TJ’s Restaurant

I recently had the opportunity to have breakfast at a restaurant that I have been hearing about around a year now. That place is TJ’s Restaurant in Avondale, AZ located at the corner of Riley and Dysart Rd. south of I-10. From what I understand is TJ’s is legendary here on the Westside of Phoenix having been serving “Home-style” breakfasts and lunches to families for over thirty years. At any given time during business hours the parking lot of the aging 1970’s era strip mall that TJ’s calls home is full to capacity and hungry patrons take up the whole row of plastic chairs along the restaurant front. Everytime I have driven by and saw the crowd outside I thought to myself, “Man that place looks so popular, I just wish I had time for the wait.” Well, the other day I had time to experience TJ’s and I’m glad that I did.
Upon arriving, I saw the usual 12 or 15 people outside and as my party of five walked up five of those folks got up and went inside “Perfect timing” I thought to myself as I went to the desk to check in. As I looked around the inside I smiled at the homey country decor and I could see a lunch counter and tables all occupied by very happy people laughing and talking right along with the hustle and bustle busy atmosphere. I stepped back outside and sat down with my group, started my time clock and waited. Exactly 12 minutes had elasped before we were called in past a couple paying their bill which told me their table was cleared, cleaned, set, and we were seated before they were done paying their bill and leaving. The folks running this place hustle! Our waitress (a sweet older Grandmotherly type) sat us and immediately asked if we would like coffee or drinks and those were brought to the table within 4 minutes.
Going over the menu I could see the standard breakfast fare was there, eggs (from local AZ company Hickman’s Farms), bacon, sausage, diced potatoes, shredded hash browns but the next thing I saw was a beautiful sight…MEAT LOAF! For breakfast? I paused for a moment and contemplated it but was absolutely sold when I saw the choice of “brown gravy” or “white gravy” OH HELL YEAH! Two fried eggs, shredded hash browns and two FAT slices of meat loaf smothered in white country gravy! I had checked my blood earlier in the morning and found that my blood levels were a little high for my cholesterol stream and figured that this meal just might bump those cholesterol levels back up to where they need to be!
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So our orders were taken and I set my time clock again it was a good time to sit back and get a feel for the over all vibe of the place. It seemed fairly fast paced but not in a frantic out of control way, almost like a keep moving on track full steam ahead way! Everybody seemed happy as they discussed matters large and small all around us, some couples quietly talking privately while another family was laughing very loudly among each other and having a great time. Before we knew it our order arrived and as we picked up our forks begin this awesome experience I checked my watch and 19 minutes had gone by. Were exactly 31 minutes into our TJ’s experience and already savoring this amazing Homestyle Breakfast!
Everybody at our table concluded that TJ’s absolutely ROCKED and was probably one of the best breakfasts we have had.
The service was great, the food was served hot and fast and the total bill for our table of five was under $50 with a tip. I would highly recommend TJ’s if you want breakfast that is affordable, quick and served with a smile! We will be returning to try an amazing assortment of homemade pies and cinnamon rolls too!

The Value of Praise

Today I would like to talk about the value in something that I feel we all need from time to time and that is “Praise”. It’s my opinion that as human beings we all need reassurance occasionally for many different reasons among them the need to feel self worth, the need to feel as if you are contributing to a common goal, and the need to feel as if your actions provide value to somebody else. I recently was put into a situation where I observed “Praise” being dished out in great abundance in a short time frame and what became immediately apparent was the participants began feeding off each others energy and the situation rapidly deteriorated into a high fiving, back patting, disingenuous “good jobbing” ego stroke-fest. It wasn’t that “Good jobs” were not deserved but what ensued appeared to be nothing more than a very fake attempt at “Team-Building”, it came off as very shallow and somewhat comical in nature!High Five Business people
After a quick analysis of the situation I came to realize that it if “Praise” is not given at the proper time, place and frequency then the “value of praise” is greatly diminished and its effectiveness is lost to some degree. I have came up with five points that one should think about when dispensing “Praise” to somebody else.

#1– Don’t be vague or give open-ended, blanket statement praises. Be very specific and don’t just praise the obvious. Praise the little thing that the person receiving the praise wouldn’t even expect to be praised on.
#2-Give somebody praise through a few other people, sort of like positive reinforcement
rumour-mongering. Imagine if you heard through the grapevine that your boss is very
pleased with the great job you are doing!
#3-Even if someone is a natural born winner they are still deserving of praise too, it can’t be perceived that one is favored over the other through the use of praise.
#4-One should NEVER back up praise with a work request or favor to be asked! If you want to devalue your praise faster than anything ask for the praise recipient to do that task that you’ve been putting off forever!
#5-Timing of praise is very important. At the end of the day after doing battle in the trenches and winning sometimes a simple “Hey great job today Mike”! will really put the icing on someones cake. At the same time if someone might be struggling with something a small victory could be praised and give an added confidence boost to help the person push on to victory throughout the day.

I really feel that with careful contemplation on how praise is used the value of it can be maximised for full effectiveness. It is a tool that can be a confidence booster, a calmer of frazzled nerves and a production jump starter to a person who may feel like they are not a valuable asset to a company or team.

So I must ask: What are your thoughts on the Value of Praise?

Finally settling in..

imagesWell after a whirlwind three month period of activities ranging from a new home purchase to many overtime hours logged at work, things have finally begun to settle down around the house. We are still trying to get small projects accomplished before the blistering Southwest summer begins frying everything in sight from struggling vegetation to the skin on the backs of our necks! There is something oddly beautiful about the brutally intense heat of the desert. Watching the sun rise on a summer morning brings feelings of nervous anticipation as you enjoy the last remnants of cool air (if you can call 97F cool!) the night had to offer. All the while knowing that within two to three hours the intense blast of heat radiating down upon you will be sucking every ounce of energy from your body leaving you exhausted, dehydrated and parched. Yet there is something fascinating about carrying on with life (and we do!) in such trying conditions. It becomes a battle not necessarily for actual survival but a battle for comfort. Everybody carries some type of water bottle, almost everybody at stop signals hair is blowing because the AC vent in their car is pointed directly at their face, people will look for shady spots under trees to park their cars, in hopes that it won’t be as hot for them upon their return from the cool interiors of stores they just shopped in. It truly becomes a test to our mental states as the mercury levels begin to rise so do our levels of discomfort, it is especially evident in young children who really don’t understand why they feel cranky and pissed off! Right about when we think we have had enough of living in a blast furnace and we’ve been contemplating how nice relocating to Seattle might be one of my favorite aspects of Summer appears! MONSOON SEASON! I personally love it when we get drenched in a down pour because the temperature will drop dramatically for a while and the blasted dry landscape covered in dust from several months of intense heat will get washed down and everything begins to look a little brighter and not as dull. The creosote bush will dispense to our noses the earthy smell that I have loved since I was a kid and as if that smell were indication of a food source the desert comes alive with animals enjoying the high humidity and lower temperatures if only for a few hours. Some of the most amazing thunder and lightning I have ever seen occurs during monsoon season and as I enjoy this wondrous time I know that Fall is right around the corner with its warm (not hot) days and cool nights, and just after that the cool temps, crystal blue sunny skies will be here again to remind us why we didn’t take that leap and move to Seattle.

Entering the Blogosphere…

Well this should be fun! I’ve decided to do something a little out of my comfort zone and break out into the uncharted and unfamiliar territory which is web-publishing and blogging! As a blogging Newbie I have become an intense sponge for knowledge in this arena and have been following several other bloggers in an attempt to learn the very basics of this new found interest of mine. One might ask what the motive is behind the creation of this blog and quite frankly it is something I feel I can tinker with from the comfort of my home, maybe provide some useful information for some or maybe some crazy entertainment for another. So uneventful as this may be this is the very first post on “”…