Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sing Off

I just finished watching "The Sing Off" on-line.  I forgot it was actually on TV tonight.  This show was a competition between several a capella groups. For anyone who doesn't know, a capella is singing without benefit of instrumental accompaniment. It all vocal.  There were several groups competing tonight, and a capella singers can really be quite awesome.  For those under 30, you might (won't) remember the "street corner" singers of the 60s with their great harmonies similar to, but not quite "barber shop" quartets.  Guys would just hang out on street corners and harmonize to sing the pop songs of the day.  I just love good music--and that even includes Barber Shop Quartets.

I heard a lot of good music tonight with some awesome harmonies going on.  Some groups sounded far more professional than others, but they all had a good sound.  The individual singers, I think, each did very well.  There was only one group I didn't care for, and that was Urban Legend, I think was their name.  I don't care for rap.  And I didn't care for the very negative sounding message of the song they chose to present.  It sounded way too masochistic for me. 

Other than that, I really thought they were all good.  I think some of the female singers on stage needed to dress more modestly than a few of the gals that performed tonight did, but I tend to be more modest and comfortable with other people who dress modestly.  (Yes.  I prefer men to dress modestly, as well.)  I don't remember the names of most of the groups, I'm sorry to say, but I did like the Yellow Jackets.  I think they might have been the largest group that sang this evening.

However, they saved the best group for last.  Vocal Point just rocked!  They are so energetic and good.  And they received a standing ovation.  I'm a little prejudiced, I suppose.  I have seen Vocal Point (some years ago) perform in person.  My oldest daughter used to work with Vocal Point while she attended BYU.  She was in a school club that promoted them and handled a myriad of other support tasks pertaining to their performances.   Vocal Point always puts on a GREAT show!

Of course, the nine members of the group are constantly changing as they complete their college work and so forth, but they're always a great singing/performing group.  If you get the chance, you should watch "The Sing Off" competition sometime.  You can also find Vocal Point (and I'll bet a lot of other a capella groups) on YouTube if you're interested.

Like I said, I love good music!  Now if I could just sing . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Love Affair

Well, I tried two new-to-me yogurts today.  a) Dannon's Oikos brand peach at the bottom Greek flavor and b) Chobani raspberry.

  •  I read several raving reviews about this brand.
  • First bite was okay.  Tangy, with only a hint of the peach bits and jam-like flavor at the bottom.
  • After mixing, the sweetness was overwhelming and the over-all taste was not at all what I seek in a yogurt.  
  • It was very distasteful to me.  
  • I won't buy any more.
Chobani--don't remember reading up on this brand prior to the "taste" offered me at Sam's Club
  • First bite good.  Actually a little similar to the Oikos.  (I was, however, expecting the "strawberry flavor" the sample hostess mentioned that it was supposed to be.  It was definitely raspberry.)
  • It was far less gaggingly sweet and far more enjoyable than the Oikos brand.
There is no love affair with either brand I tasted today, though I would try the Chobani stuff again.  Except for the fact that I love the "The Greek Gods Greek Yogurt" hands down over all other brands sampled to date.

I know everyone of the three or five wonderful folks that find their way to my blog have been waiting with baited breath for this update in the Yogurt World of Taste. *note heavy sarcasm in voice*

Please, feel free to share a little about your own favorites, if you have any.  This is NOT a contest.  And you don't have to be having a love affair with any particular type/brand of yogurt.  Or food. Like I do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ready to Scream

This post was drafted almost a year ago.  I had to calm down--obviously--before posting it.  After reading it again a day or two ago, I realized that the entity whose name I'd included could be switched with some other "vendors' names."  I chose to delete it that you might insert your own favorite/anti-favorite provider's name.  I think the problem is rather (unfortunately) somewhat universal.

This is how that original post began:

I'm counting to ten, for the tenth time and I'm still about to boil over.  Can I just say that I loath contacting *** insert name for your anti-favorite huge conglomerate phone or other provider of services customer service phone number** * for ANY reason?  It is the worst merry-go-round/house of horrors.  Repeatedly.  I've made four or five calls already today by 8:30 am.  Spent over 1 hour on-line trying to find my billing statement and/or talking to their agents seeking help for the same.

First call: couldn't tell me where I could find my bill on-line, even though I'd already logged in, been "greeted" and still couldn't get to the "right place" to see my bill.  (And this was all after receiving four, (count them, 4) copies of the same bill email with a freaking link to click on to see my bill!)  The problem was . . . the link only took one to the billing site for ***see the above***  mobile customers.  Which I am not, nor ever plan to be!!!  (I think I posted something about that a year or three ago.  Don't remember, but I'll check on it.)  The rep sent my call to "someone who can help you with that".  Uh-huh.  NOT.

Second call:  the one I was transferred to:  the answer to all their queries:  Nada.  Didn't apply.

Third call:  Lovely young sounding voice, asked up front, "How can I help you feel like a valued ***see above*** customer today?"  My cranky response was, "Sounds like a really tall order, to me."  She asked a few more questions about my "problem" and so I began to civilly (I honestly tried my best) explain my frustrations.  After a bit, I noticed there was dead air coming through my receiver.  Let me tell you, that made me feel ESPECIALLY valued by ***you-know-who***!!!!!!!!!  Can you feel it, too?

Fourth call:  Got a Southern gentleman who actually got down to business and tried to help find the reasons my bill was 40 some dollars more than last month.  (Yes, I know I called Germany--to visit with my brother.  And yes, I know that call cost me $6.66.) That does not a $40 increase make.  Then he located some charges connected with a modem I'd had replaced in late October.  (When I called Tech Support about the dead/dying modem there was not the teeniest mention of charges.  I assumed it was still under warranty.  I should have asked, I know, but I stupidly trust people to tell me that they're going to charge me for something if there's a charge attached, and how much that charge will be.  Again.  Nada.  [I LOVE those people.])  He said he tried to give me credit for the charges, but because they came from Tech Support, THEY would have to cancel/credit my account for the "undisclosed charges" to my account.

Fifth call:  Tech Support person:  Sorry ma'am.  We have nothing to do with billing.  We can't change anything.  You have to speak with the billing department.  I just spoke with billing and they said YOUR department had to take care of it because YOUR department charged my account.  I'm sorry, Miss ___,  I can transfer you to billing and you can talk with them.  I think I just mentioned that they're the ones I've been talking with and they said YOUR department would have to reverse the charges, or whatever, since your department is the one that billed me in the first place--without telling me you were doing so.  Miss ___, we can't do anything about billing.  You'll have to talk with them.  Would you like me to transfer you?  I can't see what good that will do.  I've been on the phone with ***___*** people all morning.  I have other things I need/have to do.  I can't stand the merry-go-round ***___*** has working against its customers.  They treat customer service as a joke and send customers in circles until they run out of time/tenacity and hope they'll just give up.  I know YOU personally are not the problem, but it frustrates me to no end.  But, you have a Merry Christmas.  I did mean it.  Sincerely.

I don't have time.  I need to get dressed and go clean the Church.  In thirty minutes.  I'll post this later.  After I've cooled down and edited it.  Pray for me.  It IS Christmas time after all.

Well, it was Christmas time.  And I have been paying for that modem a little each month.  Now, if only the equipment will continue to work past the final payment . . .

Do you ever wonder where the old work ethic vanished?  Where choice and accountability disappeared?  Where smoke and mirrors kind of operations were normally referred to as "snake oil" deals?  We've slipped onto a treacherous down-slide into "no-fault" stickers on everything.  Integrity is still out there, but not so many people seem to have an honest (yeah, pun) "integrity" sticker on them these days.  So many people seem to be "working the system" for personal gain never thinking of the havoc they are creating for everyone/anyone else.  So, I commend everyone who strives for honesty and integrity above all.  Humility goes a long way, too.  And I need to work on that one, for sure.  Thanks for letting me vent.  There are still good people everywhere, I know.  I just want to find them more frequently.  And continue to strive to be one of them myself.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Just May Be Addicted

I'm not in the habit of advertising but I have become somewhat addicted to something edible, delicious and good for you.  One of my daughters had mentioned that Greek Yogurt was superior in taste, etc., to the normal yogurts on the shelves at the grocery stores.  I might have had a taste of one she was eating and thought, yeah, that's pretty good, and then shrugged and gone on.

Last week, however, I needed to find yogurt that included more of the probiotics for good gut health and I went looking.  I found a large variety including Yoplait brand, which I've been eating and enjoying for years, and Activia and others.  (Both those brands are good.)  I have liked yogurt since I was introduced to it over 40 years ago by a guy from the mid-east.  And that was just the plain-jane variety without any added flavor.

As I continued scouring the shelves for something different, I found just a few cups of "The Greek Gods Greek Yogurt" on the shelf.  I remembered watching a commercial or two for that brand recently on TV, so I thought, why not try it?  I picked up a couple of Pomegranate flavor, and a couple of Honey flavor the first day.  I tried the Pomegranate.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!  I was so overwhelmed, melted and madly in love I can't begin to tell you!  It was thick.  It was rich. The flavor was subtle.  It was a little more acidic than I was used to.  It was in a word:  delicious!  I was smitten.  I fell in love! I want to eat it all the time. But, I did share it with my husband . . . because I loved him first.  He really likes it, too.  I doubt he'd say he was smitten, overwhelmed, melted or madly in love with any particular yogurt, but he does really like it. 

I've bought several more cups of the pomegranate, honey and vanilla-cinnamon-orange flavors and the large family size of the honey-strawberry.  They are all good.  Pomegranate is the favorite flavor of the three my husband has tried. This morning I tried the vanilla with cinnamon and orange.  I don't think I've purchased any of the plain, but I will.  I assure you, I will!

The only drawback . . . if there is one . . . it costs more than twice as much as our regular brand.  However, I will still purchase, eat and enjoy it whenever I can.  For good gut health.  If nothing else.  *smile*  Yes.  Totally for good gut health.  *nods head in affirmation*  Absolutely for good gut health.  and TASTE.  Yum.  Who knew good gut healthy food could also be so delicioso?  Mmmmmm.  Mmmmeeee.  That's who!  Now.

So, if (when) they (The Greek Gods Greek Yogurt folks) EVER come up with a mango lasse (or lassi) flavor I might just die and go to heaven!!!  For those of you who have not been initiated, a mango lasse is a yogurt based drink.  It's thick, orange, sweet and habit forming.  It's made with yogurt, mashed mangos and some sugar, I think.  It is habit forming--in case I  haven't already mentioned that.  I had my first taste seven or eight years ago, it was okay, but this past May at a little Indian restaurant in Provo, Utah, I had my second and third cups of the wonderful, refreshing, addictive stuff.  It was to die for, too.  Who knew that yogurt could be so heavenly?  Well, I do. Now.  Aaaaaahhhhhhh! *smile*

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Amazing Friend

I have an incredible friend.  Her name is Susan.  I’ve known her for about 26 years.  This woman is a few years older than I, not that you’d know it by looking at her or all that she does.  She puts me to shame! Big time!

I don’t know how to explain what I mean any better than by listing what I know of some of her accomplishments/daily activities.  Please bear with me.

            She is and does the following:

  • wife of 48 years to the same husband
  • a mother of 1 daughter and 4 sons—who all, but the youngest, live far from here
  • a grandmother of 14 grandchildren
  • owns her own business (jointly with her husband) which employs at least 10 employees
  • is indispensable to her husband’s fireworks business which provides employment for many, many others in a broad geographical area
  • is thoughtful, kind and generous
  • donates her time to the small community where she was born and raised as their Mayor of 18 years
  • cooks a hot mid-day meal for her employees each of the 6 days/week her business is open—before coming to work
  • donates her time/talents to Church service (we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a lay ministry, and are not paid for services rendered)
    • as the organist—for about 25 years now
    • pianist for the choir and anything at other times she’s asked—I don’t know how many years
    • recently taught a lesson in Relief Society (the women’s organization) at least once each month
    • has presided as the President or a Counselor of our Ward’s (congregation) Relief Society
    • has presided as the President or a Counselor of our Ward’s Primary (the children’s organization)
    • has served as the Ward and Stake choir director
    • has served as the Stake (similar to a Catholic diocese) Music Chairman—which oversees the various Wards and Branches (units or congregations organized within the Stake)
    • supported her husband’s various callings as Bishop, Stake President’s Counselor, Bishop’s Counselor and a host of other callings he’s had throughout their marriage—which means she’s had to do without his help with their small children during Church meetings for most of their marriage
    • has encouraged me through all my callings, particularly in the music area—‘cause I don’t have her talent/training!
  • cared for her mother for many years when her health required daily assistance (her Mom was 98, I think, when she died)
  • visits one of her older siblings (who is about 15 years her senior) in the nursing home each day—7 days a week, in the community I live in
  • ALWAYS went to each band event EACH AND EVERY one of her children participated in throughout their public school and college years—no matter how far they traveled!
  • has a great sense of humor
  • is not above perpetrating practical jokes on people she knows well
  • keeps a large home (it’s large to accommodate her children/grandchildren when they come to visit) neat and clean—always!
  • keeps up her yard—along with her husband
  • has opened her home to her sisters-in-law and other family members who were displaced for a while following Hurricane Rita, back in 2005—the one people didn’t hear so much about because of all the press on Katrina hitting New Orleans, but was just as devastating—and one of those sisters-in-law lived with her for about a year when her health required daily help
  • Does without sleep most of the time—I’m convinced!!!
  • Her sister-in-law described her like this:  “Susan is the most well organized, disciplined person I know. And she’s tireless.”

As much as she has a great sense of humor, she is also very much a no-nonsense person when it comes to matters that require seriousness—adhering to the laws of God and man.

Susan scared me to death when I first came to live and attend Church here.  Her husband was the Bishop at the time.  I mostly saw the no-nonsense side of her—at first.  I knew she loved children and working with them.  Still she wouldn’t tolerate them being irreverent during time for serious lessons, but she’d play with them during music time with fun songs.

I am from a different background than she.  She, as I mentioned above, is still living in the same community she was born and raised in—right next door to her parent’s home.  She does not like to travel, though her business requires it once or twice a year.  I was born 1500 miles from here and raised all over, and I love to travel.  She hates to speak in public—to a group—like even in Church—where she knows everyone and has known them for most of her/their lives.  I don’t mind at all.  (I know.  Something’s wrong with me!)  She is not comfortable teaching in Relief Society, etc.  (She’s a VERY GOOD teacher who spends a lot of prep time on each lesson.)  I, on the other hand, LOVE to teach in Church.

Susan did something back in November 1994 that touched me deeply and taught me what a good, thoughtful, kind, “in-tune” person she is.  My father had just died.  Our oldest child was in Utah going to school there as a brand new college freshman.  We were leaving shortly—driving our three younger children to Utah.  In wintery weather.  (My husband is a native Louisiana boy—hates driving in winter weather—period.)  So, that afternoon as we were madly packing for a road trip to Utah in the winter, Susan came to the front door and said, “I’m not too late, am I?”

Then she went back to her car and proceeded to gather up bags and bags of goodies for us to snack on during the 2 1/2  day drive.  I was in shock.  I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.  I thanked her.  And she said, “It’s not much.  I wasn’t sure what your family liked.  I hope something in there will be something you’ll like.”  (We were leaving soon and I hadn’t yet gotten anything to take with us to snack on and didn’t know if I’d even have time.)  And then she was gone.

Even more impressive to me was this:  Every treat she brought was something particularly enjoyed by one or all of us.  I don’t now remember any more about the specifics of the contents of those bags—there were so many bags of goodies!  (I think we ate those goodies for weeks, even after we got back home!)  But I came to understand that Susan, in that instance had prayed for guidance to get snacks we’d like—and she’d received guidance from a loving Heavenly Father to bless a family that had no clue she was so aware of us in our time of need.

I’ve come to know that Susan prays a lot about a lot of things.  She cares about a lot of people and has a great love of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  She’s dedicated to living as He taught/teaches us to live.  I believe that’s what gives her the strength to do all that she does, provides her with the continued faith to persevere through the many trials and tribulations she faces day in and day out.

You might think Susan is a fictional character.  I assure you, she is not. There may be hundreds of women like her in the world, but she’s the only one like her that I know.

I love this sister, this woman of great faith and good works.  She’s one of my greatest heroes.   (Or is that heroines?)  I’d like to be more like her.  I need to be more like her.

Share with me what you know of people like Susan, or at least, who your heroes/heroines are and why.