Thursday, December 31, 2009

Me likee the coffee--and it likes me


Melinda Beck, WSJ, Dec 29, 2009) says java is good for you—or most of us.

Of course, no self-respecting health writer would just say something seems to be OK, so here is how it breaks down.

2-4 cups a day, 35% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

At least 6 cups—60% less chance of prostate cancer than those who drink zero cups.

Lower risk of getting colon, mouth, throat, esophageal, and endometrial cancer.

Same for gallstones, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s, and The Alz.

Someone even looked an 100,000 people 20 years concluded the more coffee they drank, the less likely they were to die during that 20 yrs.

Prevents death!

Man, this stuff is the libation of the gods.

Wellll….Here comes Melinda again. It can raise BP, and homocysteine, an amino acid in blood that can raise risk of stroke. Pregnant women who drink 2 cups a day had skinnier babies and more chance of miscarriage.

Coffee also could be bad for older women losing bone.

And of course, people can’t remember how much they drank for these studies—and what does “cup” mean…how many ounces?

Coffee drinkers may also have good jobs and access to health care—they say. I think that one is a stretch in trying to diss these positives.

So…have a cup if you want. Even these scientists said they drink it. And decaf? Can raise LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Decaf is an abomination anyhow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

S'no joke


The Loyola University Health System says don’t let winter kill ya.

Think of the sledding, days off school, cross country skiing.

And the shoveling.

When you shovel it all day, shoveling snow on weekends is can be dangerous if you do it wrong.

Broken bones, heart attacks—it ain’t pretty.

If you have heart of back problems—get someone else to do it. Period.

Shoveling is like many reps with a heavy weight.

Take a fast walk or march in place first to rev up beforehand.

Wear layers. You can shed them as you get hotter.

Wear gloves—frostbite is not fun.

Use a small shovel with a curved handle. A wad of snow can weight 15 lbs.

Lift with your legs not your back, as mom used to tell you.

Shovel frequently—don’t wait for huge banks to build.

Stay hydrated—being cold does not mean you are not dry.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine.

How about giant brandies? Probably out, too.

They still make cocoa, though.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Always wanted to be a nurse?


Bad economy or good, health care mess or no, people need good nursing care—disease and injury are givens.

I was reading in my Geo Washington University alum mag about a 15-mo nursing degree you can get to add to your BA. Basically it gives you a second BA.

We look to be about 160,000 nurses short by 2025.

The first year GW did it, 20 grads emerged. That number is doubling.

There are 205 such accelerated degree programs in the US.

I would advise you to call your local university and see what’s what. I put “15-month nursing program” in google and found a bunch.

All the times I have been in the hospital—the nurses made it or broke it.

You could make it bearable for someone or lots of someones.

Monday, December 28, 2009

About those late-life crises


Is it a crisis if it happens about once a month?

Hey, we live for today, right?

Every day we are told to reinvent ourselves. This can get very exhausting.

But once again, the economy sucks, the admin is a joke, my profession of journalist is on its last legs, and I am sitting here with a family to support.

Welcome to 2010.

So….the other day I saw a baseball cap decorated with hot-glued brocade sort of in a montage—kinda cute…but $35? No way.

But I kept thinking about it…Maybe we could make some even cuter ones and see if local stores would stock them…maybe…

At first my family sort of humored me Yeah. Star, great idea…

Then my daughter said you can't see and your sister has those nails, so I would have to do it and I don't want to.

Oh.

So now I am back in crisis. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kid's sick--but you MUST go to work


When my tot was younger, I used to think I did my best mothering when she was sick—got juice, Jell-O, crackers, pudding, fun sick foods, read more to her, etc.

But one day, after she was knocked down by a kid on a bike, I had to go to a meeting the next day—people were coming from California, it had been set up for months.

Turned out she had a broken leg—and I missed the casting (her Dad took her--he was around then). Just send over my Mother of the Year trophy.

Chandler Regional Hospital has a Kid Care area where kids with strictly regulated symptoms can be dropped off on such occasions. Well, not broken bone occasions, but sniffles events.

Any given day 350,000 kids are too sick to go to school. Working mothers stay home with them 5 to 29 days a year.

You can see if your local hospital has such a service—this one, a well-kept secret, has been around 10 years.

Their rules for judging how sick a child are: Fever over 100, vomiting more than twice in 4 hours, diarrhea, earache, red eyes with goo, lice and nits---stay home from school.

Runny nose, cough or rash, went to doctor, not normal, sick family member—think about keeping them home.

Then, on the bright side, you can do that good mothering, even if it includes finding them a safe place while you go to an emergency meeting. Or try to hold onto your job.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lessons from a personal shopper


Georgann Yara, writing in the Arizona Republic (Dec 21, 2009), introduces Diana Gruenig, a personal shopper.

Maybe now, during The Troubles, many of us cannot afford a personal shopper, but she has some tricks for us.

She specializes in revamping existing wardrobes—lesson one, don’t toss, rethink.

She shops on Monday and Tuesday—the slowest days in the stores.

She doesn’t riffle through racks and pull out items—she looks down the sides and sees which fabrics are suitably rich.

Some people need an update, others a new image. Know which is which.

She then shops to holes in the wardrobe and rolls the choices to the client on a rack.

It’s less stressful to try things on at home. My sister always takes things home and if she doesn’t like them, just brings them back.

Many men, she says are mannequin shoppers—they buy what is on the mannequin so they can get out of the store.

That’s why half her clients are male.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Being Santa a funky gig this year


Joe Golfen (AZ Republic, Dec 21, 2009) says Santas are getting some tough one this year—get Daddy a job, Mom needs something called chemo, can you get Daddy from Afghanistan.

They learn in Santa school to day there is only so much they can do.

One Santa, who has played the jolly elf for 37 years, says when he offers to pray, he does…to be truthful.

Just hearing Santa will be thinking of them makes them feel better, one Santa said.

One Santa said most of the children in a low-income group wanted video games or other toys, but one said, “Santa, can you bring my Mom and me a home—we don’t have one.”

Santa does have the power to comfort, one nurse said.

Who’s going to comfort Santa? I see why some of them have a couple.

Cheers--ho, ho, ho.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Poor You: Those Christmas letters


Do I sound defensive? I live in a “working class” neighborhood in an upsidedown house and business is bad in Obamaville.

I sort of dread getting those chirpy long newsletters---And Susie got a full scholarship to Vassar and will spend Junior year in Scotland…Buddy just got a promotion at Morgan Stanley and expects a fabulous bonus any minute…Roger bought a new Escalade and we get 25 miles to the gallon, can you imagine…I was elected to another term …

Ack.

Can anything be so perfect?

Well, not anymore. According to the WSJ (Dec 18, 2009) many newsletter writers are more subdued these days.

One woman, who had earlier talked of her kids’ progress at household word colleges, instead announced her own layoff. She also noted for all and sundry that she still had health insurance.

The year before one woman had announced her new job—half a newsletter’s worth. This year, one word: Downsized.

Other writers use humor and sarcasm. Oh, I do love sarcasm—it is my favored form of communication. One guy said what a wonderful year, all rumors that I got a $100,000 pay cut are wrong—it was $106,000.

A car dealer wrote: “For God’s sake, buy a car!”

Still others are networking—keep me in mind for x, y, z.

One creative woman said they were Hansel & Gretel trying to sell a house and the banks were the Big Bad Wolves. A wicked Witch (appraiser) devalued them because of the Three Pigs down the street.

I like that one.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Underwater-glug


In the hideously depressed real estate market out here in AZ, everyone I know owes more on their houses than the houses are worth—even those who did not refinance during better times.

Yeah, great little investment there. Remember when people said your house was an investment? Yeah--pretty funny.

Now it’s an albatross.

Still, most people I know believe a deal’s a deal. You bought it, you pay for it.

Yes, the rules have changed and yes, the fat cats are still raking while we are baking.

Don’t you love how all of a sudden these bankers could whip up billions and pay it back so they could give themselves bigger salaries and bonuses or hire some guy who makes a thousand times what you do?

But there is something inside many people that says don’t break your promise. It's called integrity. Can integrity be wrong?

It’s a tough call. And remember—some states have laws that let the banks come after you and take your car or bank accounts if you walk. Be careful and do your research if you are making this “business decision.”

In my case , my mortgage payment is about what I would have to pay to rent a house. In other people’s, though, they could bank $1000 or more a mo by renting and need that money for food and clothes for their family.

Bank. Jeez, don’t even say that word.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry little barter credit


Along the continuing theme of how to give employees a nice Christmas on zero dough---today Parker Leavitt (AZ Republic, Dec 16, 2009) wrote about how some bosses are giving barter points from a local barter exchange or whatever they call them.

This one, the Arizona Barter Exchange, has 600 businesses in it—restaurants, hotels, landscapers, hotels, and others. One company does something for another company and get credits which can then be “spent” at other exchange members’ businesses.

One company gave each employee $300 worth of credits. Then the Exchange held a fair where the workers could “buy” things.

Of course, this isn’t cash that can be used for bills—it is more for services and goods. The kind of things people like to get as gifts.

I was in a barter group once back east—I remember it being pretty complicated…or else I was pretty stupid.

Have you ever tried it, readers?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Tiny voice) Wheee


I used to (don’t laugh) hire people. I often finished my spiel by saying, “We try to have fun here.” I remember some shocked and uncertain looks from applicants.

One asked me what the hours were, I remember. I said, “Well, 8:30 to 5:00, but after you have paid some dues, you can kind of come and go as long as the work gets done.” Silence. Then she ventured, “Dues? You have to pay to work here?”

OK—that was funny only to me. Bad example.

I read one of those advice columns on work the other day where the questioner said everyone in her office was joking and yukking it up and she felt like the grouch.

They suggested a website called www.HowNotToActOld.com. (I felt very old reading this thing.)

Another said standing out for being a stickler might work in the questioner’s favor.

A third said, “Why be so judgmental, calling the others unprofessional?”

Being professional, this person said, means showing up and doing the work.

If the laughter is keeping you from working, well, you might have to say something. And that something would not be: “Shut up, you losers.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stimulus petering


The so-called stimulus was legislative pocket lint in the first place—pork projects lying around Congress that could never get through—then, wham.

They were never going to create jobs or certainly not a lot of jobs—unless some college kid got a temporary job counting minnows by a dam or something.

The big infrastructure things—highways, bridges about to fall into rivers—were not really shovel-ready. Most of the money has not even been spent.

Gary Fields wrote about this in the WSJ Dec 1, 2009.

At recovery.gov, the White House website of successes, some of the stimulus effect was made up—it was in all the papers, citing Congressional districts that didn’t even exist, etc.

Now the big construction cos that were going full steam are winding up and looking for their next groundbreaking. We need something to bid on, said one exec.

Unemployment in the construction industry (which is not all housing) is at 19%,up from 10%.

A big highway bill was being considered but would have required gas taxes to pay for it. People seem to have noticed we are spending and borrowing our guts out.

Sure, a new freeway would be great in your neighborhood or widening the one you get stuck on, but the phone, as one guy said, ain’t ringing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Like it or not, you may be retired


Only 60% of people 55 to 64 are employed and it’s trending down.

Kelly Evans and Sarah E Needleman wrote about this in the WSJ Dec 8, 2009.

People get laid off, aren’t ready or thinking of retiring, can’t find another job, then get early Social Security and start the Big Struggle.

Just a year or two ago we were hearing that people were planning to continue working.

Now, not so much.

Getting early SS means you get less forevermore, unless you pay back what you got at 66 and start over, sort of. Who can do that—we need this money to live on.

But people retiring early means fewer dollars paid into SS, your classic vicious cycle.

Does age bias have a part in this? Naturally, don’t believe anyone who says differently.

One person quoted in this said the younger people at companies thought he could not even check email—when he was very computer savvy.

Plus—there is the factor of working hard all your life, learning, getting smarter and better, then being dropped as worth nothing.

That part really blows.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Houses sell better if they look liveable


Want that lived-in look? Lived in but not TOO lived in?

You can hire a live-in stager. Not only does the company bring in neutral furniture and accessories after you’ve left, but a family that will even pay the utilities, insurance and maybe a small rental payment—plus keep the place from looking crummy.

Of course, the sellers do not keep the rental payment—the stager does.

The stagers get to live in a nice home, even if it’s only for a short time.

Kara G. Morrison, AZ Republic, Dec 6, 2009, wrote about this.

Hometenders of America and Showhomes are companies that do this.

This is best for homes over a million dollars and takes an organized person to do it.

Because of this market, though, some live-in stagers get an 8-month run, so it's worth it to them.

Having the home look lived-in removes the desperation would-be buyers might impute to the sellers—therefore,, this approach eliminates many low-ball offers.

Sometimes insurance rates are lower for lived-in homes, too.

Kind of in the win-win-win area, yes?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Future Farmers of America for city kids


Emily Gersena, Arizona Republic, Dec 9, 2009, says in AZ here many urban youngsters are joining FFA, which used to be for farm kids.

They learn floral arranging, marketing, vet assistance, and food science.

They compete in contests, such as knot-tying for restraining large animals for treatment.

They assist in animal surgery.

Others are more interested in plants and flowers and compete in flower arranging.

These are skills transferable to any career, administrators point out, noting basic marketing and leadership skills are taught.

Hey, my kid was in a jobs program—was interested in interior design then. Nothing wrong with vocational emphasis. Go to ffa.org and learn more.

You never know where life will take you--you may need to tie down a cow, who knows?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We always have been temporary


Everyone is a permanent worker in need of money and meaning, but only temporarily employed and supplied with these.

Jody Greenstone Miller wrote about this in the WSJ Dec 1, 2009.

She says the surge in temporary workers is not a sign of dysfunction—but of the way it’s going to be.

The govt needs to scrap outdated rules governing temporary work.

She hires out temps—this woman. And her business is up 70%.

Companies like to be “flexible”—about to fire people anytime. She says top people like to work this way—as hired guns.

She is recommending the feds create a two-year “safe harbor" for temporaries…not subject them to the IRS’s sloppy rules on who is a temp and who should be classified as a “real” employee.

She is also recommending a new employment tax subsidy for hiring temps. If there is one for other new hires, same for temps.

Let temporary employees buy into the Congressional health plan.

Yeah, that’ll happen. In the meantime, temp even in exec terms, means freelance and consultant means “looking for work.”

I think that's stupid--but hey, people can be stupid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Charity begins alone


I used to give some little amount to charity at Christmas and say it was in the name of my friends, which made it sounds much more impressive than it was. But it was a good excuse to write everybody! Then I decided maybe people thought I was implying that THEY should give to charity, and that made me pretty much of a dork…so now what.

I could send an email saying I am not giving anything. But still…so I decided to give to our newspaper’s Sharing campaign where they add to the money…leveraging, sort of. Even if I am a dork, people can use a hand, right?

Karen Blumenthal writes about charity in the season of recession (WSJ, Dec 2, 2009).

Did you know that poor people tend to give more percentagewise that the richies? I can see that. The Red Cross found that 20% of people were giving less, but 62% were holding even.

Still, if we can, we need to give more. The Food Banks are maxed out. Half of all charities have had shortfalls this year.

Half the money comes in at the holidays—not the time to skimp.

The Red Cross has had fewer disasters to bring in the money—and that is a disaster.

They did a catalog of gifts—but these are for others, such as $54 for three blankets.

The American Cancer Society has a campaign that says, “Cancer doesn’t take a rest.” Personally, I don’t love that slogan. Hey, you lazy slug—cancer is gaining on you.

One expert says act like a family foundation—group your donations to one place.

The average person, according to the Wall Street Journal, gives to two dozen places. Well, not this average person!

If your company matches donations—do it that way.

Be selective. Be smart. There are plenty of scammers around this time of year.

Don’t donate over the phone. Charities are exempt from the Do Not Call list, but you can ask them to put you on their own list.

If they ask for even just $5, saying every little bit helps, beware. It costs $15 or more to solicit each person.

Just don’t be a Scrooge. I used to know this very rich guy who said he could give a huge amount, but wouldn’t give anything. Watch out for those ghosts in the night, bud. Wonder if that guy is still alive—bye, off to google to see.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Keen acres


Here in Phoenix, a woman gave a little course on how to keep chickens in your yard downtown (where it's legal).

Back to the soil with us!

Gwendolyn Bounds wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal Dec 3, 2009.

Apparently, rural real estate is holding up better in value. People can’t find a job and take off for the countryside. The erstwhile city folk are called “ruralpolitans.”

Young people buy land as an investment and to live on later.

Some exurban commuters live far out.

While still others actually farm.

Farmland and timberland tends to hold value.

Still, country life can pall—a backed-up septic tank or vermin can dim enthusiasm.

One couple bought a “mix” of chickens from a feed store, but it was mostly roosters. Killing one for food was, shall we say, not the wife’s thing. And it was tough!

Another man had horses—which he described as massive pooping tubes. He had to build bins for the um, waste, in cold and darkness.

Internet access helps a lot.

Makers of small tractors and equipment say business is booming from this trend.

Family farming—has a ring to it. Even sounds familiar.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Don't toss that coal-burning computer


In fact, it can be illegal to put electronic parts in the trash. Some of the parts are exotic or toxic.

At Iolo.com, there are some tips.

If you donate to a school, church, or nonprofit, you may be able to deduct some amount.

Still, even the most rickety-looking schools may sell your equipment and get something better. Try not to be offended.

Stuff under 3 yrs old is apt to be met with the most enthusiasm.

Computers 3-5 yrs old should go to a refurbishing center. Check out techsoup.com for places.

Older than 5 yrs—recycle. Goodwill and the Salvation Army no longer want donated computers.

Keep the operating system in it, keep software in it. Include peripherals where you can.

Get your personal stuff OFF! Reformatting the hard drive will not do it—use DriverScrubber or something similar.

Get a receipt.

I need someone to donate a computer to me! AOL, for one thing, has self-destructed. I am best friends with India.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Animals are deeply recessed, too


Our buds are being left in foreclosed homes or shoveled into crammed shelters. We can’t always afford the shots and vet runs.

But we can do something. On debtproofliving.com, one reader says they take old blankets and towels to the shelters. One woman even sews them into bed pads. Now that is handy!

Another clips coupons for pet food and takes these to the shelter.

Sometimes feed stores will give dog vaccines (rabies excluded). Check it out. (We have horses around here, so I guess there are feed stores.)

One reader shreds junk mail for rabbit cages. Take out the coated, colored ads.

Use a dog brush to get the pet hair off rugs—saves on those sticky lint rollers or the vac.

Put black pepper where you don’t want animals to “go” in your yard. Worth a try anyhow.

I also contacted a vet who comes to your house—and it was no more expensive that the go-to vet. And I was getting fed up with their attitude over there, anyhow. Grrr.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Partying down


I remember when I had a “real” job. One year, they were feeling poor and instead of setting the Christmas Party in the Mayflower Hotel ballroom, they threw it in our same older conference room where we had slept through a zillion meetings.

Instead of bonuses—they gave gift certificates to the local Safeway, which were immediately dubbed “food stamps.”

Jeez—Ever heard of MORALE!? One year, I had gotten a $2,500 bonus and believe me when I tell you that was better.

Jonnelle Marte (WSJ, Dec 1, 2009) says many small business owners are getting creative this season, instead of just chintzy.

At Proforma Worldwide Support Center in Cleveland, execs are scraping snow off all 100 employees’ cars at least once a month in lieu of bonuses. They are also rotating use of the closest parking space.

Only 31% of business owners plan year-end bonuses, down from 44% last year.

Only 16% are giving raises—last year, it was twice that.

Some companies are also cutting back on client gifts. One branding company collected a bunch of the little gifts they got from clients and regifted.

One magazine even let advertisers have a free ad.

As for the party—some small businesses in New Jersey ganged up with other small cos and threw a joint party. Saved 25%!

And another plus? It’s not the same old people you see everyday! AND—if you drink a few extras, maybe you won’t see the person you tried to hit on the next day.

Now that’s a bonus!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cheap, bargain..oh, yeah, Christmas


According to the WSJ, Nov 9, 2009, people are venturing into the mall, but there isn’t money hanging out of their pockets.

Even the big market makers like P&G and Campbell are keeping prices low and emphasizing value.

More than 10% unemployment, six people for every job, a BS "jobs summit” and other factors are spooking everyone this season.

Three-quarters of people intend to buy presents on sale. More than half are using coupons.

Walmart is slashing prices, with 100 toys for under $10.

Applebees says of their customers: “If they only want to spend $20 for two meals, that is all they will spend.”

All of this isn’t bad necessarily—if you need a new computer, grab a bargain. Things like that. Just don’t go nuts.

Feeling recessed? Take a Nozac.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes you need to ask the questions


How can you tell if you are giving good interview. Sometimes you wonder when they suddenly say they are looking at other people and so on.

Usually if you try to ask the interviewer what you did wrong, you will get the old “no answer” answer.

You could ask DURING the interview if there is any way you could be a better candidate, anything you might have forgotten to mention.

Probably, though, they will not say they just didn’t take to you, or you seemed desperate or pushy, or some other reason they just didn’t see you at the company.

Still, the worst thing you can do is sit there and just answer questions as they get lobbed over.

Back when I hired people, I looked for enthusiasm, interest and curiosity about the company. Enthusiasm! And don’t forget to say, “It was a pleasure to meet you, and I am interested in this job and think I would be an asset. May I ask what the next step is?"

Friday, November 27, 2009

10 cheap ways to sell your house


One out of 4 Americans owes more on their house than it could possibly sell for. Isn’t that neat?

Out her AZ way, it’s baaad, babies. No matter how many state dinners, luaus, and poetry evenings they have at the White House, we are hurting.

So, naturally, I watch endless “House Hunters,” “Property Shop,” and “Million Dollar Listing” shows, masochist that I am. On MDL recently, a would-be renter of a posh Malibu house requested the brick floor be replaced with wood—this was a RENTER. And they did it…so things are tight everywhere, even in “The Bu,” as I now call it, too.

But I digress.

Kara G. Morrison (A Republic, Oct 11, 2009) has 10 quick things you can do to your house to buff it up.

Scrub everything. Guess that would include the kitty litter area, huh? DETAIL your house.

Redo caulk—that can look all cracky and weird.

Hide the clutter, which means pix and personal things that don’t make the buyer see him or herself in the house.

Replace light bulbs. An inspector may show that as a non-working outlet.

Manicure the yard.

Oust odors. Smoke, pet stinks—even if it means washing walls, repainting or replacing carpet.

Steam-clean carpet—get rid of stains.

Repaint—cheap and really makes a place seem fresh.

Offer peace of mind—pay for a pre-sale inspection or a home maintenance contract.

If you are underwater (owe more than you can get), you may not want to do big things, but do your best.

Speaking of—I also love a show called “Bang for the Buck.” Snippy “experts” critique people’s home improvements while the homeowners look on and comment defensively. “We THOUGHT of that, but it wouldn’t fit there, whoever you are.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hello, again


One in seven parents says a kid has come back home—or never left. These are called boomerang kids, unless, as is the case with my darling daughter, 27, they never left.

This is all according to the Pew Research Center, a reputable outfit.

In my kid’s case, she disdained college and when I said, “Don’t you want to get an apartment with some friends,” said—You never told me I had to leave. And burst into tears.

Only 7% of adults 18 to 29 live alone—down from 2007.

About a third of the boomerangs did live outside the parental home at one point, but not now.

This is called a “social impact.” I’ll say.

Actually, young people may not be working for awhile. Older people are holding onto their jobs and the younger ones are staying in school.

Among 16-24 year olds, less than half are employed.

Twenty million people 18-34 live with their parents.

Fifteen percent have even put off getting married.

Yeah, that probably would involve moving.

Isn’t this like roommates, though? Blending incomes—making do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's MBA time


Did you know it’s MBA school application season?

Me, neither.

I never get the memos.

Anyhow, if you are thinking of some higher higher ed, here are some tips from Dana Middleton, WSJ, Nov 10, 2009.

The season is from November to as late as April. Do your most coveted school first By the third round, they are looking for specific attributes. Don’t procrastinate.

Discuss your long-term goals with your employer—a recommendation from that person enhances your app. If you feel like the employer would feel threatened about your leaving, write a letter to the school explaining why you have no recommendation.

Work harder at the office, Middleton says. Maybe you can add a new talking point to your app.

Spend three weeks preparing for the in-person interview. Check out www.accepted.com for sample questions you might get.

Wait-listed is not bad—don’t panic. You may get a counselor to watch the list for you. You can also put in more positive info.

If you are going full-time, plan your exit from your company carefully. Leave on a high note.

You may come back—smarter than ever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What to say to an unemployed person


Aieeee…..Not “think positively.”

OK—that is out of my system.

William Arnold, a former prof at ASU, writes about this in his Strategic Aging column. (What is aging strategy, doesn't it sort of happen?)

He quotes one expert as saying what to tell the person depends on whether it is a man or woman.

Men often think of the old paradigm of themselves as the bread winner. They feel they are not doing their duty, what they should be doing.

Unemployed women have a different set of demons. Sexism may be declining (according to this), but women will still run into it—as in “her husband makes a good living, she doesn’t need the job.”

Women often have a strong support group of friends and men may not. This can be a job hunting network, as well as a supportive one.

If you know a man who is unemployed, emphasize the “challenge” presented. But understand, he may feel he is failing in some basic way.

Best of all: Listen and don’t give a lot of detailed advice.

Incidentally, one thing people say to me which is losing in appeal: "You will think of something."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mothering invention


With the high cost of everything and the conspicuous lack of cash in most pockets, the WSJ says people are tinkering more, some even buying formerly high-end milling machines to make parts.

Justin Lahart, Nov 12, 2009, discusses how this trend is leading to inventions such as a device to twitter how much beer is left in a keg or surgery robots.

Engineering schools say their students are tending to like the hands-on work

Spark Fun Electronics is one place that sells parts to tinkerers. Their business has almost doubled.

People like hands-on—it’s real—not like finance. Computer numerical controlled tools—that cut metal or other materials according to a computer program--are a tenth as expensive as 10 yrs ago.

One guy bought a mill to make bike sprockets for $7,000.

At the schools, it’s not enough to get an A. People ask what you are building.

Some entrepreneurs even thought up the idea of equipping a shop with equipment people can use by the hour.

Always thinking, Americans!

Keep at it—this is what makes companies that then hire people.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wanted, sort of: Health care workers


Guess it wouldn’t be too reassuring to be a mammogram tech these days, what with the preliminary foray into cutting medical services to cut costs, but according to Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic, Nov 13, 2009, pharmacists and certified nursing assistants, to name two, are in demand, although there is competition.

Mayo out here in AZ is seeing three times as many applicants as before.

As for nursing, sometimes experienced (meaning expensive) nurses are replaced by new grads, but most places try for a mix.

The market for pharmacists is tightening—but like other health care pros, they are trying to branch into corporate wellness and disease management.

Instead of “pick, lick, and stick,” they are counseling patients on their medications, sometimes by phone, and monitoring drug use within companies.

Big Brother in a white coat? Did I type that out loud—naw.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Speed screening, anyone?


Emily Maltby, WSJ Nov 17, 2009, says companies are desperate to weed through the enormous responses they get for each job these days.

One company invited all respondents to their “open house.” Only a percentage attended.

Then they sort of did a “speed dating” thing—short interviews. They removed people who weren’t enthusiastic.

That left 68 people—these will be called for group, then individual, interviews.

Other cos are giving personality tests using 15-min questionnaires.

Yet another company has top candidates hang around the office four a few days, even attending some meetings.

I guess that would be slow hiring, not speed hiring. Whatever works. It’s certainly a buyer’s market.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Low-cost staging--digital-style


Watch “Million Dollar Listing” or “House Hunters.” Putting some furniture in an empty room makes it look better—and this “staging” can add thousands to house value.

But staging companies can be spendy.

Kara G. Morrison, AZ Republic, Nov 15, 2009, writes about a company in Atlanta (www.virtuallystagingproperties.com) for people who don’t have $2400 for their 3-mo staging plan.

Instead, they add the furniture and accessories, digitally—imposing them on photos of the empty rooms. For $225, customers have these pix for a couple of days to add them to their MLS listing and make it look more enticing.

The stager will not change ugly wall colors or anything like that.

Another company, Virtual Enriching Homes (www.virtualenrichinghomes.com), offers staging advice via computer—four rooms for $69.

The owner of this company emails a list of proposed changes—tells clients what should be removed, how furniture should be repositioned, what accessories should be added.

Another company, PMC Interiors (www.pmcinteriors.com) offers a 90-minute consultation for $150.

I guess it’s OK if you don’t have Chad Rogers to bring an orchid plant ("Million Dollar Listing") or Jeff Lewis ("Flipping Out") to move your bureau an inch to the left…Ah, perfection.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Women dragging home the bacon


For the first time, there are more women in the workforce than men, not that they are making the money men are.

Kelly Evans writes about this (WSJ, Nov 12, 2009).

Boom times, some women can stay home, bust, they must dust off the resume.

One woman in the article was married to a homebuilder…uh-oh. Homebuilding not so great—she was back on the job front.

Unemployment for men 16 and over is 11.2%.

In 4 out of 10 households women are the sole wage earner or make more than the man.

The bright side? Men will have more experience in the home and this could carry over to doing more at home when this recession ends, if it does. (Hold your breath starting NOW.)

One husband said it was a luxury for his wife to have a decade off. Back to workies!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Budget hair


Paradi Mirimirani, MD, assistant prof of dermatology at the Univ of California San Francisco, says you can cut back on hair care—and be better off, not frazzled.

Go to the salon less frequently. Cut back on products. You will still have healthy hair,

Hair is made of fiberlike structures packed together and wrapped with a hard outer cuticle kind of like singles on a roof. If this outer cuticle gets damaged, the inner fibers fray and look frizzy or lackluster.

Lose the boar bristle brushes, Mirimirani advises. They are supposed to be the best. They aren’t. Buy a brush with wide-spaced plastic needles.

Shampoo is a detergent used to remove dirt from the scalp. Most people over-wash. Cut the shampoo days if you have fairly dry skin. African-Americans can get away with once a week. Their skin tends to be drier.

Salon shampoos cost a lot but are in most cases no better for your hair. You should look for a special shampoo for color-treated, if your hair is color-treated. If hair is damaged, use a conditioner. Try a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, followed by more conditioner. Use the conditioner only on the tips of the hair.

Be cautious of heat and chemicals. Never use a flat iron on wet hair. If you use a hot blow dryer, use a styling product that protects against heat.

Store-bought color is not that much different from salon color. Test it for rashes behind your ear for 24 hrs.

Perms at home can be tricky. Maybe a salon for those.

Blow-dry hair upside down for more volume. You may not need a volumizer shampoo.

As for regrowing hair—see your dermie. Did you know I was going to say that?

Also—Remember "Rinse and Repeat"? Don’t repeat.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No--not permanent Santa


Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, Nov 10, 2009, says holiday hires can get a full-time gig. The Christmas thing can be an icebreaker.

In a small percentage of cases, the temp can even come out from behind the cash register into HR or finance,

One woman was a gift-wrapper in HS, went back to Macy’s as a human resources manager and is still there.

You need to be on the inside, she says, to see what’s available. Look at the seasonal job as an audition.

Employers like to recruit from within.

No matter what your job, be punctual, take on extra duties, keep checking the bulletin board or website.

And tell you you sure would like to stay on. Don't keep it a secret.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grrrrr, sonny


No work, idiot economy, blah, blah…sometimes even I wish I had a nice hunk to talk to.

I am way too old to be a “cougar.” Maybe a sabertooth.

Associated Press’s Megan K. Scott writes about the phenom of old(er) woman, younger man.

First, one of the young’uns says women his age don’t know what they want—hey, maybe marriage.

Cougars certainly aren’t marriage bait. Only 1% of marriages in 2008 were between a woman 10-14 yrs older than hubs.

Still some older women look a teeny hot. One source said it’s like traveling to an exotic land for a young guy to date someone older. You mean, like a trip to Mexico or something? Sheesh, these kids can dream, can’t they?

One matchmaker said more women are requesting younger men, but not the other way around.

Still, older women have more time, more money, more sense of adventure, and more pentup energy.

Well, sort of.

Have you seen that show “Cougar” with Courtney Cox? If I were a younger guy I would be embarrassed to be seen or HEARD with someone as giddy as Cox.

Show some maturity, woman.

OK--Now, Ashton, though--anyone have his twitter?

Come to think of it, though, I saw him on Rachel Zoe and he has a website for teenage girls while being married to Demi.

Never mind. I like dogs. I'm good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yo, techies


Writing in the AZ Republic (Nov 8, 2009), Andrew Johnson says technology companies are seeing a teeny pickup on sales of electronics and defense items.

If you have skills in the semiconductor, software,, and aerospace fields, you may have an advantage.

There are even some tech startups.

One company looking out here in AZ is InfusionSoft (www.infusionsoft.com/careers).

General Dynamics is also looking.

Make sure you can qualify for a security clearance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are you too productive?


Companies can do just as much or more with fewer workers. Wall Street is creaming over the productivity numbers.

Employers are more efficient—wages are flat or falling.

As long as companies can wield the whip and get more out of the people they have, the fewer they will need to hire.

Our friends the economists say this can’t go on forever, but it seems like it.

So productivity was twice what was expected—and unemployment went to 10.2%, more in many areas.

Why don’t we all move to China and get a job!?

I know—I am a big grump. But I am so sick of this insane spending on these lame, convoluted bills that won’t do anything for anyone for years and probably not then. Just as this admin is leaving or long after they have been voted out, these measures will be shown to be a total, crippling crock.

Let’s see an industrial policy. Let’s help companies innovate and hire—pay them to, if we must. At least not tax them down to their socks if they try to.

We are running out of rich people.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eat up


My Dad worked hard and only ate with the rest of us two nights a week, Thurs and Sunday. I remember dreading those meals—it was when all our wrongdoing would be hauled out and discussed. Ick!

Now, my kid and I are on different schedules—I know this sounds weird, but I eat dinner at about 2 PM. She eats at 10 PM.

Still, Karina Bland (AZ Republic, Nov 5, 2009, says of all the things families can do to stay close and prevent drug use and so on, eating a family dinner is the easiest and best.

Studies show that eating dinner together as a family is linked to less drug use, including alcohol abuse. Eating disorders are less common in families that eat dinner.

Yet—the family dinner is vanishing, and along with it, the bonding conversations and the common ground—everyone knowing what is going on.

Of course, this presupposes Mom and Dad can get home from work at a reasonable hour, or if laid off, are in a decent humor to chitchat over the day’s events.

Ironically, in these crazy times, dinner is more of an oasis than ever. Who is setting the table? And can we have as much wine as in the picture?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If you freelance during this mess, be creative


Job security—you never had it, but you never knew it. Now….

If you are thinking of branching out and maybe trying another field in your off-work hours, pick one different from your own.

If you love to plan and have a project manager certificate—how about party planning, for instance?

Don’t be shy—tell people what you are doing. Have cards printed. Make sure your bosses know this is strictly in your spare time.

Diane Porter writes about this in the WSJ, Nov 3, 2009.

Set a schedule—don’t just do the second job any old time. Have a plan.

Try to build a brand. A website is very important for part-timers.

Make deadlines of your own goals—find five contacts, get the website up, that sort of deadline.

I once wrote a story for the Washington Post on Food Moonlighting—people who had baking or cooking skills and went on to start food or catering companies. That story stuck in my mind all these years—the woman who started Just Desserts trying to carry piles of cheesecakes across icy yards.

Life’s little adventures.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Job hunting getting so old


What’s a 55-to-70 yr old to do? Can’t retire, can’t live on air, can’t find a job, can’t Twitter with twits.

Even if you have a skill and lots of experience in marketing, you must add social networking.

For older workers, one expert advises—specialize. After 58, say these experts sadly, you can all but forget about full-time with benefits, though.

So why not do something completely different!? Pick an office building near your home—or a store—whatever. Keep checking for openings in it. Don’t be a stalker, but target it...

Look at nonprofits, such as churches, trade groups, chambers of commerce, charities. Non-profits don’t mean no money—it means the money they get they give to workers.

Take part-time or project work. Get known.

Why not apply at the local assisted care center—they probably appreciate older people.

Be creative!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

H'ween over--time for that holiday job


Max Jarman, Arizona Republic, November 1, 2009, says those holiday jobs are going to be popular—because they will be many people’s only job.

Downside—employers are skittish about hiring a lot of people.

Seasonal applications usually go in in October, so you may already be late.

Most companies take apps on line—so go to the sites of stores near you—Target, Walmart—some even have terminals in the stores.

The big box stores are your best bet.

If a company is opening a new store now—that is good.

Check call centers, too—they need help during the hols.

Only followup with a call if the ad does not say, “No phone calls.”

Still—I have found—the old no-answer answer rules almost everywhere. So rude.

Ho-ho-ho.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Was college worth it?


Chad Graham, AZ Republic, Oct 18, 2009, says the AFL-CIO thinks this is a lost decade for young workers…Bleak, my babies.

Not only has the plight of the young worker not improved since 1999, it has worsened considerably.

Income, health care, retirement money, and confidence—off the cliff.

33% live with their parents

31% make enough to pay bills and save (53% in 1999).

55% more hopeful than worried (77% in 1999)

44% making under $30K and no health insurance

47% with workplace retirement plans (down 6% from 1999)

My own offspring skipped college and can’t even find a dead-end job out here…Yes, she’s still in her room.

Sometimes she goes out on the patio.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh, no--time to become someone else AGAIN


Rick Hampson, USA Today, talks about reinventing yourself. Hey, my Mom invented me! Don’t make me start over on this monumental project.

Positive people (them!) see this economic disaster as a catalyst—forcing them to their true calling or something. I tuned out.

I used to be a lobbyist, then a Mom, then a freelancer, then a screenwriter, now a ticked-off pauper. What a deal!

Hampson talks of lumber workers becoming nurses, paralegals selling cosmetics, interior designers cooking barbecue. Hey, I wish my kid would just be an interior designer—something for which she has an aptitude--forget the brisket.

Figure out something people will do or buy even if they are hurting—pets, appearance, maybe health.

One woman became a dog walker—she bought a franchise.

Which reminds me. I hired a former computer analyst turned pet groomer to help me cut matted fur off my 26-lb cat Chubby Butters. I was holding the Chubster, when the yellow fellow sank a tooth into my hand, blood went everywhere, the ceiling even, and I ended up with a tetanus shot and antibiotics, not to mention a trip to the doc.

See? That guy? Should have stuck with the computer game.

As for me, I am not holding cranky animals ever again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Uh-oh--you are now the boss


Chip Cutter (about the best name ever), Associated Press, says you may not be unemployed forever and may in fact get a job where you are the boss.

Then what?

Newcomers have employees of all temperaments to meet supervise—and mountains of paperwork left over.

First, meet with your own boss. See what is expected—maybe an increase in output? Or maybe you have to lay people off. Find out. If there are many tasks, ask for priorities.

As an underling, you focus on your own performance. As a boss—the performance of others, and you can’t control it.

Be authoritative. Don’t try to be buds or friends.

Get to know your people. Set up small meetings, breakfasts, lunches.

Constantly evaluate progress and priorities.

Report to someone every two weeks if you can.

But be confident. Sure, you used to report to a person like you. Now you are that person.

Life is funny like that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keeping holiday spending down to a dull roar


From Ryerson University, some tips for cutting holiday outlays.

First, be realistic. What are your income prospects next year?

Then figure out how many people you have to buy for. Maybe it’s time to buy only for children.

Keep all receipts—don’t let it creep up on you.

Don’t use cards, unless you can pay them off in January.

Maybe get a line of credit at a lower interest rate. (Has Ryerson heard of the credit crunch?.)

Watch out for “Don’t Pay Until” deals—Make it says Interest Free, or it’s not.

Try to save—get five of the same thing if it’s cheaper. Hope your friends never meet.

Try to shop in one place and save on gas.

Cut back before shopping—brownbag it, use public transit.

You know what I do? eBay! I put bids on unusual jewelry—maybe one dollar, or two. If I get it, I get it. Usually the postage is more, but it’s reasonable in total.

And I apologize a lot—sorry, this isn’t much, but you have to admit it IS weird.

Any other ideas, readers?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting cushy government job no POC


Sara Murray, WSJ, Oct 26, 2009, says more than 250,000 federal workers need to be hired in the next three years, but the govt sucks at hiring.

Forget those internships—they hardly ever lead to a real federal job (with pay and all).

7% of federal interns get signed up—50% of private sector interns get lucky.

USAjobs.gov is the spot to cruise for federal employment. The process is very lengthy. Most respondents never hear a word in return.

They feds say they are working on it.

One applicant said he might as well throw his forms in an abyss.

We call it the black hole at my house.

These people can’t get through the resumes—170 on average per opening. They are working on getting an 80 calendar day cycle—11 weeks to fill an opening.

The dreaded KSAs—Knowledge, Skills and Abilities essay question thing—has been eliminated for jobs not requiring a lot of writing.

The apps are difficult, often asking candidates to cite their experience with specific laws or regulations.

Some people come in via private contracting companies instead. But even that takes networking.

If I were meaner, I would say being a left-leaning govt hugger would help, but I am not that mean and it might not help.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cheers, and I do mean cheerful


I was sitting here today with bills in both hands, half-finished story ideas on the screen, eeekkk…I see I need to drink more.

Then—super helpfully—an email came in about ecological cocktails, which has to be the best rationalization approach EVAH!! Kudos, people.

Apparently our own Camelback Inn here in the Valley of the Sun has made some spa cocktails—using organic liquor.

You can catch a buzz and kill off free radicals. It’s a dream come true.

Let’s see…The Green Apple Tea’ni uses Juniper Green organic gin, gunpowder green tea, green apple puree, and house-made lemon sour mix. Pucker up—and live long!

Or how about Bloody made with 360 Eco-Luxury vodka, fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and basil?

Other drinks contain agave nectar—some agaves just died in my back yard—I killed a mixer! Damn!

There is something else called Rain Vodka—ever tried it? Just so it’s not water. That would be just too cruel.

PS On the shirt in the picture--the fine print says, "Ask your doctor or bartender." I laughed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dreaded background check


Would you believe some people buying writing services are checking the background of writers? We should be checking them! Will they pay? Are they multi-state scammers?

Every time you see an “Examiner” story, that writer submitted to a background and credit check for the privilege of being paid next to nothing.

But I digress.

Background checks these days can be way more than calling your references. If you are dealing with children or the elderly or working in an airport, for example, you will be checked for felonies.

You might want to check yourself first and see if there are things out there waiting to bite you.

Check court records online.

See if you can get a copy of your personnel file from your old job—you can, in some states.

Be sure your credit report has no one else’s info blended in.

DUI and DWI convictions are felonies—see what your driving record is.

Try to get ahead of the power curve.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jumpstart your boring job search


Even being sick and desperate can get boring if you do it long enough.

The gummint now has to list people who aren’t even looking anymore—just living in someone’s basement eating off the fat of the food bank.

In a story by Sarah E. Needleman (WSJ Oct 20, 2009), one person interviewed said he just slapped her cover letter on, sent a res, slapped, sent, etc.

Eventually, she started winging it on the letters, customizing them…and things began to happen.

It takes 27 weeks to find a job, on average. This used to be 19 weeks a year ago.

A second way to liven things up is to seek nonadvertised jobs—jobs people know about. This means talking to people.

This also means going to individual company websites.

Also read the business pages—when someone gets a new position, write and ask if they are going to add people.

If you are waiting a long time, this also gives you time to take a course or get a certification.

Tweet, build Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

And you might have to cut your price point. Even those Million Dollar Listing guys on Bravo are making people cut house prices. Why should salary expectations be different?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What not to wear (to an interview)


CareerBuilder is at it again with fashion uh-uh’s.

No “transit gear” when you sit down with the interviewer. This means no sunglasses on top of the head, no briefcase in your lap, and of course, no running shoes.

Do not carry a fanny pack or backpack—briefcase only.

Women, make sure your skirt covers your thighs when sitting.

Men, stick with red or burgundy ties no less than 3-3/4 inch wide.

Stick with navy, black and gray unless you’re in advertising or some creative field. No short-sleeve shirts.

Cut the makeup to essentials.

Men—no earring, just a watch or wedding or class ring.

No visible tatts or facial piercings.

No talon nails, especially with novelty polishes.

No too-short socks or socks that don’t match shoes.

No strong aftershaves (Hai Karate, for example) or perfumes.

If you are wearing a new suit--remove the tags. Also, make sure the pockets are not sewn shut.

Plan what to wear…you have three seconds to register on someone.

Ooops—slip showing.

Do women wear slips anymore?