Category Archives: Business

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?

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…..

Photo credit: Associated Press

The news out of Poland last week included an item about a tanker truck that crashed and dumped its contents all over the highway. Its contents?  Liquid chocolate.

Luckily it happened pretty early in the morning and no one was injured in the accident. But that wasn’t really the end of the story.  The fire brigade sent to clean it up needed to bring in hot water because the chocolate was solidifying too fast to be able to scrap it up easily.  And then the story went viral, hitting so many news feeds that people began to think it was a hoax.  It’s even listed (and verified) on

What unusual thing have you spilled?

All in a Day’s Work

I blew through four cashiers this afternoon!

It’s straw bale time at my house – I’m doing the conditioning of the bales right now, which means I need to add fertilizer to the bales twice a day for six days. This morning I used the last of the bag of fertilizer so needed to stop at Bachman’s on the way home.

Just one bag of fertilizer. The first cashier was clearly just starting out and got hosed up trying to enter my “frequent buyer” number, so enter cashier #2.   When I handed her my Bachman’s charge card (yes, that’s what I said), she looked at it a bit and then swiped it.  The register clearly didn’t like that and I commented (nicely) that for the Bachman’s charge, they don’t swipe it.  This didn’t help so she called over a third cashier who took the card.  I mentioned again that it doesn’t get swiped, but he swiped it several more times but this time pushed some other buttons and got a completely different error message.

All of this was combined with profuse apologies from all three, who appeared to be high school students. Finally they called someone on a walkie talkie.  An older woman came over and immediately said “Oh, with the Bachman’s charge, you enter this here and this here… you don’t swipe the card.”  More profuse apologies.  I was not in a hurry and wasn’t really bothered by the wait and the confusion, although it was really hard not to smirk and say “I told you so” about the swiping of the card.

What was YOUR first job?

What’s in a Name?

My daughter is attracted by Name Brands. She would almost always prefer a Name Brand if possible.  I’m not sure how this happened as I’m the opposite (although having just typed these words, I may have answered my own question!)  With very few exceptions, I go with generic and cheap.  I do buy Prell shampoo because I love the smell and Birkenstocks because how can you argue with sandals that you wear constantly and after 10 years, they are still OK.  But that’s about it.

Except Kitchenaid. I had one of the earlier Kitchenaid stand mixers – the ones made back in the day when the company was still an offshoot of Hobart, the big commercial baking mixer company.  Because I loved this mixer and never had a moment’s trouble with it, I bought several other Kitchenaid products over the years – all because of the name.

I think most of you have heard my sad story about my old Kitchenaid finally giving up the ghost and the new Kitchenaid not being as durable. I did eventually talk Kitchenaid into sending me a check for half of the amount that I spent on the repair, but considering the initial expense of the machine and the expense of the repair (not to mention my angst), I would not call myself satisfied.  Not satisfied as to the durability of the machine, the length of the warranty on such an expensive appliance, the way my complaint was initially handled and the difficulty of finding someone to repair the machine.

So now I have to say that my love affair with Kitchenaid is over. No more appliances in my house based solely on the Kitchenaid name.  And unfortunately I no longer believe that the new stand mixer will be the last one I own (something I thought at the time I purchased it).  What this means is that my next stand mixer won’t be a Kitchenaid.

What brands are you loyal to?

The Shoemaker’s Children Go Barefoot

My father had a coffee shop and gas station where all the local  working guys and sheriff’s deputies came for lunch.  He also had a car wash that took up a lot of his time cleaning and maintaining.  We had buckets of quarters from the car wash proceeds that my mom dutifully counted and rolled up preparatory to taking them to the bank. This was before the days of automatic coin counters.

My dad was pretty fussy about how his business looked, but he rarely, if ever, washed any of our vehicles.  It was fine with him if I took a notion to wash the car ( I remember a brown Olds Cutlass) and polish it in the driveway, but it never at our own car wash.  It was a waste of our money, in his mind. It was fine, and probably expected, that other people should wash their cars in his car wash, but not us.  My dad had funny ideas about spending money.

I resist going to our local car washes until the dirt on our vehicles reaches critical mass.  Husband likes to keep his truck clean. I could care less. I think I still hear my dad’s voice in my head saying  “Car washes are for rubes. Don’t waste your money”.  Like him, I am prone to fuss over small charges and not blink at larger expenditures.

What parental spending habits have you retained or rejected in your own adult life?

There Ought To Be A Law

In 1950, one out of every twenty people needed a license to engage in their profession or occupation.  Today, one out of every three people need  such a license.  Folks with a libertarian mind set see this as government overreach. They may be correct. Others see this as a natural result of the development of technology and/or the result of increasing instances of harm to the public by unscrupulous practitioners. They may be correct, too.

Regulation of any profession requiring a license is a balancing act. Regulatory boards are most often comprised of  of individuals who are active practitioners of the professions they regulate.  As a member of such a board, you have to balance the need to protect the public interest without restricting trade.  Sometimes boards fail at this. Recently, a Board of Dentistry in  a southern US state sent cease and desist letters to businesses in malls that were offering teeth whitening services.  The teeth whiteners protested, and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. The Court agreed with the teeth whiteners, and stated that the dentists were only concerned with profit for dentists, not with the public interest.  This has spurred an anti-regulatory movement, which complicates things for we who are really concerned with the public interest as well as with economic growth.

The problem with regulation is that no one wants it until they want it. If you recall, there were some hot air ballooning accidents last summer, and the immediate reaction was “Why weren’t these balloon companies regulated?!”  I attended a conference of regulatory boards for my own profession last week  I learned that, in Washington State, boxing announcers must be licensed.  That struck me as one of the funniest things I had heard in a long time. I have no idea  why that type of license is necessary. Government is the great equalizer, as 45 has yet to understand.  No one is above the law. The tension for regulation is uncomfortable, but necessary, in my opinion.

What laws would you pass if you could? What laws would you strike down? Why do you think boxing announcers need to be licensed?


Little Rebellions

My Uncle Wink (his real name is Arthur but he’s an Arthur Junior, so he’s always been known as Wink) is a dentist. As you can imagine, this means that dental health and hygiene was a huge deal in my house when I was growing up.  Brushing, flossing, two check-ups a year – the whole shebang.

And Crest toothpaste was the ONLY toothpaste allowed, decreed by Uncle Wink. And when I was younger, there weren’t any variations… no special flavors, no gels, no nothing.  This wasn’t too big a deal until I was in high school and different kind of toothpaste began to show up on grocery store shelves and the ads for fancy formulas that made your teeth shine and sparkle began to proliferate on tv and in magazines. But it didn’t matter to my Uncle Wink (and therefore to my mother).  Crest was the only sanctified toothpaste for us.

So when I moved into my first apartment in Northfield, one of the first things I bought for myself was a tube of Aquafresh. It came out of the tube in three stripes of white, red and aqua – an unheard of thing back then.  Every night when I brushed my teeth, I felt a little thrill of rebellion run down my spine!


These days I buy toothpaste by price or coupon, but if there isn’t much difference between pricing the day I’m standing in the toothpaste aisle, I always reach for Aquafresh. And I still feel that little thrill each night!

When have you rebelled?