Category Archives: Business

Farming Day 1 Part 1

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Well not exactly day one. But the first day in the field doing spring work so it’s day one from that point of view. 

Spent the morning doing my usual stuff on the computer: emails, newspaper, moms banking, our banking. A few phone calls, etc. before I’m finally out the door mid-morning. 

I needed to take a couple of tires to get fixed and the one on the grain drill I already had loose. Also had a tire on the four wheeler with a slow leak and that’s easy to put a floor jack under the back end and use the impact wrench and four nuts and that comes right off.

Got both tires in the back of the truck, loaded up all three dogs, and headed for Millville Minnesota. We’ve been taking tires to Appel service in Millville for as long as I can remember. It’s about half an hour away and you won’t find a nicer, family owned business, anywhere. Millville is a town of about 180 people and so far down in the valley you can’t get any cell phone reception. There are a couple of bars, couple of restaurants, one Church, a cemetery where I have several relatives, a gun shop, and in a better year I would’ve dropped off the tires and then gone to get lunch at the Lucky Seven Café. 

When I got to Appels, most of the crew was at lunch so I said I’d come back. They are really good at fixing your tires while you wait but I may as well keep moving. Back up the road a few miles to pick up my Oat seed. It was such a nice day, pretty amazing weather for this time of the year, and we worry that it’s so dry; all the farmers are going hard. mostly applying anhydrous ammonia- Those white tanks you see in the fields. I probably saw a dozen farmers doing that. There was a couple guys ahead of me at Meyer’s Seeds and we stood outside and talked while Meyer’s rounded up seed and bring it out on the forklift. I petted some cats (The camera snap on the phone scared them away) and I got a nice metal ‘stick’ used for checking seed depth. Always wanted one of those.


After I got my 54 bags of oats, I strapped that down in the truck, and then back to Millville. As I pulled up, they were just taking the four-wheeler tire in and the drill tire was done. There’s something pretty interesting about watching a guy change tires. The machinery involved and just the whole process is really pretty fascinating. The guy ahead of me was watching his tires get fixed, I watched them fix my tire, while at the same time trying not to get in the way or look TOO interested. (It’s kinda loud and hard to talk or ask questions).

Just a tube needed in the four-wheeler tire. The grain drill tire is kind of special. It’s about 3 feet tall, and completely smooth except it has two heavy ridges on each edge. That way, going through the field, it makes a real clear mark that’s easy to follow on the next round of the field. I had ordered two tires: they had one in stock, the second hasn’t shown up yet. And that’s OK, this one was worse than the other. $262 for the tire. $13 labor to mount both. The only thing missing was the bottle of grape pop from the café. 

The dogs love riding in the truck. And they don’t miss a chance if they can help it. Although Humphrey lays in the back and looks completely uninterested but he does spend a little time looking out the windows. Bailey bounces back-and-forth between the front seat and the backseat and she spends half the trip with her nose in my face. Allie, the queen of them all will eventually setting in some place where the others don’t walk all over her at least for the moment.

Once we are back on our driveway, I let them all out to run home. About halfway down the driveway there was a squirrel about 75 yards away from the trees and making a beeline back to the trees. The dogs were a good 200 yards away. Missed it by “that“ much. 

Do you like car rides?

Got any stories about tires? 

Contain Yourself!

Photo Credit:  Bored Panda

After a request for photos yesterday, I thought I’d expand a bit on the wild dog story.

My first trip to South Africa was with a client who wasn’t crazy about working with my company.  Her previous company had just gone through a merger and she inherited the job of overseeing the travel programs.  We were already contracted for two programs when she came onboard so even though she had contacts in another incentive house, she couldn’t change suppliers at that point.  She was professional about this but she never seemed happy or excited.  Now it’s completely plausible that she just wasn’t a person who like to emote but we’ll never know.

We had a large group, bigger than any one safari camp could hold, so we needed to check out three different camps and decide which winners would go in each.  That meant that we had to stay in each of the three camps, one camp each night.  Boo hoo. These were luxury camps with incredibly nice rooms (all three camps had gorgeous indoor bathrooms and great outdoor showers), amazing food and, of course, the safari runs.  You got up very early for the first safari run of the day (think 4 a.m. early) – heavy “snacks” before you left then a massive breakfast when you got back 3 hours later.  Then a late afternoon safari, getting back in the dark for a huge “boma” dinner.  And you’re in Africa all this time.  Amazing.

It was all I could do to contain myself during the trip.  (Actually I can hardly contain myself on any of my trips.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve gone on a site inspection that hasn’t been wonderful.) My client was the opposite; she was doing her job by being there but she couldn’t muster any enthusiasm.  It wasn’t surprising when she bailed on the last safari run of the trip.  When the driver and guide came to pick up the Account Exec and me, they told us that they’d heard from other guides on the radio that there might be wild dogs up near “the cut line” (this is the edge of each camp’s territory.  Guides are not allowed to take their charges into another camp’s territory).  They said if we wanted to try to find the wild dogs, it would take a bit and we’d have to head straight there.  The Account Exec and I immediately agreed.  As we were driving up, we both acknowledged that if the client had been with us, she would not have wanted to do this.

Well thank goodness she didn’t come.  The wild dog pack was indeed on our side of the cut line and it was amazing.  They weren’t too worried about us so we were able to observe them for almost 2 hours.  There were a lot of puppies and they were very cute.  It was a defining moment during the trip, a trip with many unbelievable moments.  The photo above is not mine (long story about where those photos are currently stored) but it is very similar to some of the photos I took that day, especially when the dogs and pups came a little closer to the jeep. The puppies are much cuter than you would think, with huge ears and puppy faces.

Even now, after almost 20 years, I feel sorry for that client.  I hope she enjoyed South Africa, even if she didn’t show it.

What makes it hard for you to contain YOUR enthusiasm?

They’re Coming to Take Me Away

I’ve been aware for some time that nothing I do online is really private.  If I look at some clothing website on Tuesday, by Wednesday, I’m getting sidebar ads for that same clothing company.  If I watch a Paws for Hope video on YouTube, suddenly lots of their videos pop to the top of my feed.  Same with Facebook.  Not too irritating although it makes me wonder if cyberspace is smart enough to know what I’m looking at, why isn’t it smart enough to know when I’ve made a purchase so they can stop showing me the ads for what I’ve bought?

I have a “color-by-number” app on my phone – it’s a mindless game that I often play if I have the tv on or am listening to a book on tape.  It only takes up about ¼ of my brain (if that).  It has a function that offers me “hints” if I watch the occasional ad.  Most of the time I ignore that function, but occasionally the puzzles have little bits that are almost impossible to see, so I like to have a couple of hints available.  About a month ago I noticed that the ads on this game were aligning with stuff that I was searching for online using my phone.  Not 100% but close enough.  So now my game is paying attention to what I’m up to when I’m not playing.   I wasn’t sure if I should worry about this or not.

Then yesterday I had the tv on while I was working in my studio.  One of the interminably long Cindy Crawford ads came on – the ones in which they talk about the special melons in the south of France.  I flipped on mute and waited it out.  While I was watching out of the corner of my eye for the commercial to end, I thought to myself “Well, at least they don’t run those Crepe Erase ads anymore.”  I’m not sure why I don’t like these ads, but I don’t even like to say the words “crepe” and “erase” together.  I have nothing against Jane Seymour, their spokeswoman, but I just don’t like the ads.  So imagine my shock when about 20 minutes later, there was Jane Seymour hawking Crepe Erase!  Honestly, I haven’t seen one of these ads for a couple of years at least.  It’s clear they’re reading my mind – this crosses the line!

Do you have a favorite hat?

BestSeller

When I was a kid, the only things I ever sold were Kool-Aid (from a card table on the sidewalk) and Girl Scout Cookies every year.  We didn’t have school fundraisers back then and I don’t ever remember my family having a garage sale.

But YA is a selling whiz. She has all the apps and programs down pat and excels at the various online ways to get paid and how to ship things or if something needs to sold locally.  She says she doesn’t use “C_list” anymore because everybody wants to bargain the price down to nothing.  We have a small stockpile of boxes in a corner of the attic that she uses for sending things off to various buyers.

She also has a good eye for what might sell and how much she might get for it.  She is careful with her shoes and clothing and likes to have what is current and trendy, so many of the boxes shipped off are her used clothing. Outdated electronics have gone out as well as a bike that she had outgrown.  The big surprise this past year were two corduroy Apple baseball caps that I’ve had in my closet for decades; I got them from a supplier years ago when I was still working for Software, Etc.  I was cleaning out stuff last summer, getting it ready for Goodwill/Value Village when YA spied them.  She sold one for $150 and the other for $140.  I was gobsmacked.  Yesterday she sold off a PS4 game station that I bought her years ago but which went mostly unused.  It works perfectly well and her buyer thought it was a good deal at $250.  Again I was amazed as I would probably have put it out at a garage sale for 10 bucks.

So I’m letting her be in charge of selling off the household bit by bit.  If it’s an item that is clearly mine (hats) or that I initially paid for (PS4) then we split the money.  Right now I’m trying to get her interested in putting some of my old stamp sets on the market. 

What chore/job do you like to offload on others?

Frozen Food Day

I think I’ve mentioned that I got a fun “every day a celebration” calendar by Sandra Boynton for Solstice?  According to the calendar (verified on other sources), today is National Frozen Food Day.  Apparently Ronald Reagan decided in 1984 that we needed a day to celebrate frozen foods – there is actually a proclamation (#5157) to this effect.

Frozen Food Day caught my attention because I just watched a documentary last week about some of the great “inventions” of the 20th century.  It began with the Kellogg brothers and CW Post, battling it out for cereal sales.  When CW Post passed away, he left his company for his daughter, Marjorie, who turned out to be one smart cookie.  In 1929 she bought out the entire Clarence Birdseye company (one of the other great inventors in the documentary).  With the General Foods backing, the frozen food industry was able to grow by leaps and bounds. 

In our freezer there are lots of things that we have frozen: berries that we’ve picked, pineapple puree cubes (YA makes these), my sun-dried tomatoes, my jams.  I also keep my coffee and my Ralston in the freezer and we have lots of assorted fruits.  Waffles and cookie dough. Ice cream (Moose Tracks right now) .  Assorted things we find (mostly at Trader Joe’s).

This is too much for just our freezer upstairs so we have a small freezer in the basement as well.  It’s nice to have a spot for extras or the occasional bulk purchase.  I’m very glad that Clarence Birdseye developed the flash freezing process and even more glad that Marjorie Post put her considerable company and funding behind it.  Even enough to celebrate today!

Anything interesting in your freezer?  Any guilty freezer pleasures?

Radio In My Life

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.


I often think about the impact radio has had on my life. We all are shaped by different influences, but radio has been a major presence in my life.

When I was a kid, we had just one radio in our home. It was a gorgeous cherrywood console that graced our living room. Listening to it was often a family activity.

Then radios became less expensive and smaller, enough so that I had a radio of my own. That meant I could choose the music I heard, a major step in my personal growth. I’ll never forget that winter night in 1956 when I first heard Elvis sing Heartbreak Hotel. I was blown away by the angst it expressed, and from that moment on my taste in music diverged from the taste of my parents. I became a great fan of Top Forty pop music, something I listened to on a small Bakelite AM radio in my bedroom. Later the popular life was revolutionized by the availability of inexpensive, portable transistor radios.

When I began grad school, there was a radio station called WLOL broadcasting classical music. I planned my whole day around that station’s schedule. When Bill Kling launched KSJN as a classical music station in the Twin Cities, I became a listener on the first day it hit the air. That classical station had a weird eclectic show in the morning, weird because the host, Garrison Keillor, played an idiosyncratic hodgepodge of country, folk and world music. I was hooked. Keillor later began chatting with his studio engineer, Tom Keith, and I became fanatical about the show. It was the way I started my day, and that remained true when Dale Connelly became the host and whimsical voice of The Morning Show.

The only firm, fixed point in our family’s week was listening to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday nights. We made no plans that conflicted with that broadcast. My daughter grew up thinking of Garrison as something like a family member, a windy storyteller like her dad. She expected her birthday to be hailed by Dale and Tom.

When I joined an online dating service following my divorce I had to define myself so women could judge whether they were interested in talking to me. My personal description mentioned books and outdoor recreation and other activities, but I always felt the most concise and useful identifier was the three words identifying me as a “public radio guy.”

What memories do you have of radio? What has radio meant in your life?

I’m Not Hoarding – I Swear

I hate buying toilet paper.  It’s just irritating to cough up cash for something that ends up being flushed away.  The fact that it’s constant doesn’t help and I make it worse by not liking most of the conventional tp.  My preferred is Seventh Generation, which I purchase at my co-op.  It’s unbleached and comes individually wrapped in paper, not plastic. 

I’m not a Costco/Sams kind of person – I don’t have storage space for huge quantities – but for years I have purchased my tp by the case from the co-op.  48 rolls at a time for a huge chunk of change – but this means I only have to be irritated every 10 months or so.  We keep the case at the top of the attic steps and bring down rolls to the bathroom when we need them. 

When toilet paper first became the cause celebre last year, I wasn’t worried; we had plenty.  Or so I thought.  As the spring and summer came and went, I watched our supply dwindle.  Unfortunately, by the time we started to run low, the co-op had suspended bulk orders and for several months I was having to pick up tp on a regular basis.  You’d think I had better things to get irritated about, but you’d be wrong.  As if that weren’t enough, the co-op quit getting the Seventh Generation and what they were carrying didn’t last as long per roll.  Crazy making.

Two weeks ago, just for jollies, I asked somebody at the co-op’s Customer Service desk when bulk orders would be re-instated.  They called the manager out and they said I could again order tp by the case.  Even though I wasn’t crazy about what was available from the co-op, I figured that the lack of irritation would make it OK.  Then about an hour later, they called me from the co-op; the stuff they now carry comes in case lots of 96, not 48.  That would make the price tag close to $200.  Aaarrrggghhhh.  I told them not to place the order.

As I was explaining this to YA, she started banging away on her phone.  “You know, you can get a case of the Seventh Generation at Amazon.”  Calm as could be.  I looked at her phone and confirmed that it was exactly what I wanted, and unbelievably cheaper, than what I used to pay at the co-op.  An additional benefit is that I didn’t have to worry about anybody looking at me funny for getting a case of toilet paper during pandemic.  So now we have the tp I like best and I don’t have to get all worked up and buying more until Solstice!

Is there anything you like to have in bulk (or used to like to have in bulk….)?

Buzz Words?

Going back to work hasn’t been as traumatic as I was worried it would be.  The new software isn’t as daunting as I anticipated, although I shake my head that we’ve made things so complicated in trying to make them easier.  The steps to set up your various screens so you can “share” during an online presentation make my head hurt – luckily I don’t see that I will have to personally worry about this for quite some time. 

There is a new phrase that I’m hearing a lot since I came back (a whooping three weeks) … “socializing the idea”.  I don’t know if this is a Corporate America thing or just my company but I’ve heard at least 4 people use the phrase in various meetings/calls.  It basically means floating an idea by someone (usually a client) in a casual way.  As if you’re softening someone up to an idea before hitting on it hard.  The first time I heard it, I knew immediately what it meant – not sure if I’ve just been in the business-speak world too long or it’s a great phrase that needed inventing. 

But now that I’ve heard it four times, it’s beginning to grate a bit, so I’m wondering if this is just the new catch phrase of the month and it will be gone by fall.  There are so many buzz words in the business world that have disappeared off the horizon.  I haven’t heard anybody talk about paradigms recently and nobody seems to say “think outside the box” anymore.  Of course, “collaborate” is still going strong despite my prayers every night that it fly right off the world’s radar screen.

What words or phrases would you like to be retired?  Or kept on but at only 20 hours a week?

Knicknacks

I have an enormous U-shaped desk in my office. It is far too fancy for me, but it is what they thought I needed when we moved to our new building in July.

I am a messy person who knows where any and all the  documents  are  in the piles on my desk. Please don’t make me clean up. It ruins my organizational strategy.  The larger my desk, the more and bigger the paper piles on it.

In one corner of my desk I have the collection of figures you see in the header photo. I got the Freud bobble head from my son. The red puppet I got in Bremen Schnoor district. He reminds me of Tyll Ulenspiegel. The vampire tomtens I got from my daughter.  I have no idea where the Viking came from. I have no idea what people think about  them, or what they think about me when they see them.  I sort of wish people would ask.

What did or does your work desk look like? How did you make your desk reflect you who you are?

 

Bingo!

I will admit that while I was on furlough, I spent way too much time surfing on my phone (wow… talk about a phrase that would have made no sense 20 years ago!)   Lots of stamping sites, Vlogbrothers and Mark Rober YouTubes, too many dance compilations to the song Uptown Funk and of course The Trail.  This led to what I consider massive numbers of wasted hours as well as monies spent that could have gone to better purposes.

One of these purchases happened two weeks ago, after I knew I would be heading back into Corporate America part time.  It’s a Conference Call Bingo mousepad.  If you’ve spent any time on zoom or other online calls the past year, you’ll probably recognize some of the squares:  “Can everyone see my screen?”  “Can you repeat that?”  “I have to jump on another call.”  I laughed out loud when I saw it online.  It arrived over the weekend and I’ve had several chances to use it already.  I’ve been using paperclips as “the dauber”.   No bingo yet, but I’ve come pretty close a couple of times.

When was the last time you played Bingo?