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Sunday, November 29th, 2015 10:29 am

Rough week physically, so-so mentally. As for the physical, I can do no better than to quote from Tuesday's notes:

Clumsy bear got into a fight with a wet manhole cover and a sidewalk. The manhole cover tripped me and the sidewalk hit me in the face. Lost the fight, but got away quickly enough to escape serious injury. (Slipped, and would probably have recovered except that I tripped over the curb and did a faceplant.)

Hand apparently broke the fall pretty well, but I have some abrasions on knee and forehead, and a fair amount of bruising and a cut on the bridge of my nose. Grump. Ouch. Glasses had their nosepiece bent a little but nothing scratched or broken. Could have been *much* worse.

As it turned out, I had two small breaks in my nose; they showed up on the CAT scan. At this point everything but the nose and the abrasion on my knee have stopped hurting even a little. I got off easy.

Mentally, my current meds appear to be doing their job. I'm worried about Ticia, though. She hasn't been eating much, and has lost weight since we got her. (She was overweight, but still; I don't like it.) She is also still getting into fights with the other cats. On the other hand, she's also endearingly cuddly, especially with me.

The other biggish news is that we got the HELOC to cover the overrun on the remodel. Colleen and I went and signed for it yesterday. Of course, it makes me worry more about finances.

I've done a little practicing; need to do more, especially on the stuff I'm likely to be playing at and around Mom's birthday party.

Lots of links, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
Sunday, November 29th, 2015 12:35 pm
Scott and I got food from Palm Palace (a middle eastern restaurant) last night while Cordelia was at her friend’s birthday party. We got sandwiches instead of entrees because sandwiches cost about 1/3 as much and were still plenty of food. I got lentil soup, too, but ended up not eating that until breakfast this morning.

Unfortunately, the garlic spread in my chicken shwarma gave me reflux, so I ended up staying up until about 2:30. That wasn’t ideal from any point of view and meant that I ended sleeping late and still feel exhausted. I’d probably still be in bed, but I really needed to get up and take my morning meds before it got any later.

The pharmacy says that it’s too soon to refill my prescription for antibiotic cream. It’s not urgent that I do so as I’ve still got about 1/3 of the original prescription left, but I’m using it pretty fast. I think that the problem is that the insurance assumes that any prescription with a refill is supposed to last 30 days between refills. Silvadene is not horrifically expensive. I think we’ll end up paying about $50 out of pocket (as opposed to $10 for the copay). It’s not ideal, but it’s doable. I just need to check with the pharmacy to make sure it’s an insurance problem (I got an automated call telling me they couldn’t do the refill). Insurance seems the most likely reason— I can’t imagine that silvadene is something that people abuse, and it is something that any patient is likely to use varying amounts of, depending on how much area needs to be covered. It’s just that I need to cover more of my breast now than I did at first, so the stuff is disappearing faster.

This has been an odd week, what with Scott and Cordelia home for so much of it. It also doesn’t feel much like Thanksgiving weekend because I haven’t gone anywhere. I don’t have to go anywhere this week until Cordelia’s orchestra concert on Thursday. Hopefully, things will have healed enough by then that the concert isn’t absolutely horrible pain-wise.

I showered yesterday while Scott and Cordelia were out at our niece’s birthday gathering (the actual party was in the evening during the time when Cordelia’s friend’s party was). I desperately needed it, and I desperately didn’t want to do it. Raising my left arm to wash my hair isn’t any fun, and water hitting the raw parts of my breast wasn’t great. I think it was helpful for my breast, but it hurt.

I am looking forward to reaching a point where I can reduce the amount of hydrocodone I’m taking. I really want to be able to think again. I very much want to write something, but every time I try to focus to do that, my mind starts wandering. Words shouldn’t be this hard! I mean, I can write journal entries— Why not fiction?
Sunday, November 29th, 2015 10:54 am

This week, every time you leave a room, take something with you that doesn’t belong there, and put it back where it’s supposed to be. (This includes garbage.) If you’re in the advanced class and nothing needs to leave the room, then do one thing to improve the room each time you’re in it.

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 12:30 am

Every year since my diagnosis, as I'm planning our holiday activities I have found myself thinking Next year I'll feel better and this will be easier. It's a strategy that gets me through those nasty post holiday crash times.

But this year, I have given up on that sentiment. I'm limping around because of killer knee and leg pain and am still struggling to regain my energy levels from a few months ago; which is certainly not better than last year. I require an enormous amount of rest yet still have several the ground just dropped out from beneath my feet fatigue episodes. Gosh. I'd give my eye teeth if I could feel with complete sincerity that in a year's time I would have less pain and more energy.

But after several years during which the holidays have become progressively more difficult for my body to handle, I'm not feeling the optimism and I'm not going to imagine that next year will be any better. To my great surprise this feels kind relief. It feels rather liberating not to feel as though I am required to meet a very difficult-to-achieve goal that amounts to grinding my disease into submission. To let go of expectations, realistic or otherwise.

Hm. Weird.

I'm not sure if that is a step forward in acceptance of the progressive nature of Sjogren's; or if it represents a serious defeat in my battle with autoimmune disease.

I'm thinking it's a step forward. Next year as I get out the Thanksgiving decorations and start covering every flat surface with turkeys, perhaps I will feel better than this year. Or the same. Or worse. I'll just have to take whatever I'm given. And it will simply have to be OK.
Sunday, November 29th, 2015 12:44 am
Back in Time for Dinner, which is a series of hour-long episodes featuring an English family eating their way to the present from the 1950s, one year a day.

It's worth watching.

Things I noticed:

1. The 1950s kitchen appears to have a measuring cup! From all the talk talk talk about how annoying it is to convert American recipes I assumed measuring cups had fallen out of favor in England a lot earlier than 1950.

2. This is how you use that style can opener. I looked at it and went "Nope", but - unlike my counterparts in the 1950s - I can google that sort of thing.

3. The mom in this family really got a raw deal. The kids and dad could leave the house every day to go to school and work, and her 1950s counterpart would have had other housewives to talk to, but she was really stuck.

4. Loving the clothes, though, especially that purple apron. Also, I noticed around when the girls switched from pigtails to ponytails, the kids' clothing seemed to modernize a lot faster than the grown-up clothing. Which of course makes sense - your kids can't wear what they wore 10 years ago, but you can, and even if you make careful use of hand-me-downs the clothes children wear doesn't actually last forever.

5. Is it okay in England to use the flag as a tablecloth? Was it okay in the 50s? In the US it's definitely a violation of the Flag Code, and even I think it's a little tacky (and I definitely don't revere the flag or anything like that!)

6. What's with the shelf between the burners and the oven on her stove?

7. For all her talk about how if she'd married a GI and been a war bride she'd at least have an electric mixer, she may be wrong. I grew up with a rotary eggbeater as our only way to beat anything - actually, we have one now. Both our electric beaters broke, and we were tired of using a spoon or a whisk.
Saturday, November 28th, 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
Saturday, November 28th, 2015 08:20 pm
Eva doesn't like me listening in on her chorus rehearsals, so I usually only catch the last 10 minutes or so.

Those minutes are spent on Sleigh Ride. I'd like to slay Leroy Anderson by now. I have three lines from the song running through my head on permanent loop. Not the whole song, naturally, which would be bearable. No, just from "pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie" to "these wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives".

The performance is on Tuesday. It's gonna be great, actually - the kids really are on tune, and they're doing their songs in parts and all that. But I want that song out of my head!


The McDonalds Monopoly Fraud

Amazing Nurse Cat Comforts Other Sick Animals in Polish Animal Shelter

Chip-based credit cards are old news; why is the US only rolling them out now?

How to Make Middle School a Smoother Ride with Diverse Literature

Japan's newest and largest mosque opens its doors

A Portait of Ancient, Cosmopolitan London

Bizarre Ancient Sea Creature Was Well-Armed for Feeding

Ancient 'Mud Dragon' Worm Had Spiky Coat of Armor

It's Cheaper for Airlines to Cut Emissions Than You Think

Global carbon emissions growth slowed for third straight year to near-stall

A Washing Machine That Recycles Its Own Water

This Video Explains How You're Doing Your Laundry Wrong

A brief history of USB, what it replaced, and what has failed to replace it

Play Hundreds of Classic Games on This Retro Home Arcade

Tennessee’s half-mile-long spider web shows how little we know about our surroundings

How Railroad History Shaped Internet History

The Black Female Mathematicians Who Sent Astronauts to Space

Humpback Whales Make Migration Pit Stops at Underwater Mountains

Saving a School on the Blackfeet Reservation

Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Future of human gene editing to be decided at landmark summit

Drug driving suit mimics taking the wheel stoned

On concurrent surgeries

Could the Third Amendment be used to fight the surveillance state?

The Painting That Saved My Family From the Holocaust

The New, Ugly Surge in Violence and Threats Against Abortion Providers

The rich are less generous when they think there’s high economic inequality

Despite governors' resistance, Syrian refugees find support in US

Inside Anonymous' Messy Cyberwar Against ISIS

Syrian Civil War Brilliantly Explained By This Five-Minute Vox Video

Climate change already forcing world's birds towards poles, says report
Friday, November 27th, 2015 03:55 pm
You can reject IQ as a measure of intelligence just because you dislike the Flynn effect. Or you can say that lower IQ scores among mothers prove that stupid people are outbreeding smart people. What you can't do is try to use both those arguments simultaneously. If you can't see why this is a bad idea, then you really need to excuse yourself from any conversation that even remotely touches on the subject of intelligence.


Tarantulas evolved blue colour 'at least eight times'

Parents: Reject Technology Shame

The blind woman who switched personalities and could suddenly see

Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds

Turning Bacon Into Bombs: The American Fat Salvage Committee

Researchers have written quantum code on a silicon chip for the first time

King Tutankhamun's tomb: Evidence grows for hidden chamber

Breakfast Cereal's Last Gasp

Scientists have figured out how to shock the salt out of seawater

Home possession of switchblade knives protected by the Second Amendment

Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged

6 Creepy Things You Never Noticed About Famous Kids Cartoons

Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high

NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records ends Sunday

Supreme Court justice blocks Native Hawaiian vote count

Tibetans Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China

The Racist Legacy of Woodrow Wilson

What Woodrow Wilson Cost My Grandfather

Ukraine's police say 'goodbye' to Russian social networks

Prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer killed in Turkey

Japan to resume whaling in Antarctic despite court ruling

High-tech consumerism, a global catastrophe happening on our watch

Energy-rich Russia pays little attention to climate change

What's behind the rise of coccolithophores in the oceans?


Read more... )
Saturday, November 28th, 2015 04:36 pm
Last chance on the Anniversaries; I'll be catching up the lists tonight and probably ordering tomorrow.
Saturday, November 28th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Eve in bagThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend. This is the diary of angst-filled and unintentionally hilarious teen Adrian Mole, who is dealing with troubled parents, acne, and an enticing classmate. If you’ve never read this, you need to. Also, if if you like it, there are a bunch of sequels to read too.

weekend free-for-all – November 28-29, 2015 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, November 28th, 2015 09:25 am
I’m not sure I slept at all last night. I had a story that I will probably never write running around in my head and not letting me relax into sleep.

The lack of sleep probably contributed to my near breakdown when I discovered that Scott hadn’t brought the clean washcloths upstairs last night. I very specifically told him that I needed him to, and he stayed up well past when the dryer buzzed. Nevertheless, when I got up, everything was still in the basement. First thing in the morning is when everything hurts most, so bending over repeatedly to sort out the washcloths from everything else brought me near tears from the pain.

My breast looks really thoroughly terrible. I think most of it is the antibiotic cream having dried in place (it’s not meant to be absorbed), so I’m hoping things will look better when I remove the astringent soaked washcloths in another ten minutes.

I have concluded that superhero comics don’t currently work for me. None of the ones I’ve tried recently— No, I’m forgetting Tiny Titans. Those were okay. I just can’t seem to read anything more serious or longer. Maybe in a few months or years. Maybe not.

Scott and I watched two library DVDS last night, Into the Woods (2014) and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. I can’t say that I was disappointed by Into the Woods because my expectations were very, very low, but I didn’t really enjoy it. Throne of Atlantis had only the barest threads of plot. I think the only reason we didn’t turn it off was inertia, that and we were waiting for the laundry to finish up.
Saturday, November 28th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. Salary when moving to part-time

I recently made a request at my job to move from a full-time schedule to a part-time one, due to some personal and medical issues that need more of my attention. I spoke with my director, who immediately said she supported my request and that she’d speak to my two project supervisors after Thanksgiving to discuss how we’d work out the day-to-day work.

In the meantime, she asked me to reach out to the operations manager and HR director regarding salary and benefits. I just met with them for a brief meeting, where they basically just let me know the next steps, but we did not discuss salary at all. However, I did see a number written down on a paper in front of the HR director that was equivalent to what my current pay would be if it was an hourly rate. (I am salaried.) My husband insists that if I’ll be going to an hourly rate as a part-time employee, I should earn more per hour, since I won’t have the option of benefits and do not get PTO.

Should I have a number in mind for an hourly wage, and is it reasonable for that number to be slightly higher that the hourly wage I’m receiving now, since I will no longer be eligible for benefits or PTO?

It’s not unreasonable, but it’s also not necessarily unreasonable of your company not to want to do that. Some companies do that, and some don’t; there’s no absolute “this is how it’s done.” Also, in this case, since you’re the one asking to move to part-time, you might have less negotiating power than if the move was being driven by their interests.

But it’s certainly completely fine to ask and see what they’ll agree to. I’d word it this way: “Since my compensation currently includes benefits and won’t anymore once I move to part-time, I’m hoping we could do an hourly wage of $___ to reflect that.”

2. Manager blocked internal move

My employer (a large company) advertised a post (to internal and external candidates) for a secondment to cover someone’s maternity leave. An internal candidate scored best at the interviews and in assessments and so was offered and accepted the post. This person’s line manager has refused to release them from their current position. Can they prevent someone developing their skills and working in another department?

Yes, if your company permits that. Many companies do indeed require a person’s current manager to sign off on a transfer.

With temporary moves (as it sounds like this one would have been), it can be understandable for a manager not to want to deal with temporarily covering someone’s position. But with permanent moves, it’s a pretty bad policy, since do you know what managers don’t get asked to sign off on? That same person leaving for another company entirely, because this one blocked them from advancing.

3. Double standard for exempt employees

Is there a double standard for exempt employees about time in vs time off, and what are your thoughts on that?

About five years ago, my husband was co-manager of a restaurant, and one day he got ill during the early hours of the day and had to go home. His pay was docked (he had no PTO), which he assumed was to pay the other manager, who had to come in to cover. Shortly thereafter, the other manager had a family emergency and he was called in to cover her full day, but he wasn’t paid anything extra because “You’re salaried and you have to work extra hours sometimes.”

Similarly, my exempt coworkers are expected to work past 5 most days (often unnecessarily), but if they want to leave before 5 they have to claim it as PTO.

I am currently non-exempt, but our director is pushing for my position to be made exempt. I’m wondering if the above examples are typical about how time is thought about for exempt employees, and whether you think that makes sense.

Yes, there often is a double standard, where exempt workers are told to use PTO when they want time off, but aren’t given anything extra when they put in extra hours. I’m not a fan.

That said, what your husband’s company did was illegal. They can’t dock the pay of an exempt worker for working a half day, and by doing that, they treated him as non-exempt, which means that they could have ended up owing him a whole bunch of overtime pay that he would have been entitled to as a non-exempt worker.

As for your current manager wanting to convert you to exempt, (a) make sure your position would qualify under the law; it’s based on job duties, not the employer’s preference, and (b) find out whether they too have a double standard where they’d require you to use PTO to take time off even if you regularly work additional hours.

4. Staying in touch when a hiring process is put on hold

I know you get asked about following up after an interview all the time, but my question is about what to do when you’ve been told hiring has been put on hold. I had a great interview a month ago, sent my thank-you email, and then sent a follow-up about a week later (when he told me they’d be making a decision by). Some time later, I got an email back saying that they’re in a holding pattern (because some contracts needed to drive the position hadn’t come through yet), but he’d be in touch when they’re ready to move forward with the process. I’m just wondering if there is a way to stay in touch, and keep following up so I’m still fresh in their in mind…without being annoying?

I wouldn’t do much of that, since he told you directly that he’ll be in touch when they’re ready to move forward. I think it would be fine to do one check-in, in about a month to see if he has a sense of their likely timeline, but after that I’d move on and assume that they’ll get in touch when/if they want to resume the process.

manager blocked internal move, salary when moving to part-time, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 08:46 pm
Today is the day we had our celebration. The day was beautiful, and in the low 60s (which, as it'd been in the low 50s and high 40s all last week, meant that just about every one of us felt comfortable and even warm with our coats off) so instead of trying to figure out how to seat 10 people around a kitchen table sized for 6, with nowhere near enough seats, we went to the park to eat! Picnic tables, and lots of space for the kids to run around, and it was glorious.

We had the customary too much food without it being TOO too much, and everybody was able to find some food that they wanted to eat, both with the meal and the dessert, and nobody fought, which is like some sort of holiday miracle. If the weather is this nice next year, we'll absolutely do it again. Global warming has to be good for something, after all.

Afterwards, we discussed world politics a little, and apparently Erdogan is not pronounced at all the way I'd assumed. Damn Turkish spelling conventions. Thank goodness Michele speaks the language.


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Baby Tortoises Show Up In The Galapagos For The First Time In Over A Century

The Beloved Pioneer Bread that Smells Like Feet and Breaks Food Safety Rules. It has nothing to do with the bread made from a yeast infection.

Report: US abortions continue to decline, down 4 pct in 2012

Street art that appears when it rains

Epigenetic Signaling Induces Species-Specific Head and Brain Growth in Flatworms

New York in color, 1940s

China’s “sponge cities” use smart infrastructure to prevent massive water issues

New processing plant prepares traditional Alaska Native food

Scientists create new strain of malaria-blocking mosquito

Genetic history of Europeans revealed

Woman Missing For 10 Years Found Living In Internet Cafe

Trump still insists thousands in Jersey City cheered the 9/11 attacks

Paris attacks boost popularity of French Tricolor flag

How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce

How I Fell Face First for an Epic IRS Scam

A search for family in Haiti raises questions about adoption

Force-Feeding: Cruel at Guantánamo, but O.K. for Our Parents


Read more... )
Friday, November 27th, 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
Friday, November 27th, 2015 08:18 pm


Another @unfuckyourhabitat. Some of the “before” photos are taken within a week or so of each other, as I had to postpone cleaning day due to having no energy. I’m always messier than usual around coursework season due to stress and only coming home from the library to eat. Fortunately my next deadline’s just after the Christmas holidays, so I’ll probably be doing most of my work back at my parents’ house.

Anyway, managed to get my room sorted finally, with the help of tea and my new Tengger Cavalry album. Also decided to try the vertical folding thing while I was at it.

Friday, November 27th, 2015 11:18 am
Yep.. the turkey has been roasted, the games have been played, the annual trophy awarded, and the PIE has been eaten!

Yes. That's the way to do Thanksgiving. See y'all tomorrow.

Friday, November 27th, 2015 12:02 pm
As it turns out, Scott has today off. That almost never happens, so I wasn’t expecting it. Given when he and Cordelia got home last night, they must have left within minutes of Scott’s mother’s email.

Scott’s family has started exchanging Christmas wishlists. I’m thinking of making a secondary list that’s shorter than my main list. I’ve got about 250 items on my long list, and some of them are there more because I want to remember that I want them than because I expect anyone to buy them for me just now. The big list is overwhelming, and it’s hard to tell which things I want most.

I’ve been listening to podcasts this morning. I’m hopeful that I’ve got the volume low enough that I haven’t woken Scott (though I think he’s probably up by now and just cruising the internet on his laptop).

Scott’s mother sent home a box with a small serving of pretty much everything from the dinner she served. She didn’t send containers of the stuff Scott particularly likes which seems an odd omission and something that Scott will regret. I suppose he could make some of this stuff for himself this weekend if he wants to.

I’ve been browsing the online catalog at our public library, and I found that the library has board book copies of Les Miserables and War and Peace. That boggles me. I have no idea how one can abridge either book quite that much, and they’re not things that I would have thought of as toddler appropriate.

I also spent time browsing the list of book giveaways on GoodReads. There was a book of short stories labeled as ’solarpunk.’ That’s not a term I’ve previously heard of. I don’t feel sufficiently motivated to research it to see if it’s common. I was rather astonished by the number of giveaways that don’t actually give information about the book and/or author but that just say something like "I’m giving away ten copies of my wonderful new book!" That’s fine, but why would I want to win a copy if you don’t tell me anything interesting about the book? It’s possible to get away with that for, say, The Annotated Little Women, but 95% of those books are by people I’ve never heard of and so have no investment in. There were some blurbs and titles made me laugh, but I can’t remember specifics now.

Cordelia’s school is doing the Scholastic book fair next week. I could order books online right now, but Cordelia says she doesn’t want any because she’s only interested in owning books she’s already read. So I guess I won’t be buying much this year. None of the teachers have put up wishlists online, either. I keep checking for that because I’d like to donate that way. It’s also really strange not to be volunteering at the book fair. I’ve volunteered every year since Cordelia started school.

I really, really want to go out to eat and have restaurant pancakes. The ones Scott makes aren’t anything like the same. But I’m not willing to deal with wearing a shirt long enough to go out for that, and it’s not precisely the sort of thing one can get carryout.

I keep starting books and then deciding that they’re not worth the effort. I think that has more to do with me than with the books because they’re books I was looking forward to and because putting them down seems to have more to do with me being tired and/or unable to focus than with there being something wrong with the book.
Friday, November 27th, 2015 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – November 27, 2015 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, November 27th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My coworker kept some of the donations she collected for a gift for our boss

One of my coworkers collected donations for Boss’s Day gifts for our project manager and assistant project manager. But over a month after the holiday, a gift had not been given. The person’s excuse was that she kept forgetting. A lot of people kept asking her about it; I know I asked two times. Still, though, no gifts. We finally told the assistant project manager, and he went up to her and asked about the donations and where the gift was for our project manager was. She made an excuse and said that she decided to save that money for a Christmas gift for them instead. Well, she never informed us of her change in plans. So a week later, she gives our manager a handmade item she bought. This is not what we agreed on.

We don’t know how much she collected for two gifts, but what I gave was way more than the one gift, so basically she kept a lot of money. I know I know we will never trust this person with money again. What should we do or can we do?

You should tell her clearly and firmly — preferably with the rest of the people who donated — that you want an accounting of how the money was spent, including a receipt, and that you want the remainder returned. If it helps to have specific language, I’d start by saying this: “It looks like there must be money left over from the gift purchase — can you show us the receipt for the final cost so we can figure out how to divide up and return the money that was left over?”

And unless she makes this right immediately after that, you should give your boss a heads-up about what happened, because stealing from coworkers is a serious thing.

2. Managing an employee who’s missing a ton of work because of chronic illness

I have an employee who for the last six months has been out sick about 1-2 days a week on average, due to chronic illness. In the last couple of months, his health has deteriorated considerably and he’s had to miss two and a half weeks straight. Now that he’s back, and still in not better health, it looks like it’s back to the pattern of weekly days off. This is affecting performance, and others, including me, have had to shoulder a lot of the burden: missed deadlines, poor quality work, and an overall significant decrease in productivity.

I want to be compassionate but am not sure what the best solution moving forward is. All employees are at will and he’s exhausted all his paid time off. I’ve considered making him part-time to give him the time he needs while freeing up resources to get the work done (full disclosure: he’s communicated in the past that he needs the full-time position because of financial reasons, though obviously cannot do the job). I’m not sure if there are other transition/temporary solutions to a situation like this.

I run a small company of only 12 employees so we are not required to offer FMLA. I’ve considered doing an FMLA-like structure but worry that because of his financial concerns it’ll be more of a burden to administer than a help (especially given that my company is incredibly flexible; he can come in for five hours one day, be available a full day another, or only be able to do one hour of work another). I will consider termination but given that much of this in intertwined with health issues I want to make sure I do the right thing.

All you can really do is figure out the bottom line answer to what you need — which might be having the person in his role reliably at work full-time, or having him go part-time so that you can hire a second part-time person to take up the rest of his duties, or either of those, or some other option altogether.

Once you’re clear on the scenario(s) that would work on your end, sit down with him and tell him that you know he’s been having a rough time of it, that you’ve tried to be as flexible as possible, but that you want to be realistic about what’s going on and what you need on your end. Tell him the scenarios that would work on your end, and ask what makes sense to him. You can be kind and compassionate while still saying, “Ultimately, here’s what I need. Let’s talk about how our needs can line up, or what to do if they can’t.”

3. Should I resign or do I owe my employer a chance to try to keep me?

I put in notice at the end of September that I’d be leaving my job. The job had far more travel than was originally discussed, and my life as a remote worker was very difficult (poor phone connections and a consensus-based workplace culture didn’t mix well, and indecisive bosses, who sometimes gave contradictory guidance, added to the frustration).

Despite the poor fit and my failed attempts to make it work, I pushed through my first year and completed our main annual project, and decided to leave only after that was over. I didn’t want to leave the position in the middle of the project, as I wanted to leave on good terms. I’m uniquely qualified for my position, and so I offered to stick around for a month or two to train a replacement. I gave excessive travel as my main reason for leaving, and did not touch on the workplace culture or communication difficulties (I’ve mentioned those before with poor results).

They didn’t want to see me go and offered to change my position to make it more workable. I told them I didn’t see how my job could work with reduced travel, but I’d hear them out. They said they’d put together a plan soon. That was two months ago. They’ve dragged their feet on the plan. Then about four weeks ago, they said they wanted me to meet with an outside consultant and they’d put me in contact with them. I haven’t heard anything.

I’ve done all that I should do, right? I’ve been trying to do the right thing by them, but now they’re having me set up new projects that I won’t be around to manage. I’ve kept asking about their plan, but haven’t heard anything back. The workload, however, has been light the past month or two and I’ve been using the time to bide my resources towards my life and career after this job. But I’m good now, they haven’t offered me a plan, and I’m ready to move on. Should I just finally put my foot down, give them a last date, and leave?

Yep. You didn’t renew marriage vows with them; you just offered to hear them out, and they haven’t bothered to make that happen. You were entitled to say “no, my decision is final, but thank you” two months ago, and you’re entitled to say it now.

If they act aggrieved that you’re leaving without hearing their proposal, you can just say, “I’ve given it a lot of thought and realized this is the right decision for me.” If you want to be more pointed, you could say, “I hadn’t heard anything concrete in the last two months, and have decided it makes the most sense to move on.”

4. When my state’s vocational rehabilitation sucks, where can I go for help?

You’ve written several times about how government agencies give poor job search advice. I have two obvious disabilities that pose serious barriers to employment, so I reached out to my state’s department of vocational rehabilitation for assistance. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the advice I’ve been given is appalling. The career counselor told me to use a functional resume with an objective that lists duties for the job I held previously. She also advised me to show up to companies in person to ask for interviews. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she steered me toward menial jobs even though I have a college degree. The higher-ups wouldn’t assign me a new counselor when I complained, so I decided to run far away.

My question is: Where should I be running? There are resume reviewers/writers and career coaches, but their fees are out of reach for the chronically unemployed. The industry is also entirely unregulated, so I wouldn’t have much recourse if I ended up hiring a fly-by-night company. The other popular suggestion is to tap your network, but one of my disabilities is high-functioning autism. The social difficulties inherent in that condition mean I don’t exactly have a huge network that will charge in to save the day.

It has now been over six months since I last worked. Research conducted during the recession suggests that anyone who has been out of work that long is only marginally employable, and with my poor work history, that goes double for me. Is there a way to extricate myself from this unemployment quagmire?

I actually think you can get the best job search advice these days from blogs like this one — look for advice-givers who have done significant amounts of hiring themselves, and ignore the rest. It’s not as personalized as working with a coach, of course, but with some work you can figure out how to apply posts like this one to your situation, and while it’s a bit more work, I think it’s a better bet that one-on-one time with someone giving you terrible guidance. (I am assuming from the context you gave that you’re looking for resume and interview advice rather than “apply for this specific job” type of advice, but please tell me in the comments if I’m getting that wrong!)

Also, I strongly, strongly urge you to file a complaint about the agency you worked with. Write to your state legislators and let them know what your experience was; this stuff won’t change until people speak up.

What other advice do people have?

5. How do I write goals for next year in my annual review?

I am preparing for my first annual review in my administrative assistant position at a small non-profit. I have only been in this job for seven months, but our organization conducts reviews for all employees just once each year.

As part of my review, I have to complete a self-evaluation form, and I am having some trouble with this. The section where I must describe accomplishments from the past year is easy–I’ve learned a lot very quickly, so I am recapping systems, processes and structures that I feel I’ve mastered. However, I don’t know how to set goals for next year. I’ve received a lot of praise for excelling at this job, and it’s hard for me to come up with ways to improve on tasks I feel I’ve already mastered.

I’m also struggling with this because our director has generously allowed me to take on tasks that are outside the purview of my job description but that are aligned better with my academic background (I have a master’s in a social research field) and still support the goals of our organization; they even sent me on a professional development course to get more training in how to perform these functions. However, I want my self evaluation to reflect the fact that I know what job I was hired to do (be an admin) while also acknowledging that I have an interest in developing my skills in this new area.

How can I write goals that are aligned with my job description, but are still honest about my sense of mastery over my tasks and desire to explore other areas within the organization?

It sounds like you’re thinking of goals as being about your personal mastery of things, but they should be about what you will achieve for the organization, not about what you personally learn. (In fact, you sound like you still have an academic mindset and are thinking about this in that context — but what your job cares about is what you’re accomplishing for them.) So for an admin job, examples might be things like:
* All meeting requests have been scheduled within 48 hours, with a first scheduling attempt being made the day the request is received.
* Locate a new space that fits our needs for expansion and ensure the move goes seamlessly with minimal disruption to staff’s work.
* Manage our finances so that our expenses are aligned with the budget and we know whether or not we’re on track at all times.
* Ensure staff has access to whatever administrative support they need to do their work smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

In other words, if you do an awesome job next year, what will you have achieved by the end of it?

Also, I’d use this focus when you’re doing your self-evaluation for the past year too; focus not on what you mastered but on what you accomplished.

my coworker stole donations from a gift collection, managing a sick employee, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, November 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, November 26th, 2015 05:57 pm

It's Thanksgiving, which means that in addition to the traditional Thankful Thursday, I get to look back over the whole year to find things to be grateful for. But let's start with the week: Today I'm grateful for

  • Surviving my argument with a manhole cover and a sidewalk with nothing more serious than a slightly broken nose and some scrapes;
  • My family, with a special callout to Naomi for driving me to the ER to get checked out;
  • Cat therapy, with a special callout to Morticia;
  • Sound Credit Union, for approving the loan that will pay for the budget overrun on our garage remodel.

Now, for the year:

  • My family, again and always: Colleen, Emmy, Chaos, PocketNaomi, Ursa Minor, their kids g and j, and my Mom (whose 95th birthday party I'm flying east for two weeks from today);
  • Our wonderful home at Rainbow's End;
  • Our wonderful cats, and especially for the time -- far too short -- that we had with Curio;
  • Seattle weather;
  • An employer that appears to be much more understanding than I gave them credit for (though I'm still very worried);
  • Good Drugs, with special callouts to methocarbamol and bupropion;
  • Friends, coworkers, and health care providers too numerous to mention, but particularly Colleen's urologist and the three Anitas at UW;
  • Filk and folk music, with special mention of "The Mary Ellen Carter", a song that had a lot to do with our surviving what has been an extremely rough year for all of us.
Thursday, November 26th, 2015 08:34 pm
One problem with sitting around shirtless is that my hair hanging down makes my back itch in places I can’t reach. Putting it in a ponytail doesn’t help that very much, either.

I napped for about three hours after Scott and Cordelia left this afternoon. I had anxiety dreams involving getting lost in a huge house I’d never been in before and being completely unable to find my meds. It was pain that woke me.

I have figured out that the key to getting out of bed without absolute agony is to put my hand under my breast so that I don’t end up with all of the weight of my breast suddenly pulling on the burned skin. It still hurts, but I kind of ease into it, spreading the pain across more time. Of course, getting out of bed without both arms free is a bit more challenging.

The last I knew (Scott’s mother emailed me half an hour ago), Scott and Cordelia were still at his parents’ place. That’s one of the drawbacks of me not going— Scott doesn’t want to leave because that would involve admitting that he has to get up tomorrow. It’s an hour’s drive home from there, and he’s been up since 2 a.m., so he’s exhausted. The drive home is not going to be a wonderful thing, no matter when it happens, but earlier would be better so that he can actually get a full night’s sleep.