Barb’s Cafe Today | Love to Shop? You Could Be Part of Customer Centric.

Some LOVE to Shop. Some HATE to Shop.

 We all need to shop. Shop in one form or another.  Need Alfalfa Sprouts or Zucchini.  Ran out of Alkaline Batteries or replace the Z Wave thermostat.  We are always in need of something.  Want it or need it?  Well, you must have a place to get it.  Running to the corner for a quick snack.  The weekly trip to fill the cart.  Order that ‘gotta have it’ online.  We just cannot get away from shopping for something and everything.

Where do you shop? Do you really know what type of shopper you might be?  Should Customer Centric mean anything to you?

  • Do you have a favorite store?
  • Perhaps a favorite online retailer?
  • As a customer, do you feel appreciated for your patronage?
  • What type of experiences do you have when shopping?
  • Are you a bargain hunter extraordinaire?
  • The get in-get out shopper?
  • The ‘no idea what I am doing here’ shopper? (I’ve met them)

My first choice is always, always local.  Sometimes, there are occasions I need or want an item that I will shop around for the best deal. If not available locally such as Target, Home Depot and Lowes, then the big “A” gets my business. I always have a great experience.

A few days ago, I received my daily email from Amazon describing all the great deals of the day. The email ended with this closing:

Amazon.com
We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company
http://www.amazon.com

Hmm!  I had noticed this before and not giving it a second look. My experiences with Amazon in the past year have been exceptional. This time, I thought of the complimentary close with a questioning eye.

What is Customer Centric?  Time to engage the grey matter and keyboard skills.  As Sherlock Holmes might do, I went in search of clues. Of course, I googled it. This is one version of many I discovered. This was very helpful. I am digging the visual aids here. So take it for a spin around the block, kick the tires and let me know what you think.

What Does It Mean to Be Customer Centric?

Barb’s Cafe Today| End of Summer – Looking Back

Labor Day Weekend!  School’s official end to summer.  When I think about it, elementary or university, the start of school really does hail the end of summer.  I try as I must to extend summer as long as possible.  Try as she might, Mother Nature may say otherwise.  Well, I refuse to acknowledge summer’s end so quickly.

Labor Day weekend will always hold special meaning to me.  Last 3 days to pack in the whole of my summer vacation memories and reflect upon the happenings that summer 1964.  A couple of friends had moved away, so I think of the many good times we had.  My summer was spent in the neighborhood for the most part.  Our neighborhood was country almost in the city but not quite the suburbs.  Daily hikes over the meadow and sort of through the woods were great adventures for us.  We built forts in everyone’s back yard.  Disclaimers made profusely when mother’s would inquire as to missing quilts, blankets and snacks. The community fort was our best fort ever.  It was on the corner of my street and Gull Rd.  An undeveloped chunk of real estate that held the best of accoutrements for establishing a fort.  We all pitched in.  Myself, Becky, Randy, Kelly, David and 2 sisters that were a bit older and for the life of me, I cannot remember their names. Sorry!  We opened neighborhood Lemonade stands. Someone’s mom would invariably bake a few cookies to sell.  Hah!  Like that was going to happen.  They were delicious.

We would snag a few day-trippers on their way to the park on the lake when taking our street as a short cut.  Business was pretty good.  All proceeds were shared and usually went directly to the soda fountain at Klein’s Drugstore.  Good Times!   Anyway, those cutting down our street always cranked up the radio and keep it there.  BONUS for us!  We were surrounded by music.  No headphones.  Music shared with the world.  Such a simple thing, but I learned music was always better when it was shared.  We were rocking and swaying to the music as a group.  Sometimes totally unaware.  More ways than one.  Much time was spent listening to our 45’s. We carried our record collections around in a Record Case or Platter Pack just in case there would be a music emergency.

In the summer of ’64, the Beatles were occupying the charts.  The British invasion was well underway.  But I consider Chad and Jeremy’s   “A Summer Song” to be a stand out that summer of my youth.  It has those wistful, breezy, contemplative lyrics that a memorable song should have.  Listen for yourself.

In 1974 I was a grown up!  So no true summer off as I had a job.  During the 70’s I had my first concert experience.  John Denver, Kenny Rogers.  I had married my sweetheart, Gary,  that I met years earlier – summer at the beach of course!  No ipod, no iphone or any device to play music.  Just a very cool silver & black 1968 Chevell SS 427 (custom) with the windows rolled down to play the radio  loud.  So cool!  As you might guess he is a big music fan.  Such a big year in music.  John Denver and his easy style of music.  We needed easy for we all had experienced change in the last 10 years. Our classmates and friends, some of whom died in Vietnam and those who did return, nothing was ever the same.  When I could, time was spent with my high school besty, Laurie.  Seemed like everyone we knew was getting married, therefore we all spent time together in our newly formed friendships. I remember vividly plopped on the couch in Laurie’s living room, listening to 45’s and playing stacks of albums.  Reminiscing of those days left behind.  We seemed to do that, when we gathered. Playing oldies some new stuff.  It was our generation.

Cannot recall what year it was, late 60’s perhaps, when we became acquainted with Bill Cosby.  We listened to his comedy albums for hours. Laughing so hard, our sides would ache as we begged for someone to put on some music to end our misery.  Forget about 8 track tapes.  Nope!  We being young and on a tight budget.  Too prohibitive to replace all our music on an 8 Track tapes.  Anyway, vinyl was just fine. When one owns vinyl records, one sort of has a relationship those records. Lots of touchy-feely moments with vinyl.  I recall taking the record out of the sleeve, careful not to damage the cover. Holding up the record to inspect both sides.  Had to be dust free, placing the record on the spindle, letting it drop (love that sound),  waiting for the needle to catch the groove.  Did it ever!  Nothing quite like it.  Sorry, I digress.  Back to ’74.  A couple choices here but I would have to choose this one.

Speeding ahead to 1984.   George Orwell’s future never came to fruition.  Hah! Take that George!  Biggest event for me, seeing Frank Sinatra in concert. Amazing!   Moving on…. The 80’s  were different.  So much music.  We are still playing every 80’s song ever recorded. Right?  The driving force behind the music was in the soundtracks of every movie that decade. Here are a few examples you may remember:

Image of Beverly Hills Cop   Image of Ghostbusters   Image of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Image of The Karate Kid   Image of Footloose   Image of Romancing the Stone

Image of Splash   Image of Amadeus   Image of The Natural

Image of Sixteen Candles   Image of Against All Odds   Image of Night of the Comet

Image of Streets of Fire

Images via IMDB

Yeah, Yeah I know AMADEUS does not have a “rockin” soundtrack. In the 1770’s Wolfgang was The Rock Genius. So let it go.  Indiana Jones. Heck yeah!  Could you ever forget that music?  Nuff said. That summer by the pool, the kids and I were all over Phil Collins, Van Halen, the soundtrack to ‘Footloose’, Cyndi Lauper, Prince and many more.  Here is a great summer song fav.

Then comes 1994.  My world resembled nothing in 1994 that no one could have anticipated. The kids are out of school and I am still “recovering” from personal events.   Life was a whirlwind.  Back to school and began a new career.  I lived in an apartment for the first time.  Something I never wish to repeat.  I am working so much I have no time to see anyone.  The past years had been a surreal learning period.  I found that friends change and not always for the better.

And, still music was always there.  I had seen the Moody Blues in concert with our local orchestra and it was fantastic.  So, to pick a summer song, hmm!  Bryan Adams, Boyz to Men, Ace A Base, and I’m still playing Michael Bolton.  Snicker all you want, but there are still a lot MB fans out there. Then, I was introduced to “New Country” by my friend Alicia.  I had no idea who Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson were. Or, who they would become.  I soon found out. As it turns out this little lady had a huge hit that year. I remember hearing it everywhere.  

 Tempus Fugit  2004.  Into a new Millennium.  Y2K never happened. Take that Naysayers!  Our country survived 9/11.  We must heed history and teach all future generations the facts about 2001.  Maybe I am off a bit for time, but I do recall the radio constantly playing The Backstreet Boys and other boy bands.  Not much else. No wonder we are still listening to 80s music. It was also a crappy year for Movies.  Bourne Supremacy and Shrek were the only 2 I had seen.  Here is my pick for a summer song.

2014 should be an interesting year.   Until then, the last song of summer I wish to share at this time is one from 1964.  I remember falling asleep to this song many many nights while my sisters kept playing it all night long.  Hoping you had a great summer and here’s to a fantastic Fall.

Barb@CafeToday

Barb’s CafeToday | The Lost Valentine

The Lost Valentine

Recommended for your viewing pleasure.  A Must Watch before and on Valentine’s Day.

The Lost Valentine stars  Betty WhiteSean Faris and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

 Here is the story.  In World War II Betty White’s character, Caroline,  bids goodbye to her beloved husband Neil.  Waving goodbye at the train station, he is off to war as a proud member of the Navy.  Sadly, Neil does not return.  Every year on Valentine’s Day, she returns to the train station in memory of their incredible love story albeit brief.  She has never missed of one of her special days.

Decades later Susan, a journalist played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, learns Caroline’s dedication to her late husband and unwillingly has to do a story about her.  When Susan meets Caroline, she finds a better story than she could have ever imagined.  All the while, Susan’s personal relationship seems to be stalled.  In the course of getting Caroline to share her story,  Susan meets Caroline’s grandson Lucas, played by Sean Faris.   Susan continues developing her story. All the while,  Susan is touched by Lucas’ devotion to his grandmother and realizes she has developed feelings for him.  Well you sort of know where the story will travel.  However, there are unexpected turns as the story progresses.

The film is based on the book  The Lost Valentine by  James Michael Pratt.  Go head, Buy it. Read it.  Watch it. I know you will love it!

My copy of DVD and Paperback

My Copy of DVD and Paperback

The movie is just an inspiring story of Lasting Love, Dedication and  Hope.  As you may gather, I really liked this movie when it ran on   The Hallmark Hall of Fame  special in 2011.  I know.  I am such a ‘sucker’ for these.  This is definitely one of the better ones.  No mean spirited, angry people fighting for attention. No worrying about running out of hair products or “what can I possibly wear”.   The typical TV movie.  

Sean Faris and Jennifer Love Hewitt    via

Sean Faris and Jennifer Love Hewitt   via  FanPop

Betty White is delightful and entertaining. I believed her portrayal of  Caroline.  Billy Magnussen portrays Neil.  A great role for him.  Very likable.  Quiet, loving and gentle.   I actually enjoyed Jennifer Love Hewitt as the journalist.  I like her more as she matures.  Our little Jenny is growing up!  Sniff. Sniff.  And then, there is Sean Faris.  His role as Lucas, Caroline’s grandson,  did not have a great deal of screen time.  He definitely is easy on the eyes.  See, it is moments like this, I have such an appreciation for  PAUSE and REWIND.  Jennifer and Sean have really ‘good’ chemistry.  The role of Lucas as a loving grandson is appealing and he is quite “ruggedly handsome”.  (sorry Rick Castle!) Or is he more the GQ type?  I’m thinking  GQ.  Either way he close to perfect on screen.  

Appears the cast members have a special kinship to their on screen characters.   Betty White and the real love of her life, Alan Ludden, sadly died in 1981.  You just know their love was special, when you watch her eyes as she lovingly speaks of Alan.  Sean has spoken numerous times of his strong  relationship with his grandmother,  whom he adores.   Awww.  

Behind the scenes   by me

Behind the scenes by me

Now… some behind the scenes:  We all know Betty White is a lover of animals.  While filming in the Atlanta suburb, the neighbors and other locals would frequently be out for a stroll with their pets.  Of course, filming would stop as Betty delighted in personally greeting all these fine pets.  

Betty, being Betty, kept the cast and crew well entertained with  her huge repertoire of stories.  Wish I could have been there.

The movie was filmed in a residential area of Atlanta Ga.   The rotunda at the Georgia State Capital served as the railroad station. It has  much of the original interior, just as it would have been during the 1940’s.  

The last scenes in the movie were filmed with active Naval Officers and personnel.    

Seriously though, I did really like this movie.  It will air on Saturday, January 26th at 9 pm on The Hallmark Channel.  Check your local listings.  Hopefully,  it will air a few more times before Valentine’s Day.  

Image

Barb’s Cafe Today | A Moment for Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger    via ET Online

Heath Ledger           via ET Online

Heath Ledger – passed away 5 Years ago January 22, 2008. 

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My trip to the movies is not to be.  Nor has it been for some time.  A damaged knee has curtailed many an outing for me these past months.  I have yet to see any Oscar Nominated movie.  Bummer!  I know!  Since my coffee stop indulgence has been curtailed as well, I have been roaming through Facebook and Twitter to maintain my ‘what’s new with you’ conversations.  So while enjoying my go to coffee drink of choice – Green Mountain Breakfast Blend – I was catching up on happenings when I ran smack dab into Heath.  I stopped. Then realized I needed a moment.

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Sipped on my drink while it was still steaming and contemplated Heath Ledger.  Has it been 5 years! Usually I remember these things. I am getting up there in years you know,  but not that ‘up there’!   It was while watching the movie ‘10 Things I Hate About You‘ that Heath Ledger will forever be endeared to me.   

Heath Ledger & Julia Stiles   via Amazon

Heath Ledger & Julia Stiles via Amazon

I enjoyed the movie and his performance very much.  I kept saying “who is this guy”?  When I watched dramatic moments and even the silly ones, I knew there was that ‘something’ surrounding him.  Talented, really good-looking and playful.  The plus being he was an Aussie.  Yeah!  The accent is hard to resist. 

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I remember girls just buzzing about him.  He was on fire.  His 2000 performance in ‘The Patriot‘,   the revolutionary saga as Mel Gibson’s son Gabriel, was a glimpse into his future in movies.  Heath shined in that role.  And, yes we all cried when he was died.  

Heath Ledger ‘The Patriot’ via tumblr

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Lastly, Heath Ledger deserved the Oscar for his portrayal of  Joker in ‘The Dark Knight‘ which he received posthumously.  Sometimes even we staunch movie lovers can forget Academy Award winners .  The Joker was portrayed with such ease of evilness, it became very real on the screen.  It was said that it took much from him to get in touch with that character.  I wonder if it was worth losing a part of one’s self to achieve that performance level?  No judgement.  Just thoughts.  That was the one and only time I have ever seen the movie.

I think back on what might have been.  Contemplation only brings more questions, however.  To what heights of stardom would his acting career have reached?  Would he have settled down as a family man?  Perhaps he would become a director – another Ben Affleck?  Who would he really become?  I think he could have achieved much.  He definitely had that potential.  I for one, am very pleased you were here.   

In his last days, he was alone and ill until his death.  No one should ever be that alone.  The question that remains is………where was the someone to truly care for him?   The someone extending hope and compassion when the moments of hopelessness came calling?

 

Barb’s Cafe Today | How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lance Armstrong

Photo by Peter DeJonge AP via NY Times

Remember the song from ‘The Sound of Music’?  How do you solve a problem like Maria?

” How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown! “

Well! That is what  jumped into my little brain when I looked at this photo of Lance Armstrong.

How do you solve a problem like Lance?

How do you catch a cheat and pin him down?

How do you find the word that means a cheater?

OK! So I cannot write a song.

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To begin, it is sad that we are talking about yet another cheating/doping scandal in sports again.  All this when we should be talking about ‘mmm, let’s see, anything else. Our children’s future. How to make our country safe.  Instead we are all talking, writing and watching stories about another cheating scandal that has devastated many lives.

I read many comments online about the interview and the doping, cheating scandal.  I found everyone has an opinion.  There were some that I felt were scary to me. Here are a few.  “Just another cheat. Who cares”  He didn’t lie to me so it doesn’t matter”  “Like he was the only one. The others didn’t get caught”  “Come on. Everybody does it”  “It’s not a big deal”    These comments scare me because I think  it is a big deal.  The overall impression was….I do not care. I do not want to hear or know the facts.  I have better things to do.

~ | ~

gotten a call at their Michigan home from Armstrong offering to say he was sorry

Betsy & Frankie Andreu photo by Betsy Andreu

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  I am not making light in any way of the lengths to which this person went in order to cheat, deceive, lie, defraud and viciously threaten to ruin ANYONE who did not condone and help hide his years of doping/cheating conspiracy in order to win.  He bullied team mates.  He bullied anyone who questioned his actions.  The bullying escalated into threats of personal and financial ruin.  Bullying does come in all forms.  The only match for the depths of cheating is his arrogance.  He knew well, he would never be caught.  At least in his own mind he was untouchable.  Betsy Andreu was one of  the few who did speak out.  He viciously threatened her and her family.  Betsy is the wife of Lance’s former teammate Frankie Andreu.  You can find many clips online of Lance denying those allegations and attacking Betsy for speaking out. If you watch him deny and what comes out of his mouth.  You will know exactly what kind of person Lance is.

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I posted this morning:   Lance has no ability to help himself. He believes every lie he has told. He is above all this fuss over the ‘doping’ charges. If you had thought he would open up and pour out his heart….duh…, his heart became too small…. when his cheaters ego went ballistic. He is bullet proof.  As I said for years… he speaks, he lies. Stop allowing this cultural acceptance of cheating in sports or anything.

FingerTipping  commented
This is a financial fraud and should be prosecuted in the court of law and prison time should be served. This have been a racketeering scandal that has made many millions of dollars for Armstrong and his associates under full knowledge of doing so. It has taken millions of dollars away from many businesses, athletes and fans who were deceived through deceptive practice for financial gain. Stealing in any business environment where the public has been mislead and conned into believing in a brand, product, service or event where financial investment has been gained is punishable by law.

I had not considered this as racketeering  Hmm!   People are saying there was money laundering, bribes and on and on.  Even I am astonished at the depth of deception.

~ | ~

A few Facebook fans were pleased he ‘poured his heart out.’  Really!  Not what I saw recently or have seen him say or do over the years. I do not think it is in him.  I would like to believe but he continues to show his true colors. The only reason he wanted to speak with Oprah is to open doors for his eventual return to cycling in a few years.  He kept referring to himself in the 3rd person.  Almost as if it were someone else making those decisions to dope and conspire.  He does refer to himself when he speaks of the wins and medals.

Speaking of a lifetime ban.  Pete Rose was handed a lifetime ban from baseball.  This was a person who loved baseball with all his being.   No, he is not perfect.  He must be tired of shaking his head when he hears the Breaking News….  Another sports scandal has come and gone with little consequence.  Pete Rose should have the lifetime ban lifted and he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Back to Lance the Vicious Defender of Many Lies:  “World Anti-Doping Agency General Director David Howman Tuesday said nothing short of a confession under oath — “not talking to a talk-show host” — could prompt a reconsideration of Armstrong’s lifetime ban from sanctioned events.”  See what I mean!  We make rules and yet allow certain people to walk around those rules.

~ | ~

So, what to do about Lance Armstrong?   He broke the law. Many crimes were committed. He should be prosecuted as the law requires.   He craves fame.  Therefore, I think we should ignore him!  Never ever, interview him again.  No photo shoots.  Never Ever!  He can ride off into the sunset in deep contemplation.

Related Articles on Lance:

   http://www.cyclingdirt.org/article/17226-I-Dont-Care-About-Lance-Doping

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/andreu-lance-interview-oprah-short-article-1.1242406

Barb’s Cafe Today | Rescuing Shaggy – After Hurricane Sandy

Sandy Rescue.

This photo brought a smile.

So many heroes taking care of those who are in need.

 Thank You.

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) Thanks to: Line of Site Blog – Military Times posted by CROSSI

A dog named Shaggy is handed from a National Guard truck to National Guard personnel after the dog and his owner left a flooded building in Hoboken, N.J., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Some residents and pets are being plucked from their homes by large trucks as parts of the city are still covered in standing water.

  Scoobey must be on the next truck.  ; )

Cafe Today | Missy – The Abandoned Dog will Live with Her Rescuers

In August, we all read the story  about Missy, the German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix who was injured and abandoned by her owner while on a Colorado mountaintop during a hike with her owner. The 5-year-old dog was stranded for eight days before being rescued by a group of volunteers.  No small feat by any means.  (Missy’s owner never went back to look for her.)

The rescuers wanted very much to save Missy and give her a new home.  However,now that Missy had been rescued with loving care, owner Anthony Ortolani hinted that he’d like his dog back. After a month in a kennel while her fate was debated, Ortolani agreed to give Missy to one of her rescuers as part of a plea deal, one that helps him avoid animal cruelty charges.   (ABC News)

Anthony Ortolani, 31, faced charges of animal cruelty for leaving his German shepherd/Rottweiler mix, Missy, behind on the saddle between Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans.  He will plead guilty to a less serious violation of a local ordinance.  Discussions leading up to the plea bargain included giving up the dog.  After the  month long stay in a local kennel, everyone is confident Missy will be thrilled to rejoin her rescuers.  Perhaps more trails to explore.

We are thrilled for you Missy.     Good girl!