Things to avoid when traveling: BBG Communications

Things to avoid when traveling: BBG Communications

You’re in the airport of a country not your own. People in a hurry all around you are speaking a language you don’t recognize. You’re jet-lagged, tired beyond belief. You need to make a phone call, to hear a familiar, friendly voice. But your cell phone doesn’t work here, or it died sometime during the plane, train, or automobile ride. What do you do? TiltMN is here to help fellow explorers avoid the pitfalls of traveling to new lands. There are countless companies, people, and places looking to take advantage of a traveler’s wants, needs and emergencies. In this installment, we talk about one company in particular: BBG Communications. BBG Communications BBG Communications is a telecommunications company that preys on tourists lost in foreign airports and hotels. Take Sam**, for example, who used a payphone at the international airport in Frankfurt Germany after the airline lost her luggage on the flight over. She used the payphone twice using her credit card to call the person she was supposed to meet, with no answer. The calls lasted less than thirty seconds apiece. **name changed due to ongoing litigation with the company. Charges from BBG Luxembourg for the two calls appeared on her bank statement the next day. Ridiculous rates vary, but BBG Luxembourg was more than happy to connect those less-than-a-minute phone calls for $30 each. That’s $60, and the calls weren’t even completed. You won’t have any idea of what you’re paying; no price quote or options are given beforehand. There is no option to accept or decline the charges, either. You simply swipe your card, make your call, and...
Everything is PLNT BSD

Everything is PLNT BSD

We have become more aware of what we eat, where it comes from, and why that matters, than ever before. But if that is how we treat our food, isn’t that how we should treat everything? If you care what you put in your body, shouldn’t you care what you put on your body? That’s the idea behind PLNT BSD, the brainchild of local designer Caroline Yares. The company produces clothes; T-shirts, hoodies, hats, tote bags, and more, made from vegan and plant-based materials. But it’s more than just vegan, more than just the latest trend. It’s a movement that seeks to bring awareness about what plant-based actually means for the world, for the community, and for you. We chatted with Yares to learn a little bit more about the company, her goals and mission, and the plant-based philosophy behind it all. A plant-based mission Big ideas often come from humble beginnings. Apple started in a two-car garage. Starbucks began by just selling beans. And PLNT BSD started with… day drinking? “To be honest, my husband and I were out in the backyard with our chickens, Gretta and Bessie, having a weekend margarita.” Yares laughs. “I told him I wanted a license plate that said PLNT BSD. We talked back and forth about different ideas. I said what about a T-shirt? So we made one about a week later.” And it took off from there. “We attended a few events around town and were shocked to see the response from the community. People wanted PLNT BSD shirts. So we gave the people what that wanted and started PLNT BSD as LLC and...
Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

For years we’ve heard that the U.S. is losing jobs to countries that get things done quicker and cheaper. President-elect Trump had this issue at the forefront of his campaign. As he said in an early Republican debate, “I will bring jobs back from China. I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico. I’m going to bring jobs back and I’ll start bringing them back very fast.” But in trying to bring back the jobs we’ve outsourced, we miss a simpler reason as to why these jobs have disappeared: They are out of date, and obsolete for humans. Trump has promised manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs that simply do not exist anymore. Technology is coming for, or has already taken, as many jobs as have been sent abroad. The blue-collar, benefits-laden work that allowed for a down payment on a nice, two-story home in an American suburb and the means to start a family have now been handed over to R2D2.   Those damn robots are taking our jobs! Recall the 1964 Twilight Zone episode The Brain Center at Whipple’s in which robots replace all workers at a factory, including, in the end, the boss himself. This is what we are dealing with now. We have millions of Americans scrambling because Happy Days-era jobs don’t exist anymore, and too many people are unwilling or unable to retrain, stuck with a skill set better utilized by robots. As Rice University professor of computational engineering Moche Vardi told Factor earlier this year, “US factories are not disappearing; they simply aren’t employing human workers. Job losses due to automation and robotics are often overlooked...
St. Paul secrets | Hidden local gems

St. Paul secrets | Hidden local gems

The secrets of a mid-sized city don’t usually excite anyone but the locals. The number of locals is growing in St. Paul, however, as is the number of visitors. When talking about what makes a city great, as we did in St. Paul, a city of the future, it’s easy to forget the small pockets of culture lost in the shuffle of progress. Here’s a quick look at local spots that should have a line out the door all the time, but don’t (yet) have the hype.   Dining Sunrise Creative Gourmet: Still relatively new to Grand Avenue (in a district where local, family-owned businesses are an increasingly rare commodity), this restaurant/deli sells pizza by the slice, fluffy quiche, hearty, jam-packed sandwiches, homemade pastries and baked goods, and a decent selection of beer and wine. There is a small market in the back as well that offers a selection of authentic Italian pastas, sauces, cheeses and more, and a few local goods as well. Tavial Grill: The warranted 4.5-star rating on Yelp is a good start, but doesn’t really tell how great this  Mexican joint located in the former Falafel King on West 7th is. Excellent tacos (with carnitas, pastor, chicken, lengua, you name it, they got it), burritos, enchiladas, alambre, and some random Philly cheese steaks and french fries thrown in for good(?) measure. Stick with the Mexican cuisine and this family-owned restaurant will make you feel as though you’re dining south of the border. Little Szechuan: Hot-pot style (fondue for Westerners) Chinese restaurant. It’s the only restaurant of its type in the city, and we’re all the better for...
Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Minnesota was named the fastest-growing state for tech jobs in the country by Forbes in 2015. CNET also championed the Minnesota tech scene for startups seeking funding, and Huffington Post listed Minneapolis as one of the top 10 cities for techies should move to earlier this year. Quietly, the North Star State has emerged as a leader in tech jobs and startups. But, even with all the positive press, “quietly” is still the operative word. Minnesota still isn’t known, or respected, as a tech hub.   Minnesota’s issues with tech One possible reason for this is Minnesota’s wariness when moving forward with the speed required to keep up with the industry. It took only a year for California to change legislation and allow the testing of driverless cars. Would/could the same thing happen in Minnesota, a state notorious for spending ample time, money, resources “studying” before enacting change? As the Star Tribune identified: “For a state known for innovation (think 3M or Best Buy), there’s also a confounding resistance to change that interferes with making improvements or exploring new ideas at work.” It was also noted by the Strib, back in 2014, that the lack of a major tech firm (a Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.) was causing many of Minnesota’s startups to head west; the problem isn’t founding startups, the problem is keeping them here. We may have a plethora of Fortune 500 companies hiring tech workers, but when a startup looks to sell out or merge, they must do it outside of the state. To go even further back, you’ll find that Minnesota was once a major presence in America’s growing...
The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

Alchemy Architects, a modern architectural firm that gained fame for creating the weeHouse, is working with home builder Robert Engstrom Co., the East Side Neighborhood Development Co., and the Metropolitan Council to create a tiny house community right here in St. Paul. The neighborhood is being planned on Payne at Maryland Avenue in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, and each unit (in the 900-1200 square foot range) would cost $100-$150k. But don’t start packing just yet. First they’ll have to convince St. Paul to change its zoning codes to allow the small structures. This has been the biggest challenge for small home communities across the country. But it has happened. Washington D.C. for example, has loosened restrictions to allow tiny homes to be built, and in Colorado, construction of the country’s largest tiny home community is already underway. Live a smaller life So what is a tiny house? And what are the benefits of owning one? Tiny houses give homeowners the ability to downsize the space they live in. It provides an option for urban home buyers who can’t afford, or simply don’t want, a larger house. After the housing market collapse of 2008, where foreclosures and financial ruin made the idea of owning a home superfluous to many Americans, the idea of “less is more” began to seem a lot more appealing. It’s also one of the greenest places to call home, as the energy expenditure is about 7% of that of a normal home. These tiny houses are a boast of the latest domestic technologies, from appliances to lighting to online tools. For example, Alchemy Architect’s model LightHouse features a dashboard website (pictured above) that shows the minute-by-minute usage of...