Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moth to a Flame

A few things happen to me everytime I go to Costco:

1. I mentally prepare myself for the excursion.
2. I throw all my manners and politeness out the window.
3. I get pissed off in the parking lot.
4. I fight the urge to buy a hotdog and a churro.
5. I shyly show my Costco card to the door attendant because I'm not sure whether the person really cares to see it or not and either way, I don't want to annoy her.
6. I beeline my way to the items I need.
7. I fill up on sample food.

My Costco experiences are probably no different than anyone else's. One thing that has always kind of boggled me were the samplers. They are there to hawke their items. The items are usually not their own creation. They make no commission off the sale of what they sample. They probably have no emotional ties to the items nor are they anything invested in the product they are sampling. Yet depending on your approach to sampling, they can easily be a deterrant or simply the hand that cuts the burrito into bite-size pieces.

A little taste of anything can easily convince any consumer they need more and at Costco, that means buying in bulk quantities. And when it comes to the lure of all of the samples at Costco, I find it interesting at the behavior of those who are so eager to get their portion!

Purely from my observation, I have categorized the different types of consumer samplers:

Hawks - These are the people who hover over the sample folks for 3-minutes waiting for the Rosarito frozen burrito cooking in the microwave. The sampler lady is obviously annoyed and the Hawks are certain that there won't be enough square half-inch-sized samples for them or anyone that is waiting and passing by. Aside from a few elbows and staking a definitive stance in front of the sample table, these folks are the overly competitive types who think that if they don't get the first sample doled out in the paper cup, then no one ain't gettin' nothin'. In the end, everyone just ends up staring at the microwave as the seconds tick away until the buzzer sounds and the little old sampler lady frantically pieces apart the burning hot burrito with kitchen shears and shakey hands. All of the samples disappear within seconds, the crowd disperses and the cycle repeats.

Hobos - These are the consumer-types who, all they do, is consume. The $1.50 hotdog and soda isn't enough for these types. They need an even better deal when they go to Costco. By slowly taking in small pieces of free food product samples during their lunch hour, they can fill up and satisfy their appetite at no cost. They get a variety of food items, are able to wash it down with a trendy health or fruit drink of some sort and top off their meal with a vitamin supplement or sprig of beef jerky before exiting.

Suckers - Unfortunately for these people, they can't accept a sample without ineviteably purchasing the item. Either they are so taken by the tastey little portion that they have to have a box of 32 of the item. That or they are overcome with a guilty feeling of obligation that they end up buying the product whether they want it or not. All the while complimenting the sampler lady on how wonderful the product tastes.

Non-believers - Despite the sign that clearly states, "Please Take One" these are the folks who don't think that the samples are for them. They observe the different tables from afar and assess the situation as if they don't belong. They venture close to the samples but turn away as if they don't care or shyly smile and back away. These are the sort that learn second-hand from others whether the sample was good or not. Unfortunately, these are the folks who want the sample the most, but sadly, don't ever take one. Shame...

Hoarders - When one isn't enough, take five more. These are the people who take one then ask to take one for their wife, their daughter and their cousin. These are also the folks who take one, leave, then return two-minutes later thinking the sampler lady won't remember who they are. But they do. They always remember. They know who the hoarders are.

Kids - It's hard to a child in a sampling world. As a child you instantly lose credibility unless it's candy that is being sampled.

To sample is natural...Like a moth to a flame.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Best Farewell Song Ever

I like people like Erin Shepard. They are carefree and they don't care when they do things that most people would be embrassed about.

I was on my computer this morning out at the Pasadena Homestead (Jennie Doezie's house) and I could hear Erin shuffling around behind me. I turned around to see her standing there in some kind of pose. You know, the kind of stance people do when they are going to start some kind of performance? That's what she was doing. She said to me, "Miriam, this is for you."

I started screaming and I pleaded with her to stop, but it was as though she had stuffed her ears with cotton balls and she kept going! She bent down and pressed a button on the stereo she had set up and she froze in her pose.

I braced myself for total embarassment and kept yelling, "Stop! No! Do not! This is a horrible idea!" But she ignored my pleas. Then the music started and this is part of what happened. (It starts out sideways, but then straightens out.)

At first I was super embarassed for her and especially for myself, but then, the awesome song and the excitement of it all got to me and I ended up joining in and by the second verse, we were NKOTBing it up!

Yeah for Erin! Proof that it is sometimes appropriate to be inappropriate! Not that she was crude or anything, but just that those kind of going away send-offs are not my kind of ideal! But I loved it! (And since she let me record it, I figured she wouldn't mind if I published it as well.)

Flooded Paradise

In Arizona, at the northeast end of the Grand Canyon sits a turquoise oasis of paradise. One would hardly believe it existed if they didn't see it for themselves nor understand its grandeur were they not to experience it firsthand. (Photo courtesy of Jennie Doezie)

Since living in Los Angeles, I have made the trek to the waterfalls in Havasu Canyon twice. It's a beautiful 10-mile hike in to the Havasupai Village, then another 2-miles or so to the campground and the site of several huge tumbling waterfalls. Though having explored the area and the different parts of that canyon, I am still in awe of its creation.

It's weird to believe that the elements that created this amazing paradise are also the forces of nature that would destroy it. Just a couple of weeks ago, flooding turned the turqoise waters into flowing doodoo.

Here is an article about it: "Hundreds evacuated near Grand Canyon after flooding"

The Falls are temporarily closed until Spring 2009. Bridges and campgrounds need to be replaced and repaired. I found these pictures online from a guy who was there with his friends and was one of the 400 or so people evacuated.

This is a picture of Havasu Falls a couple weeks ago during the flood. It normally looks like what you see in the picture above.

Here is a picture of a bridge that managed to survive the flooding.

If I remember correctly, this is on the way to Beaver Falls and that overflowing water is not normally there. That hike is pretty much surrounded by canyon walls, but the flooding seems to have found it's way down.
I'm sure Havasupai has undergone a series of makeovers throughout the centuries and will eventually recover, but for those who had big plans this summer to visit again, (Eva, Jennie, with all your family and friends and then that ginormous group from SLC), I am sad for everyone.

When they do open up Havasupai again, I think you should go. The trek down to the Canyon isn't an easy one. It is long and hot. But just remember to LOOK UP and enjoy the blue sky and the beauty of the canyon walls. The Falls will just be the climax to your efforts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sarah Way of Life

I had a conversation with Kristen not too long ago about: quality of life. I guess we all seem to be at that point in life where our goals are no longer satisfied only by successes in our careers and small weekend adventures. At least not for me, despite the fact that I am uprooting myself and moving to another state to go back to school.

But for most of us, I think we are looking forward now to relishing in our everyday lives. Settling in where we are and establishing ourselves and accenting our lives with simple pleasures and hobbies.

I have thought about this a lot especially after my visit to Denver, Colorado to see Sarah. She is there for a nurse practitioner program at the University of Colorado and though only having lived there for a few weeks, she is already nicely settled in to the start of the next phase of her life.

Her cute and spacious two-bedroom apartment felt like a home. After so many years living off the amenities of roommates and second-hand hand-me-downs, Sarah's apartment was full of new furniture and accents that were storybook of her. The value of her own quality of life showed in the space that she made her home.

Sunday morning I woke up to the aroma of fresh baked goodness in the apartment. I walked into the kitchen nook to find a nicely made breakfast table with plate of hot, fresh biscuits, fruit and home-made jam.

Despite the peaceful and relaxing environment in Colorado, the most enjoyable part of my trip was chilling with Sarah in her home. Colorado is all of beautiful country and a laid back culture. Sarah's place is a warm reflection of that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zobell Hell

There are 73 other things of greater importance that I should be doing right now, but I would prefer blog. I figure, at least I'm not out committing crimes, yeah? So, I shall blog away!

Sarah has long indulged us on classic Zobell cuisine of her upbringing. We have laughed at the very best Mormon cooking has to offer as best exemplified across the dinner table at the Zobell household. Most all of the recipes seem to start with "creamed" (translated: "in white sauce") and end with some sort of meat product. The classics of downhome cooking came to life for Sarah as she grew and grew and grew. And though probably laughed about and joked about, we all know those dishes are yuuuummy! (At lease every once in a while.)

One recipe of historical significance that Sarah has only talked about as if in myth, was the infamous "Creamed tuna and canned peas over blueberry muffins." Blech you say? Blech is right! Though in the Zobell home, this was a meal for the taking! Sarah says she remembers really liking the dish which became a family regular for dinner. Few words need give newcomers any other conclusion to reach other then, "Blech."

So, this weekend, as Sarah and I were sitting around waiting for the rain to cease in Denver, the bright idea to prepare the "tuna/blueberry muffin" dish popped into my mind and as something I just had to try since Sarah and all of her tall family could attest to its deliciousness, I wanted to see for myself how this dish would fare on my pallette. Sarah asked me twice if I was sure this is what I wanted and I, with eagerness driven by curiousity, responded, "For sure!"

Sarah did all the cooking. I watched in wide-eyed (which I can do these days) excitement. Everything looked okay, until she brought the two main ingredients together. At which point my stomach and my judgment started waving red flags, which later became white flags. But I didn't surrender.

I wasn't afraid of offending Sarah because her apprehension was just as apparent as mine, but I guess the thoughts that came through my mind were, "This isn't a time of famine. Our shelves are not bare. I am not enhungered and poor. I'm sure I don't HAVE to eat this."
But I continued. I kept thinking, at some point, I'm going to like this. But alas, I never did. The peas were probably the worst part. By the time they reached my mouth, they were already beginning to disintegrate into mush with the rest of the muffin/tuna/white sauce combination.

I didn't ever feel okay the rest of the evening. My night of sleep was unpleasant to say the least and even in the morning, the yucky feeling just never went away. Even as we were on our way to Boulder for the day, my stomach was unforgiving of what I had fed it the night before. It was a damaging experience.

I can't say that I would agree with Sarah on her enjoyment of the tuna/muffin dish (though her opinion may have changed since Sunday night). For sure I would not be able to agree. Even on a good day and Sunday was a pretty good day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Phase 2: Complete

On August 1, I completed what I called, "Phase 1" and moved out of my apartment.

Today, I lay to rest "Phase 2" which is leaving my job. And can I just say what a harsh reality it is to have to start paying your own monthly cell phone bill again?! I expect that my conversations will be shorter, less frequent and less cordial. In other words, don't be offended if I don't answer the phone when you call or if I do answer and I'm rude to you. It's just me dealing with reality...

I never thought I would pay homage to my job, but in this case, I am choosing to because I have many good reasons to do so.

It is always entertaining to tell people how I got to where I am today in my career. I work in the financial services sector, yet I came out of college with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. No one can really put the two together and I wouldn't expect them to. Though I always let them ask me, "That's odd. How did you end up at a consulting firm?"

In short, while freelancing in reality television, I did temp work on the side for AlixPartners. Looking for something more stable and for a more pleasant work environment, I let go of the entertainment world and took advantage of the opportunity to go permanent with AlixPartners (AP) as an administrative assistant. My work assisting several upper level executives lead to client responsibilties outside of the administrative level and later, with the assistance of several of my co-workers, I moved into the professional services area of AP.

From the beginning I have only had good experiences working for AP. It has become a job I actually enjoy and find comfort in. I have always been compensated well, treated with respect, felt valued for my contributions, rewarded handsomely for my efforts and given the freedom to grow and learn in a field in which I have very little experience.

It was a leap from the beginning, and I jumped not thinking anything would come of it, but thanks to so many great people with whom I work, I now find myself confident in pursuing other endeavors that tickle my curious nerve.

In less than a month I leave the Los Angeles area to go back to school at the University of Oregon in Eugene to work on getting an MBA. For years I had put off returning to school feeling like I didn't have the resources nor the backbone to do it, but were it not for the support of a great job and amazing individuals who are my coworkers, I never would have gotten to this point, where, in the end, I am leaving them.

With sadness and a bit of regret, I leave my job and those I have come to appreciate and respect. I have made great friends and great relationships here. I will miss them all.

Before this picture was taken, Trevor (one of my Directors) was totally crying because he was sad I was leaving. But then I told an awesome joke. That's when I snapped this pic.
Even after I told the awesome joke, people were still crying. I would be crying too if I were leaving me.
I've been kicking Trevor around for years. I felt it only fair to give him one shot at me. I even faked that it hurt my feelings. Whatever makes him feel better is all that matters to me.
Marie initially took my place two years ago. Now she is leaving too. If you can't tell, she is very pregnant. The baby's name will be "Lucas". Not "Luke". "Lucas". Not "Luke". (Make a note of that.)
It would have been nice to get everyone in the picture, but once the food ran out, so did all of the people. This was the best I could do.
Thanks everyone! It's been dope.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shrinking the list...

Just trying to pack it all in...

Hollywood Bowl: Check.

This condensed "Les Miserables" was much more than expected. The singing was amazing and though shortened with limited props, it felt like a near complete recreation of the Broadway show. And as soon as we realized that the part played by Fontine was actually "Jan" from "The Office," we had no complaints.

Most people pack a basket of wine, cheese and grapes when they head to the Bowl. I like to take some tasty spam musubi. Yum...
Here's half the group. 20 in all.

John is the only human marsupial that has a rear pouch in North America.

Tips on going to the Bowl: take the shuttle and go up the side stairs to the side of the ticket booths.

Dodger's game courtesy of AlixPartners: Check.

A Super Dodger Dog. Onion rings. A ginormous rootbeer in a Dodger's souvenir cup. Last but not least, cotton candy. The Dodger diet. Always good in the moment and only in that one moment...

Friday, August 8, 2008

'H' as in 'Jorge'?

There's a language out there I just don't speak well. Actually, there are A LOT of languages out there I don't speak well, but one that is more obscure and less recognized is what I will call the "Airline Confirmation Number" language.

Thankfully, confirmation numbers have come a long way. The numbers are shorter, there is no punctuation and that one little number has become very functional, from making check-in a cinch to checking the status of a flight.

We know the drill, say the numeral clearly and for alphas say the letter with a word to follow to clarify the 'M' from the 'N' and the 'T' from the 'P'.

Since it's not a language I speak often, when I do, I get a little bit nervous and I stumble through my words. In the past I have said:

"My confirmation number is the number 3, 'A' as in 'apple', 'P' as in 'Philip'..."

Uh, doy Miriam. How about "'P' as in 'Peter'"?

This morning I had to give my number over the phone to cancel a flight and I said:

"The number is 'M' as in Mary, 'J' as in, um, 'George', 'F' as in 'Philip', 'N' as in 'no', the number 7, and 'Z' as in 'Xylophone'."

Argh! I'm an idiot! It's so frustrating! Seriously! If it's not a common language you speak, then it isn't easy to come up with simple words to describe your letter!

And then for some reason I feel like I have to say a name, but when I can't think of a name I get all flustered and I say the first word that comes to my head. Like for 'S' I always want to say 'Shannon' but that's just not clear, so the next word to pop into my head is 'squeaky'. I've said "'V' as in, uh, 'vivacious'," before. Ugh! So embarrassing!

'J' as in 'Juan' may only work in certain parts of the world. Be careful with that one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dark day...

Today I came in to work to find my internet lifeless when trying to connect to the websites for Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

One can only imaging my great sadness at the realization of such carnage! I like my job and the people I work with but, what truly gets me through my day are the small, steady distractions the internet offers. And now, all I have is CNN and!

My company has never done anything like this and I never imagined that they would ever censor our activity. We have always been free to act on our own and choose as we please. I feel that for the first time, they have placed a heavy hand on us. I am shocked.

Although, I can't help but feel personally responsible for the measures they have gone to to limit our internet usage. I am sure my IP address ranked the highest on non-business related internet content detected. My heart aches for the pain and suffering throughout the firm that I may have caused. For all AP folks who read this, my sincerest apologies.

Consequently, I am relieved that I only have one more week of a dark computer to endure. Thankfully, I still have my Gchat to keep me afloat and my head intact, and since the LDSLinkup is still wide open and available, well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

It is a dark day here...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bigger eyes. Got 'em.

Sometimes, my irreverant side will over-simplify items of a divine nature. In my mind, for ideas that are difficult to comprehend, why give myself an aneurysm trying to make sense of a truth that is humanly incomprehensible? Instead, I choose to believe by my own volition and explain ideas to myself in terms that make sense to me.

Take for example, the Creation.

I think Gary Larson explained it best in this, one of my favorite "The Far Side" cartoons:

In these terms, understanding the creation is totally doable! He kept it simple. In my heart and by my knowledge and as well, by my observations of the world around me, I know that the creation was a complex act of God, but for my own purposes of understanding, thinking of the Creation as simply as this cartoon explains it sure makes sense to me!

On another occasion, while in church one Sunday, I was sitting in the congregation in the second row and to the right of the pulpit. A new guy was speaking, and although I can't remember what the topic of his talk was, I do remember his lips. And all I could think to myself was, "Why wouldn't God give him an upper lip?"

My train of thought lead to these other questions:
- Did God run out of upper lips that day?
- Did he forget to put one on?
- Was the upper lip department on strike?
- Was there an earthquake and this dude got sent off not quite complete?

I admit, I confused myself by over-thinking the observation, but, if one were to question such an inconsistency to the human race, most of whom have a full upper lip, these may be good questions for discussion.

As for myself, I have many questions about the way I was created, most of which I accept and embrace, though sometimes wish for otherwise. But, one physical characteristic I have not quite understood applies to my entire breed. And I ask, "Why didn't God give Asians eyelids?" Everyone else got them, so why not us? Everyone seems to need them, and we have a doable substitute, but why didn't we get an independently working lid?

The surgery to get lids is quite common in the Asian culture as seen here, even criticized by "Asian purists," but in some cases, like mine, it was a necessity rather than a vain desire.

After I found out my insurance would cover the surgery to lift my eyes, open my eyes wider, correct a droopy lid and lessen the sight obstruction of my heavy lids, I took a year to consider the procedure, then had it done on Friday.

This is what I've looked like my whole life:

Not horrible. Not bad at all really. But this is what I look like now:

Sorry to kill you with suspense, but I'm not quite ready to show them off. After the swelling goes down, I will reveal my new eyes. Apparently, I will look happier, less pissed off and my default facial expression will be more pleasant. Gee, I can't wait!

No longer will my forehead just run into my eyes over the speed bump of my eyebrows. I will have a crease that will give me that eyelid to a seemingly happier, more cheery me! And I will no longer be looking through my eyelashes! Life can be so exciting sometimes!

Now if I can just find a way to make my eyebrows even to each other.

For more info on buying eyelids, see here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Go Greek

I am pretty certain that before last night, the last concert I went to was Sarah McLachlan three or four years ago at the Staples Center.

John Mellencamp was a good re-introduction to the big concert scene. He was charming and entertaining. Familiar music is always a plus for a concert-goer such as myself as I am not much of a concert-goer period. We got there a bit early and had to do a lot waiting through the opening act and before Mellencamp came on, but I had good company with John Muerer and Kristen Johnson.

The Greek Theater was nice to return to. We got a choice parking spot. The people in our row kept leaving which was a bit annoying, but other than that, the whole experience was a joy!

I can't say when I will go to a concert again, but, I am glad I went to see the JCM. He didn't play "Hurt So Good" which was a total bummer, but we got a good handful of his other classics, so I shouldn't complain, I suppose.

Go Greek! Here's a little ditty for ya.