Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being green--old school

I don’t recycle. If you don’t like it, do bite me. I have my reasons. But I do turn off lights when I leave a room, all that stuff. Solar would be $20K for this tiny hut—not getting that. The windows--$2K. Also won’t be getting those.

Someone sent me a cute email about an older woman being scolded by a grocery clerk for not bringing a cloth bag—“Your generation did not care to save our environment,” she was told.

Let’s see…

We returned milk and soda bottles to be re-used.

We took the stairs—a lot.

We walked to the store.

We washed cloth diapers—and stuck our hands down the toilet to um…get stuff off.

One radio, one TV, screens the side of a hankie, not the state of Montana.

We pushed the lawnmower. We bagged the leaves instead of blowing them into someone’s yard in a spew of fumes.

We drank from a fountain—no plastic bottles.

We refilled pens—didn’t buy new ones.

We dried clothes outside--have you even ever smelled a sun-dried sheet? Indescribable!

And we didn’t need a satellite in space to find a pizza parlor.

But yeah—this is all our fault. We are such idiots.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Job hunting--summer style

CareerBuilder says no vacay for you, job hunter!

Don’t assume everyone is lazing off and no one is hiring. Don’t stop your program of looking.

Be prepared to act fast—some companies will want to cut the nonsense and interview with everyone in one day!

There are fewer people in most offices—more chance to talk and get to know people.

If you are looking, summer’s a good time—the boss may be out a lot and won’t notice you leaving for interviews.

Ah. Now that is smart!

Also, if you do go to a beach or someplace, you will meet different people--they could know of or have openings, you never know.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Try not to get back, dude

I have completely disloyal knees, but my back is OK…Still, I know a few people with bad backs—like almost everyone over 55.

Jane E. Brody, NYT, June 27, 2011, says it’s better not to hurt your back than to try to fix it later.

I also find that as I gimp around aging, I need to find work-arounds for almost everything—to prevent pain, to prevent injury.

Jane seems to be of that mind, too.

First, she says, posture! Stand up straight. Guilty—I am a slumpy little thing.

When sitting for long periods, put a rolled up towel or small pillow in the small of your back.

Learn to bend from hips and knees, not the waist. For this means the knees make a most unpleasant noise and feel like razor blades scraping.

To tie shoes, sit on a chair and cross one foot at a time over the other knee.

Or get Velcro.

If you need to carry stuff—try to make it equal on each side. (Don’t do the blue-fingered Quasimodo in other words).

Don’t over-reach—never reach more than you could with both hands reaching out together.

Protect your back when you cough or sneese. Tighten abdominals, place one hand across your back.

To change the subject—have you heard of planking. Kids lie down in the street, in restaurants, etc. stiff like a plank.

Wait until they really are!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yes, you can say no

Lauren Gambino, AZ Republic, June 26, 2011, says even in today’s market, sometimes you can get an unacceptable job offer.

I know—everyone you know is just hoping for some offer…but a situation can be wrong. You need to be brave and face it.

Barbara Limmer, a career coach at Career Navigation in Phoenix, says accepting something unsuitable can hurt you.

If you need the money to eat, you may need to take the job. But if money isn’t too tight, you may want to keep looking. Could be training and settling into the bad job will leave no time for looking.

See where you draw the line. Don’t compromise your standards.

If the job does not advance any career goals you may want to pass. All you have to sell is your time—you can’t get more of that. Be sure there is growth potential.

OK, say you hate it. Hate is hate—it usually will not turn to love or even tolerance.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Carunch, gribble, gribble--my knees

It’s the latest among the hip office set—I guess people in offices are still hip.

[Hip—people say that still?]

Anyhow, some stats are whipping around that seem to suggest that people who sit most days are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks.

Would just standing up, while still under the same stress, talking to the same people, eating the same food, prevent this?

Some people thought it would and got standup desks like Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway used to use. Oh—and Donald Rumsfeld.

These desks run in the thousands of bucks.

They think it’s better to look weird than die young.

I am thinking about that—I may have achieved both. How hip is that?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Politics, God and money--no-no's

The office can be a closed environment. It is not your home. People do not have to love you. Or agree with you. Once you state something, it tends to not go away.

Haiyan Feng, AZ Republic, June 19, 2011, says don’t talk politics, religion or money.

Sort of like at a dinner party. Just not office talk. Feelings tend to run high.

Another touchy subject is sex. People are at best uncomfortable—at worst may take it was harassment.

Family issues also should be avoided.

If you have lofty career ambitions, stay mum—these can be taken wrong.

Also health…too much detail can be used against you.

What’s left? Well, work. And the Real Housewives, of course. Tour of Duty, maybe. Sports.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Downsizing while kids are still there

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, June 19, 2011, says those “boomerang kids” who don’t leave home or come back after college because they can’t find a job are ruining plans to sell the house and get something smaller.

I remember my father worrying about wanting to leave the house to us kids—our home. He had to sell for health reasons. Long story.

By age 25 to 29, the chair of the Network on Transitions to Adulthood said, kids usually leave. Mine is 29—she’s in back right now.

If you need a smaller place to make retirement work, they said, stay with your plans.

Have a family meeting. Maybe offer the kids a rent subsidy so they can leave.

Or buy a cheap foreclosure house for them to live in.

Sure—this is all fine for people with money. For now, my daughter likes it here and she helps out.

I wonder how many of these “authorities” are broke, in a down market, and don’t really have all these options.

I have also heard of two cases lately where, somehow, the kids kick the parents out of the old homestead. This can't be a good sign.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Company loyalty becoming rare

I used to have a real job. Back in the day, organizations expected you to be loyal to them, not go behind their backs and job hunt, but they could fire you at will.

Always seemed onesided—yet, people did stay with one company their whole career. That is long past. Now, kids today will have six or seven careers, not just jobs.

Middle-class workers are the most likely to feel loyalty. Still, they know they have too much work, too little security, too low pay and may not even stay “middle class,” whatever that means.

They network constantly now.

One in three workers hoped to be at a different company in the next year.

People post on the internet—openly. One woman even took out a paid Facebook ad.

If your boss finds your resume in the copier, what would happen?

Probably not much.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Watch those descenders

Yes, yes, type, type, thumb type, talk…but handwriting is still important, although not the primo school subject it once was.

In a story on Health Key, Anna North says concentrating on handwriting makes kids smarter.

Practicing writing a letter creates better recognition skills than seeing a letter and saying it.

The brain records more adult reactions with the writing.

As docs like to say—motor pathways are integrated.

Kids can also write faster with a pen than with a keyboard.

It’s physical—easier to get a flow going.

Also—the internet is not right nearby to distract.

I remember my daughter asking me to teach her to write “cursive.” She was 4. I made some of that paper with the dotted line in between the lines—it used to be employed to help kids form Palmer Method letters.

When she got to kindergarten, her teacher lambasted her for this—that is not until third grade! She was told. Print until then!

After that—she hated school. She has beautiful writing, though.

I find that with all my typing, my handwriting has deteriorated into a scrawl. Pity.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Touchy-feely bosses?

Feely in a good way--I meant, feeling. Apparently business schools are trying to teach managers to be more understanding.

Melissa Korn and Joe Light wrote about this in the WSJ, May 5, 2011.

Students at Columbia will learn meditation. Standford has a course dubbed Touchy-Feely.

These are more properly known as “soft skills,” in case you run across that term.

How to accept feedback with grace. How to deliver feedback nicely.

A personal leadership course will invite classes to look within.

This could include encouraging creativity. I used to teach that at the Smithsonian—good times.

One business school student said having teachers teach sensitivity out of book didn’t float his boat.

Gee, that was pretty touchy and not too feely. Ommmmm, buddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good-bye whirl

Almost 50 years—I have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal or read it almost half a century. Now, the price doubled—I can’t pay it (food and mortgage, that stuff, you know).

I also blog the stories—need to find out how to get them online if I can drag together the fee there, which I believe is about a hundred (versus almost $500 a yr for the paper).

End of one of my little eras, that’s for sure.

Leaving DC 15 yrs ago was another. I sort of had to for family reasons. But it still hurts. I miss my friends so much. I know several have passed away—I never saw them again. Others moved out of the city and I probably would hardly see them if I were still there. I know the city is not frozen in amber—it has all changed.

Elizabeth Bernstein talks of people moving in the WSJ, June 15, 2011. The good-byes were killer, according to those who moved. People cried. The parties were grim. And, oddly, people picked fights and were angry!

Yes! That happened to me with my screenwriting partner—he was furious!

This story points out that it’s hard to be left behind. You have no control.

One group of five women who dispersed sent a journal around—each wrote in it for a few weeks, then sent it on.

Others stayed in touch by email. I try to do that…Some buds have fallen away. Some, surprisingly, don’t “do” email.

I have one friend left on a talking basis—we phone every day. Still, it hurts…and I have no WSJ now, either.

Oh, well, the country is crumbling, everything is flooding, burning, or blowing away. It could be worse.

That’s what they tell me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Keep on keeping on

I have no real secrets to getting a job. There are many applicants for each opening. The economy is still a disaster.

But all you need is one. You don’t need the economy to turn around. You need to stay focused.

One job.

Let’s see what nuggets CareerBuilder has for us today.

Check out Jenny Foss says those online apps are usually read by computer software.

You need to get past that.

For one thing, you need some things to be your way. Target a company where you would like to work—even if they are not advertising. Maybe get to “know” someone there on Facebook.

Go into the company in depth. Are they up for a merger? IPO? Any time a company goes into play, there could be opportunities.

If you get an interview and they ask would you like a beverage—say yes. This means they are doing something for you! You have some standing. They tell screenwriters to “be some trouble,” get noticed, in meetings.

Be careful of details—send a thank you note but spell everything correctly.

If you email with the company—forget the slang like 2morrow, BTW, and so on. Be formal.

Any other ideas, readers?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Old people taking care of older people

Kelly Greene, WSJ, June 14, 2011, says more people are taking care of older people—and doing so is affecting their own health.

Boy, do I know. My sister and I are in our sixties, Mom is 93. We have taken care of her needs, found her places to be cared for with no animals (we love them, she doesn’t) and have seen to her hair, nails, clothes, companionship 2-3 times a week for 16 years.

Oh, and when she takes a tumble, we sit all day and night in the ER. And when the phone rings, we say, “Please, not about Mom, not about Mom.”

We have several health issues each—she is mostly a memory case. Spry! Zippy! We limp around taking care of her.

Studies show that older caregivers (and you are still the caregiver, even if the person is in a nursing home or assisted care) are more likely to report depression and chronic disease.

The percentage of children taking care of parents has tripled, with 10 million people over 50 in this position.

This costs the younger person $308,000 in lost wages, pensions, and Social. This is even more for women (surprise—the ones most often doing this.)

Older caregivers are more likely to drink—like we can afford that!

“You start taking years off your life,” one woman said, “when you start taking care of someone with dementia.”

And of course, your situation could get worse or you could develop dementia yourself. That thought is never far away. And of course, people are quick to adjust your attitude—well, your parents took care of you!

This just is what it is.

Be nice to your kids, is all I can say. Oh—I have one of those still around here, too—with a full set of issues, believe me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Everyone gets criticized sometimes

Yes—even your humble blog buddy here. In fact, EVERYONE seems to know what I should do and isn’t shy about sharing this with me.

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says you need to be careful not to over react.

Without over reaction I would have no affect at all!

Anyhow, Deanna Rosenberg, a business consultant, was quoted as saying criticism isn’t really that motivational. Now that’s an interesting point. I find it just shuts me down.

But we need to listen to what is there for us and let the rest go. I do know that. You need to see what is wrong so you can correct it – without making it into a huge indictment of your self-worth.

Don’t clench your fists or make faces.

Don’t try to justify yourself.

Focus on the problem, then restate the exchange… “As I understand it…”

Offer an apology if appropriate. Don’t overdo it.

Agree to follow up.

I once had a boss who would take a speech I wrote and toss it on my desk and say, “Try again.”

And you wonder why I am how I am.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Talking yourself into a new career

Want to do something else? HAVE to do something else? But don’t think you have the experience?

Eric Gembarowski, AZ Republic, May 1, 2011, says to translate your skills. Research? Computer? Writing? Marketing? Selling? You have them--think about it.

Craft your resume to the job. If they say, “Team player,” you say, “I worked on a team of 10 people and we netted a million in sales.”

Of course, network. This says network on Linked In.

Research the company—this is in every list. Do it.

Don’t be afraid to bring up your lack of direct skills. If you lack experience because you were in school, say that. If you have a skill but in a different industry—say that.

Emphasize the training you do have.

You are the product. Sell yourself.

What is the worst that can happen? No answer. No second interview. Big whup. Move on. There could be a million reasons and your lack of direct experience may not even be one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where there's smoke, there's firing

You see it in the want ads—no smokers. Apparently, this is a legal way to get around hiring people who might—statistically—cost more for health coverage.

Some companies offer quitting programs. Most make employees who smoke pay more for insurance.

Companies also test for tobacco—in the same way they test for drugs.

In a case at the Pentagon, a woman was fired because the designated smoking area was so far away it took her 30 minutes each way to walk to it—which interfered with her productivity.

Do you ever wish people would just butt out?

My daughter smokes. I wish she didn't. But should it mold her whole life? It's legal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yes--smokin' grab bars. By all means

Mary MacVean, LA Times, says aging Boomers (like me) need to outfit the house.

I mostly grab the walls and search for curb cuts. Very attractive look.

But now, MacVean says, upscale oldies like the sleek, designer look. And maybe some fun? There are toilets that play a tune. Automatic faucets (those scare me).

As for the talented toities—I am with Chelsea Handler, who says, “If they flush, you pretty much have it nailed.”

Colored drawer insides to make things more visible—one I would never have thought of.

Lighted floor tiles, LED strips around medicine cabinets. Step stools that appear out of nowhere.

An automatic trash drawer.

One woman said she would rather fall than let her friends know she had a grab bar—so she thought it was disguised by being curvy.

They test this stuff out my putting on distorting eyeglasses and gloves, etc.

I don’t need a toilet with an MP3 docking station—but those higher ones are nice. We call them "tall boys." And lose the low-flow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No socks catching on

Time was, only dopey agents in CA went without socks. Now it’s spreading.

Way to cope!

Darrell Hartman, WSJ, june 4-5, 2011, says the look is in.

Short sleeves, lighter fabrics—so over. Now it’s: lose the socks.

Ernest Hemingway—a no-socker.

It’s Ivy, it’s money. Maybe it’s the boat shoes, though.

OK, homeless guys do it, too. Try not to think about that.

And if it bothers you (me, I think wingtips and no socks look dumb), then don’t do it.

Be bold, show some ankle. Or not.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Teaching kids skills that pay

According to the WSJ, James R. Hagerty, June 6, 2011, the US Chamber put out a report in May saying that higher ed had failed to transform learning, dramatically lower costs, or increase productivity.

Meaning—what people are learning is not meshing with the industries we have left and creating new ones.

The Chamber (where I spent many hundreds of hours) is leading a drive to set up curricula for junior colleges with the goal of certifying kids in industrial skills.

Mastery of skills at a student’s own pace. It's a concept.

Some kids take math on YouTube—check out the Khan Academy.

Schools are starting engineering clubs—some sponsored by that vacuum cleaner guy, Dyson.

Most of education is decided locally—what is going on locally? We saw some stories on robot building clubs here. That sounded cool.

Some states are still training workers, too—don’t be afraid to ask.

Some kids will be lawyers. Some will fix cars. That is life. We need more car fixers. Especially if we can’t afford new ones.

Not all kids will program games or be computer geniuses. Everyone has different gifts.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My former fantasy

Someone pulls up, knocks—no, not a million bucks, silly—a free housecleaning!

Rosie Romero (a man), AZ Republic, May 21, 2011, says indeed maid service is a luxury, but what if you want to splurge?

First—do you want a housekeeper or a maid service? Do you need windows done? Knickknacks or collections dusted and replaced? Beds changed. Oven swamped out, what?

Chances are these are not part of the standard maid package.

Search for a reputable service, in business for a while (Craigs is a crapshoot, in my opinion).

Be sure the company does background checks and the people are bonded. They should also have a business license.

Ask what their insurance covers—rekeying if the people lose the key? Flooding? One-the-job accidents?

Talk price. Ask the neighbors. Your price will be lower if you agree to weekly service. Maybe.

Check those references. Start with the Better Business Bureau (which I think is a crock these days, but Rosie says to).

Ask if they will bring their own vacuums and products.

Do they use eco-friendly supplies?

Will anyone inspect when they are done?

Write it all down.

This is a stranger or strangers who will have the run of your house.

When the person gets there, be clear—can his or her kids come? Can he or she talk on the cell? How about the TV—OK to watch?

OMG—I give! I will do it myself!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Send my decoder ring!

The secret handshakes, the scolding boxes...

I got a refurbished computer, big woo for me! Still, it was time. Of course, I went retro. I am like that. I would have a dial phone if I could.

Bam! All of a sudden, websites that loved me for a decade, Hi, Star, cute top, how’s the family, blacked me out. These are the same ones the Chinese are breaking into like mad—but no, Star can’t come in.

Different computer!

So I have to sign up again, make that 4 letters, 8 symbols excluding delta. Or answer the weirdest questions. In one case, all four “security” questions were completely unknown to me… Street you lived on when you were 8. Your first pet, and not a foster, and not as an adult. Where did your mother have her first kiss. You know what I mean. I did not know ONE!

Then those smeary numbers—I cannot read those…a d over an n, maybe?

Then MS Word—apparently someone someplace still doublespaces…this is considered the norm. Maybe from some kid’s term papers—some kid working there? Don’t know. Two days it took to fix that, you evil little genius pain in the butt.

The thing sits in there in the morning having a party—chimes, little chuckles, music, toasts…Having a big time! When I walk in the room, dead silence. Creepy.

Anyhow, I typed this on it—are you proud of me? But hey—maybe all this has been taken too far?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What interviewers look for

Victoria Pelham, AZ Republic, May 29, 2011, says a company knows within a few minutes if you are “the one.”

Kind of like dating, I guess.

She interviewed Jessica Pierce, Career Connectors in Gilbert, AZ. Pierce’s advice? Answer questions fully. Provide interesting, real-life examples.

Be conversational—also ask questions as well as answering them.

Bring an interview portfolio—samples of work, numbers on how you did.

Know the company! Homework! Also check the company culture on Facebook or Linked In.

Dress well, sum up your strengths when you leave—without being creepy about it.

She didn’t say creepy, I did.