Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas


Dear Sir/Madam,

I recently returned from a 3-night Christmas break at the Roxburghe hotel with my parents and husband. My experience was so incredibly disappointing and so far removed from the promises made in your marketing, that I felt I had to write you a letter requesting some kind of refund on behalf of my mother, Pauline Carter, who booked the stay.

First of all, let me say that my family and I are very well traveled and have stayed at literally hundreds of hotels across the world in the last 20 years. We have had the pleasure of enjoying small, boutique hotels and large, all-inclusive resorts, and have eaten at local family-run establishments as well as 5 star, gourmet restaurants.

So, when your website and marketing materials promised a (and I quote) “traditional Scottish Christmas” in one of your “sumptuous” properties, enjoying “the finest food and great entertainment”, our expectations were, understandably, set pretty high. Further, when the Roxburghe sent us our package of information containing beautiful, slick marketing materials and itinerary containing such words as “gourmet” and “luxury”, we were very excited.

Unfortunately, the reality was far from sumptuous or gourmet. Allow me to beak it down for you, day by excruciating day:

Christmas Eve

Our much anticipated Christmas Eve dinner in the George Suite began with a trip across the street in our finest party wear, freezing cold, as the fire alarm interrupted us placing our order. Apparently a hair dryer was the culprit.

Twenty minutes later, when we were allowed to return to our seats, we were disappointed to note the lack of decoration in the room. A single, slightly leaning 5ft Christmas tree with minimal decoration stood at the front. The only other sign that this was a festive occasion were table crackers at each place setting – crackers which contained such “luxury” delights as one inch square plastic tree decorations that could have been purchased from the local pound store. Otherwise, one could have mistaken this Christmas Eve dinner for one on any other night of the year.

Your Christmas Carolers failed to show up at 8:30pm and so we were left to dine in complete silence, with only the sound of a crying baby at the next table and the clink-clink of silverware on plates in the hushed room. Nobody came up to make an announcement that the carolers would not be arriving, or approached us to apologize, and no other background music was provided to accompany our meal.

At the end of our meal we ordered coffee and were astonished to be warned (in no uncertain terms) by our waitress that coffee would be extra. She repeated this to us twice to ensure that we would be willing to pay two pounds seventy five pence each for the pleasure. Why, for the sake of eleven pounds for four people, you couldn’t just have included this in the price of the break, I don’t know. Of course, we didn’t have any money on us because we had already pre-paid for dinner through our package with you. So, we asked if we could charge the coffee to our room. We were then asked for our cardboard “ticket” in order to do so. We had no idea what the waitress was talking about and she made a big deal out of the fact that we should have received this ticket upon check-in and should have been told to walk around with it when in the hotel. (No such conversation took place at check-in.) When we finally convinced her we couldn’t produce the ticket and were not going to get up before our meal was over and traipse upstairs to rifle through our room to find this mysterious “ticket”, she agreed to charge to our room with a signature, all the time mumbling about how she “wasn’t supposed to be doing this”. It seemed like such a huge hassle - and all for four cups of coffee and eleven pounds when we were paying hundreds of dollars for the whole trip!

Christmas Day

Despite the previous night’s problems, we were still in good spirits for our champagne breakfast and “gourmet” Christmas Lunch in your Melrose restaurant.


Unfortunately, no champagne or “Bucks Fizz” was offered to us, the fruit juice was warm, and the scrambled eggs wet and cold.

Lunch @ 2pm:

Again, we were sad to see a complete lack of Christmas decoration throughout the restaurant. Aside from the Christmas Crackers again, there was little-to-no sign that today was Christmas Day. We again dined in relative silence with no background music or entertainment.

While we were certainly in no hurry, the pacing of our meal and the service provided was definitely not reflective of a “gourmet” or “luxury” experience. Our main course took a ridiculous 90 minutes to arrive - even with an appetizer and other small plates to try and fill the time, it was an excruciatingly long wait with hard-to-find, inattentive service – it was difficult to even get a drink of water. We received our starter after 30 minutes (in itself a long wait), it then took a further 40 minutes to deliver some horrible small-plate scallop concoction, and another 20 minutes for the main course. When the main course did arrive, it was ridiculously skimpy, stewed, and over-cooked. The turkey was dry, the gravy was thin and runny, and each plate seemed to be on a war rationing for potatoes and vegetables - only one small roast potato and one slice of each vegetable per plate. Everything was luke warm. Sorry but just piling everything ‘artfully’ on the plate and making the serving small does not a gourmet meal make.

With desert and coffee (included this time), we didn’t get out of the restaurant until gone 4pm. Unfortunately, if it was even screened, we missed the Queen’s Speech in your lounge that your brochure made so much of.

Christmas Eve buffet dinner was billed as being with “entertainment”. Of course, by this point we were not expecting much, and you didn’t disappoint. “Entertainment” in this case was a pensioner playing the keyboard… poorly. While this did finally classify as “background music”, entertainment it was not. Further, hot food on the buffet was almost cold and some plates in the buffet line were dirty.

Sipping hot chocolate at 11pm in the Melrose lounge, we were again treated to another fire alarm evacuation. This time we were told it was “dust” in the leisure suite (!?)

Boxing Day

No breakfast was available until the brunch buffet at 11am. Before 11am we either had to pay more for a warm breakfast, or had to sit in the freezing atrium to serve ourselves coffee and a dried-up pastry.

Brunch was the final straw.

We arrived for the 11am brunch at 11:15am. When we got to the buffet line the plates were dirty again. After sorting through 15-20 plates, all of which contained dried-up food from a previous service on top and bottom, we instilled the help of a server. He then went through the entire stack of 30+ plates to find two clean ones. At this point we finally approached the on-duty manager to complain. Although he said he would take care of it, he didn’t seem shocked or appalled and no apology was provided. While my husband and I moved on to get food, my parents and others behind them in line were left to wait while the manager came back with clean plates.

Getting into the buffet line with our two clean plates, only the breakfast half of the buffet line was ready. The other half of the line was empty. So, we took just the breakfast items and went back to our table. Unfortunately, the scrambled eggs, sausages, and bacon we picked up were already wet, cold and inedible. In the time it had taken us to find a clean plate and get our food, the toast had been delivered to our table by the server and was already cold. We considered going back into the long line for the now-arrived roast items but, upon seeing an extremely rare piece of thick-cut beef being pushed around on the plate at an unenthusiastic fellow diner’s table, we decided to just give up.

It was at this point that my mother was so upset that she decided to try and speak with your manager about our experiences thus far. Having paid hundreds of pounds to take us all away on a luxury break for the Christmas holiday (and foregoing presents in the process) she was almost in tears that everything had been so disappointing. I’ll address this exchange later in this letter – yes, even this warrants a complaint.

At 2pm we headed-out to our pre-booked pantomime. I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that our seats were in the one-before-last row of the theatre – all the way at the top. The face value on our tickets was twelve pounds and we found out that better seats would only have been three pounds more each. Given that this was supposed to be a “luxury” break at a top-notch hotel (with a price to match), one could be forgiven for thinking that the hotel would take care of its guests and leverage its collective group buying power to at least get us decent seats. It was so hot up at the top of the theatre that I almost fainted. Honestly, we would much rather have booked the seats ourselves and paid a higher face value, rather than be short-changed by the hotel trying to up their profit margin on the cost of our Christmas package.

By this time we had pretty much given up on the Roxburghe and decided to skip your Boxing Day dinner to find an open local establishment that could perhaps deliver on better service and quality of food. Ironically, we ended up in a pub on Rose Street that provided us with the best meal of our entire stay. It wasn’t fancy and didn’t claim to be gourmet but it was served in a reasonable amount of time, the servers were friendly and attentive, the background music was Christmassy, and the food was warm, simple, and delicious.

Yes, your four star hotel was upstaged by a pub food. I hope you feel the same way about this as we do – disgusted, over-charged and horribly disappointed.

Final comment on Boxing Day: upon check-in we were asked if we would like to receive a newspaper on Boxing Day morning, and if so which one. We ordered a Daily Mail for both rooms. Only one newspaper was delivered and then only just before noon. When my mother went down to the front desk to ask for her copy, instead of receiving an apology and a newspaper immediately, your representative argued with her about ever having ordered one in the first place, and then made a big deal about going to the concierge to remedy the situation. My mother was so embarrassed, she told the girl to forget it and walked away.

Final morning… the 27th

My parents requested a wake-up call at 5am. 5am came and went. At 5:30am the phone rang for their wake-up call. My Dad looked at the clock and asked the gentleman what time he had ordered the call. He confirmed 5am but simply said, without apology, that he had “missed the slot” and was calling now – 30 minutes late. Further, when my parents came down to the front desk to settle their bill, they asked to confirm the taxi they had booked for 6:30am the night before. The concierge told them that, because the hotel had failed to wake them up at the right time, he had called the cab company and asked the taxi to come 15 minutes later! Unfortunately, they failed to call our airline to ask them to hold them plane also. Unbelievable!

In addition to the above day-by-day disappointments, we would also like to share with you some other feedback about the general quality of care and service we received during our stay:


Despite the recent remodel, the rooms were dark and poorly lit with such small windows and inadequate lighting that it was all but impossible to read in your room.

The showers and sinks had a life of their own. It was impossible for any of us in either of our two rooms to have a shower with constant temperature. Despite my consistent efforts to carefully moderate it, the shower would fluctuate wildly from freezing cold to scalding hot, causing me to jump away from the water several times during a shower just to avoid first degree burns (this experience was shared by all four of us each time we showered.) On several occasions during our stay in both rooms, we turned on the cold tap in the sink only to be met with warm water. Despite letting the water run for several minutes, it never cooled down and we were forced to brush our teeth with warm water.

The satellite or cable service on the television also went in and out all the time, interrupting service for 2-3 seconds at a time, several times an hour. The bedside light on one side of our bed would turn off and on sporadically for no reason we could discern.


Service in all your restaurants and lounges was slow and sub-par for a four star hotel. It often took 10-15 minutes to get a server to take your order in the Melrose lounge and a further 15-20 minutes just to get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate delivered – even though the area was all but deserted. Of course, you’ve already read about our specific experiences at different meal times.

All servers were sullen, unwelcoming and clearly poorly trained. They failed to smile and greet us upon first introduction, didn’t get simple drink orders right and were obviously nervous and uncertain of themselves, their hands shaking as they placed coffee cups, glasses, or plates on the table. Between courses they were all but invisible – they didn’t check on us to see if we needed anything, nor did they scan the room as they paced briskly around with their heads down, meaning it was hard to catch their eye when we did need something. They frequently leaned across each of us at the table to deliver food or drinks. Wine glasses were not removed from the table when it was established that wine was not needed, meaning that we counted 12 unused glasses on our table during meals (white wine, red wine, and water for each of the four of us). Servers had trouble finding places on the table for the drinks and food we did order.

Based upon a conversation we had with an Australian waitress working for room and board on our first evening, it appears that the explanation for this poor service may be that many of your regular staff were off for Christmas, replaced instead by inexperienced temporary workers. This in itself is troubling – why host (and charge for) a luxury Christmas break if you do not have the staff to cater to the guests you book at the standard your have claimed to provide?

On-Duty Manager

I mentioned earlier that my mother and father attempted to speak with your Manager about our experiences. Both the Hotel Manager and the Under Manager were both on holiday for Christmas (presumably like the rest of the regular staff) so they were directed to the “on duty” manager. Unfortunately, both of my parents came away from that conversation more angry and upset than when they began.

Not only did your on duty manager have the audacity to argue every single one of their points, he openly doubted their assertions about such things as the water in the shower and the dirty plates at brunch. He told them that nobody else had complained and generally attempted to play down their concerns. No apology was offered for their distress during the course of the conversation and, as of the date of this letter, their concerns were never followed-up on by the management team there.

General Ambience

No Christmas carols playing. Sullen, untrained and unhelpful staff. Low-key festive decorations throughout the hotel… generally the feeling of “Christmas” was absent. This in and of itself was so incredibly disappointing to us.

As you can tell from the litany of problems we experienced during our stay, we were more than disappointed with the Roxburghe hotel. Your hotel questionnaire asked if we had been made to feel “special” during our stay and nothing could be further from the truth. All of these issues put together would have been upsetting enough on any holiday experience but given that they happened at Christmas, the disappointment and sadness is only more so.

My family and I forewent our usual Christmas presents and festivities to pay for what was promised to be a “luxury”, “traditional” Christmas with the Roxburghe, and neither was delivered. We cannot re-create our Christmas but hopefully you and your management team can provide some kind of monetary compensation for all that was lacking.

I look forward to your favourable response.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Scam or Identity Theft?

I just got a call on my cell phone from someone claiming to be from the "DCS", a collection agency for delinquent student loans. He said that my account was about to be sent for wage garnishment due to non payment of $12,900.

He had my name (first and last) but obviously, I told him that he had to have the wrong person, given that all my schooling happened in another country. He asked me for the last four digits of my social security number to confirm my identity but I refused to provide that over the phone. He then said that, without a way to confirm that he had the right/wrong person, I would be liable for the balance. I still refused and told him that, if they had the right person, they would have my address on file and could communicate with me in writing regarding this issue but I was not providing any personal information over the phone.

At the time all I heard in my head was "scam" but now I'm off the phone I'm wondering if my identity has been stolen and someone has run-up student loans in my name. However, how would they then have my cell-phone number?

Verdict: SCAM in order to steal identity.

Never the less, I plan to keep my eye on my credit report.

Monday, December 15, 2008

3 Breakages, 2 Dinners and a Party

That was the story of my busy weekend.

FRIDAY: Friday evening we spent with our friends Mala and Shomeek, scoffing down delicious home-cooked Indian food. There was some out of this world ground lamb (or beef? I think lamb... Mala can correct me on here), some full-of-flavor rice, and this coconut green-bean concoction that had me literally swooning. Yummy! Thanks Mala!

SATURDAY: Saturday evening we had our 2nd Christmas Party. Yes, I know, I complained that we only had one party to go to this season but it turns out there are three and this was number two. Still no martinis though, so overall enjoyment was somewhat blunted.

SUNDAY: Sunday was a day of breakages.

First there was the DVD player in our family room. Right after I passed up a killer deal in Target in the name of watching my pennies - a $39 upconvert DVD player - my 2nd-hand $25 DVD player finally gave up the goat and decided not to open any more. I think the motor that powers the eject button is done. So, no Polar Express for me while I cooked Shepherd's Pie. :o(

Second, there was the casualty of the cooking process - the glass jar for my blender. It usually resides on my lazy susan and somehow the handle got turned to the outside, meaning that as I turned the table to get to my mixing bowl, it caught the opening of the cupboard and fell on the tile floor, shattering into a thousand, thick glass pieces.

Finally, just as I was sitting down to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I broke the little toe on my right foot. We only have four dining chairs and, with 5 people at the table, I opted to sit on the stool I use for my keyboard. In my eagerness to sidle-up to the table and start downing my shepherds pie, I scooted the stool forward, lifting it up slightly and then putting it down with the full force of my pregnant body right on top of my right toe. There was a crack and a sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized what I had most probably done. I bit my lip until I finished my plate and then stood up - OUCH!

This isn't the first time that I have broken that toe. The last time was about 9 years ago in a drunken stupor, smacking it right into the corner of a wall. Like an idiot (not realizing the depth of the damage), I then put on high-heeled shoes and went to a party for 4 hours. When I woke up in the morning, groggy and hung-over, I thought someone had replaced my right little toe with a blood sausage. It really looked like it had been murdered. It was blue and purple all over. I couldn't walk on it for weeks. That one stupid toe had me limping around like I broke my entire foot.

This time, I'm a little older, a little wiser, and a little more responsible. (Also, there was the tell-tale "crack" to clue me in). I iced my toe all night and, this morning, although it hurts like HELL, it's nowhere near as bad as last time and I can at least walk on it (in a fashion).

So, that was my weekend. Let's hope the week holds a little more luck!

Monday, December 08, 2008

HAD TO post this

Found via friends on FaceBook. I thought this was brilliant. Enjoy!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

A good weekend

I had a good weekend.

It started on Friday night with "Date Night", a luxury of the still-childless. Dinner at Carvers restaurant and then a trip to the movies to see Australia. (Quick movie review - a tad formulaic and OTT but entertaining.)

Saturday morning I had to get up early to go for coffee with a Danish girl and a French girl. I don't think I've mentioned this before but in November I became a volunteer for an organization called EurAuPair, a company which helps U.S. families offer European girls the opportunity to live and study in America for a year, in exchange for in-home child-care. It's a pretty common thing in Europe but hasn't really caught on outside of the big cities in the U.S. As a Community Counselor for the Sacramento Region, I am the liason for the three local host families and their AuPairs. Every month I call the host family to ensure they are happy with their match and meet with the AuPairs as a group, to ensure they are getting the most from their experience. As someone who knows a little something about what it feels like to be a teenager from Europe in the U.S. alone, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to meet new people in the community and indulge my travel/culture lust.

So Saturday was my first AuPair get-together. We kept it simple for our first 'getting to know one-another' session and went to Starbucks, especially since one of the three girls (a German) could not join us this month. I was a little apprehensive about how it would go, given that this is the first time they have met me or each other and that English is a second language for both of them. I mentally made a list of questions to ask them about their experience with their host families, about their homes, their interests, and their impressions of the U.S. I also set a conservative time limite of 45 minutes to an hour for the meeting, in case we ran out of things to talk about.

I needn't have worried. Both girls were outgoing, talkative, and speak wonderful English (putting my high-school French to shame.) We had trouble cutting it short at 90 minutes!

Kim is from a small town in Denmark but was adopted from Korea by her parents when she was 10 months old. She is staying with a Jewish family with two children. Sabrina is from Paris but her cultural heritage is from Algeria and she is a Muslim. She is staying with a Indian Hindu family with four children.

So, sitting around the table we had:

- A Korean Dutch girl living with a Jewish family in the U.S.
- An Algerian-French muslim girl living with a Hindu, Indian family in the U.S.
- and me... a Brit/American.

I mean, how cool is that??? Talk about the meeting of cultures!

We did talk a lot about their home countries and how they compared to their experience in America. I asked them what the most surprising thing about the U.S. was and they both answered the same: "Everything is so BIG! Houses, cars, streets, stores... everything!" If you've been to Europe, you've probably had the reverse experience ("Everything is so small!") so you can probably relate. If you haven't been to Europe, the one thing that is so visually striking between the two continents is the difference between a large, geographically rich country that has developed rapidly in the last 200 years, using more advanced planning techniques and a bunch of little countries with limited space, having developed, higgledy-piggledy like a scrabble board, through thousands of years of religious, cultural, industrial, and technological revolutions. When you visit the U.S. for the first time, it really is the first thing that hits you.

As I said, we talked for 90 minutes and I had a great time learning about their lives back home as well as their plans for the future. It's strange but, although Brits don't really think of themselves as "European" (it's a reverse snobbishness we posess), there definitely were mind-set and experiential similarities between myself and the girls. Little things that you find it hard to put your finger on that always leave me feeling just a hair detatched from Americans sometimes, seemed to come more easily with these girls. We immediately connected and now I'm really excited to see them every month. Who knows, I may end up with a ton of friends scattered around Europe as a result of this! I could cavort around Europe, visiting them and getting insider-tours of European cities and towns. I mean, this really could not be any more 'up my alley' (Britishism) if it tried.

So that was Saturday morning.

The rest of Saturday was pretty chill, doing a little shopping with Hubby and pushing through some of the dreaded laundry as he worked on the nursery. Then, Saturday night we had our one-and-only Christmas party of the season - the party for Joss' office at his manager's house. Of course, I relished my one pre-Christmas opportunity to dress up and had gone out and bought a cute maternity dress. See here...

The party was fun, although somewhat tempered by my inability to sip on a cocktail or two. I did have Hubby pour me half a glass of white wine but it was a tad warm for my tastes and I had trouble getting through half of it. I did get my first snide comment about drinking while pregnant, however. One of Joss' agent friends greeted me by asking me how my wine was. Sounds innocent enough, but tone and the look in his eyes said it all. I replied, with a smile, that it was delicious and asked if I could pour him one too. He and his wife continued to eye me suspiciously for the rest of the night even though I switched to coke early on. Perhaps they thought I spiked it with rum (God, that would have been nice) or were busy 'tsking' me for all the sugar and caffeine I was consuming. Honestly, I give it a big, Valley-Girl, 'Whatever!' My choices, their problem.

Now to Sunday. Sunday morning started with the usual coffee, newspaper and political stimulation via 'This Week with George Stephanopolous' (sigh, my 'other' husband). More laundry, more working on the baby's room, writing Christmas cards etc...

Then in the late afternoon I jumped in the car and headed down to Elk Grove to visit my friend, Joy, for our annual screening of our Christmas favorite "Love Actually". If there's one thing that can really get me in the mood for Christmas, its that movie. Set in London, British humor, British pop music, and a series of parallel storylines that ooze the 'real meaning' of Christmas; it really puts joy in my heart every time I watch it.

We had a great time watching the movie, although we had to fast-forward through the porn scenes for the benefit of Joy's 4-year old daughter. I also had lots of smooches and cuddles with Gabriel, Joy's 8-month old son who sat in the corner of the sofa contentedly, sucking on Cheerios or banging away at some toys. He's just so chunky and cuddly and chill, full of giggles and smiles. It was good for my soul to realize that my son or daughter will be his age next Christmas. I found myself finally thinking about the fun side of parenting as we cuddled-up and watched the movie together.

Thanks Joy for putting the "Joy" of Christmas AND parenting in my heart!

And with that my weekend was over.

Nursery is almost together. Decorating is done (Hubby did a great job) and crib and changing tables are up (but not in place). We just have to get a fan put in the ceiling, get the blinds cut, hem the curtains, and buy a side-table... then we'll be "done, done". I'll be sure to post pics when complete.

And now back to the grindstone. Just under 2 weeks to go before I head back to London for Christmas. Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Does this sound like ME?

Got an email this morning from the President of the company I used to work for - I'm still somewhat affiliated with them and still get staff/HR-type emails.

The email invited me to complete a Core Capacities Index evaluation. Since I love personality tests, I jumped right online and did mine.

Here are the results. I'm interested to see if you think it's an accurate description of me. I won't be insulted either way. Just curious how accurate these things are.


Your Personal Core Capacities Index Results

To describe your unique recipe of Core Capacities, we use a set of four metaphors that correspond to the following foundational Core Capacities:

Builder: Power
Merchant: Inspiration
Innovator: Wisdom
Banker: Knowledge

These metaphors serve as a language to help us describe the characteristics of each Core Capacity. Arranged in a quadrant configuration, the scores in each quadrant give you a quick 'snapshot' of your Core Capacities:

Your Personal Core Capacities IndexTM Snapshot

Your scores indicate you have Merchant/Innovator tendencies.

Your Merchant capacities are balanced by your Innovator secondary capacity set. Your actions are routinely, almost equally, guided by these two capacity sets. In times of distress you will usually rely on the conflict strategies of your dominant capacity set. In less critical conflicts you may use either strategy given the situation.

Your unique dominant Merchant Capacity Set causes you to rely on the following strategies for success and fulfillment:

Your cornerstone core capacity is Inspiration. You are committed to giving and receiving inspiration in all its forms. You are constantly working to know and understand the truth about yourself and others.

You are willing to put yourself at risk in thought and action. Your commitment to others and to your own life is an encouragement to others. You have the ability to help people feel hopeful and courageous. It is important for you to see people and things as they really are. Something new and inspiring everyday is the spice of your life. You seldom feel defeated; You see good potential in most situations. Charm and enthusiasm are part of your arsenal for success. Too much formality is boring and restrictive. You like to trust people and to share yourself with them freely. You enjoy lots of different people and activities. You like a new charge in your life and you like to be the charge in the lives of others. You thrive on new opportunities, especially if you participate in creating the change process. Free and open discussion is a major element in your leadership style. You have a natural enthusiasm and like to be in situations that are fully engaging and energized. Motivating others with your visions and ideas is very satisfying. Making presentations puts zest in your life. You like to work and others enjoy working with you. A core strategy for you is to work effectively with others. Share your knowledge and information with others; You enjoy it and others appreciate it. No potential plan, idea or possibility gets by you. You want to receive good rewards and appreciation for time and energy spent. Nothing feels right when the people you value are distant or are in conflict. You enjoy being a bright light in your world.

Your unique secondary Innovator Capacity Set supports your dominant Merchant Capacity Set.

Your cornerstone core capacity is Wisdom. Understanding and compassion are central to your life strategy.

You pride yourself in seeing and understanding people and situations. You see and understand the relative worth of people and things. Strategic thinking is your forte. Development of effective responses to situations is one of your primary contributions. Seeing potential and opportunity is a primary talent. You strive to cause people and things to function well together. To invent new systems, processes and things is pure pleasure. You like to maintain a good mix of people, activities and things in your life. You like to communicate with visuals and descriptions. You have wit and creativity in your thinking. You enjoy helping people and things work well and consistently together. You never quit. Rapid and clever exchange of ideas is a personal joy and a method of work for you. You prefer to lead people by helping them remember agreements and commitments. You like to consider all the options. Your tastes are varied and diverse. Finding the best solution is one of your primary contributions. You are able to see the ways things are, and you know what to do about it. You are seen as a valuable resource for leading people toward the right ideas and the right direction. Understanding others and working with them is a key asset of yours. You use everything that is available to meet requirements.

Your third level Builder Capacity Set gives you the ability to respond appropriately to a broad spectrum of situations.

Your cornerstone core capacity is Power, the application of pure energy for Good. This primary driver is supported by a strong faith in your own ability to know what to do, your faith that your actions are for the Good, and your faith that once you create change, you will know what to do next.

Your Builder capacities are strong enough to bring balance into your life. Learning to shift your strategy to this capacity set in times of high opportunity or during conflicts will contribute significantly to your success.

Accomplishing tasks now is a primary drive for you. You are practical and willing to face the truth. You pride yourself in knowing what to do. Whatever you do, you do without much hesitation. You act as soon as you know what to do. You like to own those things that are important to you. You are strongly self-motivated. You value straight talk and frank discussion. Things go best for you when you have responsibility for results. Starting new projects and ventures makes you happy. You like to set things in motion. You make up your mind quickly and intuitively. If you can, you deal with things one at a time. You are not afraid to bring things to an end; When you're done, you're done. It is important for you to show good results for invested energy. People work harder and more things happen when you set the pace. There are few situations in which you feel inadequate. You use your power, physical and personal, to get what you want.

Your fourth level Banker Capacity Set gives you the opportunity to live a balanced and successful life.

You do not rely significantly on Banker capacities to create success.

You like to be the one who knows; being right and being able to prove it is important to you. Your knowledge is generally available to others. You care deeply when situations or the behaviors of people are unfair, or when your knowledge is used incorrectly by others. You like to understand the details of situations and issues. It is important to reduce possible risks by questioning decisions and plans. You enjoy being the source of information and proven methodology. Once started, you don't give up easily. The reliability of your words and actions is critical to your sense of self respect. You surround yourself with facts, figures and data. When things get messy, you may get testy.


Your Personal Core Capacities Index Scores

For decades, quadrant-based systems have been used by psychologists in an attempt to generally categorize or 'box' people into groups with rigid boundaries. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work — human beings are too complex. Quantifying a person as a 'Builder' or even a 'Builder-Merchant' does not provide enough information. A more granular scoring system is necessary in order to provide meaningful results.

The CCI scoring system is based upon a scale in each quadrant that ranges from 0 to 36. The score in each quadrant indicates a relative strength of that Core Capacity compared to the other quadrants. Generally, a person is strongly inclined toward one Core Capacity strategy with a second Core Capacity strategy also being a very important part of their make-up. But, the balance of the scores is very important and has a compelling effect on how you will engage tasks in your day-to-day work. Your CCI scores are:

Builder 18
Merchant 23
Innovator 21
Banker 10

The balance of your CCI scores describes a unique strategy you naturally have for both success and conflict. It is not possible to act in alignment with more than one capacity set at a time. Most people routinely switch between their dominant and secondary strategies unconsciously. Learning to be conscious about this switch between Core Capacity strategies provides greater social dexterity and leads to greater success. Learning to switch to the strategies driven by your Tertiary and Minor Capacity sets can create dramatic improvements in your life.

Your Personal Core Capacities IndexTM Type Scores

While the Core Capacity scores are important, an additional level of insight can be gained by considering how the Core Capacities work in combination with each other. These combinations are called Core Capacities Types. The Core Capacities Type scoring system is based upon a scale in each of six categories that ranges from 0 to 72. The score in each category indicates a relative strength of that Core Capacity Type compared to the other Types. Your Core Capacities Type scores are:

Intuitive 41
Cognitive 31
Creative 44
Practical 28
Community 33
Independent 39

The Core Capacities Type scores are derived from a unique combination of two of the Core Capacities. Typically, a person will find themselves described mostly in the dominant/secondary Core Capacities Type, but some of the qualities will be found in the other Types as well. Again, the balance of the scores is very important and has a compelling affect on how you will engage tasks in your day-to-day work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Where are you Christmas?

Ugghhh. The news seems to be doom and gloom wherever you turn these days.

Stock market up a little, stock market down a lot, homes depreciating at alarming rates, foreclosures continuing to rise, jobs cut, unemployment up, states running out of money, government throwing $700bn into a bottomless pit, American auto industry teetering on the brink of (rightful) collapse, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, ice shelf the size of Manhattan breaking up in the Antartic, devastating fires in Southern California... it has seemed never-ending these past few weeks.

For me, professionally, too, it hasn't been a bundle of good news. I've 'lost' friends at work, incoming business is on a significant down-tick, competition keeps snatching deals from me, clients are going bye-bye, and other issues too complex or confidential to post here are not making life at work very fun or positive right now.

Also, since we're going to England for Christmas, Hubby and I are foregoing the decorating this year. It's not so much the time and effort to put it up (although that's certainly part of it) but facing having to pull it all down again when we return. Plus, it's not like we're hosting any major social shindigs this year, as we normally like to. My inability to down several martinis, coupled with my energy-fuse being shorter than norm, budget restraints and, somehow it already being less than 3 weeks until we leave, just makes it less-than a party season for us this year. Finally, this year we agreed with my parents not to buy more than one gift each since, instead, we'll be spending Christmas in a swank hotel in Edinburgh, being waited on hand-and-foot.

Normally by now I'm a tinsel and Santa fanatic, buying up a storm, giddy with ideas for gifts, planning parties, and deciding what to wear for this or that Christmas get-together. This year, not so much.

So, with all of this combined, I'm having trouble finding the pre-Christmas spirit this year. Which sucks because this will be my last Christmas where I'm not under the mental and emotional haze of motherhood (although I'm sure that won't stop me from returning to my 4-martini self in '09).

Anyway, just wanted to post and complain. Us Brits like a good whinge.
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