Saturday, November 7, 2009


"Ber muda was discovered in....G44...1503 by Juan de Bermudez" remarked Alejandro in a deep Spanish accent as he was calling BINGO numbers. Alejandro was part of the Cruise Director's Staff aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. His dry sense of humor matched his hard to understanding English and made any event where he hosted that much more enjoyable. Of course, even in the middle of the ocean, I couldn't escape Halloween. Alejandro and his "Finish that Lyric" co-host were dressed accordingly - a drag queen and a redneck. It was a hilarious way to leave Baltimore behind.

My cruise comparison was not your typical 5-day Caribbean party ship - I was on the QM2 that sailed from Greece to England. This was my first Royal Caribbean experience and I was very impressed. The ship was old but clean and filled with plenty of on board activities. BINGO was my favorite since I can't get dollar signs out of my head. In the end, I walked away empty handed and $100 lighter but it was worth it just for Alejandro's horrible jokes.
"Do you want to hear a joke my friends?" "Two peanuts walk into a bar. One of them is a-salted".

Bobbie didn't get it until about 3 days later. She was on the edge of her seat, waiting for the punch line. Once she realized what he said, she bust out laughing. Priceless.

Many thanks for Juan de Bermudez for discovering Bermuda over 500 years ago - what an amazing place! There are incredible beach views from every angle, beautiful blue sky and teal water. Everywhere you turn, the view is better than the last. We only had a day and a half dock but it was just enough time to get a feeling for the island and what to do next time I go back. St. George's is a small, historical town filled with beaches, bays, churches and forts. We took a great little train ride and learned all about the history. For instance - their burial rituals. Similar to cemeteries in New Orleans, they bury above ground. Land in Bermuda is premium, of course since the island is only 21 miles long resulting in the need to "recycle" graves. I'll explain. Above-ground tombs are like little boxes with removable lids. The lids list the family in the tomb much like a headstone. The boxes are filled with remains for generations. Once the tomb becomes full, they remove and start again. I didn't catch what happens to the now removed and I didn't ask. I was practically puking out the side of the train by the time the Q&A portion came around.

Aside from the strange burial rituals, the island is beautiful and colorful. The streets are narrow, often times not looking wide enough for 2 cars, let alone double buses. The bus and ferry system is wonderful - clean, reliable and cheap. It will take you all over the island. Like most public transportation systems, there are no seat belts, but in Bermuda the streets are narrow, steep and close to a cliff which makes for an exiting ride. It's certainly the most exciting way to see Bermuda, unless you want a real thrill and rend a scooter to tackle the roads yourself.

Hamilton is the city-center which most Bermudan's working in but living outside the city limits. Hamilton used to be the main dockyard for cruise ships, but with ships getting bigger and bigger, most no longer fit in the harbor forcing the government to build a new dockyard at the far end of the island. This sudden shift in tourism caused Hamilton to become a day-time city with most shops closed by 6pm. You didn't really feel the British influence outside Hamilton, but walking down Church Street, you might as well be on any street Long. Look at the Capitol building you might as well be seeing something plucked from a London country town - not fitting with the rest of the Bermuda colors.

Beautiful warm weather only lasted a day and a half before the cold and wind of the Atlantic returned. This certain wasn't the Titanic - I didn't think I'd need a door to stay alive (no such luck in finding a Leo of my own - just a bunch of dad's screaming "I'm the King of the World"). Seas were rocking on the way out and home - combination of the ship size, time of year and open body of water.

Spending two days reading indoor poolside was the perfect vacation!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Compulsive Shopping

I've been searching the web for the past 2 months, researching laptops, processors, hard drives, memory, screen size, etc. I've logged at least 95 hours visiting manufactures homepages, building, re-building and re-building different (really the same) laptops. I'll admit, the last 2 weeks at my old job, I logged most of my paid hours on either or

I've read blogs, review sites, Wikipedia posts all in the name of technology to make a firm, sound and logically decision on a rather large purchase. Right when I had a good grip on which way I was leaning, Windows 7 launched. Wrench in the works! Windows 7 totally freaked me out. I mean, have you seen those MAC commericals where PC makes the same statement about the Windows operating system since 1982? Pretty convincing huh? Ok, I know the benefits of a MAC. Who under the age of 35 doesn't? No real viruses to speak of, excellent for editing pictures, light and easy to travel, but have you seen the price tag? YIKES!!! All you PC-haters are rolling your eyes, I know, I know, I know and I don't want to hear it. I'm convinced there are two kinds of people - PCs and MACs. MAC commericals don't like, but I just couldn't take the leap. I don't need all the bells and whistles of a MAC (I'm not Michelle Wise, after all). I just need a reliable laptop, wireless internet with a good screen and software compatible with the 1090 software used at Goodwill. After writing that sentence, I'm thinking I'd be better off with my 2003 Dell with XP and no Microsoft Office!

After ready more web posts, reviews, blogs, watching Windows videos and tuning out MAC commericals, I made the decision that Windows 7 will be ok and an HP is better suited for me than a Dell. I ever convinced myself that I would wait until I cam back from vacation to purchase my new home office. For those of you who know me, I'm all about instant gratification. It was all settled! Enter a big-box retailer. Wrench in the works! A quick cruise through the computer section and about 25 minutes later, I was standing in the parking lot with a box.

I couldn't pass it up - it was an amazing deal; twice the memory, twice the hard drive, bigger screen, faster processor, Windows 7 and Microsoft Office. It was exactly that computer I wanted, but better and cheaper. Why is that? How could a big-box retailer be able to sell a superior machine at a cheaper price?

With the smoke still coming from my wallet from burning through so much cash, Bobbie said "You spent more time researching computers than when you bought your car. You went for a haircut and came home in a whole new car."

Well put.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener...

The old saying always rings true, even in the smallest of situations. For those of faithful readers who don’t keep up with my Facebook statuses, I recently started a new job. After three-and-a-half years, I knew there would be some things I would miss; the basic comforts of a job are the hardest things to say good-bye to. You know what I’m talking about – knowing where corporate letterhead and post-its are, understanding how often inner-office mail is delivered, learning the name of the person who greets you every morning at the front desk, having to re-organize your desk, create new files and adjust to a different view.

I was as prepared to start this new adventure as possible; able to curb my anxiety dreams of having to learn a new personnel file system before my first day. I consider that prepared. I’m even doing really well with learning names. I think asking people to reintroduce themselves doesn’t make me seem incapable of remembering their names; after all, they only have to remember one new name. I have met close to sixty new people in the past seven days, remembering even a few I’ll consider a success – only 540 more to go!

It’s not until you start a new job when you really appreciate what you had at your old job, the ole’ grass is always greener scenario. Let me clarify one thing before you get your panties in a wedge – I’m not regretful for leaving my old job. It is certainly a place that I no longer desire to be involved with. Now that is all cleared up, there is one thing I miss is single restrooms.

My new job is housed in an old Baltimore City building on the corner of Redwood and South Street; we occupy all seven floors. For a non-profit organization with a South Street location (around the corner from the famous Hustler Club), I certainly wasn’t expecting such a nice chuck of real estate. The boardrooms and conference rooms are huge without a mix-match of chairs and standing room only for staff meetings. The cafeteria has twelve tables with seating for close to 50 people and spotless, no matter the time of day. My office is huge, with matching furniture (full size desk, double armoire with four file drawers and full legal size file cabinet). Not to mention that HR has our own storage/supply closet that is not slotted for a storage-to-office conversion if we add to our headcount. The only downside to this wonderful office space is, although they are located on each floor, is multiply stall restrooms.

I sort of have a thing with multiply stall restrooms that I assume stems back to my days at Lynchburg College, living in a dorm with a single hall bath. During my junior year and the age of the ever popular AIM instant messenger, I had a neighbor who was notorious for reading away messages, discovering your message read “in the shower”, pulling up some bench and catching up on the latest campus gossip. For anyone who has ever lived in a dorm with a single hall bath, you can understand that showers in those facilities are not very large or excessively private; not to mention living with a roommate, you only got twenty minutes of solitude a day. So, as a result of said neighbor, I have a deep appreciation for single restrooms.

It was an adjustment the first few days but something I figured I could live with; when compared it to all the pluses the job, people and organization have to offer, I didn’t give it a second thought. Last week, I was in the restroom, first stall, when I heard the restroom door open and in walks another employee who sits in a cubical near my office. She was standing at the sink rising out a bottle or something (it was hard to see exactly through the cracks). I thought to myself “Amanda, you are okay. She is just cleaning her bottle, she’ll finish and leave.” Then it happened.

“Angie is that you?” she asked. Of course, I didn’t respond.
“Angie, I’m talking to you. What are you doing?” I had to respond; I didn’t have a choice.
“Um, no Ruth, it’s Amanda.” I said, looking down at my shoes and hoping when I looked up she wouldn’t be peering through the cracks.
“Oh, hi Amanda! How’s your first week going? Are you getting settled in? Everyone here is so happy to have you onboard.” She continued to ramble like this for what seemed like thirty years. I politely grunted in agreement without trying to encourage such interaction in the future. Finally she said something like “Well, have a great day!” and left.

The grass is always greener…

Monday, August 24, 2009


ABC unleashed a hit business series sharing the ranks with such greats as The Apprentice; Shark Tank pairs 5 independent, multi-millionaire investors with novice business entrepreneurs who have to sell their business opportunity. Most have okay to better than okay ideas, but lack in the overall understanding of, not how business works, but how to create great wealth. I’m starting to think this isn’t so much a show about business, but more about money; cash is king.

Don’t get me wrong; this is reality TV, so of course some of the entrepreneurial opportunities are laughed right out of the room. A sticky pad for sticky pads?? An implanted bluetooth headset that requires you to charge your head at the end of each day??

Some of the ideas are really quite genius; Shakespeare turned into music, a foldable guitar, and a seatbelt sensor that won’t turn on your car unless your seatbelt is locked. I’m often amazed by the ideas that people come up with, the amount of personal money already invested and their overall lack of what to do next. The Sharks lay it out pretty clearly, either they are out (meaning your idea has too many financial risks, you haven’t done your due diligence homework or your idea is flat out insane) or they take your deal or they counter your deal in their minds, with a better deal. Remember, Sharks don’t want to be in the guitar manufacturing business; they want to make money!

Robert Herjavec, who sold his first company for $100 million and Daymon John, founder of FUBU clothing line, often counter the entrepreneurs with more aggressive offers, many times requesting control ownership of the company or 51%. As Barbara Corcoran, who has a five billion (that's with a B) dollar business, pointed out on last’s night episode, remember the difference between 50% and 51% is a partner where decisions are made together and someone who will call all the shots without you. Kevin O’Leary, who sold his business of educational software for 3.7 billion (that's with a B) dollars, explains that entrepreneurs with product patens should sell the rights to the product and negotiate royalty fees for long-term wealth. Kevin Harrington, the king of infomercials, often times agrees.

Royalties is where long-term, sustainable, hassle and risk free wealth stems from. The owner of LifeBelt should have sold the rights to his paten for between a quarter of a million to half a million dollars with a 2-3% royalty fees for each unit sold. What does that mean? That means, if Robert bought the rights, he would cut a check to Mr. LifeBelt for $500,000 and Robert is free to do what he wants with the product, but for each unit sold, he owes Mr. LifeBelt 2% of the sale price. Robert feels there is a market for this type of product but doesn’t want to be in the car accessory business, he wants to license the paten to car manufactures who will add the accessory stock to most models. In the licensing deal, Robert negotiates a royalty deal with the car manufacture for 6%. For each unit installed, Robert gets paid 6% of the unit sale price and turns around and sends a check to Mr. LifeBelt for 2%. Mr. LifeBelt doesn’t have to do a thing get the 2% check.

Okay, so 2% doesn’t sound like a lot, if each unit sells for $30.00, Mr. LifeBelt only gets 60 cents. Robert sells license to use the product to a car manufacture who installs the product in 2500 cars per week, earning Mr. LifeBelt $1500 a week, $78,000 a year, $2,340,000 in 30 years. I’m sure there are ways you can earn more money faster, but Mr. LifeBelt doesn’t have to do anything for his $78,000 income per year. He can sit at home watching HGTV all day, sleep until 3pm and walk the dogs. He doesn’t have to lift a finger and he’s making a decent yearly salary.

What happens if Robert tries to sell LifeBelt to car companies and no one bites? Mr. LifeBelt was already paid a half a million dollars for his idea; he’s been paid even if the product is flops, plus he’s not out any more cash, time or effort. Robert has all the hassle and all the risk. Mr. LifeBelt has his half a million dollars already in the bank! If Robert is successful, then Mr. LifeBelt makes more!

Royalty fees are with you until the day you die. Imagine the possibilities. Why don’t more of the entrepreneurs take these kinds of deals? Do you really want to be manufacturing seatbelt sensors in your basement for the next 30 years hoping to sell enough to make $2 million or do you wan to sit back, relax and let the cash roll in?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ms. Minto goes to Wegmans

The grocery store is an American institution. Only in America will you find such massive food venues that yield everything from fresh and organic vegetables to birdseed to Scotch tape. Most other cultures shop for groceries by visiting specialty shops such as butchers, cheese makers and wine shoppes, but not Americans! We shop for groceries just we shop for, well, everything else – one stop, multi-level, eye popping, mega malls. Growing up in small town America, I certainly wasn’t privy to high-class, mega supermarkets. I grew up grocery shopping with my grandmother, at our local ACME that honestly smelled like sour milk.

In 2005, Hunt Valley became the first Maryland home to the newest mega mall grocery store – Wegmans. This grocery store chain puts new meaning to the term supermarket. In 1930, just fourteen short years after John Wegman opened a fruit and vegetable company in upstate New York, he opened his first supermarket; 20,000 square-foot shopping floor plus an in-house cafeteria that sat 300. Wegmans’ belief that valued and cared for employees do their jobs better earned them the #2 spot on Fortune’s list of best 100 companies to work for in 2006; it’s ninth consecutive year listed. This is not your average grocery store or your average business model for that matter. Everything about a Wegmans shop is bigger, brighter and better than the shop around the corner. I suppose that is why American’s are willing to drive miles to their nearest not so neighborhood Wegmans.

Maybe it’s the allure of it’s 60-foot olive bar, the smell of fresh baking pizza in the café, or the ability to pick up a ready-to-serve Wegmans meal on your way home from work, pop it in the oven and consider dinner served that has millions of American consumers hooked on the Wegmans drug. For me, it’s the smaller two-tiered carts, the in-store flower shop, the do-it-yourself produce labeling and the hot chocolate complete with attachable cart cup holder that pulls at my grocery shopping heartstrings. I’m not, by any means, someone who gets a thrill out of grocery shopping; in fact, I would fathom this is my least favorite activity. Yet there is something about Wegmans, even with the crowds, the hoards of consumers looking for a bargain, screaming children and miles of walking, that makes grocery shopping a little bit better for me. They have a huge international foods section; not that international foods really appeal to my western taste buds, but they do sell Brazilin soda in 2-liter bottles.

If you’re a cheese buff, you must travel to your nearest Wegmans just to experience such a cheese masterpiece. If you can think of a type, style or country of origin for a cheese, chances are they have it. Maybe organics is more your thing; you’ll be wandering down the aisles like a mouse trapped in a maze picking up items such as organic chips, juice, powerbars. Still not convinced? How about your neighborhood butcher shop, fishmonger, Chinese buffet, bakery, sub shop, and café all without having to get caught in the rain?

At Wegmans, people rule, but not the ones your thinking of; the employees. A throw back to 1900’s America, where taking care of your workers builds loyalty, hard work and commitment, a belief and tradition since lost. If only more American companies valued their employees, the contribution they make just by showing up on time. Wegmans is doing something right where great customer service starts with how an employee feels about their job; how they are treated at works translates to the level of service received by the customer. Companies well known for horrible customer service should take a lesson from Wegmans. During my visit today, I discovered Wegmans going against their grain and introducing self-checkouts. This concept is certain not new to the grocery store industry, but innovative to a company who prides it’s brand on outstanding customer service.
With two-tier carts, self produce labeling and now self-checkouts, I’ll go grocery shopping all the time with no complaints, but only if we make the drive to Wegmans.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“My Autobiography” - Courtesy of various Facebook users

  1. Where did you take your profile picture? At Target in Owings Mills
  2. What exactly are you wearing right now? Black tank, green v-neck shirt, bright pink scarf, black suit and heels
  3. What is your current problem? There isn’t enough space to clearly explain
  4. What makes you happy most? Being at home with someone…
  5. What are you listening to at the moment? The copier, well copying
  6. Any celeb you would marry? Joshua Jackson, who doesn’t love Pacey Witter?
  7. Name someone with the same birthday as you? Bill Maher
  8. Ever sang in front of a large audience? Greek sign, but we mostly Mily Vinily’d it and laughed
  9. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? There was a microsoft clip art character that looked just like me…but I think she retired. I can’t find her anymore
  10. Do you still watch kiddy movies or kiddie TV shows? Just Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… “Cheer up Charlie”
  11. How many languages do you speak? Uno
  12. Has anyone you've been really close with passed away? William E. Appleby – 1983 – 2001
  13. What’s your favorite band? DMB
  14. What's something that really annoys you? People that don’t ask questions, just assume and make bad decisions

Chapter 1:===============

  1. Middle name: Beth
  2. Nicknames: Mints and Peeping Tom (don’t ask)
  3. Current location: Office
  4. Eye color: Brown

Chapter 2:===============

  1. Do you live with your parent(s)? Negative
  2. Do you get along with your parent(s): Best friends
  3. Do you have any Siblings? Sister and brother

Chapter 3: Favorites===============

  1. Ice Cream: Soft serve Chochlate in a waffle cone with rainbow sprinkles…what can I say, my sister owns and ice cream shop
  2. Season: Winter
  3. Shampoo/conditioner: Big Sexy Hair ;)

Chapter 4: Do You?===============

  1. Dance in the shower? Nah
  2. Do you write on your hand? Always carry a note pad
  3. Call people back? Depends on how they sound on the message
  4. Believe in love: Yes
  5. Any bad habits: blow my nose in the shower

Chapter 5: Have You?===============

  1. Sprained stuff: ankles, wrists
  2. Broke a bone: fingers
  3. Had physical therapy: yep
  4. Gotten stitches: nope
  5. Taken painkillers: Yes
  6. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling: neither, I can’t swim
  7. Been stung by a bee: yes and I totally FEAKED out
  8. Thrown up at the dentist: I avoid at all costs
  9. Sworn in front of your parents: Of course
  10. Had detention: I’m from New Jersey…what do you think?

Chapter 6: what/who was the last?===============

  1. Movie: Brokedown Palace
  2. Person to text? Alison
  3. Person you called: Alisa
  4. Person you hugged: Bobbie
  5. Person you tackled: Kaydee
  6. Person you talked to on Skype: Never have
  7. Thing you touched? keys
  8. Thing you ate? gum
  9. Thing you drank: diet pepsi
  10. Thing you said: “I wouldn’t drive to MDC everyday for a million dollars”

Chapter 7: Future===============

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Not at here ;)
  2. 10 years? Married with kiddies
  3. In 50 years? Still in love
  4. Where do you hope to live? Denver
  5. Do you want to be famous? Just to the people close to me
  6. Do you want children? sure
  7. Will you have plastic surgery? Maybe, but I’m not telling on what ;)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dos Equis and Human Resources...Only in 2009

Okay – so I read an HR blog every day, or as often as there is an update posted which comes to be via email just like my CNN breaking news alerts. I do this for a few reasons:
1) interesting reading to me, good topics that often raise my eyebrow
2) guest author’s which give a different voice to the writing keeping me panting for more
3) he/she (not sure if it’s a man or woman writing it) is just plain funny and you know how much I love humor

At 10:18am just when my case of the Monday’s started to hit its stride, I see the alert. I stop in mid-work load and click; I can’t wait to read it, can you tell I’m from the digital age of instant gratification. I open it and just the headline has me wanting more – The Most Interesting Person – In the HR World. I think to myself, “wait, I didn’t do an interview”. I read on, heat in Houston, humidity in Houston, dreaming of beer. I’m starting to wonder what this has to do with HR, after all, it’s not often that beer and HR share the same sentence! It’s about a Dos Equis ad series that has been airing nationally since earlier this year. Dos Equis – the cool labeled, green bottled beer that everyone loves to consume in mass quantities on Cinco Da Mayo (never been a supporter – my Mexican beer of choice will always be Corona)! I’m starting to believe that my blogger has a worse case of the Monday’s that I do, already planning out next weekend, which is a long FIVE days away!

I read on…

He/She spins it, quoting the ad series as inspiration to spoof the one-liners transforming it’s context to the HR world rather than the swave beer drinking Spaniard. One-liners, which after reading, re-reading and re-reading again, fit me like a glove, to the point where I’m laughing so much people walking by actually think I enjoy my job!

“Her perfume smells like hot dogs at the company picnic” – You know that’s true, even though Medifast doesn’t promote consuming multiply hot dogs due to the unhealthy contents.

“Her charm is so contagious, special health benefits coverage has been created for it” – It’s not cheap, but getting it pre-tax is a nice break.

“The police often question her, just to hear ER stories” – The people who work here know the truth behind this one.

“She’s a lover, not a fighter; but don’t tempt her with a late performance evaluation” – I spent the better part of the morning sending our reminders to managers – can I get a HELL YA!!

“She’s so good at her job, she made Donald Trump realize the need to fire his own children” – Think about working at an organization that along with the corporate org chart, they had you a family tree!

“Her career advice, “Find out what you don’t do well in life and then outsource it” – Get a contract, negotiate them to a below fair market price than try to slash it even further – remember HR contributes to the bottom line.
“Her reputation is expanding faster than HR pros on Twitter” – what I can say, people around here just know who to go to get stuff done, done right and done on time.

“If she were to give you directions to an interview, you’d never get lost, you’d arrive at least 5 minutes early and you’d already have landed the job” – have you ever noticed that sometimes my voice sounds like a cross between the Garmin navigation lady, your mother and your high school guidance counselor?

“She has read the Wall Street Journal, HR Magazine, Business Week and Fistful of Talent before the average HR person has turned on their Blackberry” – okay, so not everything on this list is true

“Her advice on HR life, “It’s never too early to start beefing up your LinkedIn profile” – Due to recent events, I decline to comment.

There you have it folks, the most interesting HR person in the world – ME! I wonder if we are all this interesting and exciting – I can think of one that isn’t. Courtesy of Fistful of Talent (