Customer Service is not entirely dead

Last night we went to a taco joint that we have not been to in more than a year. We used to go there once every 2 or 3 weeks when we lived on that side of town. It is one of those places we can go and feed the whole family for $10. Out of our bill last night, right at half the cost of the meal was for our soft drinks. Soft drinks are usually expensive at restaurants here.

The waiter not only remembered us, but when we ordered the tacos for our son he remembered that it was to be without onions and that our boy drinks orange Fanta. Since my wife and I usually ordered something different just about every time we went in there, there was no way he could have remembered what we would want. But we were pleased to know that there is someone who still takes pride in learning his customers and what they like.

I am very critical of service industry people who have no interest in serving their clientèle. It is always a pleasure to see someone who cares and takes pride in their work.

Famous Friday: Missionary Geek

The job of a missionary can be summed up in one word: communication. We have a message to give which requires communication. We have supporters to inform which requires communication. We have a culture to learn which requires communication. On and on the list could go.

Missionary Geek is a resource offered by Jeff to help other missionaries learn how better to communicate. Not with tips on speaking clearly, but by providing the reader with information about interesting tools which can help with our day to day interaction with the people with whom we work and those we serve.

He makes an interesting case on using Facebook as a possible communication tool. He also informs about the new on-line tools that can make the work of a missionary a bit easier.

Check out his site for more information on how to minister in today’s feature rich world.

Google results you don’t want

Bad Google!Yesterday I went to my main ministry website and was going to document the steps on how to sign up for my RSS feed. I was disappointed to find that I had an error in one of my scripts and my RSS feed was not working. I am subscribed to the feed, but had not really paid attention to when the last time I had received a notice was. Apparently it has been a while.

In my search to figure out the problem I had determined that it was a corrupt file. The easiest way to remedy that was to google the file name and see if I could download it from somewhere else. It was a script I had pulled off the web, so I knew others were probably using it too.

When I put in the file name at Google, I was horrified to see that my site came up as the 3rd hit on the list! This is one time that you don’t want to show up in the top 10 at Google.

2a. Gran Carrera Autotal ’07

Today was the second running of the Gran Carrera Autotal ’07. It is hosted by one of the large Nissan dealerships here in town. They even raffled off a car! They are celebrating their 25th anniversary. There were 2 divisions. One was a 10K race, which I ran and the other was a 5K walk.
Concerned that I would over sleep, I woke up several times in the night to check my watch. I use an alarm to wake up about 8 or 10 times a year and am always concerned that I won’t hear it. I did not have any problem hearing it this morning and was up at 5:45. I arrived at 6:40 for a 7:00 start. That was plenty of time to get oriented and warmed up.Bib #363

The weather was GREAT! Probably the best race conditions I have ever run in. The temperature was 75 degrees the whole race (last year we finished at 82 degrees). There was a drizzly rain 15 minutes before the race start and about 15 minutes into the race. The road was wet, but did not have too many puddles to wade through.

I don’t know yet how many participants were at the race, but they were expecting 1200. I would guess they got close to that number, though there were quite a few shirts left over.

When I ran this race last year I remember it being the first race I had ever run with kilometer markers. But, last year they were all wrong. Splits ranged from 4:18 to 6:44 per kilometer. I know I can hold my pace better than that. This year was no different. My splits were between 3:33 and 6:12…on consecutive kilometers! They really need help laying out their markers. It was supposed to be a 10K race, but measured 9.1 according to Google Earth.

Trying to keep any sense of pace and using the kilometer splits to help me know how I was doing overall was a waste of time. I crossed the half way point at 26:36 and finished at 52:48 (a second half time of 26:12). That gave me a slight negative split. A pace of 9:20 per mile.

I did much better overall compared to last year. Total time then was 1:00:54, for an 8:06 faster finish this year. Last year’s pace was 10:46 per mile which put me at 1:26 per mile faster this year.

Since the race started an hour earlier this year and my church service started an hour later than last year, I had 2 more hours to stick around for the awards ceremony and raffle. I was looking forward to it. I found my former landlord and hung with her for a while. We have not seen each other in quite some time (we only get together at races these days) and had plenty to catch up on. She ended up having to leave before the festivities began. I stuck around a while longer and then found out that the raffle was not supposed to start for 2 more hours! I left. You have to be present to win any of the prizes and they made the raffle 3 hours after the end of the race. Ridiculous.

As I was leaving I walked by the table where they were giving out the food and T-Shirts after the race. Since they had extra shirts they were just giving them away. I snagged one for a friend who did the walk, but had not registered for the event. This is the first race I have been to which did not allow “morning of” registrations.

I am very pleased with the way everything turned out, other than I did not get to play in the raffle. I was very happy with my time. Conditions were much better this year than last, but it is at least a tangible marker that I am improving on my running.

It was a check valve

What is it?Thank you to those of you who played along with my post last week asking what you thought the pictured object was.

I had a couple of friends in IRC guess (or at least get close to guessing) that it was a check valve. I pulled it off the end of the pipe that goes into my cistern.

My water pump had been making an awful racket and needed to be re-built. It really is a simple thing and I got a recommendation for a man to rebuild it. Though, like always, it took longer than he had said it would take. After getting the pump back from the repair shop, I discovered that probably the reason the pump had gotten worn out and needed new bearings and seals was that it was not holding its prime. The pump itself is not responsible for keeping primed, rather there is a check valve that keeps the water in the pump. That valve, the one pictured, was worn out.

Coming out of the cisternTo disconnect the pipe that held the check valve, I had to get into the cistern. Not fun! I was thinking that was what it would take, but did not want to take the plunge without a second opinion. I called a friend to come and help me. He agreed that getting into the cistern was the only way to get enough leverage on the pipe with the pipe wrench. Down I went. I checked for spiders and scorpions as soon as I got in. There was only one spider and it was a good distance from me. So I let it live.

After getting the pipe out and replacing the check valve, it was a simple mission to put it all back together. It took several hours, but was only a $12 repair.

The new check valve is brass and plastic–not near as decorative as the copper one that I took off. I will keep the copper one just because it is neat looking. I might be able to incorporate it into some fancy montage in my retirement home.