Category Archives: Business

The March of the Policy Makers

I am attending a conference in my role as a member of a regulatory board.  The focus of the conference is professional competency, mobility in employment, and international standards in ethics and professional conduct. These are quite important topics when you have to consider how to evaluate foreign trained professionals for licensure in your jurisdiction,  but my is it boring to listen to for 4 days.  When it gets too tedious I surreptitiously check my email or the Trail,  imagine everyone in weird hats, or else marching around to this Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March I Heard on MPR before I Ieft home.  I see others seated around me doing similar things, so I don’t think I am the only one who needs some stimulation.

Tell about how you handle boredom.  What is the most boring, tedious thing you ever had to do? What is your favorite march?

Fly Away

I don’t fly as much as I used to, so it’s interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t at the Minneapolis Airport every time I travel.

Construction. I moved here in 1980 and I believe that some portion of the airport and/or the parking structures have been under construction every single minute.  Currently it’s the entrance to the parking shuttle area (and probably more, but that’s what I saw).

Check-in. If you’ve flown in the last few years you’ve experienced the little kiosks that guide you “gently” through the check-in process on your own.  Now you even get to put on your own bag tags.  A little embarrassing how long it took me to figure this out after watching ticket agents do this for 40 years.  And you get to put your own suitcase on the conveyor belt, unless you run into an agent who is chatty and willing to do it for you.

Security. This has changed and not for the better.  Long long lines (which I don’t understand – the only people going through security are ticketed passengers.  Certainly the airlines know how many bodies they are expecting on any given morning, afternoon or evening?  Why isn’t the security area ever properly staffed up?)   By the time they finally diverted some of us to the other security area, which had been closed earlier, the line went the entire length of the airport.

More Security. No more plastic bins to put your stuff in.  And no more taking your laptop, tablet, kindle, etc. out of your bag. But you still have to take off your shoes if you wear Birkenstocks that always make the security scanner go off.

Shopping & Eating/Drinking. OMG!  Considering that the only things I ever buy in an airport are bottles of water and the occasional refrigerator magnet, it is mind-blowing how many shops (and expensive shops at that) and restaurant/bars there are in the airport.  With the possible exception of rolls of toilet paper, I think you can get just about anything at the airport these days.

Connectedness (if this a word).  Well, there are a lot more places to plug in and get online at the airport, especially in the international gate areas, but considering that every single person that I can see from where I am sitting is online somehow, it’s still not enough.

The changes seem to happening faster and faster so I suppose in a couple of years, this blog will be completely obsolete.

What changes would you like in future airports?

Ice Cream Chronicles Part I

My favorite Twin Cities ice cream shop is not an ice cream shop. It’s a drugstore. It’s called St. Paul Corner Drug, located on the corner of Snelling and St. Clair Avenues. I remember when their ice cream cones cost 35 cents, but it’s been awhile since the price was that low. A single scoop cone is now an exorbitant $1.75. A cup of coffee, however, is still a nickel.

The store has a traditional soda fountain counter that dates to the 1920’s. There are always four flavors of ice cream. Traditional vanilla, chocolate or some variation on chocolate, and a fruit flavor of some kind. The fourth is anybody’s guess. Might be butter pecan or salted caramel, peppermint bon-bon, or some novelty flavor like bubblegum.

The counter sports several racks of magnets with humorous sayings, which you can peruse while enjoying your ice cream.

On the outside of the building, there is a water faucet. Beneath it you’ll find two stainless steel bowls filled with water for the neighborhood dogs, in the warm weather months. There’s also a table if you feel inclined to bring your ice cream outside so you can hang out with your pooch.

There is, of course, a pharmacy counter, but IMHO, the ice cream is the best medicine.

What’s your medicine of choice?

Run Down

I had a long day yesterday. No fault of mine – just an enormous number of little fires to put out besides the one that needed attending. A hard deadline this morning meant I just had to push through and accept that I would be working quite late. As a confirmed morning person, I reacted to the impending late night by abandoning the healthy lunch I brought for pizza, downing one can of caffeinated pop and then one bottle of caffeinated pop.  Then I had a bag of chips and a bag of trail mix for dinner.  Dreadful behavior and of course, I eventually ended up at home late with a headache and a queasy stomach.

How do YOU get a second (or third) wind when you need it?

Moon Tourist

It made big news yesterday that Elon Musk has chosen tech billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, as the first moon tourist for his company, SpaceX. Maezawa is 42 and made his fortune in e-commerce, music and online fashion. He will be taking 10 other artists with him on the journey that should take 4-5 days. The SpaceX rocket won’t actually land on the moon, it’s called a slingshot trip around the Moon and is currently on track for 2023.

Maezawa seems very excited about his adventure but I say “to each his own”. Letting tons of rocket fuel go up in flame under my keester just doesn’t seem like a good idea. And, of course, I couldn’t go that far from my library!

Shot up into space
In a really small tin can?
Leave it to others.

Would you like to visit another planet (or moon)? Extra points for haiku or rhyming!

Entrepreneurship

On the way home from work I spied a card table on the boulevard with a little girl sitting behind it. I pulled over quickly; a card table on the boulevard with a child means just one thing – a lemonade stand.

When I was a kid, money was tight. My mother’s go to response when my sister or I asked for something was “there’s no money for that this month”.  We were not poor by any means but there weren’t a lot of frills.  So I was always trying to figure out ways to make a little bit of money, for candy or ice cream and the occasional Scholastic book.

One of those ways was a Kool-Aid stand. I could almost always convince my mother to part with one or two of the little Kool-Aid packets that we had in the pantry as well as the sugar.  Construction paper and crayons were essential as well as paper cups.  I sold the Kool-Aid for five cents and we lived on a fairly busy street so I could usually rake in a buck if I stayed at it long enough.  I’m sure my folks spent more to fund my financial forays than I actually made.  I never asked my dad about this but I’m sure he thought I was learning a good life lesson.  My mother was probably just happy to have me occupied for a few hours.

I’m not sure if I learned any life lessons but I did become a lemonade stand aficionado. I always pull over for a lemonade stand; I’ve even been known to go around a block if I don’t see the stand soon enough to pull right over.  These days juice, Kool-Aid or lemonade goes for a lot more than five cents but I’m always glad to pay it.

What can get you to pull over?

We Are Not a Cod Fish

In July I posted on facebook something similar to this simple little vignette.

Went into Culvers today. One of the under 16-year-old employees, a polite boy, took my order. He made full eye contact and spoke clearly.

I said, “I will have the fish sandwich.”

He replied, “I did not know we had a fish sandwich.”

I answered, reading from the board, “The Atlantic Cod Sandwich Meal.”

“Oh,” he answered. “Is that what cod is?”

Then he took my order.

Now, first ask yourself what conclusions or interpretations of that little vignette you want to make. Don’t make them, but think of what you might say. Silly me. I thought I was describing a fun little moment.

I have only 48 friends on facebook, about a third of whom do not ever communicate with me. Another third made a comment, which fell into four groups.

Most common was to say how impolite teenagers are today. Did you notice I said he was polite, made eye contact, and spoke clearly?

Another set of comments was about how stupid teenagers are today.

A third group commented on how teenagers are bad at learning. It seems to me his comment “Is that what cod is?” makes it clear he was willing to learn. But I could be wrong.

The third group lectured me on unhealthful eating habits, although they said unhealthy and not unhealthful.

The last group said that schools and teachers today are terrible.

So because one 14- or 15-year-old boy does not know what cod is forms grounds for attacking teenagers, teachers, and schools. Everything about the boy suggested an intelligent and inquisitive person, a subject on which I feel I can make a swift judgment. But I could be wrong. Two of the commenters were favorite students of mine in the early 1970s. I wondered to them that with the loss of the cod fisheries how common the word cod is in teenagers private lives, or how often teenagers in Mankato eat fish. They thought about that and agreed that perhaps the word cod has fallen from the daily or school lexicon. I have often wondered how people decide schools are a place to fill kids heads with tidbits of information.

I suppose I should have stated that I was noticing cultural change, enjoying the moment.

I am tempted to draw a few sweeping generalities about their responses. I leave that to you.