Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for May, 2008

Duck, Duck Loose

Strange Maps is one of the 33 blogs I follow (it’s not as hard or time consuming as it sounds with Google Reader on my protopage!). This post there a few days ago really caught my attention and imagination!

In January of 2002 29,000 plastic bath toys washed overboard en route from China to the US. Their journey has revealed duckloads of information about ocean currents to scientists, largely because they are made of durable plastic, watertight, and much more likely to be reported when seen.

It’s taken 15 years, but the ducks are now predicted to reach the shores of Britain this summer. Now stop and think about that for a minute. Ducks lost in the PACIFIC OCEAN are about to reach Britain, in the ATLANTIC OCEAN! Their journey has included a five year freeze in arctic ice, moving a mile a year through the Bering Strait before thawing and resuming their watery trek toward Britain. There’s another article here about their predicted landing.

Sometimes truth IS stranger than fiction!

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Cheap Women

About two years ago, I decided waitressing would be something fun to try and got a part-time, lunch-time job at a nearby restaurant. Now, I wanted a classy experience with good return on my time, so the restaurant I picked is a top notch, 5 star establishment. This is not Chuck-E-Cheese; we rarely get kids there at all – mostly business people schmoozing clients or doctors who visit regularly. The average lunch bill per person is about $23.

I love working there! I love to entertain, so I pretend that the whole restaurant is my large home dining room and everyone there is my personal guest. There’s no work or stress to bring home, there’s an invigorating pace when the customers come in, it occupies just a few hours a week, and I average 23% in tips. Management is super flexible when I need to be home for a sick child or take a day away to go to a presentation at school. And I’m learning how to cook new recipes and expanding my taste horizons, which is a big accomplishment for someone who wouldn’t even try chocolate pudding when she was little (according to my mom!).

But far an away the most disappointing part of the job has been discovering how cheap most women are when it comes to tipping. I kid you not – when a table of women comes in, all the servers hold their breath hoping they don’t get assigned to it. Now, I understand that times are tight all around. And if you receive poor service, you have every right to compensate the server – or not – accordingly. But if you can’t afford to tip the wait staff appropriately, please don’t eat out!

Case in point: I serviced a table of four middle-aged women the other day. They had obviously been to our restaurant before as they were familiar with the menu, so our upscale prices were not a shock. They came near the end of lunch seating, so we weren’t swamped or slow to service them. They all had special orders, which is also typical for a table of women, but never bothers me. (I always order things the way I want them, too. Think high maintenance a la “When Harry Met Sally” and that’s me!).

When they ordered additional salads, I brought exactly what they wanted but rang it a different way and saved them $5 – and mentioned it to them so they wouldn’t be surprised when the bill came. As far as I know, every lunch order was made exactly as they wanted it – at least they made mention of that fact and said they were impressed. Their glasses were never empty, they loved their desserts, and when I switched out their sugar caddy for one with more Splenda, I did it so smoothly that one even said, “Oh…I was going to ask for more Splenda because I thought we were out, but I see some right here!” I even took their picture for them.

All in all, I was feeling fantastic about my service to them and when they paid the majority of their $127 bill with a $100 gift certificate, I was confident that the standard 20% or more was coming my way. But alas, it was a table of women, so I was disappointed but not really surprised when my tip was a mere $15 (less than 12%).

So ladies, if you are eating out with the girls, take some advice from a server in the know. The standard compensation these days for good service is 20% to 25%. If the service far exceeds your expectations, tip more. This especially holds if you are paying by credit card, because many restaurants deduct those 3% to 5% credit card processing from their servers’ paychecks. Do our gender a favor and DON’T be a cheap woman!

Read Any Good Books Lately?

June is mere weeks away, and that means summer reading time is here! I’ll be looking for a few good books to read. Do you have any recommendations?

I have only 4 books on my list right now:

1. Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture.” I’m currently 17th in line for it at the local public library, so it might be a while yet!

2. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, only because I’ve heard a few people talking about it and it’s popped up on a few blogs.

3. Cokie Roberts’ “Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation” recommended by my DAR chapter regent who is an avid reader.

4. I would also like to read Diane Rehm‘s book “Finding my Voice” as she is an NPR radio talk show host who I very much admire.

I also need to catch up with authors Tami Hoag and James Patterson. And I might do a little Harry Potter review reading, since there’s another movie due out this fall and oldest daughter Emily has now read book 7 more than I have!

Now, I am a fast reader, so that whole list of books up there will only get me a few weeks into June. I need more ideas!

How about you? What books do YOU hope to read this summer? Tell me via the comments and maybe I an expand my reading list.

Incredibly Stacked

Why we license pilots…(subtitled “Why Planes Have Front Windows”)

Read here

or

Watch here.

Over My Minutes

Here’s a conveniient website I found recently for folks who want to keep some money in their pockets by eliminating cell phone overage charges. “Over My Minutes” tracks your cell phone usage and sends you customized alerts. You can choose to receive alerts daily via email or text message. You can also receive alerts at two different levels of minutes remaining, as set by you.

After having tracked our phone data monthly for over 5 years now (yes, I am *that* detail oriented!), I have a pretty good handle on our usage. That made the move of our home number from a land line to a cell an easy one to justify based on cost when we made that switch almost 3 years ago.

But I can see lots of uses for this website. For example, when our girls become old enough to get phones, I’ll be able to keep close tabs on their usage so we don’t have any unpleasant surprises at the end of the month. And my mom is forever trying to keep tabs on her minutes, too, to stay within her allotted plan minutes. Now she won’t need to log into her carrier’s website to do it.

I’d Like To Thank…

I am so honored to announce that “Midnight Musings” has won its first blog award! Lisa over at qualcosa di bello (who I believe was the first person to ever blogroll Midnight Musings) has honored me with the Arte Y Pico award for blog creativity, design, interesting material, and contributions to the blogging community, no matter what the language. I am thrilled to accept this award. Thanks, Lisa!

[And to think I once asked my husband if it was worth blogging if no one ever read what I wrote. I’m glad I stuck with it – and moved to WordPress where I can glance at the blog visitor stats every so often. (Ok…so I look at them obsessively many times a day if I’m home…but I don’t have a problem…really! Did you know that 30 to 40 people read this blog every day? Wow!)]

There are five rules associated with this award:

1. Winners may pick 5 blogs that they believe deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and contributions to the blogging community, no matter what the language.

2. Each award given has to list the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog.

3. Each award winner has to show the award graphic along with the bestowing author’s name and blog link.

4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize must show the link of the Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award. (The author is a blogger in Uruguay).

5. Each award winner should post these rules.

(Ok…so I did a little research and this award was apparently just started on Friday, May 2, 2008. But when you google it, there are already 128,000 hits. Ah, the power of the internet! The popularity of this award is growing almost as fast as the gas prices!)

In the interest of sharing the love, here are my nominees for this award. Please visit and bookmark their sites. You’ll be glad you did!

* John Schinker at Taste of Tech, who got me started and hooked on this whole blogging phenomenon, patiently answered all my questions (or referred me to the right websites for answers), and keeps me learning about and growing with new technology. He’s also the best husband in the whole universe!

* Alvin Trusty at Alvin’s Educational Technology Blog for his TSPY (Time Saved Per Year) tips and tricks! Aside from Taste of Tech, this was the first blog I ever followed (which motivated me to learn about Protopage and RSS feeds!) I hope I get to meet Alvin in person someday, even is he still hasn’t tried out the Memory Manager software I sent him. (-:

* The fine women at the Shutter Sisters collaborative photo blog, who inspired me to start my own photo blog with their meaningful prose paired with delightful visual images.

* Julie Stiles Mills at the Pragmatic Compendium whose tagline is, “I Breathe, Therefore I Organize!” I found her recently, but her posts make me laugh out loud and her style is incomparable.

* Rebecca Borelli for the Art in Your Heart blog. She is the art teacher at Woodland Elementary and I LOVE that she’s embracing technology by creating this blog. It’s the first blog my kids have bookmarked and read on their own – and even commented on!

A Shining Example

Today’s post is an amazing story that shouldn’t be so amazing. I first read this story here on the Balancing Motherhood blog.

The story in a nutshell: Western Oregon college senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her 4 year softball career. Now her team was playing in the NCAA Division II tournament, the game was tied 0-0, and she was up to bat. Sara gave it her all…and slammed it over center field for a home run!

As she excitedly began rounding the bases, her right knee gave out and she crumpled to the dirt, unable to continue and obviously in a lot of pain. The referee warned the coach that her home run wouldn’t count if she were touched by anyone from her side before she tagged home base, so the coach hesitated, knowing that this was an important moment for Sara.

At that moment, senior Mallory Holtman from the opposing team – her team’s career leader in home runs playing in her final home game ever – stepped up to the referee with shortstop Liz Wallace and asked if they could carry Sara around the bases. Since they were from the opposing team, their actions would ensure that Sara’s homerun would count.

They carried her around the bases, slowing at each one so her left foot could tag the base, finally crossing home plate to a standing ovation.

Sara’s team won the game 4-2. It probably would have gone into overtime tied if Sara’s run hadn’t counted.

But no one truly lost that day. I can only imagine how proud Mallory Holtman’s parents are of her. She is one shining example of sportsmanship at its finest.

Read the full story here on ESPN.

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