Posted by TetonTrekker on July 25, 2018 in Morning Coffee, Ringy-Dingys |

“Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”

When watching Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In with my parents in the 70’s, Lilly Tomlin’s Ernestine was one of the characters I remember the most. I’m not sure if it was her 1940’s garb and silly demeanor, or just her snort that made me laugh. Who knew I’d spend so much time on the phone as an adult. I even worked as a switchboard operator twice. The first time was in 1980 at the Snow King Resort. It was an old switchboard with wires and plugs just like Ernestine used.

The phone company handles 84 billion calls a year — everything from kings, queens, and presidents to the scum of the earth.
Lilly Tomlin, as Ernestine the Operator
I have 2 office jobs, a home land line, and my husband and I both have a cell phone. I added my home numbers to the ‘no call list’ some time ago, but the problem is it only keeps away legitimate sales calls from people you have never done business with. At home we don’t even answer our land line any more, our friends, family, and other people we want to talk to have our cell phone numbers.

At work, the telemarketer, robocalls, spam, scam, and crank calls out number the legitimate business calls, it’s crazy!  Some of the callers get around the no call list because you have done business with them before or currently do business with them, some are just scams, I even get the occasional crank call. I was wondering if anyone has done a study on how much these calls are costing businesses in man hour dollars. I did a search and found many links on hiring a telemarketer, and many on stopping those telemarketers. (I’m still looking for that study.)

You are not dealing with just anyone’s fool. I am a high-school graduate. – Lilly Tomlin, as Ernestine the Operator

Over the years the telemarketers have com up with some pretty ingenious angles to suck you in. I’ve given up on getting rid of all the calls, unfortunately it’s part of life these days. I stay on the phone long enough to make sure it’s not a legitimate business call, then hang up. Some are very good at sounding legitimate, but most are easy to figure out. My favorite? A computer yelling at you “DON’T HANG UP!”. But guess what, I hang up.

Why would anyone want to buy anything from these unscrupulous people? Why would anyone want to do business with a company that tries to trick you on the get-go?

Here are a few basic tips:

  • General rule of thumb: Don’t engage – just hang up.
  • If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Nothing is free, you are either a customer or a commodity. If someone is offering you something for free, you and your contact info are the commodity.
  • Once you take a survey you have done business with that company and they can now legally spam call you.
  • If you are entering a contest that requires all your contact info read the fine print. Many times you are authorizing them to sell your info to their associates, which could be telemarketers.
  • Google is not calling you (unless you asked them to).
  • Don’t say “Yes” if a caller asks you “Is this [your business name]?” after you just answered the phone introducing your business. Scammers record it and use the recording to authorize whatever they are selling.
  • Educate your employees. Among other things, scammers call and ask your employees for info on your copier to send an “updated manual”, then send one with a big bill.
  • Never give out or confirm your banking or credit card info to someone who called you.

How may I, in all humble servitude, be of assistance? – Lilly Tomlin, as Ernestine the Operator

It’s frustrating weeding out the calls but sometimes it can be dealt with on a more humorous level if you get a real person. No sense on getting stressed out or angry over something you have little control over. But remember, that real person trying to sell you something is likely just a person like you or me with a really crappy job. I only mess with real people who are rude and/or obviously trying to scam me. I started a blog series, “Ringy-Dingys” to share some of the more memorable calls in my career.

Please follow my blog and feel free share your unusual telemarketer stories long the way.

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#019 The Quest for the Holy Grail of Staplers

Posted by TetonTrekker on May 3, 2018 in Morning Coffee |

I can make a computer bend to my will, I can make MS Excel obey my every command, I speak in several computer languages, BUT, my kingdom for a stapler that works every time! Staplers are my office nemesis, invented in 1866 by a man, for the sole purpose to taunt me. Interestingly enough the staple remover was not invented until 1930’s, patented by a man, but I’m sure a woman had something to do with it.

It’s now 2018 and staplers come in all sizes and shapes, but not much has changed. From the little pocket size staplers to industrial monsters, from looks that have not changed in 100 years to stiletto shaped staplers, still, they taunt me.

For a short time I thought  I found the Holy Grail. A stapler I liked. It was one of those ones that stand on their nose, gray in color, nothing extra. It worked almost every time and we had a good relationship. But in the end, it to, taunted me.


The Stapler of Caerbannog

One day it stopped working so I opened it to see that it only had a three or four staple stack left in it. When I went to dump them out and give it a refill the stack would not just fall out of the device, so I put my fingernail under it to loosen it up. As soon as I touched the stack it flipped on it’s side and dropped into the firing chamber.

Just like that! It became the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered stapler you ever set eyes on! The Stapler of Caerbannog. The little stack of staples jammed sideways in the firing chamber, I could not shake them loose, pry them loose, or curse them loose. I closed the stapler to try to push it a bit, hoping to even out how it was laying in the chamber. When I tried to open it, the beast was jammed shut. I hit it a few times on the desk then tried again. Still no luck. I gave it a strong pull, and in an instant, like a stubborn bag of potato chips, the stapler opened and all the innards flew out into the air! For one brief moment, I saw all the springs and fasteners silhouetted against the lights of the office window, and then they were gone. I swear I heard the stapler say “Your Mother was a Hamster, and your Father smelt of Elderberries! Now go away or I will taunt you a second time.”

I gathered all the pieces-parts from the desk, floor, and my lap and put it aside for the day.

Oh, oh I see. Running away, eh?! You yellow bastard! Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!!”

The next day I tried to put it back together but all the kings horses and all the kings men could not put that little sucker back together again, so I tossed it into the garbage. I heard a small voice come from the can “All right, we’ll call it a draw.”

This heavy duty model has a face only a Kaiju could love. It taunts me too.

I have used several different staplers since then, all of them taunt me. The stapler currently on my desk is a Swingline made of heavy pot metal (pictured in the head of this post).  It works well, rarely jamming, and I can use it as a weapon if needed.

I’m still searching for the perfect stapler. If you hear a woman’s voice at you local office supply shop asking “What is the airspeed velocity of an broken stapler?”  That’s just me, on my Quest for the Holy Grail of Staplers.


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EFTPS for Beginners

Posted by TetonTrekker on May 2, 2018 in Fly By Posting, Internet, Tips for the common user |

A couple years ago I typed up some simple instructions for a family member on how to enter payroll taxes in the IRS EFTPS system. I remembered how intimidated it felt. the first time I used it.

  • E – Electronic
  • F – Federal
  • T – Tax
  • P – Payment
  • S – System

A few weeks ago I needed my instructions for a trainee, and for the life of me I could not find them! Well, nobody’s perfect. After a little windows search I did find it.

Here it is, my file, in a place I can find it next time. And you can enjoy.


Note to Self: Write a blog about saving documents with appropriate names and in a sensible directory so I can find them years later. [Smacking self on forehead].


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#015 99% of People Will Get This Wrong

Posted by TetonTrekker on April 15, 2018 in Internet, Morning Coffee |

Solve if you are a genius.
Most will get this wrong.

All of these are phrases are meant to get you to engage, and it made you click on my blog. Normally I don’t engage with memes like this one, I am too busy to argue with strangers, plus some genius used a U instead of YOU on a hand printed note [cringe emoji]. In this case my cousin shared it and I love arguing with my family, we are all geniuses and the topic never goes in a direct line, this time changing the topic to computer programing then a recipe blog, but that’s another story.

These silly math problems, with no connect to a real life situation, combined with one or more of those catchy phrases, are designed to get people to argue in the comments. Some memes have all the same numbers and others have pictures instead of numbers, this one throws in the negatives to make it even more confusing. The more people argue about the answer, the more clicks are received by the original person who posted it. And since we all like to think we are a genius and within the 1% of the smartest people, many will argue to the bitter end.

What else happens? We talk about math. I will admit, the first time I saw one of these memes I had completely forgot about order of operation. Why is that? I think because most of us do math based on circumstance, we know where we need the put the parentheses without giving it thought. Remembering the order of operation when solving a simple math formula such as this one, is is something most people forget. To some of us “order of operations” means “I need to get my gallbladder removed before I have that knee operation”. We haven’t needed to think about math problems this way it since high school (or college) algebra.

Life is a word problem.

Order of Operation: Parenthesis or brackets, exponents, multiply or divide, addition or subtraction.

When looking at the meme we are expected to remember the order of operation or PEMDAS. But, if you think of it as a trip to your local home and garden store it should make more sense. We do problems like this one in our head weekly and probably don’t even think of it as a word problem or especially algebra.

Imagine if you will, it’s and ordinary spring weekend, just like every other spring weekend. It is warm and the sun is shining, a nice day to plant some vegetables. You go to your local home and garden store and purchase five 1lb bags of garden soil for five dollars each. As you are walking out the door you notice they have 5lb bags of the same soil on sale also for five dollars each. That is a much better deal! So, you grab a 5lb bag and walk back in with your purchase to go have a discussion with customer service person “Bad Belinda“.

You show Bad Belinda the large bag ($5) and the cart of small bags that you want to return (5 x $5) and tell her you want an exchange. Bad Belinda rings up the new purchase then the credit and asks if there is anything else she can do for you. The large bag is such a great deal you tell your you’ll take another five pound bag ($5). She rings up the additional purchase. How much money is due, and due to who? In this case (real life) you know where the parentheses go without thinking about order of operation, you probably don’t even think of this as a word problem. It’s your money.

The meme:  5 – 5 x 5 + 5  = ?
Order of operation:  5 – (5 x 5) + 5  = ?
 5 – 25 + 5  = ?
-25 +10  = ?
Your receipt:
Garden Soil – 5lb bag  1 @ $5.00     $ 5.00
Garden Soil – 1lb bag -5 @ $5.00  – $25.00
Garden Soil – 5lb bag  1 @ $5.00     $ 5.00
Total Due:  = ?

The answer to all of the above is -15, Bad Belinda owes you $15 bucks.

Who remembers the class clown who announced he would never need algebra when he grows up? (Usually a percussion player.) I bet he’s smacking himself on the forehead.

Side note: If you are too young to know what “ring up” means, you are young enough to remember the order of operations.

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Getting Started with MS Excel

Posted by TetonTrekker on March 17, 2018 in Excel, Questions & Answers, Tips for the common user |

My first introduction to Microsoft Excel was in the early 90’s. I remember when I first opened it and looked at those little boxes I thought to myself “What the heck do I do with this?”. I looked around the menu items and closed the program for the day to let my brain take it in. The hospital I worked at had an educational library that included Microsoft Excel lessons on VHS. I checked them out and had fun learning how to use the program. That was over 20 years ago.

Over the years I have used Excel in many different business and personal applications. From listing household items, music collections, balancing my checkbook (before I had Quicken), tracking my Tupperware parties, tracking patients, to tracking and billing construction projects. In some of these cases a database program would be best, but sometimes we just don’t have one. To see my database project go to inScoreOrder.com.

For data filters, pivot tables, and sorting data, there can not be any blank rows.
When you decide to use Excel to track something the first thing to remember is it is a math program. Plan to enter your data in rows of data lined up in columns. Once you get some data entered you can format. For data filters, pivot tables, and sorting data, there can not be any blank rows. In other cases all like information should be lined up.

The Chicken and the Egg

One of the hardest things about learning advanced skills is having some real data to work with, and before the tutorial, knowing what kind of data should be entered. It’s one thing to read how to do something, but without something to practice on, it’s all conceptual. For my topics below I have included a practice Excel file with basic formatting. If your computer will not let you download the file please comment below. Please subscribe to my blog to be notified when I post a tutorial.

Julie's Dream House - Practice File

Dream House Excel Data
212 downloads 1.0 TetonTrekker 03/19/2018

This practice file has data to practice:


Other topics covered in my blogs:

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