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Thursday, July 27th, 2017 11:30 pm
In a dramatic late-night vote, three Republican senators join all 48 Democrats in voting down the so-called "skinny" repeal bill. (Politico)

I was following twitter feeds of some of the reporters at the Senate during the vote-a-rama, and everyone was pretty much stunned by the turn of events. For more than an hour, Republicans refused to close the previous vote so that they'd have more time to strong-arm McCain, Murkowski, and Collins. No one knew what was being said, so reporters were describing body language and hoping. I couldn't believe it was going to go our way, even when Pence left the building.

And then the votes came in.


(Okay, nothing's officially dead until we get a better ACA repair bill in play, but still -- this was supposed to be a done deal in January and we've fought it to a fucking standstill and I AM SO PROUD OF US, LOOK HOW STRONG WE ARE TOGETHER!)
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Friday, July 28th, 2017 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker caused a car accident and I don’t feel safe riding with her

My job involves visiting clients and vendors at their offices, going to other offices for meetings, and visiting job sites. All of these visits are done via company car, anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours away from my workplace once or twice a week. My coworker was coming back from a job site when she caused a collision by driving into the back of an 18-wheel truck. She says she forgot that company cars don’t have a sensor which slows or stops the car automatically if there is an object or traffic like her personal vehicle does. She had the cruise control engaged because it was on the highway and traffic was stopping or slowing down in front of her and she didn’t slow down or brake and crashed into the back of a truck.

My coworker walked away without a scratch, but she had one of our students along and she ended up with a broken radius bone. The car had to be written off and my coworker was found at fault by both insurance companies and the police. She was arrested and charged by the police. But she has not been disciplined or spoken to about it here at work and the company is still allowing her to drive places in a company car. The student never came back because she was so mad at my coworker and some people have expressed concern about getting into a car with her after what happened. Management says it is fine and won’t authorize anyone else to drive in her place. There are only a couple of other people in my division who the company has authorized to drive their cars, and if those other people are out or not here my coworker is the only choice. How do I express my concerns about my safety to management? My coworker continues to minimize what happened and says it was not her fault because she forgot the car doesn’t stop automatically. She also calls her arrest a witchhunt and says the student exaggerated her broken arm to make my coworker look bad to the police. I don’t want to risk my safety by getting into a car with her.

How do you exaggerate a broken arm, I wonder? There are X-rays.

Anyway, you can and should refuse. I’d say this: “Given the accident and Jane’s cavalier response to what happened, I’m not comfortable riding in a car where she’s driving. I don’t think it’s safe. I’d be happy to ride with someone else, or be the driver myself, depending on what you prefer, but I’d need to see much safer driving from Jane over a sustained period before I’d judge it safe to ride with her.” If you get pushback, say this: “It’s really not possible for me to ride with Jane, for safety reasons. Given that, how should we proceed?”

Ideally you want other coworkers saying this too, possibly as a group. It’s going to be a lot harder to blow all of you off than if it’s just one of you.

2. Is it okay to take notes at a job interview?

Is it okay to take notes in an interview? I’ve got a not-so-great memory and I manage it with notes and other tools so my work isn’t affected. It’s mostly when talking in person that I have issues. I usually pull out my notebook and write notes of any work conversation because I have trouble remembering specifics after or sometimes that I had it.

Is it okay to do this in an interview? I haven’t interviewed in years and (haha) I can’t remember if I did that before. I’ll have a folder with extra resumes and references with me so I could keep a sheet for notes there. I’m also talking specifically about job details, hours, etc.

Yes, you can take notes in an interview! The key is not to let it it interfere with the flow of the conversation or with the rapport you’re building with your interviewer. You don’t want to be so focused on your notes that you’re not connecting interpersonally; be sure you’re looking at your interviewer significantly more than you’re looking down at your paper.

3. Being referred to as “support”

I work for a company where the obvious focus would be site operations and management, but we have in-house departments for IT, Marketing, Software Support and Training, etc. These departments work with all levels of operations staff and all of the site teams (many, many people), but don’t directly oversee staffs of their own.

Departmental employees are less respected than operations employees despite expertise or title. Department heads are D-suite employees with years of experience dealing with high level work, but are often referred to as “support.” While this term might not seem like a big deal internally, it’s also used with clients and during executive management discussions.

I’m not knocking traditional support staff. Ours love their work and we have a great team of them, but the work is entirely different in both scale and complexity.

I know that the greater issue is getting people to recognize how difficult and valuable the departmental work is to the organization, but is it off-base to ask not to be referred to as support? Like departments are just helping operations do the real work?

This is actually isn’t that uncommon; it’s not just a weirdness of your company. Technically, speaking, departments like IT and marketing are supporting the main operations of the company, and sometimes (not always) it’s useful to be able to distinguish that. It doesn’t mean “support” in the sense of “I am your assistant,” but in the broader sense that those departments exist so that the operational staff can do the meat of whatever the company does.

If it’s literally just the wording that bothers you, I’d let it go; you’re reading more into it than you should. But if it’s bothering you because it reflects a broader issue in your company — where some work isn’t respected as much as others — that’s a legitimate issue. In that case, though, the issue still wouldn’t be the term “support”; it would be the bigger problems you’re seeing.

4. No going-away party because I’m non-exempt

My boss won’t throw me a going away get together during work hours because I am non-exempt. I asked why and she said it is because its not “work work.” Now the get-together is planned for after work, but people are already saying they can’t come because it’s … after work. In the past year, we have had going-away lunches (that last much longer than normal lunch breaks) for employees leaving, and even had parties for graduating students that last in excess of two hours long. This is leaving a sour taste in my mouth as I depart for my next gig. Am I being too sensitive here?

No, that’s pretty crappy.

5. I have to pick up a coworker, off the clock

At my job, we have an employee with no wheels. When this employee works a shift, we are asked to pick her up (depending on who is either working that day shift or with her on the night shift.) Recently, they told us that we had to clock out. Shouldn’t we get paid to pick up another coworker?

Yes, if they’re instructing you to do it. If you were going it on your own as a favor to your coworker, then no. But if your employer is assigning you to do it, they need to pay you for that time (assuming you’re non-exempt, which it sounds like you are). You can test this by seeing what happens if you politely decline to pick her up next time. If they say you have to do it, then you can say, “I thought she was asking it as a favor. If it’s a work assignment, I can of course do it, but we’d need to pay people for that time.”

my coworker caused a car accident and I don’t want to ride with her, taking notes at a job interview, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 10:42 pm
Putting clean clothes back into the closet always always reminds me that someone really needs to get in there and do some heavy duty pruning. There are way too many 'what if someday' and 'maybe' clothes in there and probably behind them, some stuff I really want and have forgotten about. Plus I have taken to putting some of my fabric stash in there and it's getting crowded.

Soon. Not today but soon.

Today I got the jacket/sweater thing sewn up enough to know I need to tweak the pattern before I make it out of good stuff. In fact, it's off enough so that I probably need to make another test. I still have enough Goodwill jersey sheets to make another one. I cut up the first one so I could use the scraps and made a new pattern with the fixes.

Then I put the laundry away.

I had to go to the post office so I walked up the street and kept on going to the teriyaki place and got dinner. Two dinners actually since their portions are so big.

The new building manager may be in over his head. There is a lot going on with people moving in, a unit for sale, 5 units being redone and still more security issues. And so the regular stuff is just not getting done. I was just down there to get pick up a package and the woman moving in was tearing him a new one over something that, honestly, sounded kinda legit. Like he promised, dropped the ball and now she's in a pickle. I really want him to succeed but, even more, I want the building to be run well.

I love having the front door camera back. Especially on move in days. I love watching and judging people's stuff. This woman has some giant stuff. And a whole lot of it. And her movers are kind of doofuses.

I hit the Medicare donut hole. My order of 3 inhalers came to $409. Before the hole they were $45 each. It could be way worse and has been in the past. At least this is 3 months worth. After this, I'll get 6 more inhalers for 2017 and they will be on the other side of the hole and will be free or close to it. So in the long run, no biggie really.

Every morning while I swim, I listen to music (sometimes books but mostly music) on an iPod Shuffle that has been waterproofed. Today Apple announced they were abandoning the Shuffle. There ain't no Plan B. There are other waterproof MP3 players but they suck. Mainly they don't have the volume you need and I've never had one last more than a month. I hate the Shuffle because of it forces me to use iTunes BUT it's absolutely loud enough and while they rarely last more than 6 months, each comes with a two year warranty. There is a Kickstarter product that will replace the shuffle but it was supposed to ship in July and they have already said they will not make that with no news of a new date. So today I ordered a new Shuffle just to have on hand, in the closet, just in case.

I am not into the eclipse. I'm kind of embarrassed about that. I feel like all the smart people are obsessed with it and I'm not even into the cool glasses.

I am into the new rumors about the new Google chromebook. It has a stylus which I think is very cool. I probably would not use it much but I'd love to have one.

Time now to get back to work on this sweater and another dead British suburbian.
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 07:00 pm
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I have a young colleague on my team at a rather large company — let’s call her Arya. Arya doesn’t report to me, but I’m senior to her and participated in her interview process. She’s been with us a couple years, and this is her first job out of college. She’s proven to be bright, enthusiastic, and eager to learn.

Here’s the issue: Due to some family connections, Arya was on a first-name basis with several of our senior office managers prior to working here. And ever since she was hired, those managers have treated her as their go-to warm body for various favors, from arranging venues for outside meetings to securing catering to planning office parties.

I should mention that Arya’s role at the company has nothing to do with event planning or office management or any role that would typically handle these kinds of arrangements. Her work is entirely separate from this arena.

And while I know that in many workplaces, people from all departments will pitch in to help with things like party planning committees on work off hours, that’s not what happening here. It seems that she’s increasingly being given organizer role for company events, and she’s having to use office hours to complete the tasks.

It irks me because I feel that the senior managers are taking advantage of Arya’s youth and enthusiasm to rope her into tasks that aren’t what she was hired for — and that, being young and eager to gain favor with the higher-ups, she’s not inclined to speak up when it’s interfering with her actual workload. It’s also particularly grating that these extra tasks are ones that historically get foisted onto female employees.

I floated my concern to our mutual manger (who is excellent, by the way), and she agreed that it was problematic but felt that it would be inappropriate to intervene unless Arya voices concern about this on her own. I think she’s right, but I also worry that, being new to the working world, Arya might not know what’s okay to complain about, you know?

So what say you? Should I mind my own business? If we find out that Arya actually enjoys this type of work, does it affect whether or not it’s appropriate for management to keep giving it to her?

In theory, this isn’t really your business or something that you have standing to intervene on.

In practice, it’s possible that you have the kind of role and/or standing in the organization where it would make sense for you to talk to Arya about the situation.

But it’s harder to do that now, when you’re already talked to your manager and your manager has essentially said “we’re leaving this alone.”

And even if you did talk to Arya, I suspect it would be a tricky and maybe fruitless conversation. Since Arya is new to the work world, she probably doesn’t yet have the experience or judgment to know if she should be concerned about what’s going on or not. So there’s a high chance that she’d tell you that she doesn’t mind helping out at all — because that’s the kind of thing people say when they’re new to the work world and want to make a good impression.

Because of that, her manager is the one who’s best positioned to address this, since she can take a better look at how it’s really impacting Arya’s workload and Arya in general.

But for some reason, her manager is taking a weird stance on this. Her statement that it would inappropriate for her to talk to Arya about it unless Arya raises it herself is bizarre. Managers need to intervene in all kinds of things that an employee might not raise on their own.

But for whatever reason, her manager has told you clearly that she isn’t getting involved, and I think ultimately you can’t circumvent that call.

Big-picture, is it a problem that senior managers are pulling Arya into this sort of work? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows, maybe she’s expressed an interest in doing that sort of work, and she’s thrilled they’re delegating it to her. Or maybe not — maybe she’s being pigeon-holded into work that has nothing to do with her career goals and either doesn’t spot it or doesn’t know how to push back against it. That’s where her manager talking to her would be really helpful.

I don’t want my young coworker to be taken advantage of was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 09:58 am
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Karen sent the following text to me:
I'm tired of looking at your nose every time I check for a new posting!
Can't say as I blame her. I sure wouldn't want to have that big rashy schnoz pop up every time I opened Reasonably Well. I totally concur: A new post is overdue. So this one's for you, Karen; and for everyone else out there that shares the same sentiment. Myself included.

Lots of stuff has happened since my June 3rd writing. Here's the lowdown.

1. John and I took a very cool two week drive back to Wisconsin to bring several of Mom and Dad's things back home. Along the way we saw some beautiful scenery:

And wildlife:

2. I was given my mom's wedding ring:

I have always loved this ring. I love that it's chunky, I love that the white gold is engraved to look like a flower with diamonds placed in the petals, but mostly I love it because it makes me feel connected to Mom.

3. Last, but certainly not least, I had surgery for a ruptured appendix early Saturday morning. Sigh. Yes, sad but true. I had a few rough days but since yesterday am beginning to feel as though I may survive this thing. While I was in the hospital, I couldn't help but think of this cute little book that I used to read to my children.

You can buy your very own copy of this awesome book here

And so that's about all I have to share right now, folks. Any suggestions for light reading while I'm recuperating?
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here recently.

1. Someone drew genitalia on our intern’s cast

The intern was only in her third week here. The intern and the employee who did the drawing both had the same manager and that manager is one of my reports. The company does not have an HR department and, as at least one person in the comments guessed, there were some politics in play.

Both the employee who did the drawing and the manager were suspended for a day without pay and sent to sexual harassment remedial training. The employee was warned that he’s on thin ice and if he puts one toe out of line, he will be out the door. The manager was demoted. Although it is still a management position, her title and pay were both lowered and she no longer has anyone reporting to her. A reminder of the laws and company rules regarding sexual harassment was sent out to everyone.

I spoke to everyone who worked with the employee and manager and those who were witnesses and they all said that although the found the behavior upsetting, none of them had ever witnessed stuff like that before and had never felt harassed on any occasion by the employee or the manager.

I attempted to contact the intern after she ceased contact. The phone number and email address she had used on her resume were no longer in service. She was couriered a letter of apology and a list of the steps taken to remedy what happened, along with an offer to return to her internship. It was returned the next day unopened with a profanity written on the envelope.

(One point of clarification: There were many comments about course credit and the intern being a student. The intern is not a recent graduate or current/prospective student and no school has anything to do with the internship)

2. My boss won’t approve my time off for a video game competition

Thanks so much for answering my question and to your readers for all their encouraging comments and additional advice! I did go to my boss to ask about the day off again, using the language you suggested. The second time he agreed to let me have the day off, though he was clearly unhappy about it. I mentioned the situation to a couple friends at the office who have been here much longer than I have, and they both said that boss’s son is a bit of a difficult/spoiled kid and apparently, it’s not uncommon for boss to complain that video games are ruining today’s youth and his son. I guess there’s the explanation for his weirdly intense opinion on how I spent my time off.

In terms of my own future, my team performed very well in that tournament and in subsequent ones. The game I play is starting to move towards building the professional scene, and I am in a position where I may be soon facing the choice of leaving my job to play full-time. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good idea, but I’m happy to be here and happy to know I can count on days off for future tournaments (even though I won’t be telling my boss that’s what I’m doing!)

3. I accidentally described myself as “outgoing” when I’m not (#3 at the link)

I emailed you a few months ago to ask if misrepresenting myself in an interview as “outgoing” would hurt me in my then-upcoming, now-current job. You said it probably wouldn’t, but I was still unsure.

I have a really good update for you: it ended up that calling myself outgoing in that interview hasn’t been a misrepresentation of myself at all. I LOVE this new job – the culture, the nature of my position, and the people have actually turned me into a legitimate social butterfly, to the point where I now realize how much of a bad fit some of my other jobs were inasmuch as they made me somewhat reserved. But now that I’m surrounded by people who have similar values and career goals to mine with different skill sets and backgrounds (think musicians, magicians, theatre people, painters, voice actors, etc.), I’ve been flourishing. This job is a perfect fit and I’m so sad that my term is scheduled to end (as is everyone’s; it’s a summer position) in only a few weeks. You told me: “your best bet here is to be yourself and see how it goes.” Well, it’s been going amazingly!

P.S. A few people said that having a job at Disney World meant I should be fine calling myself “outgoing,” but that job required a VERY different type of “outgoing-ness” than other jobs I’ve had. That job was very, very, very repetitive (I have my spiel memorized, even 3 months after leaving, because I said it hundreds of times a day), and being “outgoing” there was very draining in a way that it isn’t here at Current Job.

Thank you for your advice!

3 updates from recent letter-writers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am a senior manager in a large international charity. I have found your blog extremely helpful in a number of work related issues, especially those on managing others as I am in charge of a large team with several managerial lines.

I have a somewhat akward question that has been causing a rift in my team.

We are a charity that pays standard salaries in a charity sector but, obviously, they are nowhere competitive with the commercial firms. The culture in the organization is somewhat relaxed, with a lot of staff having a lifestyle commensurate with the pay. Some would say that many staff members are “hippy” types. We have a charity expenses policy that, for work-related travels, only allows the reimbursement of economy flights or hotels under certain rate.

One of my team members, lets call her Jane, holds a project manager position and reports to Mary, who reports to me. Jane is a stellar performer and is well liked by our clients. From what I know, her long-term partner is significantly older than her and is very affluent. This means that Jane is able to afford a lifestyle out of reach to her colleagues. For example, she wears designer clothes and accessories and drives an expensive convertible car. This is obviously nobody’s business as it is up to her how she uses her income.

Jane is frequently required to travel for work and fully accepts the reimbursement policy. However, she uses her own money to upgrade to business class travel or to checks to more expensive hotels than her colleagues (in which case she does not claim any compensations for the costs and simply subsidizes the work related accommodation). She has been always very transparent about it and has made all relevant arrangements on her own.

This has started to cause problems as she is often traveling with colleagues who then resent her, especially her line manager Mary. Mary and other colleagues started to complain that Jane is presenting a bad image for an international charity, as some partners might not be aware of her personal circumstances and think that “internationals” can affort affluent lifestyle on charity money or that we are treating people differently. Some people also often make snarky comments about Jane being a gold digger and similar. Recently, Mary suggested that in order to maintain team cohesion, we should start requiring Jane to stand in solidarity with her colleagues and stop using her own money and only use what is provided by the charity.

Our HR has suggested that this would require a change in the expenses policy but since the policy has been recently revised after months of negotiations with the staff, they are not willing to start the process.

I would appreciate any advice on how to deal with the situation. Would it be ok to ask Jane to scale down on her office attire and prohibit her to upgrade to better flights or accommodation than officially provided?

Ooooh, I would not.

The only thing here that I think you could legitimately intervene in is maybe the travel. If you’re genuinely concerned that funders, people you serve, and others whose opinions truly carry weight in your work will think that Jane is spending the charity’s money on first-class tickets and luxury hotels — and if that concern is grounded in real facts — that could be a legitimate concern. In that case, it could be reasonable to have a policy that states that when traveling for work, people are expected to fly coach and stay in modest hotels, because the optics are otherwise problematic, given the type of work you do. (And if you do that, talk with Jane one-on-one first and explain your reasoning, since she’s the one it will most impact.)

But her clothes, her accessories, her car — those are her business. Some people have more money or fewer expenses than others. Part of working in an office effectively is recognizing that everyone is not the same, and not taking it personally. To paraphrase the excellent Captain Awkward, Jane is not wearing pricey clothes at her coworkers. She’s just wearing pricy clothes.

The only thing to intervene in there would be snarky comments from others if you hear them. And the gold digger stuff too — you definitely need to put a stop to that. That’s toxic, and it’s not cool for people to talk about colleagues that way.

It sounds like you need to say something like this to the people making those comments: “Jane is an excellent worker, and her personal finances are no one’s business but hers. It’s no more okay to make snarky comments about her finances or her marriage than it would be to do that to anyone else. Your personal opinions are your own, but when it comes to what you say to others here, I need you to talk about your colleagues with respect — just like I’ll always expect people to treat you respectfully as well.” And then enforce it.

can I ask my employee to stop showing off her wealth? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 02:45 pm
I feel like every day recently has been taken by some sort of activity, responsibility, promised project. But, today, I have nothing in my way at all. I do need to make a trip to the library but I think that's going to be tomorrow.

Today I'm going to add a pocket to my latest tshirt and sew up the jacket/wrap/sweater thing I cut out the other night. It's a another 'test' of a pattern using my cheap jersey sheets. If it works like I think it will, I plan to make one out of fleece and probably one out of a good knit and maybe even more.

There also may be some laundry done.

And sweater knitting. I tried on the sweater I'd been making last night and decided I didn't like it. I love the yarn. I hated the sweater. So I ripped it all out. Most yarn will rip out so you can reuse it but this stuff rips and recovers better than most so easy peasy. I stared a different pattern reusing the yarn. Way better.

It's beautifully cloudy and almost foggy this morning. No need to even have the blinds down. I maybe even turn off the A/C for a bit and open up the door.

No baseball tonight. Probably more Murder in Suburbia instead. I've discovered that Acorn TV really doesn't have that much that I haven't seen elsewhere. So once I finish off Suburbia, I'll cancel.
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 11:05 am
Cordelia stayed home from camp yesterday to go to lunch with my parents and brother. We ended up going to Evergreen since all of us were okay with it. My stepfather kept joking about going to Dairy Queen. Cordelia and I ended up ordering exactly the same thing-- shrimp with mixed vegetables, a spring roll, wonton soup, and white rice. My mother got an eggplant dish that I wanted to try until she realized there were green peppers and jalepeno peppers in it. (Garlic and ginger, too, but those would have been fine for me.) My brother got a lamb stew. My stepfather got some sort of vegetarian lunch. He specifically wanted to avoid garlic and such because he had a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon.

We spent a little time in the large Asian grocery next door to Evergreen after we finished lunch. Then my stepfather dropped me, Cordelia, and Mom at our house and went to his appointment. Once my brother got there, he and Mom took Cordelia to Book Bound (where she refused Mom's offer to buy her something) and for a walk along the river. Scott woke and showered while they were out. He came out of the bathroom about five minutes after they got back here.

Then we all sat around for quite a while and worried because my stepfather's appointment was at 2:00, and it was after 4:00. Then it was after 5:00, and the website for Kellogg says they close at 5:00. He called Mom at about 5:45 to say he was waiting to have at least one more test done and that he wouldn't be able to drive for 30 minutes after and didn't know yet if he was going to have to stay overnight, either at the hospital or at a hotel in town.

Mom was understandably more than a little freaked out. The appointment was about a tumor in one of his eyes (the found it about two weeks after my breast cancer surgery in 2015). The specialist he's been seeing in New Orleans wanted him to see a higher level specialist about it. That doctor suggested flying to Houston or Memphis but thought Kellogg would be great when my stepfather pointed out that he'd be spending the summer in Michigan.

There was some concern about their dogs. They'd left the dogs back in Lawton, about two hours away. They have a dog door, so the dogs could go in and out, but they didn't have food and water for another day alone. My brother, who lives in Kalamazoo, about twenty minutes away, said he could very easily go and feed the dogs after he drove home last night.

It ended up not being necessary. The doctors want my stepfather, insurance approval allowing, to come back next week for a procedure involving an injection and some sort of laser treatment. Wanting to get him in next week is largely a matter of his schedule as he needs to be back in Baton Rouge in time to prepare for classes before the semester starts. I'm pretty sure they need to leave around the 10th. If they can't get the procedure done before that, he'll have to fly back to Michigan later for it, either waiting until December or taking time off from teaching.

We ended up canceling our game session last night. By the time we got to 6:20, Scott was really drooping and needed another nap if he was going to be able to go to work. Fortunately, I was able to reach everyone by phone to tell them we had to cancel.

Scott and I need to work things out in terms of the changeover between him getting up and leaving and me going to bed. Each of us thought the other was going to turn off the living room and bathroom lights last night. I was actually in bed before he left with my c-PAP on and all that by about 10:00, but I'm pretty sure he didn't realize that I was. He needs to leave about 10:15 in order to get to work on time. I realized, when I was almost asleep in spite of the lights, that it was late enough that he had to have already left and therefore didn't need those lights (and wasn't going to turn them off for me), so I hauled myself out of bed and turned all the lights off. I was pretty cranky about it.

He's definitely working nights next week, too. Then he'll have a week of vacation to get back to the right schedule for working days again.

I used the c-PAP for about seven hours last night.
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 10:11 am

Doctor to Dragons - CoverI met G. Scott Huggins almost twenty years ago. We were both published in Writers of the Future XV, and we ended up in a writing group together for several years. He was one of the folks who helped me grow and improve as an author. I published one of his stories in Heroes in Training a while back.

In April of this year, his humorous fantasy novelette A Doctor to Dragons [Amazon | B&N] came out.

I love the premise and setup. Dr. James DeGrande is a veterinarian in a land that’s been taken over by a Dark Lord, and the whole thing is written with a kind of tongue-in-cheek humor. The book is made up of several distinct but related stories, showing the growth of James and his partnership with his assistant Harriet (a physically disabled almost-witch).

Here’s part of the publisher’s official description:

Everyone says it was better in the Good Old Days. Before the Dark Lord covered the land in His Second Darkness.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t that much better. Even then, everyone cheered the heroes who rode unicorns into combat against dragons, but no one ever remembered who treated the unicorns’ phosphine burns afterward. Of course, that was when dragons were something to be killed. Today I have to save one. Know what fewmets are? No? Then make a sacrifice of thanks right now to whatever gods you worship, because today I have to figure a way to get them flowing back out of the Dark Lord’s favorite dragon. Yeah, from the other end. And that’s just my most illustrious client. I’ve got orcs and trolls who might eat me and dark elf barons who might sue me if their bloodhawks and chimeras don’t pull through. And that doesn’t even consider the possibility that the old bag with the basilisk might show up.

The only thing that’s gone right this evening is finding Harriet to be my veterinary assistant. She’s almost a witch, which just might save us both. If we don’t get each other killed first.

I appreciate writers who take traditional fantasy and flip things around to present a different perspective. Just as I enjoy clever protagonists, like James and Harriet. (And while this may come as a shock, I also like fantasy that tries to have fun.)

There’s one bit I need to talk about. About 80% of the way into the book, we meet Countess Elspeth Bathetique, an incredibly neglectful pet owner and generally unpleasant person, and we get this exchange:

“Dammit, my lady, you’re not even a vampire!”

“How… how dare you? I identify as a vampire, you filth! You cannot dream of the tragic destiny which is ours!”

“What? Suffering from vitamin deficiency, malnutrition, keeping out of the sun for no damn reason, and torturing your poor pet basilisk? If I dreamed of that, I’d seek clerical help!”

I don’t believe it was intentional, but seeing language generally used by transgender people played for laughs by a wannabe vampire threw me right out of the story. I emailed and chatted with Scott, who confirmed that wasn’t the intention. The Countess was meant to be a darker take on Terry Pratchett’s Doreen Winkings. But he said he understood how I or others might read it the way I did.

One of my favorite parts of these stories are the veterinary details. Huggins’ wife is a veterinarian, and there’s a sense of real truth to the protagonist’s frustration with neglectful pet owners and the various challenges of keeping all these magical animals healthy. It helps to ground the book and acts as a nice counter to the humor.

I couldn’t find an excerpt online, but there’s a promo video on YouTube.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 08:38 am
Went to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets last night. Things I disliked:

- The male lead's acting
- The female lead's acting
- The fact that I had to sit through previews for Pitch Perfect 3 and Daddy's Home 2 but did not get one for The Shape of Water
I actually really liked this movie but I don't know if anyone is planning to watch it, so I'm cutting the rest of my dislikes and also my likes and other comments for possible spoilers. )
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 08:08 am
In the grand tradition of fucked up "polls" on the internet, I present: The GOP. This is some biased garbage right here. I was positively giddy when I took it, btw - they're gonna define their narrative, but I can put my own little monkeywrench in the works. Bet those doofuses didn't even bother to set cookies so I couldn't take it twice.
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss thinks we’re best friends and I hate it

Previously, I was having problems with a coworker and thanks to your advice, things have improved greatly! But now, since I had to go to my boss more than once about the initial situation, my boss now thinks that we are best friends. It has come to the point that I am disgusted that I even let it get this far.

First things first, ever since I had to go to her about my coworker, she now thinks that everytime I go into her office, it’s time to have a gossip session. I normally just shake my head and try to change the subject, but she constantly gossips and tells me about my coworker and everything she messes up on, including anything that my coworker tells her.

She is also helping me study for a certification but every time I go into her office to study, she will ask me “instead of studying today, do you want to go shopping?” which I always decline but she still continues to ask. Lastly and most inappropriate, she is constantly buying me things! One time I told her “cute shirt!” and I guess that night she went and bought the same shirt and brought it to me the next day and in response, I didn’t even know what to say. She has tried to buy me clothes, food, my son video games, and items for Christmas. Any time I decline her items, she says “I’m your boss and elder, so you have to accept them!” and then walks off. I feel disgusted and completely violated. Should I go to HR? I’m afraid if I say something to my boss, she will completely turn around and treat me badly like she does other people that have complained about her.

Can you stop having study sessions with her? It sounds like that would help, as would minimizing your contact with her in general.

The next time she tries to give you a gift, say this: “You’re so thoughtful to give me things, but I have to be honest — I don’t feel right accepting them, since you’re my boss. I wouldn’t want it to look unfair to anyone else. I hope you understand.” If she tries the “I’m your boss and so you have to accept it,” say this: “That’s really exactly why I don’t feel I can. Thank you for thinking of me, but I don’t feel right about it.” And if she persists beyond that, just take the stuff and donate it.

When she tries to gossip, say this: “I probably shouldn’t hear this about Jane. But can I ask you about (work-related topic)?”

Ultimately, though, you’ll have to decide how much you can set boundaries without facing her petty retaliation. Often if you say this sort of thing warmly and cheerfully, you can stay in the petty person’s good graces. But other times, you can’t, so —depending on what you know of her and what you see as you try to start setting boundaries— you may need to accept that dealing with this is the price of staying on in this job.

2. My coworkers want to make my job harder in order to make their jobs easier

I’ve been having issues with my ex-team-members since an organizational restructuring saw my job better suited to another department. One issue I am having is they have asked me to change one of my processes to make theirs easier, except it will increase my currently high work load. I have explained this to them and tried to offer alternatives but they won’t consider anything and keep emailing with their request to make the change.

Am I wrong in refusing to do this? Is their disregard for my job and the constant emailing me edging into bullying and harassment to get their way? As I have already given them my answer with fair reasoning and possibly solutions would it be inappropriate to just stop responding to their constant requests? Unfortunately they are known bullies in our organization and it seems nothing ever gets done.

This sounds like routine workplace conflict, not bullying or harassment. It’s also the sort of thing that in most jobs you shouldn’t decide on your own; you should talk to your manager and find out how she wants you to proceed, unless you’re 100% sure that you have the authority to say no.

It’s possible that from an organizational perspective, it actually makes sense for you to do what they’re asking. Sometimes something will cause more work for one person but still be the right call for the organization. For example, you might be understandably annoyed that coworkers were sending you messy expense reports, causing you to have to spend your time cleaning to up, but it still might make sense for the organization to have you do that rather than to have highly-paid VPs spend their time on that instead of bringing in new business. There are all kinds of examples like this, and you won’t necessarily know if that kind of thing is in play without talking to your boss.

Also, if you talk to your boss, it might turn out that she fully backs you in saying no, in which case you can refuse with more confidence, and you can tell your coworkers that you’ve discussed it with your boss and she agrees you shouldn’t do it, and that they’d need to talk to her if they want to change that. And your boss is also better positioned that you are to talk to your coworkers’ boss if that becomes necessary.

3. I was sent more work after my internship ended

While I was interning at a legal think tank, a research fellow assigned me and another intern some work on a Wednesday. I informed her that my internship would be getting over the very same week on Friday. She acknowledged that and stated that the other intern would be present the next week and I could help her out if I wanted to, though it was up to us two interns and she would not get involved.

The work we did on Thursday was junked as she changed the format and the method we were to follow while searching for certain cases. In effect, I only worked on it on Friday (my last day), and I wasn’t particularly productive that day as I had taken up some other work from another research fellow which I was to submit the next day.

The next week (several days after my internship ended), the other intern contacted me and asked me to help her complete the task. Further, the research scholar puts a note on the document saying “get Fergus (my name) to do this.” Am I being unreasonable in denying to continue working on the project?

No, not at all! I’d approach this as if the scholar just forgot your internship ending date (which she really may have) and as if the other intern didn’t realize your internship was over. Say something like this, “Actually, Friday was my last day of interning, so I can’t help with this anymore. Good luck with it!”

If after that they for some reason they ask you to work on it anyway, that would be really audacious and weird and you do not need to comply. In that case, you could just respond with, “Now that my internship is over, my time is committed to other projects. Sorry I can’t help!”

4. Are you obligated to disclose a workplace romance?

I’m curious about your stance on whether you should disclose a workplace romance. If two peers report to the same manager and have no supervisory duties, is there an obligation to disclose a long-term relationship to their manager? In this case, there is no workplace policy on dating coworkers.

If neither of you has authority over the other — and that includes even little tasks, not just being the person’s boss — I don’t think you’re obligated to disclose. Lots of people date coworkers and choose to be discreet about it, and if it’s not impacting the work or subjecting your employer to legal risk, it can just be your business. But you do have to be prepared to disclose if something happens that would change those conditions, like if you were asked to oversee your significant other on a particular project or even just to give feedback as part of her performance evaluation.

5. Including social media on a resume

I was wondering about how to showcase public social media to employers. I’m a university student studying a directly vocational degree. I’ve been advised to start and maintain a public social media presence (Twitter and blog) for the particular subset of my discipline that I would like to pursue. I’ve started doing this, and it’s rewarding in its own right, but I’m definitely doing it with an end goal.

My question is, how do you appropriately highlight this to prospective employers? Is there room on your resume to put a blog URL or Twitter handle?

Sure. You can put the blog in an Other Experience section. If your traffic numbers are impressive, include those too.

Twitter probably isn’t weighty enough to go there, but it could go under your contact info at the top of your resume.

And this is probably obvious, but keep in mind that anything you include on your resume may be scrutinized. You want to make sure the writing is polished and you’re not posting things you wouldn’t want an employer to see.

my boss thinks we’re best friends, including social media on a resume, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 12:17 am
Getting a good tan was THE only thing worth spending your time doing in the summer. Golden brown was the holy grail and I didn't know anyone who didn't work on it during every daylight hour.

We would lather up with a mixture of baby oil + iodine which was purported to get you tanned way faster than commercial tanning lotions. And then make sure we spent as much time frying our fronts as our backs and seeing that bathing suit lines were obscured as much as possible. I had fair skin so I usually burned but with effort, I could get a good tan by September.

Sun block? Why in godsname would you even want to do something like that??? That's nuts.

I heard about sun block maybe 25 years ago but only for little kids. I don't think I ever used any myself until a few years ago. Of course, I try to avoid the sun at all costs so it's not something I need often. And I don't know squat about all the different kinds.

My insurance affords me $50 in over the counter stuff every quarter and they carry one kind of each of the usual suspects (imodium, cold stuff, aspirin, etc). They had one kind of sun block and I ordered it.

It stinks. That is to say I find the smell icky but the woman next to at the game, as I slathered it on, remarked 'oh I just love the smell of sun block - it just says summer to me!' So, whatever.

Anyway, the point of this entry (and damn time I got there, amirite?) is how shocked I am at how good it works. I slathered it on when I first went out to my seat and sat there, in the sun for 2+ hours and have no sign on my skin that I wasn't inside with the shades drawn. Amazing. Smelly, but amazing.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 11:58 pm
As I predicted Boston won. Fairly handily. But we did get in a nice pot shot or two. It was just so freakin hot sitting there in the glaring sun. Plus for most of the game, my right arm gets full sun. Left arm does not. I think I'm going to make a sun sleeve to slip on to it for the next two games (which are daytime games).

The shade finally arrived at the bottom of the 8th inning. That was about 3 pm. Now the good news is that the next two day games start 30 minutes later than today's game and the second one is actually the second week in August by which time the sun should be moving over sooner anyway. So, hopefully - at least I'm telling myself - the worst of the hot games are over.

Oh my new Mariner blouse with the big arm holes was a huge hit. I got lots of compliments on it and it was nice an airy. I do need to make sure it gets washed before Saturday - the next day game.

The food, today, was extra specially delicious. There was a blueberry vanilla pudding kind of thing for dessert that was just heaven.

I just deposited my monthly storage rental check of $75 into my Capital One account via my phone. The app converted the $75 into $7,500. Thank you, Capital One!! But instead of rushing out to spend my illgotten gains, I went to twitter and asked the Capital One app whether I needed to take action or if they will fix automagically. I had a response in less than 5 minutes. I need to do nothing. They will fix. I love that Twitter support

My air conditioner has cooled me off now. I think I'm going to go wash my hands and face and then sit back with a little TV and work on my sweater. I'm getting tired of it. But, I think I'll enjoy wearing it so I soldier on.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 02:18 pm
Another week of progress here on the farm.  We are super closer to having tamed out of our outdoor tomatoes that are just loving this heat, our eggplants look fantastic and the onions are almost ready!  

The big drama on the farm last week was our pump (what pulls our water out of the pond/creek up to our fields) broke so we couldn't get enough pressure to any of hydrants in the fields.  That meant almost zero water during a week in which you definitely want to be irrigating everything, at least twice.  Irrigation is such an important part of farming and effects everything from flavor and texture to vegetable size, germination and more.  For example, we had just direct seeded a lot of carrots and carrots need really consistent water in order to germinate which suddenly they weren't getting.  We were so stressed but at the same time couldn't do a thing besides experimenting with different fixes until we finally called the big guys out and had to patiently wait!  Luckily we got it fixed on Friday at noon and were able to get water on most everything before the hot weekend!  
STRAWBERRIES and BLUEBERRIES: I am SOOO excited to be sending out Albion strawberries.  We've had a weird, slow year with these guys and I've been watching them slowly pick-up in numbers with such anticipation. Hopefully we'll continue to have them up until November, what a great ever-bearing variety!  And of course, blueberries because they are so fleeting!

PURPLE MAJESTY NEW POTATOES:  The first of the potatoes!  These purple flesh, purple skin potatoes are great for cooking, chips, salads and roasting as they stay firm and moist even after being cooked.

MIXED BEETS: Gold, red, white and chioggia (the candy stripe, pronounced key-oh-jah) all with their greens on (everyone gets a different assortment).  These beets are sweet and earthy.  The greens can be cooked much like chard is (same family) and roots have a ton of versatility...beet salad, pickled beets, roasted beets, shaved beets, candied beets and more.  Our kitchen loves to make beet hummus!  Beets store really well so if you decide to keep them longer than a couple days just trim the stems off!

DEEP PURPLE BUNCHED ONIONS:  Little bigger than a typical scallion, these bunched onions are a striking purple color and tasty.  Great cooked or raw in a salad or as a topping to most things, including farm nachos!

CILANTRO:  There aren't many things more summer than cilantro!  Just a versatile garnish.  Just don't forget to keep the cilantro in water in you fridge for best longevity (to keep the stink away just change the water 

DAZZLING BLUE KALE:  We love this beautiful kale from Wild Garden Seed - the colors are just amazing and the flavor is great.

NEW GIRL TOMATO: Early tomato with great flavor.  Can be used for slicing or cooked down!

HINONA KABU TURNIP:  These turnips just don't stop giving.  I had them in a curry stew last night and they were fantastic and hold up to cooking so well!

SQUASH: An assortment for your squashy needs.

SILVER SLICER CUCUMBER:  Mild flavor, juicy texture and thin skin.  Love the color these add to a salad.  Recently made a cucumber salad to go along with lamb kebabs and yogurt sauce.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 12:55 pm


Before and after the unfucking of my habitat. Aside from the little project on the left of the desk, it’s way more organized now.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 07:00 pm
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

We use an internal messaging service at work that allows people to make and recall emojis by writing anything into parentheses. For example, if I designed an emoji of my face, uploaded it and called it “Tina,” anyone in the company could type “Tina” and that emoji would come up. It’s generally great and fun and collaborative.

One issue is there’s a dancing frog which shares its likeness with Pepe the alt right frog. Pepe is, obviously, a totem that is synonymous with hate speech. Unfortunately my HR rep in the office has taken to using this dancing frog in her office correspondence. All the f’ing time. I am confident she doesn’t know what Pepe is or represents, as she is not particularly culturally up to date. She thinks it’s just a celebratory dancing frog. Our company, however, is a very internet savvy digital media agency so EVERYONE ELSE knows exactly what it is.

I really am uncomfortable when she uses the Pepe, as it seriously dampers conversations. I want to let her know but I don’t want her to think I’m being condescending or pretentious. I also don’t want her to think it is a political thing as I am outspokenly against the current administration and I’m not confident that she feels the same. It’s a hate symbol thing. I would go to HR with it, but she is HR.

I’m seriously baffled by what to do, though it may seem trivial.

Why on earth is no one else in your office speaking up and telling her?

This doesn’t have to be complicated.

It would actually be more awkward if she did know the story behind the symbol — although speaking up about it would still be the right thing to do (even more so, in fact).

But in this case, since she genuinely doesn’t know, you’ll be filling her in on something that a reasonable person would be grateful to know. And even if she’s not a reasonable person, it’s still a valid thing for you to point out.

You could just say this: “I’m pretty sure that you don’t realize that that dancing frog emoji is identical to a symbol that has become associated with racism, anti-semitism, and other hate speech. I know that’s not how you’re intending it, but given that it’s become so strongly associated with those things, I figured you wouldn’t want to keep sending it out in company correspondence!”

If she seems skeptical, you could add, “The Anti-Defamation League added it to its database of hate symbols last year.”

That should be enough to take care of it. But if for some reason it isn’t, the next time she sends something out with the frog on it, I’d hope you could get others on your staff to add their voices to yours too, so that the chorus of people telling her to knock it off is louder.

my HR rep keeps using a Pepe the Frog emoji was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work at a university. My boss has an almost-5-year-old son, and she brings him into the office … a lot. I work in an open bullpen, so even when he’s in her office, he’s usually making noise or listening to an iPad at a loud volume, when he’s not running around the office.

Today, however, as I was standing and talking to her and another colleague, her son wandered up and punched me in the groin. My boss immediately forced him to apologize and then let him go to wander off and “explore” the rest of the office and picked back up in the conversation like nothing happened.

I also know that there are hours at work when she has a FaceTime connection between her work iPad and the one they have at home as a sort of remote babysitter. She doesn’t mute it or turn the volume down when someone comes into the office to discuss work items.

I stopped in at HR, and the university doesn’t have a specific policy about children at the office other than “use discretion,” but the HR director wasn’t at all surprised to hear that my boss had been bringing in her kid (indeed, she nailed it right on the head after I asked about the policy and asked for further info). Is there anything I should or shouldn’t be doing to either in terms of documenting what’s happening or better ways to handle what’s going on?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Explaining to staff that they need to let me know if they’re out of the office
  • Should I tell my competition that we’re up for the same job?
  • What should I wear when meeting about volunteer opportunities?
  • How can I thank my boss for hiring my friend?

my boss’s kid punched me in the groin was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 11:04 am


Took me two 20/10s, but I finally got the master bathroom looking nice. Cat box went in the hall closet since the cat litter was getting tracked all over the bathroom floor and in our tub (kitties like to hang out there). Got all my crap put away, actually put the toilet paper on the roll, and took out the trash. Tomorrow I tackle my closet in the bedroom!

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 09:14 am


The clothes were the post-vacation laundry. All finshed up by last Friday. :/ Not shown was the PUTTING AWAY of all the hang to dry clothes, and the obliteration of the small floordrobe that started becasue the hamper was in use. It took about 30 minutes to PUT AWAY. Then, since I knocked over some of the kid books, I unfucked the bookcase. It took about 15 minutes. It also looks like it’s time to cull some of the books. (always sad) I amused myself during unfucking with an episode of Death in Paradise, a nice little BBC murder mystery series set in Sainte-Marie, with a largely POC cast.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 02:34 pm
When I lived on the east coast and my baseball team played in California, the telecast would begin at 10 pm. It was a bitch.

I really did think about that last night. The Mariners played the Boston Red Sox last night starting at 10 pm Boston time. The score was 4-4 in the 9th inning. I was really sleepy. I set the TV to play for another hour, figuring by that time Boston will have hit another home run.

I woke up having to pee at midnight and I checked the score. They were still playing! 4-4 in the 12th. So I turned the TV back on and watched Boston take the lead and then I fell back asleep.

This morning, I learned that at 3 am Boston time, the Red Sox lost. 5 hours and 13 innings since the start of the game and less than 8 hours before the first pitch this afternoon.

WHACKO baseball. But, at least we're on the right side of the whack. Sorry, Boston, but actually, really, not a whole bunch. I'm sure you will win today.

The pool was packed this morning. Packed. People waiting. At 5:30 am. Most of the time I am the only one there but today, apparently, there was some kind of cattle call and everyone answered. It was the weirdest thing ever. I did see one woman I used to swim with all the time. She's been coming at 8 but this morning had to take someone to the airport. It was fun to see her again.

The home owners board is spending $3K for a security consultant and he's coming next Wednesday. The board president asked me to be in a small group of people who meet with him. For a lot of reasons (mostly the other people in the group) I'd rather not BUT on the other hand, what better way to hear condo gossip. And I can't really say no to Sandy. And maybe the one woman in the group who drives me nuts won't be able to attend.

The countertop guys forgot to test all the drawers. I went to open one yesterday and it was being held hostage by the countertop over hang. I finally got it open and I think I can sand down the obstruction enough so that it will clear easily but I need sand paper and/or a chisel. I think I'm going to see if there's any in the condo 'shop'. If I have to, I'll call the company and have them send the guys back to fix but I hope not.

My plan is to leave here about 10:30 to go to the ballpark. I'm looking forward to the fried avocado salad and the lobster mac and cheese and everything else. I'm skipping breakfast and plan to be starving when I get there.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

We’ve recently had a lot of budget cuts at work, leading to a staff restructuring … translation: everyone was made redundant and forced to re-apply for the jobs that were left. Some people lost their jobs, some people ended up with reduced hours/pay, and some actually did well out of it, getting a better job than the one they had before. I’m lucky enough to be in the third camp – although I’ve only been working there for a couple of years, I interviewed very well and was promoted from a part-time position to full-time.

Things have settled down again now after what was obviously a difficult and stressful time for everyone, but I’m having a problem with a certain colleague, “Bob.”

Bob has worked at this place for over 20 years, was in a full-time position and went down to a part-time one, also losing his former senior job title and being reduced to the same level as me. Bob was understandably NOT happy about this. Of course I can sympathize with how hard it must be for him, but now all Bob does, day in and day out, is complain. He complains about how the whole restructure wasn’t fair (not exactly something I’m thrilled to hear, given that I actually did well out of it on what I believe to be my own merit), he complains about how all his years of expertise are being wasted, and he complains how management don’t listen to him (when from what I’ve seen, they’ve been incredibly supportive of everyone and made the best of a terrible situation).

Most of all, he complains to ME, because we’re friends and he sees me as a sympathetic ear. The problem is that my sympathy is fast running out. It’s been MONTHS now, and everyone else has settled in to make the best of their situation, but Bob just can’t seem to let it go and accept what’s happened. The moment he’s alone with me he starts moaning about how awful everything is for him. I can’t get through a single day without him reminding me repeatedly just how long he’s worked here and how much he knows about every aspect of the company (points that feel particularly barbed to me as the workplace’s most recent employee) and how he feels personally insulted by his new role (again, not really what I want to hear given it’s the same job that I have!).

I like Bob. I’ve known him since I’ve worked here as a smart, capable and friendly guy, and I hate to see him so upset over this. But his constant bitching and moaning is really starting to get me down, especially when it often comes across (unintentionally, I’m sure) as implicit contempt for my own success and usefulness as an employee when compared to him.

It’s turned into his one and only topic of conversation, and I’m starting to dread working with him. From hints he’s dropped, I think management might already have had a quiet word with him about this attitude, but all that’s done is given him one more thing to complain about! His long monologues are now usually capped with “…but of course I’m not allowed to say that” or “…but you didn’t hear that from me.”

I don’t want to go to management myself about it because I really don’t want to get him into trouble. As a friend, I like him and I feel sorry for the blow to his pride he’s suffered. As a colleague, I really just want him to shut up already and get on with our work. I was hoping his bitterness would naturally die down after a while, but it only seems to be getting worse. Any ideas for how to cope with this, or at least try and make it more bearable?

I wrote back and asked: “What do you normally say/do when he’s complaining?”

I have to admit usually I just kind of nod along sympathetically and try not to say too much. He supplies a good 90% of the conversation himself, and I really don’t know what TO say. I don’t want to offend or upset him by telling him outright to just get over it already and accept that things have changed, but I don’t really agree with most of what he says either. So I end up making a lot of “mmhmm” kind of noises.

Mostly I try to avoid the subject of work-related anything when I engage with him, and when we’re talking about other stuff we get along just fine. But it seems like every day some new thing happens to set him off on a rant again. He’s really still finding it impossible to adjust to his new role and the way the workplace has changed, and — short of having a word with our manager, which seems really harsh and also kind of pointless since I’m pretty sure she’s already more than aware of his attitude — I don’t know how to help him?

Well, the nodding sympathetically and the “mmhmm” noises have probably signaled to him that you’re a sympathetic audience.

I totally get the impulse that’s led you there — you want to be kind, and it’s awkward to say what you’re really thinking while he rants.

And really, whether you’re sympathetic or not, he does need to wrap this up and get back to work. Even with 100% legitimate complaints, there’s only so long that you can expect people around you — including friends — to listen sympathetically. At some point, even people who have been legitimately wronged need to figure out if they can live reasonably contentedly with the situation or if they’re going to do something about it, and at some point it’s no longer cool to keep venting to friends about it.

And whatever that timeframe is, it’s shorter when you’re venting to coworkers, because they’re much more of a captive audience.

But Bob is apparently not realizing this on his own, so it’s going to fall to you to set boundaries.

Some things you can try in the moment:

* “You’ve seemed really unhappy for a while. What are you going to do about it?” (This can sometimes be useful in nudging people away from venting and toward action. And if it doesn’t nudge them toward action, it can at least make you an unsatisfying person to vent to if you say it a lot.)

* “I know you feel like you got a raw deal, and I’m sorry that happened. At this point, how do you want to move forward?” (Same here.)

* “Hmmm. From my perspective, management has actually been pretty good about making the best of a hard situation. I think we just see this differently.” (If you say this a couple of times, you may become a lot less appealing to vent to.)

But you also might need to have a bigger-picture conversation with him. For example:

* “Can I be honest with you? You seem really unhappy, and I understand why. But at this point, it’s been months and I think you need to figure out if you can stay here reasonably happily or if you need to make a change. I support you in whatever you decide. But I can’t keep rehashing it anymore— it’s making work harder for me to be staying so mired in these issues. For my own mental health, I can’t be the person you vent to anymore.”

Even after that conversation, he might keep venting to you, just out of habit, so you’ll need to be prepared to hold firm on that boundary. If it starts up again after this conversation, say something like, “Hey, I’m sorry — like I said before, I can’t be your sounding board on this stuff anymore. Thanks for understanding.”

Beyond that, you ended your note by asking how to help him. I actually think this approach is the most helpful thing you can do for him. He may not realize how bad his complaining has become, and by setting boundaries like this, you might nudge him toward realizing that it’s gone way beyond a useful point. But even if he doesn’t find this particularly helpful, that’s okay. It’s not your job to solve this for him. You’ve already gone way beyond the call of friendship duty in listening sympathetically for months. It’s okay to draw a line and insist on getting back to work.

my coworker won’t stop complaining was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 02:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

I admit it, I’m a math geek.  I loved studying math and sciences and got my degree in Engineering.

I’ve always loved to read, but I never particularly enjoyed writing papers about literature.  But when I was in school, I was not a history fan.  I thought history was quite boring.  Who cared about memorizing all those dates and battle locations. Blah. Blah. Blah.

In fact, when it came time to choose my high school senior classes, I took an easy history class instead of AP History.  Instead of having to write a detailed term paper which was the AP History requirement, in this class, I simply had to give a 10 minute speech on a 20th century history topic.  I’ve never been afraid of speaking, so it was an easy choice.

Pearl Harbor was the topic I chose.  I became fascinated.  Instead of talking for 10 minutes, I spoke for two class periods (yes – I was an over-achiever even back then).  I made a scaled map of Oahu that measured 6′ by 4′.  Then I bought several games of “Battleship*” and used all the ship pieces on my map.  I had all my classmates involved moving the individual battleships during the attack and showing the different attack runs of the Japanese fighter planes.  It was one of my favorite scholastic memories from high school.

More importantly, it marked a change in my appreciation of history.  History was no longer abstract and boring.  It was fascinating.

I’ve tried to instill that love of History* in my children.

With our homeschool, I stay as far away from textbooks as I possibly can.  Textbooks are boring.  Really, really boring.  I don’t care at all if my children can spit back textbook facts to me.  I want them to understand the big picture when it comes to history.

I often tell this story that sums up my education philosophy.  When Brett was four years old, she was already reading (not all my children learned to read that early – one child didn’t start reading until ten years old).  We started reading children’s books about Christopher Columbus*.  One day she mentioned to her cousin (who was 6 or 7 and had learned about Columbus in school) that she was “studying” Columbus.  I listened in on the conversation which went something like this:

Cousin: “Brett, when did Columbus sail to America?”

Brett: “I don’t know.”

Cousin: “1492. Brett, what were the names of Columbus’s ships?”

Brett: “I don’t know.”

Cousin: “The Nina, The Pinta, and the Santa Maria.  Brett, who did Columbus sail for?”

Brett: “I don’t know.”

Cousin: “Queen Isabella.  I thought you were studying Columbus?”

Brett: “I am. Do you know why Columbus sailed?”

Cousin: “Ummm, no.”

Brett: “Columbus thought that he could travel west to reach the Indies when everybody else was traveling east.  He thought he could get there because they didn’t know that America was even on the planet.  But instead of reaching the Indies, he bumped into America and he discovered it!”

I knew at that moment that I was on to something.  At four years old, Brett was actually excited and understood something many school children studying Columbus missed in favor of being able to regurgitate the facts.

Ever since that day, I have tried to excite my children about history.  I do this through various movies* and documentaries*.  I present the children with lots of historical fiction*.  When we’re traveling, we visit places of historical significance, and take the time to learn the history that took place.

The children have different historical periods that they love.  They’re thrilled with ancient Greece* and to a lesser extent ancient Rome*.  Fletcher is obsessed with World War II.  As a fourteen year old, he read a 1000+ page biography of Winston Churchill* and loved it.

We have been somewhat obsessed with the Broadway play Hamilton*.  The children have memorized the entire show (minus the curse words*) and we’ve had hundreds of discussions about the Revolutionary War, the American Constitution, and the development of our country*.

Grandma and Poppy are visiting and last night they took us all to see the movie, Dunkirk.

Afterwards we spent a lot of time discussing the details of the evacuation and how God was involved and how without the successful evacuation at Dunkirk*, the war may have had a different outcome.  We talked about strategy and bravery and sacrifice.

Without much effort, you can provide your children (and yourself) with a wonderful education just by learning about fascinating historical events.  Here are seven reasons why I want my children to recognize the value in spending time learning about history.

1. History enables us to learn from the past.  There is so much we can learn from people both for the good and for the bad.  We just learned about Benedict Arnold who was an ardent fighter for American Independence.  But after feeling himself wronged one too many times, he turned against America and became a traitor.  There are lessons there on how not to handle disappointments and why it is important to not become bitter when we feel ourselves wronged.  There are also hundreds of examples of people who sacrificed for what they believed in, such as Martin Luther King Jr.  Watching his “I have a dream” speech with the children was a powerful testimony that you can fight for change.  You may not see it in your lifetime, but you can be involved and be an inspiration.

2. History shows us that history often repeats itself.  If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.  There are so many lessons that we can take from history about how to live and how to treat others.  While we can’t make our country as a whole follow these lessons, we can follow them ourselves and teach our children to learn from them to try to prevent the most painful episodes from repeating themselves.

3. History teaches us the importance of being active and involved citizens.  When you study everything the founding fathers of our country did and all that they sacrificed to win our independence, it is hard to ignore the responsibility to be involved.  And then when you consider all the soldiers who fought and died for our freedom, it makes it even more important to understand our government and political system and to be involved and at the very least, to vote.

4. History demonstrates that nothing happens in isolation.  A lot of young people are tempted to believe that they can take an action (whether positive or negative) and they are the only ones impacted.  This is simply not true.  Everything is connected and all actions have implications that you can’t see coming and that you often can only see through the benefit of hindsight.  By studying history, children can get a better understanding of how actions can have a ripple effect that can bring about major change.

5. History can help improve our decision making.  When you talk about historical events, it’s very easy to pick apart the decisions that past leaders made.  Good decisions are obvious, but bad decisions are glaringly obvious.  When you study what caused those poor decisions, it can help you to understand what criteria is involved in making a good decision.

6. History demonstrates viewpoints different than our own. I am always telling the children that, “The world is bigger than Goat Milk Stuff and Scottsburg, Indiana” (where we live).  It is easy to look at life based on the culture in which you live.  But there are many viewpoints out there that are radically different than our own.  I want the children to understand these other viewpoints.  I want them to know why they believe what they believe and to be able to defend their beliefs.  But I also want them to understand that where a person lives and how they grow up shapes those viewpoints and belief systems.  Studying history gives a lot of context into how belief systems came to be and where prejudice comes from and why it is wrong.  You can’t even begin to look at the Civil War without having a great many of these conversations.

7. History provides proof of what it truly means to sacrifice.  In our privileged world (you are reading this on a computer), very few of us truly understand what it means to sacrifice for what is right.  I want my children to know that the struggles they have are minor compared to the struggles men and women have faced throughout history.  They are very, very privileged.  They have a family who loves them.  They have freedom.  They have a roof over their heads and food security.  They’ve never been truly called on to sacrifice.  I want them to understand this and someday, if they ever have to be willing to sacrifice material gains to stand up for what is right, I want them to have thought about sacrifice, and be able to do it.

I do want to point out that you don’t have to homeschool to have these discussions.  The dinner table is a great place to talk about history even if your children are grown!

What’s your view on history – boring? or fascinating?




*Amazon Affiliate Link


Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 08:35 am
Something Scott ate yesterday has given him an allergic reaction. He and I had lentil soup for dinner last night. I used chicken broth, water, and lemon juice which should all have been fine, so I suspect that the culprit is the sauce packet I added-- That looked safe when I read the ingredients, but either 'flavoring' or 'spice' must include something that's a problem as all of the known ingredients were things Scott eats normally. The thing was explicitly to go with chicken and mostly contained chicken derived stuff.

Maybe he ate something while he was out at his doctor appointments yesterday? We only talked for about two minutes this morning between me and Cordelia getting up and him going to bed. He said he didn't know what was causing the problem, and I didn't want to keep him just to ask more questions.

Cordelia decided to stay home today in order to see her grandparents and uncle who will be arriving around 11:30 to take us to lunch. The main complication of this is that I now don't have anywhere to put the junk that I need to move out of the living room so that people can sit down. Scott's asleep in our room, and Cordelia's asleep in her room. That pretty much leaves the basement.

Scott won't join us for lunch. We decided that it made more sense for him to keep sleeping. We have our biweekly game session tonight, and he's supposed to GM. I kind of think it might be better for us to play board games, but I guess it will depend on he's doing at 7 tonight. We'll also need to stop a bit early because he needs to leave shortly after 10 in order to get to work by 10:45.

I got a lot of chores done yesterday-- Five loads of laundry; filling, running, and emptying the dishwasher; making dinner; cooking two packages of breakfast sausages; breaking down some boxes for recycling; getting the recycling and trash to the curb for pick up; changing the sheets on our bed; rearranging and dusting my bedroom bookshelves; and moving two shopping bags of books from our bedroom down to the basement plus shelving about a third of them.

Oh, and I sprayed a set of clothing for Cordelia to wear at camp. We bought some prometherin (sp?) which is a spray on tick repellent that's specifically for clothing. She's only wearing a t-shirt and long shorts plus underwear and footie socks, so it only helps a very little bit, but a little bit is better than nothing. We're not spraying her underwear or socks (footie socks don't come up past the top of the shoe). The spray bottle doesn't work very well. The only way to get anything out is to hold it sideways, and the stuff is very bad to breathe, so the spraying has to be done outside and then the clothes left hanging outside to dry for a few hours (how long depends on the humidity).

Needless to say, I was ready to sleep pretty early. I didn't end up doing so, but I should have, could have. Part of not going to bed early was that I had trouble making myself stand up to deal with getting ready to sleep.

Scott sleeping during the day really disrupts my routine because I can't really listen to music or watch anything due to noise. I dug up some earbuds, but they turned out not to work well because one gave no sound at all. We'd had them for years without ever opening the package, so either they were defective when we bought them or they deteriorated in storage. I can watch things with the sound off if there's captioning, but I like to be able to hear the dialogue, too.

I also have to be sure that I have all of the things I need out of the bedroom before Scott goes to bed. If I go in there for something, it will wake him. Tomorrow, when the cleaning lady comes, will be interesting.

I'm thinking that I might move the bags of stuff we want to get rid of to the garage. If that stuff gets stolen, well, at that point, we wouldn't have to haul it anywhere to donate it. But I kind of think that someone looking for quick cash isn't going to dig through garbage bags full of old clothing, not when there are things like the snowblower and Cordelia's bike. I'll shut the door, but Scott tends to forget, and he's the one who mostly opens the door (lawn mowing, grilling, etc.).
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 08:34 am
I have posted updates to At the Edge of Centuries (chapter 6 is new), an Amber AU story in my House of Sulfur and Mercury series, and to Auguries of Innocence (chapter 7 is new), a Harry Potter AU.

Both links go to the first chapter of the story in question. Neither story is anywhere near complete.

And I've gotten a comment on Auguries of Innocence that labels is as (good) crackfic. Are long, plotty darkfic AUs generally considered crackfic? I've always found the term a bit slippery in that I know when I read something that I would call crackfic but couldn't define the term apart from pointing at examples. I usually expect short and humorous, though.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 07:23 am


Pro Tip: When you’re moving it’s really easy to tell yourself you’ll put shit away later. PUT IT AWAY NOW AND IT WILL FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.

This took me like 15 minutes and now we can use our new kitchen.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 02:16 am
"You should've gotten a subscription to Cricket."

"We already get a subscription to Cricket."

"So? N doesn't."

"N practically lives here. She doesn't need her own subscription."

"Don't you want her to

(Okay, she didn't say that last line, but she thought it VERY LOUDLY.)
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 12:27 am
I happened to be standing next to a pair of adolescents. First the girl remarked that she couldn't believe she'd lived on the Island 16 years and never taken the Ferry (I couldn't believe it either!) and then her friend, clearly trying to impress her with his experience, found himself in a loop, repeating "It can take them a long time to get off" at least three times. (It CAN take them a long time to get off the boat! There's always somebody who thinks the announcement to disembark wasn't actually directed at them). But I don't think she noticed, so that's all right :)

I hope they had fun! The boat is really the most affordable date in town, and certainly fun if you don't take it every day.


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The Man Who Blew The Door Off The Microbial World

The Rivers of the U.S., Collected Into a Nifty Subway Map

Spiral arms allow school children to weigh black holes

The entrepreneur who asked Stephen King for a blurb and got a book instead

Scientists Reverse Brain Damage in Drowned U.S Toddler Eden Carlson

Heinz Develops ‘Chicago Dog Sauce’ for the City That Won’t Put Ketchup on Its Hot Dogs (LOL)

The Clay Models Used to Analyze Entrails in the Ancient World

10 Ridiculous Feats of Literature (The story about Hemingway's short story is silly. I guess we're supposed to think the baby died, but c'mon, it's a baby. They outgrow clothes all the time, especially shoes. If the parents had been saving that pair for a special occasion, that occasion never came, is all. And "baby outgrew clothes" isn't a story, it's a piece of advice - don't save the dress up clothes for dressy occasions!)

Not in This Day and Age? On “Feisty, Cheeky, and Rebellious” Women in History

Utah home-birth rate is double the US average, report says

Why Hospitals Started Displaying Newborn Babies Through Windows

Curiosity is underemphasized in the classroom, but research shows that it is one of the strongest markers of academic success.

Child living with HIV maintains remission without drugs since 2008

Magic Can Be Normal

Where Are All the Black Boys in Middle Grade Fiction? A 2017 Assessment and Comparison

Is It A Good Idea To Pay Villagers Not To Chop Down Trees?

Can Tennis Offer a Means of Social Mobility in India?

Why Canada Is Able to Do Things Better

12 Ways Airports Are Secretly Manipulating You ("Last year, the TSA announced it would give $15,000 to the person who comes up with the best idea for speeding up security." I have an idea - quit with the pointless security theater, and let us keep our shoes on! I'll be collecting my $15k now, please. Kindly send it in the form of $2 bills, thanks.)

The Un-Pretty History Of Georgia's Iconic Peach

What's the Matter With Little Free Food Pantries?

Beijing’s Balkan backdoor

South Park raised a generation of trolls

The Commodification of Orthodox Judaism

Which Anonymous Sources Are Worth Paying Attention To?

Rape Choreography Makes Films Safer, But Still Takes a Toll on Cast and Crew

The Good Guy with a Gun Theory, Debunked

The new astrology

Senate advances on healthcare, with dramatic return by McCain (Fuck you, McCain, you and the rest of them.)

Why an Effort to Thwart Some Boycotts of Israel Fails the Free-Speech Test

The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.