Sidetracked – shit happens

To all those I have not communicated much with since Spring 2012.. I offer you this..

Funny how life has a way of sidetracking humans. Call it an aggregation of deep interest in a singular … object … focus … … coupled with a crescendo of stress emanating from past baggage to a specific event. I know, that’s convoluted and doesn’t make sense – but I need to keep it private.

Suffice to say that, as always, I gave these two areas my best shot. And while doing so, other areas of life’s interests became dormant.

I wrote this years ago, and it applies today.

Spring 2012 Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results — Alan Ernst

Spring 2012 Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results — Alan Ernst

Seed Fire

Content
I grew / in season

Resting pine leaves
in strong boughs

Buffeting storms
Ice, wind, rain, snow

Warm summers
Forest scents my own

A heavy heat
Impending

Crescendo explosions / mountain rages

Single snap
Falling

Intense heat
And my self uncurling

Crackling fast
And done, gone

My body, soul
bared open and none

No choosing
No trying / just be

Life transitions
Old none / new seeds begun

Unplugged

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Yesterday I received a big treat – a thoroughly enjoyable treat. Six miles on trail in western Maine (elevation gain of ~3000), ending with a (chilly) swimming hole and mid-afternoon Indian lamb curry in Brunswick’s central park.

Totally unplugged for nearly a day. 

It’s been over three years since putting foot in the woods. I didn’t miss social media and tech one bit. And I slept like a baby that night.

Chasing Frogs at Summer Camp #PRSCamp

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Are there even frogs in Dallas?

Reading Jonathan Brewer’s blogpost today on why YOU should head to Summer Brand Camp in Dallas this June inspired me to share why I think – if you don’t head down – you’re missing out on the top (un)Conference of the year.

Frankly, I missed Summer Camp last year. I went to Camp in 2010 and was hooked. I’ve regretted all year that life events prevented me from going in 2011. I watched the 2011 social content with desire and envy, especially since I had sweet-talked the likes of Libby Tucker into going.

Here’s my primary reason why I suggest you should go. The relationships you make at Summer Brand Camp will empower, enrichen, transform and challenge your life. Here’s my short list of amazing people I met two years ago that do just that:

Amanda Hite (@sexythinker), Joni Doolin (@luckypenny), Brianna Nadal (@BrieNadal), Kat Cole (@KatColeATL), Ty Sullivan (@Ty_Sullivan), Sarah Atkinson (@FohBohGal), Jessica Hatcher (@jessicahatcher), Jill McFarland (@Jill_McFarland), Mike VanDervort (@MikeVanDervort), Scott Rosenburg (@YellowDog_02), David Rose (@YellowDog_01), Melissa Papaleo (@mrpapaleo), Avery Block (@appreci8), Nate St. Pierre (@natestpierre) and many many others.

This year, I am humbled to be part of Summer Brand Camp as a Camp Counselor (no short sheet pranks!). We’ve already been denied by the hotel on having canoe races in the pool – but that doesn’t mean we can’t sneak inner tubes in.

Besides making great relationships – you’re going to learn from some of the best brand pros in any industry. You already know that the best conversations at conferences happen on the sidelines – think of Summer Brand Camp as a continual sideline chat for three days!

See ya there!

 

When Should A Company Fire “Brand Loyalist Customers”? #custserv

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I’ve been fired as a customer of T-Mobile.

Well, this needs expounding. T-Mobile does not want my business with one phone line. They do not want my business on one cell account – apparently, I made the Extended Roamer List. T-Mobile offered a plan, that I subscribed too, that allowed free roaming.

I’ve enjoyed being a customer of T-Mobile. They had good coverage and their customer service was always good. Until now.

So my question is, at what point should a company fire a customer? Here’s how I figure things could have gone. If I was becoming too costly as a customer, why not give me a ring or send me a letter/email, saying so? T-Mobile, you could have contacted me with this:

Dear Mr. Kingman:

Your cell use of our system has recently incurred other network charges for roaming in excess of our threshold on this plan. We’d like to present two options:

Option 1 – you can remain a T-Mobile customer by paying $XX to cover the increased costs we’ve incurred due to your roaming over the past sixty days.

Option 2 – we can discontinue our relationship and allow you to take your number and exit the agreement without penalties.

Instead, I got a letter from T-Mobile that they were firing me. No recourse available. I called – they said there was no option to remain a customer. I argued – they said there was no option to remain a customer. They gave me an email to an ombudsman – it bounced.

When companies talk the talk of wanting to build a lifetime relationship, and then don’t walk the talk, in my humble opinion – that’s bad policy. I’m trying to understand this, T-Mobile, and so far, none of your Customer Service Reps, even those in the Extended Roamer “No Fly” List Department, have been able to explain the rationale.

In any event, AT&T just got a new relationship. And, their coverage includes my home.

A T-Mobile @tmobile “Extreme Roamer” “No-Fly List” – How do I get off this, #custserv?

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Frankly, I’m pissed.

After spending a half hour being told by the Extreme Roamer Department at T-Mobile that I will not be able to remove myself from a list they have – where they will discontinue providing service to me in mid-November, he gave me an email. I wrote what I thought was a nice letter, stating how I believe I do not belong on the T-Mobile “Extreme Roamer” No-Fly list and emailed it. Guess what? That email address is unknown. It figures.

Here is the content of the letter I wrote to T-Mobile. I’d like opinions from the #CustServ community about this experience, if you don’t mind.

Dear T-Mobile:

Yesterday I received at my Oregon mailing address a letter stating that my cell number (503) XXX-XXXX had been placed for disconnection and no more service by TMobile. I called Customer Service several times and just now got off the phone with the Extreme Roamer department. They state the decision is final.

FACTS

1. I have been very satisfied as a T Mobile customer for ~ 18 months. In all respects.

2. I had to relocate to Portland Maine this summer. Consequent, I spent five weeks in August in central NH as I looked for residence in Portland Maine. I was apparently on the Cellular One towers during this time. I also spent a week near Lewiston/Auburn Maine in Sept, where apparently I was not on a TMobile network. My residence since last week is in your network.

3. Over the last 18 months, 16.5 months of my usage has been on TMobile networks. The Extreme Roamer CSR told me that your engineers did a system wide scan for ERs and that tests were of random lengths, from two weeks to a month, over the past five months.

4. I was never contacted by TMobile to inquire of why I was not on your network during those five weeks.

As a business professional, this policy does not make sense, from both fiscal and customer loyalty perspectives. Wouldn’t it be a better initiative to contact those about to be placed on the Extreme Roamer “No Fly List” prior to making a final decision with no recourse, to save happy customers?

Here is what I wish for.. to remain a brand loyalist and happy TMobile customer with this number. Please contact me immediately so we can find a solution together.

Best,

Jeffrey Kingman

Crack (I’m Jeff and I’m ….)

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There’s massive changes underway heading into the Fourth Quarter Q4 of 2011 in social business and social networking. Facebook is making sweeping changes to it’s platform and that means a lot of new features for the masses to absorb.

There’s a ton of dialogue going on right now about what this means for society. Have we truly lost privacy?

That’s not the focus of this post though. I’ve been intrigued by digital ethnography the past couple years – the study of human behavior in social business, specifically. We’ve changed as a specie. Tech has brought this change upon us and it is moving fast.

I wonder if there is a terminal velocity to this change, or, as the CERN researchers last week revealed in their possible discovery that matter can move faster than light, if there is no terminal change velocity in how tech will change human behavior?

It all fascinates me. As a fine dining chef, I was conditioned to plying craft fourteen, sometimes eighteen hours a day. That conditioning is quite useful now, because ~ ~

I’m Jeff, and I’m addicted to social business.

Smoked Prime Rib – Secret Recipe

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In Fall 1995 I followed a gorgeous fiance, Anna, to Boston. While our relationship didn’t survive (perhaps a cramped one-bedroom with 106″ of snow that year?), I have since given thanks to her for introducing me to New England.

I was new in being a managing Chef then and the next year found myself up in New Hampshire. I spent fourteen years, most of them in NH and Maine; mostly as Executive Chef of independent casual fine-dining operations.

While there is a lot of great culinary art around the country, in northern New England the weekend prime rib is still “King” on many good restaurant menus. Over those fourteen years, I ate a significant share of prime rib from many restaurants.

As a Chef, I have never really believed in keeping recipes secret. I’ve always felt that openly sharing good recipes pushed the growth of the industry. Having said that, I kept two recipes close to the chest: my versions of Venison Osso Bucco and my Prime Rib. So here’s my gift to anyone who wishes for it. It’s my favorite way to roast a prime rib.

Saturday Night Lightly Smoked Prime Rib


Ingredients

  • One good sized bone-in prime rib of beef (preferably from Silvies Valley Ranch, available from Nicky USA)
  • Fresh garlic, minced
  • Black pepper, coarsely crushed
  • Sea Salt (truffled, preferably from Secret Stash Salts)
  • Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil (not virgin)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Angostura Bitters
  • A-1 Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Fresh Horseradish, minced
  • Bay Leaves

Equipment & Other

  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Two 2-Inch Deep Roasting Pans
  • Wire Grate (fits inside the roasting pan)
  • Four old ramekins
  • Cutting Board
  • Chef Knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Wood Chips for Smoking
  • Some long skewers

Preparing this recipe will take 24 to 72 hours and involves a wet-rub marinade; the longer you let the beef marinade, the better the flavor becomes. For a great presentation, I’ve frenched the bones, but this isn’t necessary for an “oooh” display.

1. Prepare all the mise en place using the cutting board and knife. Combine the garlic, rosemary, pepper, horseradish and salt in the mixing bowl. Reserve the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf for the cooking process on the day of service.

2. Add the vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire, A-1 Sauce and Bitters to the mixing bowl and combine well. The mixture should have the consistency of a wet mud. Rub the rib thoroughly with the rub, working it into the folds and crevices. Wrap the rib tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours or longer, although in a pinch you can let it marinade for six hours before proceeding.

3. On the roasting day, pre-soak the woodchips for about thirty minutes in water and then drain. Lightly pan-spray the inside of one roasting pan. Put the four ramekins (these are risers/supports) equi-distant inside the roasting pan. Place the woodchips in and around the risers. Place the wire rack on the risers. Unwrap and put the roast on the wire rack and insert the skewers into the top of the roast. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil as a tent, slit a few holes in the highest point (to allow smoke to escape slowly).

4. Over the most minimal flame possible, put the roasting/smoking pan. Let the smoking process begin and after about thirty minutes start maintaining an eye on the process. You want to bring the internal temperature of the rib to about 60 degrees F.

5. Just prior to the rib reaching 60 F – lightly pan-spray the other roasting pan and pre-heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Put the mirepoix of onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf in this pan. When the rib reaches 60 F, remove the rib on it’s wire rack from the smoking pan and place it directly on the mirepoix. Transfer this second roasting pan with rib to the hot oven.

6. Finish the roast in the hot oven to your desired doneness. Remember that the rib will continue cooking after you remove it from a hot oven, so I always pulled it when it reached 110F – to get that rare center.

7. Let the roast rest, in the pan for about ten to fifteen minutes after pulling it from the oven. If you like, you can pull the rib on its wire rack away from the mirepoix and use the mirepoix as a flavoring ingredient for a sauce.

After years of serving this to the traditional and fine residents of New Hampshire and Maine, I learned that flash-grilled steaks, cut from the leftover roast, are simply awesome. The smoked flavor mellows further when steaks are flash-grilled.

I like to serve this with fresh or pickled horseradish, fluffy mashed potatoes and maple-roasted carrots and parsnips.

Cheers!

Mise En Place, Tunes and Social Media Optimization

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mise en place
[MEEZ ahn plahs]
A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.

I spent twenty years in professional kitchens of all types, from the old Ritz Carlton Boston, to the Hyatt in Bellevue Washington to a diversity of independents and chains across the USA. I was first exposed (and had it beaten into me) to the term Mise En Place by Chef Dave Strouts C.W.C. and (then) A.C.F. (American Culinary Federation) chapter president of Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon.

I’m going to posit a proposition that mise en place is useful in social media agencies. Basically, it means everything has its regular place in your toolkit, all your prep for the day is ready and you’re locked and loaded – ready to take on the shift.

How do you plan your day in social media? Do you suffer from ADHD and hop, skip and bump around from item to item? Or, do you implement a mise en place attitude and carefully and logistically work your strategies and tactics?

And, like in pro kitchens, good tunes make a day go well…

Restaurant Facial Recognition ~ Could a GM Know the Social Graph of Every Customer?

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For a year now, I’ve been thinking about how facial recognition software could be used at the front door of restaurants.

Restaurateurs ~ imagine this…

Chris Brogan walks into your restaurant. Now, Chris isn’t a bad looking fella, but if you aren’t passionate about social media, you probably won’t recognize him. It’s his first time at your spot.

Now imagine that a camera above the host stand scans the faces of people coming through the front door. The camera is tied into your point of sale system. The scan of Chris Brogan’s face is compared (ala NCIS style) against publicly available photos on social networks and services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Klout.

Bingo! A match! All of a sudden the host, and you, know that some guy with a huge online community has just been seated in your restaurant. Would this information be of instant value to your bottom line?

We’re already there with the technology. How long will it be before a service like this is unveiled at the National Restaurant Show? What are the advantages and disadvantages to restaurant operators? What are the ethical considerations?

Sailing an Economic Sea – Summer Doldrums and Tempest Clouds

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Mid summer is typically a time in the business world of reduced activities. Work production slows, staff just want to be or are on vacation and the heat can oppress even the most robust business manager/executive/owner.

In addition, the economic turbulence of the last years is seemingly in constant presence on the horizon.. the violent weather of economic chaos.

Long hot windless days interspersed with violent summer storms…

In sailing – this is called the doldrums.

The Volvo Ocean Race yachts are marvels of modern engineering, but, alas, they share a common flaw. They have to have wind. Granted, wind isn’t normally in short supply on the open ocean—until you hit the doldrums.

For centuries mariners have feared this equatorial region for its tendency toward sailor-stopping calms. The first leg of the race runs right through it, and what happens there could conceivably determine the victor.

“It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s the worst thing,” says Kevin Shoebridge, captain for the Tyco team, a competitor in the 2001-02 race, of being stymied by dead wind in the doldrums.

The region is also prone to violent weather shifts, and Shoebridge says he’s seen calm winds turn to 30-knot gales in a matter of minutes. At other times he’s sailed through without noticing a thing.

Over the last few years as I’ve worked for myself, founded and worked hard to grow Chalkboarder, I’ve noticed this in our negotiations. Things slow down. It can be frustrating to experience, when there is energy on our end to make things happen.

As a result, I’ve worked this hazard into our yearly calender of expectations. We anticipate that July into August will take increased effort.

What about your business? Do you experience the doldrums at this time of year?