Category Archives: Business

Fashion Faux Pax

Thursdays this summer are Craft Beer Days at my company.  Supporting local breweries, craft beers are served on the patio (our outdoors party spot – and yes, we have an indoor party spot as well) at 4 p.m.  So when YA’s team decided to go into the office for the first time, now that their building’s updating has been finished up, they chose Thursday. In preparation for this, YA has purchased a few things for her cube: pencil holder, markers, a frame with changeable letters. 

On Wednesday afternoon we got an email encouraging us to wear our “Pride swag” on Thursday as well.  I didn’t have to worry about this because I would be working from home, but YA was obviously pondering her choice.  I laughed when she told me this and asked if she had any yoga pants that could be considered pride-worthy, since that is her primary outfit choice.  She haughtily (actually VERY haughtily) told that she doesn’t own any yoga pants; she wears leggings or joggers, not yoga pants.

I was dumbfounded; if you had asked me, I would have said she had at least 25 pairs of yoga pants.  Guess I’m wrong.  I looked up leggings and joggers and yoga pants online.  If there is a difference between these, I can’t tell.  Once more, fashion has left me in the dust.  I pulled out what I have always called my yoga pants and YA says they are not yoga pants, they are leggings.  Of course, it doesn’t really matter, since I haven’t worn them since the pandemic started.  It’s been mostly sweat pants and jersey shorts for months with an occasional pair of jeans or khaki shorts.  I actually wore a sundress to Blevins on Sunday – it felt weird.

What fashion choices leave you scratching your head?

Bad Habits

It’s Wednesday.  This means that somewhere between 6:30 – 7 a.m., I will be standing at the counter of Sun Street Breads – a bakery about 8 blocks from my house.  I won’t actually be ordering because the guy who waits on folks in the morning (David) starts my order as soon as he sees me. 

Sun Street Breads is a little bakery/restaurant that’s been open ten years and I discovered it right away.  They do artisan breads, a few very nice pastries and cookies; they also do soups, sandwiches and one night a week, they stay open a little later for pizza.  Then about six years ago they started making glazed raised doughnuts.  But only on Wednesdays.  And only their initial batch.  Once they run out, they are out.  If you don’t get there before 9 a.m., you might not get one.  I’m not sure how you make the best raised glazed doughnut on the planet, but they have clearly figured it out. 

Back to Wednesdays.  One raised glazed and one raspberry cream scone (also excellent).  And don’t judge – two cans of Diet Coke.  Sometimes I can’t wait and I eat the doughnut in the car.  If I have a little more willpower, I drive straight home and eat there. 

So now you know my dirty little Wednesday secret. 

Do you have a habit that you just don’t want to give up?

DMV Woes

Photo credit:  Rich Vintage/iStock

My driver’s license expires in three weeks.  I haven’t thought too much about it – I figured I’d do the REAL ID thing at the same time.  I’ve seen all the various documents and I’m well covered.  And even if for some reason I had trouble w/ the REAL ID, I have a valid passport so will still be able to travel, even after the (again) extended deadline.  I had even heard from somewhere that the DMV preferred that you make an appointment to get your license renewed.

So I was a little non-plussed when I went online yesterday to do the “pre-screening” for the REAL ID and make an appointment, only to find that you can’t get an appointment ANYWHERE in the Twin Cities area in the next month.  I would think that if everything were taking 2-3 months, we’d be hearing about it; I’m surely not the only one who didn’t think twice about having to renew so far in advance.

I called the AAA that I normally go to for all DMV things and the guy who answered the phone was very nice and when I told him my license would expire before I could get an appointment, this is what he counseled:

  • Go to the office so that you are there before opening.
  • If you are one of the first 15 people in line, they bring you into the building and you get waited on
  • If you are NOT one of the first 15, they take your phone number and will call you sometime later in the day with an appointment time
  • Apparently you have 15 minutes to get there (I’m hoping I mis-heard this, but probably not)

He then suggested that if you want to be in that golden first 15, you should shoot to arrive by 6:30 a.m. at the latest.  Sigh.

Looks like next week one morning I’ll be sitting in my stadium chair outside the DMV at 6 a.m.  I think the sun will be up by then so I won’t need a flashlight to read.

Any particular bureaucracy getting you down these days?

Annoying Coworkers

I have been fortunate in my work career to have mostly affable and supportive coworkers. True, there have been a couple of real negative doozeys, but I outlasted them. I am currently contending with an annoying coworker who really means well, and that is much of my problem with her.

The person in question doesn’t even work in my building, and works 100 miles away, only sometimes coming to my workplace every other month or so. Her job is to make my job easier, but that isn’t how it always turns out. She is to help make sure my testing computers are working appropriately, that the psychological test scoring programs are up to date, and that my testing forms and supplies are ordered as needed. She usually does a great job. She works really fast. She is friendly, competent, and energetic. We communicate most frequently via email and instant messaging.

I guess my main issue with this coworker is the manner she goes about doing things. Every time I encounter her, I have to bite my tongue and not ask her if she took her Ritalin (an ADHD medication) that day. I don’t even know if she has ADHD, but she is very impulsive, doesn’t listen, and can’t read the room, so to speak, on how she is coming across.

Last week she was very involved replacing our three aging testing computers with new computers, and transferring our scoring programs to the new computers. In the process, she managed to erase forever the testing results of hundreds of people we had tested over the years. There are hard copies of the results in client files, but at least we had them stored in the computer in case something happened to our paper files. She didn’t get the new computers hooked up to the correct printers appropriately , and I couldn’t print any interpretive reports, only dozens of pages of gobbledygook. She had already left to go back to Bismarck, so our tech guy had to fix it the next day. He told me he had warned her that what she did with the printer drivers wouldn’t work, but, as usual, she didn’t listen.

One day, after a particularly frustrating back and forth messaging fest over her insistence that a scoring program was installed on one of the computers when it wasn’t, she asked if I would go in to the testing room and take photos of the serial numbers of the computers so that she cold access them remotely to see the situation for herself. I was somewhat appalled that she would even ask me to do that, given how our messaging conversation was going. I guess she couldn’t tell that I was becoming increasingly agitated in my texting, spelling out words in all capitals and ending sentences with multiple exclamation points. I had enough by that time, and curtly refused. She came out the next day and got it all fixed. She apologized for not believing me and offered to buy me some flowers or chocolates. I told her it wasn’t necessary, and that it was enough that she had come out and fixed everything.

Tell about some of your more interesting coworkers. Have you ever felt like murdering someone at work?

Lemonade Stand

Our city council declared June 19th to be Lemonade Day, and encouraged local children to get out there and sell lemonade. Our next door neighbors, ages 5 and 7, rose to the occasion and set up a stand in their front yard with the help of their mom. She baked cookies and brownies. They had pitchers of plain and pink lemonade. A glass of lemonade and a baked good cost 25 cents.

It was a hot and sunny day, and we were out in the front yard working hard in the garden. We were, of course, invited over to sample the lemonade and goodies. Husband paid them $1.00 for each of us, and the children assured us that we could come over for free refills. They came over to help us pull weeds in between customers. When they got really bored they played kickball in the driveway. By 4:00 they were done, and the stand was dismantled.

It was really nice to see all the people stop. The children were so excited when they had customers. There was a near disaster when their two year old brother tried to carry a lemonade pitcher over to our yard, presumably to fill our glasses. He likes watching us in the garden, too.

Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Describe a memorable summer day.

April Showers

First part of June. Everything is growing, been a wet week, a little over 1.5” for us and a nice gentle rain. Just had a real cool spell; we had 31 degrees down in our valley… will have to wait a few days to see if there was enough frost to kill the soybeans that are 2” tall or was the dirt warm enough and releasing enough heat to keep it OK.

Back in blogworld, still planting corn.

My brother, Ernie came out again. I appreciate Ernie‘s help; he’s not a natural, but it gets done and it sure saves me time. It’s interesting what he remembers and how things have changed. The fields roads he remembers that I haven’t used in 30 years. Kinda fun to hear his memories.

It’s very dry;

The weather channel keeps predicting rain, but the arrival time gets pushed back and chances diminish until now there’s only a 30% chance and yet I’m watching a big red storm cell out the window as I try to finish planting this one field. Finally, when this dark cloud is almost on me, I lock everything up and make a run for home. The fertilizer wagon does not have a cover and it’s sitting outside so it needs to get in the shed before it gets rained on. I get everything under the roof with seconds to spare as it starts to rain. And then rain hard. And then it starts to hail. Five minutes of pea size hail. I put the pick-up truck in the shed because I’m right there and I know the key is in it. I put the gator in the shed because that’s close and the key is in it. My car key is in the house. Priorities you know: truck then gator and then the car. 

7/10 of an inch of rain in about 10 minutes. The worst time of year for heavy rains like this, all this freshly worked soil. Could be worse. I can see water standing in the fields already, I can see where it’s run through the fields. Some small, shallow gully’s, but it hasn’t really hurt much. It will soak in quick. Ended up with 1.1 inches of rain total. Looking at weather maps, there was a narrow band of us that got over an inch. Most people only had half an inch.

The next morning I did Computer stuff in the morning, made maps for the co-op for spraying, made a Menards and Fleet Farm run, refilled LP tanks for the BBQ grill, took the maps to the Co-op in Plainview, made a few phone calls, picked up three more bags of corn seed just in case I run out, and check township roads for new rock.

Unloaded the truck, set up straw bales for garden, and spend some time watching the chicks.

We moved them into the bigger pen yesterday.

I spent Friday morning at my moms, delivered Straw Friday afternoon and saw baby goats there. All the neighbors are out in the field and I still think my fields are too wet.

Saturday morning had someone pick up straw, then delivered Straw to Winona and had our first meal out in over a year at a little bar in Wikota MN. Our first meal out should have been better than this…

Finished planting corn, did some fieldwork, and had friends out for pizza on the deck. First time for pizza with friends in over a year. 

Talking rain Sunday. 

I go to mom’s in the morning again, rain isn’t predicted until 4 o’clock Sunday. I rent 10 acres down the road; I got that dug up and a couple fields at home dug up, so the spring flush of weeds has been dug up at least once in every field.

I’m racing a rainstorm again even though no rain is predicted until 11 o’clock PM. It’s 2:00 PM. Darn weathermen…

Daughter is home alone when I see some big lightning strikes. I head for home. Power is out; fuse on pole blown meaning lightning hit a line fairly close. Rain amounts to 15 drops. Didn’t I just tell daughter that storms don’t usually cause power outages? How rare that really is? Thanks Lightning.

Soybean fertilizer next. 

What’s the biggest hail storm you’ve been in?

Open & Shut

Shouldn’t be a surprise to me that after a year plus of pandemic, businesses are feeling it.  As I drive about my neighborhood, I see that a few businesses have bitten the dust:  FedEx Kinko’s and Wax City at the Hub are gone as well as Old Country Buffet and my dog-training place, Canine College.

But it’s heartening to see that new folks are still willing to try starting up business in their places.  This morning I see that the Old Country Buffet is becoming a “Million’s Crab” – looks like the first one in the Twin Cities.  And Wax City is being replaced by “The Archery Cosmetic Tattoo”.  I was a little excited about the tattoo place until I realized it’s all about eyebrows and other cosmetic stuff – no skulls or motorcycle gang graphics!  I can’t wait to see what’s going into the FedEx storefront.  The dog-training place is still sitting empty; I can’t imagine what kind of restoration the owner would have to do to that building to make it palatable to anybody else.  I have a small (probably irrational) hope that maybe Canine College might be able to come back.

This is just in my small corner of the world but I’m assuming it’s same elsewhere.  I’m torn; it’s sad that businesses have failed but I’m glad there is enough hope out there that new businesses are opening.  Now if I could just get a bagel shop to open up within walking distance of my house!

Anything business that you valued gone under?  Anything new opening up near you?  What would you LIKE to open up near you?


Despite still living at home, YA is pretty independent.  One of the characteristics of this independence is that I sometimes find out about things after the fact.  When she changed her employment five years ago, from one gym to another, she told me about it the day after she accepted the new job.  Two years ago I found out she was thinking about an MBA program after she had already applied and been accepted.  I’ve never really challenged her on this; I assume she sometimes doesn’t want to be swayed by any strong opinions that her mother might have.

As the end of her MBA program loomed, I knew she was applying for various internships and jobs and occasionally I would hear about it.  When she was approached by a recruiter and did a few interviews, it came up for discussion.  When she applied to the FBI, we talked briefly about how long she would have to go to Quantico for training (I don’t think either of us thought this would pan out).   The first I heard about the last job application was when she informed me she had an interview.  At my company.  I do see all the job postings for my company but most of them have long lists of requirements that she doesn’t fit, so I hadn’t been actively looking at all of them.  When she got a second interview, I was a little surprised because I know how competitive it is out there and she hadn’t even officially finished her graduate degree.  When the third interview went over an hour, I had a good feeling and I was correct; they called and offered her the job the next morning.

In the Travel division (in which I work), we call all the other divisions “the other side of the house”.  I don’t know if those other divisions call Travel “the other side” but I expect I’m about to find out.  And it’s a little weird that in two weeks she’ll be working more hours than I will (since I’m still only at half time).  I’ve noticed in the last few days she’s been slightly more interested in what I’m doing for work although it’s not a “I’m going to have to do that” kind of interest.  Just a “oh, she’s doing work for my company” kind of interest.  At least that what it seems like.  We’ve talked a little about going this weekend to check out the building she’ll be working in and a little bit about timecards.  We discussed carpooling, although I won’t be going into my building until the summer is over so it won’t be an issue until then. 

I’m very proud of her but it’s impossible to know if I’m just a bit extra proud because she’s joining me at a company where I’ve been very happy for 30+ years. 

What was your first job?

Drought and Hail

Husband is outside getting ready to start watering our flower beds and strawberry patch. It is way too early to be watering, but we are in extreme drought here. I think we would welcome hail like the kind they got this week in Oklahoma as long as it came with several inches of rain.

We are supposedly famous for the high incidence of hail here, but we haven’t had more than one memorable hail storm in the 30 years we lived here. That took our shingles, and resulted in our insurance agent and the roofer almost getting in a fist fight on the roof over some procedural shingle replacement short cut our agent objected to.

What is your experience with insurance claims? Any memorable hail storms? Are you too insured or a risk taker?

The Little Guys

This Saturday, April 24, is Independent Bookstore Day – which I’ve written about here before – five years ago now (!) .

We have a little bookstore here in Winona called Paperbacks and Pieces. It’s mostly a paperback exchange except for one corner of new books, and a shelf of popular new titles that you can rent. They will do special orders for individuals and book clubs. Pre-pandemic, they hosted author signings (including our Chris from Owatanna!), local speakers, and occasional local group meetings. Spring and Fall would bring a huge Sidewalk Sale – actually in the side street which was closed off for the occasion.  They’ve been everything I want in a local, independent shop. P & P recently changed owners, but I have no doubt they’ll continue in this same vein.  The other local bookstore (not counting Target & Walmart) is downtown, Chapter 2 Books – used and vintage books, CDs, DVDs – which I also try to support; different vibe, and they have a wonderful cat.

The Big Box retailers did awfully well in the past year, according to this August 2020 article from the New York Times .  As we come out of isolation, I know some of our favorite places – restaurants, coffee shops, small independent businesses like hardware stores – have already gone under. A lot of the remaining ones are struggling to survive, hungry for customers as we start to open up again. I occasionally notice on Facebook posting for one of these places, and share them when I can – like this one for Swede Hollow Café in St. Paul, where I loved to go when I lived in the Cities.

Do you have any favorite small businesses in your vicinity that you will support, as we “open up” from isolation?

Have any of your favorites disappeared with the pandemic (or before)?