Upcoming Spring Concert for RCC!

Hi folks! This Friday and Saturday (April 29 and 30) I'll be in the Renaissance City Choirs production of "Love of Nature, Nature of Love". I'm really excited about this concert, because not only are we doing our usual mix of songs for the first half, we're doing an opera for the second half!

Yes, an opera!

Did I mention it's Dido and Aeneus? Also, we're being accompanied by the wonderful Chatham Baroque!

But it's better than that. We're doing a wonderful twist on this classic tale ... I can't spill what that is, but it's so much fun! The story ends up being happy instead of sad, if you'd believe!

Plus, we have lots and lots of hotness, including one well-built young man near-naked on rollerskates, a lot of dressing and undressing of various leads, and other assorted yums.

So, I encourage everyone to come see us do this wonderful show. It'll be lots of fun, I promise!

Tickets can be purchased here:
  • Current Mood
    excited excited

If Schroedinger called in a bug..

Scenario: Schroedinger has a box with a verified dead cat in it. He hands the box to customer support of a company, who later hands him back that box. Schroedinger then calls in later. Here's the conversation which follows.

Schroedinger: The cat was dead, it should still be dead.
Customer Support: But we took out the dead cat and put in a live cat.
Schroedinger: The new cat cannot be classified as live.
Customer Support: Can you verify that the cat is dead?
Schroedinger: There was a dead cat before, that is verified.
Customer Support: Sir, yes, that cat was dead. This is why we have replaced it with a live cat. Can you verify that the replaced cat is dead?
Schroedinger: The cat which replaced the dead cat may also be dead. But the dead cat is still dead.
Customer Support: I am sorry for the loss of your previous cat. We have given it a proper funeral and we can send you back its ashes. But can you please verify if the cat we sent you to replace the previous cat is dead or alive?
Schroedinger: To verify the cat's state, one must look inside the box.
Customer Support: Exactly, please do that.
Schroedinger: But until that happens, the cat is neither dead, nor alive. As such, you have not handed me an alive cat.
Customer Support: OK, so, we actually cannot help you until you open the box and verify that the cat is dead. Have a nice day sir.

This is how my day feels like today.
  • Current Mood
    frustrated frustrated

Pumpkin Pasta recipe

I actually cooked a good meal the other night. Like, this is miraculous. Further, it was VERY low pointage for Weight Watchers, and incredibly filling, so I thought I'd share!

First, I found this recipe at VegWeb, and modified it for my needs. Then I also decided to make the pasta the sauce goes over more weight watchers friendly by having a lot of vegetables in with the noodles. The other reason to use so many vegetables is because we get a farm share, so a lot of the veggies I tossed in are a result of what we had in the fridge and I was worried they'd go bad if not used soon.

Here's what I did:

First, I started up the pasta boiling broth before even starting the sauce. I chopped up an onion and some celery, and tossed them into a sautee pan with a touch of olive oil. While those were sauteeing, I also chopped up some leafy greens (I think it was the argula lettuce) and some parsley and toss that in as well. After all had sauteed, we put them into a large pot of boiling water. We set that up to simmer for a bit.

Then I gathered the following ingrediants:

3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pumpkin, roasted and pureed (becomes just over 1 cup of pumpkin puree)
1 cup strong vegetable stock (this was actually pulled from the simmering broth)
1/2 cup almond milk
Nutmeg, cinnamon, chili powder, white pepper, paprika to taste (feel free to use your own spice combination)


Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to the sauce pan to let them lightly sautee. Add the pumpkin. Gather vegetable stock from the simmering pasta broth and add to the pumpkin puree mix. Add the almond milk. Spice to taste, stir until all are mixed into a creamy mixture.

Then I let that simmer while I finished the pasta:

Add 8 grain rotini to the simmering broth and let soak until the rotini is soft.

While the rotini is cooking, chop up into chunks a variety of vegetables. I used carrots, radishes, peppers (bell and jalepeno), leafy greens, parsley, and a few others I'm forgetting now. Mix into a large bowl.

Drain the pasta, which should also have the sauteed and boiled vegetables mixed up with the rotini. Add this to the bowl of chopped up vegetables and toss like a salad until well mixed. My mix was about 1/4 rotini, 3/4 vegetables in the end.

Serve the sauce over the pasta/vegetable mix. It is tasty, and 1/2 cup of the sauce added to 1 cup of the pasta/veggie mix (which is a lot of food!) is approximately 3 points on the current (soon to be old) Weight Watchers system.

Sigh. Bad Customer Service complaint.

I hate that lately my blog has been open letters of complaints... I've been very busy and haven't had time to blog about anything else recently. And sadly, anger is often a strong motivator. But here's my open letter to Sbarro's for an extremely unpleasant situation I suffered today:


This is in regards to an employee of the 441 Smithfield St location; he is an older man who usually is responsible for warming and distributing the food. I do not know his name, but he is clearly older with greying hair, and a foreign accent. I will henceforth refer to him as "the employee in question."

Today I was at Sbarro for my lunch break. I ordered what I always order: a spinach stromboli. While waiting for it to warm, another lady ordered the same thing. I was idling while waiting, so did notice where hers was put relative to mine. When the employee in question retrieved my stromboli, I noticed he picked up the other customer's order, which had been in less time. I mentioned this to him, and he told me I was wrong, but that I should return it if it was cold.

I paid for my order and sat down. Sadly, my stromboli was barely lukewarm, and the cheese was still somewhat solidified. I debated taking it back, but knew I wasn't really going to be able to eat it as it was.

When I approached the employee in question, he started yelling at me immediately about how he did not take the wrong stromboli. I did immediately point out that neither of us were going to change our minds, so we shouldn't discuss this, but he continued arguing and yelling at me with all kinds of accusations and insults and putting me on the defensive. He even accused me of complaining on a prior date, which I do not recall, after ordering a broccoli pizza, which I would not have ordered. After the third time I mentioned that we were not going to change each other's minds about the events so could we drop it, he finally did while still muttering.

This was all issued at me at top volume while there was a line of customers waiting to place their orders looking very shocked at the proceedings. I was also horribly embarrassed, and very disappointed in having to put myself in a position of having to defend myself for a mistake he made. To be fair, he did heat up the stromboli, but my problem wasn't that a mistake was made, it was the verbal assault I got for asking for the mistake to be fixed -- in the manner he told me to do!

Further, when I went to the lady behind the cash register and asked if I could file a complaint, her response was, "He's heating it up for you now, right?" I pointed out that I was angry with his treatment of me, not the stromboli, and she maintained he was heating it up and refused to let me file a complaint.

And so, I bring this to your attention here. I am also posting this complaint as an open letter on my blog. Please respond so that I can let my readers know that the corporate company is much more responsive than that branch.

Thank you,

Gwendolyn R. Schmidt.

UPDATE 2:45pm:

I received a response from the company already, as follows!


Below is a very detailed Guest complaint concerning a Very Disappointing
SERVICE PERFORMANCE she received TODAY at your Smithfield Street
location at lunch time. It also illustrates the show that must have been
put on in front of a large lunch crowd. This could entirely been avoided
by simply a "S.I.N." (Settle IT NOW) Approach to handling a Guest
Complaint. Does your team really understand that the Guest is Always
right? Please Address this with the Team there today at Lunch Time and
take the steps to correct. I will be reaching out to the Guest - Ms.
Schmidt by phone (I am Copying Her on this e-mail as well) and will be
offering her my apology and a thank you for letting us know. I suggest
that you also reach out to her and make it right. Great Food and
Atmosphere just doesn't make it alone for a restaurant's success today.
Great Service is that 3rd Leg, and without it your business will surely
fall. I know that You as an Owner and Your Team is Better than this!
Copy me on the outcome.

Jeff Pingor - Sbarro NE Director
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    aggravated aggravated

Open letter to Allegheny General Hospital

(Names, other than mine, are removed for patient privacy)

Gwendolyn R. Schmidt
Granddaughter-in-law to *********

To Allegheny General Hospital,

****** was admitted to Allegheny General Hospital ER sometime between 10pm and 11pm on October 13, 2010. She was sent there with a broken neck. She is a 94 year old woman. She was followed by her family (daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren), the ******.

What followed is a series of unfortunate circumstances that are troubling. In particular, attention should be given to the following events:
• For three hours, she was frantic and asking for her family, and in particular her daughter, to join her. The ***** family was not allowed back to see her during this time.
• By 7:30am on October 14, 2010, she was still not assigned a room and a bed. It was stated that she would be unlikely to have a bed before 11am.
• At 7am, a phone call was placed to “Patient Information”, who insisted that the patient, ******, was not admitted. When asked what that meant for the 94 year old woman with a broken neck, the caller was hung up on. Immediate subsequent calls resulted in indefinite holds. After a space, the caller could only get information on the patient by insisting that the call be sent to the ER. The call was not immediately transferred to the ER, but after about 5 transfers, finally located a nurse in the ER with information. The nurse did inform the caller that the patient was in the system as admitted. This meant that for half an hour, it appeared to the caller that the 94 year old woman had been lost in the hospital.

These are concerning actions from a hospital. It is understood that the hospital is over capacity, so the bed issue might be forgiven, but this is no excuse for not letting a troubled old woman not see her family for hours, nor is this an excuse for bad record keeping and a rude front operator.

Please look into these concerns and improve your customer relations and patient handling,

Gwendolyn R. Schmidt.
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    angry angry

Update to Morning Glory Inn saga...

Wow, the owner responded to my trip advisor review, and not only is he factually incorrect, he essentially called me a bridezilla. Specifically, I did not book online, I called to book, even asked about a deposit, as documented in my last post. And I called several times about the booking! But proving that he is, in fact, a total jerk, he says that my response is as a Bride who is "emotionally responding". I guess I'm just hysterical and full of hormones, huh?

Yes, I emotionally responded to being told, "that's life," instead of getting an apology for cancelling my wedding night reservation. I don't think that is at all unwarranted or unexpected. But I can very calmly say, "this guy is an ass, don't stay there." I don't think that is bridal hormones speaking.

Don't book with Morning Glory Inn, Pittsburgh!

Late February or early March, I booked a room with the Morning Glory Inn in the Southside for the night of the wedding. I thought that it might be nice on our wedding night to go to a nice Bed and Breakfast room, and perhaps gather at the Inn with out of town friends for late night chatting.

When I discussed these plans with the Inn owner Nancy Eshelman, she seemed pleased that we would consider her place as our after-wedding location. She went over the rooms with me, and I opted for a two-floor room (the Attic Suite) so that we could have people over for chatting purposes into the late night. We also let her know that we do live in the Southside nearby. She did ask why we did not consider having our reception there, but understood when we told her the number of guests. I did ask if I should make a deposit for our room, and I was told that we didn't need this.

A week or two later, two of our wedding party (one bridesmaid and one groomsman) decided to also book rooms at this location. When our groomsman was trying to book a room for him, his wife, and his dog, we discovered that Morning Glory Inn had reserved two rooms in my name, the room we wanted (which is also the only pet friendly room) and the Wedding Suite! We did get this straightened out, and I opted for a room near the Courtyard, thinking that the late night chatting could occur there instead.

Please note that all of this was discussed with Nancy. She knew very well that we were a wedding party, that we were all together, and that I had been planning to do quiet after-reception gathering at her location.

Time passes. Four months, to be exact. At 11:17 this morning, I get this voicemail:

Voicemail Message mp3

Hi, er, Gwendolyn ... Schmidt. This is Dave at Morning Glory Inn. I regret to let you know that we cannot honor your reservation on October 9th as we have a two night wedding that weekend. The Holiday Inn Express and the new Spring Hill Suites have availability. The Suites is 412 488 8003. Thank you.

I also check my email to find our groomsman had forwarded the email notification he received about same:

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 10:45:53 -0400
From: Dave Eshleman <>

Hello [groomsman],

I am sorry for the inconvenience, but we cannot accommodate your
reservation for October 9, 2010. May we suggest the new Marriott Spring
Hill Suites – 412-488-8003 or the Holiday Inn Express 412-488-1130. Both
are in the neighborhood and both have free shuttles.


Morning Glory Inn


Our groomsman had contacted them and found out that the Inn had been rebooked, yanking out all of our reservations.

I then called the Inn to find out what was going on myself. What I can recollect of the conversation is as follows.

Me: Hello, this is Gwendolyn Schmidt, you left me voicemail?
Dave: Yes, we cannot honor your reservation. We have booked the entire Inn for a two night wedding, and need your rooms.
Me: OK, but I made these reservations before them. You can just pull them?
Dave: The other wedding is giving us $14,000. We need your rooms to fulfill their requests.
Me: But, we're a wedding too. You're cancelling my wedding night?
Dave: That's life.
Me: How can you run a business like this?
Dave: You're right, this is a business. We run it like a business.
Me: I will be contacting the Better Business Bureau about this.
Dave: You do that.

The text in bold I do remember him saying very precisely. It was this attitude that really made me furious; "We're cancelling your wedding night reservations, that's life." Seriously? And he made sure to put extra emphasis on the word "business" when explaining to me what he was.

This is very shoddy business practices though. Why?

1) We live in the Southside, just a few blocks from this Inn, and two of our closest friends had booked rooms there. Had they been wonderful, they would have seen future business from all three of us: our two friends would have loved to stay there again when visiting us, and we would have been happy to recommend the place to other visiting friends.
2) Two of the people kicked out (the groom and the groomsman) are running a small startup company themselves. This place could have been a nice convenient place for potential clients or future conferences for their company. This is lost business for the Morning Glory Inn as well.
3) They knew we had a large wedding; this is a large network to start with, and further it implies that we have a lot of friends. Our word of mouth networking power is mighty, and our friends and guests will learn about this miserable experience. That is also potentially lost revenue.

I am amazed at the whole experience with this place. Honestly, if they had approached us with the attitude of remorse, one where they apologized profusely for the double booking and offered to help us find accomodations elsewhere, I would be much more forgiving. But it scalds me that I am told the other parties' price for their wedding in a way to feel like I should feel inferior for not spending as much at their location, and that I was literally told, "That's life." There is no remorse in this attitude, only snobbery.

In the end, we will have benefitted from this. I have been looking at reviews online for Morning Glory Inn and have discovered that if we had ended up there, we likely would have encountered problems concerning our late night gathering. Dave and Nancy seem to have a habit of micromanaging their guests. I am now sorry for the people who booked their wedding there.

I have managed to get a block of rooms at the Spring Hill Suites. The Spring Hill Suites have already treated me far better, and I have a signed contract. The only downside is that there were only 15 rooms available the night of our wedding; we are likely to need more. I am looking into the Holiday Inn Express for additional support.

I did contact the Better Business Bureau, as I told him I would, and registered a complaint. I forwarded that confirmation to him with a bullet point list of why he probably lost more future profits than the actual profits he made with the wedding he kicked us out for. I told him that I hoped he considered this in the future before displacing another wedding party like my own.

I just hope to get the word out to warn any of my friends (or their friends) of this peril: Don't book at Morning Glory Inn in the Southside, unless you like terrible service with a helping of attitude.
  • Current Mood
    pissed off pissed off
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Penn Brewery's Microbrewers Fest

Penn Brewery has an interesting history, especially most recently. In the last few years, the long time owner Tom Pastorius sold it to someone, that someone ran it into the ground quickly, and Tom Pastorius eventually bought it back. Penn Brewery was closed during this last transition and has recently re-opened to its former glory, including the restaurant, brewing, and bottling.

But that is not today's story. Today's story is about their Microbrewery Fest held out in the large beer garden. The UB and I went, and sampled about 25 beers; most of which we had not tried before (and we try a lot of beers!) In the past at brewfests, I've tweeted as I sampled, but today I tried something new: I recorded my reactions. I will attempt to summarize my list here, but also link to my more immediate reactions to each beer as I tasted them.
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So, all in all, a very good set of 26 beer samples. I will note that there were many more beers than we sampled on site (for instance, we had none of the Magic Hat brews.. or even Penn Brewery's itself!), but that was because in interest of calories, time, and drunkenness, we wanted to concentrate on the beers we haven't had before, or haven't had in a while. If you are local, and a beer lover, I recommend hitting this brewfest next year!

Guard your online presence

So, typing this on my iPad. Please forgive typos.

Just got off the phone with a friend who, without going into too many details, was tossed out of her (schooling, work, pick something), because they managed to get a hold of her locked Twitter feed. She was ranting about how things were going, and they felt that she was sharing classified information.

I don't need to go into more details than that. Certainly, we've seen this before, notably with the very public happenings with Virginia Montanez, AKA PittGirl, or @JanePitt.

But when you see this happen to someone who was not a public figure, was just any random person who had just a few of her solid friends on her locked down Twitter feed, and would only say things like, "Man, today sucked, I got yelled at during work. I think I'll wash it off with a hot bath".

Well, it shows that any one of us could be held accountable and fired because we thought we were just sharing with friends. So just assume that anything you put online is public, even if "locked". It's just better that way.

I'm sorry today's blog post is short and preachy, but I'm really quite upset about this, and I gotta go to bed -- early day tomorrow.

Posted via Journaler.