Doggen walken to Starsbucken

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The dogs and I went for a walk today, longer than our normal walk. Since I've become so addicted to short Starbucks Signature Hot Chocolates, I decided that I could have one, and enjoy it guilt-free, if I walked to the Starbucks to purchase it. A walk to the nearest Starbucks would pretty much be a waste of time if I didn't take the dogs, too (that, or listen to a podcast), so off the three of us went.

Fortunately, "walking to Starbucks" doesn't mean "take the normal route" or "take the longest route." We started on our normal route, heading south, then turning west. Last time I took the girls this way, along the long walk route, they took to *sprinting* across the street, then *screeching* to a halt as their noses caught wind of an interesting smell, which, on a new path, meant every 15 feet.

Today, we walked along the sidewalks near the local middle school. Several classes of kids were out for gym class, which started by running around the perimeter of the school's athletic fields (about 10 acres or so), before stopping at the tennis courts. My heart went out to the stragglers in the bunch. I so wanted to tell them "learn how to play ultimate, here, I'll show you."

I didn't, though.

When we arrived at the Starbucks, I tied the girls up to a post and went in. Unfortunately, the line was annoyingly long, and, despite the loud din in the store, I could *still* hear Bella howling outside. Dogs.

I asked the woman in front of me if she could order me a short Signature hot chocolate and handed her $5. When I left to calm the dogs, then came back in to see where she was in line, she needed to leave the line for her son who REALLY needed to pee. I offered to buy her what she wanted, which was fortunately only a $1 milk. She handed me a $10, but I passed it back to her with the milk, which sorta weirded her out, I think.

Tragically, the hot chocolate was a regular, and not a Signature, so I was massively disappointed in the drink.

We started back home, taking a less trafficked route than our walk out. We walked along a fence that bordered a sports field next to a park. As we were passing the field, a squirrel sat out in the middle of the field, watching us.

I couldn't resist.

We wandered onto the field, with Annie crouching low, and Bella completely oblivious. I released Annie, and watched her slink sprint close to the squirrel, then shirt into full speed as the squirrel took off. She *almost* caught it when it zigged up a tree then leaped back to the fence. Annie was under the squirrel as it leaped, and only barely missed it. The speed of the chase was impressive.

The walk wasn't completely fun and games, though. At one point, we walked by a house where a good dozen people somberly walked out, all dressed in black, saying little. I wanted to offer my condolences on their loss, but thought that might be just a little too weird.

We also managed to visit a napping mail carrier, who was sleeping in his truck. I thought about taking a picture, but figured that it might get the guy in trouble. I somehow managed to refrain.

I'm glad we went for the walk, though I do wish the hot chocolate tasted better.

 Chicago oatmeal? Not so much.

For the record, Chicagoland Starbucks do not know how to make oatmeal properly.

Not at all.

The oatmeal at Starbucks has recently replaced my previous breakfast favorites of chocolate croissants and pumpkin loaf. The croissants make my stomach hurt, and the pumpkin loaf, though very tasty, isn't available enough. Few things are worse in the morning than being disappointed at the lack of pumpkin loaf availability.

Okay, that's not true, there are hundreds of thousands of things worse, if not millions of things worse than a pumpkin loaf disappointment, but that's really beside the point of the oatmeal, isn't it?

Every time I'm outside of a Starbucks with a Starbucks oatmeal, I'm asked, "I've always wondered about the Starbucks oatmeal. Is it any good?" EVERY. TIME.

To which I will say this: IF you also receive the brown sugar, the nuts and the dried fruit (which is to say, ALL of the oatmeal add-ons), then the Starbucks oatmeal is FABULOUS. I love it. It's great. I recommend it whole-heartedly with gusto.

Except maybe in Chicago. Then I recommend it, just not whole-heartedly, nor with gusto, as I'm not convinced they understand the concept of oatmeal at these Starsbuck.

Instead of filling the oatmeal with enough hot water to thicken the oatmeal and soften it, they added just barely enough water to cover the oatmeal. Which meant that both the oatmeal cooled very quickly since it didn't have enough thermal mass to battle the cold weather back to the hotel effectively, and that the oatmeal lacked any moisture to soften the dried fruit.

My only consolation was the glass of milk I nearly always get with my oatmeal. Now THAT at least was done right.

 Small world

Wanna hear small world?

On days after Velocity, Kris will drive me to the nearest Starsbuck closest to his work, and drop me off. I'll order a milk and some other item, usually pumpkin bread, sometimes oatmeal, possibly something else. The baristas will comment on my milk ("Milk? Just milk? Ice? (No.) Mocha? (No.) Steamed? (No.) Just milk? (Yes.)). I'll sit down, log onto the wireless, eat and drink and read my overnight spam. Some time later, Doyle will stop by and pick me up, and off to work we'll go. The double carpool works for me. I enjoy it, spending a half hour with Kris, and another half hour with Doyle.

So, I'm here in San Francisco at the Startonomics one-day conference. When I was walking back to my seat on a break, I noticed this guy who I see 2-3 times a week, at the Starsbuck. Just last week, he had been talking to two other guys about starting up a company, and the technical things they needed to do. Well, two of the three guys were talking technical, the other guy was talking nonsense, but we'll ignore that fact for the moment.

The guy in question is there nearly every time I am, but last week was the first time I had heard him speak. It was a moment not unlike when movies began to be heard: some people's voices do not match their face. This guy is one of those people. I was expecting a low voice. Actually, I was expecting a voice like Paul's, and not, by far, what I heard.

I wonder if I should say hello.

Maybe I'll wait until our next join Starsbuck visit.

P.S. Yes, I know. Starsbuck. It's on purpose. Ask Kris.

Update: This world is smaller than I thought it was, and smaller than I want it to be. THAT client is apparently here at this conference. The client that over one year later STILL owes the company money. Maybe if I actually run into the "I'm not a Jackass" jackass, I can tell him just how much I despise both him and his business practices.

Doyle says I'd be better just ignoring the guy.

 Barista jinx

Tuesday mornings, Kris is usually up and out the door by 7:30 am, taking Annie for her happy, happy, joy, joy, all-day hike. Since that isn't happening, I seized on the free morning with Kris and suggested breakfast together.

Imagine - breakfast together on a weekday morning. Together. Breakfast.

Uh, yeah.

Sleep holds a much stronger draw, unfortunately.

We woke up late, snuggled under the comforters for a long while, then finally crept out of bed when we realized the squeaking noise we kept hearing wasn't construction noise from across the street, but rather Annie's stomach growling. "I guess I better feed the dogs," muttered Kris as he rolled out of bed.

We went to Starbucks for a quick pastry for me, pastry and coffee for Kris. We've been ordering much the same items each time we go, that Kris has started handing me cash and standing to the side to see if I can get the "grande drip, room for milk, morning bun and chocolate croissant" order correct. Apparently, coffee drinkers use the term "room for cream" not "room for milk," so I deliberately use milk to annoy them all.

The cashier was very friendly to me. "How are you doing?" "What do you have planned for today?" "Oh, what fun!" and "I hope everything works well for you today!" I usually don't have conversations with the Starbucks people, though I'm sure they recognize me by now as the woman who never buys coffee. "There she is, the milk lady again."

So, I handed Kris his coffee, and walked with him to the milk table. As I was reaching for the napkins, I saw a flash of white to my left, followed by a, "Sorry, babe."

I looked over to see Kris covered in milk from his stomach down, a puddle of milk at his feet. I looked up to his coffee, to see the lid of the half and half floating in his coffee cup, the half and half thermos still tipped in his hand.

I looked up at him. "I blame the barista and her 'hope everything works well for you today.'"

"Yeah, she jinxed us."

"Yeah."

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