Management Training

On Tuesday, I attended a training course on Giving Positive Feedback. It was one in a series that all of the company’s management have to undertake. There is one very notable difference between these courses and similar ones that I have done in the UK. In the US, the trainer seems to repeatedly highlight situations that could get the company sued and how we as managers need to take steps to avoid that eventuality. It would seem that baseball is no longer the national pastime and that litigation has taken its place.

Published in: on 31 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (3)  

Just A Taste

The US is oft known for the intimidating size of the portions served in restaurants. These vast servings have been an essential part of the country’s capture of the Most Obese Nation crown and its ongoing success in defending the Number One position. On Saturday, however, we saw a crack in the façade. At PF Chang on Saturday, a range of small desserts for two dollars was on offer. This was enticing, as instead of being faced with a massive slab of sugared calories after a full meal, you can get just a taste. We took a banana split, which as we were celebrating a birthday was given to us. In keeping with this blog’s latest tradition, here is a picture of dessert.



Published in: on 30 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (3)  


Outdoor waterparks are not something that I recall seeing in the UK; the climate providing an explanation for their absence. I do not imagine that standing soaking wet in queues, wearing just a bathing costume, would work on a bracing day in Skegness. The only waterparks I have visited have been in Southern Europe or here in the US.

Today, I went to one for the first time since I moved to California. Waterworld in Concord is less than thirty minutes drive. Last summer I did not get myself organized, but this year I decided to take a long weekend and go. I took my wife to see James Taylor on Sunday, so to avoid starting the week tired after a late night, I decided that this was the weekend that I would extend.

The park was of a similar scale to those in the Algarve that gave me my first taste for being hurled down fiberglass tubes in a rush of water. The rides were, in the main, distinctly different from the ones that I had encountered before. Most of them used some form of inner-tube and were set up for multiple riders.

Waterworld, Concord

Waterworld, Concord

The park had lockers, which sensibly did not rely on a key which you then have to take with you and avoid losing on the rides. Instead, you inserted cash into a machine which asked you to enter and confirm a combination. It then printed out a receipt with the number of the locker, which was now configured with your combination.

The staff at the bottom of the ride used a distinctly low-tech way to signal to those at the top when it was safe to let the next person down. They held a red plastic drinks tray aloft until the ride was clear.

Published in: on 29 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (2)  

Starbucks Closures

Ilegirl recently went to Europe and the resulting shock to Starbucks’ revenue caused them to announce the closure of 600 stores in the US on the Monday after her departure. There is now a list of the stores that shall be closing. There are eighty-eight in California, but since there are over 3,000 Strabucks in the state the number represents less than 3.5% of the total in the state. None of the ten in Fairfield are closing.

Published in: on 28 July, 2008 at 9:13  Comments (6)  

Political Correctness Correction

I apologise for the use of the phrase “inbred rednecks” in my previous post. I apologise if that caused offense. I should have called them “closely related white Appalachian Americans”

Published in: on 27 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (1)  


When I was shopping for our television set, I needed to buy an HDMI cable to connect the DVD player. In the store from which I bought the set, I saw a cable made by Monster and it was over $100. I bought a functionally identical cable from another store for about $10.

Why are Monster cables so ridiculously expensive? Maybe it is because they need all of that extra money to fund their stupid copyright infringement cases against any product that uses the word Monster. Monster had started a case against a company that used the name Monster for their deer bait. I can understand companies taking action if a competitor makes a similar product, but even the most inbreed red neck should be able to figure that his left-over deer bait is not a great way to connect AV equipment.

Monster Cables have a reputation for this sort of clearly spurious legal action, having preciously gone after a clothing company called Monster Vintage. I guess some companies like to sponsor the arts or sports; Monster Cable like to sponsor the legal profession.

Published in: on 26 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (2)  

Suisun Valley Winery

On the way to supper tonight we took a detour to a new cafe and vineyard tasting room. My wife and mother-in-law had iced coffee, while I had a glass of Pinot Grigo produced at the local vineyard. We supped our drinks in the garden.


Vezer Tasting Garden

Published in: on 25 July, 2008 at 20:16  Comments (5)  

Tru(e) Blood

My wife and I have been reading a series of Vampire novels set in America’s Deep South. Written by Charlaine Harris and featuring a telepathic waitress called Sookie, the Southern Vampire Mysteries are more humorous, personal drama that horror. The setting is a world in which Vampires have moved into our world with the invention of Tru Blood, a synthetic blood which allows Vampires to feed without preying on humans. The books do need to be read in order and start with Dead Until Dark. We have read the first seven books, with the eighth in the series due in paperback on March next year.

True Blood is the name that HBO have given to the TV series that they are basing on the books. It premieres in September. HBO are already starting an extensive publicity campaign. In addition to information on the HBO site, there is a site investigating how vampires have used the invention of synthetic blood to reveal themselves, a human/vampire dating site, and a product site for Tru Blood.

Sookie (Anna Paquin)

Sookie (Anna Paquin)

This puts me in the unusual position of intending to follow three new series (OK one new and two returning) in the autumn, Tru Blood, Dexter, and Heroes.

Published in: on 25 July, 2008 at 7:18  Comments (1)  

No Witches in Norfolk

In the UK, sports commentators make an effort to find the correct pronunciation of foreign names. That does not seem to the case here in the US. I was watching HDNET coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes at Toronto; Darren Huckerby’s debut. On a couple of occasions the commentator referred to his previous club and pronounced the W in Norwich. The W is silent in Norwich.

The game was a nil-nil draw, or zero-zero tie in US parlance. It was not a great advertisement for the football played in MLS. Huckerby played for a little over an hour, made a few dangerous looking runs, won a couple of free-kicks, and had a couple of appeals for fouls declined. Given his lack of match fitness, this was a fairly impressive debut.

Published in: on 20 July, 2008 at 11:47  Comments (5)  

Geography 101

Geography of places outside the US is not always an American strong point. I grew up in East Anglia, the collective name for the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk; the bump on the Eastern coast of Great Britain. I can assure the writers of the San Jose Earthquake website that Norfolk is not a Northeastern county. Granted it is coastal and in England, so I guess I should be happy for the two out of three in their report on signing Hucks

Quakes Sign Huckerby
The Earthquakes announced Monday that the team signed English forward Darren Huckerby. Huckerby signed with the Earthquakes after San Jose acquired his rights from Toronto FC in exchange for allocation money and an international player slot. He will be added to the roster pending the arrival of his ITC and approval of his visa. Huckerby, 32, joins the Earthquakes after spending the last five seasons with Norwich City, located in Northeastern English coastal county, Norfolk. He was named to Norwich’s all-time Best XI. He has also played for Manchester City, Leeds United and Coventry City.

Published in: on 16 July, 2008 at 7:00  Comments (3)