Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stop--bag violation!

Paper or plastic? I think that one ended in a draw—plastic laid in the landfill for 500 yrs, but paper used up a lot of energy mushing trees into bags.

Now, some stores, Supervalu, we are talking about you, are retraining baggers to cut down on our crazy-wild use of bags.

The other day, my slippery cat food bags were handed to me, as is. Well, thanks….but I am not Shiva, the many-armed goddess.


Did I type that out loud?

Anyhow, the aforementioned Supervalu has its eye on millions in savings from cramming bags or denying them to you.

No more doublebagging! Ever! Ever, they say!

Don’t let bags be half-empty. What are they going to do—send you back to buy more?

Another chain instituted a tougher bag that could be crammed full. Customers complained it was too heavy that way.

They can’t win. We can’t win. We all lose. Well, off to the landfill—but hey, I used the bags once more for kitty litter. Feel better?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are you letting your story out?

My website is a minute-by-minute rendition of my day—so people can get to know the amazingly weird and (I hope they see) talented train wreck that is moi.

Check out

Anite Bruzzese wrote about this recently. Not the train wreck, but about telling your own story.

She talked to Peter Gruber, the producer of The Color Purple and Batman, among other movies.

You need to create an emotional connection. You aim for the heart.

Even high tech-ers need to do this, he says—tap into something human. Spreadsheet won’t make someone act—but saying, “I see you are from St. Louis—I was raised in Kirkwood,” might.

He claims you an make such a connection through Twitter—I don’t know. I am waiting for whatever comes after Twitter. I did think of creating a Twitter account for the Great Blue Heron (below), but thought better of it.

Energy and authenticity—make sure your audience is with you.

And, I would add—wants to be with you for some time. Like all the time you work there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jobs--remember those?

Notice how the govt veers away from tiresome old job talk—they have no idea what to do and all their buds in the corporations have followed their financial hearts to countries with lower corp tax rates. Ours is 35%, except for clever cos like GE, who pay nothing and even end up with a credit for next year.

60 Minutes laid it out last Sunday—hundreds of companies have their headquarters in Switzerland, Ireland, and other places and do the work there because if they bring the money back to pay people here they would have to pay taxes on it.

Well, isn’t that special?

So what do WE do—I guess move. We Can’t even sell houses or cheeseburgers to each other anymore.

The Arizona Republic came up with some jobs with global appeal. So…let’s see…We could “become":

Quality control inspectors. $15 an hour.

Machinist--#13 to $21 an hour.

Cargo agent, between $14 and $23 an hour.

Assembler—about the same.

Commercial or industrial designer, now we’re talking, as much as $76K.

How about that woman on 60 Minutes who “ran” the office of a big company in Zug, Switzerland. She seemed to be alone in the office. Pretty easy money.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The bird...the bird is the word

I do try to be plucky most days. But a few weeks ago, I was watching TV and saw a Great Blue Heron standing on the patio—apparently heading for our fish pond.

The thing was almost 5 feet tall. I can barely see anymore, but his yellow rimmed eye, gimlet-sharp and beady, was visible to me. And he was bold! I went to the glass door and opened it before he foomped up into the air. Seven foot wingspan.

Later that day, my daughter came home and screamed, “Mom! There is a HUGE bird outside.”

THEN…I was listening to a Dean Koontz audiobook and it mentioned a Great Blue Heron! All too weird.

I went to that famous avian authority Google and it seems GBH’s are a sign of wisdom if you are a Native American. Apparently, you have to be wise already to figure out what he or she is trying to say. We weren’t.

About a week later—two more sightings, sitting on our roof, then later, almost walking into my kid’s bedroom through an open patio door.

Hmmm, where were the fish? Under the lilies…? Um…No…

“That bird ate them all!” pronounced my daughter, never charmed by this creature.

I read up some more—only 10%, one pond person said, of all fish lost are eaten by GBHs. Ten percent? That’s a lot! I thought about a Scare Heron—someone suggested a rubber snake. Then I found some pix of GBHs with snakes in their beaks (above).

We are trying a few more fish—a few. Feeder goldfish. Doesn’t that sound ominous? Funny note, though, on another pond site, the owner pointed out that all fish were basically designed to be eaten.

Now THAT’s wisdom!

Friday, March 25, 2011

False economy? Better hope not

Do you feel lucky?

I know, I know—students have to learn somehow and many of us are broke now and can’t afford dental or hair work.

I know people who have had dental work done at dental schools at a discount—their worst complaints was long waits.

Sue Doerfler, writing in the AZ Republic, Mar 24, 2011, quotes an educator as saying this is a win-win.

Hey, maybe it is! We have to catch a break sometime, right?

Some people get weekly massages from students for $25. Not bad.

A woman who went to Carrington Dental School said she had never had such a thorough cleaning.

Another place is a butcher school—meat at a discount.

Beauty schools also provide discounts. At one a cut and shamp was five bucks.

An acupuncture center has “happy hour” rates. Cute!

This all sounds OK, as a matter of fact.

The NYT Well Blog recently talked about a study that showed hospitals that let residents and interns take over surgeries had decent outcomes. Now—on that—I might ask a ton of questions.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do NOT put these things on your res

I guess people are still doing resumes—as the years click by, I feel like so many people have given up on this economy, resumes may be old school by now, but I guess not.

Kelly Eggers, WSJ, Mar 16, 2011, says a 2010 Accountemps survey showed that 28% of execs think resumes are the place most job seekers take a wrong turn. Twenty-eight percent—not even a third—doesn’t seem too large an opinion to me, but whatever.

First, don’t put unnecessary details about your life. Age, race, politics, relatives, weight, height—leave off. (Possible exception—if the job is for a cause, tell how you have served the cause.)

Forget your summer experience in high school. Keep it to the last 15 years. The US Govt only requires the last 10 yrs.

Do not put a picture on there. Unless this is a modeling job.

Don’t list salary expectations, unless it’s asked for—then give a range.

Don’t lie on your resume. Fine line between embellishment and lies. Find it. Don’t cross it.

Confidential info from a former employer is a no-no.

If you were fired for cause, don’t baldly state that. If they ask, don’t lie.

Never put “references available on request.” Hokey McPokey. So over with. Of course, you will provide them—this goes without saying. So don't.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rosie scenario

Glenn Harlan Reynolds reviews Michio Kaku’s book Physics of the Future in the WSJ, Mar 23, 2011.

He points out that this is not really a professional futurist we have here, but a sort of blogger—but it’s still interesting. Hey, bloggers are people, too!

First, we won’t need those dopey phones in a few decades, dense info streams will be fed directly to our retinas and into our brains. Since I barely have one retina, that’s a relief. I can be stupid.

Oh—and this will be connected to your nervous system, so forget worrying about being paralyzed.

Our bathrooms will analyze our…well, anyhow, our bathrooms will talk to our doctors, who will doubtless be overjoyed to hear from our bathrooms.

MRIs will be the size of blow dryers—we can get inside info anytime!

Material wealth will be available to all—through molecular assembly plants powered by the sun.

OK, OK, but where the heck are those jet packs we were promised? And Rosie, the robot maid? I don’t count those creepy little vacuum cleaners that sneak around the floor.

Startups in life--and in business

Sue Shellenbarger says many young people are stepping up and helping with the family and college coffers (WSJ, Mar 16, 2011).

In May we are having Lemonade Day—31 cities, 120,000 kids attending entrepreneur events. About 3.7% of HS seniors are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

High schoolers are rolling out the startups like mad. One kid had a car wash business he advertised with a booth at the auto show, email blasts, and newspaper ads. He even keeps track of the weather and tells customers—better wait to wash, it’s going to rain.

Other businesses described included consulting on computers within the Bosnian community, handpainted sneakers, snow cones, and lawn care.

Alas, even youngsters get stiffed sometimes by customers. Next lesson: Small claims court.

Even better, one enterprising young man said—concentrate on repeat customers who pay. They are learning, these kids.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Like a fine wine--do you travel well?

The WSJ had a story Monday on couples deciding where to retire.

How about the bedroom?

Out here AZ way, a lot of people can’t sell their house and move anyplace.

But some have two houses—one back east or Midwest for coolness sake in summer, one here for golf in winter.

The latter have so-called retirement figured out.

The problem is—retirement may not even be a goal anymore. We are experiencing rapid changes in our life patterns and economy.

So what we need to look at what we will do when we are “stove in,” as my sister likes to put it—laid up with aches and pains or worse.

The WSJ story highlighted couples that never talked about “the future” much. Turned out, the husband wanted to live downtown and walk to the library. The wife wanted to practice medicine in a poor village. Hmmmm…kind of a difference.

For me, I moved out here to help take care of Mom and get my kid out of the DC schools. It has not been ideal for me. For one thing, I didn’t transplant well—maybe some don’t when they are older.

You should consider that, too—before leaving your friends and haunts behind.

Top-loaders now on the hit list

Sure, you can throw in last minute items without flooding the joint, but they use too much hot water. Energy, you know.

Consumer Reports now disses all top-loaders as mediocre.

Well, those fancy-schmancies are spendy, my babies!

They also get moldy.

Now, though, the nannies say top-loaders leave clothes dirty, too.

When the energy standards came out, apparently—according to an op-ed by Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, WSJ, Mar 18, 2011—there was a move to Send Your Underwear to the Undersecretary (of Energy).

Relax—it was a picture of underwear.

Anyhow—the standards on washers are going even higher. Will they clean better? Cost less? Oh—they don’t care about that.

Now—we need to keep these people out of our kitchens, bedrooms—AND pants!

Friday, March 18, 2011

If you started a biz, could you hire you?

Jahna Berry, AZ Republic, Mar 13, 2011, says more people are becoming entrepreneurs when they can’t find work. Might as well.

Happened to me—32 years ago.

Each month in 2010, a third of one percent of adults started a business.

Yet, the number of businesses with more than one person working there has dropped.

Self-employed—or self-employer—but not employer of others.

Latinos are in the lead in starting businesses. Asians were next. Whites and African-Americans declined in the business-starting business.

Having an incorporated company, with payroll obligations, is a big step. Will this step gradually be taken?

I think so—because the whole nature of work and working is rapidly changing.

Rapidly--that's an understatement.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

That would be a NO on those potassium iodide pills

Nothing like a nuclear meltdown to get people heading for the health food store.

Well, near meltdown…release of junk…whatever it is.

Rep Edward Markey is hyped up urging the WH to provide potassium iodide pills to Americans with 20 miles of American nuclear plants (there are 104 of those, hello).

At present, people with 10 miles are given the pills—IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.

Japan has distributed 230,000 units (maybe more) to those near their damaged plants.

The idea is to take this in advance and it will keep the radiation from getting into the thyroid gland.

But authorities say no, don’t take them right away…You should be in contact with radiation…There should be a reason. Authorities! You know how THEY are.

Some brands are already sold out here in the US. Hope you don’t mind getting a goiter, slowing your thyroid, or how about acne or a severe allergic reaction that closes your throat?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Managers I have known

How come the managers I have had in the past were mercurial time-bomb types waiting to go off, ruling by fear, inconsistent, drinkers, and blame-shifters?

Just lucky?

CareerBuilder says to be an effective manager, you should build relationships—not a pool of scapegoats.

You should set goals. The number one goal is NOT to make you look good. (They might do it, though, if you are not a total tool.)

Be popular and make your staff believe you will take care of them—not backstab them and put them in front of the tank.

And don’t be afraid to delegate. Well, these people had that one down—never do yourself what others can do for you.

Aw, just kidding. More or less.

I thought I was becoming bitter, then I ate a Cadbury egg, which raised sweetness to the level of pain. All better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


AOL is even more lost than people say. First, they give some Zsa Zsa wannabee a ton of money and then they fire 20% of the workforce.

Hey, AOL, you are still taking my money as a Internet provider—so provide! This means India and no more days like last Thurs when I could not get on the internet. All day—could not get on with YOUR browser.

Everyone has told me to get rid of AOL—more than 25 yrs now…but I keep it because it does not go down. Until last Thurs, that is.

I don’t want a free yahoo address—I think those look tacky. Hotmail—worse.

Now I hate subsidizing Arianna—who does not pay her writers at Fluffpo.

What to do, what to do…

Monday, March 14, 2011

BungoBox--when you need to move

Out here in AZ, where we are crushed by falling housing prices, people either HAVE to move (kicked out) or can’t (can’t sell).

In the have to move category, you see offers of moving boxes constantly on Use the boxes, pass them on.

Now a company has gotten started to bring over lightweight plastic boxes. Use them, then the company comes and gets them.

It’s a franchise called BungoBox.

There are only two of these at the moment—the other is in Tampa.

They stack for or five high on a dolly. They nest so they don't slip.

A big one costs $1.75 for a week, so you can do the math.

Sounds like a plan—and maybe a business?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Forget the pomp--do the circumstance

Some kids are still ponying up for college—and I am jealous because my own child decided not to go.

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, writes on CareerBuilder that the college kids are fixated on end-of-year festivities and papers and haven’t focused on how big and bad the big, bad world is.

The career service people at schools don’t really put them in the picture, either, one recruiter says.

Some students, she adds, won’t even talk to a recruiter unless they get a present. They want to be courted.

Reality check.

Experienced workers are after the same jobs grads used to get.

Some kids have put in some apps, but aren’t networking.

The advice—put your emphasis not so much on exams but on job-hunting.

Cultivate referrals. Forget blind contacts—those anonymous mass mailings to people on Linked In.

If you go to a career fair, find out first which companies will be there. Google them. Be informed.

And you may not get your dream job. Think stepping stone—not dream.

Statistics show a person of college age will have seven careers--not just seven jobs.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ooo--I am hornetbasket mad

We have a company out here called Schwan’s. It’s a big frozen food truck that comes around door to door every 2 weeks.

I had the nicest driver named Mike—always a spare minute to chat. We both like dogs. We talked about that. He hurt his knee—we talked about how to avoid surgery. You know…Stuff shut-ins like me appreciate.

Then after three years, he announced his commission had been cut and he had been assigned someplace else.

He said he felt like he had been breaking up with people all day. He was not flirty, he meant emotionally. You know people like that? Nice people?

I wrote to Schwan’s on their national website. I said don’t have the new guy bother to come. If he does, I won’t buy.

Naturally, they responded that it would take them a few days to read this, be patient.

No one ever responded.

Just now, the truck pulled up, too. I said I won’t buy from Schwan’s—take me off your list. He just turned on his heel and walked away.


Are you sick of web site email that is never looked at? Companies that lie? Companies that don’t give a flying flip what you think? Or feel?

I am!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Communicating big part of business

You are only going to remember one thing from this post.

Diana Middleton, WSJ, Mar 3, 2011, says business schools are emphasizing writing and

Good! I recently took a webinar from the govt and the slides were so packed with stuff they could have been a white paper.

I can say words like “stuff” because I am a trained communicator, you know.

Many business students know too much—they don’t know what to leave out.

Apparently, too, essay scores on tests are falling. Could it be the influx of international students?

Digital communications may be harming writing, too. That 140-character thing. Ya think?

Wharton is doubling its communications coursework to 12 classes starting in 2012.

Writing coaches may doublecheck work already checked by business professors. Now that says something right there.

Business students LOVE the ten-dollar words—edifice instead of building, utilize instead of use, etc.

Business writers often cannot get to the point—they start with qualifiers or background.

They emphasize how they arrived at their conclusions to show they are good analysts.

Remember—people will only “get” one thing you said. Probably, in the case of this post, it will be that people will only get one thing you said.

So here’s a tip--write that first.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Going on a device diet

Maybe I am lucky I can’t afford devices

Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly, Mar 4, 2011, says he is going on a device diet.

One screen at a time—he says.

Every time you get up, he says, you are 3.0 in a 4.0 world. You’re behind!

He used to watch TV, look at videos on his laptop, try to get a movie off Netflix, RSS it, go to bookmarks. Tweets, Twitters…whatEVER!

At the end of the day, he said, he had filled his head up with everything, which amounted to a nourishing portion of…nothing!

Everything new—a show with commentary under it—everything—Harris says—represents to him the gaping mouth of hell.

He plans to undivide his attention and see if he gets any smarter.

There is an ad for magazines that says, YOU SURF THE NET, BUT YOU SWIM IN MAGAZINES.

They should have added--BUT YOU DROWN ON THE NET.

Magazines—do they still have those?

Note: None of this applies to coming to my sites. Thank you very much.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Credit cards less of a chump play?

I am out of the credit card game. They won. I lost.

But for some things—especially if you think someone might want to clean you out--a credit card is preferable to a debit card. This includes restaurants, where waiters whisk the card off someplace out of your seeing. Those skimmer machines are cheap and plentiful.

But because of limits on late fees, payment of bogus fees is down now.

Over-the-limit charges have also been cut by many cards. Two-thirds of the companies don’t even charge those anymore. Card issuers also can no longer jack the rate on your whole balance in the first year.

Some have brought in annual fees, though—read carefully.

Those new statements that tell you how long to pay off the balance with just minimum payments—they are working. People say they pay more than the minimum now.

Oh, well—I was paying a ton in minimums and now I am not.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Feeling technologically idiotic?

I need an MP3 player to download audiobooks from a certain service that does not download to all players—I have spent hours on this and trying to find something affordable that will work.


A friend said do you think this stuff is too hard these days? I do! My daughter is tech-age and she doesn’t even get it.

And by the time you do decide, that piece of technology is on eBay for 99 cents and it’s on to something else. Maybe that 99-center is OK, though.

If you need to master a program at work—or a piece of hardware—or master them to GET work, first figure out what you need to know.

Assess your own skills—can you read a manual, do you need someone to explain it? How do you learn things best?

Conquer fear. Joking. That’s not possible. Dread and anger will just take its place.

Or just find a 12-year-old. Don't get roped into laser tag, though--just take it from me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gas prices are going to jack up everything

As we sip our ramen broth and squinch by living on air, gas prices are ratcheting upward. Whether this is due to speculators, manipulators or dictators, no one knows, but it’s happening.

By “no one,” I mean, I am not sure.

Vera Gibbons wrote about this for AOL. Crude is at a 2-1/2 year high. First, we are feeling it at the pump, where many of us go at least once a week. This could hit $4 a gallon this summer. Heading for $5.

Airfares are already up—raised four times this year, which, by the way, is in its first quarter.

The more ethanol that is used means more corn diverted from food and animal feed, meaning everything in the supermarket costs more.

Clothing is struggling with labor costs and will cost more to get to market. We may see more synthetics, cheaper materials.

Also expect fewer sequins.

FEWER SEQUINS! Now they have gone too far. This is war.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Falling out of love with Walmart?

We have no car and live a few blocks from Walmart—do the math. We shop there—but also at another walking distance supermarket.

The prices at Walmart are way lower. But the other store carries a few things we like that Walmart does not have.

But Walmart has been losing customers for two years. The lower income people (like us) have been pushed lower. They also have made mistakes in pricing. Yes—Walmart!

I would say the 99-cent and dollar stores have also hurt.

They did not have a great holiday season, either.

For now, customers are not flocking back due to the lowering of prices again.

You might want to give it another try, though—a lot of items they cut are now back and prices are plunging throughout the store.

Plunging is a good thing in prices. Not so great in budgets.