Category Archives: Business

Buying The Wrong Thing

Husband and I try to limit our shopping these days, especially at  bigger stores like Walmart. We always go masked and try to shop quickly. The other day I was rushing through the store, grabbed what I thoughtvwas a double box of the toothpaste I like, proceeded to the checkout, and headed home.

There are many different types of Crest toothpaste. The boxes kind of look the same. Well, I realized after I got home that I bought the wrong kind. This is a kind I would never have purchased under normal circumstances.  It must have hydrogen peroxide or something similar in it, because it is touted as foaming when you use it.  I can’t say I am looking forward to having two tubes of it.  I don’t like to return things to stores at the best of times, and certainly not now. I guess I will spend the next months foaming at the mouth whenever I brush.

Got any good return stories? When have you bought the wrong thing?

Anger Management

Last week, the secretary at my office whose husband’s company did our cement work took the cheque I wrote for the job to our bank to cash it. The bank refused to honor the cheque.  They said that we never wrote cheques of that size, and that it didn’t look like my signature.  They apparently compared it to other cheques I had written. They tried to phone me, but I was busy with clients. I never noticed the calls. Husband had to go to the bank and confirm that the cheque was legitimate.

I don’t know how to feel about this.  If the secretary in question didn’t look really Hispanic, I probably wouldn’t be upset about this. Ruby said that the teller was condescending and rude.  I appreciate that the bank is looking our for my interests, but really!  Ruby’s husband, an immigrant from Mexico, came up with excuses for the bank, but I still am upset.

How do you manage your anger? 

Yard Signage

There are quite a few fairy gardens on the various paths that I walk each day.  Some at the edges of the sidewalk, two different ones in big pots, one on a tree trunk.  My favorite though is a large one near Lake Harriet that wraps around the bushes along the front sidewalk.  It has just about everything you can imagine including a teeny tiny yard side for Black Lives Matter (in the upper right corner).  As you probably can figure, I think this is charming.

I come by my love of yard signs naturally.  My folks usually always had a sign up for some candidate or other at election time.  The year my dad was the campaign manager for a friend running for city council, one whole side of our yard (that faced the busier street) was lined with them.  They even let me put up a “No Nukes” sign when I was in college, although our house at that point was at the end of a cul de sac so I’m sure the sign didn’t get seen by too many people.

I’ve been thinking about adding a yard sign for my presidential favorite almost every morning when I’m walking the dog, but then I get back to the house and promptly forget about it.  After seeing the little fairy garden yard sign, I sent myself an email to remind me, then drove up to Northern Sun (I love them – I was SO happy when I realized that I had moved to the city where their store is located!) and picked up my sign, which is now in my yard, along with my BLM sign.  Somehow having two signs feels quite natural – guess I’ll have to find another sign after the election so I will still have two!

Are you a yard sign person?  Or a fairy garden fancier?

The New Toilet Paper?

Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bleach…. I was lucky enough to have these items already in the house when shelter-in-place hit and people started to hoard.  I was surprised by the flour/yeast panic and the run on King Arthur bread mixes, but again, I had enough on hand to get through.  I was also surprised to not find garlic in the stores for a couple of weeks; the produce guy at Cub was stumped.   Garlic salt isn’t the greatest substitute for fresh garlic, but we managed.

But pectic?  This one brought me up short.  I headed out early one morning and picked a big flat of raspberries and as is my custom, I stopped at Kowalski’s on the way home.  There on the shelf where the pectin usually lives was a big hole.  I asked an employee… they said that they haven’t been able to keep canning supplies and pectin in stock.  Same story for a few other places I quickly called.

Unfortunately you can’t just keep fresh raspberries sitting around forever, so I kept calling and did find pectin at my local hardware store, although it was a different brand than I usually use to cook my jam.  Since beggars can’t be choosers, I bought it and headed home. (The hardware store shelves in the canning section were basically bare; I actually got the last jar of pectin!)  After a long search on the internet, I finally found a comparable low-sugar recipe that I could use.  Presumably the jam will be fine when I thaw the first jar – you wouldn’t think you could mess up berries and sugar with a different kind of pectin, right?

Have you run out of anything lately?

Work Clothes

We were required to wear masks at work in April. Two weeks ago we were issued face shields to wear over our masks. Now we have the option of goggles. Instead of looking like welders we look like mad chemists.

I had to wear a uniform when I waitressed at Mr. Steak in Moorhead when I was in college. I have not worn a work uniform since. I like the goggles better than the shields,  but we all still look goofy. I am thankful we don’t have to wear paper gowns, but that may yet happen, since cases of COVID are increasing exponentially in our county.

What is the oddest or most uncomfortable clothing you ever had to wear?

Heavy Lyfting

There was some serious budgeting for the trip to San Diego with YA.  First off, the trip would not have been possible at all except for free airline tickets that I won last summer as well as all the award points that I’ve saved up at work over the past few years (they paid for the hotel and the zoo/safari park).  That left us with food and transportation.

We had an Excel spreadsheet for all of this and the transportation was the most challenging.  While the airport, the zoo and Balboa Park are all fairly closely clustered, the safari park was quite a distance.  Plus we were working with a limited selection of hotels due to the budget (I only had so many award points).  I initially just wanted to rent a car, but that got expensive fast with overnight parking as well as parking at many of the attractions we wanted to visit.  We used a website we found for approximating taxis in San Diego – not much better of a price point.

YA suggested we should just use Uber/Lyft like she did on her last trip and the initial research showed quite a bit of savings over rental cars and taxis.  But I was hesitant.  I’ve never used Uber or Lyft and it made me really nervous.  YA said she would take care of it all.

The first morning, the Lyft driver showed up at our house 10 minutes after she set it up.  Perfect.  Since that was the transfer I was the most nervous about, I could relax.  Uber/Lyft are just big software applications that hook drivers up with passengers.  More than once during the trip, we had a driver change while we were waiting; at the zoo the driver changed twice after we set up the initial request, which ended up getting up back to the hotel sooner than we had anticipated.  After doing a bit of research I figured out why it’s cheaper and why taxi associations are up in arms.  Uber/Lyft drivers are not employees – they are individual contractors and the software just puts them together with folks who want a ride.  No fleets of cars to maintain, no huge workforce to deal with employee issues, insurance, etc.  (I did this research because the day before we were to come home Uber and Lyft both announced they were going to stop service in California (that night!) due to a new law that the state has passed concerning the employee status of drivers.  Luckily within a couple of hours there was a stay granted so that Uber/Lyft can continue challenging the new law, so we were still able to arrange a transfer to the airport the next morning.

Really the only problem that I found was that both Uber and Lyft driver rely completely on GPS, unlike taxi drivers who actually do a lot of training and testing before getting their licenses.  So if the GPS is off, then the ride is off.  On our first full day, we headed up to Escondido to the Safari Park.  It’s a long haul, about 40 minutes and YA had her phone open to the Lyft app the entire time so we could track where we were along the route (apparently this is “how it’s done”).  As we approached the main entrance to the park, there was a clear turn off and a huge sign but our driver went right by it and turned left at the next driveway, which was exactly what GPS was telling him to do.  Unfortunately this was some sort of service entrance with a security gate; it took YA a couple of minutes to convince the driver to go back to the first entrance to the park.  Luckily, you pay upfront for your trip, not by the miles or the time you are actually in the car, so this kind of thing doesn’t jack up your price.

So every single one of our transfers was done by Lyft.  YA says she likes Lyft better than Uber but she can’t articulate why.  It doesn’t seem like the two companies can be that different; several of our drivers had both Lyft and Uber stickers on their windshields.  But whatever the difference, it worked out quite well for us, saved us money and I survived using a new technology.  Of course, we’ll see how it goes if I ever had to set up a Lyft on my own!

Any new technology that you’ve survived recently?  Or that is driving you crazy?

The Vasa Syndrome

Header photo credit: Peter Isotalo  A 1:10 scale model of Vasa’s  elaborately decorated stern.  

On August 10, 1628, The Vasa, a brand new war ship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, set off on its maiden voyage from Stockholm. It got about a mile  into the harbor when a mild gust of wind tipped it over and sank it, killing about 30 sailors. It wasn’t salvaged until 1961. Quite a bit of the remains of the ship and much of its fittings and cargo are on display in a very popular museum in Stockholm.

The Vasa Syndrome is a term used today to describe modern institutional or business failure due to poor communication, unrealistic  goal setting, and lack of adaptability by management. Gustavus was off fighting a war in Germany and Poland, but kept making changes to the design of the ship, insisting, for example, that there be 84 bronze cannons when the ship could only hold 36. He wanted it built quickly, with elaborate decorations and carvings that showed off his grandeur and greatness on its multiple decks, the height of  which made it unstable in the water.  It was tested for stability in the water and failed the test, but was allowed to sail anyway.  It ended in disaster.  It seems things never change.

What are your experiences with the Vasa Syndrome? Got any good stories about boats?

Nothing on a Stick

Well, we did it.  We found a fair food truck that had three of our favorite things and that wasn’t too far!  It was up in the Costco parking lot in north Minneapolis, so if you don’t count my having to backtrack because it turns out the 46th street ramp onto 35W is closed, it only took about 15 minutes to get up there.

We shared an order of cheese curds, an order of French fries and a bag of mini donuts (although I probably had more than half… YA likes them but not as much as the other things).  We sat in the car to eat and watched other folks wander up to the truck for their orders.

It was quite pleasant except for the fact that seven hours later I was still not interested in food – still not hungry.  If a half order of three items filled me up that much, how in heavens’ name do people eat so much at the fair?  I never get cheese curds or French fries on my solo fair days since I don’t have anyone to share it with, but even so, if you add up what I do consume on my own, it’s quite a bit.  I expect that the increased exercise from walking all over the fair is what keeps me from getting too full.  Since my only exercise yesterday consisted of the stationary bike for 30 minutes and the dog walk for just 20 minutes, my fair food kept me full all day.  Guess that means that without the whole state fair experience, I should probably stay away from too many food trucks this summer!

How are you getting your exercise in this summer?

For Sale?

I’m not sure what motivated me but last night I clicked on CNN.com.  I know, I know… what was I thinking?  It went against my ostrich imitation of the last couple of months (head in the sand), but something drove me to it.

But amid all the bad news, there was an interesting bit.  Apparently when asked a direct question about whether the U.S. is still interested in buying Greenland (despite it definitely NOT being on the market), a straight answer was not to be had from the Secretary of State.  Here’s a link to the story, which is kinda funny:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/22/politics/trump-buy-greenland-pompeo/index.html

I don’t really have much to say about this (since it is so beyond absurd that “absurd” isn’t a good enough word) except that I think I might prefer for us to get a tropical island instead.

What do you think?  If we have to buy an island, which one to you think we should put in our shopping cart?  

Chaos

Monday will be a day of reckoning at my work place. It is the day we move to our new building.  There are approximately 80 offices that need to be emptied and moved to the new building.  Over 300 boxes of patient records will be moved.  All the omens predict chaos.

The renovations at the new building are not complete. There still is no internet. Some offices don’t have electricity yet. The  new office and waiting room furniture will arrive on Monday just as the moving company will be moving in all our computers, boxes, filing cabinets, supplies, and everything else we are taking with us.  It will take all week for the new furniture to be installed. The cardboard boxes that we were provided with from Walmart are reluctant to let tape adhere, so I foresee bottoms crashing out of boxes as they are moved. Somehow, in the midst of this, we have to attend to our crisis and emergency clients, and see clients via telehealth from our homes.

I am responsible for four offices, including two offices in which we give people tests, my play therapy room, and my personal office. I filled 45 rather large boxes with books, test manuals, toys, office supplies, paper tests and test kits, four computers and their monitors, and our telephones for each office.  I also had to label each piece of furniture with the  number of the new offices to which they are to be delivered. We didn’t have the new office numbers until last Thursday, so I spent Thursday and Friday feverishly labeling my boxes and furniture. I am thankful that a psychometrist and another psychologist from the Bismarck office are coming on Wednesday to help me unpack and set up the testing offices.

The move has been a physical challenge for me.  The boxes are heavy. I removed bulletin boards that were screwed to the wall while standing on top of desks.  I had to disassemble a large room divider for one of the testing rooms.  Monday morning I have to go to the new building and remove two unnecessary desk peninsulas that are attached to the walls in the testing rooms so that there is room for the Psychology filing cabinets. The construction company says it isn’t in their contract to do so.  I better not lose my purse, since that is where I stored all the nuts and bolts and filing cabinet keys.

There is no one to blame for this.  Our regional director worked hard to get the movers, furniture delivery, internet installation, and building construction to align with the deadline from the college that owns our old building to be out by July 20.  It is hard to control the outcome with so many different working parts. I am hopeful that by the end of the week things will be back to normal.

What is the biggest project you have been involved with?  Do you plan or follow others’ plans?