Posts Tagged ‘Business’

The Side Step

Yeah, it is Friday! This is the year where once again here in the U.S. we have not only the Presidential Election but, depending on where you live, Senator, and Legislators. The ads have ramped up in the last week. Every other commercial on TV for weeks now and for the next 4 weeks will be political ads, whether they be for or against a State proposition, or the candidates. And, I decided that today, we needed to have some fun with this!

This brought to mind a segment from a movie, in which the actor was actually nominated for an Oscar for his performance. The movie: “Best Little Whore House in Texas.” The performer: Charles Durning. The song: “The Side Step.”

And now, here is Charles Durning performing “The Side Step. Be sure to listen to the questions being asked of the politician. Let me know if this reminds you of the politico today!”

Charles Durning performing “The Side Step

Remember to go out and vote! And, remember the words to this song when you do!

Now go and have a great Friday!

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Crush is the process of crushing grapes for wine making. This typically occurs at this time of year, but our last two years, due to late snows, had us beginning at the end of September to middle of October. At the winery where I work, the first grapes crushed are the Chardonnay. Let’s take a peek at what happens during crush! If you click on any of the photos you will be able to see the detail a bit better!

They bring in the grapes in plastic or wood containers that hold between 850 – 1,000 pounds of grapes. They are filled to over the top!

Crate overflowing with Chardonnay

Aren’t they pretty?

As the containers come in they are lifted one at a time into a V-shaped vessel that has an auger that controls the rate that the grapes drop onto the sorting table.

In they go!

This is what the inside of this vessel looks like with the Chardonnay.

Inside with the auger

They drop onto the sorting table where any leaf debris or bad clusters are pulled out.

The grapes get hand sorted and then go off to the destemmer

The lower part of the above photo shows the grapes heading off to the de-stemmer. Here are the stems as they drop out of the de-stemmer.

The remaining stems

From here the Chardonnay goes into the press. As the press squeezes the juice from the grapes, the juice pours out into a tray where it goes to the tanks.

Chardonnay juice right out of the press

The bottom side of the press

Once in the tank a really good yeast gets added and then fermentation begins.

The tanks

The residue goes back out to the field to compost

The Chardonnay in the tanks? It is now on its way to making a lovely wine!

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If you have not read my article on a recent experience with software giant Intuit, Inc., and I urge you to do so. Here is the link to the article I wrote relating what I experienced with this company:

Intuit, the Software Company

In recent times we have all seen customer service take a nose dive, and it certainly has at Intuit. I was to receive a follow up call from a supervisor to assist me with finding out what the final bill would be for the company that I work for. The call was to come in within 24-48 hours.

Did I receive the call from the supervisor? The answer is a big fat “NO!” How hard is it to call back a customer? What giants like Intuit forget, and I may be just a drop in the bucket, is that I am still their bread and butter! Companies like this seem to forget that it is all of those little drops in the bucket that have helped their companies grow to become what they are today. They are the ones who made it possible for the corporate officers all the way down to the customer service person be able to butter their bread!

When all that matters is the almighty dollar, not those who buy the products that give them the almighty dollar, it is no wonder that groups form like the “Occupy Wall Street” group! Enough ranting!

Enjoy your weekend!

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I just had to write this post because I am still scratching my head, wondering and in disbelief. Today I had an interaction with customer service at Intuit, Inc. I want to share with you what I experienced.

This company is the creator of the QuickBooks software. Have you heard of it? It is accounting software program that is geared towards small business. It does have its drawbacks. But for a down and dirty software, you can get by.

My issue that I dealt with today was the renewal of the licensing for the business where I work. You see, yesterday I received a notification from them by email that our contract was terminated. Before this termination, I received a phone call on June 29th indicating that our service contract and the licensing was due on July 9th. Having worked on Sunday July 1st, I returned the call that day to our account representative.

I worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and did I get a return call? No. The account representative waited to call back on Friday. Now granted she is not aware of my work schedule, but one would think that a call back within 24 hours after receiving a personal message would be returned. Is customer service lacking? In my mind the answer is yes.

Now let me tell you that Intuit will hold on to a credit card number and use it repeatedly without contacting you. I saw this 7 years ago when I started working for my employer, and being an accountant this is unacceptable.

Yesterday, once again getting the voice mail of the company’s account representative, I called back to get to someone I could speak to. I was connected to someone who could help me, I thought. I was told that their systems were down and no one would be able to help me with the renewal until the following day. I did receive a call back from the account rep too telling me something I was already aware of. So the question here would be if I was an investor in this company, why do they not keep records of what a customer has been told, and why are they wasting my money by having the other person call back?

So, I go off to work this morning, and around the beginning of my day the account rep calls me to tell me of the new enhancements to the upcoming release of the latest version of the software. Did I hear about any of this? No. All she wanted to get to was Intuit getting their money. I let her know how upset I was in getting the termination notice, and even more so that this could have been avoided had she had the courtesy to call me back before our service and licensing agreement terminated.

So rather than telling me about what we will be getting for our hard earned money, she goes right to collecting the money, by EFT check. And, she tells me the total amount that we will be dinged from the bank account. I had to ask for a breakdown of the costs, wanting to know the sales tax as Intuit does not take into account whether or not you are in the limits of a county that is incorporated or not. Yes the tax rates are different, and we are in an area where the tax rate is 1/2 of a percent less than the city proper.

Now due to Intuit running up charges on the company credit card, without providing you with the necessary documentation required for accounting records, I put a stop to their use of a credit card and I have been paying by check for the last 6 years. I was told today that Intuit has changed their policy regarding paper checks and they will no longer accept paper checks. What? It is money. They are turning down money? What is up with that?

The State of CA tax rate is 6 1/4%. The tax figure that the gal gave me was 3.5%. Their headquarters in located in CA, and I have to ask where did they get this rate from? Why is it that there this rate is an estimate? I also have to ask, why this software giant does not have a system that calculates the tax for where their customer is? I asked these questions and the wimpy answer that I received was that “the computer generates it and I cannot change it.” Why not? And there is a notation at the bottom of the email that I got that indicates that they will correct the tax rate at a later date. Intuit: Why can you not get it right the first time?

While the account rep is trying to get the billing amount correct, as I am sitting there on hold, I receive an order confirmation. What? We are not finished here and yet I am receiving this notification? What is with that? Did I mention that the billing was to me personally and not to the company who is buying this package? What is with that too?

So that I do not ramble on much more, this gal could not help me and put me through to another rep who told me the same thing that she did. When I asked for a supervisor, after being on the phone already for an hour, I was told that one would call me back within 24 to 48 hours. What? Where is customer service today? He also had to fix the billing and shipping. He indicated that I would receive a survey about his assistance and that he hoped I would be able to give him a good rating. I never got it!

We shall see if I get a call back. If I had my way, we would not be using this software, and I would not recommend them to others for not only what happened today, but for other reasons that I will not go into today due to the length of this post already.

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Here in the Foothills, tucked away in remote areas, artisans are quietly creating their wares. Such is the case with Noreen Jones, master sandal maker of StrongToe Shoe Company!

StrongToe Shoes

In an outlying area of Placerville, Noreen creates sandals specifically to fit the wearer’s feet. How is it that Noreen came to make these shoes, and how does she make them? Come and join me as I visit Noreen in her shop and learn about how she make’s her shoes!

Heritage plays a key role for Noreen, who was inspired by the passion of her Mother for crafting a variety of things. Coming from an Irish background that values personal and cultural creativity, and this being instilled in Noreen from a young age, she discovered that she had a fascination for design and creating things with her hands. It is her love of design, and the inspired creativity instilled by her Mother that is the sole of Noreen’s shoe making business: StrongToe Shoe Company!

Noreen took me up to her cobbler’s shop and it is quite impressive indeed!

Noreen, the Cobbler

Noreen uses various types of leather for her handmade shoes.

Various leathers are used

When she creates her shoes she cuts out from a sheet of leather an area big enough for a pair of shoes. It is important that the two shoes come from the same piece so that the qualities in leather for each shoe matches.

Cutting out the base of the shoe

The leather is the put into a bucket of water to soak, and then the leather is set out to dry.  This ensures that the leather shrinks, much like one would do with cloth when sewing.  Once the leather is dried and ready to use she then takes a pattern

A shoe pattern

and traces this onto the leather. Once this is traced onto the leather she then uses a leather cutter to cut out the shape of the shoe.

The base of the shoe trimmed and ready

Next, Noreen again uses the pattern, but this time it is to mark where the straps will go.

Tracing where the straps will be inserted

Once this is done, she then punches out the holes for where the straps will be inserted.

Punching the strap holes

One of the things that impressed me the most is the amount of upper body strength needed to go into the making of shoes! With the strap holes punched the next thing that Noreen does is take the uppers and a foot insert, to see how the upper fits with the lower part of the shoes.

Laying out the upper on a new design

This is a new design for Noreen as this sandal will have a “closed” toe. She then turns the shoe over to check that the strap length is correct. The straps will be hidden inside the shoe with a second thinner layer of leather before the sole goes on.

Placing the sole with the straps

Here is what the shoe will look like with the double layer of leather and the sole attached.

Double layer soles

She then uses another pattern to designate where the straps will lay and perfection at this point is a must! Placement of the straps between to sole and the base of leather is essential for comfort. At this point the straps are left loose so that the straps can be adjusted for a good fit. The straps will then be tacked down.

Tacking in the straps

Next she gets the buckle strap together. This requires great strength to punch the holes necessary to attach the parts. Once the holes are punched she puts the pieces together to have a complete buckle.

Buckle is done

Noreen will then sew the shoe together.

Sewing the pieces together

Then she uses a tool to bevel the top side of the shoe.

Beveling the sides for finishing

Before finishing up the shoe, Noreen attaches a heel.

Glue added to the heel

Glue for the heel

Once the heel is attached the shoes are almost done.

The finished shoes

Noreen might have one more step depending on the preference of the customer.

Finished shoes, one oiled, one not

Noreen will either oil the shoe, or leave it natural. Once finished, the shoes will go into a handmade bag made by her daughter Elsie.

Each pair gets their own handmade bag

Noreen showed me one more of her creations and that is a lovely pairs of shoes for an infant. I love the color!

Baby shoes

I received quite an education on making shoes today! A huge thanks goes out to Noreen Jones for welcoming me into her shop and for giving me the opportunity to feature a local artisan and her craft! If you would like to see more of what Noreen has to offer, then click on the link to her site on the right!

I hope that you enjoyed the trip and adventure!

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