Monthly Archives: January 2013

I have issues: email

See that blog post title above? Yeah, I’m gonna just venture out there and say that I will be able to come up with content to do a regular series called “I have issues.” It’s really not going out on a very long limb. Cuz I do have a few issues.

Today’s issue: email kicks my ass.

I sign up for so many customer loyalty programs or subscribe to blogs or register products or enter contests that my email has become unmanageable.

Last night I spent about 4 hours sorting out my Gmail account. It went from about 1,500 emails in the INBOX alone to 239. I deleted a crap-load of them and put the others in folders. Now that they are in folders, though, I’m likely to never get around to reading them. Out of sight, out of mind.

My Yahoo email had gotten so full of spam and advertising that I created this Gmail account a couple of years ago. I transitioned to it for my main email and the one I use for my freelance business. I still have the old Yahoo account and use it when I’m buying stuff online. Somehow, I have let my Gmail account become nearly as bad. In Yahoo, it’s American Airlines, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, etc. clogging up my inbox, in Gmail it’s content — some of it very relevant — from travel bloggers, writers, etc. but it’s to the point where it’s too much to consume.

Not only am I missing out on some great tips and advice, I’m leaving some money on the table.

For example, I found these in my Gmail account when wading through hundreds of emails last night: a $50 spa gift certificate from my sister-in-law (thanks Elyse!) and a $50 credit for creating a photo book through Blurb. I got the emails last August and September. I have been to the spa several times since then AND I created and paid for a photo book for Lee for Christmas/Hanukkah. ARGGGGHHHHHH

So the email is relatively clean for now … but it won’t stay that way & now I have folders of stuff to read. Anyone got any ideas? Ironically, I bet somewhere in the avalanche of material there’s an email about how to organize and manage email.

Posted in Work Tagged , , |

A Taco, a Duck and a Sushi walk into a bar …


This isn’t a post about a joke. This is a post about nicknames.

A friend sent me this saying last week and I instantly connected with it:

We all have a friend who only gets called by their nickname … it sounds weird to even say their real name.

That describes perfectly me and two of my good friends. Just about anyone who knew us in high school calls us by our nicknames: Taco, Duck and Sushi. We are all now in our 40s.


I picked up the nickname Taco in a junior high Spanish class. I was in Mrs. McDonald’s first period taking a quiz on vocabulary words we had been assigned. One of the sentences was something like: “Jose likes to order tacos at the restaurant.” I raised my hand and reminded the teacher that “taco” was not one of our vocabulary words so I had not learned how to say it in Spanish.

After a who’s-on-first type of exchange between Mrs. McDonald and me, it finally got through to me that taco IS a Spanish word. Duh. Everyone in the class was laughing at me, although I’m convinced I wasn’t the only one who was confundido!

Combine that day in class with the fact that my last name was Via and there was a fast food restaurant in town called Taco Via. That’s how I became Taco.

It stuck. I mean, it really stuck. It’s been 28 years and there are still friends who call me Taco and parents of those friends who may not know my real name.

When I got to college I realized quickly that it was not cool to be introduced to a group of guys as Taco. Yep, I was naïve. I tried to stop using the nickname that until then I had embraced and thought was fun.

So people who met me in college and beyond don’t call me Taco but there’s a good chance those who met me before 1990 are still going to call me Taco. I don’t mind it at all, it makes me feel loved :)



Duck is Darla – she inherited her name about the same time, when we were both at Oakland Junior High School in Columbia, Mo.

Darla’s older sister had played basketball there years before and one her coaches was still a coach when we were in school. The coach recognized Darla and recalled that her sister had a batting stance that resembled a duck. When Darla showed up for basketball try-outs with the coach, he shared the story and suddenly everyone was calling Darla by the nickname Duck.



Sushi is Lady Maria Elena Cacha Montano. With a name that long, it’s no wonder she had a nickname!

I met my Filipino friend on the volleyball team at Hickman High School. We called her Elena until the day at summer volleyball camp when her dad showed up at the dorm with homemade sushi, hoping to entice her to choose a healthy meal over the burgers everyone else was eating.

From then on, she was called Sushi or Sush.


I’m happy to say that the three of us still stay in touch. Sushi returned to her native Philippines after high school so we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like. I usually see Duck a few times a year.

For some reason I have Duck in my cell phone as Darla. When I go to look her up to send a text, it never fails that I look up Duck and get frustrated when I can’t find her. You know, I’m going to go change that right now because it just sounds weird to say her real name :)

Posted in Friends

Kegel vs. kugel: choose your words wisely

So some kegel-y things have been happening lately, which I take as a sign to write about the kegel.

Kegel-y thing #1

I’ve been tweeting for a few months now, working on building a community there. Follow me @melindaschnyder.

I’m up to about 340 followers. About a third are people I met at a blogging conference last fall. Others are friends or colleagues, or people who are following me because I follow them.

Tangent: Digital Underground is following me y’all! I tweeted about the Humpty Dance song and he saw it and followed me. If only that would work with Rick Springfield…

Then there are followers who I have no idea how they found me or why I would be of any interest to them.

Like @pantyO!, who started following me the other day. Their profile says: “The world’s first kegel exercise panty!”

When I first saw it, I read it as: “The world’s first kegel exercise party.”

It is wrong that a kegel party was more intriguing to me than a kegel panty? When I thought it was a party, I actually clicked on the profile to take a look. They had a few funny tweets but in the end, I’m not following them back. If I let them in the neighborhood, it could all go downhill quickly.

Kegel-y thing #2

Me and Lee at Tropic of Cancer beach in the Bahamas, Nov. 2012. Oh, and I’m doing my kegel exercises while waiting for the photo to be taken.

Back in December, I was at a luncheon in honor of Lee’s uncle Sheldon, who had just passed away. The luncheon was at the temple and there was a buffet of traditional Jewish foods. I was sitting at the table with Lee’s parents to one side and his cousins to the other side, along with some extended family across the table.

Visitors paying respects for Sheldon were stopping by talking to the family and I was just sitting there next to Lee eating. I said out loud, sorta to Lee and sorta to nobody, “This kegel looks good. I’ve never had kegel before.”

As soon as I said it, I knew it didn’t sound right.


kā’gəl … ˈkʊɡl

Kegel = Hey, I’m going to do some kegel exercises so I can tighten the muscles that form part of my pelvic floor.

Kugel = Hey, I’m going to put this traditional Jewish dish made with egg noodles in my kugel hole.

Very different words.

Fortunately, nobody was really listening to me. This is why I have a blog people. If nobody in real life will listen to me, I can pretend I have an audience just waiting to read my next post.

Posted in Family, Weird shit that happens

Trip pix: Once, twice, three times a horse

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, 2007

Here is one of the all-time favorite travel photos I’ve taken. I knew as soon as I took the photo that it was going to be a favorite of mine, and it also gets a lot of comments from friends and family.

We have this hanging in our house and I’ve used it to made notecards for friends.

In the summer of 2007, Lee and I drove from Wichita, Kan., through the southern part of Colorado and into Utah. Our goal was to visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary — the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary — in Kanab, Utah, and to see the national parks in the area.

It was our first trip to Utah and definitely won’t be our last. The parks there are truly stunning and I can’t believe more people don’t know about these amazing areas that aren’t a bad drive from Kansas. We never went farther north than I-70 while in Utah and we saw all five national parks in the state in this order: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. We also saw Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

This photo happened at Capitol Reef. We were exploring the Gifford Homestead when I had Lee stop the car so I could take a photo of this barn. As I was framing the shot, a horse walked out from behind the barn, then another and then another. I couldn’t believe my luck and started clicking away for the few seconds I had the horses where I wanted them.

I’ve found the best photo opportunities leave little time for planning and over-analyzing. And even though I know this, I still take 50 shots of the same thing given the chance!


Posted in Photography, travel

Polyester pants & a visor: a drive thru of my first job

A video of a fast food drive-thru prank is making the rounds online and the looks on the employees’ faces crack me up! It reminds me of my days working at the Taco Bell drive thru on the business loop in Columbia, Missouri.

Good times, good times.

Taco Bell was my first job outside of a paper route and babysitting. I started working there the summer I turned 16 and worked off and on during the school year and the next summer (I played volleyball and basketball so there wasn’t a lot of time to work around practices and games).

It actually wasn’t a bad job because I was able to rack up lots of hours by being on the closing shift. Back then, if I recall correctly, Taco Bell was one of the only fast food restaurants to stay open after 10 p.m.

Kids, back in the old days – the 1980s – people were able to survive from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. without a bean burrito or a quarter pounder. I know that sounds like crazy talk, but we got by. Barely.

The worst part of the job was the uniform. I’d share a photo but there are none — I wouldn’t let anyone with a camera near me when I was in that maroon polyester uniform and matching visor. Disappointingly, I can’t find a photo of this specific uniform on the internets!

I remember my 17-year-old self working an eight-hour shift in the middle of summer, going out to my 1976 bright orange Buick Skylark with vinyl seats and no a/c and making the hot, sweaty drive home as fast as possible, praying nobody would see me in that uniform and visor. Hmmm, the uniform did match the car though :-/

Retro pic from Taco Bell Facebook page

I was there for the introduction of the MexiMelt, which was usually pronounced MaxiMelt by our mid-Missourah customers. I was there for the sad day when they discontinued the Taco Burger. I was there when they still sold cinnamon crispas – remember those?!?

But when it got to a point where I only had time to work on Sundays during the school year and they stuck me at the fryer for 4 hours frying a week’s worth of taco salad shells and crispas, I decided my teenage skin didn’t need that kind of grease exposure. I had to say adíos to Taco Bell.

If you haven’t seen the prank video yet, it’s worth a watch whether you worked in fast food or not.


Posted in Work