Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Learn to grovel like a champ

This is the age of being sorry. Get used to it. You can be racist if you want, an idiot, a chauvinist, a bully, an incompetent--but with free speech now comes the requirement to apologize for your sins.

Scott McCartney, WSJ, July 10, 2014, writes about how airlines are sort of not good in the apologizing department. And they have to do it a lot!

First--and this might not be good--Southwest has a computer sort complaints into Feelers, Drivers, Entertainers, and Thinkers. Then it crafts an apology for each.

Actually airlines have to respond in 30 days--so they get with it.

One letter from Delta said, "I'm really sorry about the injury you suffered on our flight. (Critiqued by an Eng prof, this sounded childish.) Unfortunately, you were hurt by a seat marker. (This was supposed to be personalized, of course the passenger remembered the incident.)

The letter goes on: "That truly sounds unpleasant. You should have had a nicer experience on our plane." (Me--darn right, can it.)

It goes on in this syrupy and simplified tone. One paragraph reminded the passenger she got ice for her injury.

Why not write? "I am so sorry you whacked our head on a seat marker on ____ date. This should never have happened. We are buying a different brand of airplane next time--don't hate us. And here is a free ticket to Bali. The MRIs are on us. Is there any other way we can make up for this? Maybe put your child through college or something?"

I can dream.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't be too quick to say you're sorry

I have a relative who always apologizes at the fast food window--too slow to put her change away, sorry, someone behind her toots the horn, sorry, the guy on the mic can't hear her order, sorry.

I keep asking why are you sorry--it's your turn and the mic should work!

Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, July 15, 2014, says when you actually have an argument, saying you're sorry too fast can just paper things over.

Conflict is normal. Saying "sorry" too fast may be a way to avoid it.

So wait to resume or talk--don't do it while one person is still "hot."

Focus on feelings--not the details of the fight.

Never use the word "but" in your apology. "I am sorry...but..."

Realize it may take time to wear off, until both people feel better.

And--this is from me--don't keep on and on apologizing. I am so, so, sorry...Give it up at some point.

Don't worry, another disagreement will come along.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Good money habits for kids

My daughter is not a kid--and she has bad money habits. She spends it. I am sure, like everything else about her, this is all my fault.

So I read a piece in the WSJ by Anne Marie Chaker (July 10, 2014) with interest and some remorse.

In the story, the parents give their two kids 14 and 11 ten bucks a month allowance. In exchange they did chores.

But this--as radically organized as it was--was not enough. So now the kids get $20 bucks at the end of the month and have more chores and must save ten bucks. They also must save half of the money they earn around the neighborhood. They walk pets, babysit, mow lawns.

Mow lawns--you can't find a kid out here in AZ to mow a lawn if you paid a hundred bucks.

Well, the little capitalists have amassed tidy little nest eggs--the girl is saving for a trip to Switzerland.

Maybe she can open a secret account, if they still have those. Her mom has enrolled her in financial boot camp, after all.

I am not saying this is bad. It is just so creepily atypical.

When I was a kid we got 25 cents a week and bought candy. Yummm, rootbeer barrels.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Invisibles

Adam Rubenfire, WSJ, July 10, 2014, talks about a new book out called The Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, by David Zweig.

The Invisibles are highly skilled workers who go unnoticed by the public.

The author had been a magazine fact checker--he was invisible unless he made a mistake. The better he did his job, the less he was recognized.

Most Invisibles like it that way. They may make a lot of money and supervise many people, but don't crave the limelight.

Invisibles work for the work itself.

Sort of like this blog, I guess. Year in, year out, I get a thousand hits a day, rarely any comments, sniff...I just do it to do it.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

STEM STEM STEM--Maybe not the whole answer

Science Technology Engineering Math--this is now dubbed STEM. All the pols and pundits say we need more STEM grads.

According to the Census Bureau, though, three-quarters of those with a Bachelor's in a STEM field are not working in that field.

Yet, unemployment for STEM grads is lower that for the general population of workers--3.6% of those between 25 and 64 are out of a job, compared with 6.1% for the rest.

Yet--these are not necessarily working a STEM job. Engineers are most likely to be, but the supply of those is 50% more than the demand.

So what to do with this information? If you are gifted in a STEM area, pursue your passion. If it does not appeal, don't force it.

What do you think?

I still think it beats gender studies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't be like fish

Be welcomed back...
Like fish, houseguests, the say goes, begin to stink in three days.

Lizzie Post. WSJ, July 17, 2014, has some tips for being a good and welcome guest.

People often go to the beach in summer--and their friends also want to go to the beach. So the guest thing jumps off.

First, don't bring steamer trunks of stuff--just the minimum. Ask ahead what activities might be planned.

If the hosts want to spend time with you, don't make a lot of other plans and run off every day.

If you have special foods, bring those. Bring your own toiletries.

If the host has kids, offer to babysit one evening.

Bring an appropriate gift--if they don't drink much, don't bring wine and guzzle it down yourself. Maybe a coffee table book on a interest the host has. Or some soaps.

Offer to help--but some people don't want help, so catch the drift.

Also--tidy up and don't snoop!

Follow up with a thank you note. A note, not an email or text. Text--very gauche.

Once we stayed in a condo on the beach and somehow some sugar was on the table when we left--ants marched in. The condo owner was not amused. Good-bye condo!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Some more equal than others?

There has been buzz recently about women in Silicon Valley getting crude treatment from the little boy geniuses.

This is about perks, though. Rachel Feintzeig (WSJ, July 16, 2014), says the tech industry is famous for snacks, booze and free dry cleaning--but these perks are now being scaled back and not offered as often to sales people and non-developers.

Redfin, for instance, has both developers and real estate agents. The agents, used to commissions, love the perks such as big monitors and sushi lunches.

But now they are getting entitled--asking for gym memberships and the like.

If it were me, I would not expect the grape-peeling to last forever or to be for everyone.

In other words, code writers will be sushi biters and the rest will bring tuna from home.