Category Archives: Kids

Techno Shock

Daughter has been on our phone plan until now, and is taking a step toward independence and is getting her own phone plan. It has been four years since we upgraded our phones. We are helping  her financially with the transition. After reviving from the sticker shock of how much a new iPhone costs, I thought about my own experiences in elementary school getting trained by Ma Bell in proper phone use.

Does anyone else remember phone company reps coming to school and teaching phone etiquette and how to operate rotary phones? I remember it happened in about Grade 3.  The phones were tan and were desk models. They even brought in a slimline phone.  I was green with envy. I thought the technology was cool, since the only phone we had hung on the  kitchen wall.  I can’t imagine such training in the schools these days.

How do you learn how to use new technology?  How did you learn to use phones and  computers?  Where do you think this technology is going?  

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?

First There was Tesla…

A few days ago Linda reminded me that the mute button on my tv remote is going to be my best friend for the next six weeks – until the election is over.

As a child, I was the remote control and the mute button, both in my own home and at my grandparents.  Luckily, turning the sound down didn’t come up very often back then, although my grandfather did like to switch channels during commercials.  Also luckily there were only 4 channels back then.

So I’d like to give a salute to Robert Adler and Eugene Polley, the recognized fathers of the remote control. Although there were a couple of earlier versions of the remote control, it was the Zenith Space Command that came out in 1956 that paved the way for future remotes.  Adler and Polley won an Emmy for this work!

Is there an inventor you’d like to canonize?


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.

Really Cookin’!

A couple of days ago LJB mentioned finding a recipe and sticking to it. I’ve been thinking about her comments a lot, since I am the exact opposite.

I had a lot of vacation days to use up, so have been off since the 22nd and I have been on a cooking jag.  There are two main reasons for this.  One of the reasons we’ve already discussed recently – TOMATOES!  The other reason is that I’m a morning person. As much as I love to cook, I am just not up for cooking after I get home from work.  Warmed up leftovers (or take out) in my jammies are pretty common fare for me at night.

So the combination of many mornings at home and my glut of tomatoes had me cooking up a storm. I started my vacation by dragging out about a dozen of my cookbooks; for some reason that I don’t even remember now, I pulled out a lot of vegan cookbooks.  Then I flipped through them and used little slips of paper to mark some of the recipes that looked good to me.  I marked about 16 recipes – only one of which I had ever made before.  Then YA looked through and vetoed a few.  I shopped for six recipes and then got going.  I did the last one today – vegan lasagna rolls (which ended up being not vegan).

Here’s what got made on my vacation: Fried Bread Panzanella, Roasted Carrots w/ Parmesan & Garlic, Pico de Gallo, Pasta w/ Tomatoes & Olives, Roasted Tomato & Garlic Sauce, Smash Potatoes w/ Pesto & Parmesan, Apple Honey & Arugula Pizza and today’s Lasagna Rolls. Now we have enough leftovers to last another week or so.

When is repetition good for you? Or not?

We All Scream For Ice Cream

We went to a wedding reception last night at a local brewery in Northeast Minneapolis – Able Seedhouse & Brewery. It was a lot of fun, with indoor and outdoor seating and an excellent food truck dinner.  The most fascinating thing however was watching the continuous stream of folks going to the ice cream shop across the way and the amazing ice cream concoctions that were coming out with them!

YA is not normally a sweets gal, but if she is interested in a dessert, ice cream is the top of the list, far surpassing cake and cookies. So after not finishing the reception cupcake dessert, she convinced me that we should head over to the ice cream shop before we went home.

At 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, the line was out the door of the shop on the second floor and down the stairs. There were four employees scooping and the line did move faster than I expected – about 15 minutes before we were at the counter to order.  As we made our way out, the line had almost doubled in size and was outside the door of the building and out onto the sidewalk!

I had a pretty traditional chocolate/vanilla swirl with some butterfinger crunchies; YA had a huge cone with a combination called the Berry Nice. We sat outside until I was done (since I was driving) – a beautiful night with our unexpected treats.

What are you willing to stand in a long line for?