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Re-alignment January 31, 2007

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I guess a new VP of insights is coming soon and Mark is getting a new title of Director of Guest Experience and Hospitality.  Debra and Eric will report directly to the new VP and Mark will still report to Becky.  We are letting go of Brand Tracker study to Debra’s group and will be in charged of GEM and MEE program.  Plus, potentially mystery shopping program and guest complaints data management.  Nothing really change on my part besides getting a new Junior Analyst for next fiscal year.  Mark asks me if I have anyone in mind.  I told him yes, but the person I have in mind might be expensive.  He said we will see.

Not sure how the other groups will react to the new re-alignment.  It’s really hard to say what’s going on.  But I see more works for Joan coming up…Probably need to really push for some help as soon as possible…Man, I hope all will turn out good eventually…If I don’t get the help but only more works, then it will be really badddddddd…

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After a long week of sharpening the saw… January 28, 2007

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Very nice agenda, good food and wine, clearly focus on food innovation for this year.  It’s very tiring after three long days of activities.  Get a lot of free gifts from the vendors and suppliers.  I am sure work will start coming in next week.  It will get crazy…

Needs to get back to the diet…As Vic said “are you sharpening your saw or are you fatting your ass?”  Very good point.  Completely ruin my diet plan…Got to try to kill my big fat ass in the following two months…New year resolution…Always starts on Feb…

Shocking to see Marina this Sat, she came to make copies of the class materials from me.  I gave her all the papers and books to copy.  She said “work sucks.”  I told her “now, you know.”  She said she won’t complaining about TA work anymore.  Good for her.

Work does get ugly sometimes.  That’s why I think school is less complicated.  You put your efforts in, you take your time to work on it, you get your degree eventually (hope this model works for the Phd).  Work is complicated because it doesn’t matter how hard you work.  You won’t get the credit most of the time.  It’s hard to adjust when you see your work out there and someone else is getting all the credits for it.  In school, you won’t get a good “pay,” but at least your work is yours and you will get your own credits, either good or bad…

Marie Gabrielle January 26, 2007

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Spending the whole day in Angelika listening to the presentation all day long.  Becky outlined the focus for creating cravable food items for all brands next fiscal year.  Doug told his stories about being a “foodie.”  Kraft foodservice had a section related to the future of dining.  At the end of day, six Brinker culinary team, mostly chefs, are upfront on the stage for a discussion and Q&A section.  Generally, it’s very interesting and learn a lot of the industry and the love of food from the chefs.

The dinner is the highlight.  Marie Gabrielle is located at downtown Centex building.  Starting with a couple of Mango Mojito.  Man, I was a happy women after two shots of it.  Brinker invites Andrea Robertson, an award-wining sommelier (who knows everything about wine), as a guest speaker and introduce some great wines for the food.  She even gave every guest a Complete Wine Course DVD for us to take home.  The food and the wine are amazing.  Here is the menu:

Salad  – French Chevre Cheesecake with Roasted Pear, Brick Oven Heirloom Tomatoes and Texas Micro Greens, Garnished with Balsmic Paint and Arugula Pesto

Paired with Drylands Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2006

Sorbet – Watermelon Sorbet Garnished with Star Fruit and Kiwi Sauce

Dual Entree Selection – Expresso and Molasses Rubbed Filet Mignon Blueberry Demi Glace and Asparagus Crusted Seabass Served with a Champagne Lemongrass Sauce Smoked Gouda and Grilled Corn Polenta

Paired with Franciscan “Cuvee Sauvage” Chardonnay, Carne4os, 2004  and Franciscan “Magnificat”, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2003

Dessert – Coca-cola cake with Pecans, Roasted Marshmallow Ice Cream Turbonado Torched Bananas and Spiced Rum Anglaise

Paired with Inniskillin “Gold” Vidal Oak Aged Ice Wine, Canada, 2004

Four different wines for one meal.  All of them are amazingly tasty.  Even as a non-wine drinker, I enjoy all of them a lot.  Since I become a Brinkerhead, I think I start to love wine a lot more than before.  Maybe after watching the DVD, I will become a wine pro.

It’s such a long day for the love of food and beverage.  Kraft gave everyone a huge bag of gifts to take home as well.  It’s a lot of stuffs in there.

Tomorrow we are back to Brinker for the last day of Sharpening the Saw…

Daniele Osteria January 25, 2007

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As the kick of of the sharpening the saw tonight, our first assignment is to go to eat at this Italian restaurant “Daniele Osteria” and investigate the dining experience on every single aspect.  Everyone is assigned to a group with about 10 people.  We have about 15 groups.  Every group is visiting different restaurant.  Luckly, I got assigned with Mark and Wanda.  Gary and Steve from Empathica are also in the group.  I think we also have Brian and Don from OTB, Bobbie from Chili’s and Tom from Maggiano’s.  At least I know half of them already.  So it’s good that I am not eating with complete strangers.

Jason got assigned to a group that he doesn’t know much about.  I think he will be so bored there.  The restaurant he is visiting is called “The Grape.”  He said it’s like a romantic place.

The traffic is just horrible tonight.  The restaurant is located in downtown Oak Lawn area.  Normally it will take about 30 mins to get there from the office.  It took us like two hours to get there.  We even witnessed a horrible accident in front of us in the intersection just right before we arrived the restaurant.  It happened so fast that two cars crashed into each other in front of our eyes.  Both cars are badly smeshed and the smokes coming out.  I think one of the passenger in car is injured.  Ambulance and two fire trucks arrived.  Before we got out of there, the guy who was injured is still laying on the side of the road with the ambulance.  I have never seen anything like that before.  It’s so dramatic when you see it happen right in front of you.  My heart is still ponding like crazy when I got out of the accident scene.

We eventually get to the restaurant.   Everyone is drinking at the bar already.  We have Angela and Ken from “Future Brand” there hosting our dinner tonight.  I think they sell a lot of alcohol beverage to Brinker that they agree to sponsor the whole dinner tonight for our group.  They also have us trying so many different wines and drinks tonight.  I couldn’t even catch up with drinking the whole night.  I have at least 5-6 glasses of alcohol in front of me half done.  Gary was joking like “I guess this is how Joan’s working style.  Never finish the whole thing until the end.”  I was like “I guess you are right, Gary, this pretty much says it all.”  I started with cosmopolitan in the bar.  During the dinner, I’ve tried three different red wines, one white wine, and a expresso martini.  At the end of the night, Daniele even offered a bottle of Sicilian drink.  Man, that thing is such a killer.  Two sips, it’s burning down my throat right away.

Daniele Osteria is the chef of this restaurant, originally from Sicily, Italy.  So the food he served is more of Sicilian style.  He opened this restaurant two years ago in this very hidden location of Oak Lawn.  The main entrance is like in the parking lot.  You have to go through this dark walkway to get to it.  It’s not a very big restaurant.  Probably can accomodate about 30-50 customers only.  He never spent any money on advertising the restaurant.  His philosophy is that if the food is good enough.  People will come.  He is very passionate about serving good seafood.  He hand picks fresh fishes from the market every day.  He custom-made all his ingrediants by himself.  He smelled his fish before he cooks them to make sure it’s good enough to serve the customers.   If customers are asking for expensive wine, he will interview them before he sells the wine to make sure the customers will really enjoy the wine.  Otherwise, he will refuse to see it.

The food was really “AWESOME.”  I have tried his stuffed stripe sea bass.  Oh, mine, it’s so yammy.  It’s a taste that stays in your mouth even after you walked out of the restaurant.  No wonder it’s rated as the top 10 restaurant of 2005 by Dallas Morning News.  The food is a big “WOW.”  Especially, the “Gnocchi” is a super “WOW.” Daniele was introducing about the Sicilian cooking and you can totally feel his passion and love of cooking.  He is really a live example of serving good food.  It’s all about the food.  He doesn’t promote.   He builds the restaurant in such a hidden place that you won’t find it unless you look really hard.  The restaurant is not fancy.  Small, but warm atmosphere.  But he is all about serving good food.  The words get out.  Customers follow him and hunt him down.  He even has a list of clients that he calls everytime he imported fresh fishes from the other countries.  Daniele really rocks.

I am a seafood person.  I know how hard it is to find a good seafood place in Texas.  This place is probably the best I’ve tried so far in the city.  Of course, it’s still far away from the seafood from Taiwan.  We have the world class seafood in Taiwan.

Continued the sharpening, we will meet at Angelika Theater tomorrow at 7:45am… so early…

Sharpening the Saw II January 24, 2007

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It’s “The Love of Food and Drinks” this year.  It includes two dinner events (Wed and Thur nights) this year.  Wohoo! free dinners.  Always love that part.  It’s such a mysterious even this year.  No one knows what will happen besides the time and locations.  Mark even notified me and Jason to dress business casual for the dinners.  Can’t wait to find out what’s going on… 

What is “happyness?” January 17, 2007

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Seen a good movie “the pursuit of happyness” (happyness with a “y” instead of a “i”) lately.  A true story of Christ Gardener: how he struggled his life through a homeless to a multi-million stock broker. 

Start wondering if people are ever going to be “happy” with what they have?  Looking around: 

Someone is stress with both work and school, tiring of working 24/7, struggling to slow down and geting a break…

Someone is not happy with their job and looking around aggresively…

Someone is not happy with stucking miserablly in school and hoping to get out for a real job…

Someone keeps changing job after job and never able to stay on one thing for a long time…

Someone hates the current job and couldn’t find a way to get out…

Someone with huge debts behind and never seem to be able to get out of debt…

Someone loosing a job for a long time and doesn’t even know when will get one…

Someone is single forever and couldn’t find anyone to share the life with…

………..

There is always someone, something, sometime, somewhere out there that people are not happy with their current situations and trying to pursuit their happyness. 

But what is “happyness?” What are people really after in their life?  Day after day, month after month, year after year, do people really find what they wanted eventually?  Or do people really know what they want and making the right decisions in the paths?  Is there really “sunlight” after the “dark tunnel?”     

Is happiness happening for only one “moment” or is it a permenent thing?  Is pursuing happiness a nonstop process or is it just a nonachievable thing?  Can one be happy with part of their life, but unhappy with the othre part? Can one remain happy even though everything can go wrong is wrong in their life? 

   

Mother and Son… January 13, 2007

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Still can’t believe our little Tanita has a baby.  Motherhood competely changes her life.  Life surrounding this little cute boy brings her so much joy and happiness.  Always warms my cold heart when I see them… 

Spring 2007 January 9, 2007

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School starts today.  Tavi’s class sounds interesting, but might be a struggle to take it due to time constraint with work.  It sounds like a lot of work as well.  So hard to balance between work and school…I don’t know if I want to push the evelope with my current pathetic working hours… 

Defeated… January 6, 2007

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Loneliness and emptyness overwhelmed the body.  Laying on the couch, feel like the whole body was sucking out of power.  Feel so abandoned.  Doesn’t even have any power left to get up at all.  Trying to go to sleep, but couldn’t.  The brain is getting out of control with images flashing, images of loved ones drifting away, leaving and passing away, one by one, little by little… sucking more power away from the body.  Hurting from having to let go.  Tears just couldn’t stop running out.  It really hurts to have to let go.  Hoping to stop the tears until the darkness takes over…

What’s wrong with me?

Thyroid… January 5, 2007

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I am so sick of blood test and Dr. appointments every 6 weeks.  I asked Dr. Berger to fix the dosage of my thyroid medicine for 6 months.  He kept changed my dosage for the past six months.  I told him I won’t have time to go back to see him for the next six months and he wasn’t very happy about it.  Eventually, he compromised to write me a prescription for six months.  Such a relieve.  I never felt any differences with the different dosage anyway.  As long as I don’t have to worry about going back to the hospital for the next semester…should have done so earlier… such a waste of time in the past…