Category Archives: Offtopic

Dear Scotland

It’s 10:55 pm where I live, and it’s 6:55 in the morning in Glasgow on a pretty special day for you guys.  It’s kinda amazing to me to be alive on a day that will end up on a Wikipedia entry page.  (When I was a little girl historical things ended up in the World Book Encyclopedia that I used to read, now they end up on Wikipedia).

Tracing back in my family tree is the name of Clan Wallace.  So there is a sliver of me that is Scottish.  And it’s pretty cool that you are able to decide your future and make such a change not with swords (as used to be done) or guns, or bloodshed but words and people going to a ballot box and making a decision.  If only more of the world did what you guys are doing.  Fighting with words or an issue, not with blood.

A long time ago a group of folks in the country I live in also wanted to decide their own fate.  They wanted to have government of their own, representation of their own, a voice of their own.  Several hundred years have gone by and one could argue that our Government leaders aren’t leading at all these days, but regardless, based on the history of my own country, I can only imagine what it feels like to vote on such an important issue like this.  To get our independence, we ran off the British Army (who was kinda an easy target with all those Red Uniforms).

I remember the very first time I went to the ballot box and cast my vote.  It was an empowering day.  To read that you’ve given the voting rights all the way down to 16 year olds, that’s very very cool.  You’ve just empowered young folks that will probably always feel that they have to responsibility to be engaged in their country’s future.

So to the folks in Scotland, as someone who has a sliver of Scottish ancestry in my family tree, I’m pretty blown away with the energy I see from this side of the ocean.  I hope that we in the United States get inspired by what you guys are doing and turn out to vote more in our own elections (hey I can hope, can’t I?).  I hope that others around the world can see what a profound change you are making with the voting box and not with war and do likewise.

I for one will be excited to see how this turns out.  Me, I’m hoping the Yes vote takes the day.


It looks like a Mini Cooper doesn’t it?

Yes, those are gingerbread shaped snowglobe cookies with a Mini Cooper ish (okay so maybe it’s the Clubman model) bringing the tree home.

Now I have to go clean up the kitchen where I made a mess.

Happy Halloween 2013!

My shoes and stockings for the evening.

Happy Halloween everyone (yes blogging while waiting for trick or treaters)

And that’s about as much of a selfie as you are going to get out of me.

Now THAT’S customer service!

I had purchased a 20 piece Libbey Ramekin set – 10 glass ramekins and 10 plastic lids as I got into a kick of making PannaCotta after a trip to Italy this summer.  The Ramekins are the perfect size and the plastic lids make placing them in the refrigerator nice and easy to keep both the fridge clean as well as let the desserts set up nicely.  And one evening while cleaning up I realized that we’d lost a plastic lid.  We figured it accidentally got dumped into the garbage and attempted to dig into the can to find the missing lid but when we realized that the garbage had already been emptied into the large curbside can, we started to search for it and then decided not only was it going to be difficult to find the clear plastic lid, we might end up buried in icky garbage in the process. 

So I thought, okay,  I’d just find a replacement one instead.  Well, the ones I bought from Amazon that were really made for pet food lids weren’t quite the right size.  So my sister encouraged me to reach out to Libbey and see if their customer service could help me.  I didn’t see any place on their web site to order replacement lids but they clearly had an 888 number to call and contact them for customer service.

And what fantastic customer service it was indeed!  Imagine my surprise to have the phone call answered by a nice friendly female voice.  I explained my problem, of losing a lid for the ramekin sit and she said “Hang on, I think I have the exact size you need here”.  You could hear her checking the size and she proclaimed that indeed she had the replacement lid.  She instructed me to send an email to a libbey customer service email address and place my address in the email along with indicating the lid I needed. 

Today to my delight, in a Libbey legal envelope with my address hand written on the front, came not one, but two replacement lids.

Thank you LIbbey for reminding me what really great customer service is all about!

For anyone interested:

(1) PannaCotta recipe

3 cups cream
1 cup whole milk
3 and 1/2 sheets of Gelatin sheets (gold or platinum strength)
Let the sheets soak in the cream for a little bit before cooking
Place pan on stove and bring to 135 degrees (use a cooking thermometer)

When 135 degrees, remove from heat and stir in 6 tablespoons of Sugar.
Now add various flavorings such as:
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of orange extract
1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier

Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Now pour the liquid into 6 to 7 glass Ramekins from LIbbey and place in your fridge overnight.

Eat as is or with fresh fruit.  I like it with fresh strawberries, fresh peaches and fresh nectarines with an extra dollop of whipped cream on top.

An MVP By Any Other Name » An MVP By Any Other Name:

So effective today I’m officially no longer a “SBS MVP” but “Windows Server for Small and Medium Business”. 

The category of my MVP award may have changed, but the blog here will still be focused on small business topics.  I’m still a SBSer.  My heart will always be helping small business.  I still run a small business, I still support small businesses.  I still do things for Amy’s kitchen project to help small business consultants.

Next topic to be discussed at my local partner user group is Azure, next paper to be submitted to Amy will be one on Essentials R2 and some of the “Essentials Role” changes that you might want to think about.

Bottom line, it may be getting a bit harder to hear over the din of cloud cloud cloud, but there’s still a lot of choices out here and a lot of on premises versus cloud and what’s really right for your clients that we need to still figure out.  There’s times when cloud deployments make sense, and times when it doesn’t.  And there’s times that monthly subscriptions cost more than planned investments. 

So I’m still calling myself an SBSer.  As that’s who I am.


A few photos

A few photos from the Trip to Spain/France/Italy:

My biggest take away:  My Mini cooper is too big of a car for parts of France and Italy.  Seriously if it’s not a Vespa or a small classic mini (or of course a small Fiat) it won’t make it in the streets.

Naples has LOTS of graffiti.  Word is they like it like this.  Monaco has none. They must cut your hands off if you even think of it.

I survived the bike trip in Rome (this is important as my Sister fell down twice and I didn’t).  Never assume that people that sit at their desks most of the day make good bike riders.  We survived.  Cobblestones and all.  That’s my accomplishment.

I could live in Sorrento. I probably couldn’t afford to live in Sorrento.  One morning in the hotel in Sorrento we woke up to light rain/thunder and the sound of crowing chickens. Very cool to wake up to the sounds of nature to a Californian who only gets about 10 inches of rain a year in total.

You didn’t need to know Italian. Pointing to an item you want to buy with euros in hand works as the international language of “I want to buy that”
Florence was wall to wall people. I wasn’t impressed with Florence due to the number of people touring that day.  Tons. More impressed with Pisa in fact.

The Vatican was wall to wall people (they sell WAY too many tickets)  For every church we went into, the thought of how much money it took to
build it originally went through my mind.  I say this as I was raised as a Lutheran. Which if you remember the history is a slight deviation from the Catholic church.  The number of stories of corruption and power struggles and politics.  Times haven’t changed much have they?

We were warned about pickpocket-ers in Barcelona but they were seen inside the Vatican city, and in the Muni train in Rome.  Fortunately no one lost anything to a pickpocket-er, but you did want to keep your purse or bag close to your body and keep an eye on it. 

Love Bernini’s stuff – seeing the marble in person at the Borghese Gallery was really cool.  The photos do not do them justice:

Now starting to see if I can recreate some of the recipes we ate in Italy by growing some of the foods – in particular the Zucchini blossoms so I can do a Saffron and Zucchini pasta recipe.  I’m now following food blogs looking for more inspiration of food and cooking.

And finally, as a geek, the Xcomglobal mifi’s worked great to allow us to use our iphones for mapping/walking around the cities.  We saved on the price tag of the data plan on our phones and still were able to get map directions to wherever we needed to walk.  While I was on board the cruise ship in fact, because we went from port to port, we could actually hang off of the mifi’s for about an hour BEFORE the ship docked.  It was interesting how they sent the units.  I specified that I would be going to Spain, France and Italy and they sent three mifi units, each having a cellular chip for each separate country.  Each unit was preset up for each ISP so all you had to do was to turn on the unit and connect your computer or phone.  All of us in the group agreed that this extra geek traveling item really was helpful for keeping us able to navigate our way around the city to various locations when the tourist maps didn’t quite cut it.


Don’t depend on connectivity

So here I am in a pretty nice hotel and the wifi is pretty bad.  We end up hanging off my Xcom global mifi’s as the signal and connection is much better than the hotel connection.

The mifi’s have worked great as giving us an unlimited data plan/ability to use google maps as well as flood everyone’s Facebook news stream of our walking/touring/dining times.

Yesterday we did the Galleria Borghese and saw several of the famous Bernini statues –

Messy, huh?

Well I’ve been making a mess today, how about you?

Happy pre-Memorial day to everyone in the USA.  Here’s hoping that one day we decide that wars and fighting don’t solve much.

Television Gaga?

I think we need a redo of Queen’s Radio GaGa and this version would be called Television GaGa.  The number of people that say in passing that they no longer subscribe to Cable and only watch things online and on netfix is no longer oddities, but more and more are doing just that.

So what will we be watching in 10 years?


Traveling with geek stuff

One of the things you find when you actually USE your iPhone is that the charge drops like a rock.  So I picked up a Mophie charge battery pack to add to my collection of geek travel stuff.  In addition to the laptop, we also have the Jambox  boombox (Okay so I don’t always travel with that), an iphone charge cable, and I’ve just added the Jawbone UP device.

It’s a wonder I make it through the airport security line at all.