Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Though Beatrix even went trick-or-treating as a baby (she was a banana, it was adorable), this is the first year that she has really gotten into it. And there was certainly a lot to get in to:

- 2 parties with her daycare
- the annual pumpkin carving at Roering Auto Body — at her request, I carved a cat
- Boo Bash on Grand Avenue with Harry and Kelsey last weekend
- Trick-or-Treating at Kowalski's on Tuesday — it was great, they gave you a bag as you walked in, and then there were different stations et up throughout the store with chips, apples, candy, etc.
- music class in costume at MacPhail
- Trick-or-Treating in Highland yesterday; I have to say this was better than Boo Bash, with a lot more places participating and a variety of things, from candy to wooden train cars to stickers

After all that I thought that tonight's REAL Trick-or-Treating might be anticlimactic, but she had a blast going around our block and getting candy. I love our neighborhood, and she was thrilled to see everyone.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Give to the Max Day

I'm volunteering with the group that is planning this and it should be a great event! Here's a request for volunteers from their volunteer coordinator:

Are you interested in maximizing your time and volunteer effort for hundreds of great causes all at once? Then get involved with GiveMN's "Give to the Max Day 2010" on Tuesday, November 16th from 8 a.m. to midnight!

Last year, more than 38,000 donors raised $14 million for 3,434 nonprofit organizations throughout Minnesota in just one day! These organizations provide critical services for our state, including feeding our hungry, sheltering our homeless, assisting our elderly, nurturing our youth, improving our welfare, maintaining our heritage, and protecting our environment.

This year GiveMN has teamed up with The UpTake to promote nonprofit and individual giving LIVE online! Representatives from more than 80 organizations from all over the state will educate viewers about their nonprofit mission and encourage Minnesotans to give to their favorite causes through an all-day, live-stream event.

This year’s LIVE Internet broadcast is critical to the success of Give to the Max Day. But, it’s also an extremely large undertaking. That’s why we need your help!

Volunteers are needed to:
--greet and register the nonprofits as they arrive for their online appearance;
--staff the hospitality area and assist with food and beverage needs;
--help prepare nonprofit representatives to appear live on camera;
--run any last minute errands that may come up during the day;
--help set up the day before and take down the day after the event.

We are looking for 60+ volunteers for 3-5 hour time slots starting at 7:30 a.m. until just after midnight. Volunteers are the key to any successful charity event, so please consider lending a hand!

For more information about how you can get involved contact Carin Skoog at or 612-619-7385. Please leave a message with your name and contact information and we'll get back with you shortly!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Spirit of Halloween

Uh-huh, Halloween already this weekend (as Beatrix has reminded us several times).

If you are looking for something different to do, I highly recommend A SPIRIT OF HALLOWEEN by Theater of Fools. The company is a "Vaudeville for the 21st Century" group that I have been working with, and this piece, written by co-founder Lloyd Brant, is deliciously spooky. He originally conceived the piece as an opening act for a concert tour by The Doors, and the one-man show, based on a shaman-clown that resurrects Jim Morrison's spirit, is spookily quirky. Go to their website for tickets, and if you select the promotional rate because I told you to you can get a 25% groupon-like discount.

But hurry, it only runs this weekend, Thursday through Sunday at the Jewel Theater (above Twin Cities Magic, 250 E. 7th Street in Saint Paul.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Holy Grail of Customer Service

Customer service is my bugaboo. As someone who goes out a lot and spends perhaps too much of my income on consumables (or at least so says my financial planner), I am incredibly aware of how I am treated, and make my decisions accordingly. I'm also not shy about letting people know (as those on my Twitter feed can attest).

Case in point: Punch Pizza, for whom my love is well-documented. I made an offhand tweet recently about how the service had been a little off but how G.D. good the pizza was, so I forgave it. Soon after got a tweet asking what happened, and an exchange of information about what I was disappointed in, how it could have been better, and a gift certificate in the mail (against my protestations, since it really was not a big deal.) Well done, and if I wasn't already a customer for life, I would be now.

A similar situation happened over the summer with Pizza Luce, including an email exchange. And then, radio silence. Not even a "Hope you'll give us another chance!" Won't be brunching there soon. And Heidi's? After a horrible experience there a few years back, and them swearing (after Patrick called them about it) they would look into it and then never calling back — well, I don't care if the new location is giving away truffle risotto and a 1932 Bordeaux, I'm not going.

Same with service industries. my roofing company (Springer Exteriors, for those keeping track) has been amazing at helping us deal with recent hail damage, even though it did not affect the roof at all. They've made 3 trips out here to help with work they didn't even do. The Sears Appliance Outlet responded to a frustrated tweet I made a while back and solved the situation with grace and humor. I have to say that, though I love my Select Comfort bed, their customer service has been abhorrent; jy side of the bed leaks so badly I wake up in a deflated section with pinched nerves and all they can do is tell me it will cost $100 to fix it. Or I could just buy a new bed...

I guess what I am saying is that I have a lot of things I look for in a shopping experience. I prefer to buy locally if possible, and I like establishing a relationship with the business. But top on the list is customer service, and it's pretty much the make-or-break of how I spend my money. And I'm not shy about talking about it.

What about you? What are your top (or worst) experiences?