14 November 2007

14NOV: HolidayClosing (22,23,24), Beaujolais Nouveau (not Duboeuf) and more
Well. There's some news that might interest some of you.
Most importantly, everybody should be aware of our holiday closing dates: Thursday 22, Friday 23 and Saturday 24. During this time we will most likely have a meeting of the board of directors to address the restaurant in general so if anybody has any suggestions or (constructive) criticisms now is the time to get them in so we can discuss them. If you'd rather respond anonymously we do still have the hotmail account you can use: customerincognito@hotmail.com which uses the password: baansawan.

We feel like we're doing a good job but we're of a mind that there's always room for improvement. Handy attitude, I think, for everybody. Particularly those people at the supermarket who abandon their carts in the parking lot or at random places in the lobby. The other day two people removed their bags from their carts and walked away, leaving them right in front of the entrance to block anybody coming in. (I didn't just observe, by the way, I collected the disregarded buggies and filed them away.) Though that wasn't as bad as the woman a few months ago who put her bags in her car and then just got in, leaving her cart right outside her door. When she began to pull out she realized that she couldn't because her cart got in the way. She actually looked through her window at the poor, shopper-forsaken thing with irritation, as though it were about to wash her windshield and ask for change. How self-involved (and short-sighted) does one have to be to do that? and of what am I obliviously guilty, i suppose i should ask?
But I digress. (for more things that irritate me at the supermarket, write to baansawan@hotmail.com or send a SASE to blah blah blah)

This Thursday, as many of you know, is the day that the Beaujolais Nouveau arrives. It's been years since I've had this wine but I thought it was time to explore it again. No disrespect to the tireless Duboeuf (I have no "beef" with them. heh.) but I'll be offering Le Chateau de Pizay's vin de l'annee come Thursday night, unless something goes wrong. I've enjoyed this chateau's Beaujolais before (their Morgon, specifically) and was very impressed so I expect their nouveau won't disappoint.

Lately I've been tossing in some new beers and wines as the mood strikes me. I'll buy a case of a beer or a half-case of a wine and offer it on the specials board. I'll be more vigilant about keeping people up to date on that because I've had some quite interesting things come in and sell-out in a week's time. For the moment we've got a fascinating Scottish Ale from the Orkney Islands that's big and malty and quite unlike anything I've had before. 8.5% alc/vol. And we still have some farmhouse ale from Michigan that's a lot of fun. When we sell out of the latter I'll be revisiting the Kwak, the invigorating and malty Belgian dubbel with the cute glass.

here are some links relevant to the contents of this post.

some information on Beaujolais Nouveau

the Kwak. Beware; while informative and charming, the website plays music.

grocery carts


I think that'll do it for this entry.
I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to see you all soon,

10 November 2007

10Nov. How to...be happy. advice
September 6, 2007

How to... be happy

The pursuit of happiness in the workplace is as much of a holy grail as it is in life, but there are ways to make that pursuit a happier experience

Finding a job that you like is clearly important to your workplace happiness, but it isn’t always easy – and even when you do there will still be times that you’re not happy. Obviously the best way to cheer yourself up is to turn Super Trouper up to 11 and dance around the room for five minutes, but if you don't have an Abba-friendly workplace you might like to try these suggestions instead.

1. Keep things in perspective. “Your work experience is a very big part of your life, but it’s not your whole life,” says Michael Chambers, the managing director of Bacs, the payment processing house. Remind yourself of the positive things in other parts of your life.

2. Recognise the possibility of happiness. “We very often fail to recognise the rich sources of pleasure and meaning that are right in front of us at work,” writes Tal Ben-Shahar in Happier (McGraw-Hill, £12.99). “To turn a possibility [for happiness] into a reality, we first need to realise that the possibility exists.”

3. Change your focus. If the daily grind is getting you down, look at the big picture and remind yourself why you took the job – for example, that you share your organisation’s goal of reducing poverty or that gaining experience at this firm will help you to land your dream job. On the flip side, if it’s the big picture that is getting you down – say, you feel that helping your company to get richer isn’t your goal in life – try concentrating on individual tasks that you can do well. Don’t underestimate the satisfaction that can be gained from getting little things done, whether that is finally clearing out your inbox or resolving an irritating administrative problem.

4. Surround yourself with happy people... even if that means making other people happy to do it, says Marc Woods, a motivational speaker. “People react well to you helping them, and being around happy people does rub off.” He also suggests finding a mentor who enjoys his or her job and can offer support dealing with your emotional state as well as with technical issues. And steer clear of moaners: just as positive people will help to keep your mood up, colleagues who spend their days complaining will inevitably bring you down.

5. Accept reality. Look for the opportunities that change will create rather than focusing entirely on the immediate negatives. “I had bone cancer and had a leg amputated at 17,” Woods says. “I could have said ‘woe is me’, but instead I sat down and thought ‘right, this how it is now, what can I do with it?’ (In his case that turned out to include winning four Paralympic gold medals).

6. Do the best you can. “If you know that you have done your job as well as you can, it can give you a sense of wellbeing even if things don’t work out quite as you’d hoped,” Woods says. “Take pride in doing your job well.”

7. Balance. Overwork and stress frequently lead to anxiety and unhappiness. Make sure that you have enough time to yourself for exercise, a social and family life and relaxation, Chambers says. Keeping a balance will also help out in those inevitable times when you are required to work longer or harder than usual.

8. Take a break. If everything is getting too much, get away from the environment that is making you unhappy, Chambers suggests. “Take a moment on your own to go for a walk or ask a colleague to come for a coffee. It will help you to calm down and get a sense of perspective.”

9. Take control. If something at work is making you unhappy, don’t wait for someone else to solve the problem – fix it yourself. “Take personal responsibility for things that don’t quite work or could be done better,” Woods says. “Managers like proactive people, so you could get a promotion, but at the very least it will improve your own job and help you to be happy.”

10. Be honest with yourself. Are you unhappy because you are in the wrong job? “Listen to your unhappiness,” Chambers says. “Can you resolve it in the current environment or is it a signal that it’s time to move on?” If you’ve done all you can to improve your mood and you’re still unhappy at work, it’s probably time to find something new. “Many [people]... are enslaved by their jobs, not because they have no choice, but because they have made a choice that made them unhappy,” Dr Ben-Shahar writes.

10Nov. A rambling text on expensive wine, the nature of generosity and so on.

"The price is, of course, quite out there but the more expensive wine I'm lucky enough to taste the more warranted these prices seem. I've never heard a bad thing about this wine and I've never had the pleasure. If it were my money I'd be inclined to spend it on Bordeaux but if I were to receive it I would definitely be incredibly excited. I've enjoyed some (much cheaper) wines from the Northern Rhone that inspired this (Hermitage. All syrah) and have been very impressed with how much is going on in there. So yes, I agree that a wine-lover (one who enjoys great wines for their greatness, not necessarily for their regions or styles) would be crazy about it.

But if you're dealing with somebody who is just starting out with wines I'd be afraid that the nuances might go over their head. I believe in leading up to great wine by learning on good wine. The more experience the greater the articulation which I think leads to a greater appreciation. Or, to put it another way, all the little things that make great sex great sex would be lost on a virgin. It may be fantastic, but without the experience to appreciate the effort...well...
that's my take on it. "

Such was how I responded to a friend of mine who'd sent me an article in the WSJ about Penfold's mighty Grange and how it was the ultimate gift for the wine lover, wine devotee or those interested in wine this season.

but I've rethought it a bit and now I'm not sure whether it's as clear as I vaguely described. Before I put the effort into my wine education I'd been exposed to several very nice wines. That is to say, before I would consider myself ready. Was that a waste of wine? I certainly don't think so but I do sort of regret that I wasn't able to enjoy them for what that were. I certainly hope that the people who shared these wines with me don't regret having done so if I couldn't eke out all that I could. I mean, to some degree I still don't think I was fully qualified to go to Pinot Camp but the thing that I do have is a genuine passion to learn more. Which, in part, was fueled by tasting outstanding wine and wanting to experience that again. So, in a way, all those who have brought in a stellar bottle of wine to share with me have directly influenced the quality of the current, and future, wine selections at Baan Sawan and future projects.
So. Is it a good idea to buy somebody who knows little about wine a remarkable, and expensive, bottle? If I say "no" with the reasoning that they won't fully appreciate it then I turn my back on the possibility that experiencing that wine might be epiphanic and drive the recipient to explore and learn and, ultimately, pass on their knowledge and wines to others to continue the cycle. Which is good. Or they might wait until they're drunk to chug it and waste it entirely. Which is bad.
At the end of the day, I suppose, we are talking about a gift. And what they do with it or how they appreciate it shouldn't concern us too much. A favorite Sartre quote of mine is "...all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives." He seemed to say this almost dismissively, as though it diminished the generosity itself. I don't think that's necessarily true. While it may not be "cool" to admit it, I revel in my petite bourgeoisie materialism. I don't have a lot but I enjoy what I do have and part of having is sharing, which illustrates that I have that which I'm sharing. This doesn't have to be bad. I'm not an ass about it but I do like to be able to give. And it helps that I'm constantly humbled by my meager income. And I do so love to educate and be educated.
Anyway. I've digressed, to some degree.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I now think that a gift of Grange, if you can afford it, would be a wonderful gift for anybody with a genuine interest in wine, experience notwithstanding.