Memories…

Memories…
Family around the dinner table

I am finding just how important memories are, how important capturing them and digitizing the old vital. Not just for past generations, but also, for myself.  Snippets, minute filaments locked away and remembered with one small image.

Over Christmas break, I returned again to Pennsylvania and snooped around the old homestead.  I knew where Dad kept his slide collection and wanted to try to capture some of those images with my camera.  He has a viewer that I could use until I can get him a scanner for all of them.  I even recorded my parent’s voices.  I really didn’t have to record my mother’s because my sister and I have the uncanny inheritance of sounding just like her.  Many friends and relatives can’t tell us apart at times when we answer the phone.  For that, I am truly thankful.

Visiting Fort Ticonderoga

As time passes, I need the pictures to remember faces, try to recall voices.  Try to recall the vacations, the countless first day of school, and other events through time.  I struggle with reality, wondering if I am remembering the moment as it was or as it is recorded on the photograph.  No, I don’t know if Dad has any video; he is more of a photo guy.  I know others in our family have video, but not too sure how much of our family is recorded.

Why?  Why struggle to weed through all of these documents and media?  Nostalgia sure.  But I realized one day as I was researching my family history, the ranks are thinning.  And as I have said before, time is fleeting.  One day big change will be upon me, and I am trying to find a way to cope.  Trying to find a way to preserve something important.  Perhaps the last vestiges of my life as I know it now.  I need anchors.

I want to find those memories that are locked away deep in my mind if at all possible.  Maybe they aren’t.  Maybe they are gone for good because we just can’t store them up in our gray matter.  Or they are locked away in a hall of fogged mirrors and I need to find the key to waving away the density to reveal them.  I just don’t know.  It is hard to articulate my reasoning.

Life is a vague kaleidoscope of fragments, hinting at order and chaos.

Stepping off into Magic

Stepping off into Magic

Cuillins from Kirkibost
Originally uploaded by bruiach1

Wrote in 2010:

I wrote several years ago, well seven, actually about my meeting an elderly gentleman at Inverness Bus stop. At the end of our conversation, we parted as friends and he said something strange about gifting me with magic. That conversation has stuck with me the longest. I don’t know really why. I can only guess.

I fondly remember returning to Scotland from the States. How the moment my feet touched off the plane onto the ramp leading up to the airport proper, a grin spread wide across my face. I felt the anxiety of travel slip away as if some hands pulled away a clinging shawl. I wanted to run through the airport, customs and out into the misty Glasgow morning. But I took my time. I took my time, savoured each step.

I dreaded gathering my luggage but knew that soon, I would be out on the road back to home.

Today, I live in the middle of the corn belt in Illinois. I have to say that I miss the green and the rain. I miss the magic moments that seem to creep upon me without any announcement. As if there was this boundary, only Scotland creates. And it reaches out with strong hands to pull you in and to keep you there. There is no stagnation. There is always energy. I looked for all those thresholds and eagerly stepped off into the magic. Even loving the moments of wet socks and drenched clothes. Sometimes the reward was worth searching for that elusive elixir.

The boundary though is transparent. Scotland needs not exert any control. It is understood. It exist without explanation. It knows that you will be back.

Today, as I drove the length of the road from one town to the next and back again, I noticed the browning fields of summer corn. The leaves are turning and falling as the chill of autumn sets in. Some days, summer tries to reassert itself but autumn is just laughing. I think it is a patient task master, knowing the full the cycle of things. He sits down, draws his breath slowly and sighs. I wish there was more bite to autumn, like back in Pennsylvania. I don’t know. There seems to be something missing. I have no idea what it might be or what it is. Even now, at my favorite time of year, I feel lethargic from lack of choice.

I hate to be so detrimental to this area. I hate that I’m becoming entrenched in my old ways, complaining about everything. I hate that there isn’t more laughter.

I now know what it feels to return with the elixir and you’ve told your story. You’ve reached the end of a great adventure. It has changed you for the better. And yet, I think Vogler and Campbell, didn’t express this sufficiently. You can again, enter into that stagnation, waiting for something to come along and pull you again onto the road.

A road that leads to that magical boundary….

While I wait…

While I wait…
Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve
Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve

Well, while I wait and prepare for a phone interview this morning, I zipped over to Faith Popcorn’s site, Brain Reserve.  I use Popcorn’s site both in my understanding of current trends and issues, as well as within the classroom.  I am all about the future and like the game of anticipation.  I love examining what is trending, what is going to happen, even predict the future, especially with technology.  But to know how technology is going to change or expound our dynamic world, you need to know what is going on out there; how people are changing.  That means trawling for information, dissecting the mass of words and envisioning, visualizing, what is going on.

Faith is predicting that women are on the cusp of cultural authority.  That they are again, stepping out of the shadows and taking the reins of most decision-making.  Hasn’t that always been the case, but were behind the gossamer veil that is the shoulders of most men.  Women were the silent child, eyes narrowed, always looking for the nuances of the world and stepping forward at critical times.  Now, even more so, we are exerting our voice, in better way than the feminist revolution of the late 60’s and 70’s.  We are exerting our brain power.

I agree and disagree with Faith on certain aspects. I know we are on a precipice of change, and we are exerting a great deal of energy fighting against the tide.  I have been at this precipice since 2003 or earlier, looking over into the differing shades of the abyss, or back at those that are behind me.  Technology has been a major player, a companion beside me.  The medium is prompting questions, making suggestions, and gritting its bytes for us to see potential and make the leap.  The early explorers (visions of the Life Cycle) have already leapt out over the edge and are navigating through the next generation.  Those active involvers that are still immersed in old technologies, are feeling the fingers tickling at their psyche’s to ditched the old and return to that fun first stage; throw caution to the wind and fly.  And those reaching the pinnacle and/or stagnating, afraid of what is coming, need to ask the question, that many do not ask themselves, “What are you afraid of?”

This could harken back to self-identity and self-awareness.  That there are those unwilling to even think about the opportunities and possibilities of the future because of the loss of something innate or even traditional.  But what is tradition?  Maybe the definition of tradition, the authentic needs to change.  Maybe it is not about the people, but about the action?  For instance, I had dinner yesterday with my Greek family.  We had a traditional dish of gravy meat and Greek noodles, called Stifado (I think).   The stew, much like my own mother’s ‘golfer’s stew’, had at its bedrock in wine, cinnamon and the cooking process.  I enjoyed it immensely and made sure I thanked the cook, several times.  At the end of the meal we had a traditional talk as the grandkids, nieces and nephew went on their way to play.  At one point, recipes were compared or I should say finished dishes.  What I am getting at, is this is a traditional dish.  Culture exists in its varied forms, and conveyed in different styles.  A simple recipe card passed down from one family to another is a tradition.  We don’t necessarily have to have the same customs present.  The dish is the tradition.  The act of sitting around that table is a tradition.  We don’t lose our identity with change.  As Darwin, expounds, we adapt, we overcome and we persevere.

If we jump off that precipice that is looming on the horizon, that edge that we are inching closer too, what are we afraid of losing, giving up, or see disappear?  Are we not ourselves, made better?  Are we not captains of that adventure, that journey that can control and not, the internal and external forces that push and pull at us?  We cannot be afraid of change.  We may balk at its first steps, but at one point, we need to turn the light on and throw caution to the wind.

 

Observations on Applebee’s.

Observations on Applebee’s.
A snippet of a bigger picture
Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Well, I guess I am weighing in on the Applebee’s fiasco.  I teach Hospitality Ethics and this is making for a great case study from various points of view.

First, if you haven’t read the article or the complete story, you need to do some research.  I have to admit the media today is not well favored in their reporting.  Yahoo (and here) reported on the incident as it was percolating across the social media spectrum.  Make sure you go to the original Reddit posting and look at the image that was posted.  There are other tangible evidence that there might be different versions of the check image, one with the complete signature.  Also, there is evidence of posting other customer signatures when service execution goes above and beyond.   Again, a whole mess of evidence that even at this blog posting, I am still weighing and how to trawl through.

I won’t tell you the whole story but management, the person involved expresses that it comes down to an argument of privacy.  Or does it?

There are ten principles in hospitality ethics (Jaszay & Dunk, 2006; Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry; pg 2-3; Pearsons):

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Loyalty
  5. Fairness
  6. Concern and Respect for others
  7. Commitment to Excellence
  8. Leadership
  9. Reputation and Morale
  10. Accountability

Now our industry as with any other is driven by information, money and promises, both intangible and tangible.  They are funneled into a dynamic and traditional exchange environment and the industry business’s then execute effective and efficient management functions, processes in order to maximize revenue and profits, in order to reward and reinvest in our stakeholders and the firm, respectively.  I have talked about social contract theory as well as psychological contracts in that they may or may not be articulated or even in writing as part of the exchange of goods and services.

This case highlights the pitfalls and failures, the good, the bad of service encounters, service execution.  There are a host of questions that I will pose to my students to think about.  This brings to mind the social media backlash against Darden and Olive Garden.  There is also the demonstrated pitfalls of social media in delivering instantaneous information to make headlines.  The ramifications on service, social responsibility, employee relations and fiscal responsibility.  There are a host of answers good and bad.

And not just privacy is an issue here, but the tipping, gratuity policy of restaurants.  Recently, given today’s economy, many customers are questioning a restaurants right to automatically charge a gratuity for large parties.  Yet, there are arguments for and against this.  How many customers really understand how a restaurant runs?  How many understand the nature of waiting on customers; a restaurant server’s pay, paying scale and so forth.  What about the customer’s responsibility?  Is the customer always right?  What about the autonomy of managers, their empowerment to manage a business?   How will this hurt Applebee’s brand?  How will Applebee’s weather the storm?  What are the effects on social media?

I could go on.  This could turn into a lengthy post but needless to say, 50 minutes of class time might not be enough for this topic

Year of Natural Scotland

VisitScotland, the national Tourist Board of Scotland has designated this year as the Year of National Scotland. Every year Scotland promotes it brand in unique ways. They have encapsulated the attributes of their brand by affixing the adjectives, Enduring, Dramatic and Human. These words have been around for awhile now and allow for adaptation to the varied landscapes that define Scotland. Here we can see it displayed within their promo videos.

Promotional Power: A deeper breath…

Promotional Power:  A deeper breath…

There is something to say for having the Internet.  Once and awhile my senses are awaken by gems of video, music and words as they were today when I received a post from VisitScotland.  They were inviting me to SINGLE MALT WHISKY: THE ISLAY 8 + THE FESTIVAL AWARDS CEREMONY.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to go but wish I could just to sample Islay’s best whiskies and the food by Chef Art Jackson food.  

I know Islay’s whiskies.  I’ve tasted all of them and relish their unique flavors.  I would love to live on that island and be a part of that subculture of Scottish society devoted to making uisge beatha; the water of life.  Heck, I would love to work in marketing in one of their distilleries just to be surrounded by the people who have such a devotion to their craft.  These people breathe deeply of their loves and convey it with every dram.  Scotland’s economy is driven by whisky and shouldered by tourism.    I can’t wait to see this film in its entirety and use it in my classes.

It demonstrates the authentic experience of this island’s life as well as the promotional power that one product, various brands have in drawing people to its table.   It embodies a sense of self, a sense of identity that draws you in and holds your attention.  It conveys a sense of place and deep-rooted mysticism that has more than a kernel of truth.

Whisky: the Islay edition. Long trailer. from Olav Verhoeven on Vimeo.

Whisky: the Islay Edition.

This film is an initiative of POSTORGASMICKITCHEN.

Produced and directed by Olav Verhoeven

Scenario by Fabian Molleman.
Production by Ellen Cosyn.
Editing by Remo Beutels and Olav Verhoeven.
3D direction by Fabian Molleman and Michiel Coene.
Soundmixing Emanuel Van Egghen.
Art Direction by Olav Verhoeven.
Art direction VFX by Tim Vandekerckhove.
Director of photography Olav Verhoeven.
Camera 2nd Fabian Molleman and Michiel Coene.
Research process and facts by Lies Debeer.
Assistant and grip Olivier Van Mele and Sean Goossens.
Sound recording by Sean Goossens.
Copywriting by Fran Bambust.
Colourgrading by Bart Verraest.