My name is Wayne W. Smith and this blog contains my musings related to higher education, tourism and anything else that comes to mind. I invite you to scroll down and laugh where appropriate, cry when necessary but always remember to consider the source.
Whether we have hit seven billion this weekend or not, one needs to still question, how much population can the planet sustain? What happens if the BIC countries (Brazil, India & China) wants to live at a lifestyle close to what we have in the United States? How are we going to manage world resources? These are fundamental questions that keep getting put off for another day... The question is, how long can we put them off until we can not any longer because we are facing crisis?
1. This week I received an email inviting me to my high school reunion. I had to go back and check the records twice, it couldn't have been 20 years since I graduated from high school?
2. I have a kid that is choosing which high school she is going to next year (and have been married for 13 years).
3. I then looked in the mirror and of what hair is left, most of it is now gray.
4. My back is constantly sore and I am starting to feel arthritis in my hands (especially when it is cold and damp).
5. I used the phrase 'when I was sitting in your seat' in class last week to talk about paper ticketing versus online sales.
6. It is harder to keep my waist reduced even though my appetite is shrinking.
1. I had a child that turned one yesterday and another who is five - so they are still little.
2. I haven't turned 40 quite yet.
3. I can still run and beat the children at almost everything. Though they can outlast me at times.
4. I feel young...
Did I slip into mid-life and didn't get the memo or is this just my shot across the bow reminding me it is coming in the next few years?
This week I have twice been messed over by rules that basically punished me for doing the right thing. Now, one can have multiple reactions to said occurrences but here is my philosophy. Just keep doing the right things. Yes, it may bite you in the butt from time to time but I sleep with a clear conscious and that is worth more than any benefit I might derive from skirting my moral compass for personal gain.
I have felt for a long time that one of the hardest challenges to being a good person is to 'get dragged down' by those who either seek to take advantage of your kindness or by rules that punish good behavior (mostly because they are I'll concieved).
I love my students but there were five different instances of their printers either running out of ink or not working properly. Here are a few pieces of advice for you: 1) always have an extra cartridge at your home; and 2) don't leave it to the last minute to print it. Have your assignment completed and printed the night before. By taking these two steps, you will have a lot of stressed reduced.
Of the best laid plans - isn't it amazing how those don't always work out even when well concieved? Then again, I can take solice in the analogy that I am mere facing a tropical storm of work rather than a hurricane. I was hoping however, for a mere shower. Oh well! Life is indeed good. Happy & healthy family, food on the table, roof over the head living in relative peace. How can one really complain?
According to Venturebeat.com's, Meghan Kelly, Google (also see the NY Times Article here) has recently bought the restaurant review company Zagat for $151 million. This could have some very interesting ramifications for the hospitality industry. Currently, in order to get to the Zagat ratings as a consumer, one has to go behind a subscriber pay wall. One can only expect an Android App to be released where one could check the Zagat report as well as consumer reviews of every restaurant. How would this change the rating game? Today, I am envisioning an App like Urbanspoon but expanded to where not only the reviews are present but also with the ability to see the menu, book online reservations or order take out as well as the current GPS features available. This is the type of App that could completely change the restaurant business markets itself. I will be interested to see what Google does with Zagat over the coming months.
One of my favorite parts of being an academic is getting to read the work of other people within the field. In the past year I have reviewed some 18 academic papers to date as well as getting to review books as well. Yesterday, one of my favorite book reviews was published in Annals of Tourism Research.
Assigned 16 May 2011. Submitted 6 June 2011. Accepted 15 June 2011.. Available online 17 October 2011.
This text is an enjoyable read and should be required for any individual doing a PhD in the field. The Origins of Hospitality and Tourism takes the reader through the beginning of this humble sector so that the reader can understand why it is formed as it is today. The text is well written, beautifully researched, and makes a contribution as being the first book that examines the origins of hospitality and tourism. Beyond its academic contribution, this text presents a commentary that may have been unintended by the author but is important nonetheless. Lately, the hospitality industry has been centered on being just that, an industry. Those in the industry talk about customer or guest services and how to balance services with profitability. Industry managers are constantly looking for a competitive advantage by implementing new marketing messages, offering new packages and services at a value rate. This has turned the industry into one of the most complicated in terms of revenue and channel management. The sector has become so high tech that practitioners risk forgetting the fundamental core: to be a good host for out guests. The text serves as a reminder of what the core really is and, in that lesson, comes the collection’s real contribution.
The reminder of origins is first put into perspective when the author provides a beautiful summary of how the words “host” and “guest” have evolved to their contemporary meaning in English. This discussion of how the terms evolved highlights the importance of host-guest relations and of the duty people traditionally owe to those who come to visit. It one reads carefully, one can see where the core of guest services arose and perhaps how the field has gone astray over the past decade or so. This work highlights the need for more research into the origins of guest services that could perhaps lead to new insights into what the core experience should contain and what should be the emphasis in terms of guest services. As an aside, beyond the lessons for customer or guest services, there are also nice tourism development lessons to be learnt from as well. The graph displaying the cluster of commercial establishments in the center of Pompeii would service today as an excellent example of destination design and service clustering (perhaps, though, without the lumpanar (brothel)).
Overall, it was stated at the beginning that this text should be a required reading for any PhD in the field. Beyond graduate students, this text should be a must-read for industry managers. The lessons contained within the text are beyond that of a series of facts and fascinating stories (of which there are plenty) but rather addresses the core of what perhaps the industry should be about, hospitality. While no one is now likely to have a servant take care of a guest’s horse and spear upon arrival, staff still often help the guest from his or her car and assist with luggage. The core remains the same and perhaps there are lessons in that.
Yesterday, we went to an open house of high schools for Robyn (for Heather's take on the event click here). As we went through the rows of schools, we knew we had three choices in mind before we started with an open-mind to see what else was out there that we may not know about.
The first school we came up to was one which we thought it was going to be a good fit from the moment we moved to Charleston. We went up to their booth and was basically ignored. We gathered the material from the table and then dared to ask a couple of questions. The answers could not have been shorter or more curt.
We then went to the table of the second school. This is a well known school and is generally regarded as the best academic high school in the state. The impression we got from them was that our daughter, who scores regularly in the top five percentile on her statewide standardized tests, would be privileged to go there. The representative was just dripping with snobbishness.
I was then starting to feel like we were in the Three Bears story. The first was too cold, the second was too hot.
Our third stop was better. The representative was nice and asked Robyn questions. She presented the program well but it didn't seem like a good fit for her. It was luke warm...We then thought ut oh!
We then hit the front and a school we considered a possibility but never really thought in depth about. The representative took time with us. He patiently answered questions, presented the program in a way that would be student focused and went out of his way to make Robyn feel wanted. In other words, it feel just right.
We are still going to go to the open houses of all four schools but the lesson as always, is that if you are going to have someone represent your school, please make sure it is someone who has some concept of recruiting.
Our 13 year old is in grade eight and we have to apply to high schools for her in November. Today we are going to an open house for high schools. The question must be asked, what are the ingredients of a good high school? For me, I am looking for three main things:
1. The school has to be engaging in various types of education. I want to see classroom experiences combined with experiential learning. I want to see that education to them is just not what you scored on your latest standardized test;
2. I want to see a nurturing environment. In a perfect world, the school has excellent diversity where perspectives of all types are accepted and discussed. I want to see a school where respect is not just demanded of the students but also demanded of the faculty as well. Respect is a two-way street; and
3. Please just for a minute, forget the edu-babble and talk to me as a parent in a manner that I am treated as a partner in my child's education. Don't just lip service me - demonstrate to me that you understand that education does not stop at the classroom door. I know students in high school have to be more independent but that does not mean parents should be completely cut out of the loop.
While the final choice is my 13 year old's, it will be her school after all, that we can help guide her choice to give her opportunities for success in her future. I guess that should be the goal of any parent.
Another addition of Friday Fragments for everyone to enjoy (or at least waste some valuable brain cells on):
1. Just in case the rapture does happen today as predicted....:-) I wish everyone a good afterlife. It has been a fun existence.
2. Perhaps it is a sign of the rapture but it is cool in Charleston this morning. Dont you just hate that first really cool morning of the year and having to get out of a warm bed? So which way would you rather die; a) in a warm bed cozy & asleep; or b) at the end of really hot marital relations? Quite the choice.
3. Kids have today off of school. My poor wife. I am sure she will be hoping for the rapture by noon 9:00 AM.
4. We have to go high school shopping for the 13 year old tomorrow. It is amazing how when you get older time seems to move faster... When you are little you are counting sleeps until something, then you start counting weeks, then months. I am at the stage when I am thinking about years. My parents talk about decades as they were just yesterday. Hmmm....the time fabric breaking up - more signs of the rapture?
Well let's all hope there is a planet next week to fragment upon.
The other night we went out to dinner to celebrate my wife's birthday. As the service was a little slow, the kids were getting impatient and dinner was beginning to be a nightmare. Out then came the iPad and we discovered the restaurant had free WiFi! Next thing you to thanks to the WiFi, combined with an iPad and Nexflix the fie year old was now entertained and it allowed for dinner to be a nice experience.
This summer when we were driving to Canada from South Carolina (an 15+ hour drive), we often stopped at McDonalds because they offered free WiFi. We would stop to check email, traffic reports, for local attractions and locations of playgrounds. Twice during the trip, we booked our hotel room while eating a happy meal.
Per McDonalds website:
"We believe in bringing you innovative and convenient services that enhance your McDonald's restaurant visit, and Wi-Fi is a perfect example. As McDonald's continues to deliver fast and friendly food service at more than 30,000 convenient locations around the world, you can now enjoy the possibility of staying connected with friends, family and co-workers. Just find a Wi-Fi ready restaurant and you can check e-mail or chat with your friends while your kids are having fun in the Playplace. To access the Wi-Fi services in a restaurant, you need a Wi-Fi enabled device, such as a laptop or PDA."
This has gotten me thinking. Why don't more restaurants offer this service? It is a low cost option and a good way to keep your customers happy. It drives business and if done correctly could present a world of marketing opportunities.
This weeks post comes from the individual that left a San Francisco server the following tip:
I believe the moral of the story goes back to the old saying, if you don't have anything nice to say...
I am not saying it is not okay to complain about poor service. I am also not saying that tips should not be raised or lowered depending on the quality of service. I do think however, that one shou.d remain civil when doing so. Leavig five cent tips and sarcastic remarks on bills is not going to improve the service for the next person.
FYI - if you are willing to complain about bad service are you willing to compliment excellent service as well? I have a habit of writing a thank you note on the bill for excellent service along with a nice tip. Then again, I would be happy if the restaurant industry did away with tipping altogether by paying good wages. I would be happy to pay an extra 15% if that meant what I saw on the bill is actually what I had to pay.
Why do educators complain about the quality of students today? I don't think this generation is really different than any other one. There are those that want to work and achieve and then there are those that are not as motivated. The students of today are for the most part, good kids trying to find their way in a ever-changing environment.
Speaking of ever changing evnvironments,
Is sleep vastly overrated? As a parent I go with less sleep that I did when I was having fun in undergrad. Then again, I think I have just as much fun now and I can actually recall most of the memories the next day. Then again the headaches the next day are still similar except when I stopped drinking those headaches went away, I can not stop my children.
What an interesting week this has been. A few notes:
1. I do have a really cool department head. This week he demonstrated a political deftness that was near inspiring. Work is so much easier when your immediate supervisor is competent.
2. On the other side of competent, over the past two weeks I have missed my bus connection three times because our local transit system CARTA has all the reliability of a AMC Gremlin.
3. It is now fall break at the College of Knowledge - I will be enjoying my break by grading 96 midterm/ final (for my express course) exams. I will say however, that my express course, meetings and conventions, was probably grade wise the best I have ever had while at the College. The average GPA for my class is usually a B- or C+ - I am expecting that class to be close to an A- average. What a special group! Congratulations to the class for achieving such a high level of academic performance.
4. What a week for awards. Charleston was named the best tourist city in America and my good friend Steve Litvin was named the School of Business Researcher of the Year. Congrats to all for superior work!
Heather is hooking my fragments up to the original home of the fragments, so feel free to head over and chech out who else has linked up:
This week Facebook launched its iPad App (it is free). I downloaded the App on Tuesday and have been using it ever since. So far, it has only crashed once on me. The interface is clean and it is and I do like the sliding feature from side to side. The interface is easy to use and I have had no problems learning to update my status, take and upload photos as well as keeping up with the news feed. The App also has a nice clean look and is easy on the eyes.
A few downsides, it does not play web-based video well at all. Further, the majority of games do have the Flash issue (if you do not know Apple devices do not support Flash). The crazy thing was that it has Lexulous up as a potential game to play. When I tapped it, it took me to the iTunes store for an opportunity to buy their App for $1.99. Why would I pay $1.99 to buy an App I can play for free on a 'regular' computer? That is just annoying.
Just an FYI, Facebook yesterday launched its first upgrade to the App. The upgrade seems nice but it is just easier to delete the current App and re-download as the upgrade causes the old one to crash. From the AP store" NOTICE TO USERS UPGRADING FROM AN OLDER VERSION: If you're having trouble starting the app after the upgrade, please delete and re-install it - this has been confirmed to solve the issue."
Overall, I give the App a thumbs up but hope one day that world of Apple and the Facebook world can someday be truly united.
It is a rainy and nasty day here today. I got a whole four hours sleep last night and I feel well... Lets just say I feel unpleasant. Therefore, in an effort to brighten up my mood, I present these songs few of us want to admit that we like. Bubble gum pop tunes! The rules for this particular contest:
The song has to be happy and cheerful;
The chorus has to be highly repetitive and easily remembered;
The song has to have a hook in the music so that you could identify it in just a few notes; and
If the song is from a one hit wonder band - it is a bonus.
The first song is can only be described as cheerful:
When I first heard this song, I wanted to stab my ears with an ice pick but like a bad fungus, it just grows on you...
With summer now ending and the weather outside being rainy, cool and dreary, how could one not think of Len's Steal My Sunshine
Now I didn't really consider the next video to be really in this category...
but Disney did this, and now it has to be included...
One of the more interesting things about being a father is how different your children really are.
Take Robyn - she is smart, sassy with a hint of a dry humor I so appreciate. I am waiting for the day when she is smarter than I am (and it is not that far away).
Then there is Liam. He is so focused. He has a mysterious side that you quite never know what he is thinking. I am waiting for him to come home one day to say he invented the next great piece of technology that none of us knew what he was working on.
Then there is Erik, who is a social butterfly with one heck of a mischievous side. I can not wait to get a call from his principal that he played a prank on some unwitting classmate one day that went a little too far.
All in all, they are all good kids but man are they different but I guess that is what makes them so special.
My tenure interview was yesterday - now I am just waiting for my departmental review letter and then my package gets sent to the Dean's office for examination. What an interesting experience the whole tenure process is.
I feel like a bad dad these last couple of weeks. My schedule has been brutal and leaving at 6:30 AM and not getting home until after 8:00 PM has meant that I have barely seen my children. Good thing grandparents have been a visitin' and they barely noticed my absence because of the fun that comes with grammy & grampy.
Thanks to grammy & grandpy for all their assistance the last two weeks. Life would have been really interesting otherwise.
I am really tired and beat up at the moment. It has been a long time since I have felt this worn down. I am looking forward to some quiet time over the next few weeks. Looking forward to sleep past 5:30 AM tomorrow. Perhaps I will get a sleep in until 7:00 AM. One can dream and wish can they not?
Three times in he last week, I have heard people use the term irony incorrectly. Please forward to 1:42 on video below for an excellent explanation of how to use this term correctly.
Alanis, I love you but this is a butchering of the English language has to be addressed - you have seemed to corrupted a whole generation who now uses the word incorrectly. Isn't that ironic, don't you think?