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Saturday, July 4th, 2015 02:46 pm


Before & after pics of my 30 minute room-cleaning session! This first week of full-time work + commuting was killer. Hopefully I’ll manage my mess a bit better once I get into the swing of things!

Saturday, July 4th, 2015 06:50 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

the third foster kitten is seen at last!

the third foster kitten is seen at last!

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 no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

grey whiteBook Recommendation of the Week: I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away. Brilliant and funny Bill Bryson tries to get reacquainted with America after living in England for 20 years.

weekend free-for-all – July 4-5, 2015 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, July 4th, 2015 12:55 pm


Got my bed up off the box spring after 2 years. Feels fancy. Going to go look for some under-bed storage bins to free up some dresser space now.

Saturday, July 4th, 2015 10:31 am
Scott worked late again last night. Rather than fuss with trying to find something for dinner (though I could always have done more tilapia. We have lots), Cordelia and I ordered from Jimmy John's. She got at BLT, and I got a roast beef sandwich. I think the menu has changed since the last time we ordered from there, but I'm not absolutely sure. This time, I knew not to order the chips for myself, but Cordelia still got some.

It was still cool outside yesterday, so I made brownies around 3:00. About a third of the pan is already gone.

I weeded my AIM buddies list. A lot of the people I removed are people I'd love to talk to but who I haven't seen there in several years (more than ten in at least a few cases). It's kind of a pity because AIM tends to be more stable for me than Gchat (which has a habit of deleting contacts and blocking people without me telling it to and won't always let me initiate chats even when people are definitely online and willing to talk to me). There are really only three people I talk to on AIM, and one of them is Scott, and we only do it when we're either talking about something we don't want Cordelia to hear or passing urls and images back and forth.

I'm very much hoping that Scott can do the grocery shopping today before we head up to his parents' place. I suppose it won't hurt to wait until tomorrow; I just like getting it done on Saturday. The most urgent things are my two prescriptions, and I've still got at least two days worth of both of those. Also, it's entirely possible that the pharmacy will be closed today, given the holiday. Oh, actually, the most urgent thing is distilled water for Scott's bi-PAP. He used the last of what he had last night, and now that he's used to a humidified bi-PAP, he can't sleep without the water.

I need to find out if the plan is for folks to go out on the boat this afternoon. If that's the plan, then I should take my laptop and a book or two because I'll be alone for a couple of hours at least. Of course, they may not want to go out when it's this cool outside. According to the National Weather Service, it's 71F/22C in our town right now, and they're predicting highs between 78F and 82F which might, I suppose, be warm enough to swim. Scott's parents live an hour drive north of us, so it's likely to be cooler there, however.

I'll have to make sure to take a jacket or sweatshirt with me, too, because I suspect it's going to get pretty chilly by the time the fireworks are over at 11:00 or so. Long pants are likely in order, too.

I went to the website for the Post Office and asked them to hold our mail during our upcoming vacation. That will be easier than asking someone to come by every day to bring the mail in. Getting to our house would be a considerable bit out of the way for pretty much all the people we could think of to ask. I'm debating asking someone to stop by once to water the Christmas cactus, but I'm sure it can last a few extra days without water. I try to water it once a week, but some weeks I forget, and it hasn't seemed to suffer from that.

I'm debating giving up on the book I started the other day. It's interesting, but I completely lack the context to understand most of the details. It's a collection of translated documents written by a seventeenth century emperor of China. I think it would be much, much more rewarding if it were annotated. There are a lot of people, places, things, and events referenced with no explanation (because why would the emperor need to explain those things? The translator, on the other hand...). The translator's preface says that the reign of this particular emperor is exceedingly well documented, so I don't think it's that the information isn't available. I think the translator may have assumed that anyone who was going to read this book would already have studied the period in question. I'm also not entirely sure about the translation-- At one point, one of the documents references the constellation Orion, and that seemed out of place to me.

I'm considering giving up on CD logging entirely. I've gone a couple of months without writing down any notes at all about the CDs I've gotten from the library (and I'm not sure I've written down all of the CDs, either), and, at this point, I don't remember most of them at all. I know which ones I liked enough to consider buying because I put those on my Amazon wishlist, but that's about it.
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 07:53 am
The girls came home and feel right asleep. We've got to go to the pool EVERY day.


Things in Puerto Rico are getting really bad: What you need to know

Put the Pumpkin in the Boat. A new dictionary of prison slang.

I Guess My Corpse Is A Swan Now: A Weird Folk Education If you enjoyed that, you'll probably like this as well.

A snail spent years glued to a card in the British Museum before they realized it was alive

How One Man Poisoned a City’s Water Supply (and Saved Millions of Children’s Lives in the Process)

Drug cops took a college kid’s savings and now 13 police departments want a cut

Boatlifters: The unknown story of 9/11

The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law

These flatworms plunge their penises into their own heads to inject themselves with sperm (when they must).

Welcome to the Dystopian Future: Bubble Wrap No Longer Pops

Scientists unravel elusive structure of HIV protein

Researcher who spiked rabbit blood to fake HIV vaccine results slapped with rare prison sentence

Whole Foods CEOs Admit to Overcharging Customers

Holocaust 'hero' Sir Nicholas Winton dies aged 106

What I Learned From Reading Pro-Confederacy Children’s Books

Outrage culture changed the world: “PC” critics are wrong — marriage equality happened because activists used shame and rage

Condiments And Caterpillars: Thank This Insect For Mustard, Horseradish And Wasabi

Meet the man building a stock exchange that doesn’t screw people over

After gay marriage, expect conservative amnesia

How the Black Death turned from a tummy bug to a deadly plague

Why the Brouhaha Over the New York Times’ Pea Guacamole Recipe Went All the Way to Obama

Why the Indian soldiers of WW1 were forgotten


Read more... )
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 07:40 am
Except this year, as you may have noticed, the 4th falls on a Saturday anyway, so to make up for it they decided to take Friday off instead and run the 3rd on a Saturday schedule. And lots of people got the 3rd off anyway, because the 4th falls on a weekend.

So far so good, and the pizza place confirmed when I stopped in yesterday that Thursday was packed "like Friday usually" because, of course, lots of people are taking advantage of the de facto three day weekend.

I have no problem with any of this, but I draw the line at referring to Friday as "Independence Day (observed)" as so many signs did when informing us of schedule changes and the like. You can't do that. It's not like Memorial Day or Columbus Day or something. It's the Fourth of freaking July. The third isn't "observed" anything, it's just lagniappe.

Text from Superheroes for the occasion.

On a more serious note, fireworks can upset veterans who have PTSD. I hadn't thought of that before, but it makes sense. From now on, whenever it comes up, I don't need to defend myself, I can just say that fireworks are not patriotic. Do well by doing good, that's my motto.
Saturday, July 4th, 2015 12:30 am
Lulu, Frodo, and Skippy from a Fourth of July picnic a few years ago. 

Happy Independence Day to all you Yanks! So whatcha all doing to celebrate? Going to see a movie, perhaps? The New Jurassic Park movie, you say? Personally, I think this version is better.

Saturday, July 4th, 2015 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. How can I avoid companies lying about salary and location?

I was working for a nonprofit and my direct supervisor left. Several months later, he contacted me and asked if I would be willing to interview at his new place of employment. We had gotten on fairly well at job #1, so I did and I was offered a position. At the same time, I was also offered a job at a third company.

I told my former manager that Company #3 had offered me a certain pay level ($6,000 more a year than company #1 was currently paying me) plus a $2,000 sign-on bonus.

He told me that his new employer could meet the salary but only provide a $1,000 sign-on bonus. I accepted because the hours were better and it was closer (VERY close) to my home.

However, the pay is actually $2,000 less per year than I had been earning at company #1, and the sign-on bonus was explained away as “a joke.” Additionally, now they want me transfer me to a site over an hour away in a different county, in the middle of a snow belt. During winter, I would be commuting both ways in the dark and my night vision is not good. I feel cheated and taken advantage of, and am quickly becoming very unhappy and resentful. I am seeking another position. Going forward, is there any way to avoid this type of situation with future employers?

Yes — get job offers in writing, along with any other commitments that you care about. Absent a contract (which most U.S. workers don’t have), employers can still decide to change the terms of your employment (although not retroactively) or your location, but getting the basic terms in writing will ensure that you’re in agreement about pay and that promises aren’t later going to be called “jokes.” That’s horrible.

2. Should I remove any mention of a controversial issue from my resume?

I want to preface this by saying I have no interest in inciting some kind of debate about the appropriateness of the political issue involved, but I have run out of people to ask about this.

I’m searching for a position more in line with the field I am pursuing a masters in (public health). I have a resume question regarding my volunteer work with an organization that has a political agenda regarding reproductive health options, including abortion. The work that I do with this group is purely awareness-related, and the organization also supports initiatives and health clinics that promote proper prenatal care, safe sex practices, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections, in addition to their attention to abortion access. I have this contribution worded neutrally on my resume, and have asked several people about their opinion of how it’s worded. Everyone I have asked has said it is worded in a professional manner that doesn’t sound as if I am trying to face off with the world on this issue, but agree that its very presence on my resume may turn off employers who are reading my information.

I do support increased access to reproductive health options as a public health issue, but I know that if I really want a better job, this is not the hill to die on even though it is important to me. Despite the fact that I take pride in being involved in this volunteer program and have learned skills from it, I think I need to try taking it off my resume. The only other problem that I have with taking this off is that it will appear as if my volunteer work screeched to a halt when I graduated from undergrad a little over two years ago, which is a sticking point with me because my job is only slightly related to public health and my volunteer work has always been more relevant experience. What should I do here? I’m so desperate for a job that engages me in the field I love, and I don’t want to turn any employers off with the only chance I might get at an impression.

Well, I say this as someone who has marijuana policy and animal rights work on my resume, but I think that you’re being more cautious than you need to. Especially in public health, I just don’t think this is going to be a huge sticking point for the majority of employers. (Are the people who are telling you to take it off hiring managers in your field? I’m betting not. I’ve noticed people who aren’t actually hiring tend to think this kind of thing is far more of an issue than it actually is.)

The work experience will help far more than it will hurt you.

3. I’m being undermined in my family business

Through some light internet digging, I landed on your article from 2012 about how to be more authoritative at work, and I wish I had read it back then. Without going into great detail, what happens when the workplace is a family business and no matter how many routes you take to gain authority, you are constantly being undermined by the owner and general manager and even through conversation to the owner, aka your father, he still makes all of the major decisions with the general manager at the workplace when initially you were brought in as a management role? It’s become an uphill battle that I’m constantly losing and my self worth/esteem has taken a huge hit.

Thanks for taking the time to look over my question and I hope you can provide a different perspective that will bring back my motivation for the job that was once a career.

Get out. Family businesses can sometimes work, but when they’re dysfunctional, they’re really dysfunctional. Go work somewhere without family members; you will be happier.

4. Should I send my thank-you note by LinkedIn?

I just had an interview that I’m thinking went pretty well. The interviewer said to me twice that he could see why I got this far in the recruitment process. Of course, I know I don’t have a job offer until I have a job offer.

Unfortunately, he did not give me his name card during the interview. I found his profile page on and he has a LinkedIn page as well. Would it be too stalker-ish to send him a thank-you note via or LinkedIn?

I also feel like I could have answered one of his questions better to show my skills, but I am not sure how to word it properly in my email without sounding desperate. Basically the question was “how do you address issue ABC?” I mentioned that this issue requires a lot support from the management team and my supervisor works closely with management. I also elaborated on why management support is important and talked about the contrast I have seen with this issue, with and without management support. He said my answer made sense, but I now realize I should have highlighted my own involvement in this. Should I mention this in my email if I do contact him?

If you absolutely can’t figure out his work email address, go ahead and send it via LinkedIn. Include a mention that you realized you didn’t have his email but wanted to reach out to him, so that he understands why you’re contacting him there.

That said, it’s not ideal; not everyone looks at their LinkedIn messages regularly and there’s more chance of it being overlooked there. Direct email is better if you can guess it (which is often pretty straightforward if you’ve seen other email addresses at the company, since they usually follow the same structure).

You could certainly elaborate on your answer to the question you mentioned when you email him. I’d say something like, “I thought a bit more about your question about ABC and realized I didn’t touch on my own efforts in that area.” (Followed by whatever details you wanted to share.) Keep it short, but it’s a reasonable thing to mention.

5. Required to read a book before a staff retreat

I’m a non-exempt employee. My boss has instructed us to read a specific book before an upcoming staff retreat. Can he require us to read the book outside of work hours? If I wanted to read it outside of work, is that a problem from a legal/overtime standpoint?

You can indeed be required to read it outside of work hours, but as a non-exempt employee, you’d need to be paid for that time (including overtime, if it puts you over 40 hours that week).

companies that lie about salary, controversial issues on your resume, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 03:12 pm
LJ has been acting kind of weird the last few days. Usually, I have to log in again after about thirty six hours, but recently, the time has been varying a lot, sometimes as little as twelve hours. Sometimes, LJ will show that I'm logged in but refuse to let me post a comment because my login cookie has expired until I refresh the page. Right now, it's also hard to read LJ because a few different people have posted images that are too wide. When that happens, LJ expands the length of each line of text to match the width of the widest image, and that means that I have to scroll back and forth, sideways, in order to read anyone's entries. At least DW doesn't do that.

I finally dealt with that Social Security paperwork yesterday. It took all of ten minutes. I knew it would. It was just so very, very hard to start. I'm not sure what about it was setting off my anxiety so much. They send me this paperwork every year, and basically all I need to do is to tell them how much money is currently in Cordelia's savings account. It shouldn't be a big deal at all, but it took me weeks to get myself to open the envelope.

Now I just have to get myself to call our pharmacy to ask them to order me some Gel-Kam. I don't need a prescription to get it, but they don't stock it, just order it as needed. I'm almost out, so I should have done this Monday. I just haven't been able to get myself to. I'm hoping that, now that the Social Security papers are out of the way, I can manage the call today. It's not impossible. It's just harder because half the time, when I call for this, I get people who have never heard of Gel-Kam or who think it requires a prescription. It gets sorted out by them handing me off to their supervisor, but it's difficult for me. I much prefer phone calls where I can deal with voicemail or an automated menu.

If I don't call today, I will run out before I can get more, and it only takes about three days without Gel-Kam before drinking room temperature water starts to hurt. And then it takes weeks of using Gel-Kam to get the pain to go away.
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 06:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Colter: “You should have joined me working out at 5am.”
Brett: “Forgive us for not being super-human.”
Colter: “I’m not super-human. I’m diligent.”
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

I’m quoted in this Refinery29 article (which was also reported on by the UK’s Daily Mail), talking about how taking on the office housekeeping work (planning parties, cleaning up the kitchen, ordering lunch) can hold you back. Here’s an excerpt:

“People don’t get high-profile projects, win promotions, or make a name in their field because they planned office parties or remembered all their coworkers’ birthdays,” says Alison Green, founder of Ask A Manager. “You only have so much energy and focus at work; spending on this sort of housekeeping means that you’re not spending it where it will actually benefit you. You want to be known as a great engineer / spokesperson / lawyer / whatever your job is — not as a great baker [unless that’s your job] or fill-in receptionist or office mom.”

“Too often, women find themselves always being the ones to take notes, clean up the kitchen, order lunch, and do other caretaking work, while their male colleagues in similar roles get to focus on doing work that’s more highly valued,” Green continues. “That can have very real and very long-lasting ramifications for who gets what projects, who gets what recognition, and who builds what reputation.”

…“One of the best things you can do…is to simply point it out,” she argues. “Speak up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve noticed that this work always falls to women. Can we change that?'”

stop doing the office housekeeping work was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

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

open thread – July 3, 2015 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 08:29 am

Been a couple of weeks. Today, mostly, I am profoundly grateful that things are not as bad as they could have been. More specifically, I am grateful for

  1. Things not being worse. (Could that be because nobody has told me to cheer up recently?)
  2. My family
  3. Being alive
  4. Good Drugs
  5. Music
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 10:21 am
I ended up awake until quite late last night due to reflux. I have no idea what set it off. I didn't eat anything challenging. I didn't eat after 8:00. I guess it's just one of those things. I do have a headache right now, probably from lack of sleep. Hopefully, when I take anaprox in fifteen minutes, that will help.

It's been nice and cool here pretty much all week. As a result, I felt okay in baking some tilapia last night. It meant running the oven for about twenty minutes, but I don't think doing that made the temperature in here unpleasant. It did have enough of an effect that Scott commented on it when he got home, but I don't think it was too much. I'm actually considering baking something today. I'm not sure if it should be brownies or a cake. I want to persuade Cordelia to help. It will mean leaving her books for ten minutes, but ten minutes isn't so very long.

Cordelia has gone back to GoodReads. She's not sure what she thinks of their recommendations, but she's trying a lot of different things. GoodReads has recommended Twilight to her, but she's not sure she wants to read it because she doesn't like vampires at all. She also understood, when I told her the bits and pieces I'd heard about the book, that Edward would be really creepy in real life, and she wasn't impressed by Bella's level of common sense, either. Still, I told her that, if she wants to read Twilight, she should go ahead. It is a very popular book. I pointed out that, if she doesn't like it after a chapter or two, she doesn't have to finish it.

She's got ten or so books out from the library right now and holds on at least a dozen more. She also wants to reread a bunch of books that she owns-- Heroes of Olympus, the trilogy that starts with Ruby Red, the Cinder books, the Hunger Games trilogy (she doesn't own book two and three yet), and the last four Harry Potter books (she says the first three are really boring which is the opposite of my reaction. She does say, though, that Half Blood Prince could be cut entirely without any ill effect on the series).

The dishwasher did get the dishes more clean this time. The bowls no longer have the gritty nastiness that they did after I ran them through last time. I'm not absolutely convinced they're really clean because they have some staining, but running water over that doesn't get rid of it, so... I really don't know. I really don't want to have to hand wash dishes, but I think that's where we're heading.

The Arbor Parents Yahoo list has been talking about acne. I've now got a couple of things to try with Cordelia, if I can talk her into them. If I recall correctly, we tried vinegar before, all of once, and she hated the smell enough that she preferred the acne. I'm not sure that the other suggestion-- diaper rash cream-- will go over any better. It won't smell bad, but there may well be a big embarrassment factor. There is one person who emailed me off list to suggest, strongly, that I should take Cordelia to a dermatologist, just in case her pimples are actually cystic acne. Cordelia has her annual on the 21st. I'll see what the doctor says then. I'm inclined to think that her acne is normal levels of bad rather than panic levels of bad.

I discovered that a fic I hadn't checked on in a few years updated with several new chapters. The update was still a couple of years ago with nothing since, but the story may actually not be dead which would please me. It's not the world's best story in terms of writing, but the author has a good grip on the action scenes (I can actually follow and enjoy them!) and a good handle on the actual canonical abilities of the various characters.

I have a document, tucked away on my hard drive, with a list of the urls for the various WIP that I was following with all the links going to the last chapter I actually read. I haven't checked any of those stories since some time in 2012, so if I do go back to them, I'm likely to have a lot of reading to do. I'm also likely to be quite lost because I won't remember the things that happened earlier in the stories. For things with a few chapters, going back to the beginning may make sense, but I'm not convinced I want to do that when I'm twenty chapters into a fic that's a decent read but not a really and truly great story. I think I had fifty or sixty urls in that document, all arranged in order by when the story last updated (the longer ago the most recent update, the less often I checked back on the story).

I should watch that Chinese movie today so that we can actually send it back. There's no reason I can't do that except my own tendency to dink around online and look up to discover that hours have passed.

I just told Scott's mother that we still don't know if we can come up tomorrow for 4th of July celebrations. At the worst, we should be able to make the fireworks; those don't usually start until nearly 10:00 p.m., so even if Scott has to work until 7:00, we should be able to get there in time. I almost hope there is work this weekend, even with the holiday, because working this weekend would make getting next weekend off considerably more likely. Our vacation rental starts Saturday, but Scott's actual vacation doesn't start until Monday, so we might have to arrive a day or two late.

I have brought up the question of how much stair climbing will be required at the rental with Scott's mother. I think I can manage most of it, as long as I'm wearing my brace. I just want to be sure there's a bathroom on the floor where we end up sleeping because I don't wear my brace to bed and don't want to have to deal with putting it on in the dark just so I can get to the toilet. I get up at least once every night, so it's a very real issue for me.
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 07:23 am


Part one, Depression in the Abstract - i.e. my former awful living conditions.

Part two, after packing up and moving, the boxes occupying the center of my room. 

And triumphant part three - when everything is put away, in its place, clean, and staying that way!!

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 09:36 am

Posted by Tab



Took a couple of re-draws due to non responses, but the Gender Nebula shirt, with full planet badge sets  are now on their way to Rob Whittaker on Twitter and MinkyMuffs and KeelieBradshaw on Tumblr. Sorry facebook people- I had a facebook winner but as it goes to the ‘Other’ folder most people don’t check their messages there and had to redraw.

If you liked the shirt you can now grab it in the store over here!



Friday, July 3rd, 2015 12:30 am
Yesterday was interesting.

Y'all have been subjected to an abundance of whining and gross pictures of my problematic tooth and accompanying abscess for awhile now - sorry. But you (and I) should be relieved that it's resolved. Yup. A nice oral surgeon yanked it OUT Thursday.

Ah, but don't be feeling all complacent and making any assumptions that more gross tooth and gum pictures won't be forthcoming. There's lots of dental fun ahead, so stay tuned. Actually, there's a good probability that I'll be putting up all kinds of weirdo dental stuff while under the effects of pain pills..... I probably should have my blogging license suspended while I'm under the influence of narcotics for the next few days but that's not going to happen so brace yourselves.

So before my appointment yesterday, I had my nose buried in a most interesting book written by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.

You can buy your very own copy of Dr. Mutter's Marvels - A true tale of intrigue and innovations and the dawn of modern medicine here. Here's the story description found on Amazon:
A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities
Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century....continue reading here
I found it horrifying, gruesome, and totally disgusting.

Yes. It is an AWESOME book.

Terese and I had the good fortune to tour Dr. Mutter's museum awhile back - if you get the chance and aren't particularly squeamish, go. It too is pretty darned awesome.

But the timing of my choice to crack open this book could have been better seeing as shortly afterwards I was sitting in a medical practitioner's chair facing a potentially unpleasant procedure. When the assistants wheeled in and opened up a sterile procedure pack and began setting out the tools needed, I couldn't help but sit up and take a peek.

Whoa. Some of the instruments resembled pliers found in John's toolbox in the garage.

As they began to prepare me for the extraction I was counting my lucky stars that modern anesthesia and sterilization had been invented; as comforting as that was, it didn't prevent me from recalling some of the cringe-inducing descriptions of surgeries found in Ms. O'Keefe Aptowicz's book. But before I could work myself into full blown panic, the offending tooth was out of my mouth.

I felt enormously glad that this oral surgeon was so quick. And that he and I were both living in 2015.

So now I'm popping more antibiotics and pain pills and chomping on sterile gauze with an ice pack slapped against my cheek. I'll gleefully share all of the gruesome details as this experience progresses but even though drugged up, I do have my limits - so don't be expecting to see any pictures of my face.

Because that would be the most scary thing of all. Now it's time to count YOUR lucky stars.
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. My new employer just asked for my references — after we’d set a start date and I quit my old job

I’m in the process of changing jobs. The new company made me a firm offer and I accepted. My start date at the new company is soon, and they have confirmed plane tickets and hotel reservations for me to fly up to their office for training (they’re opening a new office in my city, but until then I’ll be telecommuting). The gist is, the new job is a “done deal.” My last day at my old job is tomorrow.

I just got an email from the internal recruiter / HR person asking for me to submit references, which — as far as I can tell — makes no sense, and makes me worried that either the job isn’t as much of a “done deal” as I thought or that something’s weird about this company (if they need to ask about that long after the appropriate time).

I replied to the email saying “sure, here are some references” and attempted to call to get clarification about the issue, but I got the HR person’s voicemail so I just left a message saying that I had questions and asking her to call me back. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Incidentally, I had three interviews with this company (phone interview with the HR person, technical phone interview, and was flown in for an in-person interview) and, although I was prepared with references, I was never asked for them and didn’t think to provide them proactively.

Yeah, some companies have a horrible policy of doing background checks — including references — after a job offer is accepted. This is ridiculous for many reasons, including that it totally defeats the point of reference-checking (which isn’t just to get a yay or nay but to actually get nuanced information about people to help make the hiring decision), as well as that it’s incredibly unfair to candidates, who in many cases have already resigned their jobs because they assumed the offer was a done deal.

I’d say this: “Is your offer not final and/or are there remaining contingencies attached to it? My understanding was that it was a formal offer and I gave noticed after we finalized our agreement, so I’m of course concerned to receive this email. Can you shed any light?”

It’s too late now, but in the future I’d carefully read any offer paperwork for mentions of contingencies like this. You can also ask directly, “Are there any outstanding contingencies before the offer is final?”

2. I’ve been promoted to manage my difficult friend

I have recently been promoted to team leader over an older and longer employed colleague who I would also call a friend. I am now her team leader. She has always been very easily distracted, surfing the internet, making personal calls and chatting to colleagues and her previous boss didn’t tackle the issue in the 10+ years she has worked here. She has recently announced that she is pregnant, and the personal calls and internet surfing have cranked up a gear as she sorts everything out for the new baby.

She’s always taken any criticism very personally and gets very defensive if you try and broach the subject. She will also be a bad mood for days, refusing to speak to anyone which affects the whole atmosphere of our very small office. I am really struggling with how to bring this up without World War Three kicking off and ruining our friendship? (She generally gets all the work done that’s required, albeit slightly rushed).

Your goal can’t be to preserve the friendship; that’s a conflict of interest with doing your job. You’re her manager, so you can no longer be her friend. Friendly, yes, but not friends.

Doing your job as her manager means that you need to sit down with her and talk forthrightly about what you need to see from her, and how that differs from what you’re seeing currently. If she becomes defensive, you need to address that too, since it’s not an option for her to just not get feedback. And if she refuses to speak to people or is otherwise unpleasant, you need to address that too, because that’s an unacceptable way for her to behave. You’ll also need to be ready to impose consequences if the feedback doesn’t get you the changes you need. (And frankly, I’d start preparing yourself for the possibility that you may need to let her go at some point, because this is not the behavior of someone you want on your staff.)

3. My professor is a partner at the company I want to apply to

I recently graduated college (I’m 45) and have been looking for employment in my field. I discovered the perfect company and devoured its website, the last section of which featured team bios. Imagine my surprise when I learned that one of the senior partners listed is a former professor (I had three classes with him).

I immediately emailed this professor, expressing my interest in the company and requesting a meeting or phone call to discuss my professional background and its applicability. I sent the email to his university .edu account 10 days ago but have not received a reply. It would be out of character for this professor to not respond, so I am assuming that he has not accessed this email account because school is not in session.

What’s my next move? Do I contact him at this company? I know that he also has his own consultancy and travels internationally for speaking engagements, so I’m not sure how often he’s on site…a voicemail message might also go unanswered. Do I try to contact HR, and somehow mention that I know him? Or do I simply submit my resume and cover letter to the company and hope for the best? I graduated first in my class and that would be the first thing I mention in this particular cover letter…my hope is that HR would be curious enough to contact the professor.

Is there an actual job opening you’re interested in, or is it more general interest in the company? If there’s an opening for a job you want, apply right now; otherwise, while you try to resolve this, you risk it disappearing. It’s fine to mention in your cover letter that this guy recently taught you.

After that — or if there’s not a particular opening — yes, email him at his address, or try LinkedIn. When you do, be up-front that you’re interested in working there — you don’t want to sound like you’re requesting an informational interview when you’re actually seeking a job.

4. Good bosses from TV and movies

I know you’ve touched a few times on poor management in books, TV, etc., (and I hope no one is managing like they do on Game of Thrones), and how media isn’t something to model your work life after. But can you point to any TV or movies that demonstrate good management, sane workplace dynamics, a congenial and functional workplace, and so on? I know it doesn’t make for good entertainment, but is there anything you’ve watched and thought “that’s exactly what I would do” and admired?

So much the opposite. TV and movies are rife with terrible management presented as if it’s fine, and it is infuriating.

I racked my brain to answer this question, and I’m still not coming up with anything. I do feel like Tom Colicchio, restauranteur and judge on Top Chef, is probably a good manager, but I’m basing that on little more than gut. Oh, and Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica. But I’m reaching here.

5. Update: Should I pay for a travel charge stemming from my mistake so that my boss doesn’t know about it?

Thank you for running my question! The comments from the commenters were really helpful as well, and I decided to tell my manager about the charge and explain why it happened. I also told him about some ideas for improving the process so this would be less likely to happen again. Here’s his response: “Sounds like a plan. Go ahead and expense the cancelled travel as mentioned. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

employer asked for references after I’d already been hired, good bosses from TV and movies, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 10:48 pm

See, actual scientists agree: don’t mix bleach with anything but water! I forgot a specific hydrogen peroxide warning, but yeah, DON’T MIX YOUR CLEANERS!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 10:30 pm


This whole “trust Tumblr blindly” thing is eventually going to kill someone, as I became pointedly aware of on one occasion I was making fun of how poorly a particular bleach-based drain declogger was working on my sink and got a chorus of really dangerously misinformed people telling me to pour vinegar in after it because all cute little cool kid diy home care blogs they’re following talk about vinegar like it it’s the big secret the cleaning companies don’t want you to know.

And I cringed knowing that someday, some Well Actually expert who read a blog article once is going to give that advice to someone who unfortunately didn’t take high school chemistry and isn’t aware that MIXING VINEGAR AND BLEACH MAKES CHLORINE GAS.

You guys, vinegar is awesome, but as I’ve said a million times, DO NOT MIX IT WITH BLEACH. In general, don’t mix bleach with anything except water. Don’t mix ammonia with anything except water. Use one type of cleaner at a time and don’t even chance residues mixing. Sure, some stuff can be used together, but if you aren’t 100% sure? DON’T MIX YOUR CLEANERS. 

Also, bleach should always be diluted (in cool or lukewarm water because hot water decreases bleach’s effectiveness and increases the chance of respiratory problems). Even most lab settings use a 1:10 dilution. There’s no need for straight undiluted bleach pretty much ever.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 03:19 pm
And Scott is working late. I need to start searching the fridge and cupboards for things I can actually cook. Veggies are easy; we have leftover peas for me and leftover green beans for Cordelia. Anything else is going to take some doing. Well, I could make biscuits. We've got a couple of rolls of those. But Cordelia won't necessarily eat them. I'd try making soup, but, again, Cordelia is likely to refuse to eat it. Why has she gotten pickier as she's gotten older?

I suppose I should wait an hour to start scavenging. At that point, I can get Cordelia to give me her input and make her help me cook. Right now, the cleaning lady is here, and Cordelia is hiding in our room to stay out of the way. I don't want to start hauling out food while the cleaning lady is here because I think I saw somewhere that it's Ramadan, and I know she observes that. (For some reason, my iCal, which is usually helpful in that regard, no longer knows when any religious holidays are. I think I was getting them from the local school district, so it's possible that that particular calendar has expired.)
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 06:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

“You can’t tell her boss that — you’ll get her fired.”

“Don’t tell the reference-checker the truth about Jane — it could cost her the job.”

I’ve noticed a trend in response to some letters here lately where people assert that sharing information with someone’s manager or with a hiring manager “will get the person fired” or “cost them the job.”

For example, when I recommended that this letter-writer share with her managers her concerns about a job applicant who she’d worked with previously and knew to be difficult, several readers said it was wrong to torpedo the person’s chances for the job. Or in response to this letter-writer wondering whether to alert her company that their HR manager was recently fired from a federal housing apartment complex for instructing tenants to write rent checks in her name (!), some commenters expressed concern that doing so would “get her fired.”

But when you share truthful information, you’re not single-handedly killing someone’s chances at a job or getting them fired. You’re passing information along to a decision-maker so that that person can weigh the information and come to their own conclusions.

I also hear a lot of “X isn’t a big deal, so they shouldn’t have to lose a job over it” — in other words, the idea that saying something to a manager will automatically destroy the person’s chances (and probably unfairly). But if X isn’t a big deal, it’s not reasonable to think that the person would lose their job over it; not every bit of critical information results in rejections or firings, and managers assess and weigh multiple factors in making decisions. And if the person does lose their job over it, then clearly the manager did think it was a big deal and wanted to have the information, and that’s their prerogative. So either it’s a serious issue to the manager and they’d want to know, or it’s not a serious issue and the manager is capable of figuring that out.

(And particularly with hiring, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of managers want to hear from people who know their candidates, and would be dismayed to find out that a staff member had a negative assessment of a candidate and didn’t bother to speak up about it. I don’t know a single good hiring manager who doesn’t strongly, strongly want input from employees who know candidates.)

And last, if someone gets fired because you share that they did X, you’re not “getting them fired.” They’re getting themselves fired. In the example above of the HR manager who committed a major integrity violation at her last job, that’s what would be getting her fired — not the coworker who reported it.

no, you’re not getting anyone fired was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 01:40 pm
Well, a bit of bad news. Scott didn't get the job he was interviewing for.

He also doesn't know his work schedule for the next few days yet. He's definitely working twelve hours tomorrow and may have to today, as well. We're hoping, given the holiday, that he'll have Saturday and Sunday off, but if there is work, he will need to work because we need him to have next weekend off. Scott was hoping for a three day weekend, but there's currently work scheduled for both tomorrow and Monday, so no joy on that.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Having a team with diverse personalities is a good thing; different types of people will bring different perspectives and viewpoints, and that will usually lead you to better outcomes.

But there are some personality types that you definitely don’t want on your team — like the contrarian, the brilliant jerk, or the person who doesn’t believe in growth. At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about five types that can implode even the best team dynamics. You can read it here.

the 5 people you definitely don’t want on your team was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am currently taking FMLA leave to care for a terminally ill parent. My absences are intermittent and all my PTO is used up every pay cycle. I cleared it with HR that I can come in early when I can in order to make up unpaid hours after my PTO is used, as we always need help and to lessen the impact of my time off to care for my parent.

I have a particular coworker who has been passively-aggressively whining around me about who she “should talk to about being able to work early to make up time for her scheduled appointments instead of having to use PTO” and why should SHE have to use PTO when OTHER people don’t have to?

She has no clue what she is talking about, and I feel strongly that I don’t owe her any explanation regarding my FMLA.

Today, she did the same whining in front of everyone at a team meeting while staring directly at me! She even insinuated she will visit HR with her “concerns.” I’m not sure why she can’t mind her business, nor do I care about her opinion. (She is more than welcome to step in and singlehandedly care for my parent 24/7 while putting food on her table any time if she is so jealous.) I am concerned, however, about the impact her complaining will have on other coworkers’ perception of me and fear that this will become a witch hunt. I do my work and have discussed my FMLA with only HR and my manager, as I want no accusations of trying to “get sympathy” from anyone. I have enough problems and no time for the drama. Is this woman owed an explanation?

No, she’s not owed an explanation at all.

However, you might be more likely to get the outcome you want by giving her and others some context, if you’re willing to.

To be clear, she is totally out of line. Her comments are obnoxious, and your time off is none of her business unless it’s impacting her, and if it is, she should be addressing that forthrightly, not making snide comments. And you’re under no obligation to share the details of your leave with your coworkers.

However, the reality is that if it looks to others like you suddenly have a really flexible schedule when they don’t, not everyone will think “Oh, there’s probably a good reason for this and I should mind my own business.” Some people will wonder if you’re slacking on your hours or getting special treatment for an unfair reason. This isn’t right, but it’s often human nature. Of course, most people won’t be rude about it like your coworker is, but it’s true that people who notice may wonder, and it can go a lot more smoothly if you’re willing to say something to explain.

You don’t need to share personal details if you don’t want to; there’s range of things that you could say. For example, to the rest of your coworkers (not the obnoxious one, who I’ll get to in a minute), you could say one of these:

* “I want to let you know that I’ve been working a different schedule than normal because of some family health issues. I’ve worked out an arrangement with Jane and HR, but wanted to give you a heads-up too.”

* “I’m taking intermittent FMLA leave so you may notice me working different or fewer hours than usual.”

* “My mom is very sick and I’m using FMLA to take care of her. I wanted to give you a heads-up because it’s going to be impacting my schedule for a while.” (I know you said you don’t want to explain the details lest you be seen as chasing sympathy, but unless your coworkers are horrid people, it isn’t going to come across that way. But again, it’s your call and you can use one of the more vague options above if you prefer.)

To your obnoxious coworker who’s making the comments, I’d say this: “Lavinia, do you have concerns about my schedule? You’ve made several remarks about it and I’m not sure what you’re looking for from me. I’ve made specific arrangements to use FMLA leave with Jane and with HR.” (Or, if you don’t even want to mention FMLA — although, again, I think it will benefit you to — you could say, “”Lavinia, I’ve arranged my schedule with Jane and HR. If you have concerns about your own schedule, I encourage you to talk to them.”)

If it continues after that, I’d talk to your manager. Say something like, “Lavinia is regularly complaining about my FMLA leave. I don’t feel comfortable explaining the details to her, and I’ve asked her to stop but it’s continuing and becoming a distraction.”

do I owe my coworkers an explanation about my FMLA leave? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 09:32 am
I haven't even been up for an hour, and I'm already cursing Scott (he's at work, so he, of course, has no idea). There's a pile of stuff on the couch next to where I usually sit. In that pile, I had some important papers that I really, really needed to deal with today (I should have dealt with them a week or even two ago but anxiety). Scott rearranged the pile, pulling out two of the three important papers. The third one is completely gone. I've gone through every bit of the pile, and it simply is not there. It, of course, is the one bit I can't do anything without. The other two are replaceable. The Social Security forms would require some hoop jumping to get again, but I could do it.

The most likely place for the missing paper to be, assuming Scott didn't put it somewhere 'safe' is under the couch. I still can't go down on my knees without really hurting my ankle, so I can't look. I'll have to get Cordelia to look when she finally emerges from her room around noon. I wanted to get this dratted thing into the mail around 10:00.

On the bright side, my ankle seems to have recovered from last weekend. Now I have to figure out how much walking I can do without hurting it and do that much every day. I want to be able to walk to and from the bus by the end of the summer. I don't think that's an unreasonable goal.

I haven't heard anything further from my sister. I wish she did email so that I could talk to her that way. She does Facebook, but I'm not on there, and she has asked everyone to avoid talking about the breast cancer there. Calling her doesn't really work either because she never, ever answers her phone. It always goes to voice mail. She does, sometimes, call back, so maybe I should call her anyway. I know it's too soon for her to have the genetic test results, but I'm wondering if she's had the MRI yet.

I'm a little worried that our dishwasher might be dying. It's twelve years old. The last load of dishes, some of the stuff on the top shelf didn't get clean at all. The plastic stuff was fine, but all of the ceramic stuff had a coating of grit stuck to it. I couldn't see it, but I could feel it. The stuff on the bottom seems to have come out fine, at least.

We can't afford to replace the dishwasher, and it's not necessary enough for us to feel justified in taking more money from Cordelia's Social Security. Scott's suggestion is that, if it really is dying, we start hand washing dishes and using the dishwasher as a drying rack.

I'm not enthusiastic about this, in general, but a lot of my concerns are annoyance level things (like the fact that, to use the dishwasher as a drying rack, I will have to swap which parts of the sink I use for washing and rinsing. We have two basins, and all of my life, I have used the left one for washing and the right one for rinsing. The dishwasher is to the left of the sink, so washing on the right and rinsing on the left make considerably more sense). The thing that isn't annoyance level is the time that will be involved in dish washing. Scott doesn't have it, and my ankle may not tolerate it. That leaves Cordelia to wash dishes.

Scott did not end up working late last night, but he was playing phone tag with the guy from HR at the place he interviewed for yesterday. Scott waited for a return call until about 5:30 then got in the shower. Naturally, the guy called back shortly after that. We missed the call because Scott always, always, keeps the ringer off on his cell phone. It the thing had actually rung, I could have answered it and gotten Scott to take the call. I don't think he'd actually turned on the water at that point.

Somehow or another, it was past 7:00 by the time Scott emerged from the bathroom. I didn't really register the time, unfortunately for me. Scott didn't start looking at what to grill until some time later. He was hoping to make turkey burgers but discovered that we don't have any pre-made. We do have some ground turkey, but we didn't have time to do something with that last night. Scott decided to grill some crab legs. He got them on the table at about 8:05 by which time I couldn't safely eat them, not if I wanted to go to bed on time.

If I'd been paying attention to the time, I'd have gotten myself food at 7:30 rather than waiting for Scott. I don't know what I'd have eaten; we seem to be low on easily prepared things. I would have found something. As it was, I still had to eat in order to take my evening medications, but all I dared have was some plain bread. Even margarine would have been risky, so I didn't put any on.

I'm thinking to set myself a time warning on my laptop to notify me when it's, say, 7:15, so that this doesn't happen again. I don't hate the foods that are bland enough to be safe after 8:00. It's just frustrating to be eating bread when everybody else is eating crab.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 09:14 am


My bedroom now looks like an adult lives in it. Two adults, in fact. I’ve even started (12 months AFTER I moved in), to put up decorations!!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 06:06 pm
Hi, I'm going to be traveling in the USA and Canada this month, and have a question about the availability of Ibuprofen and Paracetamol as over the counter meds.

In Australia I can buy both at either pharmacies or general supermarkets without prescriptions.

I want to make sure it's going to be okay for me to:

1. Bring them with me
2. Buy them if I run out

and also

3. figure out what they are called there.

I'm pretty sure that ibuprofen is still ibuprofen, just with different brand names, but I think paracetamol is called something different altogether.

Any help is much appreciated.

ETA: Thanks everyone. All my questions have been covered.