Archive | August, 2009

Shortt Supply rocks it on local sports video

28 Aug

Want to see some cool video of local sports action? Check out the Shortt Supply web site for several videos produced by co-owner Brian Shortt’s son Tyler. I particularly enjoyed his report on the recent World Moth Racing Championships sailing races in Cascade Locks. Moths, as I learned only recently, are these cool dingies that pop up onto a hydroplane and accelerate.

Brian and Tyler are making great mischief with their video skills. Word is, they’re going to shoot the Blue-Gold intrasquad game tonight at Hood River Valley High School, do a flash edit and music synch, then show the video on an exterior wall of the school as the kids emerge from the locker room.

Guerrilla, boyz. Tyler, by the way, runs his video business out of this All Exits Action Sports Video web site.

What DO the greeters actually do?

28 Aug

Not much, apparently. One of our companies, Gorge Catering, was working a wedding on the west side of Hood River recently when it came time for dessert. Come to find out, the wedding planner hadn’t arranged for plates and forks for dessert.

Whoops. So, here I go, off on an urgent mission to find paper or plastic or foam plates and forks. Dare I say it, I went first to the closest store, Wal-Mart. Right inside the front door, I asked the greeter, “Where are the paper plates?”

He looked at me as if I had just arrived from Mars and was speaking a foreign language.

“Uh, I don’t rightly know,” he said.

Oh, Lord. So, off I go to find the stuff, and do, but they don’t have boxes of forks. They have mixed sets of plastic dinnerware — knives, forks and spoons. No sporks, even, which you’d think would be perfect for Wal-Mart. Hell, even a sporknife would be interesting.

So, I realize I’m going to have to go somewhere else. I buy the plates anyway, figuring the other place might be out of THOSE.

Off to Rite-Aid, where I ask the first clerk I see, “Where are the plastic forks?” “Back by the end of the coolers, just past the door, on the right.”

They were there. Boxes of forks, just forks, nothing but the forks. Woo-hoo! I friggin’ LOVE Rite-Aid. Guess where I’ll go — first — next time?

The greeter? Here, greet this. Just another reason why I hate the big box.

Nice props for Full Sail pilsner in Gourmet

28 Aug

Check out Joshua Bernstein’s piece pouring props for the LTD 03 pilsner from Full Sail Brewing — “Eight Great Pilsners” — at Gourmet.com.

How do you like your ISP?

27 Aug

I’ll be blunt. Over time, I experienced a certain advanced degree of frustration with some first-gen Gorge providers of internet connectivity. Without going into detail, I found myself trying a new outfit starting up out of The Dalles and expanding into the Hood River area, with a wireless tower in White Salmon bouncing digits at my dish.

I gotta tell you, I love Qnect.net. Not that they haven’t had their hiccups. By that, I mean outages. But the thing I love about them is that they understand that there are people out here who depend on them, and when something goes wrong, they don’t just curl up in a ball and drool all over themselves.

On several occasions, they have called to let me know about pending shutdowns to repair or upgrade service. This is usually no problem, because like most people, they schedule it in the middle of the night.

The other day, about 3:30 p.m., I was just about to begin the online loading process for a grant application. The deadline was at 5 p.m. OK, I hadn’t left myself a lot of cushion. But what were the odds of an ISP outage? Well, maybe I should’ve been playing the lottery that day, because I went to upload stuff, and … nothing. Zilch. Nada. Dead in the water.

I called Qnect.net. Hu-LO! I tried not to sound too frantic, but hey, I’m a little frantic over here. Got an outage over there?

Yep, they had lost power to the tower. Someone was on the way with backup power. Expected it up within the half hour.

They beat their prediction by 10 minutes. I got the job done.

Then, Tuesday afternoon of this week, a fiber optic provider had a problem with its switches in Portland. It dinged more than just Qnect.net. I ran into someone at a business meeting Wednesday morning who said they had lost connectivity out of Portland.

Short of it is, I got an e-mail from Qnect.net Wednesday at 12:06 a.m. — just after midnight — explaining what had gone on. Did you get an e-mail, phone call or explanation from your ISP? Or did you have to call, and get in the wait line? Here’s what Qnect.net sent me. It’s not the first such message. But it shows that these guys understand customer service. And in a world where everybody has gizmos and wires and servers and billing departments, customer service is about the only way to differentiate yourself. I hope I can say the same thing in a year, but so far, so good.

To our valued customers,

Around 5:00pm tonight (Tuesday, 8/25) our primary fiber provider lost its core
switches in Portland.  This effected most ISPs in the area including
cable and dsl providers.  The Portland crew thought they would have it
up in 20 minutes but 20 minutes turned into many hours.  At 7:40pm
with Internet still not restored to the areas, we turned up our
secondary fiber optic link.  This was the link we were working on
after the huge power and fiber hit a few weeks back.  We weren’t
planning on bringing up this circuit in this fashion but based on the
scale of this outage any net was better than none.  The great news is
that we were the first ISP to return to service and as of 11:00pm the
Internet switch in Portland has yet to be restored to service.

Over the next 30 days we will be redoing our entire core network.
During this time we will remove every switch in our network and
replace it with routers ensuring extremely fast networking with very
low ping times.  We will be preparing to bring both fiber optic
connections to life and into the air.  Our new fiber optic link takes
a totally separate path than our current provider and will ensure we
don’t see anything like this again.  We sincerely apologize for the
outage and know and understand how frustrating it is to be without
Internet.  We are taking the steps necessary to make sure this doesn’t
happen again.

Thank you for your business, support, and patience.  If you have any
questions or comments please let our 24 hour staff know.

Sincerely,

The Qnect.net Network Team
1127 Bargeway
The Dalles, OR. 97058
(541) 296-3525
support@qnect.net
“Customer Service First”
http://twitter.com/qnect – Follow us on Twitter

You could help mural restoration project

27 Aug

Maybe you’ve noticed the beautiful new paint job on the mural gracing the west outside wall of the old Franz Hardware building at 2nd and Oak. News: Aliens DIDN’T do it.

People did. With the History Museum of Hood River County. The Museum actually owns the mural. Working with the Hood River Historical Society and the Waucoma Trust, the mural supporters have been working to get it back in shape.

Originally painted in 1985 by Gilbert Clarke and Sons, it was restored and revised in 1995. Now it has received a fresh new look thanks to Artisan Painting owned by Chad Mayo.

The museum needs to raise $1,500 to cover the balance of costs. Here;s some simple math: Say you are one of 30 to 50 people who routinely pass the mural and go to yourself, “Man, that is a COOL mural,” and each of you — learning about the restoration effort — gave $20 to $30.  That would cover it.

OK, get your checkbook, and send moolah to: Mural Restoration Fund c/o of The History Museum, PO Box 781, Hood River, OR 97031. For further information check under What’s Happening on the museum website.

Cross-promotion happens in the hotel biz

27 Aug

Maybe you weren’t at the presentation by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, at the Best Western Hood River Inn. But if you were, you might have wondered, why were there all these people there from the other waterfront hotel at the west end of town, the one that will be reopening shortly after a period of financial distress?

Why were Midge Dobbs, regional sales manager for North Pacific Management, and Kim Bosch, director of sales for the Columbia Gorge Hotel, schmoozing attendees with info about the Gorge Hotel reopening? I mean, weren’t they in a meeting hall of a competing property?

Well, not exactly. As reported here earlier, North Pacific — out of Portland — is owned by one wing of the powerful Stevenson family. Another wing of the family owns the Hood River Inn. So it would make sense for them to pimp each other’s businesses. If you knew the connection, that is. If you didn’t, you might have wondered, Hey, why weren’t the Comfort Suites and Hood River Hotel invited to shill their product? See the earlier post to learn more.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a free breakfast

27 Aug

Get in line now, because the new operators of the Columbia Gorge Hotel are throwing a free community breakfast. Well, I think the way Midge Dobbs of North Pacific Management phrased it was, “a heavy continental breakfast.”

Who’s community? That’s you. If you need breakfast (you do; nutritionists say it’s the most important meal of the day), you can pop on over from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and chow down — for free.

Why? “The biggest message we want to get across is our recognition of the importance of the hotel to the local community.”

No argument there. It’s nice, in fact, to have a management group that seems to recognize that there is a local community. The previous tenants just didn’t seem to give a rip about whether locals came there or not.

As a restaurant owner myself, in my humble opinion, that sort of attitude is pure boneheadedness. At our place, we’re all about locals first, second, and third. We love it when out-of-town visitors drop in and share the vibe, but we like to think of our restaurant as an extension of your home — a place to get good food, meet friends, see people across the room you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up.

Sort of like the grocery store. Did I mention how much I love going to the grocery store? Yes, I digress, but this is about community. And when I go to the store, that’s what happens. I need milk and burger. It takes me 90 minutes to get it. “Where WERE you?” the wife asks. “Well, I ran into So-and-so, and we got talking about such-and-such, and then I turned the aisle and there’s Who-and-what, and did you know that she’s almost due, and over by meat, I got talking with Whoozit and commiserating about the yada yada, and ….”

Ever been there? It’s GREAT. Go to the store. Often. And call me when you get home, to share the news.

Meanwhile, free breakfast. Dobbs says the Gorge Hotel would appreciate knowing about how many thousand to expect, so please RSVP if you plan to attend. I think RSVP is shorthand for the French phrase, “Répondez s’il vous plaît” (respond, if you please, or, more bluntly, Hey, Bozo, let me know if you’re coming so I can open another can of dogfood), but don’t quote me on it. Call 541-386-5566 to RSVP.