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Archive for April 2016

Remember When?

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 Cheeseburger In paradise - No Pop Tops Allowed

Cheeseburger In paradise – No Pop Tops Allowed

Take a trip down memory lane and see how many of these you can remember.   I ask you, remember when:

  • They sold a pack of cigarettes in a vending machine for a quarter.  If you had a quarter you could smoke.
  • Pull tabs on soda cans were new and were removed from the can (Jimmy Buffett does).
  • Soda pop was dispensed in bottles by pulling them out of the machine and a bottle opener was on the front of the machine with a container to catch the bottle cap.
  • They sold newspapers on street corners in a box that opened up with a stack of papers inside. (Did anyone ever take more than one?)
  • Motor oil was sold in a cardboard quart can at the filling station and would be added to your car by the attendant using a spout that would puncture the top of the can.
  • Various foods were introduced that were supposedly from the space program.  Tang instant orange drink comes to mind.  “Back in the day” we named our dog Tang but I don’t think we had it very long.  Let’s say it went on a mission to the moon.
  • Ice cream cones were sold by price not size.  I remember the 10 cent, quarter and fifty cent cones at DQ.
  • Soda pop was sold in a bottle with a deposit – this was before recycling was cool.
  • Jeep’s were the only all terrain SUV’s on the road?  My dad had one that was WW II vintage.
  • Station wagons ruled the road?  They were answer to the modern-day minivan/SUV.
  • Beneath the rear license plate was the gas cap to fill the car.   This was an explosion risk which ruined the concept.  Save for the explosion part, this was a great idea because you didn’t have to figure out which side of the car the gas cap was on.  You could just pull up anywhere and say fill’er up!
  • You actually wrote someone a letter and mailed it to them and they got it two, three or four days later?  It wasn’t that long ago!
  • Prices on grocery items were stamped on with a mechanical ink stamp and were carried by stock boys in a leather holster.

I am not sure if things were better in the good old days or worse.  I think some things are better now and some things are worse.  What I really miss is having my gas tank in the middle of my car because I can never remember which side it is on!  Can we at least make an industry standard that it is required to be on the driver’s side?

Have a great week.

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Underappreciated Tools Of The Trade

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All Stars in action

All Stars in action

Last August I wrote about the tools of my trade and today I am going to write about some underrated tools that I take for granted.  After today I vow to do a better job in paying these tools the respect they deserve.

My list begins with a free version of a pdf printer.  I use it to print to a pdf file rather than to a piece of paper.  The version I use allows me to append or add-on to the original file so that I can create a multi page document from various sources.  I use this almost daily so it is definitely something I could not do without.

Along the same lines is a free pdf converter program.  I use this less often but when I do it is extremely valuable.  This software will convert a pdf file to a jpg file which I use when I see an article in my local paper that is about a friend or business associate.  I convert it and send the jpg picture file to them so they can use it for their social media like Facebook or LinkedIn.  Of course they can also print the picture and frame it depending on how significant the occasion.

A Canon flatbed scanner.  The model is; CanoScan LiDE 25.  I bought this in 2006 when I started my business for about $50 and it is still working and I use it several times per week as a scanner or copier.  Before I got my multi-function printer it was the only way for me to make a copy.  Once I upgrade to Windows 10 I think it will have to be retired since I doubt there will be a printer driver for it.  This may have been the best $50 I ever spent on a business product.

A Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse.  I also bought his when I started my business in 2006 and they both still work flawlessly.  I can’t remember the price but I think it was around $40 for the set.  The keyboard is especially nice since I need a full size keyboard for my hunt and peck typing skills.  It also has the accountant’s numeric keypad which is also invaluable.  What can I say, I get excited about little things.

The final thing on my list is a 21 inch monitor I bought in 2009 to help when I am working from home.  It was essential when I had a smaller laptop screen but even now with my 15 inch laptop display I use it full-time when I am not on the road.

Honorable mention:

  • 500 gigabyte Toshiba external hard drive
  • Midland 13 port, powered USB hub,
  • Brother multi-function printer (Fax/Scan/Copy/Print)

If you don’t use these tools you might want to consider doing so to ramp up your productivity at a low-cost.  Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

April 17, 2016 at 8:01 am

A Vast Wasteland

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Television Desert

Television Desert

I am speaking of network TV. I now rely heavily on Netflix and Hulu to get me to baseball season which is finally here.  If the quality of the programming was better, I would not have been forced to seek out something else that I could stand to watch.

Consider this:

  • My wife and I binge-watched the first four seasons of That Girl as a compromise to anything else we could find on regular TV. Season five was just released on Hulu – we will ration those episodes to last for a month which is about 5 episodes per week.       I can’t get enough of Ann’s cranky father Lew Marie. They added words to the theme song for season five which was an annoying mistake.      
  • We even watched several episodes of Nanny and the Professor.       It was bad but better than the alternatives. I also watched several episodes of Flipper. The theme song is heinous yet engaging. I watched most of the ESPN 30 for 30 shorts as filler when there was nothing else on the tube.
  • After we finished the first four seasons of That Girl we discovered season one of Family Affair and were set for a month. I hope more seasons will be available on Hulu soon so we will have something to watch after we are done with Ann Marie and Don Hollinger from That Girl.

It is comforting to know that I can always fall back on classics like the Rockford Files, Quincy, Adam 12 and Emergency! The classics genre is full of stuff to fill dead time when I can’t watch baseball.  In addition to those I already listed there is Taxi, both Bob Newhart shows, WKRP in Cincinnati, Rhoda, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lou Grant to name a few 70’s gems.

I realize that there are a lot of shows that many of you will bring up that I can watch but the reality is I am not interested in what is offered today. It seems like every other show that is popular is trashy or about Zombie’s.  I did find two shows that are currently on that I like.  They are The Middle and Last Man Standing.  You might want to check them out if you haven’t seen them already.

Have a great week watching your favorite show even if it is about Zombie’s. What do I care; I have baseball!

Written by pacelinebiz

April 10, 2016 at 8:02 am

Changes To Starbucks Reward Program

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Good Coffee Is Its Own Reward

Good Coffee Is Its Own Reward

In February, Starbucks announced that it was going to change its rewards program and some customers expressed displeasure.  Surprisingly, I am not one of them.  For those who haven’t already heard about this or are unfamiliar with the program and the changes I will give a quick rundown of what happened.

Before the change, if you were in the rewards program every purchase earned a point. If it was a small coffee for $2 or a large order for $12 you received one star.  After the change, you will receive a point based on money spent.  This is a more equitable reward system as long as you were not one of the people, like me, that only bought a $2 coffee and enjoyed racking up a free item by spending only about $25.  Now you will have to spend $62.50 for a reward.  One star for every fifty cents spent.

Before you begin to criticize Starbucks for the change consider a couple of facts.   The “average” order at a Starbucks is about $5 so the “average” customer is only spending a couple of dollars more to get their reward.  Another thing to be aware of is that some customers who did not like the fact that they were spending a large sum of money and only getting one star were asking the cashier to ring up items separately and causing longer lines.  I didn’t like it when I was with my wife and we both got a drink and a bakery item and I spent $12 and only got one star.  Despite this, I played by the rules and did not game the system and put the cashier in an awkward position of breaking the rules.

What can we learn from this change? I don’t think that Starbucks was making the change to reduce their cost for the reward system.  Sure, it is going to cost people like me more for a reward on average but I totally understand the feelings of the person who routinely spent a lot and felt cheated.  Some will win and some will lose but everyone will win with shorter lines.  The lesson we can learn is about the rule breakers who made the change necessary.  Our disappointment should be aimed at them not at Starbucks.

If you are a business owner I hope you can navigate a change with this type of wisdom. If you make a change involving your business and only upset rule breakers then you are doing OK by me.  Have a great week.