Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Tipping Point

We were at Ruby Tuesday's for dinner the other night and were lucky enough to have a server who looked like she had been professionally serving all her life. And by that I mean she looked old, not that she carried herself in a manner that reflected years of honing her craft, such that it is.

I have no idea what the special is. Leave me alone.

So, yes it was Ruby Tuesday's so we weren't expecting the best service, but c'mon, if they are expecting a tip for their service you would expect them to at least try, right? Can I get a what, what?

Allow me to recreate the scene.

Half empty restaurant so there is plenty of maneuverability for all parties involved. Five people at the table plus a sleeping baby in the car seat on the floor between Laura and me. So where does the server stop when coming to take our order? If you guessed right over the baby, you are the winner, give yourself a high five (though not in public, that would be weird).

Anyone see anythng wrong with this? Okay at first glance, yes it would look like there is room to stand in the space between us to view everyone and take the drink order. But upon seeing that there is a car seat on the floor, wouldn't it make sense to not talk over a baby? And maybe not to proceed to stop there when returning with the drink order? And maybe you wouldn't pass drinks over the baby????? I mean really? REALLY???? Do you normally pass drinks over adult guests at the table? Right over their head? And why risk accidentally dropping said beverage or a plate of hot food onto a baby?

I chose not to bring this to the attention of the server because I've seen the movie Waiting and I'm always afraid of what they will do to our food if we don't sit still and behave ourselves.

"Oh, I'll get them some extra sauce."

Instead, I just closed the gap between us, making another spot the obvious server loading/unloading zone. And guess what? She comes back and stands over the baby again. So I move him to another spot. Maybe that is her preferred location. She's an old dog, might not be able to train her to stop at another place around the table. And I position him in a way that she would have to go out of her way to violate what I would assume would be common sense. And guess what? She went out of her way to walk by him and pass food over him. REALLLYYYYY?!?!?!?!!?!?!

Some of the other violations (from my 20+ years of dining experience):
  • not knowing the menu (minor violation)
  • writing down an order incorrectly, twice (um, yeah, this isn't what I ordered; and neither is this)
  • serving cold food, twice (Do you mind cooking this?)
  • promising the biscuits would be right out, and not delivering them until after the food came (apparently this is Ruby Tuesday's thing, having free cheesey bread as an app, sort of like free chips at Mexican food restaurants - bad service might be their thing too)

So what would you tip to guarentee that you would get this same experience again? Would you even leave a tip?

I don't tip.

I wanted to leave $0. But others disagreed and I heard excuses like:
  • "She's trying her best"
  • "The cold food wasn't her fault"
  • "This is Ruby Tuesday's"
  • "It's the holidays"
  • "But she's old"
I'll give you the cold food, but the rest, not so much.

Do you have a tipping point? A certain level where you decide to tip or not to tip. If tips/gratuity is to reward service, shouldn't the tip or lack thereof indicate said service? Would a $0 tip send the right message? 10%? 20%?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Little Baker Man

We got a Learning Tower for our little teeny guy. For the most part it is an enclosed step stool so our little guy doesn't fall off. But the Tower of Learning and Almighty Knowledge allows Nathan to be close to mommy/daddy while proving us with the opportunity to get some stuff done. It also allows Nathan to help us out. Like making holiday cookies.

Pineapple cookies???

Nathan really enjoys stirring/mixing. When he sees a wooden spoon now, he gets excited and says, "Stir? Stir?"


Nathan taking a moment to smile for the camera.

Full-body cheese

Patty cake, patty cake...

Um, Mom, I'm trying to concentrate here.

Happy baker.

Well placed cookies.

Looks like Nathan did a great job with the cookie placememnt. I'm sure none of the cookies baked together.

I wonder if The Food Network needs another cooking show.

Did you happen to notice how the kitchen got cleaner as we progressed?

Reinforcements - Mr. Turtle and the Lady Bugs

When we last left our beloved garden, we were being attacked by some self proclaimed "fun guys." But have no fear, the reinforcements have arrived. Take that, fungi!

Come out, come out whereever you are.

Laura found this turtle crossing the street. Apparently the chicken was laid off, paving the way for the slower, less efficient workers willing to accept a lower wage.


Actually, for a turtle, he is quite quick.

And for phase 2, we have the highly respectable Lady Bugs.

Lady Bugs, ATTACK!!!

"Jolly, oh, dear fungi, won't you kindly depart the premises?"

An elegant show of force.

"Ah, very good, Gov'nor. Looks like our job here is done. Cheerio."

And like that, they were gone. Similar to The Usual Suspects, just when you were about to figure out what was going on, they disappeared into the night. According the the Lady Bug instructions (yes, the Lady Bugs came with instructions), we were to release these little charmers into the garden at night or else they would fly away. Well, that's what we did, with the help of our little gardener, Nathan, who really enjoyed the little buggers, but when we awoke the next day, not a Lady Bug in sight. They absconded into the night.

At least they all seemed to do their jobs. The mushrooms are gone (Laura picked them all) and the bugs that were eating our leaves have either departed or moved onto the second course.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The New Balloon Boy

This is awesome. A father and son send an iphone into space and record the entire trip.

Sounds like something Nathan and I may have to try.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Soil Diggers - Episode 3: There Goes The Neighborhood

So within minutes of the garden going up, the low-lifes moved in. And by low, I mean close to the ground. Though, honestly where else would they be? I mean we just finished the garden, of course the new neighbors would pop up close to the ground, they're in the ground. Even though we put in this makeshift gate to keep them out.


Actually, the gate was to keep Sonoma out. Some of the seeds needed to be close to the top of the soil and didn't need Sonoma's big, 80 pound, fury paws smooshing them down, deep into the Earth where only the Hobbits live. Or digging them up like a puppy is apt to do. Not the Hobbits, though that would be interesting...

So who moved in? Well I'm glad you asked. First the good guys.

Green beans

Over in Ceres we have Green Bean lane - a multi-unit, apartment neighborhood right in the heart of Ceres. Easy access to water, soil, and gardeners. Spaces still available. You'll want to grab these spots soon as their value will surely rise with the bean stalks.


Over in Demeter we have the basil transplant. An exclusive community that is facing urban sprawl. Also close to the Nathan garden which is always buzzing with excitement.


The carrots are in a nice single family community near downtown Demeter. Good size plots with plenty of room for growth. Plenty of good schools and perfect for raising your family or any root-type of produce.

Sugar Snap Peas

If you're looking for a quiet get-away, look no further than Sugar Snap Peas. Known for their slow-paced atmosphere, this area takes you back to a simpler time. A great vacation destination to take your mind of the hustle and bustle.

Nathan's Garden Spot

There's always something going on in Nathan's Garden and you never know what's next. Lively entertainment, unpredictable watering schedules, and crazy nightlife, Nathan's Garden has plenty of young, single people.

So, that all sounds lovely right? Great places that rival San Francisco or New York, New York. I hear they are even working on a theme song. So what was that you mentioned about low-lifes? Well...

Uninvited guests

Dum, dum dum...

These little pinheads began popping up. Like gypsies or Peruvian flute bands. These self-described "fun guys" just come in, party it up, and leave the damage for someone else to clean up. Anyone know a mycophagist for hire?

Next time on Soil Diggers...Will they find a mycophagist? WTF is a mycophagist? Will the mushrooms take over the 'hood? What happened to the tragedy that was supposed to strike? Will the carrots get a little sugar from the snap peas? Tune in next week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soil Diggers - Episode 2: Demeter & Ceres

In Greek mythology, the goddess Demeter was the most generous of the great Olympian goddesses. Demeter was beloved for her service to mankind in giving them the gift of the harvest, the reward for cultivation of the soil. She was also known as Ceres (to the Romans), because she had a bit of a split personality... And a temper. Word on the street is that she opened a can of whoop-ass on Earth in the winter killing everything in sight.

So, since we want a bountiful harvest, what better way to pay tribute to Demeter/Ceres than to name our gardens after her/them. That's right, gardens. With an s. Because look at how much soil we have:

That's one big pile of soil

By the way, it's amazing how dirty you can get from soil. I guess what they say is true: You can take the soil out of the dirt, but you can't take the dirt out of the soil. or something.

And while we were at it, we decided to get that third compost bin we've had our eyes on.
Newest addition to the family

The stork (aka the nice folks at the City of Chandler) dropped it off on our door step. For Free! Yep, we went all out on our garden. Only the best. Now we'll have plenty of compost to feed our young garden.

And just so our new garden would look all naked once we finished the build, we had a few transplants to kick start the process. Meet the Sproutlings:


Apparently some produce does better when started inside and transplanted into the garden, though I suspect they just wanted to wait until baseball season was over. Additionally, we had some basil that was contemplating some tough career choices, but in the end decided to take our offer and move into the spacious plot near Nathan's garden. We also picked up two tomato plants since we were a bit late to the tomato game.

Demeter, our first

Adopted twins

Then, after assessing the first garden and allocating space to Nathan, we felt that we wouldn't have enough room for all the bounty Demeter was about to bestow upon us that we needed a second garden to hold it all. We were also kind of afraid of the whole split personality thing and didn't want to get on her/her bad side. And so, Ceres was born.

Ceres, the baby

If you are wondering what happened to the step by step photos I was planning, I apparently didn't stop to take more pictures during the final build. Thus the stand-ins above, just imagine less greenery and soil. Plus a few more I hate gravel comments.

Next week, on Soil Diggers:
Tragedy strikes the garden! How will our garden cope? Plus some uninvited guests pop up - Is there evil lurking about?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Soil Diggers - Episode 1: The Canvas

Let's build a garden! What a better way to spend a few hours in the dirt. Sorry soil. It didn't spend four years in gardening school to be call dirt. And we spent good money on it so we better not soil its good name with the D word. Especially if we're going to be putting it's bounty on our plates and eating it. Imagine, eating something that came from dirt, ugh, how pedestrian.

So why a garden? Well, it'll save a trip to the farmer's market. Plus, organic veggies are expensive. And we have some extra space just lying around the house. Also, it's fun, or so say those other gardeners, though I don't recall them saying the building part of it was all that and a bag of chips.

So let's see what we have to work with...

The Canvas

So we decided on a nice little 3.5 ft by 15 ft. garden. You know, nothing too fancy and showy. We had two spots to choose from, each on the sides of the house, but opted for the side our compost is on since we'll be adding it to the garden frequently. The only issue may be the sun exposure but after talking with a few others, it sounds like we'll have enough.

Notice anything different...Shovel?

So we first had to clear away the gravel. I hate gravel.

Little workers

I really hate gravel. I mean really. It sucks. No offense, well, unless you are gravel.

This is how you do it

And to make it even better, I had some help along the way. Nice spot Sonoma, way to lay right where I'm working.

My little buddies helping out

And we're clear. Temporarily anyway. We decided to expand later which required more moving of the gravel.


Nathan actually turned around and said "cheese" when he heard the camera going.

So here we are at the end of part one. Will the garden be finished in time to plant for the winter? What will be planted? Will there be enough food to feed the family? Will the gravel regroup and attack at night? Who will survive? Did Professor Plum kill the carrots with the rake in the garden?

All that and more, next on...Soil Diggers.