Category Archives: Business

Say It Ain’t Snow!

Photo credit:  Star Tribune

MnDot announced the finalists yesterday for the Minnesota Name A Snowplow contest.   If you haven’t heard of this before you may not be alone, although the contest has been held annually for a few years now.  Last year’s winners were:

    • Betty Whiteout
    • Ctrl Salt Delete
    • The Big Leplowski
    • Plowasaurus Rex
    • Scoop Dogg
    • Blizzard of Oz
    • No More Mr. Ice Guy
    • Edward Blizzardhands

This is one winner per MnDot district.  I haven’t been able to find out what happens after the winners are announced?  Is there a plaque somewhere?  Little signs on the snowplows?  Patches for the snowplow drivers?  Banquet?

There are 60 finalists so I am not going to name them all but will give you some of my favorites:

    • Bladezilla
    • It’s a Squall World After All
    • Taylor Drift
    • Hippoplowtomus

If you’d like to see all the finalists and vote for your top eight favs, here is the link:

Name a Snowplow contest – MnDOT (state.mn.us)

We can probably come up with some good names of our own.  What do you think?

Cold Calls

With the kitchen project, electricians, plumbers, dishwasher installers, etc. all calling me the last three to four weeks, I’ve been answering unknown numbers more than usual.  Some of the time it’s been someone I want to talk to, some of it’s folks looking for my money. 

Yesterday morning I was still expecting a couple more calls about the dishwasher so I picked up an area code “952” when it rang.  I knew straight away it probably wasn’t the dishwasher but I usually wait to hear what my unknowns want before I give them the brush off.  She jumped right in an identified herself as calling from a colonoscopy center and asking when my last one was.  I was able to truthfully tell her I had done the mail-in a couple of months ago and then we ended the call.  Who would have thought you’d ever get a call like this?

I spent all afternoon thinking about it and imagining what she tells people at parties when they ask what she does.  “I make cold calls to talk people into colonoscopies” aren’t words that I’d be willing to say to strangers.

What is a current trend that you just don’t understand?

Stamping

Big warehouse stores don’t do it for me.  While I have a huge house, I’ve never found it convenient to buy massive quantities to keep the price a bit down.  (With the exception of toilet paper, of course.)

However there is one thing that I use a lot of: postage stamps.  Most months I send out 10-12 birthday cards and then there are the anniversary cards, get well cards, sympathy cards, thank you cards and then all the other things that I feel the need to note. At least one card a month goes overseas. 

So when I noticed a news story about postage going up (it increased yesterday), I thought maybe stamps was one thing I would load up on.  Apparently I’m not the only one to think this…. a couple of the stamps that I like were out of stock at my local post office.  So I chose some others and then came home and ordered a bunch more online.  I figure I won’t have to buy stamps until August!

What do you never like to run out of?

The Favor

As you all know, I adore being retired.  It’s been six months and the novelty has not worn off.  And my boss knows as well.  When she called me last week, the first words out of her mouth were “don’t hang up on me”.  Two new programs for the first week of May have just sold, an unusual happenstance for this late in the fiscal year.  They are warehouse programs, of which I was the undisputed queen, and nobody else has any wiggle room in their workload to fit these in.  Could I pretty please with a cherry on top come out of retirement on a temporary, part time basis and run these two programs?

I thought about it over the weekend and got input from several friends (all of whom said “go for it’ – I need new friends).  When I told my boss I would do it, I gave her a long list of requirements, all of which she agreed to.  Rats.  I also told her that this was a big favor and it was the only one she was going to get.  If these programs re-up next year, I won’t do them.  And she can’t apply the favor to a non-warehouse program.  It’s these two and no others.

I’m not all that excited about this development, but all my former team-mates are ecstatic.  Not so much because I’m coming back temporarily but because now they know they don’t have to try to squeeze either of these programs into their calendar!

Tell me about a huge favor you’ve done for someone.  Or a huge favor they’ve done for you!

How Cozy

Normally I don’t pick up the BookPage supplement that the library sets out every month.  More ideas about what to read are NOT necessary in my life.  I have lists and lists.  People suggest books to me all the time.  This isn’t a problem, it just means I don’t need to go looking. 

Last week, while the kitchen project was happening, I spend all day every day sitting on the sofa, so that I could be available if needed.  I wrote blogs for the trail, looked at Facebook, read a lot.  When I picked up a couple of books from the library, I grabbed not just the regular supplement but also a “Looking Forward to 2023” special edition as well.  Seemed like a good project for a week of sofa-surfing.

It was surprising to come across a page devoted to “Cozy Mysteries”.  Believe it or not, I have never heard this phrase before, although in reading through the blurbs, I knew immediately what they were talking about. Protagonist (99.9% women), mostly small town settings, a murder that only the protagonist can solve. I spent over a year reading tons and tons of cozy mysteries; I couldn’t get enough.  I’m not sure what was driving this but after about a year, the desire to read more of them simply vanished.  But I never realized that these stories had garnered a genre all to themselves.

When I was in the bookstore, it was pretty straightforward.  Fiction, nonfiction, children’s.  Fiction was split into fiction, science fiction, romance and mystery.  Non-fiction was historical, self-help, cooking, biography/memoir.

Now we have debut fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, mystery, cozy mystery, horror, thriller, literary fiction (this one slays me), young adult, graphic novels, biography, autobiography, memoir, true crime.  I could actually keep going but….

I guess all this micro-categorization can be helpful to folks when they are looking for something to read but since I tend to read across a lot of genres, it doesn’t matter so much to me.  I do still read an occasional cozy mystery; I can’t stay away from Susan Wittig Albert.  Knowing that this kind of work now has a name of its own name seems charming.

Anything in your life that you like to micro-manage?

It Snuck Up On Me

The cabinet guys come on Monday so I’ve been slowly but surely emptying the kitchen and breakfast room so they can do their work.  In the breakfast room, along the windowsill, I found one of those temporary hooks filled with face masks.  Various designs, although a preponderance of black.  This kind of “put up a hook and hang stuff of it” is right up YA’s alley so the only surprise was that I hadn’t noticed it earlier.  This is in addition to various other places we have masks, including a little pocket of them in my car.

Then later the same day, an Amazon package got delivered and YA came up stairs with two boxes of covid tests (I almost typed COVID-19 because that was the protocol at my job but now I don’t have to, do I?)   When I asked YA why she got them she said “we’re running out”.  There was a lot of testing around here when YA had covid in July and then we were seriously exposed the end of August, and then the first weeks of December to make sure my cold was really a cold. 

In the last two weeks I’ve been to the theatre and to a concert.  The concert required a mask and the theatre recommended (and I complied).  YA and I mask on planes. 

The new normal feels like it has snuck up on us, although considering we’re 3 years in, it’s kind of a silly way to think.  But if you stop to think about it, most new normal do sneak up on you.  I could never have imagined today’s technology and medical advances when I was a kid.

Anything you never thought you would ever get used but eventually did?

Who Knew?

People ask me a lot about my opinion of Hawaii. I suppose I do know more about our 50th state that the average person.   By luck of the draw I had almost 25 programs to Hawaii during my years in the travel industry.  I didn’t travel on all these programs but I have been to the islands a whooping 17 times, most of those times to Maui. 

What I tell people about Hawaii is that every island has a different topography and a different personality.  I usually talk about the difference between Hawai’I (the Big Island) and Kauai.  The Big Island is the largest, the youngest and the most volcanic.  If you haven’t been to Hawaii, then the picture you probably have in your mind is Kauai.  It is much older and encompasses the lush green image we all carry around.

But I don’t talk about Oahu very much; Unbelievably with all my Hawaii programs, I never had a program on Oahu.  No particular reason, just luck of the draw.  This means that almost every time I have been on Oahu, it’s because I’m in the Honolulu Airport, transferring to an interisland flight.  While my brain knows what Honolulu and Oahu are about, it was still a surprise to be there for three days.

We stayed in the Waikiki area because we didn’t have a car so needed to be in a walkable part of the city.  This is part of Oahu that has earned the name “concrete jungle”.  It is block after block of tall buildings, very high end shops and restaurants and traffic.  It could almost be any big city IF you can ignore the beautiful blue sky and warm weather as well as the folks on the streets.  It’s an amazing amalgam of business folks, obvious tourist (YA and I) and the huge number of surfers and counter-culture types.  Waikiki is right on the water so you can walk along the main thoroughfare and look right onto sandy beach and blue waters.  There is even a zoo (who knew)… we were actually able to walk there as well. 

One fun thing we saw in Honolulu that I’ve never seen on other islands – people putting leis on statues.  Most of the statues along Kalakaua Avenue and Beach each have at least 10-12 leis placed around their necks; all the leis are in various stages of decay, so it’s clear that people are adding them, not some program of prettification by the city.

So now I have good experience to describe Oahu and Honolulu the next time someone asked me about the islands.

Tell me about a place that surprised you.

Sweet Conundrum

My father loved buttermilk.  Unfortunately my mother did not.  This meant that my father didn’t get buttermilk very often because my mother just didn’t purchase many things that she didn’t like, even if someone else did.  She was in charge of the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking and there just wasn’t room in her cart for things she wasn’t going to consume.  Fish, liver, brussel sprouts, mushrooms – none of these ever saw the inside of our fridge.

So my father would often order buttermilk when we ate out.  This got troublesome occasionally.  At Perkins in particular, he always asked for buttermilk and was always told they didn’t have it.  He would immediately point out the buttermilk pancakes on the menu and ask for buttermilk again.  It didn’t matter that every single time the waitstaff explained that the pancake mix already had the buttermilk in it, he just couldn’t understand how you could have buttermilk pancakes but not have buttermilk. 

I was thinking about this a few days ago.  I had a morning appointment up in Robbinsdale and the doctor agreed to an 8 a.m. time slot even though the office didn’t normally start taking appointments until 8:30.  To thank her, I stopped at a bakery/coffee shop up the street from the office to pick up coffee for both of us (and a doughnut for myself, who are we kidding).  It was quiet in the bakery; I was the only customer.  From where I was standing, I couldn’t see the cream/sugar nook so I asked the guy behind the counter.  He pointed out a table in a corner but then said “but we don’t have sugar”. 

I was sure I had heard him wrong so I said “you don’t have sugar?”.  Nope, they had sweetners, but no sugar.  I started to suggest that you can’t have 20 kinds of doughnuts and pastries along with cookies and cakes and not have sugar but then I remembered my dad always haranguing waitstaff about buttermilk and I decided to zip my lip.  But five days later, I’m still wondering about it.  No sugar in a bakery?

Any little mysteries bugging you this week?

Resume Refresh

Photo credit:  Markus Spiske

There’s been a lot of resume talk at our house as YA has recently moved to another job at her company.  She hasn’t actually shown me her current resume but I know she updates it regularly so that it’s up to date all the time. So it’s ready at a moment’s notice, if the need should arise!

Last week when we talked about sheets, K-Two said

“I got really good at making up mattresses for isolettes, bassinets, and cribs during my career – a skill no longer needed. And if really pushed, I could probably still change the sheets of an occupied bed.”

This got me to thinking how imminently practical (and refreshing) it would be to see solid skills like bed-making show up on a resume, instead of the boring vanilla stuff that you see on most resumes these days.

I started to think about the very practical skills that I could list on a resume.

    1. Can organize errands based on opening times and order efficiency
    2. Can coax almost any grumpy person into a smile
    3. Can get a pill down even the most recalcitrant kitty
    4. Can make 15 pies in one day

Any good skills for your resume this week?

Pastry Fusion

When I was in Nashville, my friend Pat and I had a list a mile long of things we wanted to see and do.  Pat is not a Tennessee native, so she was as eager to explore as I was.  Last  year I saw some cooking show that featured a bakery in Nashville that looked splendid.  Unfortunately I didn’t write down the name so we ended up googling wildly to try to find something that rang a bell.  Nothing.

We did find Five Daughters Bakery which came up over and over again in searches for the best bakeries; they have three stores in Nashville so we decided they would be our bakery of choice. 

Turns out that they make a version of cronut which they call the “100-Layer Donut”.  I’ve never had a cronut before, although I have heard of them.  They were “invented” in 2013 by a French baker, Dominique Ansel at his bakery in New York; made with croissant dough and pastry cream, cronuts LOOK like doughnuts but are similar to croissants in texture.  They are bigger than most doughnuts and considerably more expensive; we cut them in half and saved the second half for the next morning.   I remember these pastries making a big splash at the time with people standing around the block for ages to get a crack at them and now I know why!

I haven’t done a thorough search but so far I haven’t found anyone making a cross between a doughnut and a croissants!

Do you have any favorite mash-ups?