Friday, May 28, 2010

Baking soda pops

I used to horrify my sister and girlfriends by using Vaseline on my face. Hey—I like it.

Anyway, I am feeling Heloise-y today, so how about some tips on using baking soda from Vicki Lansky’s book called Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous,. Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of.

I am posting this on my Recession Fun blog, too—

First, you can use baking soda to wash food like veggies and fruit. I am famous in my family for asking my then-mate if one uses soap to wash potatoes. If ONLY I had known this!

You can make a drain cleaner of a half a cup of baking soda, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Put a glass bowl over the drain from two hours, then run in hot water.

Vacuum up soda to kill odors in your vacuum. I can honestly say a stinky vac is the least of my problems.

Musty books? Baking soda between the pages, brush out in a few days.

Soak up oil and grease with it on the garage floor.

Put it in driveway cracks to kill weeds.

Clean tents and canvas bags with a paste of soda and water.

Burned-on food? Pour on a thick layer, an inch of water and boil. After one minute, get the crud off.

You can even make a dishwasher detergent with 2 tablespoons of soda and two of borax. My kid won’t let me try this…and I am offended. I believe the word “crackpot” might have been used.

Any others, readers? (No—not names you want to call me.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Working with work friends

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says having friends at work can increase morale and enhance work teams…but they also can have a dark side.

They can cause work avoidance. If the friends are in different depts, there can be a certain amount of walking back and forth.

Then if there is a company-wide work team created, the friends may be cliquey with each other on the team.

If one friend is promoted and the other isn’t…yuh-oh.

I had a problem when I had a real job with trying to be friends with my staff members. That never worked out.

What do you think, readers?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Drat! Fired!

Alex Foote, writing in the Arizona Republic (May 23, 2010), says the first thing to do if you get laid off is deal with your emotions. This is a loss—you grieve a loss. Change sucks—just survive through the feelings.

Don’t lollygag around, though—get right out there searching. You want your experience to be recent—you want to talk to people while it is.

Buy only necessities—not “wants.” You don’t need consolation presents—you need money.

Improve your skills—take little courses or online webinars.

Use the internet, but don’t just put your resume out and sit back. Network, call people, meet for coffee, buzz around social sites.

And I always add—look for signs in windows. Yes, people still do that.

Or target an office building near you and try to leave your resume in every office—if they don’t run you off.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Like animals? How about becoming a vet tech?

If you have a love of beasties (and a strong stomach), vet tech is a growth field.

Dr. Joshua Peterson, DVM and chair of the veterinary technology program at Brown Mackie College in Kansas City, says this is a two-year course.

All states require credentialing, which is an exam. Techs are similar in their role as nurses are to doctors (although nurses go to school longer). Vet techs take care of their patients after surgery, administer anesthesia, take x-rays, draw lab samples, take temps, and clean up—everything in a vet’s office.

Don't forget comforting and reassuring animals and owners!

Vet techs also work in labs and take care of research animals, as well as helping with research.

For more info, there are many sites I found, but here is one:

I thought this would be a great career for my daughter, but she didn’t agree. I think I like animals more than she does.

There was that time when my dog had a clogged intestine…then just when they said it would be $350, it unclogged itself. The tech….well, nuff said.

If you want more riveting stories, check out this blog:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Testing, testing

Lest these outbreaks of e.coli and other horrors lead you to think nobody is checking up on products for safety and efficacy, enter Consumer Union, the nonprofit that publishes Consumer Reports Magazine.

According to a piece in the WSJ by Gwendolyn Bounds (May 5, 2010), technicians in Yonkers NY test 3,000 product models annually.

Recently, even a Lexus did not meet their standards and thousands were recalled for repairs.

Consumers Union has been under a cloud because of bad reporting by labs it contracted to, but it has apologized and is keeping tighter control.

Many things go flooey in the labs from time to time—bread burning in a toaster, molten metal almost hitting a tester. Another tester had to amass 9,000 condoms from machines in men’s rooms—that must have been fun.

In one test, Maine coon cat hair was thrown on rug segments to test vacuums. In another, sawdust was used to test snow blowers in summer.

The company even buys pre-soiled cloth with body oils on it to test washers.

This could even be a place to get a job if you can tell 1% milk from 2% and have tfinely tuned sensory organs.

The boxes. Yes, this is my personal theory…Almost all household items are boxes. Washers are boxes of water, dryers and refrigerators boxes of air, vaccum cleaners boxes of no air…etc.

No point, really. I just felt like saying that.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Electric company wants to control the juice

In the May 19, 2010, WSJ, Rebecca Smith wrote about “smart meters.” Who are they smart FOR, though?

These little devils are reporting back to the electric company about how much we use and when. That lets them charge MORE during peak times.

Of course, they spin it as giving the customer control.

Some customers say hey, whatever, I want to prevent greenhouse gases.

Others say—HEY!

One guy in Texas always cooks dinner at 4 PM before the price hike cuts in for the day.

He gets weekly emails from the elec company praising him.

Instead of being read once a month—your prices change throughout the day.

Oh, joy—but I will tell you this, every time I have cut back—kept the AC at 80, did the wash at night--the elec company raised rates and my efforts were for naught.

Here comes Hal the Computer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The no-job hangover

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says even those who find a job eventually carry the traces of the many months without one.

One many said he had never felt so helpless. He found nothing to even apply to.

When his tried and true of newspaper ads fell through, he networked on Facebook and went to lunches—eventually a recruiter found him at a 30% pay cut.

Sixty-one percent of those with new jobs take a cut. Sixty-four percent end up in a different field.

You need to network face to face. Find someone with the power to hire.

If the unthinkable happens and you are back on the street, chances are all this is second nature now.

But the "feeling" never leaves.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bye-bye, jobs, you're never coming back

Chrstopher S. Rugaber, AP, writes about jobs that aren’t coming back.

It’s not only jobs in the manufacturing area, either. Now, people looking six months or longer number 4.3%--the most since 1948.

Companies cut people, got more productive, now don’t need the people back.

Furniture stores—down 24% for good.

Steel and metals—down 23%.

Advertising and PR—down 16%. Wah—my area.

Air transportation—15%.

Interior and graphic designers—off 13%.

Auto and parts—Down almost 13%.


Building contractors--9.4%.

Eventually, companies won’t be able to squeeze more work out of people and will have to hire—but count on lower totals.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eye contact--but do it right

Dale Dauten and J.T. O’Donnell kick around employment subjects on CareerBuilder.

They quotes Joe Navarro, author of “Louder Than Words.”

When meeting a prospective boss or hiring manager, walk in with purpose, show eagerness.

Remember, superiors can look anyplace they want, but subordinates cannot. Don’t scan the room like radar.

One guy was shown the door because he kept staring at the woman and her busband in swimsuits on a beach (next subject: What pictures to display once you have the job).

Don’t stare into someone’s eyes more than 1.5 seconds anyway or it gets serial killer-y.

Instead scan the other person’s whole face. You don’t want a “What are you lookin’ at?” reaction.

I would add, if the interviewer is a woman and you are a male, be extra careful about the checking out thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Learn to read upside down

This is a Washington DC skill—chat with someone over their desk and casually see what they are working on.

Now, I see it recommended by big biz guru Harvey Mackay in his book, Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You.

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, wrote about this. Try not to be the first interviewed—the last ones are remembered better.

Study while you wait—look around, how are people dressed, are they jovial or quiet?

Talk to the receptionist—“Do you like it here?” “How long have you worked here?”

During the interview—concentrate on what you can do for them! It’s not about you. Do research, what thoughts and ideas do you have on the industry?

Ask questions about the company.

When you leave, make notes—debrief yourself. Everything you noticed. What questions gave you the most trouble. What would be the biggest advantage of the job? Biggest drawback. What did you forget to ask?

When in doubt, I say—let them talk.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wabi sabi

Almost everyone has heard of feng shui by now—the Chinese art of placement to create optimal energy flow. We even practice it somewhat in our little hut here.

The other day, though, I think I learned about my personal philosophy—wabi sabi. It’s not Chinese, but Japanese.

It is also a school of thought of what is beautiful—but the object or whatever is being considered brings about a sense of serene melancholy and longing. The longing for the perfect, the even better.

Wabi sabi instead recognizes reality—nothing last, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.

Your mate, child, house, job, yourself, your health, the economy, the world, everything is wabi sabi.

This is the first time I saw a name for it.

I remember back when I did more publications work. If we found a mistake (always when it’s too late to fix it), I would say, “Japanese potters always leave a small imperfection so the soul of a pot can escape.”

I knew wabi sabi—I just didn’t have the lingo.

By the way--that picture? The tree? It's dead. It was cut down that day. But it had a certain beauty and majesty, didn't it? Wabi sabi.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scam, scam, go away

Remember those envelope stuffing “jobs”? Are they still around? Two bucks each to stuff an envelope—a mail house would do it for a penny or less. So weird! People actually sent money to find out how to get these jobs.

Now, Max Jarman, Arizona Republic, May 2, 2010, says good old Arizona is a hotbed of con men.

Oh, joy.

Huge boiler rooms are at work separating people from their money.

A lot of the current scams are aimed at the unemployed—debt consolidation, credit repair, loan mod, career training, government jobs that don’t exist.

Yes, work at home scams do include the envelope thing, but also learning medical billing, and freelance writing. Yeah, like that’s so easy.

Many times, the elderly are targeted. They will stay on the phone longer to be waltzed around.

Some people even get websites built and traffic supposedly directed to them—all a scam.

If it sounds too good to be true—it is, the feds say. Well, that’s scant comfort.

I remember my ex- sending out a recipe of his mother’s in one of those pyramid mail things—send $3 for a recipe…something like that. We did get some money in—but then one day a postal inspector came to the door.


Does the Better Business Bureau even do anything anymore? I have had vendors with dozens of complaints—still in good standing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When you move, take the trees?

Dean Fosdick, Associated Press, wrote about this recently.

There are some reasons not to dig up and take your favorite plants, of course. Some moving companies don’t allow plants in their trucks. (There is your car, though.) Some new homeowners don’t appreciate the former owner stripping the property.

Still, I love my trees, I save and plan for years to get one, I hover. Yet, recently, my daughter tried to transplant an orange tree and it could not wait to croak. Seemed like it was in a one day! Alive! Dead.

Most purchase agreements also forbid this.

To prevent trouble, make it clear what you intend to take.

You can also take cuttings, not the whole plant.

One woman got visitation rights to her old garden.

Usually taking containerized plants is OK.

If you can’t take it with you, take a picture.

Your next garden will also be beautiful! If you are moving far, the plants you have now may not be suited anyway.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ever had a performance PREview?

Me, either…even back in the day.

Anite Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says the performace REview is stupid, but the PREview is an interesting idea.

The boss asks the new employee or employee with a new assignment how they would do the work and then critiques the answer.

Helping the employee do a good job helps the company—and helps the boss.

The employee may be asked to describe how management helped or did not help last time. The manager tells the employee how they could be managed better. The emphasis is on everyone’s strengths and talents.

I can see potential pitfalls, but overall, didn’t this used to be called talking over the project?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't forget transportation costs

Gosh, now everyone wants us to live within our means, which means housing is not supposed to be more than 30% of your income.


But if you find a house that cheap, it may be far from your job or a city center. That means transportation must be factored in, making the move ideally no more than 45% of income.

Sean Holsege writes about this in the Arizona Republic (May 7, 2010).

Surprisingly, more Phoenix neighborhoods are out of reach for people making the median income than pertains in NYC, where we think of every apt as prohibitively expensive.

Gas is only part of the cost of operating a car…which seems to come out to $5-7,000 a year, no matter what gas prices are.

Here people are moving into the city and trying to ditch the car entirely for a bike or public transportation.

This isn’t about green, it isn’t about long-range changes in how communities are laid out or where—it’s about moolah.

Remember, if a community has more than eight living units per acre—light-rail is cost-effective.

Something to think about anyway. We live without a car in a car region—it isn’t always a walk in the old park.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thinking of more school--get June Good Housekeeping

Barry Yeoman writes in the June 2010 issue of GH about for-profit schools.

With so many people out of work or underemployed and seeking better opportunities, for-profits are flourishing, often aided by deceptive ads promising lucrative future employment.

If you thinking of doing this—get this article.

One woman took on thousands in loans for an 18-month course in ultrasound technology and then found out the school was accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools—just not the ultrasound part. So she was not allowed to take the exam to be certified without hands-on experience and she could not get that without the exam.

The school’s placement service blew her off.

There are many complaints about such schools—unqualified teachers, credits that don’t transfer as promised, and overblown job placement promises.

These schools get 90% of their money from federal programs, Yeoman says. Now this sector is growing by 25% a year.

Yeoman has some tips—including Check the school with the Dept of Education at

Ask the salesman (recruiter) about graduation rates and placement rates. What about default rates on loans?

Check with the state education dept. Ask about accreditation—by whom? Confirm with the agency!

Ask any other college you want to go to if they would take these credits.

Ask potential employers if they take grads.

Talk to students and former students. Go to the college building or campus. Check out the parent company. Check out and

Don’t be pressured into signing. And be careful of arbitration clauses that may keep you from suing if things go bad.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

For Ladies Only: How not to act

Lisa Johnson Mandell, writing for AOL, talks about behaviors that keep women from getting ahead. These are credited to Mary Ellen Drummond.

These are the gestures that make you look vulnerable and fragile, rather than powerful.

Nodding your head while listening. Women do this to encourage the listener, but it can be taken for agreement.

Not taking up enough physical space. Men spread out (esp the “gate”). Don’t try to blend in (although opening the gate is esp bad form for women). When you sit at a meeting table, spread your papers out.

Uptalking is bad. When a woman’s voice rises questioningly at the end of a sentence, it can make her sound unsure or like she is waiting for a sign of approval.

Fidgeting. Women make 27 movements when they enter a room—adjusting clothes, jewelry, hair. Men make 12.

Women often tilt their heads when they talk. They think it shows they are directing their ear toward the speaker, but it comes across as deflecting the message, Make eye contact.

Women also introduce themselves too quickly. Wait at least 10 seconds. This is when people are getting set, checking each other out. Let it play out.

I often laugh nervously. Don’t do that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What if you are TOO popular?

What if you finally get a great job offer and the same day your boss offers you a raise?


Now what?

Kevin Grindle, president of Leadership Strategies, says first remember why you wanted to leave.

Would those conditions still exist?

Do you think the boss found out about your other opportunity?

Usually, Grindle says, accepting a counteroffer doesn’t work.

Once you decide, move on with confidence.

To me, a counteroffer is when the boss knows you have been looking (possibly meaning disloyalty), and carries some freight of potential problems.

If it was truly a coincidence, you may have some leverage to not go too deeply into it and even ask for better hours or more vacation—you have a place to land, after all.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More on summer jobs

Your teens still out there burning it up trying to find work?

Send them over—I have weedeating. Apparently they don’t love doing the lawn deal anymore.

Kristena Hansen, wrote about teen jobs in the Arizona Republic, May 2, 2010.

Supposedly there will be more jobs this summer—but also more people chasing them, including many unemployed adults. did a study. A third of employers said adults will be trying for these jobs.

Teens should try to return to where they worked before. Check out, too.

Go ahead and network, parents. Put the word out at church and on the social sites.

Likely places: hotels, resorts, camps, amusement parks, museums, zoos, retail, restaurants, govt-run youth programs, child- and elder-care places, health care facilities, movie theatres, construction.

And my front yard. Check this out:


Monday, May 3, 2010

Pamper yourself--a little

For me, pampering is more than three hours of sleep in a row. And being able to get back to sleep. Ah, bliss.

But for the spa-minded sybarites (who I know must read this), Erica Sagon wrote about some low-rent (I mean, low cost) ways of doing your own Spa Day (AZ Republic, Apr 30, 2010).

If your bod is…er…not smooth, give it a smoothie. 2 cups full fat plain yogurt, ½ of a ripe avocado, 5 large strawberries (reminds me of a Mel Brooks line), 2 tablespoons of honey, and ripe banana. Blend this up and slather it all over yourself. And pray the doorbell doesn’t ring. This is from Cosmo, and the doorbell was not in the original.

To make your hair shine, mix 1 tablespoon of apple juice and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, leave on for a minute, rinse.

To exfoliate—rub off the flakes—use a fourth cup of sea salt, a fourth cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of papaya puree (always on hand, I am sure), and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Wisk and rub all over you, then rinse.

I also used to separate an egg and put the whites only on my face until it felt tight, then rinse.

It did feel sort of good after.