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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 04:11 pm


Ask UfYH: There’s No Right Way to Clean


Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of ineffective ways to clean, but most of them involve whatever you’re cleaning ending up dirtier than when you started. For almost everything, though, there’s no one correct way to clean something, and thinking that there is just leads to a whole lot of nothing getting done. (more…)

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This week’s Ask UfYH!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 03:30 pm
The journalist Steven Sotloff has been murdered by ISIS.

Since I've posted that, I may as well post the other more or less related links that have accumulated in the past few hours.

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all Syrians displaced

The Pentagon is denying that U.S. troops are fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq—but eyewitness accounts and Kurdish officials tell a different story.

And, somewhat related, Metafilter had up this rather depressing ad for Save the Children. There are actually two morals hidden in their "one year" video, the first being "donate money!" and the second being "pay attention" - after all, one of the signs that the shit is hitting the fan is their neighbors hurriedly packing their car, presumably to get someplace safer.

But the point is that if you're at all concerned about the many many (many) wars going on right now, they're apparently one of the most legit organizations out there, with a solid 4 rating on Charity Navigator, with nearly all of their money going to their programs, which all seem to be pretty helpful and non-controversial. So if you're thinking ahead to "how am I going to spend my charitable money this year?", that's one option.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 02:46 pm


So my bedroom has been in a bit of a disaster condition for a while now. In the “before” picture, yes, those are two regular mattresses stacked on top of each other, directly on the floor, with the bedframe sort of hanging out in the middle of everything. I’ve been sleeping like that for a year. A WHOLE YEAR! However, the box spring that came with one of the mattresses was 150 miles away, and arranging to get it to my house has been a disaster— but this weekend it arrived! Woo-hoo!

Now, I could have let the box spring hang out in my hallway for a long while… excuses excuses… or I could buckle down and tackle this room. After several 30/15s (and time to do the laundry) the bedframe is put together, with a box spring on it, and just ONE regular mattress, and all the bedding has been washed and the bed made.

I can’t wait to sleep in my “big girl bed” tonight! :)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 06:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I see a lot of questions from people wondering if they can ask employers why they weren’t hired. What I’m wondering is almost the opposite: can I ask an employer why they did decide to hire me? I’d be awfully curious to know at what point in the process they decided to choose me, and what the deciding factor was. It doesn’t quite seem like the kind of thing I can ask, though: a bit fishing-for-compliments, and a bit Captain Obvious (since the fact that they did hire me in a way answers the question by itself: because they thought I was the best fit for the job). (But, like, whyyyy specifically, I want to know!)

I feel like asking could be awkward for me and for them, so left to myself I wouldn’t do it. But I’ve seen you suggest some elegantly professional scripts to handle situations that I would probably have floundered around in, so. I thought it might be worth it to check and see if you think it’s a thing that can be asked in a professionally appropriate way, or if I should just not do it. Or if it even might be more of a down-the-road thing, like, after I’ve worked there a year or two I’d be in more of a place to turn to my boss and say, “Hey, by the way, I’m curious: I wonder what made you decide to hire me back then?”

It does come across as fishing for compliments … and really, you know the answer: They hired you because you were the best qualified of all the candidates they talked to.

I think what you want to hear are specifics: They loved your answer to the question about X, and were fascinated by your experience in Y, and they were charmed by your poise and sense of humor, and your personal thank-you note pushed you over the edge. But in reality, that’s rarely the real answer. It’s more often about the whole picture — you had great experience in X and Y (but so did two other candidates) and you seemed highly organized (but so did those other two candidates) and you seemed to really get what they do, and they all got along with you, and there were no red flags.

So you’re not really asking what made them hire you — you’re asking “what do you like about me?” And that’s a more awkward question, and if you ask it right after you start, you risk undermining yourself and coming across as lacking confidence.

I do still think you can ask it — but I’d wait until you’ve been there a while and have more of a rapport with your manager. (Of course, at that point you may not care anymore, and your boss may not remember the sort of specifics that would be interesting anyway.)

can I ask my new manager why she hired me? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 05:55 pm
In reassembling my workspace after the window installation, i've given up on the "no cats on my desk" rule and bowed to the inevitable.
Read more... )
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

When you’re managing remote employees, it can take longer to realize when there’s a problem than with employees who you see every day.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about three signs that a remote worker has checked out, and what you can do about it when it happens. You can read it here.

how to know a remote worker has checked out – and what to do about it was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work in a small office where our desks are stationed together, facing each other. One of my coworkers uses e-cigarettes at her desk and the menthol vapor is very strong. The scent upsets another one of my coworkers and as a person who has cystic lungs, I worry about the effects of the chemicals in the e-cigarettes.

I think it’s great that she quit smoking, but I wonder if it would be worth asking my manager to see if she can take it outside.

Yes. There’s actually a growing movement to ban e-cigarettes from workplaces, because studies show that toxins can be present in the exhaled vapor, and many people report that they aggravate their allergies.

So far, three states (New Jersey, North Dakota, and Utah) include e-cigarettes in their overall workplace smoking bans, and a quickly growing list of cities are banning them in public spaces and offices. Plenty of employers are banning them too, including big ones like General Electric, CVS Caremark, Starbucks, and Target.

It’s entirely reasonable for an employer to include e-cigarettes in their broader smoking policy, and you might suggest to your manager that your workplace do exactly that. They probably just haven’t had the impetus to think about whether and how to address it, but it’s a pretty easy call to make once they do.

should companies let employees use e-cigarettes at their desks? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 11:04 am


Well this is fucking embarrassing to post, but I’m doing it anyway. We’ve had this chair with a growing pile for the last several months. I’m not sure what started it, but it got out of control. Used an unfuck your habitat challenge to get the shit cleaned up. Now to rest and I’ll do another challenge or two tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 02:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

The other day, we had a delivery (Graeter’s ice cream, yumm!!) that included some dry ice. After making sure the kids understood that they couldn’t touch the dry ice, they were allowed to do what they wanted with it. They wanted to touch the fog, to feel how cold it was. They wanted to pour it […]
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 09:14 am


The kids start back at school tomorrow so I’m making a start on the epic house clean I want to do between now and Christmas.

So, one KALLAX and eight DRÖNA later….

Gotta love IKEA. :)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 08:31 am
I declared that she doesn't have to, so long as she changes into her bathing suit and enters the pool area during her classes.

Jenn wanted to know why, Eva didn't want to tell us, and the whole conversation culminated in Eva stripping off her panties and putting them on her head to simulate a swim cap, before tossing them dramatically on the floor and then striding off. She returned a minute later to hug them, mummering "It's okay Purply" as she did so.

I feel we have gained a new insight into Eva's thought processes.


Pakistan parliament backs embattled prime minister as crisis deepens

Police abandon posts in Lesotho, fear for lives

As Russia Invades Ukraine, the Kremlin’s Far Right Allies Meet in Yalta

Ukraine's defence minister has accused Russia of launching a "great war" that could claim tens of thousands of lives.

Nato to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

Pro-Russia Rebels Say They Will Settle For Autonomy In Ukraine

Baltic States Fear Putin Amid Escalation in Ukraine

Kazakhstan is latest Russian neighbour to feel Putin's chilly nationalist rhetoric

Tiny Genetic Differences between Humans and Other Primates Pervade the Genome

Presence of Bedbugs in Subway Scares Riders, Transit Workers

The Central African Republic’s sectarian civil war has divided a once peaceful nation, and pitted brother against brother.

Nigeria's Boko Haram 'seize' Bama town in Borno

Nigerian Military Failing to Defeat Boko Haram, Report Says

What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa

Scientists Develop Simpler, Cheaper Way to Detect Ebola

Doctors and Nurses Risk Everything to Fight Ebola in West Africa

Trillions of Tiny Plastic Pieces Reside in Arctic Ice

Fast-food workers plan acts of civil disobedience. Another article here.

Burger King has maneuvered to cut U.S. tax bill for years

Gross Photos Show Sewer Workers Battling A 'Fatberg' The Size Of A Boeing 747 Under London

Kurd Rebels Fighting Islamic State Boost Hand for Turk Talks

U.N. to investigate alleged human rights abuses by ISIS

ISIS Turning Old Enemies into Awkward Allies

Captured IS Suicide Bomber Reveals Threat

Somali officials say U.S. struck where al Shabaab were meeting
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 08:40 am
Not a lot happened for me yesterday. Scott and Cordelia went to the Saline Fair with a friend of Cordelia's and her father. Every year on Labor Day, they have a deal at the fair to let people pay a flat fee ($10 this year) and get an armband that lets them ride anything as many times as they want. From what Scott said, Cordelia and her friend were pretty independent this year, going from ride to ride unaccompanied and only coming back to their fathers when they wanted money for food or drink. The fair isn't huge, so this isn't as big a deal as it might be, but I'm still glad for Cordelia.

In the evening, we went out to Applebee's for dessert. I told Scott that he owed me a dessert for Saturday night when we didn't get one, and he didn't mind going out for that. I always feel like a child when I make requests like that-- I can't drive, so I can't take myself out. I have to depend on Scott, and he's often so exhausted that it feels like a terrible imposition. It feels like, because I can't drive, there're a lot of adult things that I simply can't do.

After getting dessert, we stopped at Busch's for a few grocery items, the things we didn't get on Saturday because it was going to be so long until we got the groceries home. Scott used to go to Busch's for produce and meat and then to Kroger for everything else, but lately, he's just been going to Kroger. I regret that because Busch's produce really is better than Kroger's, but I can see his point. Stopping two different places makes the shopping take longer.

Cordelia got off to school just fine this morning. She was eager to leave and got us out the door about twenty minutes before she absolutely had to be there. She insisted that I come with her because she wanted my help to find her classroom. As it happened, some of her friends were there at the front door, and she decided that she'd just follow them and that she didn't need me after all, so I just went to the office and turned in her paperwork. She refused to carry her own paperwork. She said her backpack was heavy enough as it was. I don't really think that six pieces of paper would have added much weight, but she was adamant.

We still don't know how much lunch will cost. Elementary school kids pay $2.50 for a lunch. Middle school students pay $3.00, but they get more food (and more options). Nobody seems to know whether the sixth graders at Cordelia's school will be paying middle school prices or getting middle school sized meals. I wrote a check for $30, figuring that that's divisible by either $2.50 or $3.00. The secretary said that Cordelia will find out at lunch time. She couldn't offer me any other way of finding out. Hopefully, if the sixth graders get elementary sized meals, they'll take advantage of the salad bar that comes free with every lunch (kids can eat as much from the salad bar as they want).
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 12:30 am
Gee, guys. I meant to tell y'all where we went; didn't mean to leave that little bit of info out of my last post!

We drove east along the Columbia River gorge till we hit the Blue Mountain range; then went into southern Idaho and Northern Nevada. It was beautiful but very hot and as expected -- very very dry.

When we headed Goldie west and as the climate changed from arid to the wonderful lush Pacific Northwest, I felt my whole body sigh with relief as the moisture rushed back to my eyes and lungs and skin.

So much fun to travel; so many good memories; but so good to be home.

I'm going to take time to rest up for a few days, so to those that have emailed questions to me, I think it would be wise to allow my brain to recover before I respond. Otherwise my answers would be even more silly than usual.

Heading to bed. See y'all tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. How should I handle customer complaints about my coworkers?

I work in an office with 10 coworkers and 2 bosses. There have been problems in the past with issues like backbiting and tattling. I really hate this type of behavior and have promised myself I would not participate in this type of behavior. I have never gone to the boss to “tell” on a coworker; I have always worked any issues out with coworkers, because I myself would hate to be “told on” and get in trouble for something I didn’t even realize I did. The bosses have told us to work things out amongst ourselves anyway. Thankfully, I haven’t really had many problems over the 20 years I’ve been at this office.

Today, though, I saw a client from our office in the community. She had scathing complaints about her treatment at the front desk of our office. (Two people work at the front, the rest of us in the back.) She really was treated poorly, and I feel compelled to do something about her complaint, but I don’t want to tattle to the bosses. However if I go just to the front desk women, I feel like nothing will change except they will treat me badly. I can take it if they hate me, but I don’t want our practice to lose any more clients because of this treatment. I know it’s happened before because other former clients have told me. I really care about our clients and want them to stay. Bottom line, I don’t want to tell the bosses, but they would probably care to know that their practice is losing clients. What are the chances of the 2 front desk women changing the way they treat clients if I’m the only one to say something to them? One has been there for 15 years, and the other, 8 years.

Slim to none, I’d guess. If you want to do something about it, you’ve got to talk with someone with authority over them. And that’s not tattling (a concept that doesn’t really apply here anyway); it’s telling your boss pretty important information that was shared with you that affects the business. When they told you to work things out among yourselves, that presumably referred to interpersonal issues, not to major business priorities or customer concerns.

You noted yourself that your bosses would probably want to know that the practice is losing clients and why. And of course — what business owner wouldn’t? Go say something like this: “Several clients have complained to me recently about their treatment by the front desk staff. I don’t think I have the standing to handle this on my own, so I wanted to simply relay their feedback to you.”

2. Discrimination in hiring

My question is about the possible existence of discrimination (likely some of it subconscious) in hiring. I’m an African American male in my late 30′s with Bachelors of Science in MIS coupled with prestigious certifications (PMP, ITIL, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple etc.) and 19 years of IT experience, 15 of which have been at a managerial level. I’ve also been accepted to a decent school’s college of engineering graduate program, although I haven’t begun yet because it’s expensive to get a masters and I’m unsure of the return on that investment. That being said, I’ve been with the same mid-sized company for quite some time and recently begun to dip my toe into the idea of working somewhere else (maybe somewhere with a tuition reimbursement program). I have a outstanding employment history and educational background but I’ve been getting rejection letters stating basically that I’m not qualified to be an IT manager or IT project manager when that’s what I do.

I tend to be on the positive “can do” side of thinking, I’m smart, competent, and have a demeanor that makes my customers and employees feel at ease around me. Lately my confidence has been starting to waver though because of these rejection letters before an interview. I’m not one to typically racialize things but it’s hard not to think something is up when you have a “usually” African American name and on most online applications they ask you what your racial box is. I don’t want to sound like I think I’m owed a job, but I only apply to things that are genuinely in my wheelhouse and I think I would at least make it to the interview pool of candidates. When you read about these blind experiments that African Americans are 50% less likely to be called for an interview and you know you’re employable with a strong and clean background, and it happens over and over again, you really start to wonder. So, my question for you is: is there a conscious or subconscious devaluing that can take place when a African American male applies for a managerial positions – a tax so to speak? I realize this can be a complex or awkward question to ask.

Ugh, yes. You’ve got two tricky factors in play here: First, that racial bias does still existing in hiring, and second, that the job market sucks.

On the first one, research is very clear that racial bias still occurs in hiring. It’s more likely these days to be unconscious than conscious — which actually can make it harder to combat, since people who are convinced they’re unbiased can be resistant to reexamining their own preferences.

But you’ve also got to factor in the second point: Loads of great, well-qualified candidates get tons of those rejection letters, regardless of race or other possible areas of discrimination. It’s a reality of the job market — great people get rejected all the time. And I think you might be taking the wording of the letters too literally — they don’t really mean that you’re not qualified; they mean that they’re talking to other candidates who they’ve decided are more qualified. (And sometimes “more qualified” really means “we had 30 great candidates and only time to talk to five of them.”)

So what do you do with all that? What I’d focus on in your shoes would be first making sure that your application materials are as kick-ass as they can be (since most people’s are lackluster, statistically speaking there’s a good chance that yours could be stronger too) and then networking the hell out of your network. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and good luck.

3. My colleagues don’t want me rinsing my breast pump in the kitchen

I recently returned from maternity leave to my job at a law firm, and am breastfeeding, so I need to pump twice a day. So far, they have done a fabulous job of accommodating this. I’ve been provided an empty office with a couch right next to my shared office, and have been told it’s mine to use whenever I need, for as long as I need. Until a few days ago, my routine after pumping was to pack up everything is my discreet, purse-like pumping bag; walk two doors down to our kitchen nook to rinse my plastic pump attachments in the sink; wrap said attachments in a towel; and bring them back to my desk.

Well, several days ago, one of my bosses pulled me into her office and said she had received complaints about me rinsing out my attachments in the kitchen sink, and asked me to instead use the sink in the shower room at the opposite end of my floor. She assured me that I shouldn’t feel bad, but “some people are just really freaked out by breastfeeding.”

Now, part of me feels badly that I made anyone uncomfortable, but the other part of me is rolling my eyes and thinking they need to get over it. Admittedly, I’m very desensitized to all things nursing-related. In addition to this being the second baby I’ve breastfed, I have many girlfriends and family members who breastfeed as well, so I’m around it all the time. Therefore, if I saw a coworker rinsing out pump parts in the sink, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash (here is what the attachments look like, in case you’re unfamiliar). However, I can appreciate that nursing has only recently re-emerged as mainstream, and some of the older attorneys and secretaries I work with may not be used to it.

What do you and your readers think? I don’t plan on pushing back on this, since the only real hardship it’s causing is an extra long walk to the other sink. I’d just be interested in your thoughts, and am very open to perspectives that differ from mine.

Lame, lame, lame. Lame of the people who complained, and even more lame of your boss to pass their complaints along to you rather than telling them that the company supports nursing moms and to get over it.

4. Can I ask for relocation assistance if I’ve already relocated?

I recently (one month ago) relocated to a large city in an effort to secure a job. I have an interview scheduled this week, and the job posting for this position indicates that relocation assistance is offered to the right candidate.

Can I/should I still ask for relo assistance even though I have already relocated? I am living temporarily with my brother until I can get a job and find a home. Wondering if I can ask for assistance to move closer to the job site since this is still a long commute from my brother’s house.

Generally no, relocation assistance isn’t retroactive. It’s provided to make it possible for you to move to accept a job. Since you’ve already made your move, it wouldn’t normally come into play.

Asking to use it to shorten an otherwise long commute could be reasonable, depending on how long of a commute we’re talking about. But it sounds like you’re planning to move out of your brother’s house regardless, once you have a job, so I’m not sure there’s an argument for relocation help here that is going to make sense to an employer.

5. Are these bad signs?

Generally, if the hiring manager does not ask for your references or does not give you a business card or does not return your thank-you email, are these all bad signs?

Nope, these are normal things that don’t mean anything either way. Some employers don’t check references at all, or reach out later in the process for them. Some people don’t even have business cards anymore, or don’t use them much. And thank-you’s aren’t typically meant to be replied to. So there’s nothing here to read into — and you will be much happier if you put this job out of your mind and move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they contact you.

how to handle customer complaints about coworkers, discrimination in hiring, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, September 1st, 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

  • 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

Monday, September 1st, 2014 04:37 pm


Got a little depressed in August when I realized I couldn’t afford to take any of the art classes I was looking at (that were actually on days I could have taken them) and got stressed out waiting for hubby to find out whether or not he had any work from September on. The result was the office got piled up with paperwork that needed to be filed, art supplies that needed to be put away, and just junk in general. But hubby now has a full time job through the end of the year, I signed up for an online class, and I’ve had two days off so I was ready to tackle the office to try and get it back to the start point (and I’m posting pictures to remind myself what it’s supposed to look like.)

I spent three 20/10s working on it so far and I’m taking a long break now, mostly because the paperwork that need filing and the art supplies all go down in the basement which involves running up and down two flights of stairs and I can only do that so many times in one cleaning. Still have a bit more to so but the desk is clean! Hope to have the rest done tonight.

The goal for the rest of the year is to get into the habit of spending 10 minutes before going to bed cleaning the office so I don’t end up running up and down the stairs so many times in one cleaning.

Monday, September 1st, 2014 04:14 pm


I figured out that one episode of “Welcome to Night Vale” is about 20 minutes. Which means I can clean while listening, take a 10 minute break, and then listen to another episode while I clean. And so on into eternity.

The City Council should be pleased.

Not that I would ask. That’s madness.

We’re pretty big fans of WtNV here at UfYH HQ.

Monday, September 1st, 2014 08:54 pm

Posted by Tab

Okay, due to popular demand the next page is going up wednesday!

In con news I’m going to Glasgow MCM Comic Con this weekend- which is really far away so I won’t be back until Tuesday! That means I’ll be livestreaming Tuesday 9am and 8pm instead of Monday. Scottish lovelies please come over and say hi, it would be lovely to meet you, or see you for the second time!

Also, if you haven’t seen my new Minority Monster comics, you should go check them out!

Monday, September 1st, 2014 01:30 pm
So my mom took them back to the fair today so she could do it.

And I have nothing to do. I am so bored.


The Navy Tests Its Ships in This Indoor Ocean

One Of The Best Examples Of Collective Intelligence You'll Ever See

Fresh clashes erupt in Golan Heights

Disputed Kurdish oil tanker reappears off Texas coast, still full

Germany to send Iraqi Kurds enough weapons for 4,000 fighters

Pakistani protesters clash with police, soldiers secure state TV

An Indian woman who swam across a river swollen by monsoon rain in her ninth month of pregnancy has had a baby boy.

We Can't Fix Climate Change Without Fixing Global Diets

No more pause: Warming will be non-stop from now on

After unrest over shooting, Ferguson police now wear body cameras

Guantanamo Defense Lawyer Resigns, Says U.S. Case Is 'Stacked'

Russia and China launch gas pipeline

Hong Kong braces for protests as China rules out full democracy

Japan and India vow to boost defense ties during summit

Anger As Annual Dolphin Hunt Begins In Japan

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Louisiana from enforcing its restrictive new abortion law.

Ukraine said one of its naval vessels came under artillery attack from the shore on Sunday, in what pro-Russian rebels claimed as the first sea victory of their separatist war.

Iraq's Sunnis ready to fight IS group

Rise of Islamic State in Southeast Asia

Israel has announced plans to expropriate 4 sq km of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

Court Catches FedEx Cheating Employees of Their Benefits
Monday, September 1st, 2014 12:34 pm
We spent most of yesterday with Scott's family. I took my laptop with me because we expected that everybody but me would go out on the boat because the weather was good. As it happened, no boating happened. We have no idea why. It wasn't raining. It wasn't even threatening rain.

We went to the library before going to Scott's parents' place. Cordelia had a hold that she decided she didn't want after all. I had about as many books as CDs, so I had a lot to check out. We decided to skip bubble tea because we were running quite late (Scott dillydallied all morning and didn't get into the shower until after noon). I'd promised Scott's parents we'd be there at two, and it was one thirty by the time we got out of the library. We had to stop to buy a loaf of bread on our way out of town because we flaked on making one ourselves. Oh, well, Zingerman's farmhouse wheat is probably better than anything we could make.

We stopped at Burger King for lunch on the way north. Cordelia and I both had oreo shakes while Scott had lime ginger ale. The Burger King where we stop on these trips has a drink machine that does all sorts of blended flavors. I think there are six different options for ginger ale. There are only two for rootbeer, though. I haven't checked any of the other options.

Once we were at Scott's parents' place, Scott and Cordelia played cards with Scott's mother and sister and our niece. I sat with Scott's father and brother-in-law and watched golf. I wasn't interested in golf, but there wasn't room at the table for someone who couldn't play. I felt like it would be rude to pull out my laptop or my e-reader, so I was pretty bored.

We had dinner about six, chicken, broccoli, salad and bread. After the meal, Scott got his brother and his brother's family on his iPhone via FaceTime. We talked to them for quite a while. Their younger daughter turned four last week, and our sister-in-law's birthday is this coming week. We were going to put candles on the pie we were to have for dessert, but nobody could find any candles.

After we had pie, most of us sat on the sun porch and talked. We stayed until a little after eight. We took a detour on the way home to get bubble tea. It was really crowded near Bubble Island. We were lucky in our timing. There was only one group in front of us, but behind us, the line went all the way to the door with a lot of crowding. It was late at night for me to have a beverage that large, particularly one with caffeine in it (it's green tea with flavoring), but I ended up sleeping okay.
Monday, September 1st, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I had a phone interview with a company that let me go a month ago, for a position in a different part of the company. During the interview, the interviewing manager put me on hold to discuss a budget question with a director who walked in. I know that it’s rude for the interviewee to do that. Does the same apply to the interviewer? I didn’t get the job, but I was curious about etiquette from that end.

Rightly or wrongly, there’s a higher tolerance for interviewers being interrupted during an interview than there would be for a candidate taking a cell phone call or otherwise interrupting the interview.

The reasoning is that the interviewer is at work, doing their job; interviewing you is part of that, but they might occasionally need to field interruptions, just as might happen if they were meeting with colleagues. On the other hand, you as the candidate have presumably cleared your schedule for the meeting and aren’t on the clock.

You can poke holes in this, of course. For instance, you probably wouldn’t have been put on hold if you were an important customer. But the reality is, you’re not an important customer in the “paying them large amounts of money” sense; you’re more akin to a colleague. And colleagues do sometimes get interrupted.

But yes, this is tied up in the power dynamics that exist in interviews. There’s often a sense that the candidate is there to impress and the interviewer is there to be impressed, resulting in differences in what each can get away with. And even with employers who are pretty good about not buying into that paradigm — employers who recognize that interviews are a two-way conversation, that top candidates will be assessing them right back, and that that’s a good thing — there are still some interviewing conventions most of us have bought into, rightly or wrongly, and different standards for interruptions is one of them.

P.S. Since this is Labor Day, this is the final post for today!

double standards: why your interviewer can take interruptions during an interview but you can’t was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, September 1st, 2014 10:31 am
So, the other day I mentioned that Steve Rogers almost certainly knows the Little Red Songbook. (You will never, ever be able to convince me that Steve, whose formation of political consciousness would have happened during the Great Depression, is not at the very least extremely pro-labor, if not an outright socialist.) Then I thought, hrm, a lot of what I know out of the Little Red Songbook is quite possibly more recent: what portion of it would Steve know?

Long story short (you should all know how I roll by now), this has led to a week of researching the shit out of things to date particular songs, then listening carefully to as many versions of them as I could find to find the version that would be closest to the version Steve would've known it as. And the next thing I knew, I had a mix. (There's some fic in there, too, and I was going to write more, but I wanted to post this today instead of waiting.)

If Steve was in a union at any point (and I don't think he was, but depending on what Bucky was doing for a living, Bucky probably would've been), he likely wouldn't have been a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, aka the Wobblies -- the heyday of the IWW was the period from about 1910 to 1924, and what Steve would've thought of as a union would not have precisely been the Wobblies' idea of one. (The difference between industrial unionism and craft unionism is a huge distinction that is waaaay beyond the scope of this entry, but was a major point of contention in labor organizing until at least WWII. Suffice it to say, what you think of when you hear 'union' is almost certainly a craft union.)

Still, even in the post-WWII period when the Wobblies were considered horribly dangerous, seditious and radical, and IWW membership had declined sharply, these songs stuck around and were still sung. (And I think Joe Hill, who wrote a lot of these, would've liked that. As he said, once: "A pamphlet is only read once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over again.")

This is not the entirety of the Little Red Songbook as Steve would have known it; there are about twice as many in the editions from his time that haven't really survived in anything other than lyric form, or that aren't sung or aren't recorded. But everything on this mix is a song Steve and Bucky could have and probably would have known.

And I'm posting this not only to share some of the music Steve would have known, but because today is Labor Day, and because in the US we celebrate a watered-down version of it, Labor Day at the beginning of September instead of International Workers' Day on May 1, and if you brought some of those labor leaders of 1914 forward and showed them the world of 2014, they'd celebrate how far we've come while still being damn upset at how far we still have to go. And because:

When I went to high school -- that's about as far as I got -- reading my U.S. history textbook, well, I got the history of the ruling class. I got the history of the generals and the industrialists and the Presidents who didn't get caught. How about you?

I got the history of the people who owned the wealth of the country, but none of the history of the people who created it. So when I went out to get my first job, I went out armed with someone else's class background. They never gave me any tools to understand, or to begin to control the condition of my labor.

And that was deliberate, wasn't it? They didn't want me to know this. That's why this stuff isn't taught in the history books. We're not supposed to know it, to understand that. No, if I wanted the true history of where I came from, as a member of the working class, I had to go to my elders. Many of them gave their best working years, before pensions or Social Security, gave their whole lives to the mines, to the wheat harvests, to the logging camps, to the railroad. Got nothing for it -- just fetched up on the skids, living on short money, mostly drunk all the time.

But they lived those extraordinary lives that can never be lived again. And in the living of them, they gave me a history that is more profound, more beautiful, more powerful, more passionate, and ultimately more useful, than the best damn history book I ever read.

As I have said so often before, the long memory is the most radical idea in America.
-- Utah Phillips

The long memory is the most radical idea in America. )

Right-click, save as: 18 songs, 47:44 total running time, 87.9MB download.
Monday, September 1st, 2014 09:32 am

//Can this be published anon?// I just need some encouragement. I came home from a six-week trip to find that a housemate’s hoarding has escalated from clean to filth, and my room, the room I’d left meticulously crisply clean was so thickly infested with fleas that just to step in there was to pick up 20-30 visible on my feet and ankles. With the hoard at an all-time height, all I could do was flea-bomb the whole place. Cleaning beyond that isn’t possible. I’ve been crying for almost 24 hours.

First and foremost, anon, this situation sucks, and you’re totally justified in being upset and I’m really sorry you’re dealing with it.

If your housemate’s mess is in your room, as in a room that contained only your things, a room in which you had an expectation of privacy and respect for your belongings, you are well within your rights to remove the mess by any means you deem appropriate. I normally do not recommend dealing with hoarding in that way, as it can be harmful to the hoarder’s mental health, but : A) you need to protect your own health, both mentally and physically, B) if the house was clean when you left, had been clean up to that point, and deteriorated that quickly while you were gone, then your housemate most likely does have ways of dealing with their hoarding that they stopped using when you left, and C) you have the right to have your own personal space be flea-free. If the mess is in shared spaces, you have the right to a clean and pest-free living area, especially if you left it that way. Either way, it needs to be dealt with, and your housemate needs to take some responsibility.

If you haven’t already, you need to have a conversation with your housemate and find out what she’s planning to do to undo both the mess and the flea situation. Pests of any kind that result from one person’s mess are unacceptable in a shared living situation, and the person responsible has to be accountable for it.

I’m very sorry you have to deal with this. It sucks, but you can get through it.

[Just a note: every time I answer a question like this, there are always a ton of notes that say “just move!” Real life is rarely that easy, and “just moving” is not a feasible solution for many people. Yes, if that’s an option, sometimes it’s the best one to take, but often it’s not, so people who are in these situations need specific, helpful advice for the situation they’re actually in, not the dismissive ideal of “just move!”]

Monday, September 1st, 2014 09:16 am
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
Monday, September 1st, 2014 12:30 am
....because, well. Because that's just what I do. I can't stop myself. But if you were driving through this stunning desert landscape, I'll just bet you would be snapping pictures as maniacally as I was.

Monday, September 1st, 2014 01:51 am


A spike in anxiety for me leads to a dip in tidiness so today I did 3 20/10s and decided to document it. If you have a tendency towards messiness like me I highly recommend @TeamUfYH on Twitter and tumblr and she has an app too with lots of nifty features. #ufyh #teamufyh #cleaning #anxiety

Monday, September 1st, 2014 05:00 am

Posted by PJ Jonas

It’s time for another Goat Milk Stuff contest!  This month we will be giving away some of our latest products.  There will be 3 winners that will each receive 1 salve, 3 bars of goat milk soap, and 1 liquid sugar scrub. (approx $50 retail value).  The winners get to choose the type of salve (arnica, comfrey, jewelweed), the […]
Monday, September 1st, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. I was promoted, but my former manager keeps asking me to do my old job

Two months ago, I received a promotion to a manager level position at my company. Prior to that promotion, I had been working as an administrative assistant to an executive in another department. Along with my promotion, I have moved to another department and work with a completely new team. While I love this change in my work, my old supervisor continues to ask me to do things for him that others on his team are more than capable of (e.g. processing invoices, scanning, etc.).

When I was initially promoted, I told my old supervisor that I would still be somewhat available to help out while he searched for a new admin assistant. However, I was under the impression that, after two months, he would have found someone else to fill my role. My current supervisor does not want me to be doing work for my old supervisor and has communicated that to him, but my old supervisor has ignored those requests. Regardless, I’m still being put in the middle of it. How can I approach this problem and solve it in the best way?

It’s totally reasonable to say you can’t help anymore, particularly since your new manager has directly told you that she doesn’t want you to. Just be direct: “My workload in my new role has increased to the point that I need to focus 100% of my time here, so I won’t be able to keep helping out.” And then if he ask for your help after that, just remind him: “Sorry, I can’t help out anymore, because of my workload over here.”

If you feel like it, you could also add, “But Fergus and Lucinda (on his team) can do those tasks well — maybe check with them.”

2. Why am good enough to train my new manager if I wasn’t good enough to get her job?

I’ve worked for a company for four years in the same department. When the department manager is not there, I’m the one in charge. I do all the work they do — scheduling, orders, inventory, etc. Each time the position for department manager has become available, I’ve had an interview for it. The first time I didn’t interview well, so I understand not getting it, but this last time the interview went great. I’ve always had great reviews and received a raise each year. While the position is open, I’m in the position of manager. Now they’ve given it to someone else yet again. I’m expected to train this new person how to do the job. It doesn’t seem very ethical to tell me I’m not right for the job, but good enough to train the new person to do it. I was also told by a higher up manager that I’ll still be basically in charge, but just not have the title. Help me understand this, and what are my best options to take?

Well, you can definitely be qualified to train someone in the basics without being the best candidate to actually lead the department; the basics that you’d relay in training someone are different from the work of driving the department forward, making judgment calls, and managing people. It’s not unethical unless they’re leading you along with no intent of ever promoting you. But why not ask for specific feedback about what you’d need to do in order to be a strong candidate for the role in the future? And meanwhile, since advancement in a particular role is never assured, why not also be looking at possible roles outside of your current company? There’s no need to confine yourself to only one possible path.

3. I asked my boss to lower my performance evaluation rating and now I’m in trouble

My boss recently did employee evaluations. He said he was open to feedback on my evaluation, which I thought would be a favor. I hadn’t taken a prescription medication that particular day (looking back, missing a dosage or not taking it right on time seems to make me more impulsive). He had given me a lot of average ratings, with some things to work on and some he thought I did a good job on. He had given me a slightly below average rating on attendance since I am sometimes late, but he had made a side note that seemed to make it not seem like a serious issue. I told him I felt like it needed to be lowered because I wanted to work on it–which I do. He agreed with me and bumped it down.

A few weeks later, he came to me with a letter that was sent to 3 or 4 of his higher-ups with specific dates of my tardies and the minutes of each. I was stunned he did it and baffled at the dates, frequencies, and minutes he had written down. I don’t necessarily doubt the frequency of them, but it seems like he went through a lot of trouble rounding to the nearest or later 5 minute interval. I’ve been trying to make a better effort since then. He included on the formal letter that future attendance problems could result in termination and had me sign whether or not I agree with it. It can be difficult to get to work on time sometimes because of my health and cognitive status (documented elsewhere). Would I have any recourse if he let me go?

It sounds like you inadvertently prompted him to take a closer look at the attendance issue, and in doing so, he realized that the problem was worse than he had realized before — and that he’s now taking steps to address it. It feels unfair because you’re the one who pointed it out to him, but — depending on the severity of the problem — it’s possible that his ultimate actions are warranted.

But the whole thing is weird. On your side, you didn’t need to ask to have the rating lowered in order to prompt yourself to work on it (you can work on something of your own volition, after all). And on his side, given how he discovered it, he should have acknowledged that you were trying to do the right thing in highlighting it for him — and probably given you a more informal warning rather than this whole formal write-up (unless the problem truly has a big impact).

As far as legal recourse: If you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the Americans with Disabilities Act would require your company to work with you to make reasonable accommodations for that disability as long as (a) you’re performing the essential functions of the job, (b) your company has 25 or more employees, and (c) the needed accommodation doesn’t cause them undue hardship. If you haven’t initiated that discussion with them yet, it might make sense to do that now (after reading up on the ADA to see if you’re likely protected by it).

4. I was required to take classes that my manager teaches at a separate school

I work at a school and am required to complete certain training programs. The training is taught by my supervisor or her assistant. However, I and others were required to take the courses after hours at a local college. We had to apply for grants for tuition and our supervisor was the instructor. She received a salary from the college for teaching these classes, which are normally taught in-house. The courses were specific for the school and not for outside use. Isn’t this a conflict of interest or at least an appearance.

It sure sounds like a conflict of interest to me. It would be interesting to know if your school’s administration was aware of the whole arrangement.

5. How to ask what portion of health insurance a new employer will cover

I’m looking to leave my first full-time job. My current job covers 100% of my health insurance premium, and I want to ask prospective employers what they cover before finalizing my salary so I don’t end up taking home less than what I make now. When in the interview stages would you recommend bringing this up (when/if they ask you about salary expectations, wait til you have an offer, etc.)? Also, do you have any recommendations on how to phrase this question?

That’s totally reasonable to ask. Wait until you have an offer, and at that point, ask for information about their benefits. If the info they provide you with doesn’t make this clear, then ask, “What portion of health insurance premiums do you cover, and how much do employees pay?” (No real need for special tact on this one — it’s a very routine thing to ask about.)

I was promoted but still get asked to do my old job, I asked for a lower performance evaluation rating, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 10:09 pm


Top: Everything is trash, to be sold or donated except for the (3!) red boxes.

Left: The white box already has a few things to get rid of but I’m not in a rush and I’m sure the guys at Goodwill won’t miss me.

Right: The bruise on my arm from lifting and moving all those boxes. 

If you ask me to tell you what I got rid of, it takes awhile for me to remember… Proof that it was years of meaningless waste I was holding onto.

Also, moving things from storage into my bedroom meant that it eventually began bugging me enough to where I found the motivation to get rid of it all.

Sunday, August 31st, 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

  • 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, August 31st, 2014 08:18 pm


The great paperwork unfuckery of 2014!

This took me about 8 hours over the course of three days.

That is paperwork amassed in 3 years. I had already organized it a few times over the years, but never really put it away. And now that I had the time (yay unemployment >:C), I finally got around to it.

Everything is pretty and labelled and stowed were it should be!

Now for the rest of the study/guest room…

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 03:42 pm

This week, we’re refocusing on the third step of laundry and dishes: put it away, goddammit! Washing and drying are great, but until it’s put away, it’s not done. So this week, as soon as the dryer or dishwasher’s done, or once your air-dried clothes or the dishes in the drying rack are dry, put them away! Our goal is to have nothing lingering in laundry baskets, dryers, dishwashers, or drying racks. Everything gets put away as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 12:04 pm
Ugh. Oh, and wash some dishes. I hate laundry and I hate dishes, and Eva broke a plate again just a few days ago. It'd be better if we lived somewhere warm and went around naked and lived in a state of nature and never used dishes at all.


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