Category Archives: Business

Over the Hill, Not Over the Thrill

I’m all set for my birthday week. As an adult, I don’t expect everybody to get all worked up about my birthday.  In fact, when I came home from China with Baby, my mother said to me “You know, it’s not about you anymore.”

Several years ago I started cultivating companies that will help me celebrate. If you sign up online, they’ll send you a coupon on your birthday.  This year I have coupons from Panera, Jamba Juice, Ben & Jerry’s, Brueggers, Nothing Bundt Cake, Noodles, Caribou and Dairy Queen. Except for Caribou which needs to be used on my actual birthday, I have planned to spread the others out over the upcoming few days.

I don’t give myself a card; it seems a little overkill to make a card and then give it to myself. However some years I do bake myself a birthday cake or a birthday pie; some years I even throw myself a party.  No party this year and the jury is still out about the cake/pie.  I gave my BFF theatre tickets for her birthday and turns out that the date that was good for her was my actual birthday, so I guess technically I gifted myself with theatre tickets this year!

What’s a great gift you’ve received?

 

Royal Flush

Today’s commentary comes to us from Ben.

It’s always fun to go into a new restaurant and see what the bathrooms are like. Some are very nice, some are small and rather “quaint” and some barely qualify as up to code.

I was in a hotel that had black mold on the shower tile and that one still qualifies as the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

There’s a business I get to a few times per year and the mens bathroom there has had a broken fluorescent light fixture leaning in the corner for several years and one urinal has had a bag over it just as long.  And I have no idea what the womens bathroom is like. Not even sure where it is to be honest; it’s not right next to the mens anyway. I keep thinking there must be a nicer bathroom for employees someplace. Or maybe that’s just a ploy by the owner to be sure no one spends too much time in there.

I had to take pictures.  Here are the signs on the four stalls:

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And the fun didn’t stop there:

Oh my….

Our townhall still has an outhouse. It’s insured for $500.00. Mens and womens side. Two hole-er on each! But no lights… plan accordingly.

What’s the worst bathroom you’ve used?

 

 

Who’s Gonna Patronize the Big Box Store Any More?

My riff on the weekend topic.

With humble gratitude for Meredith Wilson’s en-chant-ing opening to The Music Man.

PROGRAMMER 1:
Plastic for the orders.
Plastic for the downloads.
PROGRAMMER 2:
Visa for online.
Visa on the phone.
PROGRAMMER 1:
Credit for the software.
Credit for the hardware.
PROGRAMMER 2:
Credit for the needs, and the wants, and the bibelots.
PROGRAMMER 3:
Amazon for the hogs feet, cakes and longjohns.
Amazon for the crackers, and the pickles, and the computer paper.
PROGRAMMER 4:
Look, what do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
PROGRAMMER 5:
Where do you get it?
PROGRAMMER 4:
What do you twitter?
PROGRAMMER 2:
You can script, you can program, you can script,
You can chat. You can twitter, twitter, twitter, you can chat.
You can chat. You can chat, chat, chat, chat, twitter, twitter, twitter.
You can twitter all you wanna, but it’s different than it was.
ANALYST:
No it ain’t, no it ain’t, but you gotta know the database!
PROGRAMMER 3:
Well, it’s Jeff Bezos made the trouble,
Made the people wanna buy, wanna get, wanna get, wanna get it in a box.
7,8,9,10,12,14, 22, 23 orders to the front porch.
PROGRAMMER 1:
Yes, sir, yes, sir!
PROGRAMMER 3:
Who’s gonna patronize a big box store anymore?
PROGRAMMER 4:
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
NEWSPAPER READER 1:
Where do you get it?
ANALYST:
It’s not Amazon alone.
Take a gander at big box stores,
At the postmodern store,
At the out-of-date store
At the passe, postmodern,
Departmentalized big box store.
PROGRAMMER 4:
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
CONSULTANT:
Where do you get it?
PROGRAMMER 4:
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
What do you twitter?
CONSULTANT:
Where do you get it?
PROGRAMMER 1:
You can chat, you can twitter.
You can chat, you can twitter.
You can twitter, twitter, twitter
You can chat, chat, chat.
You can twitter all you wanna,
But it’s different than it was.
ANALYST:
No, it ain’t, but you gotta know the database.
PROGRAMMER 3:
Why, it’s I-need-it-easy thinking
Made the trouble
Need it easy, need it easy.
Put the order in a box, in a box,
What I-need-easy
In a box with a smile
Made the big box store obsolete.
ANALYST:
Obsolete, obsolete, obsolete
SALESMAN 4:
Malls out the window.
The smiling box
Takes the job of the sales clerk.
Closing all the stores.
ANALYST:
Who’s gonna patronize the big box store any more?
PROGRAMMER 3:
Gone, Gone
PROGRAMMER 1:
Gone with the mall and the outlet and the discount store.
Gone with the chain and the retail store with clothes on a rack.
ALL
Who’s gonna patronize a bog box store any more.
Big box store.

What are the long-term implications for America and the world, assuming  I dare worry about the world? 

What follows the Amazon era?

 

Missing the Party

I missed the “biggest shopping event ever”. Not only did I miss it, I didn’t even realize I was missing it.  I’m talking about Prime Day on Amazon.  Turns out that it’s a great big sale for those who are signed up for Prime.  I noticed a story about it the day after it was over – the first I’d heard of it.

Turns out that 100 million products were sold with the FireTV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote leading the way as the number one seller. I don’t even know what a FireTV Stick is.  The Echo Dot came in second.  I don’t know what that is either.  Apparently another big selling item was the Instant Pot multicooker.  I DO know what that is. In fact, if I had been a Prime member and if I’d known about the sale, I might have been interested.  But I don’t spend enough on Amazon in a year to justify the cost of Prime and getting a glorified pressure cooker isn’t a big enough incentive to change that.

But it makes me worry that not only did I now know that this event was happening, I also don’t even know what the top selling items were. Am I out of step with my own culture? Is the world speeding up while I’m slowing down?

Should I worry?

Bear Ballyhoo

I just don’t like meetings very much. If you have information to impart, just send me an email.   I’m particularly bad at brainstorming meetings – you know, where you write down all your outrageous idea on post-it notes, or on huge sheets of paper stuck up on the wall.  The moderator ALWAYS starts out with “every idea is valuable” and warns everyone not to bring up negatives.

This is hard for me. I’m a problem solver and when presented with a problem and possible solutions, my brain immediately starts working through each solution to see if it’s viable, if it could solve the problem.  Of course, most of the ideas that get thrown out at brainstorming meetings are ridiculous and can easily be ruled out as good solutions – but only if you’re allowed to rule them out.  As I’ve never been able to stop my mind from looking for the logistics in brainstorming meetings, I tend to sit quietly, taking notes.  Luckily my boss knows this about me and she rarely asked me to take part in these kinds of sessions.

But boy, Build-a-Bear could have used someone like me in the meeting where they decided to run a “Pay Your Age” promotion one day last week. If you brought in your child, you could get a bear for your child’s age… and even if you were getting the bear for yourself, the cap on the price was $29.  Here’s one of the many news stories from Thursday:

“Pay Your Age” could only have come up during a brainstorming meeting in which everybody had been exhorted to listen to all ideas fairly and not comment. It’s hard to imagine a lot of experienced business people not being able to think through the problems with this marketing ploy unless they were cowed into silence. How could they not know there would be an immediate and huge response to them basically giving the bears away?   How could they not figure out that a few employees in the stores would not be able to handle the crush of customers?  And how could they not think about the natural reactions of people with their kids standing in line for hours, being jostled by the strangers in front and behind them?

Obviously my observations are in hindsight, but I’m pretty sure if I’d been in that brainstorming meeting, my brain would have come up with a lot of reasons why this wouldn’t work – at least in the way it was rolled out. But would I have said anything or just taken a bunch of notes about how stupid meetings are?

So bears. Yea or nay?

Another Spring Planting in the Books

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

It went pretty well; no serious mechanical issues and, once I finally got going, wasn’t delayed by the weather for more than a day or two.

I planted oats on May 6 and 7th. Then it rained for a few days but that’s OK because I was dealing with commencement at the college anyway.

Then I did anhydrous fertilizer on the 17th. Had college events the 18th and 19th. Started to plant corn on the 20th and finished on the 23rd. (Well, really the 24th, but the field I planted on the 24th is at the neighbors and it’s for the deer so it doesn’t really count).

Started soybeans on the 24th, did get rained out for a day and finished on the 28th. Now all that’s left is cleaning up machinery and putting it away until next spring.

There was the one incident with the valve on an anhydrous tank but it was pretty minor. Spilled really very little. No one was in danger and no property was harmed.

There were 3 fire trucks, our local ‘CAT’ (Chemical Assessment Team) the Incident Command Vehicle, two sheriff deputies, Gold Cross Ambulance, The “Incident Commander” and his car, a call to the State Department of Agriculture, another call to the state Duty Officer, a visit from the local anhydrous dealer, six fully clad firemen, and, a few days later, an inspector from the State Department of Agriculture.

Everyone was very nice and very professional and the firemen gave me a Gatorade when it was over.

But really. It was just a little vapor from a valve that hadn’t sealed.

And no breeze so I couldn’t manage to get ‘up wind’ and just enough leakage that I wasn’t comfortable trying to get back up there and try to tighten the valve myself.

I thought if I could just get 1 guy with a respirator, they could close the valve tighter. It wasn’t supposed to turn into a big deal.

But anhydrous is dangerous and can’t be taken lightly. Just today I talked with a guy whose brother got a burst of anhydrous and inhaled just a little. He’s got a couple small, minor burns (freeze burns) and was hospitalized for a couple days because of issues with his throat from inhaling that bit. He’s lucky too.

I pushed my luck a couple times this year. And I wasn’t even trying! But that’s a story for another day.

 Had any experience with the fire department?