30.9.09

Day 262. The Manager One.

So, the stories will filter in piece meal for you, but here's the summary version...when I arrived in Zurich from Munich during my travels, I had the oh so joyous occurrence that my wifi on my MacBook decided it didn't need to work anymore. This led to a 2 hour call with Apple Support which culminated in, after one of the many different types of restarts, my screen no longer working. This was NOT a good thing. I had 5 days left overseas and no way to be online to keep up with all my commitments. Apple Support was helpful and set up an appointment for me with the Zurich Apple store for the following day (apparently Apple, like McDonalds, is now Every-where)

I showed up an the Apple store, and found out, the "Drop in" appointment I had was not valid. I admit, I was under duress: in a foreign country, lacking in the language skills (I've got more German German than Swiss German under my belt) and trying not to completely freak out about my computer. I also was up against the Swiss culture. Europeans I have come in contact with have a much more balanced perspective on things than most Americans. They aren't all "Rush rush rush" all the time, and this is wonderful...except when you are urgently trying to get someone to help you fix your computer ;)

I guess my anxiety finally came across and I was introduced to Monica - the manager on duty at the Apple store. Monica talked through the symptoms and ended up making me an appointment for the following day with her "special manager privileges". Just knowing I was on the path to diagnosis and (hopefully!) computer recovery was a huge step. Monica's kindness, understanding and tolerance of the crazy American were amazing. Even when it turned out that my graphics card was busted and I was going to be computerless until I returned stateside, my calm and acceptance were rooted in Monica's setting the stage for my experience there at the Apple store.

Thanks, Monica, for taking the time to serve a customer - no matter how difficult!

17.9.09

Day 261. The Hustlin' One(s).

There were many people who could be the subject of this post, but I didn't want to cheat and use up like 30 days ;)

Yesterday, Stephen and I headed to Europe...well at least we tried to. First, our plane from C-bus was delayed for mechanical issues and then one on the tarmac, we were under a ground hold. Suffice it to say, that sitting in a plane for over an hour delay when you are trying to make an international connection is just a touch stressful. Stephen and I just said we knew we couldn't do anything to change the situation and whatever was supposed to happen, would happen.

Long story short, we landed in Dulles with exactly 26 minutes to make it to another terminal, and make our flight (and don't even get me started on the status of our checked bags). What impressed us, and bears the mention here is every single United Airlines employee who worked on our two flights today. The pilot from CMH flew faster than I've evern flown to DC. The staff greeting us knew the predicament many of us were facing, got us right off that plane, and wished us good luck. The gate agents at our connecting flight got us on board (I think they waited for us but I'll never tell ;) ) and, the baggage actually made it.

I've been on too many flight situations like this where exactly the opposite of each of these things happens. You can't get off the plane, they close the door on you, your baggage comes days later...every UA employee we interacted with conveyed with their actions that they were working hard and really wanted us (and our stuff) to get where we were going when we wanted to get there. That attitude not only got us here, but got us here happy. I'm not used to feeling cared for by an airline anymore, but after the past 24 hours, United, you rock!

15.9.09

Status...

So, guess what happened...without me knowing, an actual calendar year came and went on my little bloggy project here and I never even noticed.

I'm not sure if it violates the principles of any "365 Project" if one extends the time to finish past the actual intended year, but when I realized the date, I also realized that they way I've been thinking about this project being "done" is when 365 people are actually documented.

With that said, I can't say for sure when I'll reach that goal - I'm headed out of the country for a while here soon and that will for certain put a few more holes in my intended daily posting schedule - but just between you and me, I'm hoping to be done at the end of 2009 (emphasis on hoping!)

As far as I'm concerned, I'm done when there are a year's worth of people "living" here...I still believe that 365 good people is just the tip of the iceberg.

Day 260. The Cucina One.

So here in Columbus, we have this thing called Restaurant Week. Actually, we have it a few times of year - a bunch of restaurants get together, create a fixed price menu with perhaps some special off-menu items, and part of the proceeds benefit a charity. Its a nice idea and just another excuse to eat some good food!

Last week was another Restaurant Week, and some good friends and I went to a place that I had been wanting to go for a while, but had never been before, Z Cucina. It ended up being a delightful dinner experience - the place is cool, the food was amazing (risotto/cheese fritters...need I say more?), but as it was a Wednesday, by the time we were done we were some of the last people in the dining room. The owner was manning the host desk that night and ended up talking to us a while.

He spun up conversation on a few different topics, took our advice on adding some of the specials to the permanent menu, and did the thing that all restaurateurs need to do - he marketed. And for that, I applaude him. As my dad has always said, "everything you do, everything you say, is a Sales opportunity". And I think he's right. We were not so clueless as to not realize the motives of the owner, nor was he so shallow as to be doing a full court press on us. It was a lovely exchange that added to a lovely evening, and quite frankly, has me excited to go back some time.

That's what successful business owners do (don't ask me about the recent ice cream/hat/ NOT successful manager story - it doesn't fit in this blog ;) ) - they market, they network, they listen and they evolve. Z Cucina has been around for quite some time, its survived a lot (the entire building next to them burned down last year!) and now that I've finally been, I can see why - and full credit goes to their delightful owner - his personality and drive for quality seemed to be reflected in everyone we interacted with that night. We'll be back!

12.9.09

Day 258-259. The Community Ones.

Thanks to my friend Anna, I've become a hard core "biker". We are both training this summer to ride in the Tour de Pink to benefit the Young Survival Coaltion (you can read all about that here and, hint hint hint, make a donation :) ) But, anyway, as I've now become someone who will spend upwards of 5-15 hours on a bike every week, one of the things I've enjoyed most is getting to know the culture that exists around biking. It always boggles my mind when one finds a new interest (of your own or others) and you find that there is a whole sub-culture and community that exists around this shared passion. I love that.

So, today, out I went on my first really long ride by myself - 70 miles (Anna is in NYC as VP of the Young Survival Coaltion - saving the world). Its funny, when I take on any ride, what concerns me the most isn't if I can do it or not, but what if "something" happens. What if my bike breaks, what if I get a punctured tire. What if...what if...what if... And today, that all was a bit heightened for me as I was by myself. At the very least, I knew the route I was taking and I knew there were bound to be some bikers along the way.

The ride went pretty well, and at 30 miles, I stopped for a stretch/ water/ Nutella break. I leaned my bike up against the stop sign, and chilled for 5 minutes. While I was stopped (texting Stephen to let him know my status), a biker pulled up to the stop sign: "Are you OK?" "Oh, yes, thank you. Just taking a break, texting my husband" "Ok, great! Have a good ride" and he smiled and pedaled off. I thought about that...first of all, apparently "real" bikers don't officially stop. They just go go go :) (I'm a slow, beginner biker - I get it :) ) But second, and more importantly, I really just thought about how nice it was for this guy to stop and be concerned and so friendly when he saw someone who perhaps needed tools, or an airpump, or something else. Very cool.

About 15 miles from home, I stopped again. Same drill - water, stretch. I was at a dead end and about to take a final left turn towards the way home. Coming down that road that I was about to turn on to, was another biker, (going MUCH faster than I do) but he saw me and yelled out "You OK?" and slowed down, looked back and waited till I said "I'm great, thanks!" and then he picked up speed and went on his way.

I never got these two men's names. But they made such a difference in my day, my ride, and my feeling of being "part of the biking community". I learned that not only do we wave to each other as we pass on the roads, but its more: we will always help each other out, and we look out for each other. We support each other and no matter our ability, we want everyone to have a good, safe, fun ride whenever they're out. To feel this support from total random cyclists that I most likely will never see again (and probably not recognize even if I did) feels good. And, these two guys, who ever they are, deserve recognition for being good ambassadors for cycling and for being just darn good people.

10.9.09

Day 257. The Protecting One.

This will be my second post about 9/11. While some find some of the continuing melodrama annoying to me this is still a day that affects me very personally and very deeply. While not in New York City that day in 2001, I did live in Washington DC. I knew people who were on the planes. Its still the most scared I've ever been, and the most scared I think I will ever be...

September 11th was experience enough. All the "singles" at my work, which included Stephen at the time, came over to my place and Stephen made us M&M pancakes. We also made him go outside when we first heard a sound of a plane (you never notice these things - they fly over you every day, but that day, we heard every plane that took off). That plane just turned out to be one of the many f-14's surveying us all that day...

But September 12th dawned a new day. A weird day. It was normal and it wasn't all at the same time. I got up early as usual to walk the dog. It was crazy quiet, but as I walked up the exterior staircase of my brownstone, all of a sudden I came within what felt like just feet of a Blackhawk helicopter. My apartment was at the crest of a hill at the top of Connecticut Avenue and so it seemed, at that moment, that I was at the highest point in all of DC. And there was the Blackhawk. And there was the pilot. As I said, it seemed he was so close. Obviously he was a safe distance away, but I can tell you this - I saw into his eyes. And he looked at me. He just hovered there, and we looked at each other in the early morning of a whole new way of life.

There's no way to ever know or find out who this pilot was, but he was there. And it made me feel better on that day. It reminded me that we will go on. It reminded me that there are so many who commit their life's purpose to protect others. It gave me my first sense of peace after that awful day.

I think of that helicopter pilot a lot. And I particularly think of him every single September 11th. I pray for his safety. On that day, he meant everything about me, us, our communities surviving.

6.9.09

Day 256. The NOT Tackling One.

DISCLAIMER: I'm an unabashed lover of college football so you'll probably see this theme crop up in more than one post in the near future :)

Yesterday was the first game of the Ohio State Buckeye football season. I love me my Buckeyes, but yesterday was special since it was the first time in over 70 years that a Service team has played in the Shoe. We welcomed Navy in what turned out to be a very exciting (nerve wracking!) game filled with good football and a lot of great tradition and honor of those who serve.

Arguably there is some trepidation in Buckeye Nation. We lost a lot of experienced players last year and for many, "all hope" rests on the shoulders of a very young 19 year old quarterback named Terrell Pryor who likes to run crazy routes and make insane things happen while all 105,000 of us in the stands hold our breath for fear he ends up hurt.

During an offensive drive yesterday, "TP" was trying to negotiate a play action pass. From the left side, a Navy defensive man came around the corner, untouched, with a direct route to a solid hit on our QB. At the last second, with the defensiveman a split second away, TP completed the pass and we got that much closer to the end zone and the defensiveman PULLED UP.

Its this defensiveman from Navy that I chose to honor today. You won't see this play on any highlight film. And since I am not one of those fans who records the game and watches it over, and over, and over (Ahem, Stephen) I can't even tell you who this player was. But I want him to know that I saw him do it. In our celebrity culture today, that spreads over into sports, its routine for someone to take advantage of an unabated path to the quaterback - knock him to the ground, embarass him, maybe get in his head a little bit, grow your own stats, celebrate and get a personal highlight clip. None of that happened.

Stephen and I both saw this happen and THAT is all we talked about for the next few minutes, and Stephen said "that's the discipline of the Navy and this team", I thought about that, and I also offered, "Navy players know exactly how to put a football game in perspective". Later, I thought even more that perhaps this young defensive player knows how important one's body is to what one has to do in life so why senselessly go after someone unless you have something important to gain. Yes I recognize the irony that we are putting a lot of mature thinking on the back of someone who, still, no matter if they are a midshipman or not, is still playing in "just" a college football game, but the fact remains: most players wouldn't act as this young man did. (and no, he wasn't finking out)

To us, it showed respect for his role, the game, and his opponent. We have chosen to transpose this young man's thinking to be part of his Navy "upbringing" and quality of character. So, today, to the midshipman who chose NOT to take a hit on a quarterback, who will someday be serving to protect all of us in America, I honor you.

3.9.09

Day 255. The Tackling One.

Did you hear about this kid? Hopefully, soon I will be one of many sharing this good news story - but read it for yourself and see how cool this young man is. I am of the opinion that if we all started feeling the need to care for each other more, (rather than be suspicious, accusatory or worst of all ambivalent) this world would sure be a better place.

Read and WATCH:

2.9.09

Day 254. The T-Lo Ones.

Snarky can be good. Snarky can be really good - particularly when its really witty and will make you laugh. out. loud. (truly - we overuse this "LOL" thing - with what I'm about to share, I truly laugh aloud)

Allow me to introduce you to Tom and Lorenzo. They are just two guys who decided to start blogging about some of their passions - and this reached its zenith with Project Runway. I enjoyed Project Runway from the beginning - a reality show about fashion and the real skill, talent, art - and, ok, b**chiness - behind it was something I really enjoyed. So, being the geek I am, I sought out a place where people were talking about it...and I found Tom and Lorenzo.

I must tell you, that their comic genius is truly reaching new heights this season. Maybe its because we had to wait so long for Project Runway to come back, maybe its because they are just getting better, who knows but, if you love this show like I do, and haven't seen this site - or this post in particular (make sure you read the Nina part) - let me tell you, you are missing out.

So let's hear it for comic genius. Let's hear it for people who can remind us ALL to never take things so seriously. As a side note, T&L often do critique other fashion, and even their critiques of the PR designs, though swathed in irony, are often spot on and teach me new things about fashion every time I read them. I get excited to see a T-Lo post show up in my RSS reader, and, if you are ever looking for something fun, and you share the interests of these two, trust me, you won't be disappointed.

*please note that some of the content of T-Lo's blog is NSFW