Sunday, November 23, 2014

What's Right in the World: A New Season!

Two sports where not that long ago, I was a no-sport.

The last (?) 5k of the year was on October 18. I took three ice dancing tests October 31. What better way to turn the leaf than declare my seasons over and start a-fresh on November 1? First, a look back.

For the season, I ran the River Bank Run 10k, The Diemer 5k, Sniff out Sugar 5k, Detroit Freep 5k. I completed the Team Orphans Virtual Ironman as well as the YMCA Summer Sweat Challenge. I participated in non-timed events too, Stomp Out Stigma, Rx Run, The Color Run, Step out of Darkness, and the Step Out Diabetes.

I got a PB on the Sugar Run. I got my mojo back at the Diemer. I participated in a variety of events, many of them free since they were sponsored by the hospital I work at. And I "beat the Bob!"

My brain needs to shut up. My hips need to stop hurting. I beat myself up over the failure to run the international half.

Cool Stuff
The swag keeps me coming back. So many water bottles. The medals for all my competitive races were great. At the Diabetes race, we got shoelaces instead of a medal. I received team gear for representing Pine Rest as well as Grand Rapids Running Club. Shirts that will stay in rotation instead of regulated to t-shirt quilt material include Color Run, Ironman, Detroit, Stigma and the Diemer - I love the donut! And I've developed a really nice finish line play list based on the song I listened to as I crossed the tape.

Future for 14/15 Season
My sole focus on the season was the international half in October. I got earnest, focused, dedicated. I felt that by running the 10k in May, I was well on my way towards proper training. And I was... until biology conspired against me and I limped along post- surgery to the decision to drop out of the 13.1 and do the modest 3.1.

But something strange happened in my head. The half was never on my bucket list. The international half marathon on 10/19/14 was. Once that goal came and went, my brain shrugged, and said "there's that." I made the very adult choice to stick with the 5k/10k distances. And I was ok with that. Which leads me to...

I competed at Royal Skatefest, Adult Nationals, and Skate the Zoo. I tested the preliminary solo dances.

Gold in Royal Oak, attempting an axel for the first time. Three golds at Skate the Zoo. Three solid skates at Adult Nationals, including making the front page of IceNetwork's event coverage on Friday. And I passed all three dance to finish the season.

I was disappointed I didn't compete as much as I wanted, but I think I distracted myself with running. My axel attempt was a big ol' fail, as I was given credit for a weak waltz jump from one judge and the other two asked "what WAS that?!"

Cool Stuff
I could list every single moment of Adult Nationals, but instead steer readers to my post back in April. While convalescing post-surgery, I was on a strict "no jump, no spin, no run" order from my doctor, so I worked on dances, moves and all the turns. I got choctaws, rockers, and counters. It was cool. And most importantly, passing my dances renewed my love and faith in skating, and I was able to refocus my love of sport BACK to skating, regulating running to a supporting role.

Future for 14/15
Time to focus! One of my own quotes hit me as I was cleaning out my skate bag: celebrate the journey. Tests to pass include gold moves and the juvenile solo free dance. Competitions to do include Wyandotte, Lansing, and maybe GRO, with the ultimate goal being qualifying to compete at National Showcase in August, 2015. Bonus: competing at GRO also would qualify me for State Games of America which are coming to Grand Rapids in a few years.

Competition programs: Grade 9, Barenaked Ladies (comedy); Hot Stuff, Donna Summer (comedy duo); Magic Man, Heart (silver free skate); Sea of Love, Honeydrippers (juvenile solo free dance test).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Typing Out Loud: The Customer is Always Right?

I'm sorry... we don't serve ketchup with filet.

There has been of rash of stories in the news lately of outrageous claims by disgruntled customers, who get their comeuppance by owners who just aren't taking it anymore.


A woman in Kansas City requested takeout from a restaurant that plates 7 course meals and does not offer takeout. She threatened to write a scathing review on yelp (which she did) and sue because her husband is a lawyer. The restaurant basically said, "bring it on."

A similar situation happened locally, where a bargain hunter wandered into a favorite establishment on a Friday night, dismayed that she would have to wait for a table since she had not made a reservation when at least "4 or 5  other groups that came in after her were seated right away." Jenna stood her ground, maintaining the restaurant's policy of priority seating for patrons who make reservations.

I have been a carhop, hostess, waitress, cook, bartender, drink girl, and event planner/organizer. I have worked in customer service and public service positions in a variety of fields. Having been in the work force since the age of 14, this is what I know:

The "customer is always right" is NOT a rule, it's a business philosophy.

Let me explain.

The philosophy of "CIAR" is based in discovering customer service solutions and better business practices. Take the angry bistro lady: had she perhaps calmly explained her dilemma, perhaps the owner would have said, "you're right, we should offer a bistro menus for patrons on the go," and come up with a solution that would create a win-win.

But it's not a rule. Given the art of plating and presentation for fine dining, throwing a dinner that should be served on a hot plate into a Styrofoam container to be eaten with a plastic fork is just wrong. And the idea of a customer always being right creates entitled patrons who feel it is their right to abuse staff, create unreasonable demands, and worse of all, stiffing wait staff on tips. It creates an atmosphere where the server becomes the servant.

You do have the right as a patron spending hard-earned dollars to have a great time. But don't abuse that right.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why Art Matters: director John Waters

Awesomely sick bastard.

I'm going to keep this one short and use one scene to explain the odd appeal of shock/schlock director John Waters.

In his mainstream breakthrough movie Hairspray, Waters has teens Tracy and Penny dancing and making out with boyfriends Seaweed and Linc in an alleyway after a record hop at Motormouth Maybelle's shop. Kicking a rat aside, with Toussant McCall playing a homeless man while singing "Nothing Takes the Place of You," Tracy sighs and says to Linc, "Isn't this romantic?"

There is something so nakedly truthful about that scene and Tracy's sentiment.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Playlist: Lenny

So hot.

My introduction to Lenny Kravitz was in '89 when he was an indie rock darling with a crazy pop culture pedigree as son of a 70s sitcom star and husband of an 80s sitcom star. He was also a disciple of 60s peace and love rock, a formula that has lasted for 25 years.

He ping-pongs between rock star and everyman. He can lead an arena in chanting his name, but will randomly stop and jam with street musicians. I have fallen quite star-struck to still revel in the thrill of having gotten a hug from him during one of his "I wanna be one with the crowd" chants during one of his concerts. We've seen him at least 4 times.

I've gotten away from his music as local stations frustratingly do not play his new stuff. The local classic rock station rigid in its formula, it doesn't even play his old stuff. As he moves onto the next phase of his career as well being the dad to model actress Zoe, it may be time to put him back in rotation.

Let Love Rule: his calling card, his 30 minute peace and love singalong at his shows.

My Precious Love: mesmerizing ode to Lisa.

Always on the Run: jazz funk that is pure rock.

Stand By My Woman: if I had to pick one song of his that is my favorite, this is it. It is soulful, passionate, sexy.

All I Even Wanted: co-written by Sean Lennon, who couldn't have been more than 16 at the time.

Are You Going to Go My Way? It's the song everyone knows and everyone rocks out to. That drum line is so hard. The question rhetorical, of course we are.

Believe: A marketing exec could have easily positioned Lenny as a Christian rocker based on this tune. And out-rocked the whole lot of them.

Just Be A Woman: kind of Stand part II. Definitely bedroom material.

Circus: Lenny wrote this album, IIRC, in response to his grandfather and mother's illnesses and subsequent deaths. The Circus, I believe, is the chaos that is being an adult child facing the end of your elders.

Beyond the 7th Sky: more groovy Christian rock.

Can't Get You Off My Mind: more "girl, I love you" rock.

Supersoulfighter: more jazz funk dragged through the 60s.

I Belong to You: that Lenny sure is a romantic fella...

Fly Away: straight up rocker that has been used for a ton of sporting event b-footage bumpers since its release. There is footage on youtube of him leaving a morning show in NYC, like the Today show and him overhearing a group of school kids rehearsing this song for a concert in the park. He walked over and assisted in conducting the show, and only joined in singing when coaxed into it by the kids, not wanting to show up their efforts.

Little Girl's Eyes: Zoe has been Lenny's muse since she was born and this is sweet.

American Woman: one of his few remakes, this one done for the Austin Powers film franchise, that eventually became the name of his tour in, I want to say 2006...? By this time, he was no longer a true headliner and while the show was great, the venue was half full and a few songs into the show, he encouraged people to call friends at home to just come "fill the seats" on him. Yeah, there's no cell service in the Van Andel and I'm not sure how many people came to partake in the freebie.

Dig In: more of what makes him awesome.