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Laura

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Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 04:18 pm
So, y'all know that I've been locked into a fight till the death struggle with my bicycle. Which, incidentally is the cutest thing evar now that she has a basket and a bell. Cuteness aside, it never seems to fail that every time I get on the thing I come away with scrapes and bruises. 

But I'm not giving up. *strikes a confident pose with a wonder woman cape fluttering behind her in the breeze*

One of my recent tumbles off my buckin' bronco bike caused me to land squarely on my new knee joint. Was a real beaut. I was able to get up and walk around on the thing just fine and so was pretty confident that I had not injured the knee implant, but as the bruises developed and it started to swell, I wasn't so sure. So the next day I motored myself over to my doctor's office and presented myself. We had an interesting discussion that took off in a direction that I wasn't counting on. 

"Oh, my! So how did this happen?"

Dr. M is a very nice young woman who didn't know what she was in for when she accepted me into her internal medicine caseload a few years ago. 

I explained all; after which she gave my knee a very thorough examination. "I'm sure that you didn't damage your new joint at all," she said.

"I'm actually more concerned about WHY you fell." 

I fell because that's just how I roll, so to speak. 

She frowned. "So have you fallen when you were not on your bicycle?"

Of course. But I've always been fine afterwards. 

"Why do you think you have fallen when not on your bike?"

Let's see........once because I kind of missed one of the steps going from the house to the garage and planted myself face first on the concrete...."

She winced and held up a hand. "Hang on. You're falling at home? In an area that's very familiar to you?" I nodded. "How many times in the last year?"

I suppose about........three or so.

We went on to have a lengthy discussion about the zillion reasons that may be contributing to my inclination to topple over; during which I was mentally kicking myself for even allowing this particular medical can of worms to be opened. Because I knew what would inevitably follow. And it did:

"I would like you to have a further assessment of your fall risk."

(Hoo boy. Here we go, I thought.)

"I am scheduling you for a Preventing Falls class, and also for some one on one assessments by physical therapy looking at your gait and ambulation skills."

(I knew it. Drat. MORE appointments.) 

After another discussion about using hand rails, lighting up dark areas, wearing my glasses, being vigilant, blah blah blah blah blah......she finally said, "Show me your shoes."

I dutifully stuck one foot out. 

"Those knit fabric type sneakers don't provide any kind of stability for you at all. I want you to go through your shoes and either give away or toss those that don't fit exactly right, those that have high heels, any flip flops at all, and those that are flimsy and don't provide good support for your entire foot including your heels. So no slip-ons."

Curses. I saw the words INCREASED FALL RISK get typed onto my electronic medical record. 

I left grumpily, certain that she had just given me a sentence of life-wearing-awful-ugly-shoes. Like these:



However it didn't take me long to figure out that if I needed to toss a closet full of shoes, then it was only logical that a serious shoe shopping trip should follow. 

Which it did. And sorry John -- I've only just begun.....

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 04:00 pm

Continuing with my distaste for the 2016 election…

Write a poem about a debate, but not a political debate. Write about the silliest argument imaginable. Maybe it’s about two kids fighting over a toy. Maybe it’s one of those big fights a couple gets into before they realize the whole thing is stupid. Think of a very silly argument, and focus a poem on it. You can make it humorous, and/or maybe you can find some kind of deeper meaning in it. No deeper meaning is required. Have some fun!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

In my recent one-one one with my boss, we discussed my career path. I am currently in a graduate program that is only vaguely related to my current role, because what I do now is not something I wish to do long-term. It’s a career path I fell into, and while I do a good job, I will never be great at it or enjoy what I do.

He asked me what kind of role I wanted to do, and I expressed that I quite hadn’t figured it out yet, but I was starting to identify a few areas I would like to explore. With his blessing, he suggested I contact our HR business partner to go over what internal paths there might be and any suggestions she had, which is about what I expected. It is a very large company that does encourage moving around to explore others areas of interest. What he said next, though, is what I am concerned about.

He asked that after I meet with her, we establish a timeline for me transitioning. I responded that I felt that was a bit premature, since even if I do meet with her, I have no idea if a position in an area of interest would be available or that I would be hired into that role. His response to that was that he “can’t keep investing in me indefinitely knowing I eventually I will leave and that he would need more than two weeks notice” since I have a large volume of work that is time critical on a weekly basis. I left the meeting saying that I would contact HR and let him know what was discussed. My performance is adequate, so it’s not an issue with me under-performing, more that involving me in long-term projects and training would be wasted resources.

I’m afraid now if I don’t find something sooner than later, they are just going to hire a replacement and let me go. And while I hope that eventually I will find something more suited to my interests and skill, I feel it is unrealistic to put a timeline on it at this stage. I understand him wanting to prepare as much as possible, but I find it concerning that he’s already asking for a timeline. I’ve only had two jobs post-college, this one for the past 16 months, and my prior one for eight years, so I am not sure if this is a usual request.

I am also looking outside my company, but again, there is no guarantee that I will find something soon. I guess I am feeling like I am being shoved out the door before I am ready. I have no intention of giving notice until I have accepted an offer, because at the end of the day I have bills to pay. How do I approach this when he asks for a timeline again?

Ugh.

I know from the employee side, this seems patently unfair. From the manager side, there are really are times where, after an employee expresses interest in leaving, it can make sense to say, “Okay, let’s nail down what a timeline for that would look like so that we can both plan.” (It particularly can make sense to say that when the employee isn’t performing at a high level — especially if the alternative would be going through all the work of a performance improvement plan and possibly letting them go.) But that shouldn’t be the default position; the default position should be open, honest conversation that doesn’t include forcing the person out early. (More on how managers should navigate this here.)

And I’m sure you didn’t go have that career discussion with him intending it to serve as some kind of unofficial notice.

So it might make sense to go back to your boss now and say this: “I’ve had some time to digest our conversation, and I want to make it clear that I have no plans to leave in the near future. While I appreciated your suggestion to talk to HR about longer-term prospects, I enjoy my work here and don’t have current plans to look for other roles.”

However, this gets a little trickier depending on exactly what you said to him in the earlier conversation. If you told him that you don’t enjoy the work, it’s not totally unreasonable for him to want to start making moves toward resolving the situation because he of course wants to have someone in your job who’s enthusiastic about the work.

So if you did tell him something like that, you need to be prepared for him to say something like, “Hey, I appreciate that, but given that you know this work isn’t for you long-term, I do need to get someone in here who’s excited about what we’re doing and committed to being here longer-term.”

If that happens, then you could try saying this: “I really didn’t intend to give you the impression that I wanted to move on right away. I’m committed to this work and I would hate to be pushed out just because we talked about very long-term career goals the other day. It was never my intention to start making plans to leave.”

Worst case scenario, if he doesn’t change his stance here, you could just call the question and say, “Are you telling me that you’re going to let me go if I’m still here after a certain number of months?” and/or “How long are you willing to let me stay in this job?” He might not be willing to go as far as actually letting you go and instead is just aiming for some kind of mutual agreement — and if you won’t do that, he may back off (and your company might have policies or practices that make that more likely — which is also something you could ask HR when you talk to them). Or he might just say he’s going to set a date. If it’s the latter, you can at least try to negotiate for a longer transition period.

But go back and talk to him and see if you can work this out.

my boss wants a timeline for me leaving and I haven’t even given notice was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 04:25 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

I gasped out loud when I received this letter, and so will you.

A reader writes:

An employee, “Sally,” started at our workplace about a year and a half ago. She’s not my subordinate, but is the subordinate to a peer of mine, and works frequently with my subordinates. A few months later she got a new boyfriend, “Peter.” (I found out about this through normal water cooler-type conversation.)

After she’d been with the company a few more months, at Christmas time of 2015, she invited her boyfriend to our holiday party. (This is totally normal in our workplace; people are welcome to bring any family or friends they like to the party as long as they RSVP.) Everything there seemed fine as well, although at one point Peter asked Sally to get him a drink, to which she replied “Yes, master!” in a very “I Dream of Jeannie” kind of way. We all laughed it off as a joke, and it didn’t come up again.

…until it did. We had an early summer party in late May at which Sally and Peter both attended (again, bringing SOs and friends was totally acceptable, so that was not in itself a problem). At this party, there was a good deal more of Peter ordering Sally around and Sally calling him “master”: he sent her to fetch drinks and hot dogs, he told her to find a place for them to sit, etc., to which she replied consistently with “Yes, master.” It made a number of people, myself included, clearly uncomfortable, but there was nothing objectively abusive about it (he never yelled at her or threatened her), and her immediate supervisor and her supervisor’s supervisor weren’t there, and so no one said anything (perhaps incorrectly?).

After the party, at the office, I overheard a conversation in which one of her coworker-friends was like, “so uh, what’s up with the master thing?” and she explained that she was in a 24/7 dominant/submissive relationship, and he wasn’t her boyfriend or her SO or her partner, he was her “master,” and needed to be referred to as such. Her coworker was clearly flummoxed and didn’t have much response to that.

Later, I heard her correct someone who referred to her boyfriend as her boyfriend/partner, saying that he wasn’t her partner, he was her master, and should be referred to using his appropriate title. She compared it to gay rights, saying that if she was a man, they wouldn’t erase her relationship by referring to “Peter” as “Patricia,” and so they shouldn’t erase the D/s relationship by calling him a partner instead of a master. It’s pretty clear that her coworkers aren’t comfortable asking her “will your master be at the end-of-summer barbecue?” or “did you and your master do anything fun this weekend?, though, and thus have just stopped referring to Peter at all.

Her direct boss, my colleague, is baffled as to how to sensitively address this issue. My instinct is that there’s a very big difference between insisting that colleagues acknowledge that you’re in a gay relationship and insisting that they refer to your partner as “your master,” and that it borders on involving other non-consenting parties into your relationship … but I can’t really articulate why. For what it’s worth, I am a bisexual woman, and our office has a number of gay/lesbian, trans, and poly individuals, so it’s not an issue of being against nontraditional relationships. It just seems to be that it seems very important to Sally that Peter be referred to as “her master,” and it seems equally clear that her coworkers find this intensely uncomfortable.

Help? How can I advise my colleague? What’s reasonable in this situation?

You can read my answer to this (amazing) letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master” was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 12:35 pm
I ended up taking a longish walk (by my standards) last night when I went out to hack the church portal. It was nice and cool out, so I felt like I could walk further without sweating to death. I was in shorts and a t-shirt. I had a windbreaker, but I ended up taking it off on my way home. Of course, when I got home, I looked at the weather online and discovered that it was in the mid-40s F. The only part of my body that thought things out there were cold last night was my lungs, and it wasn’t cold enough to set off my asthma.

It’s in the 50s F right now, so I might go out for a walk before lunch if I can get myself out the door. I need to walk more. It’s just so damned hard to open the door and walk out. I don’t know. I have to take out the trash some time today. Maybe I can use that to get myself outside and then just not come back inside for a while?

We chose not to watch the debate last night. We agreed that there wasn’t going to be anything there that would make either of us change our minds about how we’re going to vote. Of course, Scott’s father watched and emailed Scott to encourage him to turn it on and see how presidential Trump was. I am not at all sure what Scott’s father might have been smoking. I suppose it may have been some form of vast wishful thinking because Scott’s parents are really terrified that socialists, brown people, non-Christians, and queer people are going to come and kill them and take all of their stuff.

They’re in their mid-70s. I don’t think that anything anyone could say to them would help at all. I know that all three of their children disagree with them and that everybody tends to go out of their way not to talk about politics/social justice in their vicinity. I remember Scott’s father giving us all on-your-heads-be-it warnings about voting for Obama, but mostly he doesn’t talk about such things with us, especially not in front of his grandchildren.

I have four library DVDs I want to watch this week if I can manage it. I just have a hard time starting and then end up pausing the dratted things repeatedly. I also have six library CDs that I want to listen to and a lot of audiobooks on my laptop.

Scott wants to transition to using our bread machine for bread for sandwiches now that it’s getting cooler. I’m hesitant because I really don’t like slicing bread. I’m the one making all the sandwiches right now, so I’d be the one slicing the bread. I’m also the one who would make the bread and clean the pan and all of that. It seems a pity to have the bread machine and not use it, and it would be less expensive, but… It’s a lot more work. With sliced bread, I can make both sandwiches in under five minutes. Needing to slice the bread might well turn the sandwich making into a two step process that requires a rest in the middle. Maybe it would help if I slice the entire loaf all at once?

Scott’s work called at 10:30 last night to ask him to come in early this morning. He said no, and they didn’t insist. He’d have been trying to work twelve hours on three hours of sleep.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am not sure I should complaint to my HR department on this, but the situation is making me very uncomfortable at work.

My manager got married about a year ago to a man with a child the same age as her own. The child was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD as a result of being abandoned by his mother several years ago. They have gone to therapy but do not seem to be making enough progress for her. She constantly berates this child for every small infraction and the father does not step in to intervene. She forced him to sit on the floor with the dogs for over a week because she wasn’t sure he was clean enough to sit on her furniture. She tells everyone in the department these stories like she is proud of herself. She came into work this past week saying how “horrified and ashamed” she was by what she said to the child the previous night (because he bought candy and tried to hide it), and told the department that she screamed at him for 20 minutes and threatened to send him away to boarding school. She did not sound ashamed at all. Truly if she had been ashamed she wouldn’t have repeated this story more than once that day. She also loves to tell us how “nasty” she is to her step-dogs, screaming at them for barking and kicking them if they get in her way. She unfairly compares the two kids and yells at the stepchild for putting her child in the “awful situation” of having to tattle on him.

I have just about made up my mind that I need to make some sort of complaint about this to HR. This talk has gotten meaner and nastier over the last couple of months, I am genuinely worried about that child’s well-being. She has even bragged about this behavior to our department VP, who did nothing to shut it down or otherwise say it is inappropriate for the workplace. Her work has also suffered tremendously as a result of this horrible home life and everyone in my department is on the verge of quitting.

I work closely with HR, and I know they would take me seriously. But do I have a good cause for complaint? I have no idea what the fallout might be and I doubt that I could do this anonymously.

Well, the issue isn’t so much that she’s talking about it at work (although that’s certainly disturbing); the issue is that she’s verbally and emotionally abusing her stepchild, and that’s not something your HR department can do anything about.

This is an issue for Child Protective Services, although unfortunately in many jurisdictions, they have their hands so full with physical abuse and neglect cases that they might not take any action on this. I think it would be right to report it anyway though and let them decide.

In addition, I would recommend speaking up when she tells you these stories, because there is value in people saying “this isn’t right.” So when she next tells you one of these horror stories, I hope you will say, “That’s awful — no child deserves that.” (Same thing about the poor dogs, too.)

HR could potentially be helpful in telling her to stop these comments at work (although again, the comments are a smaller problem than her actual actions) and/or in protecting you from retaliation if she finds out you called CPS. You certainly have reasonable grounds to bring this to their attention. That said, how well they handle it will depend on your particular HR department, and if they’re not very good, it’s possible that there could be fall-out for you and you’d need to be prepared for that.

But there are kids and animals being abused — the two categories of beings who are the most voiceless in our world — so I’m going to argue that it’s the right thing to do regardless.

my boss brags about being verbally abusive to her step-child was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, September 24th, 2016 03:45 am
They must have been pretty bad, though - my sister talked about "looking into the abyss" and Ana ranted about it with a friend via text for quite a while.

Kiiiiinda glad I opted out to play Sudoku, actually.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. How new is “too new” before a manager starts to do real work?

I’ve worked at a company for 17 years, and for the past 8.5 years in a break-out division that’s now the fastest growing/most profitable of the company. Our management was pretty compressed, but in the past six months a former peer became my supervisor and her manager (formerly mine too) has had another layer of management added above her. There are about a dozen of us under my supervisor now. This new manager, Jane, has been on the job about six weeks and is supposed to get our business unit into fighting shape, which implies that the success we’ve generated has been accidental, l guess. Jane sat with me for 25 minutes one day to see what I do, but that’s been our sole interaction.

So far, her accomplishments are 1) requesting we each bring a favorite poem to our first getting-to-know you “all-hands” meeting, to read it and talk about what it means to us 2) having coffee mugs ordered for our team, with the name of the business unit 3) asking us all to provide pictures of ourselves and biographical info for a team Facebook page (we all already know each other very well; most of us have worked together at least eight years) and 4) having her office redecorated with fixtures nicer than even C-level staff above her, in our adequate but dated and somewhat dreary building.

Meanwhile, six months ago, we acquired our biggest competition and are integrating them, we have multiple aging systems that don’t communicate well with one another, our clients have the same problems repeatedly that we have to address because of our inadequate systems, our warehouses are continually behind because of the increase in business, and all of us have more accounts than we can give enough attention to. We have made these obstacles known and offered suggestions of how they could be managed, but are being offered coffee mugs. My immediate supervisor and her boss seem a bit intimidated by Jane and are keeping their heads down and being overly diplomatic about her ”newness,” but how long is a high-level manager too new to ask about when we are actually going to get started on solving our real day-to-day problems?

Six weeks in, I wouldn’t normally be alarmed if you weren’t seeing concrete evidence that your boss’s boss’s new boss was settled in and doing real work. Since you’re several layers of management removed from her, it wouldn’t be surprising for you not to be able to clearly see what she’s doing yet.

But there are certainly things that you don’t want to be seeing in this context, and the poems and other fluff certainly fall in that category. Whether it’s really the case or not, it makes it look like she’s focused on the wrong things and avoiding doing real work that will address the division’s biggest needs. So at a minimum, she’s being thoughtless about optics.

it would be appropriate for your manager’s manager (the one who reports directly to Jane) to take her an agenda of issues that need her attention and ask for time together to delve into them. Seeing how that goes will tell her a lot about what to expect — but that’s something that can only really be done a couple levels up from you.

2. Is it okay to correct errors in letters I’m printing without checking with the people who wrote them?

I am a recent-ish graduate about a month into my development coordinator job at a nonprofit. I frequently have to print/send letters that my superiors write to donors and foundations. Unfortunately, I do notice that sometimes there will be fairly glaring grammar/spelling mistakes in the letters. (Today I read one where they misspelled the donor’s name!) I have been wondering whether to check with them before making corrections, just go ahead and make the changes on my own, or bite my tongue and send the letters out with errors. Right now, I have been doing the first one, but in a very deferential, non-correct-y way, and it feels ridiculous and almost passive-aggressive emailing to say “is it okay if I fix the spelling on this before I send it out?”

I would have no problem letting the errors go if they were internal, but these letters are going to important donors, and I feel as though glaring mistakes make a bad impression. Can I just start fixing things without bugging my bosses, or should I keep asking for permission to correct them?

Don’t keep asking case by case, but ask about the overall situation: “Hey, sometimes when printing these I notice a donor’s name is misspelled or there’s a spelling or punctuation mistake in the letter. Is it okay for me to just go ahead and fix those without checking with you, or do you want me to keep checking with you individually on them as I’ve been doing?”

The reason for asking this is that there actually could be legitimate reasons to keep checking with them on at least some things. For example, you might hear, “Oh, Rachel Smith and I have a personal relationship and I address her as Rach — but I haven’t changed it in the database since other people shouldn’t address her that way.” Or you might hear, “Go ahead and fix things but give me a heads-up on what you’re changing so that I’m in the loop” — which is something I’d say to someone if I don’t have total confidence yet that their changes will be correct 100% of the time.

3. Is it strange if a company doesn’t involve HR in the hiring process?

Is it strange if a company that seems to have a functional Human Resources department doesn’t involve them in the interviewing and hiring process?

I seem to be a top candidate for a mid-level position. My first phone interview was with the person who would become my direct supervisor. About a month later, the senior director who interviewed me by phone asked me to come in for an in-person interview, where I met with him and five other senior staff members from his department. The senior director reached out to me a few days after the interview to ask for two references, which I supplied. After talking to both, he asked for a third reference a week later. A couple of days after that, I got an email from someone I had interviewed with on site (a senior VP, a couple of levels above the senior director) asking me how much money I made at my current job, and what I thought this new role should pay.

I responded back with the range I was seeking, and implied that I had some flexibility on salary if the benefits were good (from what I heard in the in-person interview, it sounds like they are). I realized after sending the email that this is the first time I’ve been asked about salary so late in the game — usually there’s some discussion of required compensation in the first phone interview to make sure we’re on the same page. What if I had emailed back a crazy number and they had to go back to the drawing board? Then I began to wonder, is it weird that all of this has taken place without the involvement of an HR professional? From what I can tell from their website, they have an entire HR team.

Nope, it’s not that weird, and I’d argue that it can be better, as long as you have managers who are trained to hire well since they’re always going to have a more nuanced understanding of what they’re looking for than HR is. I prefer to do my own hiring without HR involvement, and a lot of other managers feel the same. Or it could be that because this is a new position, they want to drive the process themselves to figure out how it can best work in the future — or that HR is giving advice behind the scenes and you just don’t see it.

With the pay thing, it’s not terribly unusual for pay not to come up until later in the process — not smart, necessarily, but definitely not uncommon — so I wouldn’t read anything into that. You had a phone interview, an in-person interview, references, and a salary discussion; so far, none of this seems particularly strange. They should have asked about salary before taking up anyone’s time with references (their time or your references’ time) and they should have only asked what you’re seeking, not what you’re currently earning, but those are both “how people should do things” criticisms rather than “they are totally out of step with other employers” criticisms.

4. Strangers keep contacting me on LinkedIn for job help

I was recently hired by a very well-known and prestigious consulting firm. It is my dream job with great benefits and interesting work, and the company rates among the many “best employers” lists. This is great!

Except it attracts multitudes of people who want a job at said firm to ping me on LinkedIn under the guise of a legit connection. I will always screen the invites and most/all look appear to be accomplished professionals in my field, who I would normally want a connection with. Then, in about 50% of cases, I get a message asking me about a job, or the recruiting process, or info to get an “edge.” I get disappointed and annoyed that strangers would do this, and usually just refer them to the hiring website of our company. But then…do I drop them after realizing they only wanted to use me to get my company connections? Do I just remove my employer from my page to stem the tide? And why are people doing this in the first place? It strikes me as rude.

Yeah, some people use LinkedIn this way, and it’s odd. It’s probably a misapplication of the advice to use LinkedIn to try to network with people at companies you’re interested in applying at. That advice doesn’t mean “cold-email strangers asking about jobs,” or at least it shouldn’t, but some people seem to take it that way.

I don’t think there are any must-do’s for your side of this though. You don’t need to disconnect from people who do this, but it’s also fine to disconnect if you prefer to. Don’t remove your employer’s name from your profile though; that would be overkill.

You might be someone who prefers to only connect with people you know in some way or who at least include a message explaining why they’re requesting the connection. It’s fine to ignore messages from strangers asking you for an in at your company, or you can just keep referring them to your company’s hiring website.

5. When to disclose Parkinson’s during a job search

My husband has early-onset, early-stage Parkinson’s. This means that he stared showing symptoms much earlier than average, and he is still in the early stages of the disease. He is as sharp as ever mentally and can do all the things he’s always done. He’s a software engineer and using his computer is not a problem. However, even with the proper medication, his tremor is visible.

This was not a problem at his last job, since he began years ago when the tremor was less noticeable and was able to tell people about his condition once they already knew and liked him and his work. But now he’s looking for a new job.

When’s the best time to tell potential employers about his condition? A few opinions:
• Husband: Disclose during any phone screen so that employers will know what to expect when they meet me.
• Career counselor: Don’t mention it at all on the phone or in person since hiring managers are looking at your skills, not your physical condition.
• Wife: Don’t mention during phone screen and give a brief explanation when you meet any potential employer in person, showing through your physical presence and matter-of-fact attitude that your condition is not a blocker to working and putting a stop to any worst-case-scenario speculation.

It’s pretty clear where I stand, but husband is giving serious consideration to the first and second options, so I’d love to know what you — and readers who may have had experience with this sort of thing on either side of the hiring table — would advise.

I agree with you. I’d wait until the in-person interview and just say matter-of-factly at the start of it, “I should mention I have a condition that can cause a tremor — nothing to worry about if you notice it!”

when should a new manager start doing real work, correcting errors in other people’s letters, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 05:00 pm
(She was a bit of a surprise guest.)

We were discussing the election (again) which segued into how no, we can't just "build a wall" and what Mexico finally said to that... which turned into a conversation on the Mexican-American War and since we were already discussing how the President can send troops wherever, I asked a general question - "Exactly how many wars have we been in since WWII?"

Ana guessed "All of them?" and her friend, stuck on the spot, dithered a bit while my mother hinted at her with things like "So, do you know a word that rhymes with hero?" before finally guessing - "None of them?"

Hah, trick question, they're both right. On the one hand, Congress hasn't declared any wars, and on the other hand, I sure can't think of any wars we haven't been involved in! Maybe there have been some, but really, if America isn't involved, is it really a war? (Given the number of people - including my mom, who really ought to know better! - who state that Pearl Harbor is "when WWII began" I'm thinking the answer might actually be no.)

I made sure to point out that we've been at war* for their entire lives, and they did their best to act duly impressed by this fact.

* Except not
Monday, September 26th, 2016 04:00 pm

I recently read a few of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I was struck by how many of them are basically flowery ways of saying “You’re beautiful. Make babies with me or your beauty will die with you.”

Look at Shakespeare’s “Sonnet I.” http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/sonnet/1

Also take a look at Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” which is similar in theme.  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44688

I’m being a bit facetious in saying this, but think of how much classic poetry has that same core message of, well…seizing the day and baby-making!

Write a poem like this, or possibly write a poem poking fun at this oft-repeated poetic theme.

Monday, September 26th, 2016 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’ve been in my current position for two years. When I started I reported to “Marsha,” a woman not too much older than me (also a woman). I got along great with her, though I noticed some concerning aspects of her personality — she tended to be brusque, did not get along with several people, and bullied our IT support guy.

Her personality issues were becoming performance issues when, late last spring, she had a workplace injury that resulted in some physical incapacity. Her attitude completely changed. She refused to take time off for the injury, insisted on coming to work instead of telecommuting (which meant someone had to drive her, since her injury prevented her from driving), and did not manage her pain well when she was in the office. Pain turned her usual brusqueness into an extremely short temper. That meant awful treatment of everyone, including me — we went from a great relationship to her micromanaging me; forgetting to tell me things, then berating me when I didn’t know what she was talking about; and venting to me about all of the problems she was having with her boss, HR, workers’ comp… etc.

I tried to be sympathetic but quickly realized that she was being completely unreasonable. She thought that workers comp should pay for her to have a car service to get to and from work, accused her boss of racism and sexism, declared that she should sue for violation of ADA, etc. When I asked her to please stop complaining to me about her boss, she was offended. When I expressed sympathy for the pain she was in and how difficult it was making work for her, she got defensive. Our relationship, and my work, deteriorated quickly, to the point that I finally talked to her boss about her bizarre behavior and how it was affecting me. In the end she was asked to resign a few months after the injury. I chose to stop responding to her calls, texts, and emails as she had become so toxic to me.

Several months later, during which we had no contact, she now has a job in an institution related to mine. She has repeatedly reached out asking to have lunch or coffee, cheery and bright as if nothing had ever happened. I decided to give her a chance, but when I shared some health problems of my own, her responses were so bizarre (more outraged that nobody had told her than concerned about me) I couldn’t imagine any kind of relationship with her again.

I don’t believe that we can maintain a purely cordial relationship. I have been reluctant to tell her outright that I don’t want her to contact me, as she and I know several of the same people, and from past experience I know she will tell anyone who listens what a horrible person I am. But ignoring her does not seem to be working — and worst of all, she occasionally has a reason to be in my building and can (and will) drop by my office.

What can I do? The idea of having any contact with her is so stressful to me, but I don’t trust her to act professionally if I explicitly ask her not to contact me.

Yeah, explicitly asking her not to contact you is likely to come across as hostile, and if you’re worried about the damage she could do to your reputation, your better bet might be something just a step or two above that: minimal polite acknowledgement, combined with determined preservation of very high boundaries.

Specifically:

* When she invites you to lunch or coffee, reply, “Oh, I’m swamped these days so can’t get anything on the calendar right now. Hope things are going well for you though!” (And if it’s easier for you to respond via email where you don’t have to actually speak to her, you can respond by email even if she contacted you by phone.)

* If she stops by your office, greet her politely and then say, “So sorry, I’m just about to jump on a conference call” (or just about to head into a meeting, or preparing for a meeting, or on a deadline).

* If she sends you a social email or text about her life or anything else, wait a few days to reply and then answer with something short, breezy, and totally non-committal — “sounds like things are going really well!” or “lovely to hear from you — glad you’re doing well — things are great here too” or “ooof, sounds stressful, glad you’re hanging in there.” In other words, minimal polite acknowledgement without advancing the conversation.

For the record, if you weren’t concerned about her ability to harm your reputation, it would be fine to just basically drop the relationship — not respond to attempts to contact you, etc. But in this case, it sounds like it’s worth being minimally polite. The key is to realize that you can do that without resuming a real relationship with her. And this approach is likely to be sufficiently unsatisfying to her that her attempts to contact you will probably scale way back the longer you do it, to the point that they’re highly likely to stop altogether after a while.

how can I completely disconnect from a difficult former boss? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, September 26th, 2016 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

usnewsWorkplace policies are supposed to serve the needs of the business – which includes attracting and retaining great employees. And yet some truly terrible policies have stuck around for decades, despite fairly sweeping changes in work culture. These policies are often rooted in outdated work norms and a lack of trust from managers toward employees – which is one reason why good companies and good employees don’t want anything to do with them.

At U.S. News & World Report today, I wrote about five of the worst workplaces policies that good companies have jettisoned long ago but which lesser companies continue to cling to. You can read it here.

5 terrible workplace policies that good companies don’t have was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, September 26th, 2016 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’m in a bit of a bind: I struggle with anxiety and PTSD-ish symptoms stemming from my last job. I was in a very toxic environment in which my boss was extremely passive-aggressive and I was basically set up to fail from Day 1. Because of this, it’s difficult for me to accept criticism or correction from work superiors and coworkers without beating myself up about it inwardly (outwardly, I’m professional and proactive).

I can easily accept criticism about aspects of my job (e.g., “You should have run X analysis instead of Y”), but “social” criticism (e.g., “I’ve gotten feedback that you’re too loud in the office”) skewers me. I immediately assume that everyone in the office feels this way and that even if I correct the behavior, my boss will always remember and hold it against me (as they did at my prior job).

I am in therapy for my anxiety issues, but since this is Ask A Manager, I wanted to ask: typically, what is the thought process of a Good Boss once they’ve corrected an employee’s behavior?

With someone who’s outwardly professional about the feedback? “Great, she seemed to take that well — hopefully that will resolve it.” (And often with a side of “whew, I’m glad that’s out of the way.”)

And then later, if the behavior in question changes: “Yay, she took that feedback really well and fixed the issue!”

It is seriously a freaking joy to have an employee professionally and calmly listen to feedback and then make the changes requested. It can actually make the relationship stronger than it would have been if the feedback had never even needed to be given, because now it’s clear that you’re willing to take feedback seriously and work on things that are brought to your attention, and that’s hugely valuable in an employee. (This is true for all feedback, but it’s especially true for the sort of social/behavioral feedback you’re talking about, since those conversations tend to feel inherently more awkward.)

You sound very conscientious, so this is probably surprising to you because you probably figure that of course people take feedback professionally and calmly and work to make the changes requested … but not everyone does. Plenty of people get a little defensive or show they’re upset, or they just don’t take the feedback seriously, which necessitates another conversation about it. And lots of managers dread giving feedback because they’re afraid of what the reaction might be (some of them put it off forever because of that), so when an employee handles it calmly and makes the conversation easy, it’s a relief and a delight.

And no, a decent manager — even a halfway decent manager — won’t forever think of you as The Person Who Needed Her Behavior Corrected. First and most importantly, you handling the feedback so well will trump the earlier impression (see: you are a delight, above). Second, giving feedback is a really normal part of a manager’s job, even the more behavioral stuff like “you’re too loud,” and so it’s not nearly as big a deal to them as it is to you. Third, no one is perfect, and decent managers know that employees are humans who have flaws or make mistakes or need some course-correction at times; it’s not a horrible, damning thing, the way it sounds like your old boss trained you to think of it.

Really, if you’re taking feedback calmly and thoughtfully and working on it afterwards, you are doing exactly what good managers want and appreciate, and in the vast majority of cases that is the impression that will stay with your manager more than whatever the feedback itself was about.

when your boss has to correct your behavior, does it impact their impression of you forever? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, September 26th, 2016 10:04 am
We finished that last episode of Star Wars: Rebels around noon yesterday. I really want to see season three now, but we don’t have Disney XD and can’t afford to get it.

Scott did the grocery shopping at about 2:00. We went to the library about 4:30 then finished cleaning up the portals at the science center. After that, Scott mowed the lawn and grilled some fish. I cooked some potatoes in the pressure cooker.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that I’m not going to be able to keep taking Zoloft. I’m getting bruises on my legs that I can’t remember sources for. I’m not absolutely sure that it’s connected as it’s only three so far, but bruising is one of those side effects that can be serious, so I’m going to pay attention and see if other bruises turn up.

I went into the bedroom at 8:00 because Scott and Cordelia wanted to watch Once Upon a Time. I gave up on that midway through season one, and, while I don’t mind it, I didn’t want to deal with Cordelia hassling me about how I shouldn’t watch until I catch up. I’m not likely to get around to it. I hit a point where I couldn’t deal with the things I could see were obviously coming in the flashbacks.

We have a mattress with adjustable pressure air bladders. I’m finding that the comfortable pressure for me to sleep on is absolutely not comfortable for sitting on. Basically, I need my mattress very soft for sleeping, but that leaves it so flabby that, when all of my weight is concentrated by sitting, my behind sinks far enough to hit the hard platform under the mattress. If I’m going to go in there regularly and sit, I think I’ll want to pump up the air bladder and then take it back down at bedtime.

I ended up not sleeping all that well last night. I slept okay up until about 4:00. After that, I think I had a few minutes here and there. I was awake from when Scott got up until Cordelia got up then drowsed while she got ready for school and then again after she left for about forty-five minutes. Most of this is related to needing the bathroom. Needing to pee every two to three hours makes for disrupted sleep, especially when the timing for my bladder doesn’t map onto the timing of other things that will wake me.

I’ve narrowed down my probable Yuletide offers to about fifteen things that I’d actually be thrilled to write. Three are things I’ve written before. I wouldn’t mind writing them again, but maybe I should just offer things I haven’t written? If I match on, say, the Chronicles of Amber, I might choke on having too much of that fandom since I’ve completed two fics in it this year and have two more I’m working on (plus, there’s the UCon game to write).

I also have two longish lists of things that I’d be interested in writing but that I’m not sure I can write well, either because of the voice of canon or because of the nominated characters, or that I don’t have ready access to or that are too long to review in the time I’ll have. At least one is something for which I’d love to write one of the nominated characters but don’t think I could offer any of the others. I always dither at this stage because I can see that it’s possible, in theory, that one of the fandoms I don’t offer might have a request that I’d adore writing. Experience tells me that I can’t/won’t write treats or NYR fics. I have old Yuletide requests from five or six years ago that pinged me enough for me to save them but not enough to actually, you know, write them.
Monday, September 26th, 2016 11:46 pm
Thanks for all of your corrections!

Some corrections require a bit more input. If you were the nominator, or are closely involved in the fandom, could you please comment on the following questions by 9pm UTC 30th Sept (When is this for me?):


Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller / Don Carlos | Don Carlo - Verdi/du Locle/Méry


It’s possible that these tags are (almost) in order; it’s also possible that some of the tags have migrated weirdly.
Currently nominated under Don Carlos - Friedrich Schilller, we have: Carlos | Carlo (Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller), Élisabeth de Valois | Elisabetta di Valois (Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller), Felipe II de España | Philip II of Spain (Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller), Philippe II | Filippo II (Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller), Rodrigue | Rodrigo (Don Carlos - Friedrich Schiller).
Apart from the duplication of King Philip, could any nominators please comment on whether the characters are appearing in the right place and whether any were meant to appear in the Verdi/du Locie/Méry canon?

Austin & Murry-O'Keefe Families - Madeleine L'Engle


Emily Davidson was nominated in this category. Could the nominator please confirm they meant Emily Davidson, or did they mean Emily Gregory?

The Fall (2006)


Many of the characters were submitted with pipes for their hospital & story selves. Roy and Alexandra were both nominated as separate characters and also Alexandra | The Bandit’s Daughter, and Roy | Black Bandit. Could the nominators please comment on whether they would prefer Alexandra and Roy’s identities in the movie be combined or piped, with reasons?

Heian jidai | Heian Period RPF


The character Benjei is ambiguous. Does this mean Musashibō Benkei, or someone else?

The Inheritance Trilogy - N. K. Jemisin


Could the nominator please specify which Shahar Arameri was meant (high priestess or descendant?), and suggest a label that makes this clear?

Midnighter


Midnighter Comics is nominated with characters Apollo, Dick Grayson, The Gardener, Henry Bendix, Midnighter.
Midnighter (New 52 Comics) is nominated with characters Apollo, Dick Grayson, Jason, Midnighter.

The Midnighter (New 52 Comics) are fine. However, The Gardener and Dick Grayson don’t belong to the Midnighter comics produced by WildStorm. Could the people who nominated Midnighter please confirm if they meant WildStorm or (New 52) DC?

Myst (Series)


It’s been pointed out that the character “Zandi” could mean more than one person. Could the nominator please confirm if they mean Elias Zandi, Jeff Zandi, or someone else?

Terminator (Movies)


The current nominated characters are Pops (Terminator Genisys), Enrique Salceda, John Connor, Kate Brewster, Kyle Reese, Marcus Wright, Sarah Connor

It has been suggested that this category be separated out - either by separating into different movies, or by attaching disambiguation tags to the characters to show what their movie backstory is. Before we do this, we’d prefer to hear to from the nominators as to which characters they meant and what their intentions were.


Baseball RPF


We have removed a character from the tag set for a very sad reason. José Fernández of the Miami Marlins died recently in a boating accident and we extend our sympathies to his fans. We are removing the tag from the tagset in compliance with the wishes of the nominator.


Please continue to let us know about inconsistencies and problems in the tag set.
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Monday, September 26th, 2016 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. If you go to a good college, do you still need to get work experience while you’re in school?

I recently had a dispute with my younger brother, a senior in high school. I suggested that when he goes to college, he should take advantage of connections through the school to get an internship or two over the summer, for the experience and flesh out his resume, since degree =/= job in this day and age. He doesn’t want to, since he’s guaranteed admission into [pretty good but not Ivy League school], and thinks that it would be pointless to do internships since having the school’s name on his resume would put him ahead regardless. He’s a good student with a stellar GPA, and his field is accounting, if that makes any difference.

So if you were hiring, would you take a graduate from a good school with a great GPA, or someone from a more ordinary school who did internships and volunteer work?

Someone from a good school with a great GPA and no work experience? Nope, because there are going to be loads of other candidates from good schools with good GPAs and work experience, and they are pretty much always going to be preferable — because they’ve had some exposure to the work world and I won’t be starting from scratch with them.

Employers really, really don’t like to hire people with no work experience at all, regardless of what school they went to. An Ivy could maybe minimize that a bit, although I wouldn’t count on it, and other schools — even very good brand-name schools — definitely won’t. I think he’s overestimating the impact of a “pretty good” school on his resume; it’s certainly a plus, but not so helpful that it will make up for having no work experience.  He’ll still need to work or intern over the summers or he’ll have a much tougher time when he graduates.

(I will say that for accounting, I think it used to be true that he could pull this off, but now internships are so common that it’ll put him at a disadvantage.)

All that said, his thoughts on all this may change once he gets to college, so I wouldn’t worry about arguing it too hard with him.

2. I was chastised for talking to a reporter after being told to use my best judgment

I work at a small nonprofit where we all wear multiple hats. I am in a director role. I have only been in the position for a few months but was hired with the understanding that they brought me in to take charge of these departments and help strengthen the programs. Yesterday, I got an email from a reporter requesting that I answer a few questions. This is about the fifth time this has happened. The first few times, I asked my boss and she told me to go ahead, and by the third she said to use my best judgement. So, I went ahead and answered this reporter without asking her. She found out about it and sent me an email saying that she knows that hasn’t covered this with me, but that there is a certain way media requests should be distributed, and added, “Not a reprimand, just a disappointment.”

I’m confused as to what I did wrong. I’ve asked several times and not only about this. I’ve received ZERO training since coming on board and have had to figure things out on my own. When I ask for guidance I get some, but with this tone that I should already know the answer and am wasting her time. I’m at a loss.

I’d reply this way: “I apologize — I must have misunderstood. When I’d asked you about previous interview requests, you’d told me to use my best judgment — which I took to mean I could respond to reporters on my own. It sounds like I misinterpreted that, though, and I’ll alert you to any future interview requests.”

The “I apologize” isn’t in there to be obsequious in the face of unreasonableness, but because it’s possible that you really did misunderstand (having a central gatekeeper for media requests is actually pretty common, and she might have meant “use your best judgment” on those particular requests, but not as a carte blanche to respond to all future ones) and because as long as this isn’t constantly happening, it’s an effective way to smooth it over, even if it’s irksome to have to say.

But it’s pretty obnoxious for her to say she’s “disappointed” at the same time she’s saying it’s something she hasn’t covered with you in the past. And far more than this specific incident, I’m concerned about the broader pattern of the way she talks to you. I’m not a fan of your boss.

3. Employee refuses to use cell phone for an outside office event

My direct report, who is salaried and exempt, is attending an event on behalf of our agency. The event organizer requested her cell phone number, as did the client who will be speaking. She stated that she prefers I give them her office phone, while VERY firmly stating that she will not be available 24 hours a day. She refuses to budge. While I could just hand it over anyway (or not have informed her at all), our office culture would consider that too heavy-handed of me. I am not asking her to be available 24 hours a day, but fully accessible immediately before and during the event. It’s good customer service and our job is to make sure a volunteer or client feels comfortable with their task. Part of that is knowing they can reach someone if there is a last-minute issue. This would be necessary maybe four to five times a year. Is this unreasonable? Is there any illegality in my request? She has a performance review coming up and I’d like to tactfully address this instance of defiance and non-teamwork but am not sure how to do it.

Other questions you’ve answered on this come from the perspective of the employee and seem to address incessant, not occasional use, and reimbursement of the bill. I was hoping for an answer with a bit more teeth that I could use as a supervisor.

You’re not being unreasonable at all, and it’s 100% legal to require her to do it. I would say this to her: “No one expects you to be available 24 hours a day, but part of doing this work is that the client needs to be able to reach you in case there’s a last-minute issue. It’s rare that this happens — I’ve seen it maybe four or five times a year. But this is indeed part of staffing this event, and we do need the client to be able to reach you in case of emergency.”

4. When the email name doesn’t match the resume name

I do hiring for a small-ish company (about 150 employees) and was curious on your opinion concerning resume names not matching email names. Frequently when hiring for our more entry-level jobs, I will get emails with resumes where the two do not match. Normally, this isn’t a big deal, like when someone uses a shortened name such as “Bob Smith” instead of “Robert Smith.” However, every one out of 100 or so I’ll receive a resume/cover letter clearly from a spouse or relative. Something along the lines of it coming from a Mrs. Amanda Smith and then the resume applying says it’s for Mr. John Smith.

I tend to rule out these resumes quickly because they either don’t realize they are using someone else’s account, or the person is applying for them. This to me shows either a lack of attention to detail or that they aren’t proactive enough to do something themselves. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Yeah, this bugs me too. Email accounts are free, and there’s no reason someone can’t send resumes from their own Gmail account, so it does make it look like someone else is applying to jobs on their behalf — which certainly doesn’t make them an appealing candidate. If they otherwise seemed to be a really strong candidate, I’d move forward with them and just ask about it at the phone interview stage … but at least in my experience, the people who do this are never particularly strong candidates anyway, so it never gets that far.

5. We’re not allowed to shop in our store on the days we work there

I work at Salvation Army. Is it legal for my employer to prohibit employees from shopping after work hours? They just announced to us that we are only allowed to shop on our day off. They no longer allow us to shop the store when our shift is over on the same work day. For me, this means I have to travel an extra half hour on my day off if I want to shop the store I work at. Is this legal? It seems extraordinarily unfair, especially because many of us there only get one day off if we intend to shop.

Yes, it’s legal, although I can see why it seems unfair. You could ask them about the reason for the policy though. Say something like this: “Are you able to share the reason for the policy? I’m curious what’s behind it.”

does a good college mean you don’t have to do internships, employee refuses to use cell phone, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 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
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 08:18 pm




theladyandthewolves:

I bought a new table (the white one) at Ikea last week, got sick this week so I only put it in place today. The plan was to get rid of the old black one but I decided to keep it and put the flowers and the magazines there, maybe I’ll add something with copper or rose gold to that, and the rug from my grandma that my mom kept for me. I also vaccumed because it was about time!

I’m happy I managed to get back to unfucking my place after weeks of procrastination, it feels really good!

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 04:00 pm

One of my favorite poems is “so you want to be a writer?” by Charles Bukowski. You can read it here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/so-you-want-be-writer

Using this poem as inspiration, write your own poem about what writing and/or being a writer means to you.

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 06:27 pm










geckoblep:

I give you: THE UNFUCKENING

Full disclosure: the meat of this project took place on weekends over the course of a month– 6+ hours 2 days a week, plus an additional 4 during the workweek. I did 20/10′s and 45/15′s end-to-end until I had to drop to the floor for a nap because my bed had every piece of crap I owned on it.

I’ve lived in this bedroom for the majority of my 22 years. At first this was going to be a surface project. But as I worked, I realized that I felt like I was still living in a teenager’s bedroom. It was time to make it look like an adult lived here.

This went way below the surface you can see here. I cleared out every shelf, every drawer, every tiny space under my furniture, every nook and cranny of my closet, then put it all back together. I emptied my car of donations and garbage twice. I got rid of so much stuff that I was able to give away a tall bookshelf, which means I was able to push my desk away from the door (I used to bump it on every in or out). 

(bottom pic is a shelf-by-shelf layout of how much stuff fit on that bookcase.)

I even took my mattress off its partially-disassembled frame and cleared that out, vacuuming it for the first time in decades. And the desk! –my zeal was so great that I decided refinishing it would be a good idea while I took my gecko’s tank out to clean. 

It’s not perfect. I still need to rehang my mirror in its new location, and the carpet is begging for some shampoo. But WOW!!!! I feel a million times better knowing my space is organized and CLEAN. The room looks bigger, brighter, and more inviting. For the first time in my life, I am not embarrassed to leave my bedroom door open while I’m out of the house.

Not pictured: the numerous 20/10′s done for the kitchen and bathrooms that I did when I needed to get out of my cramped space.

Thank you, UFYH!!!

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 10:30 am

At work, we finally ran the numbers again and figured out that, no, $PROJECT is not going to be finished in October. Current target is mid-December, but even that may be a stretch. The good thing is that it isn't all my fault, though I still blame myself for most of the bad planning.

At home, I finished pulling up the bindweed. There are some stragglers, but at least it's no longer covering 50' of walkway.

I finally put in my passport renewal - I found the one place in the area that's open on Saturday, after trying on Wednesday at the courthouse and balking at the metal detector because I knew I was carrying a knife. The process of applying in person has gotten a lot quicker since the last time I did it, but I'm still down on myself for procrastinating past the point where I could have renewed by mail.

It looks like we'll have a second tenant, so we'll be getting a little more rent. Because of initial clustering, she'll be referred to as C''. Our current tenant is C'. (I've picked up that notation from Haskell, in which "'" (pronounced "prime") is considered a letter. Haskell gets it from math, of course, but it's gone out of fashion in CS because programming languages are always hungry for quotation methods.)

I finally ordered one of the newest Thinkpad (KU-1255) keyboards -- it's still good. In some ways, slightly better than my older and much-beloved XK-8855s -- the one I'm using at work has developed a flaky space bar. (Too many aliens hanging out in it, presumably.) I like the fact that it has the page-up and page-down keys in the empty spaces above the left and right keys. Not only does that make the best use of available space, but it means that if I shove the keyboard under the monitor stand to protect it from cats, I can still navigate effectively in the browser. I don't like that the function keys are smaller and require a "FnLk" keystroke, and that it has a stupid micro-usb cable instead of one built-in with a compartment on the bottom you can curl it up in.

Otherwise, not too much to report. Some links on depression, though as I note on Monday, five of the ten symptoms of major depression start with the word "change", which is kind of useless when you can't remember a time when you've been that way for as long as you can remember. (You have to have 5 to be diagnosed as having it.)

awesome-awesome: A curated list of awesome curated lists of many topics is indeed awesome. So is Make a Lisp, which is a collection of Lisp implementations in dozens of different programming languages. The idea of implementing Lisp in make makes (recursion intended) my head hurt. In a good way -- I love GNU make.

Notes & links, as usual )

Tags:
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 11:30 am
I’ve been looking at the current Yuletide tag list. I think there are a lot fewer fandoms I’m comfortable offering this year than there usually are. Many of those I’m willing to offer are things I’ve written before and/or things that always get more offers than requests. I’m trying to decide whether or not I’m willing to put in the work to sample the various nominated songs, videos, and commercials.

Cordelia went out for several hours yesterday. Scott and I didn’t end up doing anything because he was exhausted, and I was groggy. We kept bringing up things we needed to do and then not moving from where we were sitting.

I wrote a few words yesterday but not many. I also started watching about three different DVDs but didn’t get far into any of them. I just couldn’t focus.

After Cordelia got home, we watched most of what we had left of Star Wars: Rebels season 2. We have one episode left because Cordelia suddenly announced that she was done for the evening. One episode should be more than doable today.

The tamoxifen really has changed how I respond to temperatures that I would have found unpleasantly cold. It was in the 50s last night, and I thought it was beautiful for walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. Before the tamoxifen, that would never have happened. Of course, the downside is that we’re spending a lot on electricity to run our AC this summer because I can’t handle heat.

A group from the other Ingress faction came through and knocked everything over after I’d already done my usual walk. Scott and I ended up going and taking back a few portals, mostly at the science center. Coming back up the hill for a second time was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I had to stop a couple of times.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 08:15 pm
God, the rules make it sound interminable, but it's not that hard and it's actually pretty fun. (And I won, so yay!)

Eva is super enthused about our board games right now. I was thinking when I was at the drugstore today, I'm pretty sure that girl has actually never played a game of Monopoly. We had an English travel Monopoly once I got at the thrift store, but it turned out it was missing all its houses and hotels so we never played it.

And you'll never hear me say that our games aren't generally better than Monopoly, but if the girls have friends over it might be nice to be able to play a game those friends are already familiar with rather than having to explain the rules from scratch every time. We have Parcheesi (as we're a 5 person family I keep planning to get a custom-made 6 or 8 person board, so we can have all of us and a guest), and we have Scrabble, and we have Clue Master Detective (more rooms, weapons, and people than standard Clue) but that's about it. (Oh, and we have Uno, I suppose, and Jenga if I find all the blocks. And a chess/checkers set. And cards, and dominoes. And Yahtzee.)

Now that I type it all out, lol, it looks like we have a lot of standard games! So maybe I shouldn't worry so much after all! (But I'm still wondering if somehow the girls are missing an essential part of American life by not playing Monopoly.)
Saturday, September 24th, 2016 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
Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 07:44 pm
I've ripped out the relevant pages from our high school book, and my plan is to get in, get out. I'm going to stop at all high schools on our list which are "limited unscreened" and sign in - that gives Ana priority in admissions for those schools. If they're not there I'll make a note to go to their open house. I'm going to stop at all the ones which are "screened" (they give admissions to the highest grades and state test scores who apply) and "ed. opt." (half the admissions are by random lottery, the other half are chosen from a bell curve of grades and test scores so they have some at each grade level) and ask what their policy is for homeschooled students who, perforce, don't have grades and opted out of the statewide tests. If they can't rattle off their policy, or if they're not there I'll make a note and call them.

And then we'll leave!

So I'm browsing the list of schools which have signed up to appear at the high school fair and I'm amused to see that there is a high school in the Bronx called "HERO High". That's "Health, Education, and Research Occupations", but still. (The Bronx is way too far away to go to school, so I didn't even look at that section.)
Saturday, September 24th, 2016 01:46 pm

The quiz for your “American Harry Potter House” on Pottermore (www.pottermore.com) has some thought-provoking questions. One asks you to think of what one question you would most want answered by someone all-knowing, and then choose the simple answer you would most hope to receive.

If you really could have one such question answered, what would it be? What answer would you most hope for?

That is the subject of your poem.