Jon Stewart of the Daily Show put out a challenge for people to post a video clip Remix of the new McConnell ad.
I had the opportunity to attend the Coffee Festival held at the Javits Center in NYC this weekend. There were over a hundred exhibitors present and about 120 classes and workshops being offered on various topics such as Barista Training, Understanding Espresso Machines, a Tea Sommelier Program, Latte Art Training, and so much more.
Walking through the exhibit hall, very quickly my backpack and tote bag were bursting with sample bags of coffee, tea, mugs and pastries. There were dozens upon dozens of vendors offering sample cups of their coffee, tea, espresso, frappe, smoothies, syrups, pastries or juices. About half the vendors were displaying products such as espresso machines, industrial juicers, coffee grinders, brewers and attendant tools to the trade.
Since the target audience of this convention was restaurant owners, cafe managers, baristas and other food service industry professionals, there were other vendors present such as printers, label makers, cup makers, cup top makers, plumbers, water filtration, design and construction, billing, management, cardboard cup holders and box makers for portable coffee containers.
I wasn't taking notes while I was there but did accept all the free stuff they were passing out to people. Many of the vendors were passing out sample cups of coffee or tea so I don't remember who they were as the evidence of their offerings were quickly dispensed with. The vendors who gave me free stuff, and if they printed their information on the labels, I can write about them.
Another thing I learned while speaking to most every one of these vendors is that most of the coffee companies, whether they grow, roast or package, give back to the community in some capacity. Especially the coffee companies who get their beans from poor communities and countries. Many of them are proud that they give ten or forty percent of their profits back to the communities and workers who grow the product. So, here are a few of the vendors:
COUNTING SHEEP COFFEE
Now you can enjoy your coffee in the evening and get a great night's, sleep. Their natural decaffeinated coffee is blended with organic Valerian root to create a great tasting coffee to help you unwind after a long day.
ASTORIA GENERAL ESPRESSO EQUIPMENT
This was another espresso equipment company demonstrating machines I've never seen in any cafe near me.
COFFEE SHOP MANAGER
Coffee Shop Manager is a point of sale system designed to include features such as tablet order entry, integrated online and smartphone ordering, kiosks, loyalty programs and gift cards that make customer service and payment easy.
DAVID RIO OF SAN FRANCISCO
Based in San Francisco, David Rio crafts and delivers Thai products to customers in over 40 countries. David donates a percentage of his sales to an animal welfare organization.
Offering sauces, drink mixes and concentrates without high fructose corn syrup.
COEXIST FOUNDATION AMERICA, INC.
You've seen their bumper stickers. The Coexist Campaign works to reduce conflict in divided communities around the world by creating opportunities for people to work and learn together. Their hand-picked, fair-trade, organic coffee comes from a cooperative in Uganda composed of Muslim, Jewish and Christian farmers.
THE CHAI COMPANY
This company focuses on chai, using certified organic ingredients, fair-trade tea and fresh whole spices. They have a variety of tasty products.
OMG! After tasting their product, I waved my finger at them and said "Bad, bad, bad." Their products were SO good. Baklava, crumb cakes, lady fingers and brownies were all I could taste before common sense kicked in and said NO MORE.
BARTLETT DAIRY/HUDSON VALLEY FRESH
This was a family-owned and operated company and have been serving the tri-state area for over 50 years offering dairy products, bread, juice and more. They are the distributor of Hudson Valley Fresh Milk. Although they were not passing out free samples, I did get a bumper sticker from them promoting local milk.
ADD A SCOOP SUPPLEMENT
These were interesting products. Called Smoothie Essentials Supplement, you could use them in practically anything for flavor but they were also marketed for other health related issues such as sleeping better, keeping alert, losing weight, getting a boost, etcetera.
DESIGN & LAYOUT SERVICES
Design fit Layout Services works with clients interested in opening a cafe or starting a coffee shop. Services include floor plan design, health department coordination, construction documents, cabinetry and equipment sales.
DOLE PACKAGED FOODS
More great snack items.
There were several companies offering on-the-go "just add water" cups of oatmeal with dried fruits and other yummy ingredients. Many of them were marketing to the small cafe who may wish to offer some sort of portable breakfast to their customers. Some of these companies didn't realize that they could market their product to campers, hikers, bread makers or college students. If you're a hammer, it is hard not to see everything as a nail. This company may not have been one of those but, their product was delicious.
Big Train provides premium quality gourmet drink mixes, offering an array of products including chai tea, blended ice coffees, coffee free blended frappes, protein drinks, fruit smoothies and more.
1ST LINE EQUIPMENT
They were offering the latest and greatest espresso machines on the market today. They were passing out samples of Fattobene espresso blend coffee.
DOMINION LIQUID TECHNOLOGIES
Dominion are the makers of Previsto Gourmet Coffee, sauces, smoothies and syrups.
GUITTARD CHOCOLATE CO.
Fabulous rich and creamy caramel syrup you can mix with your drink of any kind. I'm having a sample in my coffee right now.
This company wasn't giving anything away for free, but, they did let us walk around the convention floor with their product in our shoes. Since many food and service industry professionals spend most of their time on their feet, this was an interesting product to alleviate many symptoms from a day of walking. They product is a sole which fits in your shoe and has a liquid which moves around as you walk. It creates a lifted and massaging feel to your feet with each step. I have to admit when I took them off, I could feel the difference. However, for me, I am barefoot 95% of the time and believe strongly that shoes are not good for our bone density, muscle tone, balance and general health. Since I run on the balls of my feet, these pads wouldn't help me as they didn't pad the toe area. A nice product with a lot of intriguing claims.
This company offers 15 unique and delicious frappe flavors.
APIS HONEY/UA GLOBAL INC.
This was my favorite vendor there. Not only did they have a variety of unusual flavors of honey such as Buckwheat, Acacia, Sunflower, May, Multiflower and Linden open and available to sample, they also gave us six jars of their honey to take home. They took the time to talk to us about Apiary science and the production of honey. They said that most of the supermarket honey we purchase can have up to 40% corn syrup in it and there is no law requiring them to put that information on the label. People who use honey as a sugar substitute should be aware of that trick and consider buying from a reputable honey maker in their area. Apis is 100% pure and with one taste, you can tell the difference.
3M PURIFICATION INC.
This company was offering a line of water filtration and treatment products for both coffee and food service industries. My friend Byron was discussing the option of getting one of their products for his home which they said they could do.
GIORGIO COOKIE COMPANY
Master crafters of cookies and biscotti.
KIND HEALTHY SNACKS
All natural snacks and grain bars. Delicious.
This is a small family business run by a mom who creates hand bags and wallets made out of coffee bean bags. She does everything herself and I think she said that 40% of her profit goes to three charities in LA, Jamaica and Haiti. I don't remember because so many of these companies have charity programs designed to give back.
This company offered credit card processing, gift card and loyalty programs whose services a cafe or restaurant can use to process payment and other programs.
There were so many other tea, coffee, packaging, labeling, coaster creators, plumbing distributors, lid-cup-and napkin makers there. I think one of the more intriguing tea shops was one where they had see through clear glass teapots. They put in a closed bud of a flower used for tea and poured in the hot water. In about three minutes the flower opened and steeped the most delicious tea. The flower in the clear pot alone is worth having on your table as you sit in your favorite cafe watching your tea open and brew.
This was a magnificent convention to attend. It spoiled me as the cafes in my area employ people who work there for the job. The people running these booths had so much pride in the growing, picking, roasting, packing and brewing of their product. Some of them even had pictures of the plantations and workers thereof.
So the next time you have a cup of coffee, is it just that or something which your cafe owner chose because of flavor, point of origin, the soil it was grown in and the people the coffee employs? Will he know the workers of the field or even know where it came from? I do, now.
If you take a group of people and put them into a meeting and have them talk about something, the opinion of the loudest person or most charismatic person or most assertive person, those are the ones that the group tends to follow. And yet, researchers have looked at this and found that there is no correlation between being that best talker and having the best ideas. We are living in a society now that is so overly extroverted.
As we shifted from an agricultural economy to a corporate one, we started to admire people who could be magnetic and charismatic. These were the qualities that seemed to matter for job interviews and things like that. In the earlier agricultural economy, our self help books used to have titles like "Character" but then the self help books later on became books like Dale Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people." Those were all about teaching us to be more entertaining and more dynamic. Any trait in human nature has its pros and it has its cons. For too long we've looked at introversion for its disadvantages and we've looked at extroversion only for its advantages.
If you look at the birth of Apple Computer, we tend to associate Apple Computer with Steve Jobs who was a dazzling showman. But the person who really invented the Apple Computer was Steve Wozniak, who was a self identified introvert. He created this computer by sitting by himself in a cubicle in Hewlett Packard, where he was working at the time, late at night and early in the morning before anyone else was at work. He worked by himself for months and then produced this amazing technology. Then he shared this with his friend, Steve Jobs. Then it was Steve Jobs who said, "We should start a company with this. This is amazing." Without Steve Jobs, none of this would have come to pass. So it was a combination of the solitary person to go off by himself and think in his deep way and then having a partnership between the two. Introverts and extroverts are really drawn to one another and really need each other.
Our HR professionals are trained otherwise. They don't look for who would be the best worker for the company or who could have the most innovative ideas, they look for who can put on the best show or who has the most padded resumé. In fact, our HR professionals are not experts at reading people or knowing who would benefit the company best. They at first employ filters to eliminate people they've been trained to deem undesirable. The application is one of those filtering tools. Immediately they can judge someone on their penmanship, completion, spelling, where they live, their age, have they ever been arrested, etcetera. Those who pass that phase are then judged on how they dress, their grooming and their overall health. Then they are judged on how quickly or effortlessly they can tell you why red is their favorite color or some other question which does not tell the HR person how they can help the company grow or be more profitable. Fast talkers with good eye contact are favored over those who are deep thinkers and may not be able to articulate an answer to "Tell me about yourself."
Today, most HR professionals wouldn't hire Steve Wozniak based on his outward appearance and introversion. They wouldn't even hire Steve Jobs because he didn't have a college degree and most likely reeked of pot.
Churches are not exempt from prejudice. When hiring an organist, many will only consider someone who has a degree in music. Anyone can sit in a classroom for four years but while they were sitting there, someone else may have been honing their performance and technical skills in the real world with real professionals. Which would better serve the church in a performance position?
Cameron Carpenter is one of the best organists in the world but a lot of churches would not hire him because he is an atheist, among other things. Instead, they would rather hire an adequate left footed organist who can tell them what they want to hear or has a higher degree. That person may not necessarily have the skills to promote growth, inspire participation or minister to the people. Cameron could fill the church which his dazzling playing every Sunday but churches don't seem to want that. They don't seem to know what they want. Of course they want someone who is empathetic and ministerial but you don't learn that by getting a degree and saying you are doesn't make it so.
Churches even run background checks on employees and parishioners to weed out the sinners. Jesus himself would not be permitted to serve any of today's church for he was a convicted felon, he was often outspoken against the church and he befriended sinners. Which church would YOU rather belong to, the one Jesus dreamt of or the judgmental one we've created?
Of course background checks only weed out people who have been caught. I knew a Roman Catholic priest who used to let his sister use the church credit card because it was tax free. Of course this holy man never committed a crime because he never got caught so who was he really hurting? He justified it to me once as "a perk." Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
I have a friend who is the manager of a private service business and he only hires felons. He believes strongly in giving people a second chance. He also recognizes that no one else would hire these people so he is going to get loyal, dedicated, responsible and creative people who would do nothing to jeopardize this rare opportunity. Sure, he has problems once in a while but, for the most part his employees are unremitting in their labor to return the favor of employment, trust and respect. He has zero theft, his employees trust him enough to come to him about their problems and they are eager to share ideas to grow and profit the company.
Conversely, I used to volunteer for a service organization and I witnessed many of the paid employees ripping off the company on many occasions. One person used to come in every day at 9:30 or 10:00 but sign his time sheet at 8:45 or 9:00. When the supervisor left around 2:00, he would hang out until around 3:00 or 4:00 and sign his sheet for 5:00. Of course he wasn't physically stealing money so I guess his rationalization was that it was okay.
Another employee used to play video games all day while another would watch movies on his iPad and yet another would spend most of their time wandering around to other cubicles pretending to be doing work but was just talking to other volunteers and employees. They all felt they were underpaid; more rationalization. When caught in the kitchen by a supervisor, the talker would pretend to be cleaning. When this company was losing their funding and a layoff of the paid staff was imminent, I went in on a Sunday to get a jump on the work that the paid staff was not doing, when one of the paid employees (the video game guy) came in and was surprised to see me. He went into the back where another volunteer office was and when he left, I was on the phone with my back to the exit. However, I could see his reflection in my monitor. He was carrying a painting. Later I went into the other office to see what was missing and in addition to the painting, I could see there was a clock and a few books removed from the shelf.
This is the judgement of HR at its best, hiring honest,smooth and extroverted talkers. I only want to know one thing, who hires these HR people? It seems they hire anyone.
Back in ye olden days, today is the day when the spring thaw begins to creep into our food storage sheds, root cellars and pantry. The food begins to go bad and so that none if it goes to waste we would have a big party to consume it all. The church took over the tradition and because it is the day before Lent, a time when you are encouraged to fast, to just eat it all now and get rid of it before it goes bad and to waste. Another reason why people began to fast during Lent was that after a long hard winter, most of our food was already gone and spoiling so, to make people feel better about struggling to survive, they said that they should be fasting, anyway.
I tutor guys at the local library to help them earn their GED's. All of them are convicted felons arrested for various crimes such as drug use, general thugery, sex offenders and thieves. Either their parole officers are making them do this or they hope to turn their lives around and get a job. Until our society "bans the box" that won't likely happen, the economy notwithstanding.
One of my guys said that his food stamps have been cut (thanks Schumer), he has three children and no income to put food on the table. I asked him how he provides for them and he said that he "does what it takes." He said that one of the things he USED to do was go to theater parking lots and look for cars with both a GPS and garage door opener. He knew the owner would be at the show for at least two hours and he would break into the car, stealing both the GPS and the door opening. He would then activate the GPS and if it wasn't locked, would tell it to "go home." The GPS would lead him straight to the former owner's home and he would park his own car in the garage where he would have about an hour to load it up in the privacy of the garage. He said he would avoid vehicles with car seats because the generally meant the kids were home with a babysitter. Although, car seats are valuable on the black market. He would use Facebook much the same way, to find out when an acquaintance would be out and for how long.
So, things you can do to prevent being a victim of crime:
Write your lawmaker demanding to ban the box.
Write your lawmaker and demand they re-establish the food stamp program.
Ask your employer to give someone a second chance the next time they are hiring.
OR . . .
Don't leave your electronic devices visible in your car.
Enable the lock on your GPS.
Don't set "home" on your GPS to your real home. Set if for half a mile away or so.
Install an IP camera in your home so that when it detects movement in your house it will email a picture to your phone (although you probably silenced it while in the theater).
Encourage your neighbors to be nosy.
Don't go to the theater.
Have kids but don't take them anywhere.