states in the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving together was in 1777, but that was a one time only affair prompted by the Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday celebrated on the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Franklin Roosevelt moved it to the fourth Thursday in November in 1939.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Autumn Leaves

Nothing says "Thanksgiving" more than Autumn leaves. I took this picture today in Candler Park today. Awesome, huh?!?!?!?

When I was a few years younger, and my schedule was little less hectic, I used to drive to North Georgia for a day trip to Helen each Fall, just to see the leaves in all of their glory.

I used to love driving on a country road that was covered with leaves. It was best if it was virgin territory-- if I was the first one to drive down the road. I would go as fast as possible, while watching the sight in my rear view mirror-- leaves of all colors blowing up into the wind behind my car. This is probably some kind of flashback to an old "Dukes of Hazzard" episode, but it's the only way I know to welcome the Fall. I'm sure Bo & Luke Duke did this on just about every episode, despite the season.

I still seek this vision, but there are very few leaf-covered country roads in the Metropolitan Atlanta area. I get my thrills where I can, though. Today I found a street (Dorsey Ave in East Point) where Autumn leaves covered half of the right-of-way. I sped like a demon and watched the mirror the entire time. I didn't get the effect I was seeking. A few leaves blew into the air, but nothing that said "Happy Thanksgiving".

I'll keep searching. I'll find that deserted leaf-covered road eventually-- and when I do, watch out!

Marketing Plan Gone Wrong...

I recently found the coolest "silverware" to use for my catering jobs. It comes in a disposable cutlery kit-- containing a knife, fork, spoon, napkin, salt & pepper. The eating utensils are heave-duty plastic, but they appear to be real silver! The kits cost about 3 times more than the usual kits containing flimsy white plasticware, but I figured it would be a great marketing idea to use something different and upscale. I thought that something like "disposable silver" would stick in my client's minds and they might re-order from me just to get to see the incredible plastic ware once again.

I've used these silver plasticware packs on all of my first time customers. They've all commented-- they've all told me how people were eating their breakfast with their fingers just so they could save the "good stuff" to take home with them. That's cool!

Now my phone is ringing off the hook again-- but it's not clients calling.... it's other caterers. "Where did you get those silver cutlery kits? How much are they? Do you have the item number?" I get several phone calls and emails each day, all with the same questions... from the competition!

I'm afraid that silver plasticware might become the standard in Atlanta catering now. I'll never be able to go back to the cheap stuff.

It is cool though. I know it would stick in my mind if I were the recipient.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Thanksgiving Memory...

This is the most bizarre picture in my entire collection! I'm so bummed that the scanned version isn't as good as the original.
At first glance, this is a picture of my Mother on Thanksgiving Day, 1992. If you could see the picture a little better, you'd notice that to her right is a huge fire truck... and just behind her is her home in flames. Can you see the flames in the windows in the background? Maybe if you click on the picture you'll get the full effect. Or maybe you'll just see a larger version of the same dark photo?
Yet, there she stands holding her purse-- containing every worldly possession that she could salvage in the few minutes before the fire. For some reason, I asked her to smile for the camera.... and she did.

A Thanksgiving Memory...

This is a Thanksgiving story that my father used to tell:

Dad was born shortly after the depression. His parents were plain, simple country-folk. I'm not sure that they had lost much (or anything) in the depression, because they never really had a lot to begin with. But, they did learn a lot of lessons in those days that they pretty much carried with them to their graves.

They had a small farm in Talking Rock, GA. No farm animals, unless you count their 15 year-old, three legged dog (named "Speedy"). They lived off of the land and grew all of the vegetables that they ate. Papa would go fishing whenever the family craved a taste of meat. They had a huge distrust of banks and opted to keep their money hidden around the house-- in the dirty clothes hamper, under the mattress, in old Mason jars, stuffed in the pockets of the Sunday clothes that they never wore but planned on being buried in some day.

One Summer day, a neighbor offered to sell my grandfather a live turkey for a cheap price. Papa jumped at the deal, and pulled a couple of dollars out of the coffee can, under the sink. He brought the turkey home with all intents on just trying to keep it alive and well-fed, in hopes that this bird could become the centerpiece of their Thanksgiving dinner come November. When Papa brought the turkey home, Dad immediately fell in love. He named the Turkey "Sam" and it became his job to feed Sam a couple of times each day.

A few months went by and the weather started turning colder. The leaves in the Talking Rock trees began to transform into a picture postcard setting. Thanksgiving was approaching, and everyone knew what that meant. Well, everyone but Sam.

Papa spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out how he could manage to pull this off. He never had a problem skinning a fish, but could he actually kill Sam in time for Thanksgiving dinner? Papa had 2 brothers that owned chicken farms nearby. It was nothing for them to go out and kill a chicken and eat it a couple of hours later. But Papa was a sensitive man.

Eventually, Thanksgiving Day arrived. I'm not sure who did it, but Sam was killed, plucked, roasted and presented to the center of the dining room table, amongst the sweet potato souffle, corn and okra. There in the middle of the table was my father's beloved pet- cooked and ready to eat. The entire family looked at the turkey with disgust. It might as well have been Speedy lying there with an apple in his mouth. No one in the family had a bite of meat during that dinner. They filled up on the homemade biscuits and raved about how great the home-grown vegetables tasted, and no one ever said a word about poor Sam.

Later, the whole family went fishing and they enjoyed a Thanksgiving supper of catfish and brim, along with some reheated sweet potato souffle.

Clean Up.... Table 20

The lady at table 20 first came to my attention shortly after she spilled a full mug of hot tea on the business man at the next table. I'm not sure how she did it, he was on the far end of the next table and there were a few people in between. He wasn't hurt, but had to leave immediately to go home and change clothes before an important meeting. The lady at table 20 (let's call her Liz), didn't apologize- in fact she really didn't acknowledge the situation. She just requested more hot tea and sat there in the corner with a smirk on her face as she waited.

Liz's salmon salad came out to the table, along with the tea. She refused the salad-- said that she had requested BBQ sauce on it instead of salad dressing. The salad was sent back and a new one was returned-- with BBQ sauce. Liz picked up the salmon fillet with her fingers and mashed it into her tea mug while the server was still standing there. "Is there anything wrong with the salmon?", he questioned.

"What do you think?", she replied.

"I don't know-- I like the salmon. I had it for lunch myself today and thought it was incredible."

"Well, I don't think Bob would like it", Liz said.

Not knowing who Bob was, the server asked if he could bring her anything else. She said "Yes. What else do you have?". The server offered to bring her a menu. She requested another salmon salad, more hot tea and a glass of water.

While she was waiting for her 2nd salad, she waved down the server again and told him "I hate to foil your plan- but everyone on this boat needs to get off right now." Just then the muzak could be heard playing a Patsy Cline song , "Crazy". Pretty appropriate.

The server said he didn't know what she was talking about, and she demanded to see Bob. Our General Manager, David, went to the table next. He introduced himself and asked if he could get her anything else. "Well, I asked to see Bob, not you."

"We don't have anyone named Bob working here", he said.

"You may not have a Bob on your payroll, but there is a Bob that works here and I want to see him." In the backroom, we were all drawing straws to get to see who would get to play Bob.

A few minutes later, I looked into the dining room and saw that table 20 was empty. I breathed a sigh of relief, until I turned around to see Liz behind me talking to the servers in the kitchen. She was holding one girls hand and pleading with her to get off the boat as soon as possible, and to make sure that Bob and everyone else got off, too.

David got her out of the kitchen and back to her table. He gave her her check and asked that she pay and leave. "I only have $5, and you can't make me leave", was her response. Well, by this point she had already had appetizers, 2 entrees, lots of hot tea and a dessert.

"Ma'am", David said "You don't have to pay, but I need you to leave now". With that she picked up her glass of water, took a small sip and then poured the remainder of the glass on David's leg.

"I'm not going anywhere. I can stay here all day and night if I want to".

When I left, David was on the phone with the police, and Liz was still sitting at table 20. A total mess surrounded her table-- the floor was soaking wet, and covered with ice cubes, tea bags and pieces of salmon. And Madonna was singing "Crazy for You" on the Muzak....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Goal Within Reach...

This is a graph I made showing catering sales for the past three years (since I took over the catering department). The left column shows the 2005 sales ($36,000), the middle column shows 2006 sales ($72,000) and the column on the right represents the year-to-date sales of 2007. This years sales, as of today, are at $142,821.87. My goal is to double the previous year's sales. I did it last year, and I'm only $1178.13 short of doing it again this year! I still have 5 weeks to go to reach my goal, but at least I know that it's within reach now!

How cool will it be when I can put the following stats on my resume:

  • Increased catering sales by 200% in 2006 and 2007.
  • Increased catering sales by 400% in a 2 year period.

I've never had any actual numbers to put on my resume. Now I do, and they are pretty impressive.

Can I double the sales again next year? I have a feeling that I can. In the past month, I've hired 2 more part time drivers (in addition to Alex). This week, I got approval to hire a full time assistant (salaried position) to help me with catering and everything else that I do. With all of this help, I should be able to safely predict another good year in 2008.

The Rewards!

I finally got a big screen, HDTV! It's really not that big compared to some that I looked at, it's only a 32", but it's a lot bigger than the 19" that I'm used to watching in bed every night. This picture doesn't really show it well, but it's about the same width as my dresser. I was planning on waiting until Black Friday to buy the TV, but I found one at BJ's that was cheaper than the Black Friday prices of last year, so I went ahead and bought it. I'm still on the lookout for a larger screen for my living room-- hopefully I'll find a good deal on a 47" or 52" during the Black Friday sale. I can't really afford to buy two TV's in one month, but if there's any way possible I'll try to pull it off! Hopefuly there'll be some good deals next week, otherwise I'll have to wait til next year, Black Friday 2008!
The HD part of the TV isn't hooked up yet. There is a plug in the back for the HD connection, but I don't have a clue what I need to do do get that going. I don't know if it's a one time purchase of some HDTV appliance, or something I can pay for monthly through my satellite provider, Direct TV. If anyone knows how this works, I'd appreciate some advice. Thanks!

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Week's Ad in Creative Loafing...

This is a scanned/downloaded version of my ad. The real ad in the paper came out a lot better- check it out if you get a chance. It's on page 64 of this weeks Creative Loafing. (You can also click on the picture to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Random Thoughts...

  • Jim's birthday was last week. I mailed him a card and a check. It's been 7 days since his birthday, and I haven't received a call to say thanks, and the check hasn't cleared my bank. Should I assume that he didn't receive the card/check? Given the track record, I know that he received it and probably pinned it to his bulletin board in hopes of cashing it some day. I don't understand why it is that everytime I send any member of my Memphis family a birthday check, they never acknowledge the gift and wait several months to cash the check. I'm always forced to call them months later and ask if they got it. I'm not going to put myself in this position again. From now on I'll send them socks/sweaters, if I decide to send them anything at all. It's just rude not to say thank you when you receive a gift.

  • My assistant Alex got a new haircut. I really liked it and questioned what barber he went to. It turns out that his rugby team held him down and shaved his head over the weekend. I decided to get the same "crew cut" today. I went to a nice salon and spent a lot of money, and mine didn't come out looking as good. Next time I need a haircut, I'll go see the rugby team. I guess a great haircut on a 21 year old doesn't translate to the head of someone twice that age, no matter who the stylist is.

  • I got new beds for all of the dogs this weekend. There is a built in pillow at one end of each of the beds. The "pillow" is no fluffier than the rest of the bed, although it is a different color, and a different material. So... how is it that the dogs all know which side of the bed to lay their heads on? Does the white color/ fleece material indicate the top of the bed in the dog world? I woke up at 3am this morning and noticed that all of the dogs were lying in their new beds with their heads on their "pillows". The camera was on my nightstand and I was able to get this shot of King sleeping.

  • Does anyone else hate Daylight Saving Time as much as I do? When I leave the house in the morning, it's dar. When I get home, it's dark. I won't see my yard or house in the daylight for the next 6 months. On the positive side, the pond lights are on a sensor and always come on when the sun goes down-- so... they are always on while I'm at home now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wow-- a Stevie!

Delia has been in Las Vegas the past couple of days. She's attending an award ceremony honoring Women in Business. She was nominated in the " Best Entrepreneur - Service Businesses" category along with 15 founders of other businesses across the USA.

The award ceremony was last night and she called me bright and early this morning to give me the good news-- she won! She's bringing home a "Stevie"!

Some info on the Stevie Award:

Stevie is taken from the name Stephen, which is derived from the Greek for "crowned."
Stevie is approximately 16 inches tall, and is hand-cast and finished in 24-karat gold.
The crystal pyramid held aloft by Stevie represents the hierarchy of human needs, a system often represented as a pyramid that was developed in the 1960s by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who observed that after their basic needs are met, human beings seek the esteem of their peers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Inspirational Message!

Gotta Go. Gotta Go. Gotta Go Right Now.....

This has been one crazy week! I mentioned the emails that I received at work (Tampon Girl and the Amazing Headless Biscuit-Eating Elf, see posts below) already, but I didn't mention the story about the city coming out yesterday to question why I used 9 gallons of water more this month than I did last month. That was pretty bizarre, and there's not much else to say about that. I promised to not flush as often in the future-- "if it's yellow, let it mellow... if it's brown, flush it down" as a wise neighbor recently said!

After all of the strange things that have been occurring this week, how could I have expected today's catering jobs to be less than noteworthy? I catered a seminar for people with bladder control issues! We didn't provide a lot of food-- mostly beverages: coffee, bottled water, and juices! There were over 100 "June Allison's" in attendance. I really felt for them-- they sat in an auditorium for hours- drinking water and needing to go to the bathroom the entire time. I really felt sorry for them when I looked for a restroom after the delivery and I couldn't find one anywhere near the auditorium!

I have two more catering jobs tomorrow-- as far as I know there will be no funny stories to report. But, you never know!!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

More Emails from Customers (priceless)...

I got this one today from a headless (that's what "decapitated" means, right?) man that is in hopes of being one of Santa's Elves soon ... hmmm. Here's the letter... spelling and grammar errors exactly as they appeared in the original letter:

" I like the flying biscuits a lot. My partner Al use to bring them to me a lot when I was decapitated in my bed from my motorcycle acident. I was so sad when he left because I did not no where he got the biscuits. He wasn’t a good man to me but he was my best love but now I miss the biscuits more. Hehe. I didn’t find them for a long while then I met nate who was young and cute and me move in with me. He take me there one day and said they the best biscuits in the world and it was your place and I put the apple butters on them and it was like going to heaven. I use to go there every day and get a dozen of them but I get them all threw the day. Even my old dog like them but he died and it made me sad. And soon I open a joint bank accout and Nate thougt it mean for joints I think cause he spent it all on joints and then leave me broke. So now I am between employedment and have a job coming up to be an elf for a santa who goes to places where they need santas but that don’t start for a little while may be after Thanksgiving. Can you give me a giftcard for my loyally and so I can taste your biscuits again for getting ready for my new job. I will be a loyalist customer again once I am back on the job market. Thanks and bless you all. "

New Art

I decided to rearrange some things in my house last week. There was a cool framed piece hanging in the hallway that I decided would look better hanging over the mantel. I had to drill another hole in the brick to hang this picture, but I was right. The fireplace looks better with a framed piece of art over the mantel.

That mission accomplished, I was left with a blank wall in the hallway. I remembered a picture that I bought at Target a few months ago. The deep blues and greens in the picture would look great against the brushed-suede, terra cotta wall. I know I bought it, but couldn't remember where I put it. I know I never hung it, because it didn't come with the wire attached, and I couldn't find any wall space for it. I have torn this house up looking for it, but it hasn't turned up anywhere. How could I have misplaced something that is 4' x 3'? There aren't that many hiding places in this little, old house!

After a few days of searching, I gave up and bought something new to cover the blank space in the hallway. I saw it on sale at BJ's and I think it matches the wall pretty good. I'm sure the Target picture will show up soon, now that I once again have no place to hang it!

Newest Addition to the Fleet!

We added another vehicle to the Biscuit Mobile Fleet this week! One of our Kitchen Managers, William, got his pick-up truck wrapped yesterday! It's really cool, and will look great following my car in the Pride Parade next year!

Our fleet is back up to 3 now! We lost one member of the FB Mobile team a couple of weeks ago-- Tanecia had her car "unwrapped".

There is at least one other FB car out there somewhere. I saw it once at our headquarters about a year ago. I don't know who drives it, probably some corporate officer of Raving Brands. I would love to get a picture of all of our cars together someday, but for today I'll just have to be happy with a picture of 2 of them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jim!

It's hard to admit, but my baby brother turned 39 today. God, we're all getting so old.

Funny stories surrounding Jim's birth:

  • There was an earthquake in Atlanta on November 7, 1968-- occurring seconds after he was delivered! That should've told us something!!
  • My Aunt Jane woke up her daughter, Mary Catherine, with the good news that Aunt Harriet had had her baby and it was a boy! Mary was only 10 years old, and the only female child in the family. She was really hoping the baby would be a girl. She was very disappointed and all she could say was "At least we won the election". (Nixon had been elected President the previous day).
  • Shortly after the baby was delivered, Mom questioned the nurse about the well-being of the other lady that was delivering that night. "She was screaming so loud all night-- is she ok?". Later she found out that there were no other expectant Mom's in the ward that night-- the screaming she heard was coming from guess who! Those drugs must've been pretty incredible!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Customer Comments

One of my duties at work is to answer the "comments" section of the website. People write in from around the world asking questions-- most commonly "Do the biscuits really fly?"...ha, ha, ha. That's always hysterical (typed with the most sarcastic tone you can imagine!). I get a lot of requests for recipes, people trying to get in touch with former employees, questions about the ingredients and nutritional breakdown of certain menu items. And customer complaints. I always dread having to answer a complaint. I have to word my responses so carefully in an effort to validate the complaint, acknowledge the problem and encourage the disgruntled guest to give us another try. It's not always easy; especially when I feel that they are complaining about something beyond my control. How do you respond to someone that got a parking ticket because they were parked on a yellow curb a block away from the restaurant? Especially when they are so irate that they threaten to never to return to our restaurant. This is my life-- welcome to it! I would say that I have about a 90% rate of success, though. If I respond to them quickly enough and I mail them a gift card, most of them will return and some even reply to my email thanking me and apologizing for venting.

Anyway-- that was a long introduction to what I really wanted to get to--- funny customer comments! I've had a couple of doozies in the past week!

Last week I received an email from our website. The basic form asks the user to fill in their name, address, phone #, email address and then there is a comments section where they can write as much as they'd like. Well, it was about 8:30am last Thursday and I happened to be at my desk for a change. A comment form came through and I noticed that in the address section it said "The Table Near the Front Door". I was intrigued. In the comments section, it said "I would like a refill of coffee". I went to the dining room and sure enough, at the table next to the door was a man sitting alone- with a laptop. I grabbed a coffee pot and ran to his table and gave him the refill that he had requested via email less than a minute ago. I mentioned that I had gotten his request via email and he was totally thrilled and amazed. We had a good laugh and I told him that this technique would never work in our other locations, and might not ever work again at this location- I just happened to be logged on when he sent his request. He said he had just thought it would be fun to request it and didn't really expect to get it!

Today I got an email from a customer in Tennessee. He wanted to know if we sold gift cards. Then he went on to explain why he needed to know. It seems that he has a daughter attending Emory and she loves the Biscuit. He explained "Thing is if I give her cash then it will probably go to tampons or something. She needs to eat, and get off campus. Don't get me wrong, I give her cash for toiletries but this would be encouragement to break away for just a while. Thank you.". OMG! I can just imagine what's going through this father's head every time he sends his daughter cash-- "she's just going to waste this money on tampons, I know it! Every time I give her cash, she runs straight to the store and buys another box of tampons." I can just imagine this poor girl-- she attends classes all day, never leaves campus, hardly ever eats-- and saves her pennies up for a box of Tampax! She probably hoards them in her dorm room! I've been laughing about this one all day long!

Sick & Healthy

Beverly recently blogged about a line she read in a book, describing a character as "a sick woman trapped in a healthy body"... great words-- I think I've known a few people like this over the years. I might be one.

I've also known a lot of "healthy people trapped in sick bodies". I might be one of those, too.

I'm not really sure which category I fall into. The more I think about it, I guess I fit into both categories, if that's possible.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cool New Gadget!

I bought this Power Station charger at Staples last week, and it's the answer to my prayers! I have 2 cell phones that are currently activated (my work phone and my personal phone). I also use one of my old cell phones as a back-up alarm clock. So, I'm constantly having to charge 3 phones. I don't have many spare plugs in my house and I hate to have the phones charging in different rooms. Life is easier for me if I can grab the phones I need in the morning, and not have to go room to room to find the phones in their chargers. I've been taking turns charging each phone daily- none of the phones ever got fully charged because every few hours I would rotate the phone in the charger.

The Power Station solved this problem. Now I can charge all three phones at the same time. I can also charge my Ipod with the same Power Station. I guess a power strip would serve the same purpose, but I like the idea that all of the cords are tucked away and hidden in the Power Station.

Walmart Cake

Supposedly this is a true story. Someone called Walmart's bakery to order a going away cake for a fellow employee at an inurance claims office.

The caller requested the cake to read: “Best Wishes Suzanne” and underneath that “We will miss you".

I guess they got pretty much what they asked for, huh?

Mathis Dairy

For those of us that grew up in Atlanta, you'll love this article I found this morning about Mathis Dairy. I've talked about the Dairy a lot on my Blog in the past, especially the memories of milking Rosebud. besides taking the Dairy Tour each year as a field trip with my class, we used to have family reunions and church picnics on the grounds. I remember swimming in the lake there, too! What a trip down memory lane! Even if you didn't grow up here, I think you'll enjoy the article. FYI-- Mathis Dairy is now the home of Wonderland Gardens-- a place where you can go to pick vegetables off of the vine year round! I think it's a cool concept, and I'm glad to see that the Dairy pastures are still flourishing! Enjoy:

Mathis Dairy

In 1916, a sixteen-year-old Stewart County Georgia farmer name R.L. Mathis came for a visit to Dekalb County to visit his uncle's farm. During the visit, he milked cows while working on the farm. He returned home to Stewart County with the understanding that he did not like milking cows. During an annual work trip to pick fruit in Florida, a gentlemen he worked with told R.L. Mathis that he was "too good not work to work for himself and he would not get ahead in this world working for somebody else." Upon returning to Stewart County from the Florida trip, R.L. received a phone call from his uncle about purchasing the farm in Dekalb County. At this time, all of property was zoned for dairies and there were between 200 and 300 dairies in Dekalb County. In 1917, R. L. Mathis purchased 75 acres of property and 12 milk cows that would later become Mathis Diary for $8k for 7% interest. The uncle sold R.L. Mathis the property based upon his reputation as an honest hard worker and his need to support his mother and two sisters after the death of his father. As the only business in the immediate area, the Dekalb County Commissioners has asked R. L. Mathis if he wanted name the portion of dirt road, Wesley Chapel Road, led to the rolling meadow pastureland. R. L. Mathis chose the name Rainbow Drive.

Over time, R. L. Mathis acquired more land until the Mathis family owned nearly 150 acres along Rainbow Drive in South Dekalb county. Mathis dairy became one of the most well known dairies in the southeast. A portion of the property that later became Exchange park was donated by the Mathis family to Dekalb County. Nearly 72 years later after starting with 12 cows, the remaining twenty acres of undeveloped meadowlands and pastureland of a functioning dairy was sold in 1989 and Mathis Dairy moved from the Rainbow Drive location. Later, the lake and pine woods visited by thousands by the entire metropolitan area community were subdivided and lost to a subdivision. At its' height, the waiting list for organizations and groups to have a picnic on the lake and pastureland was sixty days. Though a subdivision stands on the land where the lake once existed, Wonderland will be adding a pond and wishing well to complement the current pastureland for picnics and community events. In spring, 1995, the Mathis Dairy building and its remaining twenty undeveloped acres were sold to Kelly Jordan. Mr. Jordan began looking for partners who would help create and realize his dream of preserving a natural environment and green space. Today, a collaborative effort between Dekalb County Government, Soap stone Center for the Arts, and Wonderland Gardens is focused on bringing together the gardens and the arts to create a unique South Dekalb destination for metro Atlanta.

The Early Days

In the early days, the closest telephones to the dairy only came as close as Glenwood Road. The telephone lines were installed because of the Honor Farm location, a federal penitentiary where Perimeter College currently stands on Panthersville Road in Decatur Georgia. The dairy provided customers a number for a lady who lived on Glenwood Road to call to place dairy orders. At the end of the day, a Mathis employee would make a horseback ride from the diary to the Glenwood Road house to gather the milk orders for the following morning. R.L. Mathis would bottle the milk and deliver the orders himself. Eventually, the telephone pole installation was extended to Candler Road. R.L. Mathis put up his own poles and ran the wires from the diary to Candler Road to provide phone service to the dairy.

Dairy Tours

In 1952, J.J. Wade, the Mathis Diary herdsman, provided the first dairy tour to satisfy Boy Scout merit badge need to visit a dairy. To the surprise of the Scouts, J.J. Wade added milking a cow to their visit. As the need developed, Bob Mathis, the oldest Mathis brother, began providing dairy tours. At the end of a tour, a visitor would receive an "I Milked Rosebud" button and a bottle of milk. The popularity of the tours grew and multiple hourly tours were provided to accommodate the more than 250 daily diary visitors. Mathis Dairy expanded to provide a petting zoo and picnic areas were added for visitors.


For the initial seven to eight years of the dairy tours, the cow did not have name. In 1960, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution decided to write a story on the dairy. A follow-up call from the reporter to Bob Mathis to ask for the cow's name presented a problem as the cow had not been formerly named. At the very moment the reporter asked the question, the middle Mathis brother, Pat and his fraternity brother nicknamed Rosebud, enter the office. The rest is history as generations of school children and families fondly remember visiting the diary and milking Rosebud. As Rosebud's popularity grew, she participated in charitable events, was milked by politicians (including Former President Jimmy Carter) and celebrities, and made special appearances in locations such as the Georgia State Capitol, Stone Mountain, Merchandise Mart, and Alan Fund's Candid Camera. Rosebud has the distinction of the first cow to be on top of Stone Mountain and the Merchandise Mart.

Quality Milk

One of R.L. Mathis's goals was to meet the standards to produce certified milk. Certified milk is the highest quality milk produced in the United States. In 1928, Mathis Dairies met those standards. Mathis continued to maintain the Certified Milk Standards, to the extent that in the 1970's Mathis Dairies was one of three remaining dairies in the United States to meet those standards.

Under the leadership of Jack Mathis, R.L.'s youngest son, Mathis Dairies herd of Holstein bulls and cows were sold internationally. The quality of milk was again raised as one of the top ten in the United States. International visitors from around the world visited Mathis Dairies to learn how they could produce Mathis Quality Milk.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Like a Deer in Headlights!

Black Friday...

Black Friday is less than 3 weeks away! I get more excited about this holiday than I do over Thanksgiving! Yeah, it's nice to see the family and have a great meal and give thanks for your many blessings, but..... for the past few years it's turned into marathon session of browsing the newspaper for the sales ads! And getting home early to rest up for the long day that follows, which requires being out of bed and standing in line by 3am!
Last year, Joel and I were the first in line at 2 different Home Depots and we both got what we wanted. He got a big screen TV; I got the stainless steel gas grill. It's getting harder and harder to get the item you want. For example, Home Depot only had 6 big screen TVs at each store. I think they had less than 10 of the grills. You've got to pick your item the day before, get to the store in the middle of the night and wait in line with the other Black Friday junkies. If there are more than 5 people in line in front of you, you'd be better to get back in your car and go to a different store.
It's always fun being the first in line-- the ones that follow are usually really nice. It's fun to chat with them about all of the sales items, but probably not a good idea to tell them what you have your eye on-- they may not have noticed the item before and if you bring it to their attention, they may try to swipe it. Everyone is so friendly while waiting in line, but as soon as those doors open, it's every man for himself!
It really doesn't matter your place in line. What matters is how quickly you can get into the store and find the item you want. Get it in your cart asap. Once it's in your cart, it's as good as yours. Don't take time to read the box or take measurements, etc. just get it in your cart. You can always take it out of your cart later, or trade it to another customer. The hard part can be finding the item you want... for example, what department do you go to in Home Depot for a TV set? They don't normally stock TVs-- just on Black Friday. What I like to do is wave down an employee prior to opening time and ask them exactly where the item is located, and how many they have in stock prior to opening. Last year I was lucky with the grill. All of the grills were chained up outside by the door. I stood next to the grill I wanted for hours, but I didn't have to worry about getting it in the cart-- I just had to make a mad dash directly to the cashier and tell them what I wanted to purchase. Everyone else was playing an adult version of musical chairs around the TV display.

Try to find a store in a remote location. The Home Depot on Cascade is a perfect example. There are no other stores in walking distance, so you have a pretty good chance of a smaller crowd. The Mt. Zion Rd shopping center is an example of a bad place to be trying to snag a bargain-- they have Home Depot, Target, Best Buys, Circuit City, etc. People go to these kind of locations because they can change stores easily if the line is too long. I lucked up at the Mt. Zion Home Depot last year, but I won't chance it this year.

Oh yeah, one more piece of advice-- do your homework! I really messed up last year. Circuit City had an E-machine computer on sale for $100. That computer was my main goal of the day. I got up early and went to the Circuit City at Greenbriar. I shopped there on Black Friday the previous year and had no problems. If I'd done my homework, I would've known that the Greenbriar location had closed months earlier. I lost a lot of valuable time trying to locate the nearest Circuit City and ended up at Mt. Zion in a line behind at least 300 other people that were there for the same item. That's how I ended up at Home Depot. And that's how I ended up with a new grill, instead of a new computer.

This year I have my heart set on a big screen TV (preferably plasma/HDTV). I've been saving up for it all year. I've even started researching it. I found a few websites that I'm monitoring already. Some of the sales ads have already been leaked by insiders. I haven't found anything that I'm interested in yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
If you're interested in participating on Black Friday (November 23rd), here's a website for you: http://www.bfads.net/ .

Friday, November 02, 2007

Claiming My Space...

I've done a couple of reorganizing projects this week that I want to share with you. Nothing major, and not a lot of work, but big results.

As a background, last Winter I decided to move my desk/computer from the sunroom to the laundry room. Anyone else would've loved to have had their "office" in the sunroom-- it's the biggest room in the house-- it has satellite TV and 3 walls filled with windows. The problem was that the room was well insulated and it got cold in the Winter. In order to keep the sunroom warm, I had to heat up the rest of the house to the point that I'd be dripping sweat if I walked to the kitchen, while the sunroom was marginally comfortable yet still a little chilly.

Moving my office to the laundry room came to be a great idea-- I put a space heater in there and I was able to heat up the small space to a comfortable temperature, and it really didn't matter if the rest of the house was a little chilly for a change. Spring came and I installed the water garden in the front yard, right in front of my new office window. It was nice to be able to keep an eye on the pond- watch the butterflies and hummingbirds that began to visit regularly. The only problem was the space-- it's a small room and besides the desk, there was also a washer and dryer, and a huge 6 drawer steel filing cabinet. The cabinet was about 5' high and 2' wide (you can see it in the background of the top picture here-- it's still sitting in the dining room!)
. It was taking up too much room- filled to the brim with things that I should've thrown away years ago.

I cleaned the cabinet out and removed it from the room last week. As luck would have it, my neighbor had a yard sale last weekend and I bought an Ikea shoe rack from her. It's meant to hold shoes, but it also doubles as a pretty nifty filing cabinet. The best part is that it's only 7" deep and 3' high. Replacing the big filing cabinet with the shoe rack was the smartest thing I've ever done-- my little office is suddenly a comfortable workspace.
Now-- what to do about the washer and dryer-- they're taking up a lot of room too-- I need my space!

Serenbe Farms

I can't believe that it's been a year since I attended my first Les Dames d'Escoffier luncheon on the grounds of the Serenbe Farm, in Palmetto, GA. It was a huge honor to be invited to participate last year, and even a bigger honor to be asked again a second time! Since last year, Delia has become a member of Les Dames-- which is pretty cool, seeing as though they only invite/accept a few new members each year.

This year we are serving a turkey hash over a biscuit. These aren't just ordinary turkeys either-- these are state of the art, free-range, grass-fed, etc. birds. Top of the line poultry from Heritage farms. We spent about $800 on 8 turkeys, and Delia has spent days preparing them. She marinated them for 24 hours and then cooked them yesterday. Today we started the process of "pulling" the turkey and that should be finished tomorrow, and then she will start hash part of the recipe. It's going to be incredible! We did this once before, with lesser birds, and it was a hit!

For more info on Serenbe Farms or Les Dames, please check my archives (November 2006) for a full report and pictures from last year's event.
"A Day in the Country" hosted by Les Dames d' Escoffier, November 4th, 2007, Serenbe Farm, Palmetto, GA.