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Friday, February 27th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. I don’t have any work to do at my new job

I am a recent graduate who has just started my first job. When I started on my first day, the company gave me a bunch of self-study materials and a self-training schedule for a month that I must adhere to (which I happily obliged).

But now a month has passed, I have finished all of the self-study materials, and I still have not been given any task to do. I have asked my supervisor about this 3 times (through internal messaging software, email and verbally), but the answer is kinda vague (“I need to find simple tasks for you first” or “study this first for now”). What should I do? Any advice on this? I don’t want to be too pushy, but I don’t want to be seen as ‘that lazy new employee’ either.

I have tried googling about this particular problem, but most of the answers seems to be directed to experienced people (“make a proposal on how you could improve projects that you have worked on”).

Well, first, stop trying to address this over I.M. Instant messaging is for quick, time-sensitive, not super important things; this requires an actual, substantive conversation. Email your boss and say this: “Now that I’m done with my month of self-study, I’m eager to get started! Could we set up a time to meet in the next few days to talk about how you’d like me to be spending my time now?” If the problem continues after that, then say this: “I’m really eager to get to work. How would you like me spending my time over the next week? (Or, if it would be easier on you, I’d be glad to see if I can help Jane or Fergus until you have time to get me started — just let me know if you’d rather I do that.)”

If there are other people in your office who are at your level or just above it, you might also ask them if they have advice for how to handle this stage of things. They might have some insight into how long it usually takes your manager to get her act together with new employees, or about why it’s taking her a while in this case (for example, if she’s preoccupied with, say, an upcoming board meeting for the next two weeks, that could be useful to know).

2. What’s up with this awful resume feedback?

I’ve applied to a few places through online websites and received an email from one site explaining that they offer free “critiques” of resumes to assist in their site users’ success. I didn’t even realize that it wasn’t one of the sites that I submitted my resume to but didn’t care because it was at no cost or effort to me, and nobody’s resume is perfect so bring on the critique, I love getting better through advice. But after reading their elaborate assessment of my resume, I was left confused because everything she was saying went against everything that I had been taught by active hiring professionals. She even mentioned that my document file size was way too small at 17k and therefore I have more room to format. That was a first for me; it’s either .pdf or .doc.

But she offered an email link to contact her with questions so I did and got no response. Just to be sure, I did some research and read your “10 Things Leave off Your Resume” and most of your items matched hers — except they were the opposite. Even I know not to waste space with objectives or bios outside of a cover letter. Then I noticed the big bold package prices for their resume service that they offer and it clicked. My question is, and I’ve attached my resume just so that you can see what she saw. Are my suspicions accurate that this company intentionally rips resumes apart and gives harmful advice to obtain business like a shady mechanic, or was she giving honest, accurate advice?

I doubt this company is doing this to deliberately harm people since I don’t know what would be in it for them — they just suck. And they really do suck. I read the critique you forwarded to me and it’s ridiculous. I can promise you no hiring manager in the world cares that your resume file size is “too small.” They might care if it were several gigabytes, but “too small” isn’t something that’s even going to register. This person/company is shady and incompetent. Avoid.

3. I was called for a second interview but the job was reposted meanwhile

I interviewed for a position where I will be the manager of the same type of department I currently work in. I was interviewed by 2 department heads and the administrator. I was called the very next day for a second interview by the company administrator, but in the past 6 days, we have been playing email tag about scheduling it. I was told this was because they were trying to set up a time in which more of his colleagues could attend. This afternoon, which is a Monday, I confirmed it for Thursday at 5pm. However, I was told that there was a department meeting at that time he had forgotten about and he gave me 2 other times. However, the exact same job has been re-posted twice since my interview. In fact, it was re-posted about the same time my interview was cancelled and the offer of re-scheduling was made. I am really starting to feel strung along. Why would a company be scheduling second interviews while still apparently seeking out more candidates?

Many companies keep job listings active until they’ve made a hire. It’s actually the smart thing to do, because they have no way of knowing if their current crop of candidates will lead to a successful hire or not — they might end up not wanting to hire anyone from the current group, or the person they want to hire might turn down their offer. It’s smart to keep candidates coming in until they know they have a certain hire.

4. Interview handshakes when you’ve got arthritis

I’ve got really awful arthritis and I don’t like to call attention to it, especially in interview settings. I write for a living – I don’t want people to think I can’t type! I physically can shake hands, but I can’t *not* wince when someone squeezes powerfully. Is there a tactful way to ask for a wimpier handshake (or turn one down completely) in a professional setting without being too weird?

Just be direct before anyone has a chance to grab your hand, like you might if you were declining a handshake because you had a cold. For instance: “Excuse me for not shaking hands — I’m dealing with a minor issue in my hand right now.” (Or “I’m having some minor pain in my hand right now — nothing too serious, but gets in the way of me shaking hands.”) Say it confidently and it’ll go over fine.

5. What happened after this phone interview?

Recently I discovered that a company had an opening in my weird niche field in a location that I love. I applied, and a friend at who has contacts here (the company is a client of his company) called and put in a good word for me, but warned me that I may be overqualified / too expensive for the position.

About a week later, the HR department called me for what was supposed to be a 30-minute interview, but was actually only 10 minutes. The HR person started off with a question about why I wanted to leave my current job. I responded that I would like to work with a different flavor of teapots and that my current location was hard on my marriage because my wife has very limited career opportunities in our current location. I also mentioned that my company had been very good to me and I would not leave lightly, but if the fit were right and it would help my personal situation, then I would move.

HR asked about my current salary and benefits, and I gave approximate numbers, following up later that day with an email outlining the specifics. In the phone interview, I was very (too?) candid and mentioned that medical benefits were of particular interest because of a past condition that was in remission and likely (but not necessarily) cured. After the phone interview, HR sent me an email thanking me for the interview, attached their benefit summary, and told me that they would be in touch in the next two or three days to schedule an interview with the hiring manager.

I had a question about their medical benefits and called HR the next day and left a message (no details, just a request for a call). I also sent an email ( also no details, just a request for a call). No response. 16 days pass. Still nothing, so I sent a follow-up email: “Hi, (name), I’ve not received any communications from Company since you and I spoke. I wanted to follow up and make sure nothing got lost in the ether. Thanks! (my name, phone number).” Still no response. That was two and half weeks ago.

What’s going on? Did my friend say something that I’m not aware of? Did I commit some gaffe that I’m not seeing? Is the company just terribly unprofessional? My weird niche field is very small, and I’ll likely have to interact with the folks involved again. Yet, I’m curious (and let’s admit it, indignant) about the complete lack of response after having received such a positive, initial interest. What, if anything, should I do?

Well, it could just be that they’re moving forward with different candidates and don’t think you’re as strong as those. It’s really common for companies not to bother to update candidates when that happens — rude, but common. Or it could be that you’re still under consideration but the hiring for this position is taking a back seat to other priorities right now. It’s still rude for them not to get back to you to explain that, but again, very common.

But it’s also possible that you were too focused on benefits too early in the process. Rightly or wrongly, that can be a real turn-off for many employers, who prefer to save detailed discussions of benefits (especially nitty-gritty details of particular medical plans) for once you have an offer.

Regardless of the reason — and you’ll probably never know which it was — they did owe you an answer about your candidacy. But there’s a good chance you won’t get one — that’s just the way some companies do things. I’d write it off, move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you at some point.

I don’t have any work to do at my new job, awful resume feedback, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 10:09 pm




illbedancingwithmyself:

I wasn’t actually living in squalor, the before is technically a “during” taken in the midst of emptying my closet.

I harvested 3 bags of donation items and 4 fat bags of trash from this hot mess!

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 08:18 pm




















lozartist:

One of my goals for 2015 is to get myself into better cleaning habits. And my worst offense is not following through with my laundry. I’m good at steps 1 and 2, but putting it away is the bane of my existence. So I took four 20/10s to tackle this mess. Starting with making the bed. Now I can close my closet and 95% of my clothes are where they belong. I have a load of laundry in right now and I WILL put it away when its done. The pile of junk on my bed still is the stuff that needs to go back in my work apron once I fix the pocket. And a couple action figures that need homes.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 04:30 pm


Best jarl ever. ♥ w♥

I’ll have to finish this some day later due to projects going on, but I had to draw something for myself because it’s been a bit rough the past few days.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post PJ: “It’s snowing??”
Indigo and Jade (in unison): “Yes!!!”
PJ: “That’s NOT a good thing – I want Spring!”
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

While I worked at a mid-sized company, I developed a wonderful mentor relationship with one of my managers. He has always been very supportive, offering to be my job reference, etc.

After 2.5 years working together, I left to work abroad at another company for 1.5 years. We kept in touch while I was away and I actively nurtured the connection through Christmas cards, periodic emails, and birthday wishes. He was always very responsive and quite frankly, one of the few people in my network that actually replied to my emails. And just to clarify, I also try to make sure I am not “harassing” anyone in my network – I limit my emails to holidays, birthdays, and particularly relevant news articles. I never email any person more than once a month unless it’s in reply to something they sent me.

Anyway, when I returned in October 2014, he was one of the first people that knew I met up with. He had since moved to another very high profile agency. He was very happy to see me and towards the end of our catch up session – of his own accord – remarked that he may have a job opening up that he’d love for me to consider. I enthusiastically expressed my excitement, as I would love to work for him (he is a great manager) and it is a very good position I would quite frankly die for. He told me to follow up with him in January 2015.

Our only contact from October to January were brief holiday wishes I sent him for Thanksgiving (he replied) as I was busy studying for a graduate exam.

As promised, I followed up with him via email in the first week of January. I did not mention the possible job, just asked him if he was free for coffee, figuring I could ask in person. But for the first time ever, he did not respond to my first email. Baffled, one week later I sent him a short follow-up. He quickly responded, saying we “need to catch up” and apologized for not responding more quickly. But when I asked about what day/time would work best for him, he once again did not reply. I also sent him one short email with a news link I saw about him successfully pulling off a huge event. No reply.

To refrain from bothering him, I didn’t reach out until February. In this email, I did not mention meeting at all and simply asked for a LinkedIn recommendation to help me with my job hunt. I offered to write a draft if that would make it easier for him. He replied four days later, asking me to send him a draft and once again he said we had to meet up. I promptly sent him a draft the next day plus a request for a date/time convenient for him. I did not hear back at all, so one week later I offered to write him another draft if he didn’t like the first one. I did not mention meeting up as I figured if he wanted to see me, he would say so. At this point, I have also accepted there is no job for me and I do not plan on ever mentioning it unless he does. That was two weeks ago. I have not heard from him since and I have not reached out because for the first time, I am worried if I am bothering him or worse, I did something is wrong.

Should I ask him if I did something wrong or am I just being paranoid? I am just very confused about my mentor’s sudden change/unresponsiveness….BUT at the same time, I know it is possible he is just straight up busy…. What do you think I should do? Should I just stop contacting him/am i being a pest?

To me, this just sounds like someone who’s really busy, and I wouldn’t read into it anything more than that.

It also sounds like you’ve maybe gone a little bit overboard on all the reaching out, especially when you’re getting signals that he’s busy. And not just with him, but maybe more broadly. If you’re emailing people in your network as much as monthly and not hearing back much (since you said he’s one of the only ones you hear back from), you might be making people feel … well, a little bombarded. It sounds like a lot of contact if you’re the one who’s initiating all of it. There are certainly networking relationships that have this much or more contact, but the test is whether it goes both ways or not. If you’re always the initiator and you’re not getting loads of responses, I’d say that’s a sign to tone it down.

That said, with this guy in particular, it sounds like you have a strong relationship. I’d write the recent lack of responsiveness off to him being busy … but also take that as a sign to put fewer demands on the relationship, at least for a while. And I know you’re probably thinking “sending an article isn’t making any demands on him!” — but it can come across as another contact that needs to be acknowledged.

When you’re getting these kinds of signals, save the contacts for the big stuff that really matters.

Also! Totally unrelated, but you have one of my pet peeves in your letter so I have to address it: “I did not mention the possible job, just asked him if he was free for coffee, figuring I could ask in person.” I’m sure you didn’t think of it like this, but this made a much greater demand on his time and his energy than if you’d just gone ahead and asked him your question. As a busy person (and as a direct person), if someone has a specific question they want to ask me, I’d so much rather have them just ask me, rather than couching it in the guise of a coffee meet-up, which I have to schedule, travel to and from, make small talk at, and so forth. Just ask the question!

(Now, obviously, if the two of you meet for coffee all the time, then this doesn’t apply.)

Anyway. Pull back on the contact. Leave things in his court. If months go by with no contact, then sure, reach out at that point. But I’d give him some breathing room right now.

is my mentor ignoring my emails? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

If you feel like you spend your work days rushing from one urgent task to the next, constantly putting out fires, you probably feel like you have no choice but to operate this way … after all, when fires crop up, they need to be put out.

But if you spend all your time fighting fires, you won’t have the time to focus on your biggest priorities, which are often things that can drive your work forward more powerfully than spending your days responding to the crisis of the moment. Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to get out of this mode and regain control over your schedule. You can read it here.

is everything a crisis? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Some readers have asked for a post on the behind-the-scenes working of Ask a Manager. For the majority of you for whom this will be boring, skip this post! But for those of you who like the insider-y details about how the site works, here’s your post … ask away and I’ll answer in the comments.

Update: I’m answering questions in order. I’m going to try to answer everything!

behind the scenes: ask me anything was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 07:44 am
Scott called in yesterday and so didn't go to work. I think he was feeling really in need of a longer break. We'll just have to hope he doesn't get sick-- He only gets two call in days every six months. (and they do not accumulate). He's back at work today. Hopefully that's going well, and hopefully there won't be any weekend work. He'll be first on the list for weekend work after having three days off.

Scott and I went to Cafe Marie for lunch. They've changed their menu a bit, cutting back on what they offer just a little. They don't offer onion rings any more which disappointed us. Usually, we both get cherry chicken sandwiches, and one of us gets onion rings while the other gets sweet potato fries, and we share. Cafe Marie is going to be staying open later from here on out. It used to be that they closed at 3:00 every day, but now, they'll be open until 7:00 Monday through either Thursday or Friday and close at 3:00 on the weekends. I don't know that the extended hours will matter much to us. They might, I suppose, but Cordelia doesn't like Cafe Marie, so it's not a great dinner option when she's around.

We forgot to do a whole bunch of things yesterday that we'd meant to do-- change the sheets, bake bread, brine the chicken (I cooked it anyway, but it tastes better if it's been brined). I think I need to give up on the idea of banana bread; the bananas look too old even for that. We did watch some Leverage, and Scott played a lot of Kerbal Space Program. He's been having a lot of fun with that.

I think I figured out how to start chapter 5 of my Harry Potter AU. I'm not entirely satisfied with it, but the characters really don't have good options open to them given how much they don't trust each other. I do have to decide just how powerful a particular character is and whether or not she can actually do some of the things she's been guessing that she might be able to do. This will be a pretty much immediate follow up to chapter 4 because I can't leave the characters where they were. The other strand of the story also isn't at a point where I can easily take it forward, not yet. A little more time needs to pass in the story.

I'm thinking a lot about my Rurouni Kenshin AU, too. I know exactly what scene or scenes I need to write next. I just haven't figured out the right point of view character, and I'm not sure of the voices of all of the characters who will have to be involved. I find it easier to write scenes with three or fewer characters, and this will require about half a dozen different people all at once.
Tags:
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 12:30 am
I didn't promise that I wouldn't take a picture of THIS. 

I just want to state for the record what a really exceptional friend I am. 

Hey. Quit laughing. All of you. I mean it. 

So here's two - count 'em - TWO examples of my friendship that go above and beyond the definition of "exceptional friend" - ness. Want to hear all about them? Of course you do. I'll tell y'all everything if you'll just quit guffawing. 

EXAMPLE NUMBER ONE

A couple weeks ago, John and I and Greg and Terese went out to dinner. We had an adult beverage or two and a tasty meal, during which I had fun sketching on the paper tablecloth with the crayons provided by the restaurant. Terese surveyed my work and everyone made creative suggestions. I enjoyed the picture of Terese that I had drawn so much that I took a cell phone picture of it. We all laughed, and then we all headed home. Boom. Evening over. 

So several days later, I uploaded the pictures from my phone onto my computer and was struck yet again by the results of my artistic efforts. Which prompted this word for word conversation with a different friend via Gmail chat, copied and pasted here:

Me: Hey there. I need your honest opinion.
Jenny: OK
Me: So I’m sending you a portrait of Terese. I drew it on a paper tablecloth last night. Should she be offended? She thought it was brilliant last night but then she had had a lemon drop martini. It’s my interpretation of her as a ballerina.
[pause while email sent, received, and reviewed]
Jenny: Umm….I don’t know. On one hand you depicted her as very…hardy? hale? full of vigor? Did she re-state her opinion today?
Me: See, that’s where you come in. Does she really need to re-view this priceless piece of art?
Jenny: What are you considering doing with said masterpiece?
Me: I’m not sure. I have this feeling that it’s too valuable to languish in my photos folder. I thought it captured her vibrancy. Pink hair and all. Also her inherent goodness, seeing as she’s walking on water in the picture. Notice that’s she’s holding a sweet potato fry and a crayon. That’s profound. Also, I consider this a multi media piece since I incorporated a grease spot by transforming it into a chicken leg. 
Jenny: Ah. That explains it. I was wondering why she was sprouting poultry parts. 
Me: Work with me here, girl.
Jenny: You did emphasize the thighs you gave her.
Me: Yes…..yes… I did.
Jenny: You may want to give her another chance to review before a public showing.
Me: Um.....I can agree with that.....I guess. 

What, you ask, is so extraordinary about this exchange? What proves my superior friendship skills?

Guys. I didn't post the picture. I could have put an example of one of my masterful portraitures here on Reasonably Well for everyone across the ENTIRE PLANET to see but I didn't.

No, I didn't. I, being the judicial person that I am, decided that in the unlikely event that Terese should not appreciate the ah....um.....uniqueness of her portrait, I would keep it tucked away. Unappreciated. Without even putting her in the position of insinuating that her friend Julia's artistic abilities stink.

Impressed yet? No? Well. Here's

EXAMPLE NUMBER TWO

A few days ago, Terese asked me to drive her to and from a lengthy dental appointment. She needed me to drive her since she was instructed to take a medication before we left to relax and partially sedate her. I, of course, agreed readily thinking that given the type of drug and dosage prescribed, that this could provide an experience with the potential to be incredibly entertaining.

Here's where my good-buddy halo began to glow above my brow: when Terese came ripping down the church choir loft's steps after Mass Sunday and made me promise not to take any pictures or video of her reaction to the drug, I actually said yes.

Yes, I did. Well, I did try to cross my fingers behind my back but she saw me. Drat.

Can you believe my super-duper friendship skills? Having seen this woman under the effect of one third of an adult beverage (a rather potent one labeled as a Disgruntled Elf at Christmas time, but that's a whole other story) I was already mentally rubbing my hands in glee at the opportunity to witness something spectacular. But no. Being the noble individual that I am, promised while standing in the narthex of our church, that I would not get photographic or audio visual evidence of her under the effects. And in doing so, deprived myself of a photographers dream shoot.

What an unselfish person, right? Am I right?

When I picked her up at her house, she had already taken the first dose of her happy pills, and handed me the printed sheet pictured above. I laughed as she carefully placed the sheet in my hands. Woo hoo! I thought as I read. Even though I can't get out my camera, it looks like we're in for a real corker of an afternoon! I was grinning in happy anticipation as I poured her into the car and we headed for the dentist.

Well. What a shame that Terese turned out to be disgustingly boring while medicated. Not one goofy comment. No giggling. No drooling or snoring. Just slow and tired. How disappointing.

After the procedure, I delivered her back home and tucked her into her recliner and waited hopefully thinking that maybe....just maybe there could be at least a few late-appearing drug induced incidents to be seen. Instead she sipped her Starbucks caramel macchiato without dribbling one drop and informed me that she was ready to doze off for awhile.

Pffft. That was absolutely no fun. No fun AT ALL. What nerve.

Sigh. Even though cheated royally out of real entertainment, I carried on as best I could. But then we exceptional friends are patient like that. And we exceptional friends are humble and modest too.

Oh, yes. Definitely humble. Most certainly modest.

Terese? Don't forget to spell my name correctly when you have my "Friendship Extraordinaire" trophy engraved. Oh, and it doesn't have to be really huge or anything. Yeah. The three footer should be just fine.
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 12:05 am
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The girl who gets gifts from birds
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My friend is upset that I didn’t tell her that I was interviewing for a job on her team

I just started a new job today at a highly competitive company where a social acquaintance also works. We’re not BFFs by any stretch of the imagination, but we used to meet up about twice a month for different social outings (movies, dinners, BBQs, etc.). I’ve only known this person for about 18 months and we get along well but, again, we aren’t attached at the hip and I wouldn’t share my secrets with this person.

I had been interviewing for two positions in her department over a period of two months before I received an offer. After one of the interviews, I ran into her on my way out the door and she asked me if I was interviewing and I told her it was an “informal interview.” I said this because I didn’t want to jinx the interviews, but also I wanted to curb her prying. A few weeks after this had happened, she stopped talking to me completely. She even cancelled on a social outing that someone else had invited her to (she texted me to tell the host) and when I got engaged, she never said congratulations. I got the job offer shortly after she started giving me the silent treatment and didn’t really tell anyone besides my family members.

Fast forward to today, I had finished my first day and we got into the elevator together and she passive aggressively started talking about my lack of disclosure about the job. She also told me she had known for a while that I had accepted the job and that I had various opportunities to tell her about it. Mm I wrong for not telling her or anyone who works at this company? Also, if she was aware that I had accepted the job, why didn’t she reach out and congratulate me?

Yeah, it’s pretty weird that you didn’t tell her that you were interviewing with her company, and especially with her department. Usually people share that kind of thing in the hopes that the person will put in a good word for them, or just because it would be odd not to acknowledge it. And it’s definitely weird that you didn’t tell her that you were joining her team once you were hired! This is someone you know well enough to go to movies and dinners with; it’s strange to show up at their workplace one day as their new coworker without any mention of it earlier. (No judgment! I am weird all the time.)

She’s handling it badly too — giving you the silent treatment is immature and petty. She should have just reached out and congratulated you. But I’d suggest just telling her that you’re sorry that you didn’t say anything and realize now that you should have. If you can explain why you didn’t (other than “I wanted to curb your prying”), that would probably help too.

2. Should I ask for a lower title when interviewing for a more senior job?

I applied for a senior analysis engineer position and didn’t really expect to get any response since I didn’t quite meet all the requirements. I have been an analysis engineer for 6 years but in a totally different industry and product. Also, the position asked for 5 years experience with an analysis tool I really only have 5 months experience with. Plus the position responsibilities include teaching/mentoring/and institutional standards setting – something I don’t have any experience in at all and this doesn’t appear anywhere on my resume.

I was very surprised I got called in for an interview. I do have a masters which is required but not the 10 years experience they request. I would like to work for the company as an analyst but don’t think I would be at the senior analyst level. I only applied because it didn’t seem to hurt anything. Do you think I should be honest at the interview, answer their questions about what I know, then ask them whether they would hire me as an analyst engineer but don’t give me the title of senior analysis engineer? I don’t want a title I can’t live up to. Should I ask for a lower title during the interview? I’d more be in the position of needing teaching/mentoring then being a mentor myself. Should I ask if that is possible?

I wouldn’t ask for a lower title; that risks underselling yourself and coming across as lacking confidence in your skills. But it’s totally reasonable to say something like, “I know I have less experience in X and Y than you had in the job posting. How crucial is that experience level?” You might hear that it doesn’t really matter at all (because sometimes job ads don’t line up with reality) and that some other skill/experience you have is more important. Or you might hear that it is indeed pretty important. If that’s the case and you eventually get an offer, I’d ask about it head-on: “I know you mentioned in the interview that you were looking for more experience in X and Y than I have. I want to make sure I’d be able to be successful in the role — can you talk to me about how you think my lower level of experience in those areas would play out?”

3. Asking to work from home as an intern

I was recently hired as a paid, part-time marketing intern or a start-up, but the actual work is completely different than what I expected. It’s more of a data entry job for the company’s clients, but I still want to go through the duration of the internship (6 months).

My contract said I have between 20-30 hours per week, but I wanted to approach my supervisor and ask if I could work from home (since I’m more productive, feel refreshed, no need to commute, etc.) In the employee handbook, it suggests that working from home is alright if there is an emergency or if needed, but our main office should be the company’s headquarters. Since I’m not in a high-level position and my job can be done remotely, I think that there might be a chance that I could telecommute (at least for some of the hours). Likewise, I noticed that a few employees in my division (and other teams) would work from home. How could I approach my supervisor about this alternative schedule? I wanted to propose that I could work during the evenings as well (I have a flexible schedule)— should I incorporate this into my pitch as well?

You can certainly try, but be prepared for a no. Working from home is often a harder sell for interns, who usually don’t have the same level of trust built up that someone in a higher level role would. Working from home is often seen as a privilege that’s earned or that’s given because the company needs to offer it in order to attract talent, so it’s less likely to come up for internships, especially in an office where it sounds like telecommuting is for occasional use rather than a regular thing. Plus, your manager may feel that part of the point of the internship is for you to learn the sorts of things that you pick up from actually being in the office interacting with people.

That said, you could trying framing it as a concession for the work turning out so differently than how it was sold to you. For example: “I was expecting that my role would be more X and Y, like we talked about in my interview, and wasn’t expecting it to be so data-entry-heavy. Do you expect the work to remain like this for the remainder of my internship?” If the answer is yes, you could then say, “I was hoping for a different answer, but I understand that this is what you need me to focus on. But given that the role is different from the one we originally talked about, I wonder if you’d be willing to allow me to telecommute for all or some of my hours each week?”

But again, it’s a hard sell as an intern. Not the outrageous-to-even-ask type of hard sell, but the type where it might just be a no-go for them.

4. I don’t want to train a new coworker who didn’t meet the requirements for the job

How do you handle a new coworker hired when you were out on a leave of absence and who did not meet the requirements for the position, the position being the same grade as I am? Upon my return, I am expected to train this person. If the new hire is hired at the same grade, shouldn’t she have the experience it requires? Am I being too emotional about this?

Probably, if it’s really bothering you. It’s pretty common to be asked to train new coworkers who are doing the same work as you. I’d reserve judgment until you have more exposure to her work. It’s possible that she was a good hire for reasons you’re not yet able to see. Or, maybe she’s a terrible hire, in which case your manager made a mistake. But that’s no reason not to make a good faith effort to train her or to seethe over it. If she’s not picking up on the work, it should become clear soon enough.

5. Listing title changes on my resume

I’ve been at a company for four years now and I am looking to move on. Since being there, my title has changed about four times, not necessarily for promotions, although I have had them, but as part of restructures and re-branding initiatives within the firm. I have steadily progressed and taken on more responsibility and duties but my job titles have never correlated with these duties or my increases in pay. What on earth do I put on my resume? Just my most recent title?

Nope, put all the titles you’ve had there. You could list it like this:

Chocolate Teapots Ltd., March 2011 – present
teapot director, March 2014 – present
spout manager, August 2012 – March 2014
senior teapot coordinator, January 2012 – August 2012
tea drinker, March 2011 – December 2011
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

my friend is upset that I didn’t tell her about my job on her team, asking for a lower title, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 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
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 08:38 pm
Just snapped. I didn't even know it could do that. Well, google says I can fix it myself, so I'll try this weekend. The downstairs oven is hard to bake cookies in, much to everybody's dismay.

*********************


Overfishing drives Thai boats to use more slave labor, sail further

Amnesty calls on UN powers to lose veto on genocide votes

Dependent Spouses of Highly Skilled Immigrant Workers to Get Work Permits

'Marg' vigilante group vows to safeguard northern Afghanistan from armed factions amid reports of ISIL infiltration.

Niger air force bombs fish traders thought to finance Boko Haram

Boko Haram Are Finally Losing. And That Makes Them Extra Dangerous.

Justices: Dentists can't decide who whitens your teeth

How Mice Turned Their Private Paradise Into A Terrifying Dystopia (read the sources at the end of the article too)

Cherry tycoon kills himself amid drug raid on factory

Molecular feedback loop gives clues to how flowers drop their petals

Tobacco kills up to two in every three smokers not one in every two, data from a large study suggests.

Austria passes 'Law on Islam' banning foreign money for Muslim groups

NYC’s Department of Education is introducing new restrictions on suspending and restraining kids in city schools.

Christian College Student Attacked With Apple for Questioning Treatment of Gays

99 Ebola cases in past week, nearly two-thirds in Sierra Leone: WHO

Cyprus signs deal to allow Russian navy to use ports

Justices defend Muslim girl in employment dispute

Devastation and disease after deadly Malawi floods

America’s Pain Killer Problem is Growing, Federal Data Shows

France says Russia would face more sanctions if Mariupol attacked

Hong Kong's teen activists vow to return to the streets

When your father is the BTK serial killer, forgiveness is not tidy

Skin may help spot Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease

Syrian Kurds cut IS supply line near Iraq; fears for Christians mount

How People Around the World Eat Their Yogurt

Scientists discover theory-defying black hole 12 billion times the size of the Sun

NY governor's administration to raise tipped wage to $7.50
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post Brett: “The other night we had alfredo sauce made with the goat milk and it was AWESOME.”

Five minutes later…

Brett: “I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch with some fresh goat milk and it was AWESOME.”
Jim: “Basically, Brett just thinks all food is awesome.”

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I have been working for the past seven years for a nonprofit in Florida. We got a notification this morning that we had to send an email to HR revealing any other employment we have as well as if we belong to any clubs or organizations, including church. They said this information is to be placed in our HR file.

Is this legal for the employer to gather this information? The demand was followed up with “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to work here anymore.”

Ick.

My hunch here was the act of asking about memberships in outside organizations doesn’t itself violate any laws, but it’s incredibly unwise from both a management standpoint and a legal standpoint: It’s bad management because it’s going to make employees really uncomfortable if they don’t care to reveal private affiliations, and it’s legally sketchy because if it were combined with additional information, it could look like discrimination or even an attempt at union-busting (depending on the organizations someone belongs to).

But to say for sure, I turned to employment lawyer Donna Ballman, author of Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired (which you should buy; it’s excellent). Here’s what Donna says:

Certainly it isn’t unreasonable for an employer to ask if you have a second job, and require you to disclose it. The reason for this would be to make sure there isn’t a conflict of interest and that you aren’t doing your second job on company time. When it gets into organizations, they may have a legitimate reason such as trying to show that their employees are involved in the community or concern about conflict of interest or doing the outside activities on company time. I’d say this inquiry is pretty invasive, but may not cross the line.

Asking about churches, though, is something I think could cross into illegal territory. The fact of the question being asked isn’t necessarily an instant lawsuit, but what they do with the information could be. I think it’s really stupid for them to ask. For instance, if they find out you’re a Wiccan, an atheist, or a Mormon and then they deny you a promotion, discipline you, or fire you, you’ll have a good argument that you were subjected to religious discrimination.

Going back to organizations, what if you’re a member of a cancer survivor group or a support group for people with a particular disability? Or you go to AA? Or maybe you belong to a group for people with a particular genetic defect, of a specific ethnicity or other protected category. If they take adverse action against you after you disclose this information, you might have a discrimination claim.

Overall, I think the organizations and church membership questions are stupid on the employer’s part but asking isn’t an instant lawsuit. What they do with the information, on the other hand, could give you ammunition for a discrimination suit down the line.

So, where does that leave you, letter-writer?

Personally, I’d reveal only what you’re comfortable with. Not about any second job — as Donna points out, they can have legitimate reasons for asking that, and it’s reasonable to require you to disclose that. But memberships in various organizations? I don’t think it’s any of their business, it’s opening the door to potential discrimination down the road, and well … maybe you have an awfully bad memory the day you fill out that form.

My bigger concern is actually their statement that if you don’t like it, you can find another job. That’s not the way a reasonable or well-managed organization communicates with employees, and unless there’s way more context to that conversation that wasn’t shared here, that’s a huge red flag. Good employers are as transparent as they can be, particularly when making requests that could be viewed as invasive or odd. Slapping someone down in a such a nasty way for asking what I assume was a reasonable question posed in a reasonable way — that’s a sign of deeper trouble.

we have to notify our employer about any clubs or organizations we belong to, including churches was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

We have a manager who we are replacing due to performance issues. He’s a long-time employee who has a lot of skills that are beneficial to the company, but since his promotion to management a couple of years ago, he has not been managing his department. Rather, he continues to complete incomplete work of his employees, doesn’t motivate them to work to deadlines, and overall just isn’t managing his department. We have tried for months to coach him but he chooses to do what he thinks is important rather than what the owners require of him.

So, we are going to replace him, but keep him in the company. He’ll still work in the same department, same office, same salary (frozen for a while). We have told him of our decision. He understandably pushed back a bit, but he recognizes that he still has a job. He brings a lot to the table. He just won’t be managing the department, and he’ll have a new boss.

We set the bar very high for candidates and found a great candidate, with years of managing in our industry (something that the previous guy did not have), and overall a great set of credentials and attributes that meet our criteria. We extended the offer, and he accepted. We were honest with him about why we were looking to fill this position, and when we sat down with him, he immediately expressed his sensitivity to the situation and made us feel at ease with how he would handle the transition with the former department head and how to best utilize his talents and skill sets. So, both people knew going into this what was going to happen.

How do we make this announcement to the company (we are about 30 people) and the department?

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

how to announce a demotion to the rest of your team was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am hoping you can weigh in something that happened during a job interview.

I traveled out of state for an interview and incurred all the costs, like hotel and plane tickets, because the hiring manager told me that she really wanted me in the role and it seemed like a really great opportunity. The night before the interview, the manager told me I would be meeting with her and one other manager, so based on that information, I anticipated an interview with two people. I showed up to the interview with my luggage (since I was going to the airport right afterwards) and in professional clothes, only to find out that we were going to get lunch. The manager wanted a lunch item from a very specific place that was a few blocks away and wanted us both to walk over there together.

We walked in the snow for several blocks, with me carrying a rolling suitcase and two tote bags. Once we were there, I tried to find something on the menu for myself, but opted for water because of dietary restrictions. The rest of the interview consisted of me walking around with her, carrying my luggage, to various buildings on various blocks with no real information about the position, like where my office would be located, and no real information about the people I was meeting ahead of time.

I have replayed this over and over in my mind wondering what I could have done differently in this situation. I feel like I was not able to present the best version of myself because I felt dishelved walking around with luggage and fumbling around at the diner trying to find something to eat. At the same time, I wonder if my expectations of a job interview are in the wrong here. I wasn’t expecting someone to buy me a steak dinner, but shouldn’t a hiring manager at least offer a more neutral lunch option or take into consideration that someone has luggage with them before having them carrying it around the city? How much information should a hiring manager give about the interview? Should they alter the interview based on someone bringing luggage/traveling?

Yes, your interviewer was in the wrong here.

Sometimes plans do change. For example, they might have intended for you to have an in-office interview with two people but schedules changed, the other person was out or pulled into a different meeting, and the remaining interviewer had no other time in her day to get lunch. Ideally they would have explained the change to you, but it’s not a huge deal if they didn’t; in general, being able to roll with changes is a good thing, and lunch interviews aren’t inherently problematic.

But there are a few things that your interviewer did wrong here:
– Asking a job candidate to walk several blocks in the snow isn’t generally cool, especially when the person is in nice clothes.
– Upon seeing your luggage, she should have either immediately changed plans or suggested that you leave it in the office and return for it afterwards.
– She should have asked you whether the restaurant she had selected worked for you — and failing that, once she realized that you were stuck only able to order water, she should have apologized profusely and offered up a different plan.
– It sounds like she flubbed the interview conversation itself too, if you were left with no more information about the position than you had before the interview.

That said, once the situation started unfolding, there were a few things you could have done differently too:
– Once you realized your interviewer was going to drag you out for lunch, you could have asked to leave your luggage in her office so you weren’t having to carry it around. That’s a totally reasonable request to make.
– You could have spoken up with your own questions about the job. In an interview where you’re not getting time to ask your own questions, it’s absolutely okay to say, “I’d be really interested in learning more about X — can you tell me more about that?” Or “I have a few questions about the role and the company. Is now a good time for that?”

To be clear, I’m not blaming you for not doing these things — it’s hard to get this stuff right in the moment, and the power dynamics that many job candidates feel in interviews can really mess with your ability to know how to speak up.

As for what to do from here, well, you’ve got some interesting information about the person who would be your boss if you took this job: She’s not particularly considerate and she seems like she might be self-interested to the point that she’s willing to actively inconvenience others when she’s in a position of power. Don’t take that lightly in thinking about what it would be like to work for her.

my interviewer made me trudge for blocks in the snow with my luggage so she could get lunch was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 03:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

My mom has great ideas.  Actually, she has A LOT of really great ideas.  So many in fact, that she can’t implement them all.  That’s where my dad comes in.

Dad jokes that ever since he and Mom have been together, she dreams it – he does it.

One of those great ideas was that we should get collars for the goats that have their names on them, so people who are here for farm tours can easily identify all of our goats by name.  Seems simple enough, but collars for goats are a bit trickier than a dog or cat collar.

Since our goats love to spend time in the woods, they are outside a lot.  They also love to play rough, and establish their position in the herd.

goat collars_blog Of course, goats also LOVE to nibble at things to see what they are.  All of this combines to destroy every collar we’ve ever used on our goats - usually, in less time than it took for them to ship to us.

We couldn’t find anything that was durable enough for goats and could be personalized, without costing a million dollars to get collars for the whole herd.

Dad talked to a few different companies about the possibility of combining different collar types, or bulk discounts, or adding a nameplate.  Hot Dog Collars was finally able to work with us to create a collar that would be perfect for our herd.  The metal buckle and hole reinforcements don’t break like the plastic buckles found on many collars.  The Poly/Cotton blend is durable, and washable (a nice feature for after breeding season, or when they’re really dirty).  The price is reasonable, and the personalization options are awesome!

This video shows the collars and explains how we decide on the many different color options:

After working with us to customize collars for our goats, using materials they use in their dog collars, Todd at Hot Dog Collars was very excited to announce the launch of their official line of goat collars!  Also, because you found the link here, Hot Dog Collars is offering you a 15% off coupon.  Coupon code GoatMilkJim will apply 15% off any order placed with the following limitations – coupons cannot be stacked, 1 time use per customer.

As an added bonus, these collars are FOR LIFE!  They are “Fully Guaranteed if defective, chewed, broken, or even lost!”  

This is really cool because we like our goats to be able to wiggle out of their collars if they get hung up on something, so we intentionally leave them a little loose.  We don’t want to have a goat stuck in the woods or on a fence and not be able to get to water.

We have had these collars for over nine months, and so far we are extremely pleased with them. Once we decide on which baby goats we’re keeping from 2015′s kids, we’ll be ordering their collars!

 

 

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 01:59 am
Dear Anxiety,

Quit it. Seriously, quit it. It's been two weeks now, this is the second attempt at medicating you down to a manageable level, and I cannot choose between medicating you or medicating my sleep. That's a no win, neither one alone is sufficient to go about my regular routine or function at work, so just fucking stop. Seriously.

I haven't had anxiety this bad in years and years, and all of a sudden it's from zero to a hundred including a host of more acute symptoms I didn't used to have to deal with much if at all. It would be so much more helpful if my medication wouldn't leave me either sleeping reasonably but still wound up (temazepam) or relaxed but wide awake (diazepam). Come on, body and/or meds, I need some co-operation here, you have to admit neither state is ideal for getting this whole problem back under control!

I'm now staring down less than five hours until my alarm with no sign of sleep in sight, and I'm meant to be back at work today (also, unfortunately, the primary source of my anxiety). Goddamn meds never quite being as helpful or as consistent as the doctors and everyone around me insists they'll be. I was given a third script to keep up my sleeve if these didn't work, but playing the medication merry go round over multiple days doesn't actually help me when I have to be a functioning adult in the morning!

No love,
Urgh, this is why I usually insist on sticking to psychotherapy alone, it's much more reliable than trying to guesstimate what new and unhelpful way I'll respond to the same damn drugs this time.

Edit actually, request for comments. Has anyone else had an issue like this before? Did you find anything particularly contributed to being wide awake on a benzo or helped you drop off? Last time I was going beyond tema, I remember having more similarity in reactions to different types, which is why we thought the diazepam might do the job when the temazepam wasn't quite cutting it. I already use things like breathing techniques and CBT to supplement keeping the panic at bay, and obviously my MMV, but very happy/desperate to hear suggestions at this point.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 09:20 am
Yesterday was Scott's birthday. He and I didn't do much during the day. He went out for a little while to run errands and to give me time to wrap his presents. I didn't do a great job with that. There was one where I cut the paper too small and had to tape on leftover scraps in order to cover everything. I think a little bit still showed, but it wasn't too bad.

Scott picked up soup at Zoup. He got the chicken pot pie soup for both of us. That's our fallback option when nothing else sounds safe or interesting. I told him that, if they had a squash soup, I was interested in that, but they didn't. They seldom do.

Cordelia had no homework which was lucky because Scott had picked up Big Hero 6, and we all wanted to see it right away. We enjoyed it. Then Cordelia watched part of The Voice episode she recorded on Monday.

I baked Scott's cake after Cordelia got home from school. That was later than I wanted to do it, but, when I pulled out the mix around 11:00, I discovered that it called for softened butter rather than oil. I put the butter on the counter, but it didn't really soften. I ended up having to microwave it which is always chancy. I wasn't able to frost the dratted thing until after we got back from dinner, right before I served it up. It's a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, exactly what Scott likes.

Scott opened his presents before dinner. Cordelia got him Randal Munroe's book, What If? (She says she wants to read it, too.) I got him four Phineas and Ferb DVDs and a game book based on Stross's Laundry Files. I had ordered a second game book, but Amazon no longer has copies and doesn't know when they will have copies again. I'm considering canceling that order and seeing if I can find a used copy.

Scott chose to go to Blue Nile for dinner. I don't think any of us ate quite as much as we usually do when we go there, but we were all satisfied. We had the vegetarian meal because most of the meat options aren't things we would or could eat (there's spicy beef which, given Scott's allergy, we don't dare have on the plate. There's spicy chicken which none of us like. There's a mild chicken that we all enjoy, but it's not worth the extra money).
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 09:04 am
It snowed again last night. Looks like half an inch to an inch. Fluffy, so it's hard to tell, but definitely there. At least it was 19 F when I stepped outside, rather than 3.

I read somewhere that Boston only has 11.5 inches left to go before we beat the record for 1717, which was during the Little Ice Age.

Oddly glad I took that winter survival skills course at REI last year even if I haven't had to use it yet.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 12:30 am
The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation's publication Sjogren's Quarterly Winter 2015 edition contains the newest SSF Patient Education Sheet:

Patient Education Sheet
______________________________
Health Insurance Tips – Part 2 
How to Draft an Insurance Appeal Letter 

The Patient Education Sheet, Health Insurance Tips – Part 1, contains tips on obtaining healthcare reimbursement. Part 2 addresses how to appeal a decision if you are denied coverage. Always appeal a denial! Be persistent and do not give up when first denied.

Information and documentation that will help you appeal a denial

  • Your policy and claim numbers, employer name if your policy is through an employer, and the full name of the insured
  • The therapy or procedure for which you were denied and why the denial letter stated you were denied
  • Medical records that back up your diagnosis and medical problem that relates to the therapy in question
  • A cost-benefit analysis when relevant - For example, you can compare the cost savings of obtaining punctal plugs or cauterization compared to the higher cost of having to pay for more moisture drops and ointment over a long period of time.

Letter of Medical Necessity

  • This letter is usually written by the physician explaining why a therapy or other treatment is medi- cally necessary.
  • If the Letter of Medical Necessity is not signed by your physician, have your physician provide a let- ter of support for your appeal and reason for recommending or prescribing your therapy.
  • A Sample Letter of Medical Necessity for dental treatment can be found on the SSF website under “Brochures and Resource Sheets.”

Quotes from your health insurance policy that are helpful to your case

  • For example, if your policy states that coverage is provided for a closely-related disease and/or similar symptom, quote that back to the insurance company. If the company cites a reason for covering the related disease or symptoms, such as an inflammatory response, use that. Quoting such statements and providing documentation about similar occurrences in Sjögren’s increases your chance for the success of an appeal.
  • Cite two or more articles from respected medical journals backing your claim of medical necessity.

Refer to the SSF website as an authoritative source of medical information on Sjögren’s. 


For more information on Sjogren's, contact the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation at:
6707 Democracy Blvd, Suite 325, Bethesda MD, 20817  
800-475-6473  www.sjogrens.org  ssf@sjogrens.org

Clinicians: Please make multiple copies of this Patient Education Sheet and distribute to your patients. 
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 03:30 am
Day 5: we still have a river pouring up out of our sidewalk. (we're beginning to call it 'the water feature'.)

The city keeps apologizing that they haven't gotten anyone out here yet -- apparently they're dealing with crises all over the place and they've got all the available crews and all the contractors they can activate fully booked -- but man, if they try to charge us for the thousands of gallons that we've gone through since Saturday, I'm gonna have to happen to someone.

It says something about the week we're having that this is still not the worst thing we are dealing with right now.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 12:04 am
Evidence from more than 6,600 rape kits that went untested for years in Houston have turned up 850 hits in the FBI's nationwide database of DNA profiles

NSA director defends plan to maintain 'backdoors' into technology companies

Ad-blocking software is 'worse than Superfish'

The Pentagon will be deploying a small number of troops to Ukraine to provide combat medical training to forces there who have been battling Russian-backed separatists.

What Is Russia Up To in the Arctic?

How the NSA’s Firmware Hacking Works and Why It’s So Unsettling

Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say

Mumbling Isn’t a Sign of Laziness—It’s a Clever Data-Compression Trick

Zombie bone-eating all-female harem-keeping worms at the bottom of the ocean.

A Romanian Scientist Claims to Have Developed Artificial Blood

Democrats want to add right to vote to the Constitution

US sea level north of New York City 'jumped by 128mm' (about 5 inches) in 2 years

Pakistanis face a deadline: Surrender fingerprints or give up cellphone

Dissidents say as many as 200 arrested in Cuba

Missing link in the form of a molar pegs hippos as evolutionary cousins to whales

CIA attempted to contact Hamas despite official US ban, spy cables reveal

Turns Out Boston Cyclists Can Engineer a Pretty Solid Snow Tunnel

A Thirsty, Violent World

Obama Administration Using Century-Old Racist Case Law to Block Citizenship

Boko Haram Militants Disguised as Women Caught by Nigerian Military

'Give HIV drugs to healthy gay men'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says civil liberties must be sacrificed in order to protect Australians from attacks.

Researchers from Cambridge University have shown for the first time that it is possible to make human egg and sperm cells using skin from two adults of the same sex.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. I’m missing my bus waiting for my manager at the end of the work day

I work every day from 9-5:30 for a small company. At 5:30, we all leave together. The problem is that my boss is never ready at 5:30. She takes her time getting ready and we don’t end up leaving until 5:40-5:45. I don’t get paid for the extra 10-15 minutes waiting around, but I wait around to carry her bags to be nice. But now I have to take the bus home, and because she’s not ready at 5:30, I miss my bus and the next one doesn’t come until 6:05.

I want to leave at 5:30, but I’m sure she’s going to have a problem with it because she always makes little comments when one of us leaves on time. If I tell her I need to leave at 5:30, on time, can she say no or fire me if I do?

I think it’s fairly unlikely that she’s going to refuse to let you leave earlier or fire you over this. Just say, “I’ve been missing the bus lately, so I need to start leaving right at 5:30. I’m heading out now, and will you see you all tomorrow!”

If she does tell you that you can’t leave until later, then she’s telling you that your work day doesn’t actually end at 5:30; it ends at 5:45 — and if you’re non-exempt, you’d need to be paid for that time. But it doesn’t sound like that’s really the case; it sounds like an informal habit has developed where she assumes you’ll wait for her just to be polite, not because it’s the kind of strict job requirement where she’d need to be paying you. Explain you can’t wait around because of your bus and assume it will be fine, because it probably will be.

2. When I list off my work, my manager always asks, “Anything else?”

The manager of my sales team requires us to read off our planned appointments for the week each Monday morning, plus a few other items. At the conclusion of our statement, when it’s completely obvious the entire statement is completed, he asked “Anything else?” *every* time.

Coming from him, it has a tone suggesting insufficiency, which is really annoying. Each person then has to then answer “Yes, that’s everything,” or some variation.

Is there another way to answer that question to communicate more confidence, or to deflect the negativity?

It’s possible that he’s implying your list isn’t sufficient, but it’s also possible (and maybe more likely) that he’s just asking “anything else?” as a transition to move on to the next person. I’d just answer it matter-of-factly and with confidence (“Yes, that’s everything!”) and not let it rattle you.

If you get the sense that he has concerns about your productivity from other things, you could address that head-on by asking him about it directly: “When I share my plans for the week, is it about in line with what you’d expect, or do you want me to doing anything differently?” But absent that, I’d assume this is just his repetitive way of moving to the next person, and that you shouldn’t read anything into it.

3. My husband’s new employee is being inappropriate with him

My husband manages a small business and this weekend there was an expo where his business had a booth. One of the employees working the booth is new to the company (two weeks). Her supervisor reports directly to my spouse. Yesterday we ran up there to bring more advertising materials, and my husband introduced me. She ignored him the first two times, and finally on the third she said “hey.” It seemed odd to me, but considering that her job responsibilities don’t require much skill, I chalked it up to her being young and not having professional business manners.

But when we went today, she ran up to my husband and put her hand up his shirt sleeve and held it there for him to feel how cold her hands were. I was glaring at her and she was looking right at me. My husband froze and was looking at me like he didn’t know what to do. It was incredibly inappropriate and very uncomfortable. In all my experience as a manager, I have never encountered something like this, much less as a wife. My initial reaction is that my husband should terminate her. Do you think that I am overreacting?

I’d also like to add I have no doubts that my husband is faithful, and I have no intention of directly confronting this employee, but my husband and I constantly bounce ideas off each other and he really has been at a loss on how to handle this. I want to make sure that my thoughts are not based in emotions.

Yes, she sounds like she’s being inappropriate.

Just to be clear: This is really for your husband to handle himself. She’s his employee, and he’s the one who needs to set boundaries with her. (I think you’re saying that you know that already, so this is just to reinforce that.)

Firing her over this seems pretty extreme to me, when this kind of thing can usually be handled in a far less severe manner. Sometimes managers can correct this kind of thing just by how they react in the moment (for instance, your husband could quickly move away if she touches him) and by modeling boundaries and being extra professional in their interactions. Other times, it might take direct conversation about what is and isn’t appropriate.

On your side, I’d cut out the glaring if you encounter her again; if this woman really does want to flirt with your husband, you’ll come across far better if you don’t appear threatened by it or like you’re engaging in battle with her. Be above it, and let your husband handle it.

4. I missed a week of work during the first month of my internship

I just started working as an intern in January. I really like the company and the work they do, and I was hoping that after my 8 months of internship I might get a full-time position there after I graduate. However, in the first month I’ve worked, I had to take 5 days off because I was really sick. I don’t get sick days or vacation days since I’m still a student, so I don’t get paid for the 5 days I took off. My manager noticed this and pulled me aside and told me that I was missing too many days of work. He told me that I’m doing a great job, but that he is expecting me to be there at all times. I understand where he is coming from and I felt really bad and guilty that I had to take those days off even though I wasn’t feeling well.

Now I’m scared that I’ve made a bad impression and I’m worried that it will affect his decision when I do ask him for a full-time opportunity later on. Do you think I still have a shot at a full-time position?? Or I shouldn’t even bother asking since i’ve screwed up?

It’s tough to miss five days during your first month; it’s a time when you’re not yet a known quantity, and so employers worry about whether this was a legitimate and unusual thing for you or whether it’s a sign about your reliability. And it’s even more concerning when you’re a new intern, because employers know that some interns haven’t yet figured out workplace expectations yet and don’t quite realize that “show up every day” really does mean “show up every day.”

But reasonable employers also know that sometimes shit happens, and sometimes it has the bad timing to strike during your first month. That means that if you prove yourself to be hard-working and reliable going forward, that should be what counts, not the time you got sick for a week right after starting. (I don’t mean to imply that getting sick means that your’e not hard-working and reliable — just that employers don’t know one way or the other when you’re new, until you show them.)

That said, internships are never guaranteed to turn into full-time jobs, no matter how well you do (unless you have an explicit agreement to the contrary), so don’t look at it as something that should happen if the internship goes well. Even if it doesn’t happen, there are all sorts of other things it can lead to, from the experience itself, references, networking, and so forth.

5. I was supposed to get a job offer, but the employer isn’t returning my calls

I went for a job interview three weeks ago. I then received a phone call from the employer; the HR manager left me a message indicating she was done with all the interview process and that she had exciting news for me regarding a potential job offer and to return her call. This was three days ago. So far, I have left her two voicemails since I’m so eager to hear about this job offer! She has not returned my calls. Is it a good idea to send an email to the HR manager as follow-up, since I’m not sure why I’m not getting a call back?

I’m so eager to hear about this job, and I don’t want to accept another job offer if her voicemail indicated that she has a potential job offer for me.

It’s reasonable to wait a few more days and then follow up one more time by email, but then I’d move on. It’s really in her court, and if she’s not getting back to you, there’s a reason for it — she’s on vacation or out sick or the hiring process has gotten hung up in some way or they’re going with another candidate or who knows what. But I can promise you that it’s not that she wants to make you a job offer but won’t remember that unless you contact her; when employers want to hire someone, it doesn’t slip their mind.

Sometimes job offers seem like they’re about to burst into being, only to then fizzle out. That’s true even when an employer says things like “I want to talk to you about an offer.” Sometimes they just don’t come to fruition. And yes, a polite employer will get back to you and tell you that, but this one isn’t doing that — so all you can do is make one final attempt and then move on.

I’m missing my bus because of my manager, husband’s inappropriate new employee, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 12:02 am
Tomorrow is another one.

Furnace pipe got a leak. Had to turn the whole thing off so it'd cool down and I could dry it off and caulk* it. Took forever for the house to warm up afterwards - brr!

But at least the caulk job seems to be holding.

* Well, it's plumber's putty.

******************


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Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 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
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 12:01 am

Posted by Tab

Nothing like bitching to your partner about things that pissed you off!

Sorry if the store orders are a bit slow this week- I’ve moved a couple days earlier than I expected so I’m half living in boxes! The 10% off discount still applies until Saturday- feel free to use it to help make the shipping costs a bit easier!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 03:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Yesterday was Indigo’s birthday. Yes, it’s true – she’s nine now!

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We did our normal birthday hugs – one from each member of the family.

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After that, it was time to get to work. But don’t worry – we spent the whole day celebrating our special NINE year old!

happy birthday indigo 9_blog

PJ

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

When’s the last time your manager asked you what items on your plate you’re not getting done?

And if you’re a manager, when’s the last time you asked your staff that?

People don’t ask this question nearly enough — or even at all — and it’s a huge mistake.

Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about why managers need to ask this, how to do it, and why it can be revolutionary to the way your team operates. You can read it here.

do you know what your staff isn’t getting done? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.