common sense…business sense

As I was returning home from exercise class this morning, I overheard chef Tom Douglas, a Seattle fixture, speaking on NPR radio. He was in the midst of an interview with the station’s host.

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_MG_9096 (Photo credit: rwoan)

It was no surprise that the main discourse centered upon food, recipes and Douglas’ several restaurants, of which there are many…

Lola
Palace Kitchen
Dahlia Lounge
Dahlia Bakery
Etta’s
Serious Pie Downtown
Seatown
Brave Horse Tavern
Cuoco
Serious Biscuit
Serious Pie Westlake
Ting Momo

Douglas was also promoting his recently published…The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.

While I did salivate at the mention of…flaky pie crusts piled high with homemade coconut cream filling…made-from-scratch whipped cream…soft, fluffy, buttery biscuits…it was Douglas’ talk about something else that I found most intriguing.

The news has been rife with talk about businesses that are planning to adopt drastic measures with regards to the Affordable Health Care Act, should President Obama win a second term. Among them…firing employees, or cutting hours so that full-time employees are made part-timers without benefits.

Chef Douglas spoke with disdain for a particular restaurant conglomerate that is opting for the part-time solution. The crime in this, as Douglas sees it, is that the conglomerate has just purchased a large chain of restaurants for $567 million…IN CASH!!!

A throwback to the good old days, Douglas places great value upon his employees. He takes pride in providing a workplace environment in which his workers are productive. And for their efforts, Douglas pays them well and provides them with good health insurance.

It was my sense, that how he managed his employees was a…no brainer. Interesting how some businessmen get it…and others haven’t a clue.

When asked how much his labor costs were, Douglas indicated it was 45% of his business. He went on to say that with revenues in the millions, he felt it was a fair price to pay. Douglas admitted to a thin margin of profit, but explained that it was enough for him to live well.

HHHEEELLLOOO???  Could we please clone this man…Chef Tom Douglas???

I’ve been to two of his restaurants, Etta’s and Dahlia. Having been enlightened about Douglas’ management practices, I plan to patronize his establishments more regularly.

Seattle chef Tom Douglas and staff in front of...

Seattle chef Tom Douglas and staff in front of his restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge, on Second Avenue in, Seattle, Washington, doing a sort of pre-Thanksgiving Day stunt of giving away food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…we can make a difference…one decision at a time…

………hugmamma. 

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comcast’s “secret weapon”

Comcast Center, the headquarters of Comcast - ...

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I can’t say enough about the quality of service extended by Mark Casem of Comcast Corp’s National Customer Operations. In my professional life I had worked several positions in the service sector, first as a store salesperson and department manager, then as a health insurance customer service rep, and then in the airline industry in personnel as benefits supervisor. While the jobs could be tiresome and tedious some days, what job isn’t, the gratitude of those I helped gave me satisfaction. And what remains with me to this day is the desire to make a difference in someone else’s day…for the better. I’m hopeful I’m succeeding, in small part, with hugmamma’s mind, body and soul.

Singapore Airlines flight attendants

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My husband and I both worked in the airline industry, which also requires public service. Airline employees today will agree, especially in the current economy, that their job security is dependent upon great customer service. Of course the range of quality is across the board, running the gamut from heavenly, like Singapore Airlines, to almost nonexistent in some of the larger carriers. My personal preference is Southwest who’s somewhere in the middle. But because their air fares are usually favorable, and their boarding procedures are quick, I would rank them a little higher. As a result I’ve not traveled on Delta or American in many years, and I can’t remember when I last flew United. Customer service is as important a consideration for me, as are prices and product. Jerk me around long enough and I will go elsewhere. Not a threat, just a fact.

I meet a lot of great people who service the public in restaurants, retail shops, banks, medical establishments, and other businesses, but a gem like Mark Casem is the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” But once found, he remains on hand, desiring to serve “above and beyond.” Lucky Comcast. Lucky me.

One Response to and the award goes to…

  1. ComcastMark says:

    Hello Hugmamma! I am happy to come across your blog again! I am glad to know this was addressed with the help of Mike. Mike Cardone is on of my colleagues (he works the later shift after I leave).

    I will share your daughter’s experience again to my contacts to make sure that they are all addressed and resolved. I am sorry that your daughter’s request was not accommodated the first time she called. I agree with you, (we) should have tried harder in meeting your daughter’s request.

    As always, we are here to help if you need more help in the future.

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations
    We_can_help@cable.comcast.com

guardian angels do exist…we just have to look for them…in each other…hugmamma. 😉

The New Guardian Angels

Image by ckaiserca via Flickr

 

 

egyptians, no different

I haven’t as yet delved into what the media is printing about the current Egyptian uprising. I only know what I see and hear on TV. At the moment, until things resolve themselves one way or the other, it’s a lot of information to digest. Trying to decipher what I think of everything isn’t something I can wrap my brain around right now. The outcome of their fate ultimately rests in the hands of the Egyptians themselves, from the top politico to the peon in the street.

The one thought that runs through my mind is that because of technology, a combination of television, computers, mobile devices, the internet and its myriad of tools, people around the world, living in hovels or palaces, can witness what occurs in other countries. And like snapshots retained in our memories, what we see can fester in our subconsciences for a long time, until we decide to act upon them.

It’s my personal feeling that both President Obama and the Tea Party Movement have been catalysts in what we are now witnessing in Egypt and Tunisia. While there are those who disagree, I think the President has shown himself to be a champion of the middle and lower classes. From health care reform embracing 13,000,000 Americans without insurance to speaking up for better education for the less fortunate, he has shown himself to be the son of a woman who died of cancer while fighting for health insurance coverage.

The Tea-Partiers have successfully shown millions at home and abroad, that the masses can unite via the internet to unseat politicians, replace them with candidates of their choosing, and ultimately, influence government decisions. Heady stuff for a movement started by 2 Atlanta housewives, Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin, strangers to one another, who were stewing over the economic downturn and its negative impact upon their lives. (My post of 11/3/10, “two housewives,”founders of tea party movement”.) Power to the people has never been more overwhelmingly proven than in what these 2 ordinary citizens initiated, to have it become the Tea Party Movement as we know it today, a force with which to be reckoned.

History has proven time and again, that people will rise up to challenge whom they perceive as their oppressors. We who enjoy the benefits of an American democracy can do so far more rationally than countries ruled by dictators. We can protest without provoking full-out civil war. I think we learned our lesson a long time ago under another president I admire, Abraham Lincoln. He too was not a favorite of all Americans, but he did the best he could, according to the principles in which he believed, one being that all people, including slaves, should live freely.

The Egyptians, and Tunisians, want to choose how to live their own lives. Like us they want to earn a living, provide for their families, take pleasure in small things, and give their children hope for a better future. Not so much to ask for really. In fact, they just want what we Americans already enjoy.

I may have oversimplified the unrest that rages in the Middle East. But sometimes the experts complicate matters by interjecting too much hyperbole. I’m not an expert, just an ordinary housewife who understands that people like me just want to make a decent life for our families. Not a big deal really, but, in fact, it is a really big deal when we’ve only got one chance to live our best lives.

people the world over want the same things…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…hugmamma.

two housewives, “founders of tea party movement”

I’d always wondered whether or not ordinary housewives could run the country. Looks like last night’s election proved that they can. Evidently we can do the extraordinary, when we decide to put our passion and energies behind a task. I’m sure all women will agree that’s a “no-brainer.” When wives and moms decide to do something, they do it, like Margaret Whitman, creator of the multi-billion dollar business, E-Bay.

Sarah Palin’s first brush with the media was as a beauty queen. Setting her sights on politics, she became mayor of little known Wasila, and then governor of Alaska, and then GOP candidate for VP. While she and McCain lost the presidential election, Palin landed back in front of the cameras. While she may not have been the media’s darling then, mainstream reporters seem to be back pedaling now. This morning on CNN, the political spin-meisters spoke of her as a force with which to be reckoned, especially in the 2012 election. OMG, I thought! Talk about going the “way the wind blows.”

I’m a liberal, too compassionate to turn my back on those needing a “hand-up.” My husband and I, both from large families, 12 and 9 siblings, respectively, are inclined to “give back,” and “pay it forward.” But I do understand the frustration of those on the unemployment lines, those who are barely making “ends meet,” those whose homes are “under water” because of foreclosures next door, those whose businesses are struggling, those who want a balanced budget, those who want less government, and those of us on Main Street who are fed up with the millionaires on Wall Street. Might I just add here, why are we still making millionaires of athletes, and celebrities, and doctors “playing” the Medicare system? I’d just as soon take all the money we’re pouring into these peoples’ pockets, and help the homeless, the abused, those unable to get health insurance.

While I may disagree with conservative efforts to take the country backwards, I have to applaud Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin, Atlanta housewives who are the geniuses behind the Tea Party movement. According to the Wall Street Journal’s  “Birth of a Movement-Tea Party Arose from Conservatives Steeped in Crisis,” on 10/29, both women “were 30-something suburbanites…frustrated by recession, dismayed by the election of Barack Obama and waiting for the next chapter of their lives.” Quitting her career as a Delta flight attendant to raise her daughter, Kremer turned to blogging after becoming an empty-nester, “one on gardening, one on politics. ‘I had this empty space in my life’… Ms. Martin, a software manager by training and part-time blogger, was cleaning houses to help pay the bills after her husband’s temporary-staffing business collapsed. They were in danger of losing their home.” Martin was enraged after Senator Saxby Chambliss, in whose campaign she had been a volunteer, voted in favor of President Bush’s bail out of Wall Street banks. In her estimation, ” ‘Sometimes it stinks when your business goes bad. But it’s part of our system….The government doesn’t need to come in and hold a business up and keep it from failing.’ ”

In the span of a few weeks in February and March 2009, the two women met on a conference call and helped found the first major national organization in the tea-party movement. Within months, they became two of the central figures in the most dynamic force in U.S. politics this year.

Ms. Kremer, 39, currently chairs the political action committee known as the Tea Party Express. It has raised millions of dollars for upstart candidates and engineered the campaign that threatens Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Once shy about public speaking, today she crisscrosses the country addressing thousands at a time. ‘Are you ready to fire Harry Reid?’ Ms. Kremer bellowed to a crowd of 2,000 in Reno, Nev., this month.

Ms. Martin, 40, is national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella group claiming affiliation with nearly 3,000 local groups around the U.S. Leaving her young son and daughter at home, she is on a 30-city tour, revving up activists for the victory she is counting on next Tuesday.

‘This was something I had to do,’ Ms. Martin says. ‘There were just so many of us who were fed up with the Republican Party.’

 Comprised mostly of middle-aged, middle-class citizens with little political experience, “a braid of many strands of discontent and passion, ranging from opposition to illegal immigration and a national sales tax to support for gun rights. A vocal faction questioning Mr. Obama’s legal eligibility to be president provided another source of grassroots fuel.” If John McCain’s campaign was a “babe” in the internet “woods,” the Tea Party political machine seems hell-bent on giving Obama’s proven internet savvy a “run for its money” in 2012.

Many conservatives felt Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign had never fully exploited the Internet to raise money and unite disparate activists. The Obama team had proven deft at harnessing technology.

And so the TEA PARTY MOVEMENT was born online, in the internet universe.

  • Michael Patrick Leahy, a Nashville technology consultant,  built a network of like-minded activists
  • Eric Odom, among the above, compiled a large list of activists “through a group working to lift the offshore-drilling ban”
  • Stacy Mott, started a blog for conservative women, “Smart Girl  Politics,” launching a website by the same name which drew in Kremer and Martin from Atlanta
  • Keli Carender, arranged the first protest, drawing 120 like-minded activists, after it was broadcast on a local talk-radio show and written up online by Fox news consultant Michelle Malkin
  •  On 2/19/09, in response to the $75 billion dollar bailout for homeowners unable to pay their mortgages, CNBC financial commentator Rick   Santanelli  started the “rant” when, broadcasting live from the Chicago Board of Trade, exclaimed ‘This is America! …How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?’ To the cheers of traders behind him, he continued ‘We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July’… “The rant went viral.”
  • After massive internet organizing among all of the above parties, 50 rallies occurred simultaneously nationwide. Within a year, 2,000 local tea party groups were formed around the country.
  • Wealthy interests threw their support behind the movement, like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, “groups born from a conservative think tank formed in the 1980s by members of the Koch family, who run oil-and-gas conglomerate Koch Industries Inc.”
  •  On 4/12/10, Kremer said she wasn’t boasting in claiming ‘I started this’ when she began a social-networking website called “Tea Party Patriots,” the name her husband recommended.
  • Enter the media. Fox TV’s Glenn Beck “launched his own initiative, the 9/12 project,” as well as touted the Tea Party’s 4/15 rallies, as did Sean  Hannity, and blogger Malkin.
  • Hundreds of thousands of “tea partiers” “gathered in city halls, at post offices, at town squares, parks, and along busy streets.
  • The “Tea Party Express” was formed when Sal Russo, Reagan’s adviser in the 60s and 70s, re-energized a 2008 political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, as a “tea-party-themed group.” With Joe Wierzbicki, a colleague, they spread the word on a cross-country bus tour. In 2 years the newly christened group raised more than $7 million.
  • Tea Party Patriots, among them Kremer and Martin, maintained a nonpartisanship stance, preferring to stand for issues, and not endorsing specific candidates. On the other hand, Tea Party Express “wanted to raise money for candidates and engineer campaigns.”

The break between the two factions of the Tea Party movement, found its momentun when Obama pushed for massive, health-care reform.

  • FreedomWorks, in its “Healthcare Freedom Action Kit,” suggested ways to omit socialized medicine from the budget.
  • A Patriot coached members on how to “Rock-the-boat…’Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge’ the representative. ‘The goal is to rattle him.’
  • The Patriots, except for Kremer, declined to participate in the Express’  first bus tour, since the groups had different philosophies.
  • Taking part in the D.C. rally organized by Beck’s “9 1/2 Project,” which drew 75,000, Kremer returned home ” ‘a changed person…I didn’t need to stand in the shadows of Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler (activist and Grass Valley, California Internet marketer and attorney)…I felt good about myself.’ “
  • Prominent Florida physician and tea-party activist David McKalip whipped up a storm when he Googled “a doctored image of Mr. Obama as a a tribal witch doctor with a bone through his nose…” In an email to the Wall Street Journal, he publicly apologized. Kremer defended him, to the dismay of other Patriots. ” ‘David, we all support you fully and are here for you…I can assure you of one thing and that is we will protect our own. We all have your back, my friend.’ “
  • In August 2009, the Tea Party incorporated with a 4 person board, Ms. Martin, Ms. Kremer, Mr. Meckler and Rob Neppell, a conservative blogger. “But relations quickly deteriorated…Ms. Kremer indicated she had hired her own lawyers and might try to claim ownership of the group’s intellectual property, according to an affidavit from Ms. Martin. A few weeks later, she was voted off the board.”
  • Kremer shifted to the Tea Party Express, urging it to back Scott Brown, for the Senate seat vacated by Edward Kennedy.
and as they say…”the rest is history”…hugmamma.