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Monday, November 24th, 2014 03:16 pm
Fun times. Next time I'll have them take a tylenol as soon as they exit the exam room rather than waiting until we get home, that should help. Poor Ana was sobbing for half an hour, although once the painkiller kicked in she conceded that it probably wasn't as bad as her headache from hell. Geez, poor Ana. She sure does seem to suffer a lot. And she's really a trooper about it.

Right now they're engaging in the educational activity known as "watching as much Netflix as they like", which is probably what they'd be doing if they weren't homeschooled. Because extractions.
Monday, November 24th, 2014 07:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Colter: “Fletcher, come down here! With or without pants.”
Fletcher: “But…”
Colter: “With or without pants.”
He came down wearing pants. Lol
Monday, November 24th, 2014 07:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Every December, I publish “where are they now” updates from people whose questions I answered here in the past year. It’s time for 2014’s version, so …

If you’ve had your question answered here in the last year, please email me an update and let us know how your situation turned out. Leave no juicy detail out! I’ll post updates as they come in. (Don’t post them here though; email them to me.)

And if there’s anyone you especially want to hear an update from, mention it here and I’ll reach out to those people directly.

where are you now? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, November 24th, 2014 12:55 pm


Guys, I was surprisingly productive for a Sunday night. First two pictures show the total wreck my room has been in for the last couple of weeks. Last three show how it is now. Floor is clear, desk is clear, sheets are clean, laundry is in progress. So now I can come back from Thanksgiving break to a clean room and not trip over 5 different pairs of shoes as soon as I walk in the door!

Monday, November 24th, 2014 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

featured-on-usnWhen you’re slogging through the daily grind of work or a job search, or when you’re dealing with a difficult boss or coworkers, it can be easy to forget what we should be thankful for at work. But there are some significant changes underway in the American workplace, and they’re offering workers real advantages that most people didn’t have a decade ago.

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about five positive developments that have been changing the workplace in the last few years, including the growth in telecommuting, an increase in laws requiring paid sick leave, and more.  You can read it here.

5 workplace trends to be thankful for was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, November 24th, 2014 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

My wife’s employer is hosting a Christmas party at a local Mexican restaurant where they will be paying for everyone’s meal. They announced yesterday that they forbid anyone to drink alcohol at this establishment, even if they purchase the beverages themselves. (The owners of the company are Mormons who do not drink, but they employ many non-Mormons who do not uphold that standard.)

There are many people in the company who have taken offense to this, as they feel as adults of drinking age, they should be able to go the bar and get their own beverage outside of the employer’s gifted meal.

This doesn’t sit right with me and I’m wondering if her employer can indeed do this. Also, what about the couple who has a cocktail before the party and the employer gets suspicious of whether or not the alcohol on their breath was purchased at the restaurant?

Sure, they can do that. The hosts of a party get to set the terms of their hospitality.

Whether or not they should do that in business setting is a different question. It does feel a bit paternalistic to “forbid” adults from purchase legally sold beverages with their own money … but it’s the company’s prerogative if they want to do it this way. Throwing a dry party isn’t really an outrage.

I do think they’d have been better served by presenting it a little differently. “We’d like to keep the party alcohol-free and request your help in that” isn’t a crazy statement — people might not be thrilled about it, but I’d imagine most people would be okay with it. But something like “Drinking alcohol at the party is forbidden, even if purchased with your own money” of course comes across as far more heavy-handed and is a recipe for eye rolls.

As for your hypothetical about smelling alcohol on the breath of someone who had a drink beforehand … I doubt it’s going to come to that, and I think you might be getting a little carried away with outrage. It’s unlikely that they’re going to be policing it to that level.

Ultimately, the deal is this: The company is throwing the party, they’ve requested that people not drink, and it’s polite to comply with your host’s request in that regard (just like you presumably wouldn’t drink at, say, a dry wedding). If it’s terribly onerous, you always have the option of not going, but it’s really just a few hours. You can always break out the tequila afterwards if you feel inclined.

company is banning alcohol at its holiday party, even if we buy it ourselves was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, November 24th, 2014 10:25 am


pic from a couple days ago. sometimes a mess can seem too big to handle, but this literally took me only 20 minutes. I even threw some cleaner in the toilet and watered my plants.

Monday, November 24th, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

A few weeks ago, we had our first snow for this winter. The kids kept disappearing. A few hours later, they would be back. With frozen hands. And bright red cheeks. “We were sleddding!” “And it was AWESOME.”  
Monday, November 24th, 2014 09:14 am


A little less than six 20/10s later and my bedroom is (mostly) unfucked!

My closet is still a little messy, as is the invisible corner under my desk, but those are both projects for another day.

Go me!

Monday, November 24th, 2014 09:07 am
Haven't actually been working on my Fallout historical fic stuff this past week. Sorry about that, even if I'm the only person reading this who has an interest in it. Will have to get back on the wagon.

Made an apple pie last night; I'd been putting it off for about a week because I didn't want to deal with all the dishes, but a) I really wanted pie and b) the apples weren't gonna last forever. Brought the pie into the office, had some for breakfast. So did a lot of other people. Guess it went over pretty well. I used a mix of Mcintoshes and Fujis, and I cooked about half of them in a frying pan for 5-10 minutes to let the Mcintoshes break down somewhat, as I'd picked out some pretty large apples and didn't have a dish deep enough to accommodate them all. Also added a little boiled cider to the mix (I bought mine from King Arthur Flour; it has no alcohol, it's just American non-alcoholic cider that's been boiled until it's as thick as golden syrup). There was alcohol in the crust, though. My crust recipe uses some vodka in addition to the usual cold water to keep things tender. Baked the whole thing for 25 minutes at 425, then turned the oven down to 370 (my oven runs a bit hot) and let it bake for another half an hour. Turned out well. We'll see if something similar is wanted for Thanksgiving.

I've been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition since it came out. Companion character bitchery behind cut for spoiler purposes. )
Monday, November 24th, 2014 08:33 am
My sister finally got back to me about my nephew's interests. She likes the idea of Goosebumps books for him. He already has the first three Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. He hasn't tried any graphic novels and doesn't know the Peirce's Big Nate books. He still collects shot glasses, and he's now interested in geology.

We have some nice geology books that we bought when Cordelia was in second grade, when we were doing Rock Hunters for the Science Olympiad. We were going to donate the books to the Science Olympiad team, but they did away with the Rock Hunters event when Cordelia was in fourth grade. (I suspect that the event managers decided they'd had enough. If they were on the young side of seventy, I'd be surprised.) Cordelia's not interested in geology, so she's not going to use those books. We'll send them to our nephew, and that will take care of Christmas. In January, I'll order something for his birthday. There's plenty of time after Christmas for that. Now I just have to wrap the books and package them up to mail.

Scott says he's definitely working on Friday. Apparently, the one year they gave everybody Friday off, the plant management got into trouble because the employees hadn't worked forty hours that week. That means busy work on Friday. The machines will be shut down; there will be no production. They're just insisting that everybody show up anyway. Scott says they'll probably spend the time cleaning. I know one year they painted.

This concern with making sure everybody gets in forty hours doesn't bode well for Christmas Eve, either. Some years, Scott gets that off or gets off work early, but not always. Him working makes a lot of things more difficult-- His parents want us up in Fenton (an hour away) in time for dinner and church. It's a family tradition. They're perfectly willing to go to a 9:00 service, but we really, really don't want to because of the hour to get home after. Scott and I end up staying up late on Christmas Eve as it is, because we have to do the last minute present wrapping and retrieval. That usually takes a couple of hours. I'll wrap everything I can in advance even though I'm bad at wrapping stuff, but there are going to be some odd shaped things that require Scott's skill. Maybe the weekend before Christmas, I can find one of Cordelia's friends to take her for the day so that we can wrap then.

We decided to buy another big ticket item from Cordelia's wishlist-- I ordered an electric blue Nintendo 2ds from Best Buy via eBay. I wasn't sure how important getting the right color was to Cordelia, and I didn't feel like I could ask, so I stuck with her chosen blue. If I'd been able to go with red, instead, there were things I could have bid on that would probably have been cheaper. As it was, the Best Buy option which comes bundled with a game she also wants saved us $40 over Amazon.

I ended up ordering a couple of different Christmas tree ornaments. I haven't decided how to give them to Cordelia. I think she'll get the idea of an early present. I nearly balked at paying $15 for the ornament that she really wanted-- a Kung Fu Panda ornament of baby Po-- but I did. We'll use it for years. I also ordered a little polar bear with a drum that Cordelia wanted and a set of six tiny glass owls that I liked.

This year, we actually managed to mail some of Cordelia's school pictures to my mother and to my father. We've been buying enough for them every year, but this is the first year I've actually put together envelopes to send. We even got them to the post office and shipped them on Saturday. My father will be please. I'm not sure what my mother will think. She adores her grandchildren, but she's never wanted to be bothered with photographs. She and my step-father have never said a word about the photo calendar that Scott makes every year and sends to them. Not a single word. Not even thank you. For all we know, they burn the dratted things.
Monday, November 24th, 2014 12:30 am
I thought this article in the November 2014 issue of The Rheumatologist was pretty good. For all those sjoggies who encounter healthcare providers that claim that Sjogren's syndrome is "just dry eye and mouth", I would suggest printing this article using a very large font and shoving their faces. I have put up a few excerpts in this post but by all means read it in it's entirety here.
Systemic Sjögrens: More Than a Sicca Disease 
by Pilar Brito-Zerón, MD, PhD, and Manuel Ramos-Casals, MD, PhD, on behalf of the EULAR-SS Task Force Group 
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which immune-mediated inflammation causes secretory gland dysfunction, leading to dryness of the main mucosal surfaces and systemic organ involvement.1 The disease has a difficult-to-pronounce name due to the Swedish ophthalmologist Henrik Sjögren (1899–1986), who described the main disease characteristics in his 1933 doctoral thesis “Zur Kenntnis der keratoconjunctivitis sicca.” The cause of SS is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors seem to play a role. When symptoms appear in a previously healthy person, the disease is classified as primary SS (pSS). When sicca features are found in association with another systemic autoimmune disease, most commonly rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic sclerosis (SSc), or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it is classified as associated SS; pSS may also be associated with various organ-specific autoimmune diseases.....
This infographic is excellent:
Figure 1: The spectrum of primary Sjögren’s syndrome extending from sicca syndrome and general features to systemic Sjögren’s and B-cell lymphoma.

The authors go on to define three clinical presentations of Sjogren's:
Clinical Presentation: More Than Sicca Features 
SS may be expressed in many guises, and there are three predominant clinical presentations at onset. 
The triad of dryness, fatigue & pain 
A large percentage of patients present with a clinical pattern totally dominated by severe dryness, fatigue and pain, which are not life threatening, but have a serious impact on the quality of life (see Figure 1). Oral and ocular dryness are key to the diagnosis of SS, because they occur in more than 95% of patients, although other sicca symptoms are also frequent, including hoarseness, non-productive cough, cutaneous dryness and dyspareunia in women. In addition to sicca symptoms, generalized pain and/or chronic fatigue are reported in more than 80% of patients with pSS. Physicians should be alert to women reporting dramatic quality-of-life changes due to the abrupt onset of these symptoms. However, a careful assessment is essential in these patients, because this set of symptoms is also characteristic of other processes (e.g., hypothyroidism, neoplasia, primary depression) and, above all, functional somatic syndromes, such as fibromyalgia.1 Greater intensity of dryness, fatigue and pain seems to go in tandem with less systemic involvement and identification of immunological SS features.3 A large percentage of patients present with a clinical pattern totally dominated by severe dryness, fatigue & pain. 
Nonspecific systemic inflammatory syndrome 
Some patients, especially children and the young, may present with a clinical pattern characterized by continued, well-tolerated fever, along with night sweats, fatigue, malaise and weight loss. In these patients, the lack of local symptoms and negligible or absent sicca symptoms may delay the diagnosis. However, a history of swelling of the major salivary glands (i.e., parotid and submandibular glands) may be a key feature. Laboratory tests may show normocytic anemia, mild leukopenia and, especially, a very raised erythrocyte sedimentation rate due to high serum gammaglobulin levels. Systemic infections and lymphoma should always be ruled out in these patients. 
The occult Sjögren’s syndrome (non-sicca onset) 
Some patients with pSS may present with systemic features unrelated to involvement of the mucosal surfaces.3 A large number of non-sicca features may appear before the development of sicca symptoms, including extraglandular manifestations involving the skin, lungs, kidneys or nervous system, together with some laboratory abnormalities, especially cytopenias, which, in some patients, may be symptomatic (e.g., hemolytic anemia, severe thrombocytopenia). Finally, one specific condition, pSS, presents indirectly: a fetal congenital heart block in the fetus of an asymptomatic pregnant woman, which leads to the discovery of underlying maternal anti-Ro antibodies. A significant percentage of these asymptomatic mothers will develop pSS. In all of these patients, a positive immunological result will lead to an early diagnosis of pSS several years before the onset of an overt sicca syndrome and will help prevent systemic complications (e.g., chronic organ damage, lymphoma) by ensuring their timely treatment.....continue reading here.
This article is targeted towards healthcare professionals so the language is technical; however I still recommend giving it a close look. I strongly agree with the authors' conclusion:
A greater understanding of the pathogenesis of systemic immune-mediated damage, along with active international collaborations to develop standardized guidelines, is critical.
Monday, November 24th, 2014 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My boss keeps touching my hand

My boss will sometimes touch my arm or hand. Most of the time I think that he does it to get my attention, although lately he seems to be doing it more often. But that could just mean that he is comfortable with me as I’m his secretary?

One afternoon, he grasped my fingers in both of his hands – he was asking me to do something, but he then held on to my fingers for a strangely long time. I flipped my wrists, effectively breaking the contact. Also, he has now taken to telling me that I am “perfect.” I arranged something tricky for him, and he touched my arm, smiled, and told me that I’m perfect.

I’ve noticed that he doesn’t touch any of the other employees, only me. I don’t know what way to take this and would appreciate an outside perspective.

Tell him that you’d like the touching to stop. This doesn’t have to be a big, awkward conversation that causes tension in your relationship — it’s all in how you say it. For instance: “Oh, I’m not a toucher!” — said cheerfully and briskly and then moving right along to something work-related.

If he continues after that or does anything else that makes you feel like he’s violating your boundaries, then it’s a more serious issue. But try this first and see it if solves the problem.

2. My manager sounded thrilled with my work, but my written review was less glowing

I have a question about performance reviews. My work is project-based and I work on five or six projects at any given time. Leaders from these projects gave input for my first performance review, and based on my interactions with them throughout the year, I was expecting pretty positive feedback. During my meeting with my supervisor to discuss the review, my supervisor said really positive things like “I got comments from your project leaders that you were a rock star on X project, indispensable on Z project, couldn’t have done it without you on Y project…” That was really great to hear, but then I discovered that in the written review that’s going into my HR file (which my supervisor wrote), the praise is all flat. It contains phrases like “competent project manager,” “able to juggle assignments well,” and “speaks articulately.” There is no mention of any of the really strong praise that I had heard personally throughout the year as well as from my supervisor in the review meeting itself.

Do you have any idea why that might be the case? Should I have asked my supervisor about why he didn’t include that praise? I didn’t really realize the discrepancy in the reviews until after our meeting was over and now I think I’ve waited too long to bring it up. I’m worried that this is going to set me up for a low raise when I feel that the quality of my work merits a more substantial one.

Some people are far less effusive in writing than they are in conversation, which might be the explanation here. But it’s absolutely reasonable to ask about it. I’d say something like, “Could I ask you about my written evaluation? When we’d talked, I had the sense that you were giving me a very positive assessment, but when I read the written review, it seemed a lot more tempered. I came away from our in-person conversation thinking I’d really done a great job, but the written review has me less sure.”

3. What’s the point of giving bonuses?

Please explain to me the point of bonuses in the workplace. I understand bonuses for exceeding sales quotas for sales people or a “sharing of the wealth” when a company has a spectacular year. But why give employees an “incentive” for what is basically doing the job they were hired to do? CEO’s who get many times their salary to efficiently manage a company, admission coordinators in health care who admit people, middle managers that get a bonus for the company meeting goals when they have no ability to affect those goals. How do these bonuses benefit the company?

Like any other compensation, they’re part of retaining and (to some extent) motivating people. Some bonuses mean “you did an exceptionally good job this year.” Others mean “the company did exceptionally well this year and we want to share some of the results of that with you.” That kind of thing builds loyalty in people and makes them feel like the company recognizes their work and like they’re sharing in its success.

You might think that the company could accomplish the same thing with a raise, but it’s often easier to give bonuses than raises — raises are generally permanent and can put people in a salary category that doesn’t quite make sense for their role. Bonuses allow you to give an extra shot of compensation without making it a forever thing.

4. What recruitment data should I be tracking?

I work for a nonprofit without an HR dept and I’ve inherited the intern recruitment process. (I work in marketing, so I don’t have training in recruitment.) We have a fairly competitive program, with dozens of applications each semester. But I’m not sure what (if anything) I should be tracking during recruitment.

I keep track of all the applications each semester, of course, so I can set up interviews and let candidates know if they’ve been selected or not. But after I’ve selected a candidate and notified the others, is it typical to keep some kind of spreadsheet or record of the past applications? Or is there something else people typically track when they’re recruiting?

It sounds like you’re not using an electronic application system, but rather just accepting resumes and cover letter that don’t get put into any broader system? That’s totally fine, and often makes perfect sense for smaller organizations. In that context, there’s not really much you need to track. I’d separate out any applications that are strong enough that you think you might want to reach out to them about future openings. And you might want to have a record of who’s applied for a job in the past and what they’ve applied for — in case they apply again, or someone else in your organization is meeting with them for some other reason. But that’s not necessary, just something some organizations find useful to do.

Some organizations also track stats on the demographics of their candidate pool, so they can watch to make sure that they’re recruiting and hiring a demographically diverse staff. But that’s usually something you don’t see with smaller organizations, in part because of the resources it takes to collect that information and in part because smaller employers aren’t typically subject to required EEOC reporting.

Also, you’re required by law to keep all applications filed away somewhere for one year (and for two years if you’re aware that the applicant is over 40 — which means you should just keep them all for two years to make it easier), in case an applicant later sues (so that their materials and your notes are available for any litigation). But other than that, there’s no standard set of stuff to track.

5. Does my employer have to give me time off to interview while I’m in my notice period?

I am looking to hand in my notice tomorrow and as yet still have to seek new employment. I just can’t take my current boss’s mood swings, screaming, shouting, and throwing stuff (not at me) any longer. But by law am I allowed to ask for time off to attend interviews while I am working my notice period? I know once I hand in my notice, he is going to be really difficult about things. I would just like to know the rules/laws of where I stand.

You’re certainly allowed to ask, but your employer isn’t obligated to grant you time off for interviewing. However, since you haven’t started job searching yet, it’s probably going to be a non-issue — it’s unlikely that you’re going to have interviews scheduled in the next two weeks if you haven’t sent out applications yet.

my boss keeps touching my hand, the point of bonuses, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink

  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories

  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast

  • Make your lunch

  • Put your keys somewhere obvious

  • Wash your face and brush your teeth

  • 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

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 08:18 pm


I’ve been ill and stressed and let the space by my bed get horrible. Ten minutes’ effort, and I like it again. (not pictured, d’s side of the bed because that’s his problem, although I did take the clean clothes out of the laundry basket in the hope he might put them away)

Monday, November 24th, 2014 01:13 am
Really good Huff Post piece on how normies make it difficult for wheelchair users with invisible disabilities. Rings absolutely true.

(And another Bendy speaking out, pro rata we must be one of the most published disability sub-groups!)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 11:21 am

A bit of a rough week, but with several high spots. The first of which was brunch with Colleen and Emmy at Salty's -- a local seafood place with a fantastic buffet on weekends. Turns out I get a senior discount. :P

I am cautiously optimistic about my mood, between selling the house and starting on l-tryptophan. I think it's generally better, but it's also more volatile -- I run out of cope and go into overload. Not good. Especially because it upsets Colleen, which sets up a positive feedback loop. (Positive in the feedback sense -- it has negative consequences, of course.)

Another high point was music night, Thursday after dinner. The original plan had been for a new friend of N's to come join us, but she ended up canceling. We had fun anyway -- playlist in the notes. We've decided to do it more often, and N is setting things up to spend more time in the Great Room. Which means I have to fix the control on the broken lift chair that we parked there.

To which end I tracked down a soldering iron. The one I bought because I couldn't find my good one, which is still in a box somewhere.

Looking at the notes, I seem to have been pretty productive this week. So... ok.

raw notes, with links )
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 12:06 pm
During the drive home last night, Cordelia expressed a desire to trade in her Cinderella ornament (a gift from her grandmother when she was about three) for something else. She said she'd like an animal ornament-- panda, owl, polar bear, or penguin. That led to me searching for such ornaments online when we got home. I still haven't decided if I'm going to buy any of them, but there are some gorgeous ornaments out there, and the majority of our ornaments are unbreakable (well, I'm sure one could if one tried, but they survive dropping just fine) and kind of dull bulbs. We got a whole bunch of those from Scott's parents the first year we had a decent sized tree, when Cordelia was a toddler. They're not outright ugly, but they're not, in my opinion, particularly pretty, either. We've also got other ornaments that were fine when Cordelia was small, but I don't think she really cares about the Sesame Street ornaments any more.

I'm thinking that some nice ornaments could make good stocking stuffers. Of course, I'm not so sure about putting something breakable into a stocking. I'm also not sure I can find something affordable that Scott would really like. (There are some cute robot ornaments that might work, but I don't know.)

Of course, using ornaments as stocking stuffers would also mean they wouldn't really go on the tree until next year. And do I really want to spend $70 or so on Christmas tree ornaments?
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 11:48 am
Would any of you who live in the Boston area be interested in a Christmas tree trimming party sometime the week after Thanksgiving? Probably a Friday night or Saturday afternoon/evening. I've never had one before, but last year was the first year I had a full-sized tree of my own, ever and I only got it about December 20th. I use an artificial tree because it's easier than keeping my cats from trying to drink the water or finding somewhere to plant a root-balled tree.

Let me know if you're interested and we'll figure out something!
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 11:23 am
Yesterday, Cordelia had a volleyball game a bit after eleven. The first game was close, but Cordelia's team won. The second game wasn't close at all. Cordelia's team lost by ten points. They came back to win the third game. That ended early enough (with fifteen minutes left in the allotted hour) that they did a fourth game, this one to fifteen points instead of to twenty five. Cordelia's team won that handily.

The team was having a bit of an off day. A couple of players who are usually quite solid served consistently into the net. One of them was sick earlier in the week, so that might have been what was going on with her. Cordelia served well. I think she only fell short once. She didn't do so well returning the ball, but she tried hard.

After the game, we went home and relaxed. Scott did go out grocery shopping, but other than that, we didn't do much.

At 5:30, we set out for Howell to take Cordelia to her cousin's birthday party. Cordelia didn't much want to go because she knew she wouldn't know anybody. She's a year and a half younger than her cousin, too, and not necessarily interested in what the older girls are. The party was laser tag at a big play area. The place had a giant play structure for the younger kids, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, the laser tag area and who knows what else.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot out near the laser tag place. For dinner, Scott and I had the choice of a Coney Island and an Arby's. We went with Leo's Coney Island. The food was adequate. The high point was the potato skins. Scott had chicken and rice. I had fish and chips. I didn't eat many of the fries, but I did enjoy the coleslaw that came with it. After the meal, we went across the street and got milkshakes at the Arby's.

There was an outlet mall nearby, so we wandered over there in hopes of finding something to fill our time (the party ran two and a half hours. Dinner filled about forty five minutes). There was a very small Toys 'R' Us. We got a couple of Despicable Me minion toys, and for some reason, they had a cheap copy of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and I decided to grab that because I certainly liked the movie $6 worth.

From there, we crossed the parking lot to a Gold Toe store to buy socks for Scott to wear to work. I picked up some knee socks, too. I'm hoping that one of the black pairs will work for Cordelia as part of her concert outfit, but she says she doesn't like knee highs because they inevitably go up over her knees. Oh, well, I can wear them.

Then we went a couple of doors down to a store called Crocs. Cordelia has been wearing the same pair of pink crocs for two or three summers, and we thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to get her a bigger pair. We even found some in teal, her favorite color. Those will be Christmas presents, too, as there's no hurry to give them to her. It's not like she can wear them any time soon.

Finally, we stopped at a game and calendar store (I forget the name). They had a bunch of stuffed animals, and we considered getting a panda to add to Cordelia's collection. We decided, however, that Cordelia's not really so much into stuffed animals any more. A new one would simply collect dust. We found a copy of the panda calendar we get her every year, the WWF one. Scott also decided to get her a new version of Apples to Apples.

We ended up back at the laser tag place for the last fifteen minutes or so of the party, just in time for cake. The girls weren't eager to have the party end. Scott's sister did tell us that one of the girls had an accident from laughing too hard. Scott's sister had to run out and buy her sweatpants and underwear. (That decided her to leave a bigger tip for the party assistant. She'd been unsure of how much to tip, but then she remembered that he had to cope with that.)

In the end, Cordelia wasn't sorry to have gone. She did say that all of the other girls talked a lot about their school and their teachers and that she felt a bit left out when they did that, but she seems to have had a good time.

There was an accident on 14 in between where we get on it from 23 and our exit. We were afraid we'd be stuck for a long time because traffic was crawling, but that only lasted about five minutes. The car they were trying to clear off the road looked like it was in really terrible shape, and it was facing against traffic which makes me wonder.
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 09:07 am
They've developed a blight-resistant American Chestnut tree! That link goes to a fundraising page -- the team behind it, at SUNY-ESF, is trying to start a reforestation plan. Contributions are tax-deductable, and they're so close to being funded.
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 04:39 am
I'm trying to be more diligent about reposting these regularly, really I am.

Behind the cut: reviews of Old Demons of the First Class, Dwarf, The Lion, Rage, Half-Elf, Morocco, Lear, Blood, Sjöfn, Haunted, Good, Elf, Mr Vandemar, Black Lotus, Coyote

15 reviews )
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 12:30 am
I fell hopelessly down the Pinterest rabbit hole the other day, and spent an hour or so looking at photos of several different types of Christmas flowers. I love poinsettias, and usually pack a giant basket with several plants every year. They're so pretty and festive.

Lulu's never been impressed by poinsettias. 

But I also think that amaryllis and paperwhites are beautiful. And, on one of my exercise/shopping outings, noticed inexpensive kits that contained the bulbs, growing medium, a pot, and instructions. Hm. Interesting.. I thought. I snagged two bright red amaryllis kits and one box of paperwhites. And because I thought the black plastic pots included in the kits looked pretty ugly, headed over to Goodwill where I scored three white ceramic pots for a little bit of nothing.

I love Goodwill.

So I dutifully potted them following the package instructions and am spending far too much time with chin in hand scrutinizing these things in hopes that they'll flower by Christmas.

It appears that the paperwhites are pretty active little bulbs. I swear I can see new growth on them from one day to the next.

I hopped online to read more about forcing bulbs, and realized with some dismay that my paperwhites although quick to grow and flower apparently......are stinky when they blossom.

Oh, no.

Since my sense of smell is not great, I'm not so worried about my olfactories being offended, but am concerned what John and our holiday guests would think after getting a nose full of whatever this smell is. I'm thinking at present that I'll just wait and see exactly how smelly the blossoms are. Maybe I'll just put a nice smelling candle next to them.

While I was reading about paperwhite smelliness, I also came across an intriguing article  from Cornell University entitled "Pickling Your Paperwhites" that discussed another of these bulb's drawbacks: apparently they grow so quickly that their stems become very long and "leggy" and may not be able to support the weight of the blooms. The article claimed that if one fed the bulbs a mixture of alcohol and water, that the stems would be shorter and sturdier.

I was intrigued. Of course I'm going to try this.

This should be interesting.

I was going to make some kind of snarky comment here about keeping the plant water away from John and Greg --- but realized that they like their alcohol far more concentrated than the 7 parts water to 1 part vodka.

I'll keep y'all posted.
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 01:16 am
She picked up soup for the girls. Lots of soup. Lots and lots of soup. I am 87% certain that she did this specifically because I said I was running into the city tomorrow to do just that errand.

Not that I actually care who picks up soup or whatever for the girls. Seriously, that's a low-level issue. But it's just so typical of her that if I say I'm going to do something, she runs ahead and does it. She used to edit my essays for me if I asked her to type them up. Without asking, and - once I caught on - against my requests to please, please, leave them alone. Not just proofreading stuff, but doing rewrites. I'm sure she thought she was being helpful, but... yeah, not so much. And now, I'm sure she thinks she's being helpful again, but I can't help thinking that it's really about being the hero, the one who is feeding the girls in their hour of need. Which is ridiculous, because it's just soup and really nobody thinks it's that big a deal.

It just bugs me. If she'd asked, I'd've been like "yeah, whatever". Or if she'd done this before I mentioned it, same deal. Or if she'd bought a couple of cans while she was out, this is all normal behavior. But I say I'm going out to get some soup and pudding and whatnot for the girls, and she restocks the pantry for me! She got Vienna sausages, guys, and I'm not even sure the girls will eat those. (I point this out, and she goes "Well, I checked with you!" No, she asked about Chef Boyardee, and I carefully said that a single can wasn't going to do much harm, because that answer was better than arguing. She didn't ask about anything else. I should've known she wasn't going to stop at a single can of ravioli.)

And it's not even the soup! It's just so typical of her. Of course, this never happens when it's something I really would like to get done. If I say I'm going to be doing a lot of laundry, she never steps in and does that for me, and I think she knows I hate doing the laundry. Usually she says "Oh, no, you can't, I have a load to put in!", except she never seems to have a load to put in unless she sees me heading towards the washer. (Well, she will put things into the dryer if I ask, but I have to ask. Which is fine, but why is she willing to spontaneously lug 40 cans of soup home from the city but not to surprise me with folded clothes?) And she certainly doesn't astonish me by taking out her own garbage. But soup, that she can get, totally unsolicited.

Ugh, I'm not even sure if this is a ridiculous and petty complaint or if I'm actually onto something here. (That's not a request for input, unless that input is unusually insightful.) Maybe some depressing world news about wars and global warming and shit will help me get some perspective (and if that isn't a tidy segue, I don't know what is!)


There’s growing evidence that global warming is driving crazy winters

Biden denounces Russia, but says Ukraine must do more to clean up its governance

A Yeshiva Graduate Fights for Secular Studies in Hasidic Education

ISIS making inroads in Libya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

The 'Caliphate's' Colonies: Islamic State's Gradual Expansion into North Africa

Madagascar plague outbreak kills 40, says WHO

Are farm crops key players in changes to seasonal carbon cycle?

Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabab 'wants religious war'

FBI arrests two would-be Ferguson bomb suspects: law enforcement source

A close look at a common North American songbird, the white-throated sparrow, reveals that it may be evolving a second pair of sex chromosomes (older article)

New York City Police Officer Shoots And Kills Unarmed Black Man For Using Stairs In Building

Faith groups divided over God’s role in climate change, natural disasters

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

Republicans Said China Wouldn't Follow Through on its Climate Pledges. Looks Like They Were Wrong.

Before Snowden, a debate inside NSA
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

Sam in boxIt’s the weekend free-for-all.

This 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.

Sunday free-for-all – November 23, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, November 22nd, 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

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 08:19 pm


Finally got out of my shitty state enough to not only clean my living room but also to move my furniture around so that it’s more functional for me.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 06:28 pm


This is what happens when you work 55 hours in a week and when you finally have a day off its pouring outside… Now to nap before going to see Hunger Games.

Done with a handful of 20/10s. It was wonderful.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 04:13 pm
Heat has brought the swelling down entirely; the hard lump is gone. The entire area is still tender to the touch, but my ear feels better, and it no longer hurts to swallow or to chew. We're going to be out and about for the next few hours, but I'll apply heat again before bed. I wish I knew what brought this on so that I could prevent it happening again. I suppose I'll just have to label it as one of those weird things bodies do from time to time.
Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 03:29 pm
I've now tried alcohol for the knot on my jaw. It's helped a bit. I'm not sure if it's relaxing the muscles or simply numbing the pain. There's still a biggish lump there, and it's tender to the touch. When I chew, I get shooting pains. They're strong, but they have this edge that's almost tickling, just not so good. It reminds me a little of the sensations I get when I eat something strongly sour but more painful. Now swallowing hurts a little. I think the swelling has extended to start to go down my neck, so maybe I have some sort of lymph node infection, but I wouldn't think that would start at the hinge of my jaw.

At [personal profile] silverr's suggestion, I'm going to try applying heat. I've had my rice pack in the microwave and overheated it a bit. When it cools enough not to hurt me, I'll hold it against my jaw.
Friday, November 21st, 2014 02:54 pm
But I'm still really, really skeeved out that the story of Matt Taylor (among others) accomplishing an incredible scientific feat has become about not what he said, not what he did, but what he wore to the press conference.

I'm not sure if this is extremely clueless, or the most brilliant piece of impromptu satire I've seen all month. I actually asked them outright, but no response yet.