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Customer Service Today

I attended a conference recently where a major takeaway from the event was customer service or the lack thereof. It got me to thinking about my daily interactions from a customer service perspective.

Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. Checkout this morning was pleasant. Ash was pleasant, engaging and efficient. He scored a solid 7/10.

Harbour Air checkin…another solid job. Polite, pleasant and alo efficient. Another 7/10.
Harbour Air coffee shop. Bright, cheery and very pleasant. A great start to he day. I asked for a dark roast and stupidly didn’t notice it was self serve. She walked around the counter and poured it for me. Above and beyond. 9/10.

The good streak continues, Prices Alarms for new keys to be cut. First rate again…7/10. Capital City Tuxedos, Sid was first rate last week and equally good today. You leave feeling like you are his best customer. 9/10. Broughton St Deli for a little breakfast..another good experience. 7/10.

Prior to today’s post, I have been lamenting the absolutely deplorable state of customer service in general and now that I decide it’s blogging material…it’s all great. Stay tuned…the journey has just begun.

Phoenix Road Trip

Joan and I headed off to Phoenix earlier this month, with our daughter Jenn and her boyfriend Iain. We had made a trip to Vegas with them in the spring, to see a NASCAR race. I enjoyed it so much that we headed off to Phoenix for the second to last Sprint Cup race of the season. Jenn has followed NASCAR and her interest got me hooked and I too watch the races on TV, if I am around to watch them. Much more exciting however, to see them live. That NASCAR is a marketing machine and is really quite a spectacle!

Headed to Phoenix via Alaska Airline and it was a full flight. It seems that not only was NASCAR running that weekend, but the Seattle Seahawks were playing in Phoenix that same weekend and the NHL franchise Phoenix Cayotes were also home with a game that weekend. I met several people who were heading down for hockey, football and one of the three NASCAR races, Trucks, Nationwide or Sprint Cup. A well rounded sports weekend I would say.

Headed off on Friday touring the city and checking our a few “speed shops” for goodies for Iain’s Teryx quad. Finshed the afternoon off with a trip up South Mountain for a view of the city.

Here's the pool in the condo complex where we stayed.

Scorpion Gulch at the bottom of South Mountain

Phoenix through the window of the stone house at the summit

These cacti were awesome!! I never knew how many different varieties there were.

Cactus

Here’s a shot of one of the “red mountains” right in the city. Great colours!!

Red Rock

There is a good story about this snake, It was created by Jon Anderson and it’s a FIMO  Polymer Clay that is used to create these beauties. http://www.jon-anderson-fimo.com/
Iain spotted this one in a gallery in Scottsdale one evening. The gallery had customers in it but the doors were locked. No one payed any attention to us trying to come in so we assumed it might be closed for a private viewing. Went back the next evening and it was truely closed this time as it was getting late in the evening. Since this gallery is in the restaurant area, we were back the next evening for dinner nearby and checked out the gallery from the inside this time. We asked about these FIMO snakes and they had any more. The sales lady  took us into the back corner where there was a display of the snakes in various sizes and Jon’s other creations. She asked if we wanted to see how they were made and we eagerly said yes. While she was pulling out her “props” Iain spotted a hand blown sink he had seen previously and said to Jenn that he had forgot all about it. His interest was now on the sink and not the demo brought a derisive snort from our sales lady and she asked “does he want to see this because I am only doing this once”. I told her that we were VERY sorry to be bothering her. This too brought a heavy sigh from her. (Do you know how to spell biatch?) Well she got her demo out of the way and advised us the cost of the snake. Iain and I had already been researching the item online and we knew it could be bought for about 1/2 the price she quoted. Since Iain didn’t bite on her price, she asked if he might like a discount. Now the price dropped by about 15% but her price was still almost double what we had seen elsewhere. Any questions to this bag brought out yet another sigh. But you know about karma? Well Iain found the snake from another seller, for about 1/2 her price. The only good thing that comes of this is I can publicly warn everyone to avoid Old Town Gallery in Scottsdale. The owners name is George and the saleslady might either his wife or his mother. Avoid her like the plague.

Jon Anderson FIMO snake

Day 2 we headed east of Phoenix to Highway 88. A historic highway through the Superstition Mountains.

Superstition Mountain

First stop was Goldfield, an old gold mining town that has been reborn as a local tourist attraction. Somewhat similar to Barkerville here in BC but a nice stop nonetheless.

Canyon Lake Highway 88 between Goldfield and Tortila Flat

And now we arrive at Tortila Flat.  Population 6…yes only 6! Saddles for Bar Stools and Dollar bills for wallpaper.
Tortilla
Day 3 was the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Off early so we can soak in a little NASCAR culture!

Jenn get an airbrushed 48 on her face

Now THAT'S a Bar-B-Que

You might remember this car from the TV commercials?

Jenn writing a good luck message to #48, right on the finish line.

"Beer Lady? Can I get a couple of Bud?"

Pano of the track

Phoenix Zoo Day today….quite a nice zoo and no government funding!

Saddle Back Ranch for breakfast

Finger Monkeys

 

Lastly…we have here the rare Vancouver Island Momma…this species has difficulty adapting to the the heat of Arizona and the long walks between water holes. Seen here at rest but happy nonetheless.

33rd Annual Retread Reunion

While I have many family who subscribe to my blog, many of you are not family and so it’s required to bring you up to speed on the Retread Reunion. My wifes family name is Tyre, and 33 years ago, this thanksgiving classic was started. We met at Beach Acres in Parksville for what would become an annual event. The venue has changed several times but always has involved cabins, somewhere on Vancouver Island. As the family grew, we had to keep moving on to bigger premises and we are now utilizing something like 10 cabins at Pacific Playgrounds, just south of Campbell River.

It’s important to note that the family has NEVER celebrated Thanksgiving dinner within our own homes, in 33 years!

Kristen created a new banner for this year

 

A new tradition was started last year. The 2nd generation gets to Pacific Playground a day early, namely Thursday of the long weekend. We get together for dinner, wine and a lot of laughs. These next two shots were actually taken the previous year but you get the idea right?

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

The bridge to the pub for lunch

Saturday morning “Breakfast in a Bag”, hosted by the patriarch (that’s like an old elephant right?) of the family and his wife Linda. It’s always a big hit but for some reason, the kids all missed it this year. Oh well…more gummy bears for the adults.
We headed out to hide the Retread Reunion GeoCache. For those of you that don’t know about this growing  fad…Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. http://www.geocaching.com/ Jack here is showing the cache just before it was hidden.  By the way, it’s been found SEVERAL times already.

Iain had his hair styled just in time for the weekend!

We have food...

...and we have wine.

I would like to say, “and the sun sets over another great reunion”, but I would be lying because this was a sunrise!

Gorge Waterway & HDR

Those of you that know me, might know of my love for HDR photography. I am still experimenting, but thoroughly love the process. Yes…in some cases, the shot is a little “overcooked” but it’s all part of the learning process.

Last month, on our island vacation, I was processing a few shots and noticed Photomatic had an update available. Downloaded and installed and I am very impressed with the presets they now offer. Makes at the very least a good starting point before additional tonemapping. I own Photoshop CS5 and the pundits are of the opinion that the HDR Pro within CS5, does a better job than the Photomatic plugin. This hasn’t been my experience so I have stuck with Photomatic and now with the update to Photomatic Pro 4.0, it’s just so much better.

I didn’t bring along my trusty 24-105 mm this morning. I thought it was on my camera but I had  on my Tamron 17-50 mm 2.8 instead. The 2.8 was nice but I could have used the extra reach of the 24-105 mm.

I have taken many shots of this area and it never ceases to amaze me at just how beautiful it is.

I was so impressed with Photomatic Pro 4.0, that I went back and reprocessed a few shots of my earlier HDR attempts. The improvements were partially due to the new version and maybe my level of expertise is improving?

Run for the Cure 2010

In August, my sister-in-law, Karen Webb passed away from cancer. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years previous and although we thought she had beat it, that proved not to be the case.  Karen maintained contact with a group of ladies from her high school grad class and they got together regularly. The group was affec tionatly know as the “6 from 69″ and one of the things they do, is annual participation in the “Run For The Cure”. This year, with Karen’s passing, her husband Fred, daughter Jodie and Jodie’s boyfriend Kirk, did the run with the “6 from 69″, in Karen’s memory.

These photos are an attempt to capture the day and in a small way, show what goes on at this event.

Firstly…here’s a shot of Karen

This is a photo on a Caring Quilt that was made to aid Karen in her recovery from Breast Cancer. These are the “6 from 69″ on their grad night and the messages they wrote on Karen’s quilt.

Here’s the girls at the 2009 Run for the Cure and the group at this years run.

But best of all…here’s the full 2010 team!

Getting ready...

 

 

 

We finished!!

…and they are off.

 

 

Cool hat!!

September Vacation Part III

My dog walk that morning showed a beautiful view of the beach and Mt. Arrowsmith. 

 

And the weather looked fine so we headed out to see Cathedral Grove. We had stopped there at the start of our vacation but it was pretty wet so we had lunch and headed out. This day however was different. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful walk through this Old Growth Forest, but before we got to Cathedral Grove…the obligatory stop at “Goats on the Roof” in Coombs for the typical tourist snapshot. Hell…we were on vacation so we can play tourist right? 

"Goats on the Roof" at Coombs

 

The start of the walk through Cathedral Grove

 

 

 

 

 

Now it was off to Englishman River Falls…another jewel here on Vancouver Island. I had seen this place along the way and want to photograph the old gas pumps. It turns out the real old ones are in front of Karma Coffee. http://karmacoffee.com/index.php We had thought we could buy a coffee but instead had to buy a bag of beans. Had a great chat with the owner about coffee in general. Haven’t tried the bag as yet but I suspect it will be very good. He turned me onto a coffee press, that’s ideal for camping. It’s all made of plastic and works like a reverse bodum. The best part is that the grounds pop out like a puck for easy disposal. I would have bought one but he was sold out. http://www.aeropress.ca/ 

 

 

Now it was off to Englishman River Falls… (By the way, most of the shots of the falls were HDR) 

The path to Englishman River Falls

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking downstream from the lower falls

September Vacation continued….

After Rock Bay, it was an overnight at Carol and Chris’s and then off to Park Sands in Parksville. It’s one of our favourites as it’s right beside one of the nicest kite flying spots on Vancouver Island. Over the last few years I have not flown so I was determined to bring my kites along for the trip. They have installed a very beautiful boardwalk along the beach so we headed out for a stroll. Just before we left for our walk, I heard this rather haunting bit of music, but was unsure where it was coming from. I thought perhaps one of the big motor coaches here in the park, might have a movie playing too loudly and it was the soundtrack I was hearing. Well when we headed out for our walk, we found a musician playing in the Pavillion, just outside of the park. He played on an electric guitar with a reverb and echo box. The sound was great and I kept thinking how good the music would be for background music for one of my slideshows. I got talking to him and it turns out he has his own rock band but this solo performing is a new direction for him and he hopes to have his music available online shortly. He had a videographer there to record that day, but technical difficulties made for a no go. I was able to snap a few shots of Peter Rainbird and have sent them off to him. 

 

 

 The weather wasn’t the greatest on the first full day in Parksville, so we packed  up the dogs and headed out to see the Little Qualicum Falls. They are located in a Provincial Park, just outside of Parksville, and I am embarrassed to admit never having seen them. Not any more!! Very beautiful and a very nice walk to both the Upper and Lower Falls. All the following shots of the Falls are HDR photos. (High Dynamic Range) They are each three photos merged into a single shot. 

 

 

 

 

After the Falls, it was back on the road, enroute to the local animal refuge. 

 

I know...there should be power lines from the power pole, but they took away from the shot so I had to get rid of them. This shot also...HDR.

 

 

Golden Eagle

 

This bird is not an Albino Raven, but is in fact a White Raven. We have a few of them here on Vancouver Island.

 

 

 

 

  

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