23. Play in net for one game (soccer or hockey)

It wasn’t a whole game, but it was half a game. It was way back on October 1… I need to catch up on my 40 in 40 posts!

We were up 6-1 when I stepped in to the net. That should have been safe enough.

We ended the game up 6-5. Thanks. blue team, for helping me out. I needed it!

Playing in Net @ Soccer

Obviously, my first attempt at being a goalkeeper was not my finest attempt. It may have been my final attempt, however, given how much I love having objects flying at my head, and how good I am at judging their speed and direction….

How Not to Reply to a Yelp Review

I just got the following comment from a business owner in my Yelp inbox:

Sorry you did not enjoy your meal and felt the need to post it on the internet. We have a manager and owner on call and on site at all hours. Reviews like yours are very sad. FYI, the [food] is the most authentic you will get and also the ones you get in [European city] from the vendors are days old…they are made and sold days old because the tourists “may never come back so whats the difference” Have a good day.

Here is my response, with the name of the business removed:

I’m assuming you’re referring to my review of [your restaurant] in [town] from 2008.

Yelp is a service that all business owners/managers need to be aware of and monitor regularly. It’s a way of finding out what’s going well and not going well in their businesses. People don’t always like to talk with managers and owners directly – you have to go where the feedback is to find out what you need to do better. No, I didn’t talk with an owner or manager in 2008 when I ate at [your restaurant]. I wasn’t impressed with the food, but I also didn’t feel the need for a refund or for an opportunity to come back and try it again. In my experience, that’s usually what happens when someone talks to an owner or manager. Instead, I turned to my network to tell them about my experience at the restaurant. If it in some way hurt your business in the two years since I posted the review, well, I hope you have been reading and learning and improving, and that you understand that my experience was just that – MINE. I haven’t read the reviews of the restaurant since I left mine; perhaps others are better. If that’s the case, you likely have little to worry about.

As for your FYI, I appreciate that you felt the need to correct what I experienced during the months that I lived in [European city] and completely dismissed the fact that I actually watched some of the street vendors making [food named above]. No, I didn’t post all that information in my review. It didn’t seem necessary at the time, since I really never expected to be challenged about HOW the street vendors I knew made their food; my review was about [your restaurant] not [European city] [food] vendors. But whatever. If you feel the need to tell me that what I experienced was something other than what it was, go right ahead. Make the assumption that I was only there for a very short time and don’t know what I’m talking about.

I really hope you understand that your message to me was a ridiculously rude way to try to change my mind about the restaurant. However, if you were to edit your message and re-send it to me, this would be a much better and more positive way to get my attention:

“Sorry you did not enjoy your meal two years ago. We would love it if you would try [our restaurant] again; in particular, the XXX is something most of our customers rave about. After your meal, our manager and/or owner would love to hear from you directly, to find out if your experience was better than it was 2 years ago. Have a good day.”

Do you see the difference in tone in those two emails? The edited version is from someone who actually wants a customer to visit again, while your version is from someone who is telling the customer that her experience was invalid. Not a great way to make me want to come rushing back.

Honestly, if you had sent me something like the edited version, I WOULD have tried [your restaurant] again, and I would have spoken with the manager and/or owner, and if the experience and food had improved, I would have written another review here on Yelp saying so. But given what you wrote me (ridiculously rude, remember?) I won’t be re-trying [your restaurant] any time.

Sincerely,
–Megan

So besides the fact that  I’m  completely passive-aggressive in parts of this message back to the person who wrote to me, I have to say I’m pretty happy with the bulk of this message.

Small business owners: If you are getting onto Yelp or another review service for the first time, a few words of advice.

  1. Read my message above. If you must respond to feedback about your business, consider using something like my edited message.
  2. Pay attention to the dates the reviews were initially posted. Maybe you had different management then, or different servers, or a different chef, or SOMETHING different. Use that as a point of reference to encourage the person to come back.
  3. For the love of customer service mavens everywhere, don’t tell folks that they didn’t experience what they say they experienced. Ever. It just makes you look defensive and honestly, kind of like a jerk.
  4. Do follow the lead of the person who wrote to me, though. Message the person directly, don’t post responses as a review of your business. I will say, that is one thing this person did correctly.

That’s all. Getting off my soapbox now.

Thanksgiving a Week Early

Tulip It’s been a rough few weeks around here, mostly at work. So after today’s gloom-and-doom, I headed to Crossfit, got my butt handed to me by wall balls and the knees-to-elbows. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I did get all my pushups done strict (i.e. not on my knees), so that’s progress.

Then I came home, realized that the vague feeling of nausea wasn’t related to working out, but rather to the tiny, late lunch I ate today thanks to my gloom-and-doom sort of day at work. Amy rushed out to grill our dinner (YUM) and I got a little food in me and started thinking more about my day.

And then I realized:

  • I have a job.
  • That interests me.
  • That allows me to work with smart people.
  • Where I get to work on interesting problems and projects.
  • In a beautiful environment.
  • That is close to my home.
  • For which I get a salary.
  • Which allows me to live in a house with my wife and our dogs.
  • And play hockey.
  • And Crossfit.
  • And travel.
  • And give money to causes and organizations which mean a great deal to me.

So while I know I’m not the only one who’s feeling awfully overwhelmed about work these days, those are all things for which I am eternally grateful, and I don’t want to forget it. Not everyone is in such a situation, especially not these days, and I never want to take these blessings for granted.

One Month of CrossFit at CFNE

Two months ago, I made a public commitment to getting into shape, so that I’m stronger at 40 (10 May 2011) than I was at 20. One month ago, I joined CrossFit New England. After a month, it seems like a good time for a bit of reflection on this journey.

CrossFit New EnglandFirst things first: I have blisters and callouses on my hands! A lot of people might view this as a bad thing, something to be avoided. I view it as a return to a different time in my life, a time in my life when I played on monkey bars and jungle gyms, when I could climb trees and not feel it the next day. This, perhaps more than anything, tells me that what I’m doing is good.

Next: I have run a mile two times now. For those of you who know me in person, you will understand the significance of this. My motto for years has been: I will run when someone chases me. Well, the person who is chasing me happens to be (with apologies to Dickens) the Ghost of Megan Future and I’m gaining on her, slowly.

Also: I am close to being able to do a real pullup. My goal for the month is to be able to do one, although I’d be even happier if I could do 2 or 3 in a row. When I watch all the other folks at the gym doing pullups I get a little bit jealous, but that jealousy motivates me to keep on trying, keep on trying.

More: I had no idea I could push myself this hard. Turns out that despite what I believed for years about how I “do” fitness (i.e. solo, self-directed), I was wrong. The way I took to hockey should have clued me in, and if that didn’t, the fact that I started playing indoor soccer last winter should have. But apparently neither of those things registered, and the other day I had this moment of thinking, “Holy crap! I LIKE to work out in a group, to cheer for other people, and to have them cheer me on, push me, tell me I do just one more.” Go figure.

And: I couldn’t have done any of this in a non-CrossFit setting. I’ve worked out before and know that when I do, I get into certain routines. With a routine, it’s easy to remember what to do, to not have to think about it. Of course, routine is a real buzzkill and what’s more, it is boring (thus decreasing the likelihood that I’ll keep it up). What I like about CrossFit is that I don’t have to decide what my workout is. I show up, the workout is on the whiteboard. Some of them look killer (and are), while some look easy (lies and deception, every time I think that). But the fact is, it’s easy for me to remember what to do at CrossFit without a routine, simply because someone else is thinking about what we’re going to do each day on everyone else’s behalf. The prescribed workouts may seem limiting, but for me, they’re totally freeing.

Finally: CrossFit really is a supportive community. I’ve met a lot of new people, the sorts of people I don’t see in my everyday life. First off, there are a lot of guys who work out there. I don’t spend a lot of time with men, working at a women’s college with well over half the employees in my division being women. Second off, I suspect that a large number of the people who work out there don’t share my educational level, sexuality, political leanings, and/or worldview. And you know what? It doesn’t matter, because what we’re all doing there is getting stronger, faster, and fitter. That’s the thing that unites us. And in the meantime, I just might expand my horizons a bit.

So you may be wondering: Has Megan drunk the CrossFit Kool-Aid? Well, I have, but not all of it quite yet. I’m a skeptic by nature, and there are parts of the CF philosophy that I’m still struggling with, particularly those parts around fuel for the body. I feel a need to do more research, to find evidence and data that the way many CrossFitters eat is rational when some of it is counter to what I’ve learned in the past. And really, I can only make so many changes in my life at once. Adding in 4-5 trips to the gym each week (from ZERO) is a lot to get used to. Try me in another couple of months and maybe I’ll have found my evidence and data, changed some more things about my life. And maybe not. But in a couple of months, I can tell you, I will still be going to CFNE and loving the way I feel.

Public Commitment

It comes as no surprise to most who read this blog regularly (hi, all 5 of you!) that I play hockey. Actually, I don’t just play hockey, but I am obsessed with it. I’ve done camps, clinics, power-skating, mixed-level leagues, higher-than-me-level leagues, and just-my-level leagues. I play during the academic year (aka the “regular” season) and I play in the summer (aka the “OMG I’m in three leagues” season). I love to play in tournaments with my regular season team(s) and I love to play in tournaments with tournament teams.

You might think that with all that hockey-playing, I’d be in good shape. You’d be only about 1/4 right. The parts of me that are strong and in shape include my skating muscles (mostly in my glutes, hams, and calves) and my stick-handling muscles (mostly my shoulders). But they are strong in very sport-specific ways. And you may notice that there is a lot more of my body that I didn’t list as being in shape (arms, abs, quads, chest, back, etc.) My cardio system is in hockey-shape, not necessarily in good shape. In other words, I can skate hard for an hour (with the usual breaks) and not be horribly winded, but that’s only with skates on. Take the skates off and it’s a different matter entirely.

I recently turned 38 (okay, several months ago – where the HELL did summer go?) and this has been weighing on my mind a lot since then (pun totally intended). Over the course of the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been doing a bunch of research into ways to get myself into better shape. I finally hit on the thing I think will work – it’s called CrossFit. You can google it to find a bazillion web sites out there on it, but for me it wasn’t that kind of research that sold me. No, it was seeing 2 people I know change during the time they’ve been doing CrossFit. Karin, first and foremost, I’m looking at you. You started out as no slouch, but now? Wow. You look strong and healthy and ready to take on the universe. Brian, you too. I know you’ve been doing it for a year on your own, and I appreciate all the info you gave me on how to get started.  And honestly? You look better now than you did a year ago when I met you, stronger and healthier too. There’s also a social aspect to this, as well as a competition to it. Right up my alley!

I am going to give CrossFit a shot – a month on my own, and then into the local CF gym till the end of 2009 and beyond. I’m tired of only being in-shape for one thing (even though it is one thing that I LOOOOOOOOOOVE). It’s time, and I’m saying it out loud. My public commitment is this: I will be stronger when I hit age 40 than I was at age 20, starting yesterday. Bring on the next 21 months!