Archive for the 'Odd Ends' Category

What I learned about blogging while shopping at American Greetings

     It’s Mother’s Day weekend, so of course that finds me buying a card on the busiest day for it.  My wife was off to buy some clothes while I shopped for her card.  At her suggestion, I chose the American Greetings store.

     Right away I spotted the perfect extra to go with the card, long stemmed crafted flowers.  Picking those up, I also quickly found the perfect card.  One of my best shopping experiences at a card store. This particular store, though small, is well used by us, so I wasn’t surprised at this. What surprised me was the counter experience.

     The young lady behind the counter took the flowers and the card and began ringing them up.  Still things are fine at this point, but then a 2nd counter person takes her place, and she ran off to the back of the store for something urgent.  I’m still good though, as the new clerk finishes ringing me up, and mentions a discount.

     I told her thank you and then went to use the credit card machine. It was hung up. It showed a total but not the one matching what she’d just said, and the credit/debit click spots weren’t working.  We agreed I’d just let her scan the card behind the counter, and I handed it over.  She decided to check the total first.  That’s when it suddenly went down hill.

     The manager showed and um, how should I say this, ‘took over.’  She took my credit card from the other lady and chastised her, and rudely took over at the register.  The manager proclaimed she’d have to re-ring the whole thing and in a loud voice, declared to the clerk, “..if he’s going to argue about it, let’s do it over.”

     Talk about an oh my gosh experience. To watch her treat this other employee rudely was embarrassing for me and the employee, but to be spoken of in the third person and have it stated I was arguing, was almost too much.  Had they not had my intended purchase behind the counter, I’d have walked out immediately.

     I then mentioned to the manager that things were fine and that I had not argued with the clerk.  She uttered something about having re-ring and had the clerk help her ring the items.  The manager then explained to me how she was going ring the flowers and proceeded to do so.  To wrap up the effort, she grabs a stray sticker off the counter, and was about to ring it up for me too.  She then asked if it was mine. It took me a moment to realize what she’d done and was asking, and to add to the confusion, she asked me a few times repeatedly if this was mine.

     Once I realized what it was, I told her no. She completed ringing it out and read me the total.  It was the same as the previous total.  Again the card reader was hung. I showed her the reader.  Her response? A quick lecture about how they couldn’t reboot the reader until there were no more customers, and appeared to shrug and sigh at that, before asking me for my card again.

     I took my receipt from her, signed the slip and left.  And so here we are.  To the lessons learned during my visit to American Greetings.

  • Don’t treat us impersonally or talk about us, we will remember it
  • Don’t treat others rudely, we are empathetic and will feel like you did it to us
  • Your image isn’t what you sell, it’s how you sell it
  • If things don’t work right, it isn’t our fault, and don’t make us feel like it is
  • Overall the experience we have should be one that welcomes us back again

     Though not profound, these are key to how you run a blog or a business.  I find I forget about the overall experience at times.  If I want readers back, they need to feel welcome to be here.

     What have your shopping experiences taught you about blogging or running your own business? How would this experience have affected you? Would you shop there again with other choices?  Share with us.

((* the image is by merfam, and is licensed through Creative Commons))

Social Networking Postcards

What did I get?

Mobile post sent by tojosan using Utterz Replies.
Courtesy of Jeff Hibbard.

Vong’s Thai Kitchen – SOBCon08 Dining Experience

Panang Chicken Curry

     Several of us from SOBCon08 went in search of a restaurant on Saturday evening. What we got was an experience.

     Wow! That’s the first word that comes to mind about Vong’s. To the left you’ll see my dinner, Panang Chicken.  But that’s not where it starts, nor ends. Let me tell you more.

     After a short wait, we were lead back to a table with plenty of room for the eight of us, and Dawud is no small guy. Menus were handed out and water served but then we all kind of sat there.

     Oh, we were doing the normal pre-dinner chatter you’d expect of bloggers, but none of us could really decide what to get.  Thai food has differing tastes at each restaurant, and no one was quite sure what to order.  That’s when the real experience began.

     Then he showed up, Jose, the best waiter in Chicago. Jose began with a simple introduction and a hearty welcome to Vong’s. He then told us with obvious pride of the unique food style of the restaurant, and even some history.  While doing that, Jose began describing some of the food choices, starting with the seafood curry.  As he continued, he not only told us that they had seafood, but what type of crabs, and how wonderfully fresh and tasty they were.  That was when it got better.

     Jose gave us a tour of items on the menu from appetizers to main dishes, and house speciality.  With each dish, he had us more rapt.  Our eyes followed along in our menus as he went through them, and our mouths began to water.  He talked of curries and spices, of dinners and drinks, and we sat in silence, our whole attention focused on him.

     Soon enough he was done and we were all ready to chow, even Dawud and Adam, both of whom weren’t really hungry when we came in.  Jose finished up by not walking off and letting us stew but visited with some of us one on one to help us choose something just right for us each.

     As if my mouth wasn’t watering already, the Jose told me about the Panang Chicken. He described in earnest the peanut curry, it’s taste, texture, and spice. It is the house curry, and he was obviously quite proud of that. I was sold in a minute.

     Jose didn’t leave us too long at any point during the dinner, which came very quickly.  Each meal was hot and they were all served together.  Our drinks were never empty and the conversation over dining flowed wonderfully.  It was already one of my best dining experiences in ages.  And then it was over.

     Not quite really.  Only one of us, Tom, had ordered dessert.  So we sat back and relaxed, chatting.  But then it came.  Oh, not just Tom’s dessert but four more.  Jose had arranged to comp us one of each of four desserts for the table. Talk about wow factor!

     There were beignets, fried bananas, creme brulee trio, and warm Valrhona chocolate cake.  At this point, all I could mumble were ‘wow’, ‘oh my’, and lots of ‘ah’s.  My mouth is watering just imagining those again. Each dessert was rich and flavorful.  Even with 8 of us, there was plenty to go around to sample.  It made the meal perfect.

     The food was fantastic, the waiter the best, and even the manager stopped by.  She welcomed us with a smile, and graciously accepted our compliments of Jose and the whole experience.

     Too soon it was time to rise and head out, but our stomachs were full as well as our minds with the heady experience.  Needless to say, Jose got an incredible tip.  Cheers Jose!!

     If you visit Vong’s Thai Kitchen in Chicago, may you find Jose waiting your table.

Did you have any memorable food experiences in Chicago, especially at SOBCon08?

How to become a real Twitter Geek…

Or I’m getting an @ sign from Jeff.


Yeah, I’m loved. 🙂


Blog post in 2 minutes?

Can you do it? With what? Do you have a store of ideas?  If so where are you stashing them?  if not, then how do you squirt out a post in just a few minutes?

What I feel I can most use a short post for is when I have a great idea and don’t want to lose it.  Especially if it’s a hot topic or buzz worthy topic.   Are those really worth while though?

Let’s answer that question for ourselves today how about!

On the way to SOBCon08

I’m on my way to SOBCon08, or almost anyway. I got up early this morning with all intentions of landing in Chicago about right now. That isn’t to be obviously, as I’m still in St. Louis at Lambert International.

All of the flights are being pushed back today, both in and out. Heading to Chicago is especially problematic because flights in and out of there are also running behind. Just spoke to Shashi, coming in at Midway, and he’s been taxiing for quite a while there. They are waiting for a gate.

So what’s a guy to do that’s not on time today? Why, blog it and twitter and considering whipping out the camera. Just had lunch and still have time for that. Hopefully the flight won’t be delayed much more though.

Also, I’m already doing my Friday call for postcards. If you want a postcard, then send me a DM on twitter, @tojosan. Be sure to mention postcard, and provide a name and addy. If I hear from you by tomorrow sometime, I’ll personally address, sign and write a note to you on a postcard. They’ll go out Monday from my home post office.

I’ll be doing a post about the postcards I received back as well.


SOBCon Spotlight – Todd Jordan

Hey, that’s me!

     In these days before SOBCon, the team over there is shining the spotlight on some of the attendees.  Today is my luck day. Myself, along with a couple of others, have been given a bit of blog love there.

     Why not stop by the SOBCon blog and check out all of the great folks mentioned there.  Some of them you may already know, and if not, you’re in for a treat. Some of the best bloggers around are attending this one of a kind blogging conference.

   Thanks Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker.  Can’t wait to see you there.

What do you do?

     People who don’t know you love to ask what you do.  Here in the Midwest that often is asking what you do to earn a living.  With the growing breadth of online tools and toys, more people don’t just ‘do’ their job.

     Ordinary folks like you and I not only do programming, or teach grade schoolers, but we blog, make videos, create social media and network.  We don’t just network either; we inspire, conspire, and admire; we encourage, uplift and share; we are not passive.

     So when I ask my contacts and friends what it is they do, I don’t want to just hear how they bring home the bacon, I want to know all they are in what they do.  I want to know that you write and inspire through your blog, to know that you raise funds for cancer by making videos, or that you raise kids in a digital world.

     In this spirit, I polled my Twitter pals, and here are the answers they gave.  Enjoy.

     Do you know these folks? Any of this sound familiar? Perhaps one of these is you, or very close.  Note that on one up there does just one thing.  Many have a full life living and doing a variety of things. It’s not a crime to specialize but don’t sell yourself short.  Very few of us wear only one hat.

     Ask yourself today, and be ready to answer when we ask, what do you do?  What do you do?

Tojo and Nanna J – Jimmy Buffet Concert

Todd and Sharon at Jimmy Buffet Concert     Nanna J and I got treated to the Jimmy Buffet concert this past Thursday.  Her brother picked us up in a limo and carted us off first to dinner, then to the concert in style.

     You can see us in the pictures at various times during the evening.  It was good fun, and Jimmy was in good form for us.  What a great treat for our anniversary.  Thanks Jerry.