Thursday, September 30, 2010

A visit from my granddog

Charlie and Melea came to visit last weekend and brought Cardosa, the puppy they are raising for Canine Companions for Independence® (CCI). What a delightful dog! He patiently waited out the hysterics of Sugar, my Italian Greyhound, and within five minutes, they were friends. Even Miss Kitty was not dreadfully offended. He met several of the neighbors during a walk, and they were likewise charmed with his poise and demeanor - this is a real sweetie pie!

CCI provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities. Cardosa will remain with Charlie and Melea until he is 18 months old, going to obedience class, getting socialized, etc. Then he'll go to CCI "college" with his perment master.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

15th Annual Sea-Bean Symposium

Mark your calendars for October 22 and 23 - the 15th annual sea-bean symposium. For those of you new to this blog, you may well ask, what is a sea-bean? As we explain in our Florida Beach Basics DVD, sea-beans are nuts and seeds from trees and vines that grow along water that flows into the ocean. These nuts and seeds fall into the water and reach the ocean currents, where they can float for several years before washing ashore, hopefully on our beaches. (Photo of a coral bean in pod by Jim Angy.)

Brevard County beaches are prime spots for finding sea beans, particularly when we've had a lot of wave action - which we have had and are expecting to have this weekend.

The Symposium is held at the Cocoa Beach Library and features exhibits. speakers, and a bean-a-thon. Every year, it attracts more attendees, and it's always standing room only for the speakers.

Over the next few weeks leading up to the event, I'll post more information about the speakers and events, but I wanted to get on your calendars with this.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The NFL Kicks Off - In Iraq and Afghanistan

(This is a reprint of last year's post about the first NFL game of the season. We weren't in Afghanistan then. Once again, I'll think of our warfighters as I watch the game, and hope that they are safely gathered around their TV sets watching it too.)

Tonight, finally, the NFL kicks off its season. The first game of the season brings memories of 2003, the year the Iraq war started in earnest. I was working for Harris Corporation, a major defense communications equipment manufacturer. In April of that year, a friend on the manufacturing floor called one day and said it was time we did something to support the troops and I should organize something. So after we put up some posters and had a few meetings, we packed about 60 shoeboxes and sent them to a contact in Iraq. Bear in mind, this was just a couple of months after everything over there started, so the infrastructure for our warfighters was pretty slim. The response from the troops that received our shoeboxes was heartwarming, so we did a 4th of July mailing and pretty much adopted a Signal Battalion in Camp Adder and a Signal Brigade in Mosul. By this time, we were getting some fairly regular correspondence, and it became apparent that a lot of the soldiers really missed their sporting events, so we started planning for the start of football season. We shipped over 350 pounds of chips, peanuts, salsa, nacho cheese sauce, door prizes, disposables, and instructions (for example: Put cheese in disposable pan, cover with plastic wrap, and set on top of humvee hood to heat). The party took place September 7, when the troops watched the first NFL games, with a delay of about 8 hours because of time differences.

Door prizes (the football team cheerleader posters were a big hit!)

Local businesses supported the effort whole-heartedly. Texas Roadhouse donated 100 pounds of peanuts in the shell. Publix kicked in 64 pounds of salsa. Sodexho provided chips for 350, enough jalapeno slices for an entire Army, and disposables. Carroll Distributing provided customized 3 ft x 6 ft Budweiser banners. The Tampa Bay Bucs, Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars each sent posters and team memorabilia. Harris provided 10-ft long banners for each location proclaiming “The NFL Kicks Off In Iraq”, and Harris employees brought in football magazines. Cash donations filled in the holes – nacho cheese sauce, four footballs, ESPN stadium music, and tickets for door prizes. And Harris picked up the shipping costs, which made everything possible.

These soldiers were two of the party committee that set everything up - including spelling out NFL with cups of peanuts. So young, so lovely, so handsome.

The parties were a huge success. We got reports that a great time was had by all – lots of cheering and lots of eating - and that the troops were genuinely delighted that people they don’t know would throw them a party. The goal was to give troops a touch of home, and in the Battalion CSM's words, “Mission Accomplished”! The Brigade in Mosul reported a “blowout” party, even though the satellite card for their TV did not arrive, so they had no football.

We continued our support with Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day parties, with a final banner welcoming the troops home. It's hard to believe that seven years have passed.

So tomorrow I'll get back to talking about beach things, but tonight I'm going to watch football and think of our warfighters around the world and hope they are getting a chance to watch it too. HOO-AH!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I treasure good customer service

A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed some dreadful customer service (with my "hair on fire", I tracked down a manager and told him exactly how poor it was) and experienced some excellent customer service (spent a considerable amount of time writing a commendation letter to Verizon). Decided there had to be a better way, so I whipped up these little cards. They are the size of business cards, and you can write the person's name in the blank spot on the back and sign your name (or not). I don't give them out for an expected level of service, so I've only handed out four cards thus far. (I ordered a thousand because of the price break. May take a while to distribute that many. If you want some, let me know.) The smiles on the faces of the recipients of the four cards made the whole thing worth it. When I hand somebody a card, I suggest they give it to their supervisor to put in their personnel folder.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surf's up, Dude!

By tomorrow, Hurricane Earl will be about 350 miles off our coast as he chugs towards North Carolina's Outer Banks as a Category 3 or 4. That's bringing huge waves and fierce rip currents to Brevard's beaches. Margie, our intrepid Cocoa Beach patrol person, sent the above picture and reports that large flotsam is coming in - one of her pix showed big wooden pallets that she'd collected from the beach. Estimates are for 13 foot waves tomorrow. This past weekend, lifeguards were kept busy rescuing folks caught in the rip tides - one person drowned. We'll hope more common sense is applied this coming weekend.