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What I Learned This Week – 1/17/16

What I learned this week was that working in an office outside of my house is exhausting. But, I got my first week down. Hopefully, even more things will click into place next week and I can rock it.

Here’s hoping…

This week I also learned that the same guy who co-founded WD-40 also founded the Fotomat.

Now, I’m sure after that statement that you have many questions.

A Fotomat back in their heyday

A Fotomat back in their heyday

What is the identity of this wonderful man who created one of the three items that must be found in every tool kit?

What are the other two items?*

How the f*** did you discover this?

One at a time, please.

So, I had been thinking about Fotomats.

Let me back up.

I had a dream a year or more ago (yes, I remember dreams long term. I used to keep a diary of them. For more on that, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/01/dreams-part-one-dream-journal/) where a boy I had a crush on in school was poor and homeless and living in a Fotomat in a nearby parking lot. This was weird for many reasons. The first being that I don’t think we even had any Fotomat overnight film developing booths in our area. Second, Fotomat’s went out of business in the late 1980s when every drug store installed a one hour photo machine. And last but not least, said crush lives in a very beautiful house that is much nicer than mine with his wife and kids.

But the dream deeply upset me, seeing anyone in that circumstance. I was reminded of that dream this morning when I yet again dream about the same boy from school. This time he was making me tacos. Yum. Then he took off his shirt. I am sure my subconscious did a bit of a photo-shop on his 40 year old body, but who am I to argue with my subconscious.

So then I looked up Fotomats. They were founded by Preston Fleet in 1965, who just two years earlier co-founded WD-40, our favorite lubricant. Well, maybe second favorite… At its height around 1980, there were over 4,000 locations across the country.

Did you know that Fotomat was one of the first companies to offer movie rental–ON VIDEO CASSETTE TAPES?! I know, right? It was like the stone ages or something. They started the service in 1979. Customers picked a title out of a catalog (almost exclusively Paramount titles), then the customer would return the next day to pick up the movie, pay $12 (!!!), and return it five days later. When local video rental locations started popping up providing movies quicker and cheaper, the service was discontinued.

When I think of starting a business, I think of great businesses that have run for over a hundred years like A&P and Coca-Cola. A&P is defunct now (I worked at Borders. I know who ran A&P, then came came over to run Borders further down the toilet. Just sayin’.) In my head, I just assume you have to have a successful company that makes the same product that will never become outdated. But Fotomat was popular enough to be on the stock exchange. Fotomat was acquired by Konica in 1982. It served a very needed purpose of its time. Sure, film developing and VHS rental are foreign terms to a lot of young people these days. But maybe the key isn’t to predict the next big thing. Maybe it is to learn how to meet the needs faster and cheaper that consumers struggle with today. Afterall, that is how Fotomat ended up replaced.

Hmmm… Now I must be off to my thinking seat to come up with a great business idea.

And now I’m hungry for tacos >:-)

* A good tool kit needs only three items: A hammer, duct tape, and WD-40.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

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My 3 Jobs

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I think of myself as having three jobs right now:

1. Writer

2. Maid/ Mom

3. Customer Service/Retail

A pictograph of my life right now.

A pictograph of my life right now.

As a writer, I am working on like 4 novels at once. I hope to have once finished soon. I am also trying to keep up my blog, as I do not want to lose views just as I might have a product (my future book) to hock to them (THIS MEANS YOU!). I don’t want to abandon my only marketing tool. I have also learned that I write because “I can’t not write.” So, I might as well try to find a way to use that to move toward a goal.

Making a little money from it would be nice as well.

Fame and fortune would be AWESOME!

3 JOBS-meme

I am not a stay at home mom, because I work part-time outside the home. But when I am home, I am chasing my child, trying to keep him clean and fed and happy. (The “happy” part is almost impossible.) I am also trying to keep up with the laundry and dishes and sweeping. I aspire to complete a thorough spring cleaning someday…for 2011. We also have two large dogs. So some days I feel like a zookeeper as well.

I work about 15-20 hrs per week in a retail customer service job. So, I spend all day waiting on my child’s beck and call, then I head off to get paid to do the same thing for strangers.  I have an hour commute one way. So, if you figure I usually work 3 days per week, that is 6hrs I am gone from home and not getting paid for them, plus gas. It cuts into the bottom line. I know it sounds silly, but you have to understand that we love our house and want to stay close to our family. Therefore, we live in the land of very few good jobs. To get a job similar to the one I held for 12 years prior, we would have to move closer to Detroit, or a different city. We don’t want that. So, we make due.

I know that my husband does not see it this way at all. I try and throw the “three jobs” thought out there once in a while, but I don’t think he understands what I am getting at. He just sees my small paycheck and thinks I should get a different job. He views my writing as a hobby.

But I looked for a job for a year and a half, before I found this one. And where I am at now, I am actually making more than minimum wage. If I got a different job, that might not be the case. The minimum is the new maximum, me thinks. And with this job I have thus far avoided daycare for my son, which, could lead to additional costs.

I don’t think he realizes that in 2003, we tried to run our own business, because he wanted to. I supported him, because I knew a version of that had always been his dream. We were also planning our wedding at the same time. It was highly stressful. It was one of those businesses that only thrives if you sign up people to be under you. We never got any. We gave up on it. The info and motivational tapes from that are still sitting in our attic. Like a big sign that reads “failure”.

When we were both out of work a few years ago, he tried a self-employed venture. Once again, it wasn’t exactly his big dream, but it was something he would enjoy doing more than factory work. I supported him. The market was not real good at that time, and it was a hard business to network. It was hard for a new kid on the block to get word of mouth, when there were so many established people in the field available. He put that venture on the back-burner after a year. The advertising from it is still sitting in our driveway, a literal “sign” that makes me sad.

That is two years of my life of letting him take his chance on a dream. So, I am looking at 2014 as my year to pursue my dream. I am just not sure that he has realized that yet.  We might not have a lot of food in the cupboards, but we are not going hungry. Working part-time allows me more time to work on my writing.

I have not reached my goals yet, but I AM GETTING SOMEWHERE!

I AM CLOSER THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN!

Will my goals cost a little money to get there? Sure.

Did my husband’s? Yes.

Will my writing pay out big dividends? Most likely not.

Did my husband’s? Not so much.

Were his ventures important to him? Of course.

Are mine important to me? Damn straight.

Imagine the wonderful harmony in our household if at least one of us was doing something they enjoyed as a part of a career?

Imagine if we BOTH were.

I don’t want to walk by boxes of my writing upstairs and have it remind me that I failed to meet my goal. I have been doing that for 20 years already.

I am done with failure. I want some success.

Jennifer’s Doggy Daycare

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When I first heard there was such a thing as doggy daycares, I thought it was a GREAT idea! Cute little dogs, running and playing all day while their owners were at work. I didn’t have a dog at the time. And when I did get my furry daughter Dave, I couldn’t afford to enroll her anyway. There was one in the city I worked in, but not in the city I lived in.

Then I got the great idea to start my own doggy daycare. I could take my dog there with me, to work every day! I wouldn’t have to miss her! I wouldn’t have to pay to enroll her! I could be making money off other people’s dogs! I could have it right in my own town and alleviate my two hour daily commute!

Why, Dave could be my mascot!  She could also be my mascot for my dream of a Jennifer’s Wiener Hut.  Hmmm.  There must be someway to combine the two business ideas.  Customers who don’t pay up, their dogs get ground into hot dogs!  Wait, too gruesome?  Scratch that.  Just a cost-cutting idea 😉

My Dave, the mascot of my dog empire, featured her in an early mock-up

My Dave, the mascot of my dog empire, featured her in an early mock-up

I love organization. I could have spreadsheets about what dogs get fed how much and what kind of food. I could make forms for prospective clients to fill out and submit with their proof of vaccinations and emergency info. I could keep have a file full of dates when I need to nag the owners to get me new annual shot records.

I made a mental plan to get a job at a doggy daycare for a while so that I could get paid training and pilfer their best practices. I looked up all the closest ones online. I watched their job postings. I even took an American Red Cross Dog First Aid class (required or highly recommended to work for most of these places).

My American Red Cross Dog First Aid card

My American Red Cross Dog First Aid card

At one point, I even had a job offer from one. At the time, it did not fit the requirements I needed for a job to support my family’s needs. Which, was kind of a huge bummer.

It seemed like a great plan and I held on to that dream for several years. But I finally gave it up. Mostly because our Pointer Parker is such a troublesome dog, he turned me off to spending all day, every day, with dogs. As I speak, Parker is pacing through the house. He will momentarily pee on the floor is I do not jump right up and let him out. It doesn’t matter that he just went out two hours ago. Or that I purposely left his water dish empty since breakfast so that he would not drink the whole thing all at once. I really do not like him. And part of that could be that he took my dream away from me. One of the few I ever had that seemed like I would be able to make it work.

This is the horrible Parker dog who has stolen my dreams from me.  Don't let the Santa hat fool you.

This is the horrible Parker dog who has stolen my dreams from me. Don’t let the Santa hat fool you.

There. I just let him outside, and back in again. Of course, while he was out there, he danced the Riverdance in the mud puddles. He comes in covered in mud (and I know what else) from head to toe. He is entitled and ungrateful. He is actually a cat.

Cats would never be allowed at Jennifer’s Doggy Daycare.

I have returned to my ultimate dream: early retirement. I might need the help of the lottery to make that one happen.

Repost: My Real Resume

My asbestos friend, Lazy Hippie Mama, recently ordered blogger cards. She is thinking of her blog more as a business.

I am not.

But I still wanted to order really cute cards, although I have absolutely no reason to ever hand them out to anyone. This got me wondering what to put on them as my title. Currently they say: Blogger. Writer. Untapped Creative Mind. I went back to one of my first posts I did for more ideas. It did not help.

But the old post is still funny, so here it is again for your reading enjoyment…

Can I use this as letterhead on my cover letter?

Can I use this as letterhead on my cover letter?

Original link: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2011/05/23/my-real-resume/
ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES

Wife
-Population Control
-Domestic Administrator
-Chef
-Personal Shopper
-Budget Overlord
-Time Management
-Scheduler
-Zookeeper
-Records Archive Director
-Historian
-Psychic
-Hair Stylist
-Concubine
-Closet Organizer

Mom
-Part-time Nanny
-Teacher
-Nurturer
-Photographer
-Diaper Quality Inspector

Daughter
-Chauffeur
-Technology Expert
-Furniture Mover
-Entertainment Committee
-Slave

Homeowner
-Wildlife Relocation Specialist

Asbestos Friend
-Thrower of Baby BBQs
-Accomplished email time suck

SPECIALTIES

Specializing in entertainment trivia, offbeat humor, & good hygiene.

Skills
-10 key calculator
-Disaster preparedness
-First Aid administrator
-Amateur weather prediction
-American Red Cross Dog First Aid certified
-Blogger Extraordinaire

Education
-Was on high school honor roll 22 of 24 marking periods.
-Accomplished this while watching 58 hrs of television a week.
-Graduated .03 GPA from a summa cum laude in college.
-Learned not to be different in any way thanks to Middle School.
-Only missed one word all year in 4th grade spelling (stupid “Caynon”. I MEAN CANYON!!!).
-Co-Editor of high school newspaper.

Desired Salary
$2,000,000 the first year, and $1,000,000 each year thereafter, plus a $1,000,000 signing bonus.
Fame to go with my fortune would be considered a bonus.

Jennifer’s Wiener Hut

My gramma used to live on the top floor of a 7-story apartment building. I would stand on her balcony and watch the residents and visitors come and go from the parking lot below. I could also see the busy 5-lane road that served as her building’s address.

Across the street was a shopping plaza. It did not contain some of the busier stores in town, but there was lots of traffic that passed by. At the very front of the plaza was a tiny gas station, back when they still made them that way. It had two old-school square pumps out front. I believe it may have even been full service.

But you have to remember, this was probably 25 years ago.

The gas station closed and sat there empty for a long time. And that is when I developed my business plan.

My great consignment store find plate featuring hamburgers and hot dogs

My great consignment store find plate featuring hamburgers and hot dogs

I wanted to someday use that building to open Jennifer’s Wiener Hut. At the time, there were many restaurants along that road. And being at the front of the parking lot right near the street, I would have had great frontage.

I would have put a drive-thru on both sides of the building. This was pretty forward thinking for my age at that time, as I had never seen a Rally’s with that set-up. I would have had my sign be a giant hot dog at the top of the building that said “Jennifer’s Wiener Hut”.  It would be drive-thru or walk up only, no indoor seating.

Hot Dog Salt & Pepper Shakers

Hot Dog Salt & Pepper Shakers

I would have served hot dogs and sausages. I would have offered chips as sides. I figured I could offer almost anything on the menu as long as it didn’t require a fryer. (I’m scared of bubbling hot oil.)

My restaurant would be known for getting the cars in and out fast. (This would be an advantage of having a limited menu.) People with only a half hour for their lunch would think of my restaurant first. People who were in a hurry would be my target customer. Unfortunately, that would make for a rather crabby customer base.

It’s not that I think hot dogs are the greatest food of all-time. They are not. Although they are a great food choice for picky eaters at a fair or festival. And sometimes a hot dog just hits the spot.

Although, according to the book “Never Put Ketchup On A Hot Dog” (I used to send copies of this book out to stores at my old job), I am sacrilegious because I usually only eat ketchup on my hot dog (and sometimes onions). But, as my mom would say, “Hot dogs are just made of the leftover parts the meat companies can’t use for anything else”. So why should it matter what way I choose to consume it?

I love hot dogs the most because of the kitsch/camp factor. Hot dog advertising over the years is so cute and happy. Just picture the smiling, dancing hot dog with his friends popcorn and fountain pop on the drive-in movie screen. And think of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. (But that is a whole post of it’s own. Someday.)

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium (now torn down)

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium (now torn down)

Over the years I have purchased items with hot dogs on them, and in the back of my mind I always thought maybe I would use them someday in my hot dog stand or as a decoration on the shelf that would go around inside my stand, up by the ceiling.

Hot Dog Towel

Hot Dog Towel

On Mackinac Island, there is a yellow hotel across the street from the Straits of Mackinac. It has a little hot dog stand in front of it between the street and the water painted up yellow and white, just like the hotel. I took a picture of it so that I could remember it as a model for Jennifer’s Wiener Hut.

Hotel and Hot Dog Stand on Mackinac Island

Hotel and Hot Dog Stand on Mackinac Island

The gas station I dreamed of converting is long since torn down. But I still think it is a good idea. And because I would be the owner, I would hire other people to actually work in the hot, steamy, tiny kitchen. I would just beam with pride that I own a business with my name on it and am making money from it.

And if the hot dog stand didn’t work out, I could use the same name for a male strip club 😉

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