Monday, August 14, 2017

What Not To Bring To College: 25 pair of jeans and the Dreaded Futon

Have you seen all the merchandise in stores for 'back to college' or  to 'outfit your dorm'?
I have a secret to tell you: You need approximately none of those things to start your year. New freshmen and their parents tend to be persuaded they'll use all sorts of things, but they won't. Here's a reality check:
The overriding idea is this: Think of a dorm as a home for tiny little miniature gnomes where everything is 1/4 scale. The keyword is 'Tiny.' A typical dorm has just enough room for the twin size extra long 'beds' it has, the tiny desks and perhaps a tiny bookshelf for each person, and there will be a tiny closet. Space for anything you bring in is really limited.

-Doing laundry during college is not going to be a priority. That doesn't mean bring more clothes. Trust me.
-You'd be surprised how little you actually need in terms of clothing:
  • 4 pairs of pants or jeans
  • 4 shirts
  • 2 hooded sweatshirts
  • 2 or 3 pair of shoes (yes, that seems minimalistic to some)
  • 7 pair socks, 7 underwear
  • 2 pair pajamas or what passes for pajamas
  • jackets, one that's really warm for winter
  • winter scarf or hat, mittens or gloves

So much for clothing.

Here are items actually found in a dorm checklist from a well known store. Revised title:
Completely Pointless Items Nobody Ever Uses in College:
  • Iron and ironing board (you will use these never....and this carries on into adult life)
  • Vacuum (you must be kidding)
  • Your own shower curtain (the great majority of dorm showers are multi-stall and not private)
  • Set of dishes ...skip these, or buy four plates and four bowls from Goodwill or a garage sale. All you really need. Ditto silverware.
  • Sewing kit: Would you actually use it? I thought not.
  • A lap desk?? Really?
  • A jewelry organizer... for what?
  • Bed skirt  (that's actually pretty funny)
                                                              Whatever it is, where would you put it?
  • Several sets of sheets .... Nope, you need one set, maybe two. See laundry habits above.
  • Storage trunk. And this would go where?
  • Shoe storage racks. Everyone knows that shoes are thrown on the floor of the closet.
  • Scale.Seriously?
  • Lounge seating. Where is this lounge exactly??
  • Clothing steamer
  • Coffee maker
  • Dining table (they actually suggested that)
  • Garment Bags

  • Skirt hangers (unless you wear skirts all the time, I suppose)
  • Closet organizer (ha!)
  • Gym bag
  • Socks to wear with rain boots
  • An upgraded shower head, if your school allows it
  • Self Tanning lotion, as well as eye cream, foundation, and concealer
  • Formal clutch (that's a purse you use with a formal dress)
  • Formal dress
  • Little black dress
  • Going out purse (??)
  • Sleep mask
  • Tool kit

Remember, you're sharing the tiny dorm with someone else. Be considerate of your roommate, too.
And the most egregious idea ever invented and foisted upon college freshmen and their parents:
(drum roll)                                    ****A futon****

Do not, let me repeat, do not purchase a futon for a dorm room
  • There's not enough room in the dorm
  • They're not fun to carry and wrangle and maneuver into a dorm room
  • They're always bigger than you think they are
  • They're awful to sleep on even if you could get it into the room
  • There's already two or more 'beds' in the room, there is no room for a futon
  • Did I mention there's no room?
  •  Your parent(s) will try valiantly to deliver said futon, and when they've gotten up all 12 floors and realize it won't work, they'll have to bring it back down again. This will not make them happy.
  • On a hot August or early September day, the last thing you want to deal with is moving a futon. Trust me.
  • Yes, you're probably 'lofting' the beds in your dorm. No, that doesn't mean there's room for a futon underneath. A couple of lawn chairs and a cardboard box for a table, yes.

If you want more great examples of what not to bring, simply visit a college campus in the dorm area either at the end of spring or the beginning of fall semester and take a look at the sidewalks and dumpsters: You'll see an abundance of furniture left behind, some of it perfectly good. Those are all things people didn't want or wouldn't fit anywhere, but they didn't care to take back home. You may be able to furnish your first apartment this way....but not a dorm.

Here are some things that actually are helpful:

A Fan.  The great majority of dorms are not air conditioned, and the end of August/beginning of September is hot.

 That's all I can think of. Bring a fan.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Visit the Farmers Market This Summer!

There are lots of Farmers Markets during the summer in the Metro area. There are the larger ones in Minneapolis and St Paul in permanent locations and smaller ones in local communities often simply held in the parking lot of a church or business.
What is a Farmers Market?
It's a space where local farmers can sell directly to you, the consumer--basically, an outside grocery store. There's no admission fee, just walk around and enjoy the experience!

What's the advantage of buying from a Farmers Market?
  • Your food will be much fresher: sometimes, the items were just picked the morning of sale.
  • In most cases, your food has only traveled 50 miles or less to market, not thousands of miles from another country. The food that travels so far has to be treated with preservatives to last long enough to get to the store. Farmers Market food doesn't need that.
  • Farmers can choose to grow produce to sell that doesn't need a lot of 'treatment,' thus giving you new varieties to try
  • The money you give the farmer or his helpers, mostly goes directly to the farmer (they are paying a small fee to have a stall at the market)
  • Often the food sold is organic or pesticide-free
  • The sense of community in a Farmers Market is a very important factor: You and others in your community are buying things grown by neighbors.

  • You will almost certainly find things at a Farmers Market that you won't see at a supermarket.
  • Education: The farmers can tell you all about the things they're selling. A supermarket clerk might not know much about tomatoes or cucumbers or which types keep well, for example. The vendors are more than happy to share knowledge with you-Just ask!
  • Sales at Farmers Markets may encourage farmers to keep farming, thus preserving farmland
  • Farmers can get to know each other and help each other at the market
  • Remember, if prices seem high, these farmers are pricing according to the relatively small amounts they're selling. They aren't selling a hundred acres worth of corn to a supermarket, but a couple of acres worth directly to the community. They've figured in what it has cost to produce it and then make a profit. You'll notice most of the farmers there will have similar prices.
 Some excellent explanations of whys and hows about Farmers Markets:
Where are Farmers Markets around here?
Here's a great link giving locations in the North Metro:  There are 139 Farmers Markets in the Minneapolis area!
What do they sell? Each Farmers Market has a different selection, but you may find:
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Honey
  • Herbs and spices
  • Baked goods: Breads, pies, and other treats
  • Freshly grown herbs
  • Meat (sometimes)
  • Beeswax candles
  • Homemade soaps
  • Flowers: Buy a bouquet at $7 or less
  • Seasonally available things such as apples, squash, pumpkins in fall
  • Potted plants: Bedding plants, vegetables, perennials
  • Maple syrup
  • Local products: things grown more often in Minnesota than elsewhere, such as blueberries, wild rice, cranberries
  • Sometimes local craftspeople will sell jewelry, art, or other handmade items as well
  • Some vendors sell breakfast or lunch as well, and sometimes there are food trucks
  • Often there are musicians performing at a Farmers Market
I encourage you to visit a local Farmers Market this summer: There's nothing better than fresh!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Microblog: Minnesota Companies-Schwan's

Summer = ice cream, and ice cream, for many of us, means the Schwan's truck is bringing us some cold treats.

Schwan's Foods is a company that began in 1952 at the Schwan family dairy, when their son took about a dozen gallons of their ice cream and delivered it to people in the area. In 1956, they expanded to a location in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. The next year, they began to offer other things in addition to ice cream--juice and frozen fish. Gradually, the demand for their products grew, and they acquired brands like
  • Tony's Pizza
  • Freschetta Pizza
  • Red Baron Pizza
  • Mrs. Smith's Pies
  • Pagoda Asian foods
  • Edwards Desserts
Here's a video of how ice cream sandwiches are made:
Their mainstay and biggest source of revenue is still in the home delivery of frozen foods, and they sell over 400 different products from 400 sales and distribution centers. Schwan's employs 11,000 people and their yearly profits are about $3 Billion.
In 1998, they became sponsor of the USA Cup in soccer, so it is now called the Schwan's USA Cup. The Schwan Super Rink, an ice arena complex in Blaine, Minnesota, was named for the Schwan Company.
Possibilities of careers with Schwan's Foods include
  • Warehouse workers
  • Drivers/Delivery/Sales
  • Merchandising
  • Planners
  • Managers
  • Human Resources workers
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Recruiting
Here is their website for job-hunting:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Water We Doing? Reasons Not To Use Bottled Water

**This was Triogenius' very first blog entry in April 2012.
We've taken on lots of topics since then, but this one is still valid......

Do you buy water in bottles?


OK, we know we need to be drinking plenty of water every day. In fact, an adult should have between 8 and 12 cups of water every day, more if you are exercising or otherwise losing water through sweat. Drinking more water helps hydrate your joints and tissues, helps keep your skin healthy, helps flush out germs, and generally is completely fabulous, not to mention the water we use for play: Pools, Watering the lawn, decorative fountains, ice.....

Did you know that lots of bottled water is nothing but tap water? Yep, it’s true. Did you know that Dasani is a Coca-Cola product and Aquafina is from Pepsi? Perrier, Poland Spring, and Deer Park bottled water are distributed by Nestle. All of them are originally from municipal water supplies—simply put, water out of a faucet. It may have been filtered or processed in some fashion, but it originally was just obtained by turning on a faucet and filling up the container. At least 25% of bottled water sold in the United States is tap water (tap water is water that comes from a faucet).

The company selling the bottled water is required to put “Municipal Water Supply” somewhere on its label, and is not allowed to use the term “All Natural” unless the water has had absolutely no processing or altering. Check out the label of the last bottle of water you bought.

For more water facts to think about, check out this National Geographic video:
When you pay your local ‘water bill,’ you pay for the processing of the water that comes out of your faucet: Local water purification cleans the water adds fluoridation for the health of your teeth.
Remember that lots of people in the world don't have easy access to clean water. We never give a second thought to turning on a faucet and expecting that.

It’s important, too, that we make the effort to buy less plastic bottles for any liquids: They're used to package juice, milk, soft drinks, 'power' drinks, sauces, items used in baking, and soaps, and they come in lots of different colors. Consider getting a re-usable drinking water container (preferably not made of plastic!). You could get two, one you’re using and one that’s ‘in the wash.’ Simply wash it with hot, soapy water, clean out the ‘mouthpiece part’, and let it air dry or just refill and use again. Because…think about this:
To make plastic, you need petroleum. Petroleum is the base substance that can eventually be made into fuel such as gasoline. It is a limited resource. Is it worth wasting that natural resource for our convenience? And once it’s made, a plastic water bottle tossed in the garbage will last in a landfill an estimated 450 years before it degrades, if at all. Imagine that times the millions of plastic bottles that will be tossed in the garbage today. Recycling plastic is great, but it also takes heat and (believe it or not) chemicals to be re-used in another way.

Ironic: Using plastic water bottles creates plastic pollution in our water supply. Wait, what?? 
A small step can make a big difference. Make the effort to stop using bottled water today!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Wisdom of the Wizard of Oz: A Top Ten List

10.  Good manners will take you far.

When Dorothy gets dropped in Munchkinland, everything is so different--the colors, the trees, the flowers, but mostly the people. They look different, they sound different. But Dorothy speaks to them politely, like she'd talk to anyone else. She apologizes because her house fell on the witch, even though it wasn't really her fault. Is this what you would do?

And what do you think of Munchkins being small people? What does that mean?

9. There will be people who try to stand in your way. Don't let them.

Why do you suppose she's green?
Think of the Wicked Witch as all those people who say you can't do something. Do your best to ignore those people and move on.

8.  Be kind. It affects people more than you know.
What was the 'oil' that made the Tin Woodsman come back to life? Maybe it was actually kindness that made him able to move.

Quote from the Wizard: "As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable."

Tin Woodsman: "But I still want one."

7. Friends stick together. Friends help you keep it together. When you know you have friends in your corner, it gives you strength, maybe even courage.

When he was with his friends, the Lion dared to do lots of things. He may have whined about it, but he did them.

Maybe the lesson is this: If you have support, you can accomplish whatever you want. Appreciate your friends and support them, too.

 The Wizard: "You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away, you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom."           

6.  Everyone has a brain. It's how you use it that counts.

Maybe Scarecrow thought he didn't have a brain because no one ever told him he was smart.

Tell someone who doubts, that he is smart. Sometimes that's all a person needs. And while you're at it, remind yourself on a regular basis that you are smart, too.

Scarecrow: "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?"

5.  Be Dorothy.

This doesn't have to do with gender. Think about her role in the story.

Was she the anchor? Was she the spirit of good that prevailed? Was she trust?

Was she the calm in the storm?

And who are you in the midst of your friends or family?

4. Choose who you lead--and choose who you follow--with care.

The flying monkeys were misfits: they weren't munchkins and they weren't cute little dogs. Remember how eagerly they did whatever their leader told them to do---what good came of that? Do we ever see this in 'real' life?

Would you rather be Dorothy or the Wicked Witch? Munchkin or Flying Monkey? You can choose.

3.  People need to earn your respect.

Smoke and mirrors and a scared little man hiding behind a curtain operating a bunch of levers, the 'wizard' was nothing more. Ironically, he was wise enough, as shown by his quotes.

What makes us respect someone? Who do you respect? Why?

Maybe more importantly, why do we think we need someone else's permission to do what we want?

Dorothy had more power than The Wizard would ever have. She trusted him, but she didn't need him.

2.  Singing always helps.

But the most important lesson I think we can learn from the Wizard of Oz is this:

1.  You are intelligent and strong. You are a good person. You know yourself. Be still and listen.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Skydiving: Jumping out of a Perfectly Good Plane for Fun

Have you ever wondered what it's like to go sky-diving?

The first step is to find a place that will instruct you how to do it and take you up.

One jump will cost about $200 and another $100 if you want a video of your dive.

If you weigh less than 210 pounds dressed you can jump tandem; that's when an instructor (who may be called a Tandem Master) and you are strapped together and the instructor controls the dive and parachute.

The gear to do skydiving is quite expensive-it may cost over $5000-so unless you plan to do it regularly, it is not advised that you purchase a lot of gear.

Your most important gear, of course, is your parachute.

You also need a jumpsuit to protect you from the weather and also from anything you might land on

You need a helmet, padding, and perhaps a spine protector; the most dangerous time is the landing.

Check out this video of a man sky-diving with a 'bat suit'--that is, he had a sort of webbing that helped him soar for a long time before he opened his chute: 

If you do want to approach it as a sport, you need to complete the following:

1. Student training
2. Solo jump with a coach or instructor
3. Complete 25 dives and show your skills, and then you can jump with any other licensed diver.

And what of safety, you ask?

In 2013, there were approximately 3.2 million jumps, 24 deaths, and 915 injuries. This means one in 133,333 jumps resulted in a death.

Skydiving in a kayak:

What it's like:

   This guy and his dog do absolutely EVERYTHING together.
Felix Baumgartner actually went into space and jumped; A special parachute took his 'space module' up, then he jumped out. His suit looks similar to an astronaut's suit:

So, what do you think? Are you up for it? 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Flag Etiquette: Did You Know,,,,,?

Did you know this about our national flag???

  • The flag should be displayed daily at public places such as schools during school days, public libraries, and government offices. It should also be present at polling places on election days.

  • No flag shall fly higher than the national flag, and no flag shall fly to the right of the national flag as you look at it. Have you noticed the state and national flags at school? This is why the state flag is always lower and to the left.

  • The only place our national flag is at the same level as other national flags is at the United Nations.

  • When you attend a parade or other event where the flag is being carried past you, etiquette indicates you place your right hand over your heart until it passes. If you are in the military, you will salute. If you are out of uniform and carry a hat, you place the hat over your left shoulder so that your right hand is over your heart.

  • When the flag is raised for the day, it should be done briskly. When lowered at the end of the day, it should be lowered 'with ceremony.'

What about the flag at half-staff? First, keep in mind the terms "half-staff" and "half-mast" are actually the same, however, to be correct, a 'mast' is only present on a ship, so "half-staff" is more correct for any flag flying on land (on a pole, which can be called a staff).

  • The President or Governor of a state can proclaim a flag should be flown at half-staff in honor of a person who has served his or her country and has passed away (it does not have to be a person who served in the military). No one else is allowed to make that decision.

  • The etiquette for having the flag at half-staff is to raise it initially all the way to the top of the staff, then lower it slowly to half staff and leave it that way for the day. At the end of the day when taking the flag down, the flag is to be raised back up to the top of the staff and then lowered completely to be taken down.

  • The flag is to be flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon only.

  • The flag should not be left on display after dark unless properly lit so you can still see it.

  • To properly fold a flag, it is first held by a person at either short end. The flag is folded into thirds, one side in and then the other side over it. One person then grasps the flag at the corner and folds it into triangles. After the last triangle, the ends are tucked neatly inside.

  • When placed on a casket, the flag's stars should lie on the person's left shoulder.

  • Nothing should ever be pinned to the flag, and it should not be used as cloth to make anything. The flag should never touch the ground or any other surface below it. An old flag that is ragged should be 'retired' by giving it to a local VFW for them to dispose of.

Flag rules established by the 94th Congress, 1975-1977 (during our nation's Bicentennial).  For even more flag etiquette, visit: .

Happy 4th of July! Fly the Flag..........and be safe!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Essay Series #1: Gratefulness Journal

Things I Am Grateful For Today:

For the sun, shining warm and bright, making everything clear and positive-looking
For the residual scent of the rain that fell last night, gentle thunder announcing itself

For the ability to see. Birds, grass, water, flowers, and most importantly, people
For my little car, dependable and fun to drive, it gets me where I need to go
For music....what would life be without it??

For being able to walk. For having shoes to wear--lots of them
For the changing seasons, which I love so much

For clothing, so much that I could clothe several other people, and a warm coat for winter.
For a roof over my head and a place to rest at the end of the day

For electricity, clean running water, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.
For not only having enough to eat, but having so many choices

For being safe at home, in my city, in my country.
For the people I care about, and because they are doing well.

For interests that fulfill me and challenge me
For having access to good medical care when I need it
For having a say in who governs my country, and when I disagree, the freedom to express that
For various kinds of help that's only a phone call away

And, I am really grateful for work that has purpose: I get to see people succeed.

What are you grateful for today?