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Sunday, February 1st, 2015 09:13 am

So, yeah. This week's big news is that I wrote a song (see previous post, and maybe the next one as well). It feels good -- I should do it more often. We also did some more garage-clearing. There's now about a three-foot strip cleared -- only about 17 more to go :P.

Apart from the post-songwriting high I've been pretty depressed, and my back has been giving me trouble. Makes for bad evenings. At least I've been able to get out of going on call while I'm on loan to another team, so that took a little pressure off. And my L-tryptophan arrived, which may help my mood. (One of the reasons for stopping my SSRI was to see whether an alternative would work better. Too early to tell.)

Oh, yes. Conflikt. As is usual for cons I was frazzled and unhappy right up to the last minute before leaving, compounded this time by having to rent a scooter. Spinlife will be getting a bill for that, though I doubt they'll pay it. Not much singing so far -- we've been too tired to stay up for the circles. We will get to the Smoked Salmon this evening, though, since it starts at a sane time. And we have a song to sing.

Anyway. Links in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
Sunday, February 1st, 2015 07:43 am
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.
Sunday, February 1st, 2015 10:42 am
I'm not entirely sure whether or not my headache is gone. I still don't feel quite right, but I don't actually hurt. I just feel like maybe I will hurt again soon. If that happens, this will be day three of the headache. Scott suggested that I take a decongestant last night, and that helped a little bit, but nothing I've tried has cleared it entirely. It's in the front of my head, right above my eyes, so I don't think it's a tension headache.

The weather here is supposed to be bad heading into tomorrow. We might get as much as seven inches between now and tomorrow morning, and the temperature, with wind chill, might get as low as -20. All of that means that there may be no school. I'm hoping there is school because I've got a doctor's appointment at 9:30 that I'd rather not miss (I'm not willing to drag three kids along with me to this one). If there is school but it's quite cold, I will probably take a cab instead of the bus. I don't think standing at the bus stop would be good for me.

I wrote about 2200 words yesterday. It is, unfortunately, an unpostable fragment of a much, much larger work. It's not even from the beginning of the story because I've been writing pieces of this particular work wildly out of order. It's something that garnered no votes at all in my what should I write poll as well.

Scott made an extra trip out to Kroger yesterday because he'd forgotten lunchmeat and distilled water and because I'd forgotten to tell him to buy coffee for me.

We baked a bunch of potatoes for dinner. I forgot to set the timer, so they baked a lot longer than they should have. The skins ended up really hard and crunchy. They were still edible, but they were kind of difficult to deal with. Scott also stir fried some chicken and bok choy for us. Cordelia complained about it, as she always does, but she ate it.

There's a Girl Scout meeting today, and I really don't want to go. I'm just feeling so generally rotten that it feels like too much. Just about anything feels like too much. I don't want to go out to the library, either. I'm not sure how much is the headache since Friday morning, how much is anxiety, and how much is simply wanting to write instead.
Sunday, February 1st, 2015 12:30 am
As y'all know, I decorate prolifically for Christmas. Profusely. Abundantly. So after the season is over and I'm gathering all the junk lovely Christmas decor items up, sometimes I come across decorations that have by my family. Which I didn't notice until it came time to actually shove them in a box carefully pack them away for next year. 

Here's this year's find:

I don't think Baby Jesus would object to a badminton game being played directly overhead, do you? I think I'll leave this nativity set out for the rest of the year. It's rather spring-like in nature.
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 11:34 pm
The big 3-2! And I'm all bleeding and all, so not in a chipper mood. I'm just gonna pretend my birthday is next week. I really don't like having my period and my birthday coincide. Bah.


Why Texas Muslims remained calm in face of angry hecklers

Tens of thousands of people have massed in central Madrid for a rally organised by radical Spanish leftists Podemos.

NSA's Water, Power Supply Under Threat in State Legislatures

In Los Angeles, Muslim women find empowerment in female-only Friday prayers

Mitt Romney bows out of GOP presidential race over potential for political injury

Ohio Delays All 2015 Executions As It Tries to Find Drugs

California's 'Dismally Meager' Snowpack Signals More Drought

Government supporters in Ukraine flee town as rebels advance (+video)

Ukraine peace talks collapse, Kiev and separatists trade blame

Palestinians in Syria cut off from aid once more: U.N.

Kurds battle IS jihadists around Syria's Kobane

In northern Iraq, Kurds struggle with IS booby traps

Nigeria's faltering response emboldens Boko Haram

Nigeria Elections: Boko Haram Violence, Ballot Chaos Threaten Vote

Boko Haram crisis: African Union backs regional force of 7,500 troops

Clashes Intensify Between Armenia and Azerbaijan Over Disputed Land This article is from the start of the month, but there's no risk of paywall

Greece seeks to reassure Europe as tensions rise

Experts raise alarm as plague kills dozens in Madagascar

Croatia just canceled the debts of its poorest citizens

North Korea introduces 'mandatory military service for women'

Two cases of child pornography possession in Vatican in 2014
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 09:32 pm

This is the song I posted a fragment of in mdlbear | Bits from three works in progress. It's finished now; the title has been changed from "Wherever" to Windward.


Lyrics © 2015 Steve Savitzky;
ttto: ``Where the Heart Is'' by Naomi Rivkis and Callie Hills

My grandmother came from Odessa
Left on the wings of a wild winter storm.
She swam the Atlantic in winter
To a place where her eggs would be sheltered and warm.
She pushed through the crowd at the beachhead to lay them
Crawled back to sea with a satisfied smile;
She said as she swam through the warm Caribbean,
"Now this is my home now, well at least for a while."
    And she told her new friends with a laugh in her eyes,
    Said, "I followed my heart, and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
I was born within sight of Manhattan,
Knew the scent of the Hudson too deeply to speak
You swam Puget Sound with the salmon
And I loved you before I had known you a week.

I'd swum round Cape Horn on my way to Alaska
We met off Vancouver as I paddled through;
You smiled as you showed me your islands and beaches
But your eyes held the question Grandmother's friends knew.
    But I said, "I love travel as much as your eyes,
    So I'll follow my heart and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
The water kept rising unnoticed,
A little bit warmer and wilder each year
Came a time when we couldn't deny it:
That the beach we called home would too soon disappear.
So we'll spend a few decades and visit our children,
They're swimming the seas from New Zealand to Nome.
We will leave with the tide, let the waves take us windward,
But whereever we wander we'll always be home.
    And I can't speak illusions, the pain to disguise
    But we've brought our hearts here and the heart never lies.
    Where the wind takes us next year no turtle can tell,
    But we'll still be at home come high water or hell,
    Because home is wherever you carry your shell."
Saturday, January 31st, 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, January 31st, 2015 04:37 pm


I took about two 20/10s to fold and put away yesterday’s laundry and straighten my room a little. I’m still in the process of moving in, hence the boxes everywhere (and the vinyl record collection still on the bookshelf) but it’s good to have things at least a little tidier in here right now.

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 12:49 pm
Before I begin, a brief side note: last time I posted, [profile] foreverinasmile and I were talking and she graciously listed her 5 favorite episodes, and then asked me the same question. I suddenly realized that aside from "The Inner Light" (which is one of my top 5 science fiction stories EVER, which is why I know the name), I had almost completely forgotten the actual episode titles, but rather, the arresting plots and images that came out of some of my favorites. So, without any further ado, the things I'm looking forward to:

1) Holodeck episodes: Data as Sherlock Holmes and Geordi as Doctor Watson; Picard as a film noir detective.

2) Character development episodes/scenes: Crusher teaching Data to dance for Chief O'Brian's wedding; Data's daughter; poker games; Worf attempting to be a parent to Alexander; Spot, and Data's efforts to learn music; and that one where Picard and Crusher almost but not quite confront their UST because of some crazy alien hostage situation.

3) Crazy images: Cellular peptide cake (with mint frosting!), which is probably the most bonkers episode that stands out in my memory; that one where everyone de-evolves for some reason; Worf delivering Keiko's baby in a turbolift shaft; the Borg (all of the stuff involving the Borg); and the Cardassians (who I will hard pressed not to type up as Kardasians.)

Things I'm not looking forward to include: Barclay and the holodeck (*cringe*); the Cardassians (ugh, just thinking about that torture scene); that one where it turns out Starfleet Command has been infiltrated by mind control aliens and the plot line is never brought up again; that one where everyone is addicted to a stupid game except Wesley and some girl he has a crush on; and more Ferengi nonsense.

Speaking of Ferengi nonsense, let's get to the rewatch stuff, because the Ferengi figure prominently in the first episode! The Last Outpost: Your alien images continue to shock us. )

So, as a palate cleanser, Where No One Has Gone Before: I'm not the Doctor! )

Signs it's THE FUTURE:
* Even though everyone references it, except for the Captain's Log, it appears that no one has to do any paperwork! Hooray!
* Engineering has barstools. Seriously. Hooray?

Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE:
* Aside from ragging on the awful sweater crocheted abomination that Wesley wears in the second episode, I've got nothing. Other than sickbay's bizarre lighting, these episodes manage to stay firmly in future tech territory.
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 07:57 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Drawing from Mr AAMThis 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 non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Have at it.

weekend free-for-all – January 31-February 1 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post PJ: “Hey, are you going to build a fire? Because you know… our kids are going to want one when they come back inside.”
Jim: “You my dear are like scotch tape. Everyone is attracted to you, and you are completely transparent.”
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 12:55 pm

This is my computer desk. It's getting a tad bit crowded on top.

Re: the suspicious containers of herbs: NOT pot, unfortunately. I've been trying a lot of different tobacco free herbal blends.

"Honey, you should see me in a crown!"

There are five drawers, each packed and disorganised.

I can't find a thing in here! I can barely open a drawer!

All rubbish from the desk, outside and in.

Boxing up the myrid of spare cables has freed up an entire drawer! I should have thought of it earlier.

Not only can I shut the drawer easily, I can also find things again.

Isn't it pretty?!

Still pretty!


The Great Unfuckening: The Scottish Monstrosity.

This drop leaf desk was imported from Scotland to Australia in the 1940s, soon after it was made. It is a reproduction of a 1800s design; one of the big tells is that its feet have four claws each. It is identical on both sides, however the drawers in the front are dummy drawers, with the back drawers going almost the full depth of the table. It is incredibly heavy and unbelievably solid. When the cyclone hits, underneath it will be where I’m hiding. It’s so ornate and over the top I’ve nicknamed it the ‘Scottish Monstrosity’. I love it. It’s not worth all that much as far as repos go, but it’s my pride and joy, and it’s by far and away the most favourite piece of furniture ever. It does need a good polish though.

Re: The Great Unfuckening itself. Most of the papers are receipts that I haven’t filed yet. It’s amazing how much space was freed up by simply rolling them together with a rubber band. My desk is where I tend to spend most of my time (too much time, really) so just about everything accumulates here. The drawers were similarly a mess. While the drawers are very long, they’re very shallow, and overloading them makes them almost impossible to pull out. I opted to be dramatic and just dump everything on the floor and sort it out that way.
It’s done and done; the detritus has been cleared from the top, all drawers emptied, sorted and rearranged. About the best thing I did was to find a box and shove into it all of the unused cables I’d accumulated. I freed up an entire drawer with that. What I didn’t find were any of the spare USB sticks I thought I had; will have to remedy that. They’re too useful not to have around.

All of this took me two episodes of ‘Supernatural’. It wasn’t a difficult job at all and would have taken me a lot less time if I weren’t watching the TV at the same time. But hey… it was nice not to have to rush for once.

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 01:02 pm
Not quite visible: Gabe inside the box.

Read more... )
Friday, January 30th, 2015 11:42 am
This time it was Mama Cat. I'm sitting in my room, celebrating my birthday with a little bitty cinnamon crumb cake (from the store), and the cat just walks up and chomps my food out of my hand.

Lesson learned: These cats are not to be trusted around cinnamon.

Sheesh. I've had cats that liked bread, and cats that liked tomatoes, and many many cats that would gladly eat plastic bags if I let them, but this is something new to me.


Critics of Oxfam’s Poverty Statistics Are Missing the Point

The huddled masses besieging Fortress Calais

The best idea in a long time: Covering parking lots with solar panels

Road-kill deer get mulched as U.S. states turn to composting

5 Bizarre Realities of Being a Man Who Was Raped by a Woman

Ukraine conflict: EU extends sanctions against Russia

Ukraine, rebels hold fresh peace talks as fighting rages in east

Greece really might leave the euro

Why Is Marissa Alexander Still Being Punished for Fighting Back?

Storms like U.S. blizzard may get stronger but less frequent: study

A rising tide lifts Iceland — literally

Collision avoidance predicts pedestrians’ behavior

Diabetes Technology Inches Closer To An Artificial Pancreas

Charges Dismissed Against Joseph Weekley, Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old

Behind the Story: How the WSJ uncovered a flawed system of reporting police killings

Attorney Cuffed To Wall While Trying To Stop Cop From Talking To Client

This is how a police state protects “secrets”: Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA and up to 80 years on circumstantial evidence

Counter-terrorism is supposed to let us live without fear. Instead, it's creating more of it

Functioning brain tissue grown in 3-D structure

Discovery of Big Bang's Gravitational Waves Goes Bust, Due to Dust

Mexican children cross Texas border to attend school

Pepperidge Factory Farm Under Fire For Inhumane Treatment Of Milanos

Air pollution actually messes with your genes

Attack on Israeli Soldiers 'Most Serious Flare-Up in Years'–if Arab Deaths Aren't Taken Seriously
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 10:49 am
I'm on day two of this headache. Naproxen knocked it back yesterday, but only just, and that only lasted about eight hours instead of the advertised twelve. I did try Amerge, too, on the theory that this is probably a menstrual migraine, but it did nothing at all. Right now, I'm waiting the requisite half an hour after taking omemprozale before eating and taking more naproxen.

Scott's alarm didn't go off, so he woke up forty minutes after he should have been at work. I don't know how much trouble he's in for that. (His alarm did go off at 5:00, when he normally gets up for work. He must have misset it.) He called to let them know he was coming and got himself out the door as fast as he could. He's not clear on why they didn't call when he didn't show up.

Scott did the grocery shopping this morning, but I'm going to have to send him back to the store this afternoon because I forgot to put coffee on the list-- I've got one spoonful of my mix left, and I need five spoonfuls to fill my mug tomorrow morning. I'd substitute Coca-Cola, but Scott didn't buy any this week because he wants to try switching to caffeinated tea with honey (his father gave him a diet book that he insisted Scott read that claims that eating honey makes one burn more fat. Right). We do have a few different caffeinated teas that I could try tomorrow morning, but I'd really rather have my coffee.

Cordelia is reading more. She's been coming up with new books to put holds on at the library; I'm not sure from where (maybe GoodReads? I don't know). She just finished Cinder by Marissa Meyer last night and has put a hold on the next book in the series. She's probably started reading Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. I didn't tell her that both books have been on my list of things to try for a couple of years now. She did say that she didn't think I'd like Cinder, but I don't know why she thinks that except that she doesn't want me to like the same books she likes.

I was awakened this morning by a robocall from a local carpet cleaning business. It was a little after 10:00, so not horrifically early, but still-- What do they expect to gain from calling people on a Saturday morning?

That cut on my little finger that I got several days ago still needs a bandaid. I was going to try the night without one last night, but when I took off the old one, the cut started bleeding a bit. I see bandaids in my future for a while yet. It'll make tomorrow's shower interesting.
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 09:13 am


Spent yesterday and today cleaning my room! It’s not perfect still, but I’m happy with it. At least I have a floor again!

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 01:50 am


I find it tricky with chronic pain to clean everything in one go, but even just 3 minutes at a time does add up eventually.

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. I smelled alcohol on a coworker but am afraid I’ll get him fired

I smelled alcohol on a coworker. I was asked if I did and I felt like my answer would be the deciding factor that could get the coworker fired. I felt conflicted. I didn’t want to lie, but I am an honest person. The HR asking me the question said I could lose my job if I withheld this information. Is that true?

Yes, that’s true. Your employers can absolutely require you to participate honestly in workplace investigations. (Although in this case, I don’t know how they’d know that you were lying.) And in general in these situations it’s usually good to say what you know to be true. It’s hard to get serious workplace problems addressed if people won’t speak honestly in reasonable investigations or have their own agendas (and that can really torpedo attempts to address everything from harassment to safety violations).

2. Avoiding cuts to vacation time at my next job

I work as support staff at a small firm. We have vacation days (use it or lose it) and sick time (can carry over from year to year). Our paid time off policy was recently changed so that the maximum number of vacation days we get in a year has been lowered. We used to max out at 20 days (at 15 years), but now it’s 15 days (at five years). Period. Ever.

While this doesn’t affect me at the moment, I know eventually I’m going to want more time off. I know I need to brush up my resume and start looking around in order to build up seniority somewhere else. So what’s the least greedy way of saying, “I really liked my job, but then they decided to cut our vacation time. What kind of paid time off do you offer?”

Do you just want to know about vacation, or do you want to ensure they won’t change it on you after the fact? For the first, it’s a totally normal question to ask (no need to even explain what happened at the other job), but you should wait until you have an offer and then review all their benefits info. For the second, I’d wait until you have an offer and raise it then by saying something like, “One of the reasons I started looking for a new job is that my current company made across-the-board cuts to our vacation time. It’s important to me that that doesn’t happen again. Would you be willing to include a guaranteed X days off in our agreement?”

3. The manager who asked me to stay in touch is now gone

About six months ago, I applied to a company I was interested in, and the hiring manager had a phone interview with me. She said she didn’t feel my skills were strong enough for that position, but she’d like to keep me in mind for another position that would be coming up in the future. She requested that we connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch.

This morning, I saw a notice on my LinkedIn feed that this manager had left that company. Since my contact person there is now gone, I’m wondering if I should re-submit my resume to the company (or even apply for a specific position if there are appropriate openings). Should I even mention my connection with this former manager? Or, should I maybe take this as a potential red flag about that workplace?

I don’t see anything about it that’s a red flag. People leave jobs all the time; it’s pretty normal. I’d just watch their jobs openings and if you find one that your’e a strong fit for, apply and in your cover letter mention that you’d talked with Jane Plufferton X months ago and she’d encouraged you to apply in the future.

4. My employer is forcing me to bowl

My boss is a mortgage broker. He owns a small private business, and after our commercial shoot, meeting and bowling afterwards is mandatory. I have no problem showing up for everything, but instead of actually bowling, I just want to sit there and watch/mingle. I told them this and the office manager said to just put on the bowling shoes and throw a ball once in a while, but I have a phobia about wearing other peoples’ shoes, have never bowled, etc. They can’t force me or require me to actually bowl, can they?

Legally? Yep, unless you request an accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But it would be ridiculous for them to do that. I’d show up and just go with a cheerful, “No, thank you, I prefer watching!” if pressured. And if they really push, I’d say your feet don’t take well to bowling shoes but that you’re glad to be there with everyone or some other enthusiastic-sounding comment.

5. “Didn’t meet qualifications” despite being qualified

My husband submitted a resume for a job that he was very confident he was qualified for. However, they responded saying that he didn’t meet the minimum qualifications. We really found this to be odd, because, like I said, he pretty much fit the description. Is it okay to respond with a “thank your for your time and consideration” and request where he lacks in their needs so that he can, perhaps, strengthen those qualifications?

It’s not unreasonable to ask (as long as he doesn’t sound like he’s challenging their decision), although he might not hear anything back; a lot of employers are more willing to give feedback to people who get to the interview stage. However, you might be reading too much into it. Often “didn’t meet the minimum qualifications” is a sloppy way of saying “other candidates were stronger, so you just didn’t make this first cut.” Other times, the qualifications changed or included things that weren’t made clear in the job opening.

And keep in mind, you can be highly qualified for a job and still not get interviewed, because other people are even stronger … although I realize that in this case it’s probably the specific wording of the rejection that’s throwing you. As a general rule, though, I wouldn’t read much into the wording of rejection notices, ever; they’re often form letters, and often weirdly worded.

I smelled alcohol on a coworker, being forced to bowl, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, January 30th, 2015 02:54 pm
How to remove bloodstains from almost any fabric:

1) Wet down the area with COLD water. (Always, always use cold water.)
2) Pour enough salt on the stain to make a thick paste. Scrub the paste into the stain with the tips of your fingers. Set aside.
3) Fill the sink/an appropriately sized tub with cold water. Pour in salt until the water hits saturation point. Hang the item so the stained part is dangling into the water.
4) After 3-4 hours, drain the sink/tub/etc and rinse the fabric, scrubbing it against itself or with the tips of your fingers. If the stain isn't entirely gone, you can usually get the rest of it with a mild soap and some scrubbing.

(This method gets the edges of the bloodstain, not just the center of the bloodstain: the salt denatures the proteins.)

Friday, January 30th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post

Emery: “So I was thinking about the baby… the… what’s the word… the baby detector thingy?”

Friday, January 30th, 2015 05:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work in an industry normally noted for its stability, although our location has seen 10 people in my position leave in less than two years since current management took over. (For reference, full staff for us is 10). I am scheduled for an interview with another firm later this week and am confident it will go well and I can become number 11. We have never been at full staff as long as I’ve been here; management is unhelpful and just bad in general. We currently have 6 people in my position, so if I depart it is down to 5, or 50% staffing. There have been no qualified applicants in months, so I am certain that I will not be replaced in that time frame if I gave a standard two-week notice.

My concern is not with “burning bridges” (I will never come back to this company), good will with management (they made this mess to start with), or even etiquette per se. My concern lies with my coworkers. I’ve become good friends with a few of them, as we’ve been through hell together here. If I leave, my workload will fall to them. I know they’re looking elsewhere too, and in fact we have a sort of “race to be number 11″, but I can’t help but feel a bit guilty to “win the race.” So my question is this: I don’t feel obligated to give any notice at all and would love to tell my *fingers-crossed* new employer that I can start next week. But my conscience tells me that the longer I stick around the easier the burden will be for my coworkers. But at the same time, is staying longer just delaying the inevitable? Basically, going into the interview this week, I hope to be able to have an answer if asked “when can you start?”

You should give two weeks notice at your current job because it’s the professional thing to do. Even if you don’t care about your company at all (and leaving your coworkers aside for the moment), you should care about your reputation.

You never know when someone from your company might pop up in the future (as the hiring manager for a job that you want in a couple of years, or as an informal reference that you never even know about), and hearing “oh yeah, she left with zero notice” is a really good way to kill your candidacy.

Plus, those coworkers who you feel guilty about leaving behind will definitely understand why you’re leaving — but they’ll make a note of it if you leave with no notice and it will probably affect how they see you. For example, it’s going to make the smart ones a lot less likely to refer you for jobs in the future.

And last, that new job — they’re going to wonder why someone currently employed is willing to walk with no notice to her current job.

Two weeks really isn’t very long in the larger scheme of things — certainly not enough that you should sacrifice your reputation just to avoid working it. And the last two weeks at a job you hate tend to be pretty satisfying; you’re leaving after all, and everyone knows it.

(Also, just a side note: Two weeks notice isn’t so that your employer can hire your replacement in that time; it would be rare for that to happen. It’s so that you can help with a smooth transition of your work.)

I want to leave without notice but feel guilty about my coworkers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, January 30th, 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 – January 30, 2015 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, January 30th, 2015 03:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

The kitchen was full of activity when I came downstairs for dinner – kids running around with plates, forks, and drinks, Emery pulling the enchiladas out of the oven, and running underneath it all, a sense of urgency. I grabbed my plate and served myself, wondering why everyone was so excited.

Dad’s phone rang and all movement stopped for a moment while he answered it. When he didn’t immediately say something, everyone went back to what they were doing, even faster than before, if that was possible. I suddenly realized what was going on – Mom had called from the barn, where Fashion, who had been in the kidding pen all day, was probably getting ready to have her babies. “Do we need to go to the barn?” I asked when Dad hung up.

“No, not yet,” he said, loading his plate with enchiladas. “Soon.”

I shoveled my food in my mouth, finishing seconds behind some of my siblings, and we quickly loaded our dishes into the dishwasher. There was a race to get into the locker room, and everyone started suiting up. Coveralls, hats, big jackets, gloves, and boots were pulled on, and one by one, the locker room emptied as we raced out the front door.

Running to the barn when you’re wearing coveralls and big boots is not easy, and yet, we all did it.

I stopped in the tool room for the camera and grabbed a stack of towels. When I reached the kidding stall where Fashion was, I set the towels down and turned the camera on to get a picture of Fashion.

The camera was out of battery.

“Hey Colter, wanna do me a favor?” I said with a big, cheesy smile. “Pretty please?”

He shook his head. I looked at who else was in the pen – Fletcher, Greyden, and Hewitt.

“Hey Hewitt, wanna do me a favor?” I asked with the same cheesy grin. He sighed, but looked at me expectantly. “Can you run to the house, find the camera bag, and get me the other camera battery?” If I had to run to the house myself, I was going to miss the whole birth. I was still wheezing from running out to the barn the first time.

Hewitt went running, and I thanked God for little brothers who would do that for me as I set the camera down and grabbed a towel instead. Dad came into the pen, in his coveralls, shirt sleeves rolled up, hands still wet from scrubbing them.

“She’s been pushing way too hard to have nothing happening,” Mom said. “Something should have happened by now.”

Dad started investigating, and Hewitt came running back in, carrying the whole camera bag. “I couldn’t know what the battery looked like, so I brought the whole bag,” he said, handing to me. He dashed past me into the the stall and almost tripped over Jason, one of our barn cats, who was super excited by all of the Jonases in one place. Jason loves kidding season – it means a time where everyone’s in the barn, and he can get unlimited people time. I swapped the batteries out, making a mental note to charge the dead one, and entered the stall again. I pulled my hair up with the hair band I kept on my wrist – an essential item to carry during Kidding Season.

Dad was still trying to figure out what was going on. “I’ve got the feet, I think,” he was saying, “but I don’t know where the head is.”

It turned out that the head was stuck back by the baby’s shoulder. It took several – very long – minutes for Dad to turn the head around, and several more for Fashion to gather her energy and start pushing.

Somewhere in those minutes I gave the camera to Mom and grabbed a towel, preparing to catch the baby. The hooves came out, followed by a head, followed by a super long neck, and I lunged forward to catch the body in my towel as it slid towards the floor.

It was too limp. It wasn’t moving.

Please, God, I thought as I frantically rubbed the chest of the baby. Greyden was beside me clearing the mucus out of the mouth and nose, while Dad was rubbing off the butt so we could see if it was a boy or girl.

“It’s a girl,” he announced.

“And it’s not moving,” I said, still rubbing my towel back and forth. Sometimes with non-responsive babies, you can get them to become responsive by stimulating them.

Mom came over with a towel and took over, saying, “no, she’ll be fine.”

I shook my head. It was too limp and hadn’t moved once.

Mom didn’t give up, continuing to stimulate and rub, finally stopping to check for a heartbeat.

She shook her head, and went back to rubbing. She checked again, and shook her head again.

“You know, I really didn’t anticipate starting Kidding Season with a dead baby,” she said sadly.

Fashion was licking the baby, and had started to realize that it wasn’t going to wake up. You could hear it in the noises she made as she tried to clean it off, and Mom couldn’t take it anymore. “Colter, get the baby out,” she said.

Colter and Greyden carried the limp body – still in the towels – out of the stall.

“We really did not need that,” Mom said, pushing some hair out of her face with her elbow.

A couple minutes later, we had a normally presenting baby ready, so I grabbed a fresh towel and got ready to catch. Dad and I chased Fashion around the stall for a little while, while she tried to decide where she felt most comfortable. When she finally settled down, the hooves were already out, and Dad was ready to pull this baby out.

I settled into my crouch, leaning forward to catch as Dad pulled. I had my towel positioned right where the baby should land, and Dad started pulling– and the baby threw its body as far out of my reach as it could.

Dad caught it as it went a good five inches away from where it was supposed to land, and I lunged forward to catch it before he dropped it. It flopped off the towel and I reached behind me for another one, rolling it back onto the towels and dragging the towels across the hay to the center of the stall.

My siblings descended on it, attacking it with towels, making sure that it could breathe, before most of them backed off. “It’s alive!” someone exclaimed triumphantly and I laughed. I could have told you that, after it launched itself away from me.

“Girl!” someone said.

Before we could decide on a name for her, the third baby was coming out, and I caught this one – successfully – and carried it into the middle of the stall. It was another girl! This was the first time we’d had triplet doelings since Zuzu had Zaphire, Zenith, and Zipporah!

We dried both of them off and brought them into the milk room (where it’s warm) to take care of them. The boys brought Fashion her molasses water and some grain, while the girls, Greyden and I finished drying off the babies, got them their collars, weighed them, and filled out the paperwork. Mom came into the milk room and we decided that the first one would be named Fallen, the second one Felicity, and the last one Fickle.

Then it was time to love on them and take pictures while we waited for the colostrum to get to us. Colostrum is the first milk that a mama goat makes, and it’s very important for the babies.

Jason came into the milkroom to meet the newest babies.

And Hewitt took over the camera to get some personal shots of Felicity and Fickle.

But then he handed it back to me and asked me to take pictures of him and Greyden with them.

And the little girls jumped in when Mom took a picture to put on our facebook page. 

By that time it was after 8:00, and everyone started drifting off to go to bed. Some of us had a night of goat shifts, and the rest of us had been on a shift that morning and wanted to sleep! But the next day, we were back out in the barn loving on them.

Welcome to the farm, Felicity and Fickle!


Friday, January 30th, 2015 10:53 am
Last night, Cordelia's school had a concert. They were originally going to combine concerts for the third through sixth graders, but they realized that they didn't have room for that many people in the multi-purpose room all at once, so they split off the sixth grade part of the evening. That meant that we didn't have to be there until 7:00 (as opposed to needing to arrive by 6:00).

Scott's parents came. The four of us sat in the second row. We couldn't see Cordelia at all because she was directly on the other side of the orchestra teacher from where we were sitting. The orchestra went first and played two songs. Then there was a soloist, a drummer. Then there was singing. I think that was the lunch time choir that Cordelia declined to join. Then the band did four songs. After that, we were done.

I did take an Ativan before the concert. I probably could have gotten through without, but I didn't see any reason to do that to myself.

Scott is going to have more evening overtime for a while. He was hoping that there'd be less overtime because they actually hired someone on third shift, but they just fired someone on second shift. That means they need three people to stay late from first shift every single day until they fill some positions.

I have a bit of a headache. I'm trying to decide if it's enough to merit medication or if I should first try hitting it with some caffeine (I already had my morning coffee)

There's something weird going on with our internet-- I can get DW and the local public library website, but I can't get LJ, AO3 or Google. It seems unlikely that all three of those would go out simultaneously, but I can't figure out what would be wrong with our internet to block those three sites while still letting me reach other things. I'm only getting email from two of my five accounts. I can't tell whether or not chat is still there. The program I use doesn't tell me when it drops the connection. It just sits there, looking like no one's saying anything.

At any rate, if you're expecting to hear from me online today, I may or may not be able to get through. I may or may not get comments or other messages.

I hate when this happens. It makes me feel so very, very isolated.
Friday, January 30th, 2015 12:30 am
Blogger Juls It's Just a Bad Day tweeted a link to an interesting article by Auntie Stress who describes herself as: Marianna Paulson, also known as Auntie Stress to my clients and friends. As a stress transformation coach and educator, I am committed to helping you recognize your stress triggers and how to diffuse them. By learning and practising stress-transforming techniques that are appropriate to your situation, you will benefit from having more control and recovering much faster when you get into a negative or stressful state.

The article is a good reminder to all of us, chronically ill or not, that stress can make any life more difficult. It's entitled Eight Ways To Have More Energy. Have a look:
Energy. Got it? Want it? Need it? Like that last bit of the toothpaste in the tube, are you squeezing out what little energy you have left,  just to get through your week, your day, or the next hour? Does it feel as if a giant cosmic vacuum cleaner has sucked up all your energy?
If you’re wondering how to plug up those energy leaks – the ones that leave you begging for your bed, even though you end up tossing and turning and not getting the rest you need. Reaching for another hit of sugar or pot of coffee may provide you with an artificial charge to your day, but it’s not the ideal way to restore your energy.
There are things you can do to bring energy back into your life – things that will allow you to access your power
1. Stop micromanaging.
How much energy goes into managing the people and events in your life? Do you plan everything to the very tiniest of details? This urge to control has its roots in fear – the what-ifs that your mind creates and that you obligingly follow up on by directing, looking after, over-seeing, managing, planning, supervising and worrying. Granted, there is a need for this type of execution, but not for everything. There are times when you have to let go – let your children pick out their school clothes, give your employees autonomy to work within the guidelines you have established, or to not have every minute of a family vacation scheduled with military precision. Loosening up on the micromanagement belt allows for breathing room and more energy. 
As Bob Newhart says in this humorous clip, just stop it. Easier said than done, right? At the end of this post I will share how this can be achieved with less effort and more grace. Plus gain the wisdom to know when more management (and better processes are needed). 
Continue reading here.

Here's the awesome clip that Auntie Stress includes in her article. Oh my gosh. I love Bob Newhart.

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 12:40 am
Today I had to alternately cajole, coax, and sometimes outright drag Ana through her math. She didn't utterly drift off, and she didn't scream "I don't get it!" and storm out, but it wasn't a roaring success like yesterday.

Also, I carefully put my newly printed materials away so I wouldn't lose them, then forgot I'd done that. D'oh!


Many religious people view science favorably, but reject certain scientific theories

Ivorian police unit to investigate suspected ritual killings

You can earn $13,000 a year selling your poop

Even Anonymous Credit Card Data Can Be Used to Identify You

Rapists use social media to cover their tracks, police warned

A five article series on Native gangs in America

Ebola outbreak: Virus mutating, scientists warn

How cheap parking makes a lot of life more expensive

Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

Natural Selection Kills 38 Quadrillion Organisms In Bloodiest Day Yet

No, Department of Justice, 80 Percent of Tor Traffic Is Not Child Porn

Florida’s bill is coming due, as the costs of climate change add up around the globe. Adaptations will buy time, but can they save Miami?

The GOP’s plan to stop environmental protections: attack science

Russian military planes 'disrupted UK aviation'

Did genetic links to modern maladies provide ancient benefits?

Freakishly long-necked ‘dragon’ dinosaur discovered in China

Israel says it has received a message from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah saying it does not want a further escalation after border clashes on Wednesday that killed three people.
Friday, January 30th, 2015 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. Standing on the street with a sign saying that you’re for hire

I wondered if you’d have any comments on this story about a new grad who stood on the winter streets with a sign that said, “U of T Grad for hire; Take my resume & get a free Xmas gift; Marketing / Ad-Job; [email address]” The gift was candy canes.

She was apparently successful.

Not a gimmick everyone can pull off, but I guess it can work once in a blue moon.

It works very rarely, you kind of debase yourself in the process, and if it works, you’ve just ended up with a boss who responds to flash and gimmicks rather than merit and talent, which is going to make for an unhappy work life. I’ve never understood why someone would go this route rather than selling themselves through the far more effective means of a compelling cover letter and strong resume, which in addition to working has the advantage of screening for better managers than ones who hire for “gumption” and candy canes.

2. My new coworkers are mispronouncing my name

I’ve recently started a new job at a great company. Just one problem–not everyone knows how to say my name! I have an unusual name, and a lot of the time, people will read it and make their best attempt. Unfortunately, I don’t find out about their creative pronunciation until a few weeks later. For example, I’ll hear them say my name incorrectly during a conference call, or realize they’re pronouncing my name incorrectly when mentioning me to others.

How do I correct people I’ve been working with for a few months and tell them that’s not my name, without making them feel dumb, or looking dumb for not correcting them sooner?

I’d just correct them on the spot when you hear it (“Oh, it’s actually Imogen”), and just be matter-of-fact about it. The more matter-of-fact you sound, the less awkward it will be for them. I wouldn’t do this on a conference call (unless you’re the next speaker, in which case you can do a quick correction), but otherwise just correct it and move on. Don’t get caught up in worrying about making them feel dumb or not correcting them sooner; as long as you do it the first time you hear it, people will just note the correction and it won’t be a big deal.

The other thing you can do since you have an unusual name is to use a service like Audio Name and put a line in your email signature saying “hear my name,” linking to an audio recording of you pronouncing your name. Hell, if you have a small company or a small team, you could even send that link out to everyone with a humorous message about you’ve noticed people aren’t sure how to say your name.

3. My employer left me stranded on the side of the road when my car broke down on a work trip

My employer requires use of personal vehicles for this job. I travel all over the state in my vehicle and can log over 500 miles per week on behalf of the company. I was recently stranded on the side of the road far from the office and also my home due to an unexpected issue with my car. This is the only time in two years of employment this has happened, as I take care to maintain my vehicle.

Is my employer liable to help me in any way, such as sending someone from the office to pick me up, offering to pay for a taxi so I can get home or to the office, or paying my tow charge? In the very least, are they responsible for my safety in this situation? As you might have guessed already, zero assistance was offered by the two gentlemen who run the small business and were sitting in the office at the time while I was sitting stranded on the side of the road, in winter, in New England.

I can’t think of any law that would require it, unfortunately. California requires employers to reimburse employees for all expenses or losses incurred in the direct discharge of the employee’s work, which might cover something like this if you work in California, but it sounds like you don’t. A small number of other states might have something similar. But otherwise, I can’t think of a law that would cover this. (Can anyone else?) Regardless, though, the big take-away here is that you work for people who are both jerks and bad managers.

4. Employer wants proof I graduated from high school, and I don’t have it

I have lost my diploma over the years. My high school has closed. The school my transcripts went to has closed. I graduated in 1986. I have college credits. Is this enough? My future employer wants a school that is credited to the board of education. I went to a Catholic school.

It should be enough. You graduated from high school nearly 30 years ago. It’s ridiculous for them to ask for this. I would just say: “The high school closed years ago and I’m not able to obtain the documentation you’re requesting. How should we proceed?”

These people have lost their minds for requiring this, by the way.

5. How can I stay on top of all the news in my field?

I am a leader of a nonprofit organization in an emerging space that is gaining increasing attention every day (early childhood). You would think this is good news, but I am recently feeling so bogged down by everything that I intend to read (new research, new nonprofits, op eds, etc.) that is coming out rapid fire about this area of work, I can’t figure out how to manage the reading list. I can’t read everything, there’s just no way and I’m losing track of what’s important. It’s such high volume that someone sent me a critical New Yorker piece last week that I think I would have missed completely (phew on that one!). I feel that I have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about our sector and to be able to speak intelligently about current developments in real time, but it often feels like I’m behind the 8 ball. What tactics and/or tech do you recommend to effectively filter so that the important stuff rises to the top?

Can you assign someone to be your filter — charge them with reading the most important sources in your field and sending you a daily or weekly digest of the most important pieces? You might also look (or, better, assign someone else to look) to see if there’s a blogger or other news source in your field that’s doing this type of digest already.

Aside from that, though, I have no good answers — I struggle with this one too — so I’m hoping that readers will weigh in with other suggestions.

standing on the street with a “for hire” sign, my employer left me stranded, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post Jade: “What are you doing?”
PJ: “Paying bills.”
Jade: “We have a LOT of bills!”
Thursday, January 29th, 2015 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’m a project manager and have recently reduced my hours to 20 hours per week (I’ve just returned to work after six months parental leave). My hours are spread over three days and I have an early start, so I leave work well before the end of the traditional work day.

I deal with many different people in various roles in the course of my job, sometimes very briefly, so many of my colleagues won’t know that I work part-time, and I’m concerned about not meeting expectations for response times.

I’m considering setting up an automatic reply in Outlook to let people know my working days and hours, but this is way more complicated than it should be! I either have to manually turn this on and off each day (which I might forget to do) or have the reply on all the time; if I use the standard out of office assistant the words “Out of Office” are added to each message it sends, which I don’t want if I am in the office; and if I use rules and alerts I can remove the words “Out of Office” but then it sends a response for every email, not just the first in the thread.

What would you recommend in my situation? Is there another way of handling expectations I’m missing? Or am I overthinking the whole thing?

If you were always working with the same group of people, I’d tell you to just send them all a one-time reminder and be done with it, but since it sounds like this is going to come up with random new people all the time, I’d do three things:

* Add your hours to your email signature, so that it’s a constant reminder for people:

Clarissa Plufferton
Project Manager, Warbucks Enterprises

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

* Use the auto-reply feature in Outlook. Resign yourself to having to turn it on each time you leave for the day and turn it off when you arrive. Set up some automatic reminders for yourself until it becomes habit. Use it to auto-send a message that says something like, “My regular hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., so I’ll respond to you when I return to the office.”

It sounds like Outlook has some restrictions that make this function in a less than ideal way, but none of what you listed sounds prohibitive. A little annoying, yes, but not prohibitive.

* Figure out whether your schedule is likely to lead to any problems if someone does need a faster response, and figure out how to field those situations preemptively. For example, do you need something in your email signature that directs all queries on X to a colleague? Or maybe you just need to raise this whole issue with your manager and be sure that your’e both on the same page about the fact that some people might send queries that you won’t be seeing for a couple of days (and ensure that she’s thought that through and is okay with it).

Anyone have any other tips?

managing colleagues’ expectations when I work part-time was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Ever had the frustrating feeling of reading a long, convoluted email and wondering, “Why didn’t this person just pick up the phone?” Or seeing someone take offense to an email that sounded abrasive, even if the sender didn’t intend it that way?

If you manage a team, chances are good that you’ve seen people making some bad choices when it comes to how they use email. At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about some of the most common email problems and what to do if you see them on your team. You can read it here.

what to do when your staff is misusing email was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.