2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pray For Newtown – Thoughts About the Tragic Events at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Like everybody else, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the tragedy that happened Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. How does somebody walk into a school and kill 27 people? 20 of which were only between the ages of 5 and 10 years old?

It seems like we are hearing about mass shootings too often. Names like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora come to mind. Just a few days ago, Portland was added to the list. These are, of course, national stories and we feel the pain and grief associated with them. What makes Newtown different for me, is that this happened almost quite literally in my backyard.

I live in Danbury, which is just two towns over from Newtown and the village of Sandy Hook where Friday’s shooting happened. I drive past Sandy Hook Elementary School at least once a week. I have a personal connection with Newtown. I’ve heard the the town described on the news today as “bucolic”, “picturesque”, and “quaint.” All of these are true. It’s a beautiful, upper-middle class town. The iconic “New England” town where everybody knows everybody else. The town with the beautiful Main Street lined with colonial style houses built in the 1700’s, and adorned with plaques explaining their historic significance. There is an enormous flagpole smack in the middle of Main Street that the town is known for. It’s not the type of place where you would expect something this gruesome to take place. You expect this to only happen in large urban areas. I know this isn’t true… It can happen anywhere. I will never be able to drive through the Sandy Hook area of Newtown again without thinking of what happened… How seven adults were gunned down and how twenty children became little angels today… Chanukah gifts left unopened, Christmas presents still sitting under the tree.

Because this happened so close to home, I am waiting to find out what kind of connection I have to the people involved. It’s inevitable. I may not know any of the victims or heroes personally, but I’m willing to bet that I know somebody who does. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook today and I found out that a friend of mine went to grade school with Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed in Friday’s massacre. I imagine that over the next few days I will find out that I have more connections, even if they are second and third degree.

I’m not a parent. I know that I’m devastated, but I cannot even fathom what people with children in that school must have been going through. Twenty sets of parents were told today that their children will not be coming home. That is the saddest thing that I can imagine.

This is something that is going to hang over not only Newtown and the State of Connecticut, but over our country for years to come. I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but hug your kids. Tell the people you care about that you love them. This CAN happen anywhere.

Things to Never Do In Starbucks (or anywhere else)

starbucks cup

I have to say that in my almost two years of working at Starbucks, I’ve come across some customer practices that never cease to amaze.  I know that I have probably done a number of these when I was on the opposite side of the counter in the past… but I will NEVER do them again.  Here are some examples of things to NOT do while you are in Starbucks, or any place:

1.  When you are at the counter ordering, please, please, PLEASE get off your phone.  This has become my biggest pet peeve.  I am a person, and I deserve your attention.  I know that you are the customer, but it’s not fair that you keep me (and the line) waiting because whatever you are doing is too “important” to pay attention.  If you have to make or finish a call… please do it BEFORE you get in line.

no-cell-phone

2. Please don’t argue with me about what constitutes a drink.  Starbucks put a lot of attention into training me and the thousands of baristas all over the world.  I’m pretty sure I know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino.  A Latte is espresso with steamed milk topped with a little bit of foam… a cappuccino is espresso with foam and a little bit of milk.  I had a lady come into the store a couple of months ago and order “A cappuccino, but instead of foam, make it with all milk.”  When I tried to explain to this person that she was, in fact, ordering a latte, she just about lost her mind.

3. If you don’t know the difference between an Americano and Espresso… please ask.  As baristas, we love to talk about coffee and will be more than happy to explain what all of the different drinks are.  For example, a gentleman came into the store and ordered an iced venti americano, but hold the water.  Now the difference between an espresso and an americano IS water.  I politely treid to explain this, and he started yelling at me about how he knows what his coffee drinks are, and how dare I question him, etc… Sir… obviously you have NO IDEA what the drinks are.

4. Please don’t stick gum under the tables… enough said.

5. Don’t put your feet on the tables.  This actually happens more than I care to mention.

6.Seriously, your dogs are not allowed in the store.  Aside from the fact customers or staff may be allergic, it is against health codes, and we could get shut down.  This is not my decision, so please don’t yell at me when I ask you take him/her outside.  Believe me… I love dogs, but there are laws.  Obviously, service dogs are the exception.  But no, I don’t believe that the Jack Russell Terrier in your handbag is helping you to navigate.

dog1

7. Don’t assume that because we are working in a coffee shop that we are not smart or have no ambition.  I have a college degree, spent over 15 years in various marketing and public relations careers, and am an accomplished musician.  I, like many others, have fallen on hard times and am doing what I need to do to survive.

8. If you don’t want to leave a tip in the tip jar, that’s perfectly fine.  It won’t affect the quality of your service.  But please don’t advocate that we should get rid of them.  I count on that extra income.

9. Please don’t blame me if we run out of coffee.  It happens.  There is a finite amount of coffee in the brewer.  We constantly have to make more.

10.  Don’t  let your children run around the store.  It bothers other customers and is dangerous for the child.  You decided to have a child,  He/She is YOUR responsibility.

11. We can’t help it if the line is long.  There a lot of other people besides you that would like a drink.  We can only make them as fast as the machines pull shots and steam milk.

masterna

12. When you order 13 drinks, please don’t tell me after I have rung them up that the 4th one needs to be paid for separately.  This actually happened to me yesterday.

13. We can’t help it if the power goes out.  This happened a couple of weeks ago in my store.  A transformer blew up the street plunging the entire area into darkness.  No… the coffee brewers don’t work without electricity.  And yes… we have to ask you to leave the store.

14. Don’t take the wrong drink off the bar and then come back to tell us we made you the wrong drink.

15. I’m sorry that you have to pay for WiFi in our stores.  I had nothing to do with this decision.  It’s the way it is.  If you don’t want to pay for it, the library up the street has free service.

16.  Don’t snap your fingers at me.  I am not your slave.

17. We really do our best to keep the lobby clean and try to keep the garbage cans from overflowing.  We are busy, and unfortunately, short-staffed.

18. When you place your order, please speak in a loud enough voice so that I can hear you.  With blenders, espresso machines, and coffee grinders all going at the same time, not to mention the music playing and people talking, I am dealing with a lot of extraneous sound.  If I ask you to repeat your order, it’s only because I want to make sure that it’s right.

19.  We close at 9:30… so if you come at 9:45, the doors will be locked.  I can’t tell you how many people show up, pull on the locked door, look at the sign in the window that shows our hours, look at me, then back at the sign, and pull on the door again.  And please don’t plead with me that you only want a cup of coffee… We’ve already dumped it, cleaned the brewers, and shut down the registers.

20. It never hurts to say hello and smile at your baristas.  A little acknowledgement can go a long way.

I realize that you are the customer and that the customer is always right.  I bring up these points because it’s just good etiquette. We would like and deserve to be treated with a some respect.  We work hard… we’re are on our feet for 6 to 8 hours in a row… and really do want to keep you, our customers, happy.

A.I.G. Executive Resigns… in the New York Times!

Jack DeSantis, Executive VP of A.I.G. Financial Products (based in the Wilton, CT office), has resigned from the company, and has shared his resignation letter with the world in “The New York Times.”  The man has some really good points.  I have been fairly vocal about my thoughts on huge bonuses being paid out.  My feeling in the past has been that I never had a problem with it.  If these behemoth companies could afford to pay bonuses, that was their perogative.  However, if a company that has been part of the bail-out program was still paying out these obscene amounts, and using my tax dollars to do it… then I have a problem.

Mr. DeSantis, however, raises some interesting points.  Many of these executives were working on the premise that they would only take $1 a year in salary, while the remaining portion of their compensation would be in the form of stocks and bonuses.  It ws with good faith that they signed their contracts.  And, as is the case with Mr. DeSantis, a lot of these executives that had nothing to do with the company failing, are now being asked to give the money back.

My dilemma is that I believe in principle that a contract should be honored.  But the fact that it is that it is now my tax dollars instead of the company’s profits being paid out.  I’m struggling to pay my rent, let alone my back rent, and put food on my table. I need to keep my car on the road so that I can get back and forth to my $200 a week part-time job.  Mr. DeSantis clearly states in his letter that his family will not suffer at all financially.

On the positive side, and I commend Jack DeSantis for this, he will be donating his entire bonus of over $700,000 to charity.  Jack… drop me a note and I’ll tell you my address so that you can send just a tiny portion of that bonus to me.

Read the resignation letter here .

The Passing of a Friend

I am actually in a bit of shock right now.  In my last post, I mentioned that a friend of mine suffered from a stroke at just 39 years old.  I just found out that Bruce Kendall passed away around 5:30pm on Saturday, March 21st.

I was close friends with Bruce and his future wife, Nicole, while we were students at Southern Connecticut State University back in the early 90’s.  We were all part of our college radio station.  As with a lot of friends, we sort of lost touch over the course of time.  I knew that Bruce and Nicole moved to Ohio, and knew that they had 3 children.  But we hadn’t spoken in years.

I don’t remember exactly when I met Bruce.  He was best friends with my friend Rob from the radio station.  I know that Rob and his wife, Maureen have remained best friends with Bruce and Nicole throughout the years.  I kept tabs on Bruce through Rob and Mo.  And then I lost touch with them a few years back.  Nothing happened, we just got busy with different aspects of our lives.

And then, a few months ago, I heard from Bruce through Facebook.  Then Nicole, and Maureen & Rob.  I was overjoyed that I was able to re-connect with them.

Bruce has the unfortunate distinction of being the first of my contemporaries to pass away.  We are now at an age where we are dealing with the deaths of parents and grandparents and those loved ones of an older generation.  We are not supposed to have to have to deal with losing our friends in our late 30’s and early 40’s.  It makes me realize just how fragile we are.

It also makes me feel incredibly lucky to have been reconnected to them.  And to have reconnected with so many of my friends from high school and college.  And even though we may not speak on a regular basis, you are all a part of my life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Nicole and their children.  And of course to Rob and Maureen and all of Bruce’s family.

And I am proud that I have been able to call Bruce my friend.

Get Well, Don Imus!

Don ImusRadio legend Don Imus announced this morning that he is battling Stage 2 prostate cancer.  According to a bone scan, the cancer has not spread.  The 68 year old shock jock seems to have a good attitude about his diagnosis, “I’ll be fine. If I’m not fine, I won’t be fine. It’s not a big deal. The prognosis couldn’t be better.”

Mr. Imus believes that with the help of his doctors, he will beat it.

Prostate cancer is usually treated with surgery and/or radiation.  Approximately 200,000 men are diagnosed with this form of cancer every year.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Don Imus, the radio host.  But as a humanitarian, his “Imus Ranch” in New Mexico has helped countless kids battling their own life-threatening diseases.  And, as a cancer survivor myself, I offer my support and prayers that he will beat this.

Brian James a.k.a. “The Voice of God” passes

Brian James

March is turning out to be a rough month.  Just last week, we lost radio legend, Paul Harvey.  Yesterday, radio lost another legend. You may only know him by his voice… but almost everyone who works in the broadcasting industry knows him by name… Brian James.  Brian has left his imprint on hundreds of radio stations across the country as the self-proclaimed “Voice of God”.  He’s the guy that always pops up on station promos and bumpers.  The “voice of the station”, if you will.  Just some of the radio stations that were blessed to have Brian voice include Z100/New York, KIIS/Los Angeles, The Power Pig – 933 FLZ/Tampa, and even a couple of radio stations that I have worked for, including Y105/Danbury and KC 101 in New Haven.

Brian was 48 years old.  R.I.P.

What It’s All About

I’m a 40 year old three-time cancer survivor. Currently unemployed save for a part-time job at Starbucks. I’m looking for work in the marketing, PR, or Non-profit industries. I’ve spent most of my career in radio (hence the user-name) as a Marketing/Promotions Director and DJ. I have also worked as an Event Manager (fundraiser) for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and am currently serving as the Publicity Chairperson for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of New Milford, Connecticut. I have been a guitarist for my entire life and music is a central part of my being. I am going to use this forum to discuss anything that may occur to me at any given time… work (or lack thereof), music, cancer, relationships, and life in general.