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Saturday, December 20th, 2014 12:30 am
Ahh. Sad times in the midst of holiday happiness.

My much loved uncle passed away a few days ago. Yesterday was his funeral, and although I really wanted to be there, because it was so far away I simply couldn't. Instead I attended our church's daily Mass which happened to be scheduled at the exact same time that Uncle Eugene's funeral Mass was being celebrated. It made me feel as though I was joining my prayers with the rest of the family from across the US, which provided a comfort of sorts. And although this prayer was not included in our Mass, I knew that it was sung for Uncle Eugene's Requiem Mass, which is one of my favorites:

I sat quietly after the service to remember the good times that our families had over the years, and to contemplate what a good man he was, and how much he will be missed.

After I dried my tears and composed myself, I headed home to check a few more things off my Christmas list, and coincidentally the next item on my to-do list was to make Uncle's favorite treat: his wife Betty's coffeecake. Aunt Betty is the QUEEN of coffeecakes, and no one except my mother can make them as well as she can.

Hers is a complicated recipe, one that was handed down from generations of Eugene's family. The original recipe yields twenty - yes, twenty - fragrant, delicious, fruit filled, yeast bread rounds. I suppose it's a bit of a misnomer to call these delicious round breads "cakes" but it's what Auntie Betty calls them, so there you have it.

You really seriously don't want to argue with Auntie Betty because you won't win.

If you are interested in her recipe I'd be happy to share it with you, but send me an email. I won't post it here because the instructions are pages and pages long. They include lots of butter and sugar and lard and yeast and good flour and directions which are....well like this: "No amount of flour for dough specified. Just put enough in to make a sticky but dinner-roll like dough."


Lucky for me, I've sat at Mom's side as she's whipped out more of these beauties than I can count, so I have some concept of what Aunt Betty meant. And watched as she put the enormous mass of dough to rise, punched it down, put it into pie pans (yes, my mom has twenty pie pans) and proofed the dough further in a warm oven, then after adding filling, pull the edges of the soft dough over the filling and patted it flat and sprinkled streusel over. And then let them rise some more.

This isn't a recipe that you decide to whip up in an hour.

I rolled up my sleeves, and was hesitant to actually break out the yeast and other ingredients.

Gee. I wonder if I can remember how to do this? I thought. Then looked up to the sky and asked, Hey, Uncle? Give me a hand here, ok?

It was the best batch of coffeecakes that I have ever made. Thanks, Uncle Eugene. And may you rest in peace.

This enormous bowl of dough is one third of Aunt Betty's recipe.

After you pull them out of the oven, you cool them briefly on wire racks....

.....then transfer them to finish cooling on brown paper bags.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 02:05 am
Two 7pm shows in two days is NOT how I planned it, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that adblock was preventing me from seeing this year's show information on the Pantomonium website, and by the time I requested tickets this was the only day I could get that we could all be certain to attend.

It's quite a hike to the Hudson Guild Theater from the train station, especially in the cold and the dark! But it's worth it, that show was just as fun this year as it was last year. Ana professed a too-cool-for-school attitude about the whole thing, but as soon as she thought we weren't looking she was literally staring at the stage in wide-eyed, open mouthed wonder, and quite eager to grab a seat closer to the stage after intermission. She managed to get a special trip backstage (how she contrived this, I do not know), cheered wildly when voluntold-Jenn went on stage, and she even eagerly reached forward to high five Cow's Front Half at the end. (Their funny two person animal is really two characters.)

Of course, once we left she proclaimed it was all "too babyish" and declined to take a picture with the cast, but she cannot fool us. I really wish she'd grow up already out of this stage, but I know it's really very common among adolescents and children in general, so I try to be patient.
Saturday, December 20th, 2014 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

Here are four more updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. How to respond to an anonymous note that says a temp is stealing

Unfortunately my update is not all that exciting. The person who was accused of stealing resigned a few months after my letter, entirely voluntarily. We hired a new admin who controls all of the receipts, and at my request I was able to hand off all purchasing to that person. We never got to the bottom of who sent those emails. I have my guesses, but no concrete evidence. As far as I know, no further anonymous emails have been sent.

One product indirectly related has been HR doing a lot more to try and fix some of the toxic work environment. The anonymous emails were more likely a product of some bad chemistry in the office, and there have been efforts to clean it up. It’s not perfect yet, but it has gotten better. But being saddled with the knowledge that there might be an anonymous person falsely accusing people of things, in my opinion, was much more indicative of a bigger internal problem.

Either way, sorry there is no concrete conclusion – but know that and a few other incidents have caused HR to try and help fix some of the chemistry internally.

2. How to reward an exceptional employee (#2 at the link)

I did take much of the advice to heart. Was she going to burn out? Was there professional development that I should be encouraging? Were the rewards not appropriate thank-you’s?

Exceptional employee continues to be exceptional.

I got budget approval and hiring approval for a part-time assistant for her. That position will start in January.

I was able to find the money and approval for her to attend a national conference important in our field next summer.

I was able to offload some interesting projects from my desk onto hers. She is still exceeding expectations.

I took back a responsibility that she mentioned that she found onerous (I had no problem and when things ease up, I will have her give it another try)

There have been no more giving of power bars or swag as I haven’t been to COSTCO and there is no more swag.

She will receive a merit raise next May.

3. Applying for a job with someone you previously interviewed with (#4 at the link)

I realize this is from 2012, but it has taken a while to work out. I left my job in December 2012 after filing a group harassment grievance against my supervisor. I have since received trauma counseling (clearly I could have written you many many times!). I ended up getting a part time job at the nonprofit I mentioned, which was given to me without an interview based on our previous encounters.

The former classmate interviewed for my similar position and was unsuccessful in being hired from the candidate pool. I went back to front line child protection in fall of 2013 when my hours were cut to four per week at the non profit. The previous classmate managed to get on in my division a few months ago.

I’m happy to say that while I have a very stressful job I have generous benefits ($73k plus 6 weeks PTO and overtime if wanted).

4. My coworker is making hateful comments about a foreign country (#1 at the link)

I wrote in about the radical coworker concerned about his home country. Well, fortunately, the outlandish comments and posts have died down, especially with all the new crises and problems going on. I did my part, and printed out and shared some of his posts with my boss, and that’s as far as it went. The concerned employees no longer feel he’s a threat to the office. (In fact, there’s another employee who has been having his own meltdowns, but that’s a story for another post.)

4 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, December 19th, 2014 08:43 pm

... and I think I missed last week, too. *sigh*

Anyway, today I'm thankful for...

  • A cat who loves me and likes to sleep next to me. Cat therapy is good for me, apparently.
  • Music.
  • People who love me, too. Damned if I know why, but I'm not complaining.
  • Caffeine and ethanol, my drugs of choice. (And occasionally Irish Coffee, which gives me both at once.)
  • Tools of the trade: bash, sed, git, make -- and learning some new (to me) ones, like cut.
  • The occasional burst of productivity.
  • Spread-spectrum radio, as in WiFi and cell phones. Hedy Lamarr.
Friday, December 19th, 2014 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink

  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories

  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast

  • Make your lunch

  • Put your keys somewhere obvious

  • Wash your face and brush your teeth

  • 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, December 19th, 2014 07:34 pm
All the best fine dining establishments offer a cat snoozing on the chair next to you to accent your meal.

Read more... )
Friday, December 19th, 2014 07:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Indigo: “Is there going to be food?”
Dad: “Yes, didn’t you hear me say that?”
Indigo: “I guess my stomach was growling too loudly for me to hear you.”
Friday, December 19th, 2014 05:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am transitioning out of my current career (military) and am in the job search process. I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from someone who claims to run a nonprofit to help veterans in my particular skill area find civilian jobs. From his profile, he looks pretty legitimate, with lots of recommendations from people he’s helped in the past. However, I can’t really find any information about his nonprofit on the web, except for a couple of blog posts that only mention his name and the nonprofit’s name.

He then sent me a message telling me to “get his email from the most senior person I know” and to send him my resume once I have it.

This seemed a very strange way to offer assistance and made me balk at following up with him. He sent another message a few days ago emphasizing the free assistance but again instructed me to “talk to senior people about this job network.” It was very oddly phrased and didn’t make a lot of sense.

Is the “get my email from someone senior” thing simply a way for him to ensure that I’m legitimate? Is that normal? That seems odd, especially since his email address is in his LinkedIn profile.

My current gut feeling is that this person is well-meaning but, based on the oddly phrased messages, would probably not be very helpful and that I’m better off not following up.

Yeah, that’s weird.

I can’t say for sure whether this guy could be helpful or not. There are certainly weird people aplenty out there who, in addition to their weirdness, also manage to be helpful. It’s possible that this guy is one of them. It’s also possible that he’s weird and unhelpful and doesn’t know he’s doing.

Do you know anyone who likely knows him or knows of him? If so, you might as well ask about him and see what you find out. If not, I wouldn’t put a ton of time of time into tracking down information about him, but hey, since his email address is available on LinkedIn anyway, why not use it to send him your resume and see if anything comes of it? You’re not obligated to work with him if at any point you conclude that you don’t want to, but there’s no real harm in taking a step further and seeing what you learn.

is this request from a networking contact weird? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, December 19th, 2014 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 – December 19, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, December 19th, 2014 11:11 am
I'm worried about my sister-in-law, Scott's sister. She's pursuing ever more restricted diets, restricted in terms of what foods she can eat not in terms of calories (though restricting calories results from what she's doing). She's convinced that, if she can just hit on the right diet and stick with it, her health problems will disappear. Never mind that half her current problems probably come from what she's doing with her diet.

Basically, about two years ago, she started feeling like there was a lump in her esophagus when she swallowed. Her doctor referred her to a specialist who concluded that it was reflux and did an endoscopy which showed no issues. The specialist recommended medication for the supposed reflux.

My SIL didn't like the idea of taking medication, so she started pursuing alternative medicine remedies. I think she tried acupuncture first. While she was there, she met someone who claimed to be able to tell her what the problem foods were by having her hold various foods while this person measured electrical flow in her arm. This resulted in a list of foods to avoid.

The lump feeling didn't go away.

She started pursuing other alternative treatments. I'm not sure what all she's tried, but the latest person first told her that she had a yeast and bacteria overgrowth. For this, she went on an even more restricted diet. Now this person has told her that she has mold and toxins in her blood (they apparently took and analyzed a sample). This results in an even further restricted diet. She can't eat most grains, can't eat dairy, can't eat meat more than a day old, can't eat anything fermented, aged or dried, can't eat sugar/honey (the last I heard coconut sugar was maybe okay). I think there's a bunch of fruit on the no list, too. She's off all nuts and legumes since the previous set of restrictions.

She was relatively thin to begin with, and she's been steadily losing weight. With the new diet, she's likely to lose more weight simply because there's almost nothing she can eat.

She says that, in January, she will start low dose allergy treatments to address all of these 'allergies.'

I'm worried about her. I think she's going to extremes for what started as a small problem. Of course, my view may be influenced by the fact that I take the medications she was so terrified of and likely will every day until I die. They're really not that big a deal. I also wonder if reflux really is the problem. It might be. The whole thing might also be psychosomatic or be a symptom of something else. She just seems to have fallen down the rabbit hole into ever more ridiculous extremes. Of course, I'm not her. I'm not in her body. For all I know the 'lump' is horrifically painful. She also has to make her own choices about who she listens to. I just worry that she's destroying her health this way.
Friday, December 19th, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

We get asked lots of questions when we’re doing farm toursselling soap at craft fairs, or simply running errands.  Since most of those answers are heard only by the person who asked, we decided to share some of the common questions here on the blog.  And of course you can ask a question of your own!

Hewitt, if you could create a new soap scent, what would it be? ~EFranks1985

Hewitt:  That is really really hard.   I think I would call it WAR soap.  It would smell like dirty boys with wooden swords “play” fighting!   I think everyone who orders it should get a wooden sword or shield.    When you’re fighting you get really dirty.  So when you use that soap, you’ll still smell like you’re fighting but you’ll be clean.  I’d paint it like two people were fighting with wooden swords. It would be the awesomest soap ever!

Signature Hewitt

Have a question for a Jonas? Fill out the form and send it in – maybe we’ll pick yours!

Friday, December 19th, 2014 08:36 am
Yesterday morning, I spent my usual three hours at the school in the library. The librarian was there, but she was working in her office while a substitute took her classes. The Scholastic book fair raised more than $4000 for the library, and the librarian was figuring out how to spend it.

Cordelia and I donated a book to the library-- She had me buy her the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book so that she wouldn't have to wait months for a library, but once she'd read it, she had no interest in keeping it. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are incredibly popular, so I knew the library could use another copy, so I suggested donating it. The librarian was quite pleased to get it as that was one copy she didn't have to buy.

I think we have finally finished the barcode sticks for the kids. I worked on a couple of first grade classes yesterday when I wasn't checking books in or out or shelving. When that was done, I did some shelf reading. The 500s really needed it badly. I got through about 2/3 of the 500s.

This morning, first thing, I spilled coffee down the front of my dress. I think-- I hope-- I got the stain out, but it wasn't at all the way I wanted to start the day. I need to do a mid-week load of laundry. The extra dress and the half a dozen or so new shirts Scott got adds bulk to the laundry waiting to be done. I don't think I can fit it all into two loads on Sunday, and we don't have enough laundry baskets for me to wash three loads of our stuff on Sunday. We usually wash two loads of our clothes and one load of Cordelia's. Scott's uniforms are on a more irregular schedule, depending on if he's worked overtime. We wash our sheets every other week or so and the towels tend to get washed mid-week when I think of it.

Although, come to think of it, the first thing that went wrong today was before I was truly up. When Scott's alarm goes off at 5:10, I go into the bathroom and take my thyroid medicine. This morning, I came back to bed and suddenly realized that I'd been so asleep that I wasn't sure if I'd taken the dratted stuff. We had to check to see if the bathroom sink was wet or not. As it was bone dry, I took my thyroid then. I'm glad we thought of that way to tell. I really don't want either to miss my thryoid med or to double up. Neither would be good for me.

I've gotten comments back from one beta reader. I'm waiting on one other who may not get to it until tomorrow or even Sunday. She was talking about trying to review the canon before doing the beta read. Rather than address the beta comments first thing this morning, I'm planning to make chocolate chip bars. I'm a little worried about making them so early. I'd like to have some left on Christmas, and I don't trust that they'll last that long unless I hide them. But this is a good opportunity to bake something, and I've only got ingredients for chocolate chip bars. Well, I've got a brownie mix, too. Maybe I have time for both this morning. I don't think Cordelia would accept brownies when there are chocolate chip bars to be had, however.

I have to improvise some sort of container in which Cordelia can carry the gingerbread she decorates tomorrow. I think my best bet is one of the many Amazon boxes we've got in the study. If I line one with waxed paper, it ought to be perfectly adequate. We haven't got many largish containers, and I don't want to ask Scott to brave the stores to buy some when we'll only use them once a year. I want to reserve the one large container we do have for getting the stuff I plan to bake this week to Scott's sister's place on Christmas.

Cordelia is very angry at Scott's employer. We've explained to her that it's entirely possible that he'll be working on Christmas Eve (the last two or three years, he's gotten all or most of the day off, but we can't count on it). That means we can't do the entire Christmas Eve ritual. That involves going up to Scott's parents' place (an hour away), having pizza and birthday cake, the kids opening one present each, and all of us going to a church service. I'm not fond of this because it pretty much guarantees that it will be 10:00 by the time we get home and nearer 11:00 by the time Cordelia's actually in bed and Scott and I can start wrapping presents.

If Scott works until 3:00 or 4:00, it's a half an hour for him to get home and an hour for him to get showered and changed (minimum). The church service Scott's parents want to attend is at 7:00. We can probably get there in time for that if we go straight there. It just seems like a lot of rushing for not very much benefit.
Friday, December 19th, 2014 12:30 am
Thanks to Amy Lingenfelter Cleaver for sharing this delightful graphic from The Carol Blog:

Twinkle away, people!

See y'all tomorrow. I'm going to go try to make my Aunt Betty's yeast dough coffeecake.
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 12:36 am
The American Ballet Theater production, in its last year here. Next year it'll be in Costa Mesa, so anybody in the area really ought to see it. It's wonderful!

Eva was a massive crankypants during the first half of the show, to the point where I considered pitching her over the balcony, but I decided that'd be even more disruptive. (No, seriously, I considered leaving. Jenn could stay with Ana and her last-minute guest. This guest was why Eva was so cranky. My mother had had to bow out, and Eva was annoyed Ana was sitting and talking with her friend instead of her.)

She settled down during the second half, after we let her go to the cafe unattended and then switched seats so she could get a better view. THANK goodness!
Friday, December 19th, 2014 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended

I attended an unauthorized party in the office where alcohol was served (clearly against company policy). Everyone in the department was invited, and many of us took part in the libations. No one got drunk, everyone behaved professionally. It was intended to be and was a great morale booster.

The HR manager came and did not drink. The next day, she called everyone who did drink up to her office for a verbal/written reprimand. She told me, and everyone else I presume, that it was confidential and that she was having to do this because someone from another department found out and told her about it and she felt compelled to reprimand us.

I inadvertently learned from her boss that she had all the documents prepared immediately after the party, which was the day before she claimed she got a phone call from outside the department.

She was right, we should not have had alcohol at work. My beef is that she came to the party, I believe she knew alcohol was going to be served, and she took names and lied about why she was reprimanding us. My gut tells me to shake it off and learn from it. On the other hand, having a deceitful HR manager is a huge problem. Should I call her out for lying?

It’s a little weird and I can see why you’re wondering about it, but I’d let it go. Who knows, maybe your source got the timeline wrong. Or maybe there was no source, and she said there was because she was too wimpy to admit it was based on her own concerns and what she herself witnessed. Who knows. But I don’t think there’s much/anything to be gained by bringing it up, let alone “calling her out for lying.” I’d let it go.

2. My assistant goes overboard on gifts to me and even my kids

You’ve answered several questions already about whether it’s appropriate to give a holiday gift to one’s boss, and I completely agree with you that gifts should go “downhill” and not the other way around. Here’s another spin, and I’m hoping you have a good answer. I am the boss (female, if it matters), and my amazing, overqualified secretary sends small gifts to my home, for not only the holidays, but for my kids’ birthdays as well. It makes me really uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to tell her.

Her work is terrific, and she’s a lovely person, but I’m really concerned that if I don’t couch it in the right way, she’ll be (1) mortified, (2) more anxious than is her norm, and/or (3) really hurt if I tell her that she really need not send me gifts. To give you a glimpse into her personality, she sends (via snail mail) handwritten thank you notes for everything–she even sent me a handwritten thank you note for a grocery bag full of my kids’ books that I thought her (younger than mine) kids might enjoy. It’s very sweet, but it’s just too much.

It’s too late for this year, but I’d love to find a gentle way of making it stop.

Oooof. I don’t know that you can, not without hurting her feelings. She’s going so far beyond what can normally be the result of obligation (basic holiday gifts) to something so different (gifts for your kids’ birthdays, etc.) that it sounds like this might just be her personality. And if that’s the case, and she takes pleasure in it, I think you risk doing more harm than good by making her feel that she’s been in the wrong all this time. It sounds like you’re really happy with her work and she’s just an incredibly thoughtful person, so I wouldn’t risk causing awkwardness. This is a case where I think you can make an exception to the usual advice on this stuff.

You could certainly say something like, “I hope you never feel any obligation to do this — your fantastic work is all the gift I’lll ever need,” but I wouldn’t push it beyond that.

3. Should I help answer the phones when it will distract from my work?

I’m in a new position, which only allows us to work part-time, but we have to accomplish a lot in five hours. We usually have to perform tasks that involve coordinating dates, while working on complicated spreadsheets. Things need to get done in tight deadlines. Many of our tasks demand full attention, and a mistake can carry serious consequences.

The office has a customer service representative who answers calls, but when things get really busy, sometimes we’re supposed to pick up the extra calls (which happens fairly often).

I’ve seen many times where the phone has rung and nobody has answered the call, even though we’ve been told that everyone should participate in answering the phone. What should I do when there’s a coworker with seniority telling me to pick up the phone, even though I have a deadline and only five hours to complete everything? Should I ignore her request? Should I be sincere and tell her I’m too busy? Or should I simply respond the call and delay all my work? I’m new, and I really don’t want to have any confrontations.

No, you shouldn’t just ignore her. If she has seniority over you, and you’ve been told you’re supposed to be helping with the phones, you need to help with the phones. However, if you’re concerned about how helping with the phones will impact your ability to get your work done, you should raise that with your manager. (Even better would be if you and your coworkers all raise it as a group, since it sounds like you’re all in the same boat.)

4. I was promoted without a raise

I work in a small company as a manager supervising just one person. Besides me, there is another manager who supervises four employees. Though he and I have the same grade level, he is considered the “right hand” of the VP who we both report to.

A few months ago, the VP shared with me that that the other manager is not efficient in his position and she wanted me to supervise him instead. I told her that my job was to help her and the company to the best of my abilities but that her decision has to be clear and documented so that other employees will see the new reorganization as being fair. This was my way of telling her that we needed to discuss the salary and the “promotion” details first before I assumed the new position. She said she would discuss it with the president of the company. During the following days, she mentioned a few other times that her intention was to have me supervise the whole team (the manager and his 4 direct reports). She said she also talked to him about this.

Today, she called both of us in and announced that starting the first of the year, he will be reporting to me. I was shocked. I was brave enough to ask her (after the other manager left the room) how this change will affect my title and work. I should have really said what I thought, which is what will be my new salary? She responded that she was still thinking about this and that I should be having an office now (I am currently in a cubicle and so is the other manager). How do I go about telling her that I do not want this new position if I will be paid the same salary for a higher position? I know for a fact that the other manager that she wants me to supervise has a higher salary than me.

Well, first, telling her that you wanted the decision to be clear and documented is not the same thing as telling her that you wanted to discuss the salary. It doesn’t really sound like that at all, in fact, so I don’t think you should be irked that she didn’t interpret that correctly.

It’s a little tricky now because she’s moved everything forward without having talked about salary with you, but you could go back to her ASAP and say, “We haven’t had a chance to discuss the salary for this new role. I’m hoping for something in the range of $X — is that feasible?”

Unfortunately, because you didn’t raise it earlier, you’re not in an especially strong negotiating position (and you also risk her feeling like you already accepted the job without a raise, since … you kind of did), but it’s worth a shot. If she pushes back for that reason, you could try saying that you were caught off-guard at the earlier meeting and hadn’t had a chance to think everything through since you’d expected a one-on-one conversation with her before things were finalized.

5. Why has my title change stalled?

My question is about updating my title. I’ve been at the organization for three years, and my role has changed and expanded quite a bit. I’ve asked both our division director and the head of HR about updating my title to reflect my current role. About a month ago, both agreed that was a good idea and said my list of potential titles looked good, then told me they’d have to check with the other to finalize. Neither have done so, to my knowledge, and I’m not sure with whom to restart the conversation. I’m not asking for or expect a raise along with it, so I don’t know what the cause of the delay is.

The delay could just be caused by it not being super high on their priority lists, but it’s fine to nudge them. You could approach either, but I’d start with your manager and just say something like, “I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to talk to Jane about changing my title, and what the timeline might look like for making that happen.”

HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended, my assistant goes overboard on gifts, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink

  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories

  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast

  • Make your lunch

  • Put your keys somewhere obvious

  • Wash your face and brush your teeth

  • 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, December 18th, 2014 05:35 pm
Cats. The answer is always cats.

Read more... )
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 04:23 pm
I have finished the draft of my Yuletide fic and posted it to AO3. I'm still looking for someone to beta it. The first person I asked is too busy. I haven't heard back from the second person. I have got someone looking at it for SPaG who has no canon knowledge. Scott looked at it, too, before I finished it, and said that it seemed to him to flow okay.

Scott got stuck working late tonight. That sucks for all sorts of reasons. He's also working 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. We're going to have to drive Cordelia up to Scott's sister's place tomorrow evening so that she can spend the night and be available to go further north to Scott's parents' place to decorate gingerbread on Saturday. It's far from ideal, and Scott had all sorts of things he really, really needed to get done on Saturday (things I can't do for him because they require a car or because I don't know exactly what he needs). I know he still needs to buy presents for his parents and for the older of our nieces in Seattle. He's still trying to get a working garage door opener. He needs to mail the package to our younger niece in Seattle. He wanted to do some baking, too. Christmas is going to be a little bare of cookies given his mother and sister are gluten free and his father and his sister are off sugar.

I've made a list of things I want to cook or bake over the course of the next five days. There are eleven items on the list. Some, like the salad for Christmas dinner, are easy. Some, like the Christmas porridge, require a lot of standing up. I foresee a lot of hand washing of the mixing bowl and baking pans in my future. I hope I can manage it all. I'm going to print out my list (which includes the ingredients I need that I don't know if we have in the house) and annotate it and prioritize it and schedule myself. I've got all day tomorrow and Saturday, but I don't have the ingredients for most of what I want to make. I suspect grocery shopping won't happen until Sunday. I don't even think we've got what I need to make Christmas porridge-- It takes a lot of milk. I'm also not sure how much butter we have. There are a couple of things I could make if we have enough butter.

I am scheduled to have lunch with a friend tomorrow. Maybe I can impose on her to take me shopping for a few things. I'd feel a little guilty about doing that, but she might be willing if I buy her fro-yo at the Orange Leaf in the strip mall with the Kroger. I need almond milk, butter (lots of butter), stick margarine, cream cheese, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and macadamia nuts. I think I could find all of that but the macadamia nuts pretty rapidly. I think we've still got an untouched dozen eggs, so we're probably fine on that front, and we just bought white sugar and all purpose flour.

I'll do the bacon wrapped dates Tuesday evening and the rice for Christmas dinner during the day on Wednesday. The salad for Christmas dinner can wait until Christmas morning. So can the cheese spread (though I may cube the cheese the day before).
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 07:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Remember the letter-writer who reported her awful manager to HR, and then HR stopped talking to her? Here’s the update.

I took everyone’s advice and got out of there. Actually, when I resigned, two of my coworkers resigned the following week.

When I returned back from my approved FMLA, I had a meeting with HR and my manager to “discuss” the finding from the investigation. The director of HR gave me the findings along with the formal statements from my coworkers (which were in support of my manager’s behavior and painted her to be the victim). I was shocked, but I continued to complete my job responsibilities and my manager ignored and avoided me the rest of the month (October).

Adam*, a coworker, gave me a copy of his formal statement which didn’t match at all what I was shown in the investigation upon my return and I asked him if this was the same statement he submitted to HR. When he said yes, I told him HR gave me a different statement that didn’t match the his original.

It turned out, the director of HR altered and fabricated the formal statements from my coworkers and showed the false ones to my manger (which gave her an ego stroke) before I returned from FMLA. She then went around her department badmouthing my disability to these coworkers, calling me a cripple, and telling Adam*, Frank* and Chad* that this is the reason she hates hiring people with disabilities because there is always a possibility that they will need to be out of the office on leave.

When I found out all of this information, I knew nothing was going to change, so I resigned. Shortly after my resignation (less than 24 hours to be exact), my coworkers told me in an email that they all sat down with the director of HR and manager and were forced to sign a document or be terminated from the company by the end of the week. The document said that if I took any legal action against the company that they were to make it seem like I was the one attacking the manager and I had made up everything in exchange for a hefty raise the following month. Adam* snapped a picture of the letter and submitted his resignation letter. A few days later, Frank*, another coworker, submitted his resignation letter, and the last coworker, Chad, requested he be moved to a different department within the company immediately, which was approved in mid November.

The four of us ended up retaining an highly rated and recommended employment lawyer and I filed an EEOC complaint. We were all able to find stable employment weeks after our resignation, but one thing continues for me. Every Monday, I get a voicemail from my previous bad manager sobbing, crying, and apologizing, then telling me if I need anything to let her know and she will help me. I’ve sent her an email and CC’d the director of HR about the odd behavior and asked her to stop contacting me.

Thank you again for your advice and assistance! It helped me out tremendously.

*= Names have been changed

update: I reported my awful manager to HR and it’s not going well was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 07:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Jade: “Being a boy is so much easier. You don’t have to deal with your hair!”
Indigo: “Well, you do have to cut it more.”
Jade: “I have to cut mine too!”
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 06:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Here are three more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.

1. My boss is infesting our office with fruit flies

Shortly after the fruit fly incident, our offices were moved from the auxillary building into the main corporate building, which provided a new environment. Part of this move involved the boss losing his private office, and being partially demoted (his job duties were restructured and although he retains the title of “manager” for now, he no longer has any actual manager duties). That move for him was due to many factors which had been brewing for a while.

I on the other hand, have been promoted, and with the company structure my new position has me under the wide HR umbrella (all of our training is under the HR division) as the LMS (Learning Management System) Administrator/Training Coordinator. I no longer work for the fruit fly breeding boss, but I do still have to interact with him. He is rarely actually at his desk, which cuts down on the amount of time he has to make food messes.

Also as part of the move, I was able to have a sincere chat with the VP (his VP and my former VP) about a lot of things, and some other issues involving that boss have begun being resolved.

I love my new position though, and I am still an avid reader of Ask A Manager, although I haven’t had anything strange happen lately to contribute to it!

2. My coworker was arrested for a horrifying crime and is returning to work

You and your readers were insightful and helpful and I wish I could provide a better update, but the man involved never did come back to work, he was completely deleted from the company email address book, all traces of him were removed from all work projects and documents and he was never spoken of again by anyone, ever. It’s like he was vanished.

I hear he still lives in the very small town the company operates out of and he keeps in touch with one of my coworkers (who doesn’t talk about him or answer questions about him), but at work no one speaks his name.

Probably for the best.

3. Giving gifts to my team when one person can’t accept gifts (#2 at the link)

Just a follow-up that I took my team out to lunch. Everyone was excited to go out to eat again (and actually, they seemed pleasantly surprised that we were doing so), and it was a very pleasant experience. Conversation was not as stilted or awkward as I feared, and everyone helped carry the conversation when there was a lull.

Otherwise, my big take-away’s from this are:

a) to be cautious when looking to other departments for examples. As a new manager, I find myself often looking to see what everyone else is doing, in an attempt to match campus culture. However, just because other departments are doing something one way, doesn’t mean it is a good idea or a good fit for my team.

b) to be less possessive about my manager bonus. When I finally started getting my manager stipend ($70/ month) in September, I excitedly started docking it away in my savings, thinking of it as my reward for the extra work I was putting in. I have since realized that I need to be prepared to spend a lot of that on things to support my team (whether it be supplies or thank-you lunches). It is hard to phrase that without sounding like I am whining, but I am not. I have realized that is just the expectation of this position.

c) to be gracious with gifting. I realized that if I was going to be a sourpuss about spending money to take the team out for lunch, that would come across to the team no matter how hard I tried to hide it. I made the conscious decision that I was doing this to sincerely thank them for their hard work, not because I “had to.” When the end of lunch came around, I sincerely encouraged everyone to get dessert, and everyone seemed delighted & surprised to do so. One teammate pulled on my sleeve and asked if I or the college was paying for lunch (because she didn’t want to order dessert if I was paying). The kindness of that gesture blew away my last reserves of selfishness, and I quickly explained that I got a small raise for being department head, and that is what I was using to pay for lunch. I told her to think of it as the college paying for it, just via their raise to me.

In the end, I did end up spending several month’s worth of my manager’s bonus on lunch, but it was very much worth it.

I want to thank you and all of the commentators for their helpful advice. This experience of asking for advice has taught me to have a great deal more empathy when people do something that seems completely villainous (because they probably just weren’t thinking!). I really, really appreciate the patient, constructive help that people offered in the comments section.

Just a note from me here: It’s very much not normal to be expected to spend your own money on gifts, lunches, and supplies for your team (especially when your pay only increased by $70/month for taking on management responsibilities). If that’s the culture of your organization, just know that it’s very, very weird — not something you should normally expect to find, and it’s absolutely reasonable to be annoyed/disgusted by it, as well as to choose not to play along.

3 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 12:55 pm


I’m going to try to keep up with the unfuckyourhabitat weekly challenge of doing 20 minutes each day in one room. It seems easy enough but I’m lazy and my motivation lately is slim to none. I can’t guarantee I will do all 7 days but here is day 1. This counter has been sorely neglected for months. A lot of the stuff was just moved off of there, to be truthful but I couldn’t deal with everything in 20 minutes so this is what I got done. I put some stuff from the sink & other counters in the dishwasher too.

It’s better than a stick in the eye! 

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Every December, I receive tons of complaints from people about ways their companies are mishandling the holiday party — from making employees pay to attend, to throwing a lavish event right after laying people off. The whole point of throwing a holiday party is supposed to to increase employee morale, so holding an event that does the opposite is a serious fail.

Three years ago, I put together eight rules for throwing a company party that employees will want to attend. They’re here. (It’s a repeat while my thumb continues to recover!)

how to throw an office holiday party people won’t dread was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 11:04 am


Progress on unfucking the cat/craft room! Two-ish hours of 20/10s yesterday and about one hour of 20/10s today.
The time includes spot cleaning the carpet, vacuuming, and dusting as I went.
Tomorrow is the closet.
Then a trip to donate lots of stuff!

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

Early this summer, my workplace switched to a new time tracking system. Sometime in the first few pay periods that it was in use, my paycheck came up 8 hours short. I brought it to the attention of my manager the next week; he said he would check with payroll to find out what happened. It’s not clear from the time tracking system where the error originated: I may have made an error when I entered my time, my manager may have made an error when he approved my time, or the system itself may have introduced the error.

I followed up with my manager several times, though in retrospect I probably wasn’t doing so as often or as aggressively as I should have.

My manager came to me the other day, and told me that he’d goofed. He waited too long to talk to payroll about the error, and by the time he did, they told him it was too late to correct that paycheck. And because I’m salaried exempt, there isn’t any mechanism for them to just add 8 hours to an upcoming check. My manager’s solution: he’s going to reimburse me out of his own pocket for the error. He just needs for me to tell him what my hourly rate was for that paycheck.

I’m not sure how I should respond. It’s great that my manager wants to make sure I get payed at his own expense, and maybe that’s fair since apparently it’s his procrastination that prevented it from being corrected through payroll. On the other hand, I’m not particularly comfortable taking money from him personally, when we don’t know who’s ultimately at fault for the original error. And finally, despite any procrastination, I feel that this needs to be addressed at the corporate level, by payroll. If their system is capable of preventing a salaried, exempt employee from receiving additional pay, shouldn’t it be equally impossible for it to short that pay within a single week or pay period?

What do you suggest? Should I just accept the money and be happy I got it? Should I push back on corporate taking responsibility (are they responsible by wage regulations?)

It makes no sense that they claim they’re unable to fix it now. First, if they’re able to dock pay from an exempt employee (something that shouldn’t generally be happening except in very rare and limited circumstances), of course they’re able to add it back in. Even aside from that, of course they’re able to add it back in — in the same way they’d do any other pay adjustments, like a one-time bonus. So you’re right to call BS on that.

Second, it doesn’t matter how easy or difficult their system makes this. The law requires employers to pay employees correctly, period. So they need to find a way to pay you the money owed. They can’t arbitrarily decide that it’s been too long; the law obligates them to pay you correctly.

I’d say this to your boss: “I really appreciate you wanting to make this right at personal expense to yourself, but I really think it needs to be corrected by the company so that my payroll records and tax reporting are correct. Also, the law is really clear on companies being obligated to pay employees all money due, even if it’s from a mistake discovered a few months later, and I don’t want us to get into legally problematic territory. Is there someone we can escalate this to so that it’s handled correctly through payroll?”

my boss wants to personally reimburse me for a payroll error was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 09:14 am


Oh the long and painful process that lies ahead of me- this was the tidier corner of the bedroom. But, one step closer to neat is still one step closer!

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 07:47 am
I got more writing done yesterday after the kids came home than I expected to because they spent a couple of hours playing in Cordelia's room. I was comfortable enough with where I was in the story to attend the session of Scott's gaming group (just as well. There were only four of us out of the seven who usually attend).

[ profile] booniverse brought cookies (and she left the extras with us!). [ profile] cherydactyl brought candy and milk and vegan eggnog. I hadn't realized that vegan eggnog existed. I hadn't had anything approaching eggnog since I was about eleven because of eggs being a major migraine trigger for me, so this was a nice treat. I don't think Cordelia was very impressed, though.

We talked a lot about the FATE game. I think we reached some conclusions, but I'm kind of squishy on just what those conclusions were. Scott wanted to run the game that we, the players, wanted to play. Those of us present were concerned with trying to let Scott run what he wants. That made compromise both easier and harder.

Eventually, the other three played Bananagrams while I loaded the dishwasher. It looks like a fun game. I don't know that I could play it without panicking, not competitively, but it might be possible to play it solo. Who knows?

I've heard back from one potential beta reader. She doesn't have time to do the job. I've emailed the other one, but I'm less optimistic because this one said that she'd prefer not to beta fics over 2000 words unless there was plenty of time. Things are kind of tight right now, and my story is currently 5030 words and still incomplete. After I finish it, after my time in the library today, I'll see if anybody in Yuletide chat is able to beta for me. It seems at least possible.
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 06:58 am
 There's a reason that I didn't take this picture from any further away. It's because I didn't want y'all to see the shrapnel that's left from getting the tree to look this way. 

I'm sorry, guys. I really am.

For what?

Well, over the past few days I've been getting emails from people saying basically. "I feel like such a slug! I haven't done any of the Christmas stuff that you've done! My tree isn't decorated, I haven't baked a thing, and I'm so tired that I don't think I'll get it done, either."

So I have to apologize because, yes, my tree and fireplace is decorated. And I do have my throw pillows thrown around. But what I didn't take pictures of OR post prominently in my previous nanner-nanner-type post is the piles of dust on every flat surface, the floors just begging to be threatened with a damp mop at the very least, and the piles of dishes in my sink. I'm sorry if I appeared to be boasting about my Super-Christmas powers this year, because truthfully they don't exist.

I should have given you guys the total picture. I don't want y'all to think that life is all candy canes and sugar plums over here, because that wouldn't be honest. The majority of my Sjogren's syndrome symptoms still are hale and hearty: the fatigue, the malaise, the dry eyes, the....well, you know. And there's always more, isn't there?

But there's no doubt that I am having a period of time in which I feel less ill, I really am. I'm really happy about that, but if I've given the impression that as some of you have asked, that I am "cured" or that I'm in "remission", as much as I'd like to hope that's the case, it is not. I'm trying to be truly thankful, because as we all know, these periods don't last indefinitely, and I'm trying also not to burn the Advent candle at both ends, so to speak, in order to save my energy for all the things that really matter during Christmas: Worship, spending time with friends and loved ones, and.....

......eating fudge.

Hey. I'm being totally truthful here.

There's lots more to be done before December 24th; but Lulu and I are just taking one task and one day at a time.

Lulu says that holidays are exhausting for a Schnauzer. 
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My employee strategically left out coworkers from his holiday party and generally behaves like a jerk

I am the owner, founder, and managing partner of a small law firm. We employ 15 people. Of those 15, we have four leaders. Three of those leaders are “senior associates” or “junior partner”-level lawyers and one is a non-lawyer accounting/billing manager.

Recently, one of the four leaders, a lawyer, held a Christmas party at his house, and invited everyone in the firm except the three other leaders and me. This lawyer is known to be very cliquish, and he and his team are prone to complaining and whining that they aren’t treated as well as others, when in fact they are given the best cases and lavished with the best perks and benefits. They also are known to be less than kind or respectful to the women in our firm, but not to the degree that anyone has complained to me about it with a desire that I do something. The decision to exclude the other three leaders, all of whom are women, has hurt their feelings and caused acrimony amongst the other teams because the invited kept their leaders in the dark about the party or even lied about it. The decision to exclude me is problematic as it signifies to me an open hostility or a potential threat to my business. Also, I fear that this is somewhat of a snub/sign of disrespect that I cannot ignore since everyone knows about it.

I admit that I am personally hurt since I have taken great pains to include this lawyer in my personal, family life, and to give this person significant professional attention in an effort to promote and help him, but this is less concerning than the drama this has caused in my business and professional life. I was planning on giving all four leaders significant raises, official promotion to the title of partner (for the lawyers), and large bonuses. So, I feel that I can (A) do nothing, nothing at all; (B) do nothing but remain vigilant that this person may be planning to leave and perhaps hurt the company, while pulling back on including him in personal and professional events, matters, and opportunities; (C) inquire of this person whether he intended to send a message of hostility and indicate that I have taken it as such and require an explanation and resolution plan; or (D) go ahead and fire this person since we all know that this level of unhappiness and acting out means we either have an office cancer on our hands (which I have never seen cured in over 20 years of practice) or an active threat where a lawyer is scheming/plotting to poach business and go to a competitor.

Well, first, as the owner and managing partner of the firm, you need to address the fact that you have a manager on your team who is disrespectful to women — and you need to address that even though no one has made a formal complaint to you about it. You’re obligated to do that, and it could cause you real problems if you don’t — in morale, productivity, and even potentially legal action at some point if he’s discriminatory or creating a hostile workplace.

Second, stop including employees in your personal or family life. They don’t belong there, and it will muddy the boundaries and make it harder for you to act on stuff like this when you need to.

Third, you have a manager on your staff who’s known to be cliquish, whose “complains and whines” and encourages a similar attitude in his team, who treats women worse than men, and who appears to be acting in a hostile, adversarial way to you (his boss!) and others. None of that is acceptable, not remotely. This isn’t about who was or wasn’t invited to a Christmas party. It’s about needing to address serious performance and behavioral issues with him ASAP and either see immediate improvement or move him out. (Or, if things are at the point where you don’t think fixing it is possible, then you need to have that conversation instead.)

Drop the focus on the party, and start focusing on managing this guy.

2. My boss plays guessing games with me about my bonus

Every year, in October, my boss tells me to “start thinking about what kind of bonus you think you deserve this year.” For the next three months, he reminds me, constantly, of the year-end bonus coming up. Like he’s dangling a carrot in front of an donkey, or like I’m supposed to treat him like a God for the next three months in “anticipation” of a bonus! It causes additional stress that I really don’t need at the end of the year when I’m already gearing up for year end taxes, W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.

If I give him a figure that he thinks is too high, he scoffs and makes me feel like I think to highly of myself. I don’t want to lowball myself either. Is there a “rule of thumb”, i.e. one month’s salary, 5% of gross wages, etc., something like that to give me an idea to throw out at him this year? Tired of playing this song and dance for three months of every year.

Bonuses vary widely by firm and by industry — from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on what you do and where you work. There might be a rule of thumb for your industry, and you could do some research to find that out. But you probably have a pretty good sense of the parameters based on what you’ve received in past years, and that should give you a general range of what’s reasonable to expect. You could also couch it in those terms, while simultaneously acknowledging that you’re in the dark — e.g., “I had a stronger year that last year, so I’m hoping for something at least as high as last year’s, but I also don’t know what parameters you use.”

But also: Your boss is behaving like an ass. He shouldn’t be playing guessing games with you.

3. How can I keep my director from giving out wrong information?

Our director often has to speak to groups, whether it’s making announcements at a department meeting or saying thanks at a department event. As his assistant, I will often write up for him short bullets of things that need to be announced, people who need to be thanked, etc. I will sometimes remind him in person before an event or meeting as well. Yet he is constantly forgetting to say things, announcing wrong information, saying the wrong people’s names, etc.

Often it can slide in a “you know what he meant” kind of way, but in some instances where he’s just told our whole department the completely wrong information, I find myself having to go up and murmur the correct information to him so he can announce it, which doesn’t make either of us look good. Do you have any other suggestions for prepping him so he doesn’t embarrass himself?

Well, this might just be the way he is. Some people are highly skilled in some areas and then absolute crap at stuff like this (think of absent-minded professor types, for instance). That said, one other thing you could try is handing him note cards with bullet points just before he’s about to speak. You could also ask him directly if there’s a better way for you to support him in this area — you might hear something you wouldn’t think of on your own.

But you sound like you’re being conscientious about your part of this, and the rest might be out of your hands.

4. Dealing with two recruiters at the same company and not hearing back from either

My mentor put in an employee referral for me with a global corporation. I had a phone screen with their in-house recruiter for a job I applied for and she said the hiring manager would make a decision about in-person interviews the next week. I emailed at the end of the week and asked if a decision had been made and if there was an update. A week later, I haven’t heard back.

Meanwhile, another recruiter for the same company contacted me, saying my resume was referred to her for a position (which I didn’t apply for) and we also had a phone screen. She mentioned that the position may not be offered at the office nearest to me but said that she’d find out at the end of the week. She said I could contact her if I was interested in another position within the company and I mentioned one I’d seen online, so she wrote that down and let me know she’d also find out about that when she contacted me at the end of the week. A day later, I emailed her and mentioned that I noticed the position in the office was being listed for other departments and asked if those were also on hold. It’s been a week since I emailed both recruiters and I haven’t heard back.

If they both told me they’d get to me or that a decision would be made by a certain time, should I take the silence as an indication I’m out of the running? And if both emails to the recruiters ended with questions that haven’t been unanswered, should I email them again or should I be patient and wait for them to respond? I’m worried it’s bad etiquette and I’m pestering them. I’m not sure if the recruiters know each other – it’s a huge corporation and they are in different states.

Yeah, recruiters are notorious for making promises about follow-up that they don’t follow through on — and for not responding to candidates’ emails until/unless they’re ready to move that person forward in a hiring process. It’s rude, but it’s very, very normal. I think you could email each of them one more time, a couple of weeks after your last outreach — but after that I’d move on.

5. Should I mention an earlier interview I had with an employer?

I applied and interviewed at an organization about a month ago. The interview went great and I felt confident, but it was competitive and I did not receive the position.

Recently a new position at the same organization was posted that I’d like to apply for. This position is through a different department from the one I interviewed with. I’m wondering how I can best use my previous interview as I apply for this one. Is it beneficial to mention my interview in my CV? Can I email the woman I interviewed with before to ask who to address this CV to, or is that not kosher?

I’d apply according to their application instructions, but after you apply, send an email to the person you interviewed with previously and let her know that you’ve applied. There’s no real benefit to doing anything beyond that. If she thinks you were a strong candidate, she’ll mention it to the person hiring for this new position.

managing a jerk, my director gives out wrong info, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 09:16 pm
Hi everyone. Since we already have one accessibility win posted here, I thought I'd talk about my experience calling AppleCare this morning. I had to call them to straighten out something with my Apple ID. I attempted to reset things online, but couldn't quite figure it out so I decided to use the old phone trick. So this morning I got up around 7:15 my time and called, hoping that they wouldn't be busy. Sure enough, I got through right away. The first person with whom I spoke seemed to be a receptionist or something, but she was friendly and transferred me to Gary, after taking down some information. I told him my problem, and he said he was sorry I was experiencing the problem but that he'd be glad to help me. So that is exactly what he did. For a bit of background, I am on my first Mac computer and haven't quite had it for a year. I am a VoiceOver user, which is the screen reader built into all Apple's current products. It turned out that I had sort of forgotten about a keystroke, and I skipped over some of the steps on their website to reset my Apple ID. But Gary was super nice and professional. He was also very patient with me throughout the call. He even took the time to wish me happy holidays and asked me how I'm spending them. I really appreciated that.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 10:09 pm
The school called and emailed about 5:30 to say that power (and heat!) is back on at Cordelia's school, so there will be school tomorrow. I'm relieved because it means I'll have a couple of hours to try to finish this fic in between when I get back from the school library and when the cleaning lady comes. I think I'm only a few paragraphs from the end; my point of view character has figured out the mystery. Now he's just thinking through the repercussions. Scott doesn't know the canon, but I had him take a look just to see if the flow made sense.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 09:07 pm


I spent the first chunk of time vacuuming the living room and cleaning the cat room/office and cat box

Then, I took a break and finished the kitchen