Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kicked out of his own company

Chris Taylor, Associated Press, tells of a health care recruiting exec ($2 million co) who had to leave—his partner was the money guy and there was only money for one of them.

He had a choice: Wait for another CEO position or take a step down. He took the step.

If you “are” your job, this can be difficult—you lose everything about yourself.

If you have to have the title of president, you may be in trouble.

If you can be more flexible, you may even like what you find. One exec was a turnaround guy who kept getting shorter and shorter contracts to turn cos around. Finally, he went to being a temporary executive—and loved it.

You have to put ego aside, he said.

And I might add—bitterness. It’s difficult but can be freeing.

Or so people say.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scientist is a good gig in a recession

Angela Spivey (New Scientist, Apr 25, 2009) says not only do research scientists have job satisfaction, they don’t get laid off or fired as much as other workers or even other professionals.

Pharmcos and Contract Research Organizations (CROs) are two of the places researchers can find work. And it’s not all drug testing—some of it is economics and other disciplines.

Demand for people at the CROs is expected to increase by 15% a year, according to a Tufts study.

This includes lab techs, too.

The skills they look for besides scientific training are ability to work in a team and time management. A good personality for meetings is also a plus.

So even though we will need more medical doctors, we will also be turning to medical schools for researchers.

Checkout the National Cancer Institute K12 award which advances career development for researchers. Other grants also are available.

Find a cure for cancer or a tiny piece of the puzzle—and not get laid off—not too shabby.

A lot of lines of inquiry don’t work out—but Edison once said, “What do you mean I failed? I know 5,000 things that don’t work.”

Check out:,,,,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you "sign off" when you sign off?

Ruth McCann, writing in the Wash Post, says today’s email environment is like the 18th century—all that writing, all those conventions.

Do you sign off with “Best”? How about, “Sincerely”? Or “Cheers”? I use the latter.

But one guy’s GF was not wowed by “Regards.” She says it sounded detached. They broke up. Maybe she was right, he noted.

If you have been signing “Best” and so has the other person, then one of you puts “Sincerely,” it may mean distancing, coolness.

“Cordially”? Forget it. You are a hostile stiff.

Naturally, someone surveyed this. In business:


"Thank you" or "Thank you for your time"…20%.


Sometimes I just type: "Star." Let them make of that what they will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our daily ramen

That picture? Ramen cake! Yuh-um!

The other night on HGTV, a young couple said they would eat ramen three meals a day to afford a certain house they wanted.

I do eat it for lunch everyday—here in the new America.

I went to a site called In truth, there are MANY ramen recipe sites. You could eat ramen three meals a day and three courses a meal!

It’s pretty full of sodium if you use the packets, but hey, who needs to use those when you have recipes. (Well, I do—but I only heat and not cook.)

Did I mention ramen is 10 cents a serving? Yup—way under our Recession Budget of $1 a meal.

Although noodles got going in China 4000 years ago as a great host for sauce and a stomach filler, Japan did not dub them “lamen” (from the Chinese “la” for pulling and stretching and “mian” for noodles) until the 19th century. And you know that Japanese “L” and “R” similarity, so they became ramen.

In 1958, Nissin invented the instant noodles that we love today. My kid still prefers Nissin.

I add chopped frozen broccoli to mine and maybe leftover pasta dabs or if we have baked chicken, I put in a few chunks.

Chopsticks optional. If you do use them you have to shove the noodles over to your mouth Chinese style. Soup and chopsticks—not an obvious match.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take two tinctures of time

Melinda Beck (WSJ, Sept 22, 2009) says colds, flu, sore throat, sore muscles, headaches, diarrhea, cramps, blisters, tennis elbow, colic and a ton of ailments usually cure themselves or go away with time.

One doctor told her, “I tell patients you can go more for yourself than I can do for you.”

This is my philosophy—screaming gallbladder pain, blood ballooning inside your eye, or loss of consciousness excepted—give it a year or two before you plunge into Sick World and get all tangled up in there.

My feeling is the body wants to right itself—to be well. Give it a chance. Check on to see what symptoms might require a look-see.

If you have a decent immune system, most viruses will resolve on their own. Infections in the nose, throat, stomach and upper respiratory tract are usually viral.

Eighty-percent o urinary tract infections resolve..if you run a fever, you may need an antibiotic.

With kids under 3 mos, check with the doc if there is a temp over 100.4 degrees. With older kids, lack of energy, sleepiness, and refusal to eat or drink might warrant a call to the doctor.

75% of sciatica resolves in three weeks. It’s miserable, but 90% of back pain goes away with rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, or chiro.

Yet, some people are embarrassed when a doctor says wait and see or “just rest.” They may not even want to pay the copay.

One doctor says: “I can tell you what it isn’t—it isn’t cancer or a brain tumor.” Ought to be worth a copay.

You have to use your own judgment, not mine, of course, but you might want to hold off unless it’s a crushing chest pain or in women, a left shoulder pain or unexplained indigestion, numbness or weakness esp on one side, sudden severe headache, lost of consciousness or inability to remember events right before a head whack, or flashing lights in your vision (my friend detached retina).

You kind of know if you have to go to the ER—it sort of announces itself in your head. "Time to go."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Lived in" look beats bare walls

Off topic, but do you ever watch “House Hunters International” on HGTV—ever had a dream of buying a nice farm house in France or a townhouse in Milan—well, houses cost a lot everywhere! Eye-opener! The second some guy blats on about Euros, you know you are done for.

Over here we can’t get ours sold or recoup our investment, but it’s not like huts are going for a song elsewhere.

Usually, on these shows, though, you see some furniture in the rooms. This is called “staging.” There are companies that make a house looked lived in, but not socks on the floor lived in. Or you can google this and get tons of tips.

I read an article by Kara G. Morrison (AZ Republic, Sept 6, 2009) in which homeowners said they lost items when stagers “neatened” their houses and felt very stressed trying to keep everything looking like a model home.

Some tips for staging:

Replace dated knobs and pulls.

Update damaged furniture and match it to the style of the home.

Keep things simple and spare.

The clutter is not charming and must go!

Same for the collections.

Replace vinyl shower curtains—apparently these are a gigantic no-no. Get cloth.

Add plants.

Define spaces—don’t put the exercise bike next to the desk, that sort of thing.

Oh, please, my cement floors are painted red and blue, and one is not even painted—glue marks from the carpet pulled up when we had the fire five yrs ago.

Think loft.

PLEASE think loft.

Oh, who am I kidding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is this the time to be a pain?

As we thrash around in the melted down economy, this may not be the time to whine and complain about every little thing at work.

Still, we can’t just wimp out and take it in the neck five days a week.

Sandy Shore (AP) says many employees are overworked (everyone else has been laid off) and little annoyances can loom large. Also, we still have BIG annoyances at work.

But if you want to complain, do it in a quiet, professional way.

Be sure a supervisor needs to get involved. If someone smells or wears their skirts too short, and they are not in a customer area, maybe you can deal with it yourself.

If the complaint affects the money the company makes, it may need to be raised with the supervisor. Make sure you say it has a business impact. Say staff has been cut and then business has picked up and you are staying later and later. You can say you are not burned out yet, but this could happen—and be constructive, suggest maybe a part-time person.

Before you raise it, bounce it off s friend. Role-play.

Time it—don’t blurt it out during a big crisis.

If you don’t get a promotion, complaining probably won’t change it—but you can ask how to position yourself better next time.

Work on your attitude. Complaining can cut both ways and come back to bite you. Or you just might get a solution.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Low-pay, no-pay, cue the screaming

Angela Hoy is a book publisher and long-time advocate for writers. If you fancy the idea of segueing to freelance writing, read her site first…

Recently, she helpfully broke out some especially misleading code so-called “employers” of writers like to drop into ads. I just added a few comments.

“Paid per post.” This means the rate “per word” is so low, they know posting it will scare writers away. Those posts? Can be 600 words—and may pay $1 to $5. Yes, dollars, U.S., dollars, one US dollar…for intellectual property.You read it right.

“Looking for college student.” This means insultingly low pay. For some reason, the assumption is college students are mouth-breathing chumps. The same goes for Work-At-Home-Moms--they don't use currency, apparently, in the course of their domestic life.

“Percentage of gross sales.” You will never get your hands on our financials.

"No pay—-build your portfolio" or.."web exposure is high." If the exposure was so high, they’d have money to pay. Second, . . if someone does see your byline, they will think: “Cheap labor.”

“To see if you are a fit, send us a 500-word article on nice ways to break up with your boy friend.” Yup—they will use it and don’t hold your breath to get paid.

”Our budget allows $18 for 1,200 words. You will need to sign a non-compete, non-disclosure…” Bangladesh wages plus can’t work for anyone else? Rush right over.

“We pay $1 for every 10 blog posts when your balance reaches $100.” This is the worst since Topsey signed with Simon Legree.

“We pay up to $8.” Well, zero is “up to.”

“Compensation may be available in the very near future.” Or “May lead to more in depth assignments.” Or “I provide the articles, you rewrite.”

Ha-ha on the near future promise, harder work for pocket lint, and plagiarism. Gosh, isn’t this all grand? And the best part? The profession of writer is now hammered excrement and no one thinks they have to pay.

See that pix? Pucker up!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tradeoff for money?

Say, for the sake of argument, you have a pretty good job, feel secure, and still can’t get a raise, much less some grotesque bonus like those govt-supported Wall Street greedheads.

What would you ask for? How about more vacay? This may not be so easy, according to Chip Cutter (AP). The secret is to ask carefully:

Hone your pitch. Bring a list of recent triumphs and projects completed. Put your request in numbers—with dollar signs in front.

Explain how your work will be taken over during those days. Offer to take over more work in the future.

Request small chunks of time.

Ask for time during what you know to be slow periods.

But be careful—if they are constantly looking around wondering where you are, they may find they can live without you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Companies cultivating laid-off, but not by hiring

According to a story by Dennis Nishi in the Wall Street Journal (Sept 15, 2009), some suppliers are offering laid-off clients courses and other perks looking to the day when these people get jobs and can order from them again.

Example: Mohawk Industries, the floor people. They are bringing in speakers and hosting seminars and webinars for laid-off interior designers and architects to help them keep their skills fresh. Mohawk itself was hit hard by the housing flop and is operating at a loss—they need people to get jobs and buy their carpets!

Although each seminar attracts 80 people or more, they probably have not borne fruit for the company—yet.

Lexis-Nexis is offering lawyers laid off from firms of 50 or more lawyers free access to Martindale-Hubbell—the gold standard listing of firms.

Autodesk is another company trying this. They make computer-assisted design software. It has seminars and also lets unemployed architects download some of its programs free for 13 mos. One program costs almost $4,000—so this is a plus.

Even the Stamford (CT) Blood Center has gotten a better idea. Free career counseling in exchange for a blood donation.

Hey, eat a cookie—you might have learned a thing or two.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ain't easy being greenish

I guess in the midst of upsidedown houses and falling prices and ruination, we still want to give the planet a hug.

Kara G. Morrison, AZ Republic, Sept 13, 2009, writes about “greening” your hut to sell.

Some brokers even specialize in greened-up properties—these are called ecobrokers.

One aspect pf being green is to buy a house close to work—cutting your poison-spewing commute.

Layout is important. Windows and longest walls should face north. A garage on the west side is a plus.

If the a/c is over 10 yrs old, you could be looking at replacing it. You can save 40% or more on electricity with a new system (though the elec co will raise rates after your little rebate, so contain that excitement).

You want windows with low-emittance coatings. Shades and coverings are also good.

Get a programmable thermostat.

Get an energy-rated water heater and keep it at 120 degrees. Heating water takes 15-20% of your bill.

Replace a fridge over 15 yrs old. New washers and dishwashers save on water even more than electricity.

Make sure the whole outside—walls, attic, doors, windows—are efficient. A pro inspector can tell you.

I got a new heat pump—it was very nice in here at a setting of 79. The bill was still bad, though—and next yr, I begin paying for the giant steel thing on the roof.

Oh, you pay, you pay.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Table manners can make or break

Peter King writes about this in the WSJ, Sept 10, 2009.

You may be asked to eat a meal with a prospective employer.

Use the wrong fork—and you’re done!

There are business dining courses you can take—but these require some, um, bread.

One is called Professional Table Manners—this is an online course from the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette. It’s $49—no video—but you can “drag” table items around the screen to see if you get the idea.

Dining for Profit takes you to a posh resort and points out the pluses and minuses
about four diners. (Don’t shake that sugar packet before opening, she advises.)

Some tips:

Don’t order sloppy, drippy food.

Don’t answer your cell.

Chew with your mouth closed

Don’t get drunk.

Use the silver from left to right—it should be in the correct order.

If you are offered caviar, take the job.


Be sure to put your napkin in the right place when you’re through. I don’t know where that is—I am pretty sure it’s not your pocket.

I once wiped my mouth on a bow hanging from my blouse—oh, look, not the napkin.

I also remember how I was taught to eat soup—spooning outward. “Like little ships going out to sea, I push my spoon away from me.”

There should be a poem for all of these.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Set aside worry time

If you worry all the time, it keeps sending cortisol into your bloodstream and screwing up your organs. It’s called stress.

So if you are unemployed, or someone is sick, or you are freaking out, concentrate on your breathing for 5 minutes three times a day. Take full breaths—imagined your lungs filling from the bottom (your stomach should pooch out, not suck in).

Step using credit cards if you can. (This is always so hard to do.)

Cut the restaurants. Even fast food is over $20 for a family. It’s usually cold anyhow.

Check out all those coupons you used to toss.

Stop waste—set the thermostat higher.

Try to keep your paws off your 401(k).

If someone owes you money—now’s the time. If they are short, ask if they can make payments.

But above all, don’t just fester every minute. Read the kids a story or even write them one on the computer, take a walk, try out a new cheapster recipe, If you can concentrate, this might even be a good time to improve your sex life.

Worry 15 minutes a day. If panic starts to slip in, say “Detach, detach” and turn to some distraction.

No—not vodka.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Have you noticed--we are all getting swine flu

I am sorry—H1N1. Kind of likable, like R2D2.

Half the country is slated to get it—the vaccine won’t be along until Oct and is last-minute and full of adjuncts that could cause illness, maybe, down the road.

Isn’t it always something?

Manoj Jain, an infectious disease doctor, writes about this in the Washington Post, Sept 8, 2009.

His 13-yr-old got "normal" flu, which got him thinking. After Jain’s 13-yr-old, her older sister got it (same bedroom). Then his wife got it.

Out here in AZ, the swine version seems to hit children, sick people, and pregnant women the hardest, based on hospital admissions.

This stuff travels by droplets from coughs or sneeze, off the surface of things, and from hands to mouth transfer.

Cough into tissues or your elbow. Have you tried that—maybe my elbow is not too flexible.

The virus can last 24 hrs to 7 days on a non-porous surface. That’s long!

As for touching your face or mouth—you do it more often than you think. I know I do.

We wash hands a lot. We go through the sanitizer. If someone at your house has the flu, you can wear a mask if you find it tolerable.

When Jain’s wife got their normal flu, he slept in the guest room.

He was feeling left out, he said. Then he got it.

So, folks, another crapshoot. Ya’ll stay healthy now. Oh—and Bird Flu is still around, too. Gotta love the zootics.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Video resumes--thoughts?

Until they have a video camera that erases a few chins (moving Photoshop), I am not in.

Eileen A.J. Connelly writes about this for Associated Press.

The source in her story, a senior exec, though, said when she got her first video app from someone, she thought it was bold and stood out. She watched it.

HR people say these have to be part of a thought-out package.

The key is to “not look weird,” or you could end up on YouTube.

You need good production values (probably not your brother-in-law).

If you are not comfortable and prepared, you can come off wooden.

Also, videos can take too long each for HR people to scan them. And the vetting cannot be done by computer.

Ideas, readers?

PS Your dog? He does not need to be in it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Even old hands get jammed up

Our bud Candice Choi, Associated Press, has written about six common questions that can trip you up.

How would you improve our company or product? First, point of what you like and know about the company. Then if you supply a few ideas, ask if these have been considered—say that you are curious.

Greatest weakness/greatest strength. Own up to a fault—it makes you look honest. Give an example of how this worked out and what you learned.

Why did you leave your last job? If you were downsized, just say it. There is no taboo these days. If you left voluntarily, be specific about why you decided to do it. Don’t badmouth people at the old job—it makes the interviewer wonder what you would say about him or her.

What is the worst boss you had and how did you handle it? Don’t blow up! Tell a story of how you handled an uncomfortable situation professionally. No names.

Describe a life-changing situation and how you grew from it. Don’t pick a conversation-stopper. I have one so gross and life-changing, people freak out. I would never mention it, although it would pop into my mind immediately. Keep it short, don’t ramble.

Why are you the right person for this job. Give specifics—you want more sales, I boosted sales 5% at my last job. Don’t just say you’d be great.

I would add:

You seem pretty overqualfied, are you sure you want this job. Remember—you are not telling them what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. So say, “I am not sure I am overqualfied, but if I am experienced at this, it works in your favor, doesn’t it? To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about managing people in my old job and would welcome a chance to do the work, which is what I do best.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Can a pro help?

A “professional” WHAT is the question. Candice Choi, Associated Press, writes about this.

Unemployment is officially 9.7% but many people have given up and in some locales, it’s 20%.

Anyone can say they are a job coach or a resume writer.

Ask friends for referrals if you want a fresh eye on your materials. Check references.

Get the deal in writing—you will do what, the person will do what, when, and how much.

Resume writing usually starts with an interview of an hour or more. The writer can get you started—help you see how your experience fits together and can be used to best advantage.

I say it’s like going to a psychiatrist.

You should get your draft resume in a week, with the option to make changes.

A job coach is a bigger commitment. You should get tips on networking, on your resume, on interviewing.

You may even get homework assignments.

You may pay around $160 an hour (Choi says, I say less), with several sessions a week. You might be able to attend a small group session for less.

One cheaper way I have done this is to “bookend.” Call a friend, say you are calling five people or going to lunch with someone, or whatever, then call again and say, “I did it.” This keeps you accountable.

And it’s fun to chat a little about how it went.

Libraries and churches also have free sessions. And don’t forget job fairs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Make your detergent--says frugal woman

I like this Leah at Suddenly Frugal. Check her out at

She had one segment on making your own laundry detergent. Now, I am not a huge proponent of cooking all your drugs and products—but those huge price tags on Tide and other name brands bug me!

She uses Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda), 20-Mule Team Borax (calling all boomers), and a bar of Fels-Naptha soap.

2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax, 1 part grated Fels-Naptha (cheese grater). Some readers made it 2:2:2.

She uses ¼ cup per load.

She put the stuff in first, then the water. No bubbles.

Some people used a food processor to chop up the soap. Some pretreated with the Fels.
It even works in cold water.

How can you be frugal and use hot water?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Not by pasta alone

Yick, this Recession Diet is making my hair fall out. Too many carbs…but when you try to eat for $1 a meal per person, carbs are prominent.

Still, Harvard tells us we need to add some nutrient-rich foods—foods that contain vitamins and minerals and not just “energy,” or carbs.

The list includes: Avocados, chard, kale, mustard greens and spinach, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, baked potatoes, cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, low-fat yogurt, eggs, seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), dried beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto), lentils, almonds, cashews, peanuts, barley, brown rice, salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna, chicken, turkey, lean beef.

We get chicken when it’s on sale—put a few chunks into ramen.

We get frozen greens—the same, in ramen.

We have hard-boiled eggs on hand.

Eat some peanut butter or some protein in the morning or you will get the vapors.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Keeping up appearances

The Washington Post had a story on whether people had enough money to replace their torn undies—this is now an economic indicator.

But there is an underlying message—we need to keep up appearances and for our mental health, even in places that don’t show.

Incidentally, we see more grownups in the supermarket in jammies these days. Yes, things are bad, but don’t completely go to seed, clothes-wise and behavior-wise.

Marcia Heroux Pounds, Fort Lauderdale-Sun Sentinal, wrote about this.

When you do get a job interview—spiff for it. Dark socks, dark pants, men. Belt should match shoes. No wild ties.

For women, A suit or a jacket over a knee-length dress. No chandelier earrings.

If you are in a creative field—you can bend this some—throw on the weird accessory.

Sit up straight. Look the interviewer in the eye. You might even want to videotape yourself beforehand.

Turn off your cell during interviews. Don’t have your dog record your ad-home message, or your kid.

Follow up interviews with a hand-written thank you—delivered by express mail. Now that is snappy!

Oh, and cover up your tatts. This is why you didn’t get your neck or hands done.

After the interview—climb back in those jams and head for the store. But think about this: What if you run into that interviewer or get in a conversation with someone with a job opening then sort of doesn’t mention because of your attire.