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Thursday, April 24th, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

If you seize up with fear at the thought of giving a presentation to a group of people, you have plenty of company. And if you’re shy or otherwise not a “natural public speaker,” the prospect of having to command a room might feel especially daunting. But many before you have conquered those fears and even gone on to become engaging speakers, and you can too.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to do it — including not sacrificing authenticity in favor of polish, which was a realization I found hugely helpful. You can read it here.

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 02:52 pm
At least when Ginny sits like this, i don't get yelled at for typing oer her. Unlike Gabe.
Read more... )
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 10:00 am

Posted by PJ Jonas

Busy Mom’s Survival Guide Podcast Episode 071.
Sibling rivalry is something I think every parent with more than one child deals with. And it can be so frustrating because of how frequently it appears and how much time we spend dealing with it.

sibling rivalry 1_blog

But as frustrating as it can be, I know that for me it can also become depressing because as a parent, I truly want my children to be friends as well as siblings.  So it is something that I work very hard to ensure doesn’t get out of control.

During today’s episode, I’m going to talk about sibling rivalry with Dr. Todd Cartmell, author of the book, Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry*.

His book is very straightforward with ten steps to improve the relationship between your children.  If the sibling rivalry in your family is out of control, I would definitely recommend his book, but only if you’re willing to put in the work that is needed to correct the rivalry.  There are no magical words that will fix this issue, but be encouraged that time and effort can definitely make a real improvement.

The Ten Steps

  1. Create a strong family bond
  2. Connect with each child
  3. Eliminate comparing, labeling, and competition
  4. Require sibling respect
  5. Improve sibling communication
  6. Step toward solutions
  7. Teach sibling survival skills
  8. Reinforce positive sibling behavior
  9. Use sibling consequences that work
  10. Put them on the same team

Episodes In This Series

Thanks for listening! Please join me for next week’s episode when we finish the discussion on sibling rivalry.



*Amazon Affiliate Link

You can subscribe to the Busy Mom’s Survival Guide Podcast:

 iTunes RSS Feed

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 12:30 am
Guys. Ready for another round of Julia wah-wah-wah? No? See ya'll tomorrow, then. on......

I have been in denial for the past six to eight months about this nagging back pain that turns into a numb right leg and foot after I walk it around. In defense of my denial, this showed up during a period when I was feeling crummy overall and wasn't doing a lot of walking around anyway. Then after my rituximab infusion and it's accompanying higher doses of prednisone, it all went away. Ahhhhhh. 

I forgot about it briefly until the pain and numbness returned as I tapered my prednisone dose. Rats. So during my last visit to Dr. Young Guy, I 'fessed up, and he ordered an x-ray of my back and made a referral to a physiatrist for me. 

What's a physiatrist? I asked suspiciously, thinking that the name sounded psychiatrist-y. 

"It's a physician that's received special training that combines orthopedics and neurology. They do lots of rehab work." Oh. Spiffy!

I received an appointment quickly, and last week met my very own physiatrist physician, who turned out to be even younger looking than Dr. Young Guy and equally nice. He listened carefully to my litany of symptoms, made a physical exam of my back and hips, then put me through a series of bizarre exercises to determine the type and extent of my issues. He made the mistake of asking the perfectly logical question, "How far can you walk before the numbness in your leg and foot begin?"

But since I was totally tired out from all that bending and stretching and walking tippy-toe, at that point the dreaded TIRED = STUPID factor came strongly into play. Um....I don't know. It doesn't seem like very far. I'm a really rotten distance estimator

He was a very patient young man. "Just try to describe the distance the best way that you can."

Well. You know when you go into one of those huge grocery stores? And you go in the door closest to the bakery? And then you go through the produce department and past the meat and dairy and end up by the frozen pies? 

He just looked at me. I couldn't read his expression.

You know. The pies in the frozen foods section. So it would be the distance from the parking lot, through the bakery and all the way to the frozen foods. I can't even do one whole lap around the grocery story periphery.

"O-kaaaaaaay," he said. 

We were silent for a brief period. I think he didn't quite know what to make of the information that I just given him. I was glad that he didn't do a facepalm or start to laugh. What a guy.

Then he gave me his opinion: "I think what you've got going here is a ruptured disk between two of the vertebrae of your back. It's most likely between the last of the lumbar vertebrae and the first of the sacral ones." He grabbed a plastic and rubber model of the spinal column complete with spinal cord, nerves, and a conveniently herniated disk. He bent the model spine as if it were a person hunching forward, and whoa! That little blue herniated disk bulged prominently to squeeze the nerve directly behind it. It was pretty gross, actually.  It looked kind of like this illustration from the Mayo Clinic, found here.

Here's how Mayo defines my back problem:
A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine. 
A spinal disk is a little like a jelly donut, with a softer center encased within a tougher exterior. Sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when some of the softer "jelly" pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior. 
A herniated disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Continue reading here
A jelly donut. I have a ruptured jelly donut. Hm.

I'm so pathetic. This knowledge made me want to immediately drive myself over to Krispy Kreme. But I didn't. Yay me! I would have patted myself on the back but that would have hurt.

He gave me some specific exercises to do, several postures to strictly avoid, talked about the use of heat and or ice, and made a return appointment for me. "Most people can heal these disk problems without surgery or injections. I'm hoping that you can too. But we'll keep a close eye on things to make sure," he said as he handed me a stack of papers that thankfully had all of the information written on them that we had just been discussing since I was still firmly in stupid-land at that point.

Good grief. Wouldn't you know this dumb stupid back thing had to show up just as my rituximab energy is beginning to kick in?

Does anyone have a ruptured jelly donut story with a happy ending to share? As in: their disk healed itself up just fine and dandy without surgery or injections?


I could really use one of those right now.
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My coworker keeps pushing unwanted help on me

It is my first year working at a boarding school, and one of my coworkers, who has been here for numerous years, has slowly been poking his head in my responsibilities and using them for his own agenda. For instance, one of my responsibilities was to interview students for a position. He sat in on all my interviews and kept trying to boost students who he worked with and gave me reasons not to pick the students that I work closely with. His reasoning was, “Well, this is your first year and I thought you could use the help.” I have moved dates and projects around mainly because they did not fit his schedule. Any time I have come up with an original idea, his response is, “Well, THIS is how we have always done it” and he becomes super persistent until he gets his way.

I appreciate his input and guidance, and I do not mind trying to accommodate, but I need him to let me do my job. Not to mention, the responsibilities he has been poking his head in are now mine because he originally did not want them. Unfortunately, I work AND live at the school and so does he. Additionally, he is very sensitive and insecure. Where I am looking for a colleague, he is looking for a best friend. ( I did not add him on Facebook and it became a “thing.” ) I am looking for advice on how to tactfully let him know I need to do my job while not making it awkward at work/home.

“Thanks, I appreciate the offer to help, but I’m going to handle this on my own.”
“I think I want to figure this out myself, but thank you.”
“I’m going to do this on my own.”
“I’ve got this, but thank you.”
Etc. And you say this pleasantly, but firmly. And then you continue to repeat it firmly until he backs off.

If at some point you want to address it more broadly, you could say, “I appreciate your offers to help, but I think I need to handle most of this stuff on my own. Thanks for understanding.” But since he’s sensitive and insecure, you might be better off just addressing it in the moment as it happens and assuming that he’ll back off once you’ve clearly established that you don’t welcome the “help.”

2. Giving feedback about shoddy work to someone I don’t manage

I work for a franchise of a national company. We own the business, so we generally make our own decisions, with the promise of support from the company in exchange for our royalties.

A nearby business that competes with ours recently re-opened, so I called our “home office” to speak with their marketing specialist about ideas. She and I had a long talk about a lot of things, then she said it would take about a month for her to analyze and get back to me. We set up a meeting for today, which I was really looking forward to, until I received the analysis she’d written up. It looks like it was written by a toddler – run-on sentences, poor spelling, misuse of words, etc. Worse, while the first couple pages apply directly to us and seem to be well-researched, the other ten or so are what appear to be canned responses.

I am so disappointed by this and see no point in having this meeting, as it appears it’ll be a complete waste of everyone’s time. I emailed her back to cancel and included a couple lines about how I didn’t see that most of what she’d included applied to us (for example, she suggested we register with major online review sites, all of which we are already registered with, which she would have known if she’d visited our website).

Was this the right thing to do? I don’t want to shame her, but I can’t help but feel like she turned in skate-by work. If I were her teacher or her supervisor, I’d know how to handle this, but I have no idea if what I did was correct here.

Absolutely. Canceling the meeting was perfectly reasonable given what she’d sent you, and being straightforward in explaining to her why you no longer thought it would be helpful is more useful to her than if you hadn’t told her the reason. I’d actually go a step further than that and say that it would be worth telling someone at your home office what your experience with this support was. Part of the franchise fees you pay buy you support from this home office, and you should speak up if they’re not providing what they promise. (And quality issues fall under that category; wouldn’t you want to know about this if you were them?)

3. My company said I could try working remotely, but then replaced me

I have been at my job for almost five years. About five months ago, I moved about 4 hours away from my job to live closer to my boyfriend. Before I made this move, I asked my company if I would be able to work from home and come into the office once a week. They agreed to try this arrangement out for four months and see how it was. During those four months, I did not hear any complaints or negative feedback. I also spoke with my boss and she assured me that everything was going great.

Well, last week, my boss called me in and told me that it wasn’t working out and that they wanted the person in this position to be in the office five days a week. She told me that my performance has been excellent and the only reason for this decision was that I am not in the office five days a week. She also told me that they had already hired my replacement and that they would be starting in a week.

My boss said that I can keep working there until July or until I find a new job but I would be expected to train my replacement in the meantime. I was pretty shocked and hurt that this was all done without any discussions or feedback. I asked for severance, but my boss was very adamant that I wasn’t fired and that it was my choice to move away. I don’t know what I can do from this point forward. I obviously feel like I was fired and I don’t want to work there anymore and I especially don’t want to train my replacement. I also need to focus on finding a new job. However if I don’t stay then I won’t get any severance or be able to collect unemployment. Was I fired? What can I do in this situation?

It doesn’t sound like you were fired. It sounds like your company assumed that you were going to move whether or not they okayed you working remotely and so they agreed to try it for four months, thinking that they might or might not keep you on longer than that … but that if it didn’t work out, it would just be the same resignation that you would have otherwise given when you moved. They absolutely erred in giving you no heads-up about their thinking, especially when you asked directly how the arrangement was working out, and they suck for blindsiding you like this. But it’s also true that it was set up from the beginning as a four-month experiment, and it’s not crazy that they decided at the end of that time that it wasn’t working for them. (And presumably you knew from the beginning that this could be the outcome.) They’re giving you another 2+ months, which is more than they agreed to at the outset, so in that respect, they’re being pretty accommodating. Really, the only thing they did wrong here was in waiting to fill you in on their thinking once they started having concerns.

As for what to do now, I’d stay while you look for a job, train your replacement, and do good work so you don’t burn the bridge and so you preserve a good reference. When you find a new job, give two weeks notice and move on.

4. Why do interviewers give you their card at the end of the interview?

I have had several interviews over the past few weeks, and I was offered cards at the end of the interview. I assume this is for thank-you notes, but I also use them to ask about timelines if the timeline they mentioned in the interview has passed. One woman gave me a very blanket vague response like she was annoyed that I asked, one woman didn’t even bother to reply to my emails, and the other just fell off the face of the earth. And I had really good interviews! They seemingly like me at first, but afterwards I hear nothing and they get irritated if I reach out. I’m confused!

They give you their cards because it’s a business convention to give people your card at the end of a meeting. (You’re not expected to give them one in return since you’re not there representing your employer.) It’s really nothing more than that. As for why they’re not helpful or don’t respond when you contact them later, that’s part of a larger pattern of employers not getting back to candidates after interviews. Sometimes it’s because they have no news yet, sometimes it’s because they’ve taken you out of the running but are too inconsiderate to tell you, and sometimes it’s because they intend to but forget to in the rush of higher priorities.

5. Did I mess up by addressing my application to HR instead of the hiring manager?

Recently I submitted an application to a generic email address (e.g., and I thought I was being smart by addressing my cover letter and email to their human resources director. After reading your definitions for HR and a hiring manager, I’m not so sure. Did I screw up my chances of getting considered by addressing the email and cover letter to the HR director instead of the person the open position reports to? If so, is there anything I can do to correct this mistake?

No. No one cares how you address the cover letter as long as you don’t make up fake names or spell people’s names wrong. You’re over-thinking it. You don’t even need to address it to a specific name, unless they include a name in their application directions. “Dear hiring manager” is fine, and so are most other variations of that. They do not care. Put it out of your mind.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 09:22 pm

Apparently, Robison Wells (author of Variant) has fallen on some severely hard times due to a combination of factors including what looks like a terrible combination of mental health issues. So she and several other writers are putting together a short story collection to help fundraise. If that looks like the sort of thing you'll be interested in, you should note that it's only $10 for the e-book.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 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

  • 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

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 05:25 pm


9 Lies the Internet Tells You About Bed Bugs


As some of our readers may recall, I was recently infested with bed bugs. It was an unholy nightmare of creepy reveals, itching extremities, and, well, nightmares.  (more…)

View On WordPress

A great piece on bed bugs by my dear friend Selena over at Persephone Magazine.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 06:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Remember the reader whose coworker invited her to a sleepover? Here’s her update.

Thanks so much to you and your readers for all of your help!

The sleepover invitation seemed to fizzle out soon after I sent the letter. But while I stopped receiving follow-ups on having a sleepover, this coworker was suddenly inviting me to all sorts of things – charity walks in cities several hours away, get-togethers at her church, spa days, you name it. It got to the point where other coworkers started stopping me in the hall to poke fun at the situation (our office is pretty quiet, and everyone would overhear every invitation!). I still wanted to keep a separation between my work life and personal life (in fact, I’m currently job searching out-of-state, which has made it even harder for me to feel invested in social relationships at work). I decided to be straightforward with my coworker, saying that much of my free time out of work is tied up already. However, I’ve also added that I’d love to go out for coffee or lunch during the week. We’ve been able to go out for lunch several times, sometimes along with some other coworkers as well, and the strange invitations have stopped (for now). I hope that these get-togethers during our lunch hour will allow us to have some social interaction that has a time cap!

Again, thanks so much for all of the advice – it has helped me understand how to create boundaries with coworkers kindly but assertively.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work for a small nonprofit in a city where many offices allow dogs. The organization I work for is still run by its founders, and they have maintained nearly full control of all operations since the organization’s inception. In other words, the place is pretty dysfunctional.

The cofounders adopted an abused dog who has serious behavior problems. When they tried to leave him at home, he ended up destroying their furniture, so now they bring him to work.

Normally I love dogs, but this one is not my favorite. For one, he has horrible gas, which infuses the office with a rank stench that has made me vomit. More seriously, he bites people. He bit my coworker badly enough that she had to go to the ER. The two cofounders paid for her medical bills, but still bring in the dog. He has bitten two other coworkers–seriously enough to break the skin, but not enough to require medical attention. The dog hasn’t bitten me, but has snapped at me when I go into the CEO’s office, and I am terrified of him. We don’t have a dedicated HR function, and the person responsible has a questionable work background and thus does whatever the cofounders tell him to do.

Whenever I see this dog, I react fearfully, which infuriates the two cofounders, as if I were personally insulting them. I also feel like I should be able to go to a job that has nothing to do with pets without fear of getting bitten by a dog–we are not a dog rescue or Humane Society. After reading your blog for some time, I know better than to ask, “Is this legal?” So instead, I will ask you to please weigh in. What should I do?

Poor dog — it sounds like they’re really mishandling the situation in a number of ways, one of which is that they need to get that dog some obedience training, which would probably make him calmer, happier, and better behaved.

But that’s not really your problem. Your problem is that you’re working with an aggressive dog and managers who apparently could give a flying crap. (Actually, that’s just your short-term problem. Your bigger problem is that you need a new job, but we’ll get to that.)

Since your managers have now let the dog bite three different people, and since they’re offended when you show fear of the dog, we can assume they’re not likely to respond well to a reasonable, straightforward request to change the situation if you just approach them on your own. To have the best chance of swaying them — and to keep them from blaming you for being the problem — your best bet is to try to have a group of your coworkers talk to them and lay out the concerns here. Those concerns should be heavily focused on the fact that people don’t feel safe and the dog is impacting productivity, and you should ask them directly to make another arrangement for the dog during the day so that people can have a safe work environment. (And use the words “safe work environment.” Those words tend to connote the idea of “something you’re obligated to provide” and thus are helpful in situations like this.)

Beyond that … well, from a workplace standpoint, it’s really up to them to decide if they want to change something here or not. From a more general legal standpoint, many jurisdictions have laws about liability when dogs bite, and you might want to check into that — although when you’re at that point that you’re trying to press charges against your boss, it’s really time to get yourself out of that environment and into a new job.

Which it’s time to do here anyway. Dog issues aside, working somewhere highly dysfunctional will do no favors for your quality of life or your career.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Given how many bad boss stories we read here, one question that comes up often is how to avoid these bosses before you ever start working for them. What are the signs you can watch for an interview that will tell you that you’d be working for a person who will make your life miserable?

Today at AOL Jobs, I talk about eight ways to learn more about the manager you’d be working for — and how to avoid the bad ones. You can read it here.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 10:52 am
Anybody here in the Boston area interested in a sheep=shearing festival this weekend in Waltham? It sounds like it might be interesting, and even if it's not there's a decent used bookstore/coffeeshop in town.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 09:19 am
I've done something to my right leg. I have no idea what. I just know that, in certain positions, something tugs really hard on my heel, painfully so. I suspect it's one of the muscles in my calf. Unfortunately, trying to stretch those is one of the things that really, really hurts. It feels like something might give that shouldn't. If this goes on, I'll probably have to see my doctor and request physical therapy. Scott massaged my calf last night. He said it's really knotted up.

My Remix story is not going well so far. I'm not sure I've started it in the right place. I don't have other ideas for where to start it, however, so I'm going to persevere with what I've got so far. I don't have time to mess around much. I wish I had somebody with whom to do writing sprints/word wars. Those really help me make progress. I need to check the Remix community to see when the story is due. It's due soon. I know that much. I just don't have the definite date in my calendar for some reason.

Cordelia is being difficult. She wants to do things with friends, but she leaves it up to me to decide which friend and invite them over. She won't even suggest people. I mean I don't know all of her friends. How am I supposed to know who she wants to play with? This time, there's something at the Hands-On Museum, and she says she'll only go if someone she knows and likes is going. She refused to offer any names. I'm not willing to guess on this one. She's going to have to take some responsibility.

I hope we don't run into this problem over her birthday party. We're coming up on time to invite people, and she'll have to pick seven or eight kids to invite. (She can only invite seven if she wants the group to be able to play Telestrations, and I think she does want that. Well, I suppose we could get her the expansion set for her birthday. I think that goes up to twelve players. We'll see.)
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 08:56 am
And in two months it's summer vacation, and I can't wait. I've hit the point where I am done with the school year.


For Many Americans, 'Temp' Work Becomes Permanent Way of Life

U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland on Wednesday as part of a wave of U.S. troops heading to shore up America's Eastern European allies in the face of Russian meddling in Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said an initial contingent of about 600 troops will head to four countries across Eastern Europe for military exercises over the next month.

Despite unprecedented pressure to start swapping the holy books they so assiduously study for the M-16 of the Israeli army, the ultra-Orthodox young men at the Hebron Yeshiva, or religious seminary, are planning to stick to their lives of learning and prayer. They're holding out against plans to draft them into the military and the workforce, and to turn them into adherents of the Zionist, or Jewish nationalist, ideology on which the Israeli state is based.

Forget smashing your old iBook Office Space-style. Just send it back to Apple, and if it isn’t ancient, you could get some sweet sweet store credit. Even if it is ancient, Apple will recycle it for you.

Things Got Awkward For A Coca-Cola Lawyer At The Supreme Court

'Gods' Make Comeback at Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots

Though cool temperatures prevailed across the eastern U.S. and Canada through March, the month was the fourth warmest March on record globally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday. It was the 38th March in a row with warmer-than-average temperatures.

The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday.

McDonald's Gave Me the “Girl's Toy” With My Happy Meal. So I Went to the CEO.

NYPD Twitter campaign backfires in a big way
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 07:23 am


I cleaneddd. And i finally organized mt easel so maybe i can finally paint the huge canvas ive had for years. And ut is all organized behind the board btw its not hiding a junk pile now lol. Also ignore the random things left on the table. I have nowhere fir them atm. But yay. I might painf tomorrowww.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 10:00 am

Posted by PJ Jonas

When people come to our house and see our eggs, they are generally very surprised by the variety.  We have different colors and very different sizes.


Most of our chickens lay brown eggs.  Some of the brown egg laying breeds we have are buff orpingtons, barred rocks, black stars, and rhode island reds.


White eggs are layed by our white leghorns.


Our Americanas lay the green eggs.


And then we have bantams (smaller sized chickens) that lay small brown eggs.


I love having the variety.  It makes having chickens and healthy eggs a lot more fun.  You never know what size or color you’re going to get.  It beats going to the grocery store and buying eggs that are completely uniform from chickens that may not be well fed and cared for!




Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 12:30 am
Kudos to the AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association) for creating this autoimmune curriculum for kids and teachers. Read this, found here:

Innovative New Autoimmunity Curriculum for Elementary and Middle School Teachers
Newswise — DETROIT, April 21, 2014 – Furthering its mission of educating all Americans about autoimmunity and autoimmune disease (AD), the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (AARDA) has launched the first-of-its kind autoimmune curriculum for teachers of grades three through eight.
Working with life sciences curriculum experts from the Education Center, LLC, AARDA has developed and is making available free to elementary and middle school teachers across the United States grade-appropriate curriculum materials that align with the Common Core Standards.
“If we want all Americans to truly understand what autoimmunity is and how the autoimmune response in individuals can cause any one or more of the more than 100 known autoimmune diseases, what better way than to begin educating them at the earliest possible age,” said Virginia T. Ladd, President of AARDA. [bolding mine]
YES. Ms. Ladd is really onto something here. Accurate information presented early is the best awareness raising tool possible. Here's the video:

Information packets for grades 3 - 8 and video can be found here.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 06:56 am
It's time for today's picture of Ginny draped over my knee and laptop being painfully cute. Earlier she unplugged my monitor cord. With her chin.
Read more... )
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. When an employee names his dog after his manager

One of your employees gets a dog and he names it after his supervisor and makes sure he tells all of his coworkers. I think this is disrespectful. What do you think? (And no, it’s not a common name.)

It’s either disrespectful or … a sign of honor! Especially if the manager has a sense of humor. It’s hard to evaluate it without more context, like what this employee is like more broadly. Are there problems with his performance or attitude? Does he seem to dislike the manager? If that kind of thing is true, then the manager should be focusing there — but I wouldn’t get too worked up about the dog name alone.

2. My retail experience is harming me with employers

I recently graduated with my B.S. in Business Management … only to discover that employers no longer seem to care if you have your degree. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.84 GPA. All employers see when they look at my resume is that I worked retail while I was in school. They feel I have no real skills in anything — even though I had held two different supervisory positions and maintained that job for 10 years. I do NOT want to work in retail anymore. I have a family and a different life now. This was a job I obtained out of high school and kept to get me through college.

I recently applied for a job at the corporate level with a different company. The recruiter loved me and said my skills matched the requirements perfectly. I got a second phone interview with my potential manager. I thought I answered his questions well on my part, but he seemed less enthused. I thought I would at least get a chance to complete the next step — a role playing assessment. The next day, the recruiter emailed me to tell me the manager felt my qualifications were inadequate.

Is there anyway to salvage this? Can I reach out to him and try to demonstrate that I am fully capable of doing more than merchandising (which by the way was listed as a requirement for the position)? Or would this just annoy him and burn bridges (which I really do not want to do)? If not, how do I get past this with other employers? I am really devastated about not even being given an opportunity to do the assessment. Most other companies just email me rejection letters a few months after applying. Am I doomed to be stuck in retail forever?

Sure, reach out and tell him why you’d be awesome at the work. Don’t couch it as “your decision was wrong,” but rather as “I’d love one more opportunity to tell you why I think I’d excel at this role, and what I can point to in my past to demonstrate it — but I also respect your decision if you’re not convinced” (followed by compelling evidence). If you approach it that way, you’re not going to burn a bridge, and so you have nothing to lose.

As for the broader situation, it’s true that employers often discount retail work and want to see evidence that someone else has already taught you how to function successfully in an office … which is legitimately a different thing than retail. It doesn’t mean that your retail work is hurting you, but the lack of office-type work probaly is.

If you have any non-retail work you can highlight on your resume — internships, even volunteer work — putting a stronger emphasis on it will help. (And this is why it’s so, so important to do internships in school, even if they’re only half a day a week and you’re doing them on top of paid work. It really helps once you’re out of school and looking for a professional job.) If you don’t, can you get some now, by interning, temping, or volunteering? It’ll help, in a job market where you’re up against tons of candidates who do have that experience.

(Also, it’s not that employers don’t care that you have a degree. It’s that it’s become such a prerequisite that it doesn’t qualify for you anything on its own.)

3. In my thank-you note, can I clarify an answer I gave in the interview?

I just interviewed with a great organization, and I’m really excited about the job. Upon thinking through their questions and my answers, it’s occurred to me that I didn’t quite make something clear, and it feels like it could be a deal-breaker. I was answering a particular question, and it led to other questions, which were fine, but I didn’t quite wrap up my train of thought before we continued. Can I include a short explanation/clarification in my thank-you note? Mostly in a “further explanation” sense, not in a “said the wrong thing” sense.

Absolutely. Phrase it as something like, “I also wanted to build on our conversation about X and mention that blah blah blah.” (And you’re right to make it further explanation rather than sounding like you’re second-guessing yourself.)

4. My employer ties pay to off-duty conduct

My current employer has decided that for the benefit of their employees, they will now tie the employees’ compensation to how safe they are off the clock at their homes. While documenting safety items you can and should improve upon, is it legal to hold you accountable on your yearly review for things you do at home on your own time? It just seems to me this is crossing a line and is an infringement of your right to privacy and freedom of choice.

As an example of what I am talking about, if I say I will use safety glasses while doing yard work, but then when cutting my grass I have an eye injury and was not actually wearing safety glasses, they can count that against me for the annual review rating for my raise.

What the … what? How would they even know if you wear wearing safety glasses when cutting your grass? How would they know that the eye injury was caused by that and not by, say, a rowdy gang of squirrels?

In any case, it’s possible that this would violate the law in California, where the state constitution provides broader privacy protections than most other states do. But aside from that or a similar state law, yep, it’s legal. It is, however, a ridiculous overreach and terrible use of company energy.

5. Asking an interviewer for a 12-month vision of the job

Sometimes when I apply for positions, they mention on the ad “position ends April 2015″ or “prefer candidate to commit for two years.” However, I had a job interview recently and the interviewer seemed offended when I asked about his 12-month vision of the job, like I asked what he saw this position looking like in a year or two because I was trying to gauge what kind of a commitment they were looking for and whether or not they mentored employees into other positions. Anyway, the bottom line is that he told me he had no idea what was going to happen in 12 months and couldn’t really comment. Do you think this is a fair question or should I avoid this in the future?

You should avoid that interviewer in the future because he sucks. If he truly has no idea what was going to happen in 12 months, he’s got some serious planning problems.

The question itself is fine. Or at least it’s fine as long as you’re not implying that you’d hope to be promoted or doing significantly different work in a year or two, but it usually takes longer than that to get promoted — and employers want to think that you’re excited about the job as it currently exists, not what it might turn into it.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 09:41 pm
Yay, glasses are fixable for not-much-money (the dude at the Pearle took pity on me and rung them up as a different repair) and since the frames are still made, they're just ordering a new pair of the same frames and popping the existing lenses into them. Shouldn't be too long.

...mind you, until then I have to wear my old ones, but still.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 09:01 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

  • 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, April 22nd, 2014 02:19 pm

halflingwitch said: Done and done, but no other reviews are showing.

It takes a while before they publish across the board, so sometimes I can see them before they’re visible everywhere (and your own App Store will only show you reviews from your country), and weirdly, positive reviews always take longer to show up. :/

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 02:17 pm

engineeringpoodles said: What a tool. Is there any mechanism for reporting jerk reviewers?

Nope. Unfortunately, even if you know a review is paid for, retaliatory, or anything sketchy, there’s no way to report, contest, or respond to it. At least Google Play lets you reply to your reviews.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 01:32 pm

So, if anyone who has updated to the newest iOS app update (1.4) would like to leave a review on the App Store, I’d consider it a personal favor. The App Store defaults to the reviews/ratings for the most recent version only, so once again, the same person who loves to leave book-length scathing one-star reviews (and weirdly, they’ve only ever left one-star scathing reviews for every app they’ve reviewed!) is the only one showing. This same person has done this for every update, so I’m pretty sure I cut them off in traffic or something.

While I’m hugely entertained by being called a boring grandma and a deceptive 12-year-old boy simultaneously, ratings and reviews are actually really important, and contrary to what this reviewer says, this app isn’t a vanity project for a junior high student, it’s actually really important to me.

So, if you have a few minutes, I’d really appreciate a review, even if you’ve left one for a previous version. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 01:02 pm


Ask UfYH: Sometimes Cubicles Aren’t a Bad Idea

Q: I work in an open office space, which means that there’s a big room where five of us have desks, and one of us—not me—is a hoarder.

There are piles of garbage, bits of half-eaten food, assorted shoes and toiletries, books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, and vinyl records all over this person’s area. We get periodic infestations of ants, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we had bigger vermin, though none…

View On WordPress

This week’s Ask UfYH!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 01:19 pm
Cordelia insisted that I walk her to the crosswalk today. It's a cross country day, so she had to go early. I'm not sure why she wanted me there. All I can think of is that she thought she'd get near the school and see nobody there. But she had me turn around at the crosswalk, and she wouldn't know for sure that cross country was happening until she got into the building, so I don't know.

I'm losing hit points on HabitRPG because I've set a daily task that I'm having trouble getting myself to do. It should be easy, but I keep putting it off, and then, suddenly, it's too late. I can't do it at the last minute the way I can some other tasks. It's five minutes on the exercise bike in the living room. That doesn't seem like much, but I don't dare do it after five o'clock because I've had unfortunate repercussions every time I've done it too late. Any time close to dinner seems to be too late. I really want to get in the habit of doing this. With practice, I should be able to manage longer times. The bike is even set up so that reading while riding is easy, so is watching the TV while riding. (Scott has been known to put his laptop on the tray on the bike, but that's not very safe because the tray is tilted such that things placed on it try to slide off. He's talked about trying to alter the tray so that his laptop can't slide off, but he hasn't made any firm plans about how to do it.)

It's a good thing that the only soda pop in the house is diet because all my good intentions would fly out the window if we had something that I wasn't allergic to. I've been craving cola. I want the sugar and the caffeine. I have tea I can make and stevia to put in it if I want sweetness, but it's not the same. Caffeine alone doesn't give me the same wake up kick as caffeine and sugar together. It's tempting to have a second mug of coffee, but I can resist that because I know having more than one a day means running out before the next grocery trip. (My mug holds two cups of water, so one mug of coffee equals two cups. I can get seven mugs out of a tin of instant coffee.)

I still haven't made up my mind about Not Prime Time. I'm kind of holding out signing up as a carrot to try to get myself to work harder on Remix. I'm not sure it's working. I need to do some research for Remix, and I'm not sure of the best place to start. It doesn't seem like information Wikipedia would have, though Wikipedia has surprised me before. The research is for a short part of the fic, and I'm tempted to handwave and make stuff up, but people who know about the topic would spot that immediately.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’m “team leader” for a group of two (I’m one of the two). We hired the coworker who I lead about seven months ago. We generally each have our own projects to work on. The projects vary from very short-term to fairly long-term.

My coworker is extremely skilled at the job’s primary task and produces good work. However, our work can be fairly fast-paced and often necessarily involves being able to shift back and forth between projects. Our work also provides significant autonomy in structuring and scheduling one’s own work. My coworker really struggles with these aspects of the job, and I’m running out of ideas on how to deal with his struggle but also wondering if that is even something for me to try to fix.

The main way he’s shown that he is struggling is by literally saying, several times a week, one or more of the following: “I feel so overwhelmed”; “I find this job so stressful”; “Oh, god, I just got another X to work on!” (when X is a fairly routine, two-hour task); “I don’t know how I’m ever going to get Y done when I keep getting X’s!” (with Y being a major, longer-term project).

Just to clarify, this is a position that generally does not require more than a 40-hour work week. With the exception of peak periods, I generally work about 40­-44 hours a week. In the time he’s been here, my coworker has worked on one project that had two nonconsecutive weeks in which some overtime was required. Initially, he thought he might have to work more OT for that project than he actually ended up having to (about five hours total, for which he earned OT pay), and this very much worried him.

Things I’ve tried to help him get acclimated to the job and not feel so overwhelmed:

  • Basic training
    • Suggesting strategies for organizing files and emails (fairly good results)
    • Suggesting putting up a calendar and noting key deadline dates (fairly good results)
    • Showing the steps I follow in completing a particular type of project (okay results)
    • Sending him links to specific resources and suggesting that he bookmark the site or create a shortcut to the file (okay results)
    • Asking him to take notes when we discuss processes (okay results)
    • Providing process documentation (fairly good results)
  •  Listening sympathetically and acknowledging that certain projects and coworkers can be challenging (okay results; this sometimes just brings on more expressions of distress)
  • When he asks me if I find the job stressful, telling him that yes, I do, in A or B regard, but also emphasizing (truthfully) that I find the job fun, interesting, and challenging (not sure of results)
  • Making it clear that he should always feel free to use his personal time to take off time when he needs it and happily approving the time he does ask off for (produces comments from him that taking off time will prevent him getting work done)
  • Trying “tough love” in response to his balking at certain tasks that are well within the job’s scope and his stating that he’s really bad at these tasks (Me: “This is just part of the job. It’s not my favorite thing either, but it’s not unreasonable.”) (bad result, continued distress)
  • Ignoring his comments about stress and feeling overwhelmed (not sure of the results, but I haven’t tried this consistently)
  • Trying to bolster coworker’s confidence in his abilities to do this role by writing a glowing (and true!) end-of-probationary-period review highlighting the great work he’s produced in the short time he’s been here (seemingly no effect)
  • Talking to our boss on behalf of and in front of my coworker about extending the deadline for his primary long-term project. Boss was very receptive (and extended the deadline), knows that the workload is high with additional projects our department has taken on, and has already started the process to hire another person. (seemingly no effect on coworker’s stress)

So how to handle the constant kvetching? Try to consistently ignore it? Would it be inappropriate to just tell him he needs to stop expressing distress?

If you were just a peer, you’d have two basic options: Ignore it or say something. But as team lead, you have a higher obligation to speak up.

As a peer, you could try, “Bob, you’ve been pretty vocal about how stressed the job makes you, and so I’ve tried to find ways to help. At this point, I’m not sure what else to suggest, and I’m not sure how to respond when you talk about being so overwhelmed. To be honest, it’s making me stressed out, when I’m generally not. Can I ask you to rein it in, unless there’s something specific I can do to help?”

As a team leader, you can and probably should frame it as: “Part of this job is figuring out how to structure your work, shifting back and forth between projects, and rolling with the punches when things change. It sounds like you’re really struggling with these elements of the work. Are there specific things that would be helpful to you in navigating this?”  And depending on what the answer is to that, you might also ask, “Knowing that this is the reality of our work here, do you feel like this is the right job for you?”

If you were his manager, I’d advise you to have a serious conversation with him about expectations and fit. As team lead, you don’t have quite the same authority, but you can get close. And if that doesn’t work, your role probably means that you should be talking to your manager about what you’re seeing and putting it on her plate to talk to your coworker about — and not taking on quite so much emotional responsibility for “fixing” this.

And from there, I’d stick to the coworker script above — the one that says “hey, you’re transferring your stress to the rest of us.”

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 02:40 pm

Posted by Christina

I have lots going on today, so I’ll be brief! I figured it was only right to do a beautiful sparkly pastel look on a day where I will be crystal-ing 50 pairs of my Faery Wing earrings.

For this, I used two Femme Fatale colors– Phantasm in the crease, and Moonglow on the lid. I then darkened the crease with the pretty fuchsia from the BareMinerals September Issue Palette.  I used Urban Decay Asphyxia liner to line my lower lid, and then brushed a thin layer of Urban Decay’s glitter in Distortion across the whole shebang for a veil of sparkle. It’s super pretty!

Enchanted Pastels

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

The first time I had to travel for work, I was about 24 and felt insanely adult and glamorous. But then I started traveling quite a lot and discovered that horrible airport food, living out of luggage, and returning to a soulless hotel room every night quickly loses its charm.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to maintain your sanity when you’re traveling for work (including learning to love dining alone!). You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 09:21 am
Slowly. Yesterday, Tommy approached Mama Cat and she hissed in his face a few times, but it didn't progress to growling or raised fur or fighting. Sandy sniffed him cautiously, and got swatted in the face, but it ended there and didn't progress further. Today, Tommy slipped out of his room and dashed towards Callie. I intercepted him and on his part it DID progress to growling, but Callie didn't hunker down or run, nor growl back, she stayed calm and approached me long enough to get a treat after Tommy quieted down. (Tommy didn't get a treat. The idea is to reward them for not lashing out, and he utterly failed that.)

They all interact better outside than inside. That's something I never realized before, although it makes intuitive sense. Outside they have more options, and they're all used to seeing other cats around.


Food stamps: why recipients are haunted by stigmas and misconceptions

The Supreme Court may affirm a basic element of American campaigns: saying whatever they please, true or not

Knowledge Is Crime in Washington: Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination and Perjury Are Not

Humanist group sues NJ school district over 'under God' in Pledge of Allegiance

A genetic disease has been cured in living, adult animals for the first time using a revolutionary genome-editing technique that can make the smallest changes to the vast database of the DNA molecule with pinpoint accuracy.


Saudi Prince Reportedly Killed About 2,000 Endangered Birds In Pakistan

In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research. Researchers analyzed 429 crimes committed by 143 offenders with three major types of mental illness and found that 3 percent of their crimes were directly related to symptoms of major depression, 4 percent to symptoms of schizophrenia disorders and 10 percent to symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Eyes Over Compton: How Police Spied on a Whole City

A sergeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department compared the experiment to Big Brother, even though he went ahead with it willingly. Is your city next?

A new Associated Press poll found that while Americans were more likely to believe scientific concepts when it related to their health and genetics, many more were skeptical when it came to issues such as evolution, the Big Bang theory, the age of the Earth and climate change. Believing or not was often tied to political affiliation, according to the poll.

Why Are 20 Far-Away States Trying To Block The Cleanup Of The Chesapeake Bay?

Chart of the Day: Another look at our nation's stark income growth disparity
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 08:32 am
Well, I'm not pregnant. Why I've missed two periods in a row, I don't know. I don't have any other menopause symptoms, and I'm only forty-six, so I'm not expecting my periods to stop just yet.

I have mixed feelings about the negative test. I don't want to be pregnant. My experience when I was pregnant with Cordelia was miserable, and I'm taking medications that are bad during pregnancy. On the other hand, I couldn't help fantasizing about another child. I knew it was extremely unlikely that I was pregnant. I have an IUD, and they have a very low failure rate. I just, for a little while, didn't know.

I made chicken noodle soup last night. Cordelia ate it, but she thought it was a waste of chicken. She apparently really likes chicken if it comes from a whole, roasted chicken. I didn't use all of the chicken, though, so there's something for her to eat when she doesn't want what Scott and I are eating.

I plan to cook some chicken breasts tonight. We have plenty of soup, but the chicken needs to be cooked, and tonight's better for that than tomorrow or Thursday. I don't want to wait so long that the chicken goes bad. That happened a few weeks ago-- The chicken stank and had little white bumps all over it. It went straight into the trash.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 10:00 am

Posted by PJ Jonas

I love my sleep and admit that I get rather grumpy if I am routinely deprived of it! Fortunately, other than during kidding season, it doesn’t happen often because I make it a priority to get the sleep that I need so that I can take care of my family without being grumpy.


I believe, unfortunately, that too many Moms are chronically sleep deprived.  It starts when their children are newborns and require care throughout the night.  But instead of that being a temporary time period, most moms find that because of the constant busyness and stress of their lives, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.  And because they don’t feel like they can not get it done, they sacrifice sleep.

But it is very difficult for most of us to maintain our joy and treat our families the way we want to treat them, if we’re exhausted from a continued lack of sleep.

Many women have been sleep deprived for so long, they no longer realize that is the issue. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep at night, but this is going to vary based on the individual. Some general signs that you aren’t getting enough sleep are:

  • you get sleepy at the wrong time of the day
  • you regularly have trouble paying attention
  • you fall asleep extremely quickly or at inappropriate places or times
  • you can’t get through the day without caffeine
  • you require an alarm clock to wake you up

If you regularly experience all or some of those symptoms, then you probably need to increase how much sleep you’re getting.  

But when it comes to sleep, it’s not just a matter of quantity, it’s a matter of quality as well.  And the quality of your sleep depends on when you’re sleeping.  Remember the saying – “early to bed, early to rise…?”

As with most old sayings, there is a lot of truth to them.  Your body is actually designed to work best when you’re getting to bed early and waking up early.  When the sun goes down, your melatonin (a chemical your body produces to help you sleep) levels start to rise and your core temperature starts to drop.   This makes it easier to sleep.  And if you fall asleep at this time instead of putting it off 4 or 5 hours, you get better quality sleep.


But most Moms don’t go to sleep then (especially during winter months when it gets dark so early). Instead we use artificial lights. And while artificial light is convenient, it’s not very good for us when it comes to sleep.

According to Charles Czeisler, PhD, “Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour – making it more difficult to fall asleep.”

Did you catch that? Artificial light = more trouble falling asleep.

When we expose ourselves to artificial lights in the evening, whether it is from lamps, over-head lights, television screens, computer screens, iPad screens, phone screens, nooks, or kindles, our bodies get confused. That artificial light causes photons to bounce onto your face.  This hinders the natural production of melatonin and confuses your body into not realizing that it is night-time.  The end result is that it becomes harder for your body to get the sleep it needs.

To me there is (almost) nothing more frustrating, than lying in bed at night, exhausted, and unable to sleep because of all the thoughts running through my head.  When I’ve analyzed it, these nights often occur on the evenings I work late on my computer.  Decreasing the amount of my screen time in the eventing definitely helps me fall asleep faster.


And I know that I am a lot happier and a better mom when I’ve had sufficient sleep.  In fact, study after study has shown that insufficient quality sleep can lead to:

  • memory problems 
  • depression
  • increased stress levels
  • weakened immune systems
  • increased pain perception
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • obesity

But is 8 hours of quality sleep a night really possible with our modern, stress-filled lives?

Yes, I believe it is.  If we make it a priority.

I have eight children and a growing business.  I know how easy it is to sacrifice sleep. But I also know that I am twice as productive, twice as patient, and twice as happy if I get sufficient sleep.  

girls sleeping_blog

So even though you may “lose” some of your work hours to sleep, you can often get them back because you are feeling better and have more energy throughout the day.

And if you can’t make sleep a priority for yourself, try to do it for your family. Because teaching good sleep habits to your children by modeling good sleep habits, will give your children a major boost in life.


For more information, listen to the Busy Mom’s Survival Guide podcast episode on The Importance of Sleep or read the transcript

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 12:30 am
Ahhh. I love holidays, but after all that celebration I am one pooped puppy. Today, I am taking time to recover. So is Lulu. See y'all tomorrow.