6.27.2010

Kittens

I usually save kitten pictures for sageandginger.blogspot.com, but today I wanted to add a little post here. They are getting so huge. I forgot how fast kittens grow. 







Artichokes French

Shea took me to a really nice restaurant last Thursday, and I had artichokes French, something I'd never tried before. I decided to make my own.

Instead of using a flour coating I am substituting parmesan cheese. I mixed in some pepper, salt, and garlic granules.


Then I prepared an egg bath.

I dipped the artichokes into the egg, and then thoroghally coated them with the cheese mix.

Then I put them in a preheated frying pan on medium with some coconut oil, butter, and vinegar.
 

I fried them until brown, and served.

6.24.2010

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

I got inspired the other night and bought some portabella mushrooms to stuff:
They turned out really yummy.

Recipe:

Some portabella mushrooms
Ground beef
A tomato
A few garlic cloves
Spices
Mozzarella cheese

  • First I put the ground beef in a pan to brown. I cut up the garlic and let it simmer with the ground beef, along with season salt and pepper, and preheated the oven to 350˚
  • Next I cleaned the mushrooms and cut off the stems. I spooned out a hollow in each for the stuffing
  • I cut up a tomato and diced the excess mushroom 
  • I removed the beef from the pan and spooned it into the mushroom caps
  • Then I put the tomato and mushroom into the pan on low heat until they got a little mushy
  • I spooned this mixture on top of the ground beef and sprinkled on some grated fresh mozzarella.
  • I put the mushrooms on a baking pan and put them in the oven for about ten minutes. 
Ta-da! 





Reconsideration

I've been only marginally happy for a long time now. I chalked it up to stress and work, but that wasn't the true cause. I started thinking about what was dragging me down, and I realized I have a big issue to contend with.

When I entered college, I wanted to be a wildlife biologist and work out in the field working with animals. I really had no idea what that actually entailed. I also had no idea that Environmental Science wasn't the same thing. I sat in on an environmental science class before registration, and realized it was not for me at all. I read through course descriptions and talked with friends and decided I wanted to try Brain and Cognitive Science (BCS). I had done a project on music and the brain in my senior year of high school, and it was the most excited I was about anything in that school. My first semester when quite well, but it wasn't great. I had some big conversations with Shea, and I decided that BCS didn't go as in depth into the workings of the brain as I'd have liked, so I switched to Neuroscience. The following two semesters were a struggle. I decided  that I was going to go on to Graduate school and get a Ph.d so I could head my own music and brain research projects. Last semester, I had my best GPA so far, and enjoyed most of my classes. When summer started, I realized I still wasn't happy, and didn't understand why. A few days ago I realized something. I was positively dreading grad school. I didn't want to write papers and do statistics and deal with politics and still feel like I was just waiting for my life to start. I wanted to have a hands-on job. Nothing I had read about the life of a graduate student was appealing to me in the slightest. Shea and I had another talk. I realized that I had mentally set my path in stone. I really felt (and still do to a certain extent) that I had already committed to my decision. The worse part was that this notion had sucked all the excitement for my major away. I felt like I had no passion, and nothing would make me happy. With Shea's help I am starting to see that I can get this degree and not have a plan at all for what I'm going to do with it. Certain ideas interest me, but I don't know yet if they are what I'll end up doing. The idea of teaching high school science appeals to me more than doing my own research. I have a lot of interests and passions. I love clothes and decorating our home. I love cooking meals and playing with our kittens, painting, drawing, music, and singing. And I really do love science. I'm just not sure how to go about incorporating that into my life.

My plan for now is to forget about grad school. If I someday decide that it's what I want, I can go. I'm going to finish up my degree, living my life more fully than I have been before. I'm not going to put it off anymore, with the excuse that I'm still in college and can't really start life yet. All of my other values get to be a part of it again, not just science. Once I graduate, I can decide what to try next, but until then, I'm going to (gasp) work without a future plan set out.

I feel a little uneasy without that plan, but a whole lot happier.

6.13.2010

Cornish Rock Hens

I made up a recipe the other night which turned out delicious.




I coated two cornish hens with salt, pepper, and garlic granuals. Then I melted a half stick of butter and mixed in about two tablespoons of hickory smoke flavor. I coated the hens with about half of this and then put them in the oven, preheated to 350˚, for and hour and thirty minutes. Half way through I coated them with the rest of the butter and smoke flavor mixture. 

6.10.2010

6.08.2010

Jetblue Resolution

Less than a a week ago, Shea and I mentioned via Twitter that we had been having some pretty big issues with our travel plans and the customer service we weren't receiving. I want to say that since that experience, I contacted Jetblue via email with the full details of the treatment we received and they have redeemed themselves. I will detail the entire situation here.


Shea and I were scheduled to fly to Texas through JFK, stay with his family for a few days, fly back to JFK and stay in the city for a few more days, and then fly back to Rochester. 


The morning of our first flight, we received a phone call from Shea's dad, who said our flight to JFK had ben cancelled. We were never notified by Jetblue. However, we were able to get an earlier flight to JFK and join his parents on their flight to Texas. We had a trouble free trip until the morning of our flight home. 


Around 9am on Thursday June 3rd, we received an automated phone call from Jetblue, telling us our flight had been cancelled. Again.  Shea then called customer service to try to figure out why the flight was cancelled, and how we could get home. After being on hold for 20 minutes, a representative told us that it wasn't Jetblue that cancelled the flight, but Air Traffic Control. They would not do anything to help us, and could not get us on any other flights home that night, so Shea asked to talk to a supervisor. He explained our issues, and was told multiple time that they were not responsible for the weather. Shea asked how the decision was made, and the supervsior refused to explain becuase it was too complex. She then stated that Jetblue operations made the decision, not Air Traffic Control, to which  Shea replied "Then someone is lying to me." She answered "If you threaten me, I'll disconnect." She continued to be nasty and condescending, and refused to help us at all even though due to cancellations our trip had been screwed up twice. She disconnected after some more condescending comments saying, "I don't feel like arguing with you." 


Shea called customer service again and asked to speak directly to a different supervisor. This supervisor was wonderful, and apologetic after we explained our issues. She issued us vouchers because of the frustration we had to deal with. She told us that part of the reason for the cancellation was that the fight was not full. Still, she said there was really nothing else she could do to help get us home that night, so she issued us a refund. 


We then had to book a new flight through Delta, which was more money than our original tickets. 


The story does not end here. 


We got to the airport around 7pm and realized that because of a booking error on Side Step, we had actually bought tickets for a flight on June 17, not June 3. We got a refund of that ticket, and went to try to get on that night's flight, but the only seats were $700 a piece. We declined. 


In a bit of a panic, we searched Side Step again for flights into Rochester that night. We couldn't find anything. Then we checked the "Search nearby airports" button. Then there it was, a flight from JFK to Buffalo (about an hour from Rochester)! Why hadn't ANY of the service representatives we'd talked to mentioned this? Tickets were over $100 more than our original tickets to Rochester, but we needed to get home, and our vouchers would cover half of the out-of-pocket expense. We went online at the airport so we could book and use our vouchers, but their website would not let us even search for the flight to book, because it claimed June 3rd was before June 3rd. We knew the flight existed, so we ran into the ticketing line, not having time to call customer service and be put on hold again. When we got to the desk, the agent got our seats, but then informed us that he couldn't use our vouchers either. 


Extremely frustrated, we got through security and to the gate, where I called customer service. The first person I spoke with told me she was sorry that had happened, and she would get a supervisor to run the vouchers for us. I was put on hold again. The supervisor answered, and told me that it was too close to the flight for her to use the vouchers. I explained our entire situation to her, and she said there was absolutely nothing she could do. I asked for a monetary refund to help cover all the extra costs, and she refused saying we were responsible for them since we accepted a refund on the first flight and rebooked. She said we could use the vouchers on a future flight. I asked her why I would ever want to fly with Jetblue again after how we had been treated. I was crying over the phone at the unfairness of the situation and how much money their mistakes had cost us, but she remained unapologetic and repeated the same thing about it being our problem over and over again. I gave the phone to Shea. He tried to get answers, and she eventually hung up on him. 


That's the situation. Here is the solution. 


I sent Jetblue and email, detailing all of this. Here is the final paragraph:


"It is not our fault that YOUR website malfunctioned. It is not our fault that YOUR service agents omitted the existence of the Buffalo flight. It is not our fault that YOU canceled the original flight, and lied to us about the reason. It is not our fault that YOUR airport representatives could not use our vouchers. Yet YOUR mistakes
have cost us over $200 that we can barely afford. The last supervisor informed me that the vouchers would still be good for a future flight. Why would I EVER want to subject myself to this horrible experience again? I can't trust JetBlue to get me home or to treat me fairly and respectfully. I happen to live in Rochester, and if flights are canceled this frequently to and from Rochester, what I am to do when we book MONTHS in advance to get a lower price, and then because of the incompetency of your employees have to pay hundreds more!
What I think should have been done:
Jetblue should have immediately booked us on the Buffalo flight without charging us extra during our
very first call.
Jetblue should have been honest with us regarding the reason for the cancellation.
Jetblue should have been able to use our vouchers, or compensate us for them. I would have been happier if you had taken back the vouchers and given us their value in a refund credit to help pay for the new flight. What I think would be the most fair, given all these mistakes, would be to credit us to the credit card used the difference in value between the refund we received and the tickets we were forced to buy. If you had rebooked us on this flight, we would have paid the exact same price for those tickets. Because you made an error, we had to pay you 200 more for the tickets. For all I care you can take back the vouchers to do this. It would be no extra cost to you to do what you should have done in the first place, and would start to repair the damage you have done. I
used to think customer service mattered to Jetblue. Now I am feeling taken advantage of.  I truly hope if you value your customers you will do something to make amends here."



Today at work I received a phone call from a very very apologetic Jetblue employee. She felt very bad when I told her I couldn't talk because I was at work, and asked if she could call back tonight. She said she wanted to apologize and take care of some stuff. 


She called around 8. I was not expecting what came next. She offered her most sincere apologies, and stated that she was appalled at what had happened to us. She was genuinely angry and disappointed at the lack of service we had received. They had actually listened to the recorded conversation between Shea and the first supervisor, and were appalled by her behavior. They are conducting a review with her and meeting with her supervisors, on top of an internal review regarding the entire issue. She immediately offered me a huge compensation. I won't state here exactly how we were compensated, but I will say that it more than covered our out of pocket expense, plus more vouchers to thank us for our patience and understanding. Yes, Jetblue screwed up, but the phone call and sincere apology was the most personal and best customer service I have ever received. She then sent a follow-up email, and told me to respond to it if I EVER have any issues with Jetblue again. She really worked to right what had been done wrong. I only wish that all Jetblue's representatives were so helpful. I will definitely be flying JetBlue again. 

Where I Grew Up

It's nothing special, but it was home for 20 years. It feels weird to call it "My Parents' House." Shea and I visited for an impromptu cookout.
My window used to be the top right.



The shed my dad built



My dad's method of hot dog roasting involves a chainsaw.





6.07.2010

Dinner

Got on the ball and made dinner tonight. Sous vide pork shoulder and stir-fried asparagus: