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Sporadic Ramblings of a Kilted Man
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Date:2007-10-30 02:43
Subject:Midnight Rambler
Mood: tired

Okay, 2am rambler, but that doesn't have the same ring to it.

I have noticed a few things as it comes to work.

First, I am making more money than previous jobs, and that is to be expected since I moved from casual family-friendly dining to casino based, celebrity chef fine dining. 
Second, there seems to be less drama than at other jobs.  I do not know whether it is because of the staff having to be more professional or just the hand-picked staff themselves, but despite the giggling of some and the frank discussions of others, there is no drama of note.  That makes me happy. 
Third, I cannot get rid of work.  Over the past weekend, I worked quite a bit, even while asleep.  I keep having these fever-dreams of work where I am in the weeds, being triple sat with large parties who want impossible requests (I had one person order a bottle of Ambrosia, which, in a long string of Murphy's Law mishaps, was corked), and even when I shake myself awake at 4:30am, I remain disoriented.  I am told I am not the only one with these nocturnal hallucinations.

Oh well, the perils of a new job, I suppose.  Other than that, it has been quite good.

I want to take Kelly out to the restaurant or maybe to Bourbon Steak (possibly to both for a drink), but we can't yet.  At least, not until the Food & Beverage people figure things out and let us enter the casino on our off days...

Oh well.

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Date:2007-10-26 13:28
Subject:I propose a name change
Mood: hungry

I propose a name change.  Henceforth, Tuesday will now be known as Ramenday.  Andrew and I have been going out to lunch (since Tina and Kelly are picky eaters and would likely balk at the delicious ramen set in front of them) for the past few weeks, and I would love to continue the tradition.

We go to Matsuchan Ramen in Canton, MI.  It is very authentic, with three people working.  One serving, one cooking, and one prepping.  It only seats about 25 people max, and has the authentic Japanese menu on the wall.

Also, it tastes heavenly.  Whether it be the ShioRamen (clear soup), MisoRamen (Miso flavored soup), Katsu Curry (Fried pork cutlet and curry on rice), or whatever, this is one amazing ramen shop that I found almost in my back yard.

Check it out, if you want some really tasty ramen.  Not the freeze-dried crap, but some real, delicious ramen here in Canton.

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Date:2007-10-18 00:27
Subject:Erik and Lexie's Wedding

Erik and Lexie's Wedding 010
Originally uploaded by david_gibb.
We went back to Delaware this weekend, for another wedding. This time, however, we flew. It was a fairly uneventful flight, but we got the car, and it had three seats too few. It was going to be a tight ride home.

I will skip most of the details and just hit the highlights.

The rehearsal went well, and we even made it there before the maid of honor (thanks to my leadfoot). The rehearsal dinner was pretty darn delicious. They even had a nice Valpolicella to drink in addition to my dearly beloved Yuengling beer.

We crashed at Lexie's, then when the girls left to get ready for the wedding, we went to A.J. and Debbie's place to get ready ourselves. It was strange being there without Kelly, since they are her aunt and uncle after all. We got to the hotel to check in and high tailed it to the ceremony. Once again, on time. I am starting to make a habit out of this!

There was a bit of time between the ceremony and reception, so we hit the lounge and had a pint of, what else, Yuengling. I wish this beer were distributed in Michigan. There was a cocktail hour with passed appetizers and drinks as well as other cheeses and veggies before we were allowed into the reception area that was (thankfully) at the hotel.

The revelry went late into the night, and at some point, became a blur. Safe to say we had a good time. I ended up falling asleep in one room while Kelly passed out in the other. I was awoken by Andrew Murawski (Tina's boyfriend) rolling over and putting his arm on me in his sleep. Apparently, we shared a king size bed, and he had to invade my space. Oh well, at least he kept his pants on.

The rest of the day was packing, finding multiple pairs of shoes that were not ours in our rooms, squeezing eight of us into a five seat Trailblazer (that the Alamo person promised would seat 7...), and driving from Wilmington back to Baltimore.

Upon arrival to the airport, we sat down to eat, and waited twenty minutes without even beverages. Deciding that we could not comfortably eat our meal and adjourn to the plane which would be leaving the ground in less than forty five minutes even if our food suddenly and miraculously materialized in front of our hungry faces, we left without a word. Sometimes, speed of service counts, and one of those times is at an airport restaurant.

The plane ride was nice, and we got home safely. A quick weekend, but filled with a lot of events.

By the way, the job is great, I will update on that later. My schedule quickly became overwhelming, and I ran out of time to write a review of my comings and goings. Please forgive me.

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Date:2007-09-12 22:39
Subject:Day 5, I'm Still Alive
Mood: thirsty

Today, I had to get to the job early.  I had my first service exam in training.  True to form, the exam was challenging.  I didn't know the exact steps on the first page, but I did well otherwise.  I participated in the tie-breaker again today before I went off to the MGM Orientation, and I was suitably challenged.  I was glad that I read a lot of the food manual, because I knew the "C's" that I was asked to define.  Before getting the results, it was a five hour stint at the Staffing Building.

Down at the Staffing Building, we went through a lot of orientation paperwork and things like that.  We got to see many pictures of what the new casino will look like.  The standard rooms are amazing and plush, the suite is overwhelming, and the rendering of Saltwater sent a shiver down my spine.  I can't wait to see this space in person and look over the ceiling mosaic.  Man, it is beautiful.

Our Orientation presenter was very enthusiastic and kept us engaged and alert, in spite of the difficulties with the thermometer.  We had a few good games and such that served to show that despite our diversity (which, by the way, makes us great; who wants robots at their resort?) that we are a team.

There was talk of benefits packages coming in the future, and that is great.  We didn't really get to eat, and then we hurried back to the training to get to wine class.

At wine class today, we talked about red wines.  The great grapes of the Bordeaux region, the Meritage in the US, Claret in Britan...  Cabernet Sauvignon, PInot Noir, Merlot, and more.  Unfortunately, I had to leave early, so I didn't get too much information.

Tomorrow will be the same.  I am going to the Ignite MGM Orientation (day 2) which lasts from 8 to 4.  This will be a long, long day.  I would much rather be learning about the food we are going to serve, and how we are going to exceed their expectations....  But, hey, gotta do it.

In another note, when I got back to the training, I found out that I won today's cookbook!  How cool is that?  The food looks amazing, and I can't wait to sell it.

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Date:2007-09-11 23:32
Subject:Day Five - Test Prep and Wine
Mood: productive

This was a pretty eventful day.  We went over the quiz from yesterday which was on the floorplans.  There was a tiebreaker that was pretty impossible to anyone who was not a sommelier.  That's exactly who won.

First Grade Sommelier.

I can't be bitter, he knew the answers.  Besides, I will have more chances to win my very own Michael Mina cookbook soon.

We then broke up into groups and had some roleplays that would give us a chance to talk about some situations which would admittedly fall into the grey area of what we can do to make the guests happy.  We talked about dry cleaning (which we can probably do on site, being a hotel), handling a celebrity's privacy, helping a bachelorette party into the private, awesome club in the casino, and so on.

By this time, it was lunch.  When we came back, it was review and more.

We went over:

Sequence of Service
          -- All 33 steps of service that we do at each and every table in great detail.
Staging the Experience
          -- Setting your mood and actions to be successful and make the guest happy.
Handling VIPs
          -- VIP treatment, literally.  VIP sheets, special things we do, and more.
Ending the Experience
          -- How to make the finish of the meal memorable and keep them smiling.

During this time, Patric (VP of Operations) had a few good quotes:

"If you didn't bring Paris with you on the plane, it won't be there when you arrive."  Meaning that state of mind is key, you will only be as happy as you set yourself up to be.
"Find pride in your work.  If you can't, it is better to take alms on the street."  This is pretty self explanatory.
"You've gotta clean up your on back yard before you knock on your neighbor's door."  Don't go flitting about the restaurant and intrude on another server's section when you have your own things to look at.

We also had more wine today.  We went over whites.  I will mention the two Rieslings we reviewed and a few notes I have that are of interest.

White Burgundy is Chardonnay.
Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.
Chablis is Chardonnay.
White Bordeaux is a Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.
Sauternes is a Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc blend.

Riesling is the King of all Grapes.  It is straightforward, transparent, unoaked, and takes its flavor from the soil.  It is very simple in the processing of this grape: pick, press, neutrally ferment, bottle, and release.  That being said, it can age well up to 150 years, at least.

Wines we talked about specifically:

(How to read:)
(Vintage, Winemaker)
("Wine name")
(Region, Country)

2005 Domaine Wachau
Riesling Federspiel
Wachau, Austria

2006 Leitz
Rüdesheimer Drachenstein
Rheingau, Germany

They are both Rieslings, but worlds apart. 
The Austrian is bone-dry with characteristics of minerality and applewhich would pair well with food.  It should be paired with the Lobster Corn Dog (yes, you read that right), Tuna Sashimi, or Tempura Shrimp.
The German, on the other hand, had some residual sugars.  It has a honey-weight richness and should be easy to drink, even without food.  This one would pair well with the Ahi Tuna Tartare, Hamachi Parfait, or Crab Cakes.

With more discussion on whites, we concluded the day.

On another note, yesterday was Kelly's birthday, and I was sad that I couldn't do anything spectacular and special for her, what with not being home, having time to cook a nice meal, et cetera.  She assured me that she had a nice, relaxing evening with the spaghetti, sparkling wine, strawberry shortcake, and dozen roses.  She deserves more, but I guess it will have to wait.

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Date:2007-09-11 08:18
Subject:Day Four
Mood: groggy

Today was more roleplaying and breaks than actual training.  It was kind of strange.  It almost seemed like they were not sure what they were doing, but that's okay.  It wasn't too strenuous and it worked.

We had to roleplay the steps of service, my group having the "How To Mark a Table" step, which means we have to clear plates and silver from the previous course, refill beverages, and place any appropriate silver for the next course (ie. a steak knife or a cocktail fork).

Then, we did a practical of going through all of the service steps from a guest walking in to them leaving.  It took a while, and it was 1:30 before we knew it.

Upon returning, we finally got some more meat for our binders.  Floorplans to both restaurants, the casino map, as well as menus, ingredient lists, and a huge wine manual set us up well for some "light reading."

Then, we had wine class.  Rajat Parr is the master sommelier who is doing our wine classes, and I am very pleased that he is here.  He already seems extremely knowledgeable, and I look forward to picking his brain.

Today's wine class went over the winemaking process.  It's nothing I haven't learned already, but there are so many people in the room who know nothing about wine other than "I like red" which is like saying "I like beverages" in its vague scope, so I guess it is a good thing. Besides, one can never know too much about wine. I plan on soaking up all I can from everyone else.

That's it for today!

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Date:2007-09-08 14:29
Subject:Quick Correction and Additions
Mood: awake

The menus at my restaurants are based on two other Michael Mina restaurants.  I will place them here until I get the true menu available.

Bourbon Steak is based on Stripsteak (Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas).
Saltwater is based on Seablue (Borgata, Atlantic City).

Also, I made a mistake on the hours of operation.

Lounge 4-12 nightly
Dining 5-10:30 nightly

Not much different, but a little.

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Date:2007-09-08 01:19
Subject:Training Day Three
Mood: exhausted

Okay, we started the day with a quiz.

We had to know all of the management, chefs, corporate people, and the locations, hotels, cities, and names of all of the other restaurants.  It wasn't too bad, but I blanked on the phone number for the casino.

Today was predominantly banging service steps such as hospitality rules, teamwork, how to greet/seat/take orders/serve/bus, et cetera.  There are some crazy things.  For instance, we "Lap the Napkin."  This means that after we seat the guest (pulling out the chair, letting them sit, then pushing it in as they sit), we drape the napkin over their lap, without touching them, obviously.  That just seemed a little much to me.  Oh well.

We have to get the right silverware out and set properly before the food goes out or else they will not deliver the food.  If you are lacking a steak knife, you will not get your food.

We watched a lot of movie clips today.  These were meant to embody certain qualities.

For instance:

Big Night - Tony Shaloub as a chef not understanding why a stupid American couple wants spaghetti and meatballs with their seafood risotto. (Guest gets what they want, don't look down on them for it)

The Devil Wears Prada - Appearances make a big difference in how you are perceived.

"More Cowbell" SNL Sketch - Just because it's funny and we needed to wake up after lunch.  That, or maybe because we needed to see how they pulled together and did what needed to be done for the betterment of the song.

Remains of the Day - Anthony Hopkins and the whole (huge) staff make exacting and arduous details perfect in order to get ready for a final dinner of a conference.

Rudy - Big game, last scene, Rudy is brought in and the selflessness of the team lets Rudy accomplish his dream.

Gladiator - Gladiatorial battle where Russel Crowe says "We stay together and we will survive."  Teamwork.  If we don't work together, we will not make it through the shift, much less exceed everyone's expectations.

I had to leave an hour early so I could get to work at Famous Dave's tonight.  I had to give away a few shifts so I could go to the training, so Sunday is my official last day at Famous Dave's Novi.

End of an era.  End of an era.

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Date:2007-09-06 21:41
Subject:Day Two of Michael Mina Employment
Mood: tired

Today, we had the stress of finding out which restaurant we would be working at.  They were frantically assembling large binders that they handed out.  They started out by calling the servers for Saltwater, the seafood restaurant.  Two or three of the first servers were not there (How could you miss this?), and I was called up.  I am working at the seafood place with no Kobe beef ribeye, but we do have caviar!  We have Lobster Pot Pie!

It turns out that Michael Mina is best known for his innovation in seafood.  It is his claim to fame and his specialty.  Also, this restaurant is a little more upscale than the Bourbon Steak restaurant.  All of the servers come from varied backgrounds.  Many have a lot of fine dining experience, and some don't.  Hell, I came from Famous Dave's and some others came from Applebee's.  It's great that we all get the chance to move into this different realm of serving.  Then, we split into groups and got inundated with information.  There were only eight of us, including the captains.  The restaurant seats between 80 and 90.  So this is an intimate place that won't have scads of open space and servers waiting for tables.  David, the Corporate HR guy walked by and just stopped in his tracks.  He said that we fit the image of what Saltwater was meant to be perfectly.  I hope that's a good thing!

Patric Yumul, the Vice President of Operations came up with "The Goldenyr Rule" (read: "goldener") which states "Treat others how they would like to be treated, not how you would like to be treated."  That was pretty much the focus of the whole training.  It doesn't matter who comes in, whether it be high rollers, VIPs, celebrities, people off the street wearing cut-off shorts and tank tops, or anyone else; they are to receive the same treatment.

Another big point was that there are no perfect people, only perfect intentions.  As long as you strive to improve every day, you are doing all you can.  And with the fact that the Michael Mina Bellagio has a per person average of $134 (comparison: Famous Dave's per person average is $15) as well as the mention that a group of four can easily drop $6000 on a night out, and I will certainly improve every day!

Final note, Bourbon was designed by a Japanese restaurant firm called Super Potato.  How cool is that?

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Date:2007-09-05 23:47
Subject:Day One with Michael Mina Group
Mood: optimistic

I have not officially updated yet, but I am now an employee of the Michael Mina Group, meaning that I am leaving Famous Dave's and quite possibly WineStyles.  This is by no means a bad thing.  I will be working for either the Bourbon Steak House or Saltwater Seafood restaurant in the brand new MGM Grand Casino in Detroit as a server, making not only phenomenal tips (price range is from 22-150!!!), but a set wage, which is strange for a server, and after 90 days, included benefits.  Not too shabby, I must say.

I started my training downtown in the current MGM, at the now-defunct Ruby on Third.  I have a few observations I took.

"9:00am -
Ed seems to be in his element.  It smells like a casino -- the recirculated air, the money, the stale, sweet smoke, the metal of the games, and the perfume of the cocktail waitresses.  It reminds me of Atlantic City.

All sense of time is truly lost.  It could be 9am, 9pm, or 2am, and I wouldn't be able to tell."

We spent the day with orientation things, schedules, and icebreakers.  We broke up into six groups, played games, and rotated managers.  After the second game, I realized that this whole exercise was so the managers could get to know us so they could put us on the list for their restaurant.  I felt like we were picking teams for dodge ball in gym class.  I just hoped I wasn't the last one picked after the fat asthmatic who throws like a girl.

Breaking for lunch, we were led through a drab white-walled maze of corridors that link all of the restaurants behind the scenes.  En masse, we descended on the E.D.R. -- Employee Dining Room.  It was nothing special, but the mundanity of it (it's a word now) was appealing to me.  It was the area where off shift or lunch breaks were taken by employees, at their secluded little buffet room that nobody who is not in the employ of MGM/Mirage will ever see.

I felt momentarily special.

Another note on the video we saw about the restaurants we will be running:

"11:00am -
I am very pleased.  The interiors do away with the stuffy expectations I had; no smoking, nobody under 21, high ceilings, and modern styling promise a steady income from the hip and trendy as well as the high rollers and bourgeoisie.

Menu selection appears to be varied and across the board pricey as well.  Here's to hoping for a bundle.  I want to carry my earnings home by the briefcase, not the pocketful."

The hours of operation are as follows:
Cocktail Lounges:
Dining Room:

Five shifts a week at eight hours apiece, good wages, great menu, amazing benefits...  Yes, I think I will take the job!

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Date:2007-08-24 13:44
Subject:Animoto Montage
Mood: cheerful

This is a video I made using Animoto, a site that professionally makes slideshows using your pictures and music. Just giving it a test run. JCMU 2004 montage, anyone?

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Date:2007-08-05 12:18
Mood: excited

Well, Kelly and I have started it.  We have begun registering for our wedding.  Deciding to forgo any fancy fripperies like fine china, we decided to focus on the essentials at Bed Bath & Beyond.  It took two hours, and we only got through the bathroom and kitchen stuff.  That is to say, no bedding and no dining wares.


Well, if you are curious, interested, or just want to buy me a gift, check it out, here is our BB&B Registry.  We also plan to register for Fiesta Ware at Kohls.  If you have ever eaten at TGI Friday's and gotten a red dish, that's Fiesta Ware.

I think that's enough links for the day.  In unrelated news, I also upgraded my phone with the New Every Two plan on Verizon.  I got the enV, which, since I am sick of making links, I will allow you to look up at your leisure.

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Date:2007-08-03 02:25
Subject:Coin Counting

Coin Counting 3
Originally uploaded by david_gibb.
Check out the Great Pyramids of Change!

Kelly has had a giant Coca Cola bottle for the past few years. Every time she came home with silver change in her possession, it went in to the Coca Cola Bank. Likewise, bills intermittently arrived as well.

Finally, after Kelly and I have assiduously (fun word) added more and more change to the behemoth bank, it was filled. I dragged it out into the living room and unceremoniously gutted it like a fish. Except that this fish was filled with a plentiful bounty that would keep me laughing -- laughing all the way to the bank!

We counted the bills -- it was $302 on just that alone!

We separated the change -- a good sign, the largest pile by far was quarters. Over the course of the next week, including time spent hitting the local banks and dollar stores for coin rolls, the rolling was complete.

We have $1800 from that bank, if I add in one little dollar.

Moral of this story: save your change, kiddies; it adds up!

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Date:2007-07-19 12:50
Subject:WineStyles - Wall of Wine

WineStyles - Wall of Wine
Originally uploaded by david_gibb.
I have been tapped to update the website for WineStyles ( www.winestyles.net/livonia ) so expect a few wine pics here and on my Flickr account.

I really like this shot, it is right when you walk in the door, facing the bar. I think it really turned out well.

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Date:2007-07-18 16:23
Subject:Gibb Family Reunion Portrait

Gibb Family Reunion Portrait
Originally uploaded by david_gibb.
The Gibb family reunion was this past weekend and we all came out for fun in the sun. Kelly and I couldn't make it until Sunday since we had to work Saturday, but it was great fun.

We ate, drank, played volleyball, bocce ball, Jarts (those are awesome), and some people swam while others watched old 8mm video that has been converted to VHS. Later on, there was a bonfire followed by me bringing my dad & Rene along with Kevo and Rene's daughter, Allison, back to my apartment, having a bottle of wine, and giving my dad his Father's Day present: a bottle of Montes Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere blend. He took one of my favorites, how dare he!

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Date:2007-07-01 14:38
Subject:Crazy music messing with my mind.
Mood: confused

I have music from a band called m-flo.  They are a Japanese rap/techno group that sings indiscriminately in English and Japanese.  I was thinking of having a few friends listen to a few songs, but I realize they wouldn't appreciate it like I do.  For example, these are the lyrics to one of their songs.

I miss you

It's just so random as to which they use, back and forth in the same line, all with one single thought process.  And I can follow along with it, but man, it's confusing!

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Date:2007-05-23 15:41
Subject:Wedding Woes

So, Kelly and I have been getting our wedding guest list banged out.  It is not pretty.  We conscripted our parents to give us lists so we could figure out not only a ballpark estimate, but a more concrete number.

It turns out that Kelly's family is larger than I thought.  Much larger.

Here are the numbers:

31    Wedding party (including guests)
84   David's side
140  Kelly's side
21    Friends
276  Total

Keep in mind that my side includes not only my mom and dad, but Donna's family also.

Damn, that's a lot of people.  It is frightening that the largest wedding that I have ever been to may in fact be my own.  The worst part is that the majority of her family on the list are the ones who will show up to every event which may be good for the gifting side of the wedding (greedy monkey), but it also means we will be shelling out more money for them.

Well, that means we'll all have to just drink more booze and make up for the extra cost in alcohol.  Gotta get your money's worth!

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Date:2007-04-11 23:24
Subject:Wednesday Workout

Worked out tonight for about an hour.  Put in 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, then I worked out my biceps, triceps, lats, and back.  Time on machines: 30min.

Also, I didn't weigh myself beforehand since there were seven or so towel-bound men in the way.  Yikes.

Post workout weight: 219.4lb

If the scales are off, this makes sense.  Otherwise, cutting out all but one glass of pop a day and making an attempt to eat better is working a lot better than I expected.

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Date:2007-04-09 17:36
Subject:Little guy's first Easter

Easter 07 #16
Originally uploaded by david_gibb.
Uploaded 17 new shots, some from Kelly's family gathering, some from visiting Jason, Susie and Alex.

Kelly and I had a busy day. We headed to church and then to brunch, took a break at her dad's to find Easter baskets, followed by dinner at her aunt's house, a stop at Jason and Susie's, and finally a tired drive home over 12 hours later.

Church and brunch were kind of a blur, but Kelly's aunt's place was energetic. How could it be boring with a hyper energetic three year old (who looks like he's five, and acts like it too) bouncing around playing Spiderman? He is a bona fide super hero super fan. After a while (and urging, insistence, and prodding for desserts), we decided to play a game of Texas Hold'em. There was Bev, Kelly's dad, Andy, Amanda, Jason, John, myself, and Kelly playing. One by one, the dominoes fell like a house of cards. Bingo. All who were left was Kelly and Jason. I took third. Hand by hand, nickel and diming Jason, Kelly hooked him into going all in, and won with a Full House, 7s over 5s.

Did I mention that this was the first time Kelly has ever played a whole game of Hold'em? And that she really doesn't play poker? I even had to write out the winning hand hierarchy for her.

I was impressed.

It was getting a little late, so we went to visit Jason and Susie, as well as the pup and the baby. When we got there, the little guy wasn't looking around, but he was flailing. He's sure testing out those limbs of his. Shiva looked a little forlorn, so I gave her some attention and petting. Susie was making them dinner, so we left when they got it ready.

We were so exhausted by the time we got home, we just crashed. Holidays are long.

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Date:2007-04-06 01:56
Subject:Bagel to Go

bagel to go
Originally uploaded by rodrigo piwonka.
Seriously, this is genius! What better use for an old cd spindle can there be? Just be sure to wash it first, okay guys?

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