Here’s an open letter to Mr. Bolt:
It’s July 31, and all of Jamaica is waiting on track and field to start, me included! I can’t help but feel though, that Beijing was as good as it’s gonna get for us. Look at the USA male gymnasts and swimmers…not living up to expectations are they! The thing is, there are so many extremely hungry competitors just straining at the bit to compete and win. All of this notwithstanding, I remain respectful and in awe of the talent of our athletes. I sincerely hope that Usain Bolt not only defends his titles, but that he sets some new world records too. Greedy? I think so…but hey…Usain is a SUPERSTAR, in terms of his amazing talent (have you ever really looked at him over the last 40m of his race?) and also in terms of his natural ability to interact with people…so darned comfortable in his own skin.
And I absolutely love VCB and Shelly-Ann and ma girl Melaine. Man…I wish them well. And as for Asafa…I’m going to say it here: if anyone is to beat Bolt, I would like it to be Asafa. I would be happy. I am so nervous though. In the sprints there is absolutely zero room for error, and the rounds are taxing, and the whole false start thingy….we just have to wait and send love and positive vibrations to our Team over there. GOOD LUCK, GUYS!
Let me say, I enjoyed the opening ceremony. It was entertaining and not too long, and reflected what Britain is quite well. I still say that LA 1984 will remain my favourite opening ceremony. Who can forget the 84 grand pianos playing in unison? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_B-lgIc2_w I will admit that the fact that I was watching the opening ceremonies with my family while enjoying pizza and drinking rum could have contributed to my overall enjoyment of the proceedings! And then came Team Jamaica on to the filed, resplendent in their edgy and colourful uniforms. Awesome! I suspect that at the next staging of the games, Olympic uniforms will undergo a paradigm shift from the traditional boring and stodgy to something more in the vein of our uniforms, and the parade of the athletes will take on a vibe not unlike a haute couture fashion show! No problem as far as I am concerned.
I am pissed at the fact that I can’t watch the games on NBC. It’s great that we can watch the events live. But I don’t think our local station would lose viewers if we had the option of watching the games on cable that we have already paid for! I guarantee you that in any event with a Jamaican, Jamaica would turn to CVM. Simple. But I want the option to take in NBC’s perspective too, and to relax and enjoy the delayed coverage that they are offering.
On now to the Jamaican athletes who have done well so far. Samantha Albert (equestrian) remains a puzzle in my mind. I wonder why she didn’t represent Canada or the UK…methinks she should have been able to do either…anyhows, good effort on her part. Yes, my enthusiasm is muted, but is so it go.
Alia Atkinson copped a great 4th place in the 100m breaststroke swimming. She competed like a champion and I wish her all the best in her two remaining events. She’s strong, and fit and fast with the heart and demeanor of a champion.
In closing, allow me to ask some questions that have come to mind:
1. If there’s table tennis in the Olympics, why isn’t there netball. Just saying…
2. Why can’t the genders compete together in events that don’t require speed or strength? Take for instance shooting…that requires a steady hand and a good eye. Methinks the sexes can compete fairly here.
3. Where are the breasts of the female swimmers? Is it the swimsuit that has crushed them flat?
4. I wonder if the condoms that they have distributed in the Olympic village are being used up? I am somewhat intrigued by reports of sexual activity in the village. As one person in the article I read said: “everyone in the village has a great body!”
5. What the hell is the Jamaica50 secretariat going to do if Jamaica doesn’t get a gold in the male 100m on Aug 5? They are planning celebrations around the race…talk about pressure! It’s never really a good idea to plan around an unknown. And we still don’t have any guarantee that JA will get a gold in the event. The damn race lasts for 10 seconds (count them!) and every one of the 8 that will be in the race is a competent athlete to say the least.
6. Why do all the female beach volley ballers have ponytails?
7. Why do all the female beach volley ballers NOT get a wedgy?
8. Why do all the female beach volley ballers look so darned good in a bikini? (can you tell I’m a tad obsessed with the the female beach volley ballers?
9. Why hasn’t Yohan Blake uttered a word since he’s been in London?
Let the Games continue!
This week, a friend asked me how I do all the stuff that I do with the kids. “You must have a huge budget, Kelly!” he remarked. The answer is no. I do not have a huge budget. But when you have kids and you work too, it is critical to do stuff together where everyone (and that includes you!) can relax. You get to de-stress and you build memories too. It is possible here in Jam Down with a little planning. So this post is dedicated to EY. May you have fun times with your girls and build memories for a life-time.
MY MUST HAVES FOR A FUN TIME
1. Working vehicle
2. Tank full of gas
You see, with all of the above in place, there are so many options open to you. Here are some of my favourites:
1. BEACH TRIPS:
Ocho Rios Public Beach, Frenchman’s Cove (Portland), Doctors Cave (Montego Bay), Negril, Ft. Clarence. Any of the above can be done in a single day. For Negril and Mobay, leave home early (think 6am). Buy patties en route for breakfast or make sandwiches from the night before. Pack your own snacks and fruit that you bought in the grocery, and pack water and juices, soda and rum for Mummy. Admission to these beaches ranges from 150.00 per person to 400.00. Now many of these beaches don’t allow you to bring your own food. Some of the food options on the beaches are really overpriced in my opinion. So for those beaches with the expensive options, I still carry my snacks and frozen bottles in my beach bag, and promise the kids to stop somewhere more affordable for food on the way back. This adds another dimension to the road trip. Kids are usually more than satisfied with the low budget options available like BK and KFC, and I also use the opportunity to expose them to various jerk spots and “decentish” cook shops where you can get get good Jamaican food for under 500.00 (there are great places with parking along the Northcoast highway like that spot opposite Green Grotto Caves, Lyming, jerk in Blueberry Hill, St. Mary, Spur Tree curry goat. On every road trip I look out for potential stop-offs and plan for them on my next trip.
2. THE ZOO IN KINGSTON:
I think it is now 500.00 for adults and 200.00 for kids. This is a central oasis that doesn’t require big planning. Stop at KFC or your favourite take out place, get your food, carry a blanket (or not!) and head off to the zoo. The zoo has recently been transformed and the grounds which were lovely before with huge expanses of lawn, are even lovelier now with the addition of many many palm trees and the creation of new picnic areas. You can picnic in peace and quiet under the mango trees and enjoy the quietude and breeze. The children will enjoy running up and down looking at the animals and you can walk with them or not. It never gets tired. There are new animals with the promise of more to come. There are interactive exhibits where for a little more money (think 200.00 per person) you can feed the birds or pet specific animals. Check it out! It’s a fun, hassle-free way to take a few hours off and just relax.
3. THE NATIONAL GALLERY
An hour and a half in the gallery on a quiet Saturday morning down town Kingston is a wonderful way to expose your children (and you too!) to another side of our culture. Sometimes there are exhibits and activities there geared towards children. Admission is free I believe. Parking is secure. And when you are finished., just take a walk with your children along Harbour Street. Take them into Burger King for a little treat. Easy, fun and memorable.
4. TOM REDCAM LIBRARY
I could almost copy and paste the verbiage for the National Gallery here.
5. EMANCIPATION PARK
The park is lovely in the evening, just before the sun sets. It’s still light, but it’s cooler. There’s an icecream shop opposite the entrance to the park. Get a single scoop of your favourite flavour and saunter slowly into the park. Chat, walk, people watch and grab a seat on a bench or on the grass. From time to time there are shows there that you can enjoy for free. But even without a show, the park remains a great choice to just exhale and clear your mind. Really young children love it. The huge expanses inspire them to just run, and by the time you get home and bathe them they’re ready to crash! Hint: keep those toddlers awake in the car on the way home so they sleep when you get home, and you can relax with a glass of wine in from of the TV. Heaven!
6. HOLLYWELL PARK
It’s just a 45 minute drive from Papine. Pack a picnic, wear your sneakers, carry your sweaters and lots of drinking water and fruit. A regular car can make that drive. Once there, I think you pay a nominal entry fee (something like 200.00 or 300.00 per adult and way less per child). Park and take one of 2 main hiking trails. Young children can do these walks. Each trail is 45 min long with great views along the way and lots of interesting things to see. Check in at the Ranger cabin so someone knows you are out there. Ensure that you have your cell phone and get to walking. Aim to get there by 10:00 am. and do your hiking then. The afternoons get overcast, misty and rainy…great picnic weather huddled under one of the many gazebos on property.
7. DRIVE-OUTS IN AND AROUND KINGSTON:
So I love to drive! Grab your favourite music, make a big deal of it, and load up the car. Head out to the lighthouse near the airport. Watch the planes come in, look at the sea. Talk. Collect rocks along the shore.
Drive through the more affluent neighbourhoods like Beverly Hills, Norbrook, Cherry Gardens and do some harmless House Hunting. It’s fun. You can chat along the drive.
Do the Port Royal Tour. I don’t think it’s more than 500.00 for adults. It’s fun and it’s informative.
I highly recommend the Bob Marley Museum tour. Can’t remember the fee, but it is way less than a movie for sure. Even children will find it interesting.
Go for ice cream at Devon House. Saturday afternoons are good. It’s not too crowded, and it feels like such a treat to break your day and just sit under a tree or gazebo eating great ice-cream.
Mayfair Hotel in Kingston is a great spot for the kids to swim and Mom and Dad to have a drink. For 350.00 you can swim and relax under a huge mango tree out back. There’s a bar and grill. It’s central, quiet and safe.
8. LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Palace Amusement rocks. I loooove the movies: the dark and cool and nachos and my sneaked in flask of tonic to take me through animate features (I hate cartoons in any form). Nowadays, I consider movies a big budget item! So I carefully choose what we’ll go to see and make an event of it. And to be perfectly honest, I go by myself after work from time to time. Ain’t nothing nicer than sinking into that cushy seat by yourself, in the dark with your snack of choice, enjoying not having to talk for 2 hours and being entertained. Try it…
Take the kids to an age appropriate local play. My kids enjoyed Breadfruit Kingdom
They enjoyed the Pantomime last year too.
Save some $$$ and look out for all-inclusive hotel specials and do this once per year.
Create your own rituals. In my house, Sundays are special. I throw down on a Sunday and we lounge around at the dinner table for 3 hours eating and talking.
Always be on the look out for festivals, free shows, exhibitions, etc that you and your children could be interested in. Naturally, this list is not exhaustive. There are numerous big ticket items like the Water Park in Negril, paint-balling in St. Thomas, Mystic Mountain and swimming with the Dolphins. You can plan for these. I haven’t spoken about Castleton, heritage stops in various parishes, and the many other beaches around Jamaica Land we Love.
My next road trip will be a drive to Black River to do the Black River safari (1600.00 per person). I may stop at the Grace agro-processing facility in St. Elizabeth on the way back and get a tour of the facilities. We’ll see…
It’s always more about building the memories and creating an environment and context where your children feel safe and loved. Have Fun!!!!!
My earlier blog entry Poor Customer Service at Cafe Blue got the attention of Management there, and I got the following response today. I think the response is commendable, and I appreciate it. I replied with thanks and also asked that they consider my simple and practical proposals. I hope they do. Since posting, I have received feedback from more than one person that their experience there has been less than satisfactory. I think their product rocks, and I hate to see entrepreneurs fail because of factors that are entirely in their control. Entrepreneurs are that intrepid bunch of brave souls who risk capital and dream big…long may they live!
Good Afternoon Ms. McIntosh,
We sincerely apologized for your last experience at Cafe Blue. I was forwarded your blogged regarding your experience at Cafe Blue and we are all very sorry that the issue was not handled with more urgency and care. We strive to provide you with the best possible strive, and when you feel that it fails to meet your expectation, its important for us to know, so as to address the issue. Please know that we take this very seriously. This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologize. We have already address and will be reviewing our procedures to avoid any reoccurrence of such event in the future.
Though this is no consolation to you for our lack of service, we would love to be given the oppotunity to regain your trust. On behalf of the Cafe Blue Team, we are offering you a Cafe Blue Gift Certificate which is valid until December 2012 as a token of our appreciate of having you as a Cafe Blue customer.
We sincerely apologize for your past experience and hope that your next visit will exceed the last.
Please let me know where and when you would be able to pick up the Gift Certificate.
So I had an hour between assignments in Kingston last week Friday morning and I decided to have coffee at Cafe Blue in Sovereign. It wasn’t crowded at 8:00am and I placed my order for a large latte and smoked marlin on a wheat bagel. The cafe is a very comfortable space and it smelled like heaven (we do have the best coffee in the world you know!). The person who took my order appeared to be the manager/supervisor on duty and she was pleasant and welcoming. So I sat, exhaled and took out the daily newspapers, grateful to start my day in such a relaxing way. Ten minutes passed…then 15 minutes…then 20 minutes…I started to get edgy and restless now…I noticed the place filling up, and then I noticed a couple who had come in after me being served. Okay…maybe their order was simpler than mine…no problem. Then I noticed a man who had come in after me being served….not cool! And by this time, the woman who was directly ahead of me had finished eating and got up to leave. All this time, none of the staff noticed that I was simply taking up space with no coffee, no nothing in front of me. I tried to catch the eye of one of the wait-staff, but that never happened. By this time I was steaming. I absolutely hate when my time is wasted or taken for granted. So I got up after 25 minutes and went to the counter and said: “I’d like to leave now. May I get a refund?” The cashier/supervisor looked at my receipt and said: ” Oh no! Sorry. Please don’t leave”. I looked her dead in the eye and gave her the Kelly stare and repeated that I’d really like to leave. But truth be told, I needed that latte…and I still had time.
Still very put out, I sat back down and in 5 minutes one of the wait-staff bought my latte. She was pleasant and smiling and faintly apologetic, but had no explanation for what happened. So of course I asked her what went wrong…she shrugged and smiled nicely and said she did not know. Sigh. In another 3 minutes, my bagel was brought to me by the Cashier/Supervisor. She was very apologetic. But she offered no explanation as to what happened. You know I asked what went wrong. She said something about my order being overlooked and again apologized.
Here’s what Cafe Blue did right: They apologized when I brought it to their attention that I had been overlooked.
Here’s what Cafe Blue did wrong:
The staff including the manager were totally unaware of what was happening in the small space that they managed, and how pleased or not their clients were. A simple scanning of the room at 3minute intervals to ensure that all was as it should be would have clued them in to the fact that the hottie in the corner (me) had been sitting sans coffee for far too long!
They offered no explanation for what went wrong. Most people I think are reasonable, and sometimes stuff happens. Had I been apologized to with an explanation that they misplaced the order or something…anything…I would have been somewhat mollified
They offered zero compensation for my inconvenience. I was sharing with my Bestie how absolutely put out I was at the treatment that was meted out to me at what he considers to be his favourite coffee spot. I thought that it would have been a great touch for the cashier/Supervisor to offer me a muffin or a small gift voucher to use on my next visit to Cafe Blue as a gesture of goodwill. In fact, the voucher would have been a brilliant peace offering, as it would go a long way in ensuring that a dissatisfied customer would return in the future for another chance to be wowed by great service and food. He shook his head sadly and said that they staff were probably not empowered to give away a muffin or a JD300.00 gift voucher. “Only at the Ritz-Carlton can you expect that type of service, Kelly.” He related a story about his having to wait in line in a certain store in the USA for 30 minutes and how apologetic the sales clerk was when he got to the top of the line. That sales clerk rang up the phone case that Bestie was buying and gave him for free!
The latte was all that I had anticipated and the bagel and smoked salmon on point. It wasn’t the food that left that bad taste in my mouth.
Here are my thoughts on the Jamaican Government’s latest move to bypass the office of the Contractor General in getting specific initiatives underway. I wrote them in the form of a letter to the Editor and The Sunday Observer published the letter today:
Don’t sacrifice due process for expediency
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Rendering the role of the contractor general redundant by creating a commission to “expedite” well-needed investments and get projects up and running is not only a retrograde step, but it is moreso an extremely dangerous action.
It is dangerous in terms of the precedent that it will set, allowing Parliament to bypass legitimate organs of the State which were born out of the need to ensure that the tax dollar is spent in the best interest of the country and to ensure that all decisions that affect Jamaica can stand up to scrutiny. It is dangerous, too, given the fact that Jamaica has a legacy of corruption at all levels of society.
The fact that we have racked up massive debt over the last few decades with very little to show for it (think of our decaying physical infrastructure, think of the state of our health and education sectors) is testimony, I believe, to pervasive corruption even if we have not fingered specific individuals.
Let me be clear though, I agree with the notion that Jamaica does not have the luxury of time to sit, ponder, twist and turn when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities that can help to remedy our dire economic and social situation.
I insist that the need to act quickly and decisively, anlong with the need to ensure the presence of checks and balances to guarantee transparency and accountability, are objectives that are not at odds with each other. It is entirely possible for the various State bodies and agencies that are beholden to the citizens and taxpayers of this country and are indeed funded by our blood, sweat and tears, to operate in such a way that the twin ideals of action and accountability coexist to our benefit.
Let us consider what happens in the private sector. As entities grow there is a natural tendency for bureaucracy to set in, and process and form quietly replace that entrepreneurial spirit that propelled them forward in the early days. Indeed, there is a role for the evolution and implementation of policies, procedures and internal controls as the organisation grows and there is more at risk.
But those of us who work in the private sector have seen quick decisions and rapid fire execution when the leadership agrees that a particular initiative is critical to the growth and sustainability of the organisation. What happens is not a disregard for policies, procedures and internal controls, but rather a swift redeployment of resources within the organisation.
That results in the critical initiative being bumped to the top of everyone’s list of priorities and the relevant due diligence is done sooner rather than later, allowing for speedy decision-making and implementation. This is what we refer to as “fast-tracking”.
What I am therefore proposing is simple: once specific initiatives that will help grow the economy and satisfy social imperatives are identified, the notion of “fast-tracking” or speeding up things should kick in. Surely, it is not beyond our Parliament to agree on critical initiatives and to then convince the Office of the Contractor General — the organ of the State charged with ensuring that the tax dollar is spent in accordance with structures that have been set up to protect the taxpayer — of the need to expedite the relevant due diligence, allowing for the speedy decision-making and implementation that I spoke of just now.
Expediting here does not mean bypassing or overlooking. Expediting means allocating resources in such a way that agreed on priorities are dealt with sooner rather than later.
We ought not to sacrifice due process for expediency, and we don’t have to.
Like the other L word, this one means different things to different people. But I think it is safe to say that one question sums it up in a universal way: “Who’s in charge here?”. Leadership is a field of study all on its own. Numerous tomes have been written on the subject, everyone has an opinion on it and it is often blamed when things don’t turn out as planned.
I’d like to weigh in with my own thoughts on the topic.
• I believe that leadership can move mountains.
• I believe that more people are comfortable being lead than are comfortable being leaders.
• I believe that there is most definitely a role for someone to define and articulate a vision and get a team on board to make that vision a reality.
• I believe that a good Leader ought to ensure buy in from stakeholders
• I believe that there is a role for a final decision maker. I believe that a single person ought to be held accountable for the final outcome.
• I believe that the role of the Leader is to facilitate constructive conflict and then allow the best ideas to prevail
• I believe that the Leader ought to coordinate execution activities
• I believe that the Leader ought to encourage and deliberately seek to build Leadership among the team of followers
That being said, I also believe that there are some character and personality traits that are common to effective leaders:
• Mental agility
• Articulate by nature
• Understander of human nature
• Open minded
• Good listener
• Unafraid of confrontation
• Good negotiator
Imagine an organization where conflict is encouraged, allowing innovation to flourish…
Imagine an organization where your boss can integrate information quickly and articulate an end game that both challenges and inspires… Imagine an organization where all personality types feel as if they are really part of the team… Imagine an organization where decisions are made in a transparent manner in the best interest of the organisation, sooner rather than later….