Category Archives: Business

Cyber Irony

I think we’ve pretty much determined that most of us aren’t big shoppers, so I’m assuming that if we didn’t give Black Friday much due then we would have the same attitude about Cyber Monday. At least there were fewer commercials.

Imagine my surprise to come home from work on Cyber Monday to find my mailbox FILLED with glossy catalogs. Every couple of years I fill out the No Junk Mail registry but clearly this is a task that needs doing a little more often.  Of all these catalogs, I have only purchased from two of them and one of those was over two years ago.  I haven’t even HEARD of a couple of these companies.  It was particularly disturbing to get TWO catalogs from one company on the same day.

The irony of getting a box full of catalogs on the day we should all be shopping online isn’t lost on me and it’s a little frightening to think of all these catalogs filling up our landfills at this time of year.

The chances that I might glance through some of these before they hit the recycling? Maybe 50%.  Chances that I will order anything because I got these catalogs?  Zero.

What irony is striking you this week?

Slogging Through

In a comment yesterday, Renee mentioned slogging through War & Peace and being glad she had seen a film version first.  So now I have to tell MY War & Peace story.

I worked in the book industry for many years, in the now defunct B.Dalton chain. Back then (and I assume now as well) publishers did not want to pay to have mass market printing (small paperbacks) returned to them.  It was cheaper to reprint than to pay for the shipping.  In order to return mass markets we stripped the front covers off the books and sent those to the publisher for return credit.  The strips (books with their covers stripped) were then disposed of at the individual stores.

Although strips were routinely destroyed, it was a perk of working at the bookstore that you were allowed to take strips home for free, as long as you didn’t get caught selling them or even giving them away. For many years, most of the books I read were coverless.  Once when really purging the shelves, we ended up with strips of several classics, including a few copies of War & Peace.  I took one home that day and after a few months, put it in the bathroom with my various magazines for casual bathroom reading.  Since the strip was never going to go on my bookshelf, after every 10-20 pages, I would rip off the pages I’d finished and toss them.

It took me almost a year to read War & Peace this way and as the year went by, the book got skinnier and skinnier!

What reading material do YOU have in the bathroom?

Old Favorites

Two iconic restaurants in St. Paul will be closed by the end of this week. This saddens me, because I love a good neighborhood restaurant, and hate to see them replaced by the chains or the glitz that seems to accompany so many newer restaurants. (Even although I’ve never lived in St. Paul, these two were well enough known that I had made my way there all the way from Robbinsdale.)

The St. Clair Broiler, a burger and malt place (visited by Al Gore), closed at the end of September after 60 years in business. Back in the late 70s, we used to meet a St. Paul friend for a burger at the Broiler, followed by a movie in a theater on the same block, if memory serves. A St. Paul Pioneer Press article  reads: “With the recent boom in neighborhood restaurants, staying competitive has been a concern for the Broiler, which underwent an extensive menu change and decor refresh in 2015 in the hopes of attracting some younger customers. Apparently, the gamble didn’t pay off, as the restaurant was no longer profitable…”

And it breaks my heart that Muffuletta is closing this weekend, Nov. 11 being its last day after a run of 40 years. A European style bistro, its wonderful outdoor patio was a huge draw in the mild months of the year, and the indoor space was cozy in the winter. If I could, I would drive up for one last brunch with a friend (including a nice glass of wine), followed by shopping at Bibelot and a tour through Micawbers Bookstore, both on the same Como Avenue corner. Apparently upcoming street construction is a factor, but even this icon hasn’t been a money maker for some years. Sigh.

What are some of your favorite places that are no longer with us?


I have mentioned before that I serve on a regulatory board that ensures that the members of a certain profession practice ethically and are appropriately licensed.   My job on the board is to approve continuing education requests. The licensees need a certain number of continuing education hours every two years to  keep their licenses to practice. Trainings have to meet certain requirements for  content and presenter qualification. I am the one who has to make recommendations to the entire board whether such requests are approved.

We have reached the month of license renewal , and I am amazed how slapdash some of the licensees are in submitting their continuing education requests for approval.  Some wait until the last minute before submitting the requests, blissfully unaware that they have missed the deadline for final Board approval.  Others send in approval requests with insufficient detail of their trainings,  and then don’t respond to my entreaties for more information.

It amazes me that the quite well-educated people who we license don’t pay attention to important details that, if ignored, could mean the loss of their licence to practice, or a else hefty fine for all the bother they have caused the Board.  Who acts like this?  Perhaps I am naive, but really, this make no sense!

When have you been flabbergasted?



Ostrich or Monkey?

today’s post comes to us from tim.

you know i am finally there.

i don’t want to listen to the news anymore…

houston had a flood. did you hear?

donald trump had a thought… did you hear?

not only did I hear it i can’t shut it off.

my tv station in the morning plays the same story every 15 minutes from 4 am until 7 when they hand it off to the new york team who tells the national story of the day 2 or 3 times before i can get away and listen to it on the radio.

then I see all the pop ups from internet news, yahoo, google, whoever I have on my email news blasts

from huffington post or email blasts from my senators or local political folks, or people I like to hear from.

i have begun to do podcasts and downloaded music to stay away from the antimotivational news

but the twins are doing good, the lynx are wonderful again cmon lindsey whalen… and the vikings don’t suck yet. the timberwolves should be really wonderful this year. the soccer stadium is going to be fun and

the joy through sports seems shallow but it is kind of like taking pride in the guthrie theater and the minnesota orchestra or the st paul chamber orchestra the voyageurs national park, minnehaha falls or the fact that we have winter.

lots to pay attention to out there in the world. the news knows what people say they want to know about but i wonder if there would be a place for the good news station on the dial. i know i’d tune in.

what do you love most about the trail?


One-Way Market

On my trip to Madison last weekend, I went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. It is a four-block affair that rims the capital building.  You can enter the market from any of the incoming streets but my friends explained early on that you can only go one way at the market.

As we were there pretty early (6:30 a.m.) and it wasn’t very crowded I didn’t understand the rule about one-way. And it’s not a posted rule either, so that made me want to turn and go the other way very badly.

But after about an hour of very leisurely looking, tasting and shopping, it had gotten very crowded; that’s when I realized the intelligence of the one-way rule. At that point it would have been very awkward (and inefficient) to try to go against the crowd.  My friends told me that in another hour, it would be even worse!

It was a great market – all local folks, no re-sellers. I ended up with a purple cauliflower, a chili-cheese bread, a little tiny apple pie, cherry tomatoes that taste out of this world, squeaky cheese curds, another cheese w/ Kalamata olives and some multi-colored potatoes.  A real score!

When have you gone against the grain?