a guy and a bee

a collection of random thoughts and ideas from me, her, and sometimes us

Monthly Archives: March 2012

“do i feel lucky? well, do ya?”

well that’s what i am thinking and i don’t have a. 44 magnum in face like the guy in dirty harry. yes, me and millions of other people went to the local gas stations and convenience stores and bought a mega million tickets. the biggest jackpot ever! over half a billion dollars! a couple of us from work all threw in a few bucks each today as well earlier in the week (as well as the extra tickets i picked up for myself on the way home).

not sure what i would do with all that money but i’m sure i would buy a piece of the orioles and ravens. haha. so here’s to hoping that tomorrow, we wake up rich in more than one day. guess we will find out.

what would you do with all that money anyway? do you play the lotto or do you not like it?

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thank you for excellent customer service

complaining is not something zack and i do often. thank you, however is something we offer frequently. over the past few months, i have had some exceptional customer service encounters that i would like to share.

sperry – we are BIG sperry fans. love the brand, love the shoe, love the quality.  i recently purchased a pair of sperry’s at a discount shoe store (who notably did not make the list) and, upon my second wear, found that one of the laces on the sperry was damaged.  with my life motto of “the worst they can say is no” in my mind, i e-mailed sperry noting the issue.  in a matter of hours i had a detailed response from sperry offering apology for my disappointment and clear instruction on how to send my shoes to the company for repair or replacement. never once was i asked where the shoes were purchased, their condition, or how i caused the damage.  i sent my shoes off and within a matter of days had a new pair delivered to my doorstep.  no questions asked.

visit http://www.sperrytopsider.com.  you will not be disappointed.

ll bean – i honestly do not break things often, but the past few months have been challenging for my outwear (shoes above and jackets).  i take the marc train and therefore spend a decent amount of cold mornings and evenings standing waiting for the train to arrive.  last winter, i took the plunge and purchased an amazingly warm and long winter jacket from ll bean.  i have always liked their winter gear, but was pleasantly surprised this winter not by their quality, but by their customer service.  while flying home from vermont this winter, my jacket was placed on the security belt in the airport (not in a bucket) by a security guard.  he promised me it would survive the short trip through the x-ray machine.  he was wrong.  my jacket somehow got caught and had to be forcefully pulled from the machine.  at this point, i was running late for my flight and did not pay attention to the zipper on the jacket.  i got home and went to zip my jacket, only to find zipper teeth missing and a small tear in my jacket.  the next day, i went to our local ll bean and asked what the fee to repair my jacket would be.  their response.  nothing.  the jacket i had purchased was not available in-store, so they issued me a credit for the full-price of the jacket in order to provide me to opportunity to replace my jacket at full-price, if necessary.   they never once asked what happened.

visit http://www.llbean.com.  they mean “guaranteed to last” and stand by their word that they will make you happy.

meadows – i love local businesses and i LOVE ice cream.  zp and i discovered the meadows frozen custard not that long ago and have fallen head over heels.  fresh flavors of the day (and a calendar that gives you a heads up of the flavors to come), an amazingly friendly staff, and the best owner ever are only the start of our list of loving them.  but for this post, customer service is the focus.   we were having dinner in hickory ridge one night and stopped by the meadows after dinner.  having already closed, steve (the owner) could easily have said, “see you tomorrow night.”  instead, he invited us in, noted they had closed, and told us we could pick anything that was out.  we opted for an ice cream sandwich that had just been packaged (with homemade cookies and fresh custard, of course).  steve recognizes you (probably indicating that we get ice cream too often), wants to know about your life, and ALWAYS thanks us for stopping in and inviting us back.  he and his staff make you feel welcome and at home.

i think saying thank you and showing appreciation for a job well done are amazing gifts. i also think they make someone want to keep going their job well.  so, i encourage you all . . . take a moment and appreciate someone going out of their way to assist you, or just doing their job well and not making your life more challenging.

thank you.

duck fat fries are for real at victoria gastro pub

last night after the circus, bee and i made it over to victoria gastro pub for the first time and it was fantastic. i am sure every other blogger in HoCo and the surrounding region has written a blog about the food so here’s my perspective.

we lucked out when we got their around 6 pm and didn’t have to wait which is unusual since the other few times we’ve tried to go the wait was more than 30 minutes. we ended up sitting out on the heated patio and had a nice time. it was actually warmer out there then it was inside the restaurant.

photo from foodspotting

we started out with the duck fat fries and as i’m sure you’ve heard, they are fantastic. they are rich and deep tasting and the roasted garlic aioli really makes them. not over garlic-y like some things can be. we tried them with ketchup as well and although they tasted good, stick with the aioli.

i got the black angus burger and removed the pickles. i only really like pickle spears, not the slices. normally, i am a ketchup and mustard kind of guy on my burger but just stuck with the aioli as it comes. it was juicy and delicious as all of the pieces worked together to make a great burger. the sweet paprika fries that i got were good, but weren’t as good as the duck fat fries and were slightly overcooked. i didn’t let it ruin my meal though. haha.

bee got the lobster grilled cheese with the spinach salad as her side. at one point in our relationship, we ate grilled cheese every friday night and enjoy a grilled cheese whenever possible. this was probably the fanciest grilled cheese she has had and from all accounts, it was fantastic. how much better can you get than brie and lobster to make a grilled cheese? apparently the spinach salad was also really good. she was a member of the clean plate club at the end of the dinner!

certainly check out VGP (for short) for yourselves, but we will definitely be going back as there were several other menu options that looked great as well as a large brunch menu on the weekends. you can see the menu for yourself on their website.

it was a place on my list of places to eat so not only did we get a great meal, we crossed off a place on the list that i (we) wanted to try. feel free to check out howchow’s articles about VGP too.

hocofood@@@

the greatest show on earth!

bee’s take:
truly how i felt today . . . finally circus day.

zp, being the phenomenal person he is and knowing that it takes very little to make me truly happy, has been introducing me to all the things i did not do as a kid.  upon learning that i had never been to the circus, he bought the tickets and prepared me for the best day ever.  fifth row end seats so i did not have to touch anyone and was close enough to be amazed and far enough to not be overwhelmed.  the circus was amazing and far exceeded every thought i had of it. it was the greatest show on earth and just as magical as i had hoped.

what did we see today, you wonder:

  • clowns – colorful and full of energy.  and really good at playing off mistakes vs.  making mistakes on purpose.  incredibly entertaining.  and colorful (oh wait, i said that once)
  • elephants – adorable.  well behaved.  and they did such a good job at holding trunks to tails.
  • tigers – not my favorite, by far, but they were synchronized.

  • stilt walkers – they glow in the dark.  really, does it get any better than that?!?
  • acrobats and tight-rope walkers – their coordination, speed, and focus on what they are doing with every light-up toy and sound going on in the background is amazing.  and they are really good at what they do.
  • cross-bow man – they set him on fire and shot him across the arena in the dark.  and there were fireworks.  and then they made him not on fire with fire extinguishers (not as fancy or cool as you think it would be).  and then they gave him a new cape and he ran into the center like it was no big thing to have just been on fire.  kind of wackadoodle, thought provoking, and REALLY stunning all at the same time.
  • jugglers – they were juggle-tastic.
  • aerialists – one of those things that always make me sit with my mouth hanging open.  they as so strong and delicate all at the same time.
  • the strong men – whether or not the log they carry is “that heavy,” you cannot fake them lifting eachother or four other people and twirling them around in a circle for what seems like a really long time.
  • horses (and mini horses) – they pooped in the three-ring circus.  and, the circus workers were really adept at cleaning it up very quickly.  also, just for the record, they are mini horses, not baby horses.

zp’s take:
when asked her favorite part, bee listed everything.  at the end of the day, she keeps going back to the elephants and how well they stay together, holding trunks and tails.

lots of kids at the circus today and they didn’t even bother bee.  well, other then the one that kicked her in the back, LOL.  as a child, she never went to the circus so we have been fulfilling all those childhood activities one at a time and the greatest show on earth was in town so we went and saw the clowns. this circus show was themed “fully charged.”  lots of lights and excitement as well as the standards.  sadly, the clowns didn’t pile out of a car like you would see on any circus show/movie.  of course, the guy flying across the arena on fire made up for it.  funny how the simple things in life make her smile for days at a time.  or a $12 snowcone in an elephant shaped mug, haha.

Good Things for Good People

A wise man recently pointed me in the direction of Psalm 90 (“…teach us to apply our hearts to wisdom”) to help me process a feeling that I do not deserve something that I have recently “received.”  He followed that direction with, “applying our brains to wisdom is the easier part, I think.”

And just as I sit and wonder why good things do not happen more often for good people (and why I have such a hard time accepting good things), I receive this message from a friend: “sometimes I think people surprise you for the better… and I think people undervalue the importance of how someone makes you feel.”

We have become so accustomed to settling, in some circumstances, thinking that maybe we do not deserve better or that we should not be seeking something more because it is selfish.  Instead, we are left to wonder why “good things” are not happening to us.  We should, however, know that we deserve more.  We deserve to fight for happy.  We deserve to be treated impeccably.  And, whatever good the good person is getting, chances are someone else is getting something out of it too.

So, one more from the wise man . . . someone showed me a Hindu prayer once where one’s hands are placed (in prayer position) on 1. one’s head, then 2. mouth, then 3. heart.  The prayer, she said, is “Help me be present in 1. body 2. voice and 3. mind.” Then she said, “Look where the mind is!”

don’t change the game

coach harbaugh never likes the refs call

it seems like in every major sport these days, there is a large mistake by the officials on a regular basis. granted referreeing isn’t a perfect science and there is only a split second for you to make the decision, but it seems like the obvious calls are being missed and therefore games are being changed because of it. take the syracuse vs. unc asheville game the other night in the second round of the ncaa tournament. an inbound pass goes in and doesn’t even hit a player on unc-a and the ref gives the ball back to syracuse. now granted, this might not have changed the final outcome, but it changed the game at that moment and with such little time on the clock left, there was no way the team could recover. maybe they should have called a foul on unc-a as both players went after the loose ball. as well, in the same game, there was also a shot clock violation that didn’t get called. i didn’t see if that got overturned by replay, but the officials have replay on the court so why not use it when the play is crucial to the game.

The NCAA Coordinator of Officials, John Adams said,

“I’m not going to alibi for the gentlemen in the game. They work their butts off. When you see this call, it’s either a foul or you give it to the other team that didn’t knock the ball out of bounds.”

“He didn’t get it right.”

having umpired baseball for parts of 13 plus years, i know that you can’t be right all the time but a play that like needs to be overruled by the officials. when there is more than 1 official on the floor, you need to get together and make the right call. just now at halftime of the murray st/marquette game, there was a clear walk as the player scored at the buzzer and it counted. unbelievable. it’s not just now and it’s not just basketball. i’m sure every major sport this year had has their fair share of screw ups and i’ve even screwed up before, but it appears to be happening more and more on the national stage, which isn’t good. you never want to put yourself in the game and make a call that can change a game like that.

remember the perfect game that armando galarraga (who is now in orioles camp) had a couple years ago when jim joyce blew the call at first? he later apologized for screwing up the call, but it doesn’t go back and fix the wrong and change history. how many perfect games have there been, ever? 20, in over 100 years.

if you are going to let the players play, let them play. ultimately, you need to be consistent, whether it’s good or bad. be consistent and don’t put yourself out there to make a critical call in correctly. it’s a shame things have been so bad lately, but hopefully it changes so it stops affecting the game adversely. literally, for the love of the game, they need to be better.

you can see the play in syracuse/unc asheville game on youtube.

mattress capital of the world?

has anyone else noticed recently that columbia seems to be the mattress capital of the world? i hadn’t really noticed this until lately when one mattress store left the columbia crossing shopping center and 2 days later there was another one. maybe the sign just changed and it caught my eye, but after that i started noticing more and more of the these places. there is basically a mattress store in every strip mall if you haven’t noticed. and if there isn’t a mattress store, there is a furniture store that sells mattresses.

is there a need for this many mattress stores and how do they stay in business in a down economy? i know i haven’t bought a mattress in several years and with the price tag on these things, people are more likely to continue to stretch their bucks and not replace an older mattress. am i missing something here and should get a new mattress? i count at least 9 on the yellow pages site and several more in laurel and other parts of the county. i know howard county is big, but i’d imagine there isn’t a need for this many mattress stores.

what am i missing here and why does it seem columbia is the mattress capital of the world?!

hocoblogs@@@

mental note: places to eat

this is my mental note on places to eat. most of them are in howard county but i do venture out of the area to try some places. most recently when we were in towson last month we tried the S&J crab ranch, which was very tasty. if you have any suggestions or feedback let me know. generally, i stick with american or italian food. i’m not really a big fan of spicy food or rice/beans so that ends up cutting out most mexican or asian cuisines. i am sure i will blog about them after i try them as well.

so here’s the list:
hickory ridge grill
victoria’s gastro pub
sonoma’s
2nd chance saloon
cafe de paris
aida bistro
pub dog
venegas prime filet
the corner stable

that’s all i have for now. maybe this will help us not go to the same places all the time!

work travel

does your significant other travel for work a bunch? lately, bee has been traveling for work and i was thinking about how different things are around the house when she’s not here. it’s certainly quieter but i can also leave stuff wherever i want (until she comes home at least). of course that didn’t work out in my favor when bee was in chicago and a fell and fractured my rib, haha. i also find myself eating out every meal. if she’s away any portion of a weekend, i can pretty much guarantee eating out at 4-5 straight meals. sometimes with my folks, sometimes by myself but not at home.

the other thing i end up doing is cleaning up more and getting things together for when she returns. sometimes i end up fixing things that i put off i guess mostly because i have the time to do it. many times, i’ll find a random card for her to tell her i missed her.

anyway, i guess it’s just one of those things i was thinking about last week when i was home alone. it’s always good to enjoy some downtime and time along to reflect. so my question for you is, what do you do differently when your significant other is away?

BWI VIP

You know your life is not normal (at least not like you think it is) when you arrive at BWI at 5:00am to go through security, run into the same security screener you saw last week on the same day at the same time (literally), and he takes pity on you from your previous conversation (about people who do not fly often) and moves you to the VIP line. Or maybe you are simply not normal for actually talking to the security screener and being remembered in the first place?!?

And on that note…if you do not fly often, please have pity on those of us that do. Come to the airport prepared. Do not have twelve thousand bags to carry on. Empty your pockets – everything from your pockets. Remember that you cannot take full size bottles of liquids on the plane with you. And most of all, pay attention to the noted signs and placards : )

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