Friday, September 30, 2011

Electrons pooey


If you read this site now and then, you know I am a total hysteric.

I am not centered. I am not calm. I am not sanguine. I am not even particularly rational.

The only thing left is funny and with some common sense sprinkled in.

My internet connection has been down for 4 hours. Imagine my state.

The first two hours were OK—I breathed deeply. I contacted the phone company—they offered to email me when it came up. Well, if they could frickin’ email me, I would know it was up, wouldn’t I?

Then…I said, OK will do desk work. I did desk work.

More desk work.

Desk work is so weird—there is no typing.

So I wrote this.

I cursed the day electricity was invented. That made me feel a little better. Actually a lot better—I like gravity, but electricity has kicked up some problems.

I tried breathing again. Nothing.

Why are some of us such idiots? Man, I would be rich if I knew that.

I do know with all our tweeting twatting phoning commenting browsing surfing texting sexting drilling down blogging—this is gradually killing us, not enlightening us.

Ommmmm.

So now I am one with everything?

Well, everything would include internet—so no.

By the way, do you think it’s true that the internet is God’s brain?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stand tall--don't blob out


CareerBuilder says it’s not worth it to just grab anything at all.

Employers don’t care if you’re desperate, they say—being willing to take anything does not make them like you.

Untargeted apps will be ignored.

Big mass mailings take time from better efforts. You lose what we call opportunity costs.

You come off as wishy-washy. “I have talked to a call center, so I guess I could work in one.”

AND—doing this—can give you hope, but that hope is deceptive. This is not a game of numbers. This is a game of skill and experience.

I have one big sort of laughable standard--if I don't know what a job "is," I don't apply. I am sure you know what I am talking about--things like integrative analytics, etc.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On that first interview


Eric Gembarowski, AZ Republic, Sept 25, 2011, says if you are fortunate enough to be called in, there are some aspects to keep in mind.

Yes—go to the company’s website, learn about them, all that good stuff. Don’t wear a strapless top or cargos, etc. Appear on time.

Gembarowski says it’s good to ask what the corporate culture is like, though. It shows an interest in fitting in, he says. I say you may be able to tell that from a few minutes in the waiting room and how the interviewer dresses.

As if the company promotes from within. He says this shows you are going to stay—I wonder if they might think you think the actual job is penny ante.

Ask if they offer training. Well, you would want to show you are bringing skills—not a blank slate.

AVOID presuming. You can ask about work hours—to assume you know it all may make you look cocky.

DO NOT badmouth previous interviewers or employers.

ALSO DO NOT ask about benefits. I once interviewed a woman who asked how long she would have to work before her first vacation.

Uh…sort of long…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quicker commute--uh-oh


Betty Beard, AZ Republic, Sept 25, 2011, says traffic has been thinning in AZ.

Isn’t that good?

No—it can be another sign the economy is softening even more—no job to go to, no money for gas, maybe no money to get a car.

Nationwide traffic is down 1%. In Arizona—more than 2%.

Diesel fuel sales are down, too—fewer trucks.

Still, they call it “slow growth” not double-dip. “Stumbling forward,waiting to get the energy to run, but not falling down.”

All righty-then.

PS About that infrastructure stuff—maybe we won’t need new roads or widened roads if this keeps up. Just a thought.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Optimism or pleasant delusion?


Alina Tugend, NYT, Sept 23, 2011, like me, is optimism-challenged. Expect the worst, I say, and when it happens, at least you were right!

But society values optimism…unicorns, Winnie the Pooh, the disease is cured, you can sell your house.

Yet, the numbers show Americans haven’t been this bummed about the economy in three decades. Fewer than 20% expect their finances to improve (Thomson-Reuters-Univ of Mich).

Optimism (they say) is not about repeating cloying stuff to yourself—everyday in every way I am getting better and better.

One expert says optimists think of bad things as temporary—pessimists the opposite.

Pessimists must do what I call catastrophize—generalize the specific to a huge generalization. My friend put me on voicemail—my friend hates me…that sort of thing.

Still, the experts say EXTREME optimism is not good.

An extreme optimist may think he or she is living way longer than health would dictate. Or think they don’t need savings—things will work out.

In the end, both come out the same, apparently. Too much faith in the future, no safety net. Too little—why bother with a safety net.

Oh, man.

But hey--keep coming here. The ultimate act of optimism is to suit up and try each day--and we do it, so there!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What if you need surgery?


A hospitalization, a surgery—what are you looking at when the fun wears off?

Ah, after care. I once wrote part of a book on “care between the venues,” meaning the discharge instructions from ERs, hospitals, or rehab centers either to other facilities or to the patient’s home.

There are many possibilities for errors in this. Often, meds given in the facility are sent with the patient in bottles or prescription form. Should the patient take the meds already at home, prescribed by various doctors, or the new ones? Surely not both…but often this is hazy.

I have a relative facing knee surgery—one website said no driving for 2 weeks—her doctor says 4 weeks.

I was facing horrible eye surgery and was told I had to be facedown for a week or more. I had no idea what this meant. The internet yielded no info—just offers from commercial companies to rent me various weird pieces of furniture to keep my head down.

I was so confused and terrified, I sent my bouncy dog to a friend’s and he ended up dead—the dog and the friendship, both.

My advice when leaving a facility is to ask questions, get clarifications—try to do this before a surgery when you feel clear and able to think…

Try to amass the supplies you need for wound care, if that is an issue. Thrash things out with the insurance company while you are pain free or feeling lucid.

I can at least help on how to do “facedown recovery”—this is used after detached retina and macular hole surgery. I interviewed top docs (not mine) and wrote up their ideas, plus my own—and I put in pictures. I like pictures, don’t you?

You can get it for a nominal fee of $10.

Now I may need to do one on knee surgery.

Order FACEDOWN now…

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Offices are bad workplaces


Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators International Inc, says a lot of quality work is done outside the office.

Offices are full of managers, gossip, noise, interruptions, jokes, delivery people, candy dishes, etc.

You need to think in terms of removing office roadblocks, Newlund says.

Cancel unnecessary meetings—use them to make decisions, not just exchange info.

Do the stuff you are trying to avoid, get it out of the way.

Check email only twice a day.

Post your calendar online—showing when you will take a drop-in.

Think in terms of managing your energy, not your time.

Have a one-to-one meeting—walk during it.

Try “No Talk Thursday Afternoons.”

And think about the prize—the long-term goal, not the little stuff.

Which reminds me…I saw a cute line:

"Don’t sweat the small stuff or pet the sweaty stuff.”

Off the subject? Me?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lose the hootchy outfits


What is up with some of those gals at Fox? They look like they are wearing swimwear on the air. The tiny straps—the halters. Come on, ladies.

CareerBuilder reminds us that a poll showed recently that appearance is second only to communication skills as qualities most associated with professionalism.

The Center for Professional Excellence’s director cautions us that modesty is a virtue. No tight pants, camel toe, or boobs falling out.

Business casual means—BUSINESS CASUAL—not beach casual. Khakis, maybe a nice collared polo, an A-line skirt or cotton pants.

No flipflops or peeptoes. No tranny heels.

Mimic the boss’s style if you are in doubt.

Forget the vintage—they make think your ideas are old, too.

If you look at your outfit and wonder if it’s appropriate—it’s probably not.

Now--Hannah Storm--in that picture--does that top look "sports centery" to you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Many hands make short work


Some gals in this area have teamed up to do renovations and repairs on their own homes.

Kara Morrison writes about this in the AZ Republic, Sept 17, 2011. One woman was trying to add some wainscoting but life kept getting in the way—and she apparently did not have a “testo” to nag into doing this.

That would be a testosterone-blessed mate born with a hammer in his hand (ouch).

Anyhow, she tagged up with a girlfriend to help her and they added four other women. Twice a year, they all go to each member's house and tackle the Honey-Do List.

Some tips:

Get can-do people. Skills are good, too.

Make sure they have some tools.

All should be within easy driving distance. The host provides the project, materials, and lunch.

Laughter is mandatory.

Six is the right number—fewer and nothing happens, more and everything turns into a hot mess.

They have turned a basement into a game room. Refinished furniture. Painted many rooms. Laid out a backyard wedding—and many other projects.

They laugh, they cry, they joke—and one joke, if it is a joke, is that once in, you can’t leave except in a perfectly built and upholstered coffin, courtesy of the group.

Luckily this hasn't been put to the test. Women are anxious to get in the group, but no one has opened up a slot yet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can we talk about job qualifications?


The Arizona Republic posed a weird challenge in a recent editorial—workers need to be able to think, not just spit back information.

They said only 3 out of 10 applicants at one temp agency they knew of were placed in jobs. The others, the agency guy said, lacked marketable skills or were stubbornly seeking jobs that didn’t exist.

The job market has changed. Do we really realize that? I am not sure I always do.

In AZ, fewer residents under 50 hold an associate degree or higher. Is college always where you learn to do today’s work, though?

Here in AZ (which is weird but probably not that different than all other states), about 64% of HS grads enroll someplace after HS. Only 69% are ready for college English and 53% for math.

Yoops—only half can cut the math! No wonder those Indian and Chinese smarties are getting those special visas and eating our lunch.

Half of those in 4-yr colleges finish. Less than ¼ finish community college.

Clearly, in-house training specifically for the work will be required. But there is one other problem—today’s younger people think they rate more and some don’t even show up on time.

Wise up, people! We need to cowboy up here. This is education and facts, sure, but also character and motivation.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What, us worry?


Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, Sept 11, 2011, says getting foreclosed can be bad for your health.

One for The Big Book of Duh.

Foreclosures are up—the banks backed off for a while then resumed tossing people out.

A show is starting on Discovery—where people buy foreclosed homes—sorta like Pawn Stars or Storage Wars. That’s a perky idea.

I know someone who was foreclosed who is still getting letters from the homeowners association saying pay this, a lien on that, we hate you, etc—and she is long out of the apt and done with bankruptcy.

Anyhow, economists at Princeton and Georgia State linked foreclosures with hospital admittance increases in AZ, CA, FL and NJ.

High foreclosures—more stress-related illnesses, with the biggest impact in people 20 to 49.

Yeah, not sleeping, all that crying, that can’t breathe all the way in feeling, overeating or no appetite—it can’t be good.

And it’s not like this is ending.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The urge to purge


Remember the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (call OSHA—mercury poisoning from cleaning beaver skins for hats)…Every so often, the Hatter would yell, “Clean cup!” and everyone would move down a place at the table—sitting, of course, in front of someone’s dirty cup.

[So this is what I am good at now—splaining fairy tales.]

Anyhow, I am trying to weed my garage. Stuff! People accumulate it—I have mine and Mom’s. And my kid’s—from when her room burned down 5 yrs ago.

This is bad feng shui—if I even believe in that anymore. Also it’s horrible-looking. Like house varicose veins or something.

I am putting out one box a week—nothing drastic. Checking it, getting the kid to take it to the trash.

This has been going on all summer and it looks the same.

I do advise going room by room. Start at 12 on the clock face of the room and move around quadrant by quadrant. Or do one box week.

If someone tries to put something in the garage, I throw a body block. I had to put back recent financial records, though—you know how all criminals like that stuff.

Criminals suck, don’t they? Always with the Nigerian scams, the Russian scams, the fake Fibbies saying you were scammed, the dumpster divers.

Wonder if they need to get rid of a lot of stuff. Oh, probably. Serves them right.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home office for the kids


In the August Costco Connection, I wrote a story on how teens can benefit from an organized home office.

My source was Bobbi DePorter, president of the Quantum Learning Network, and co-founder of SuperCamp (www.supercamp.com). She educates kids! Remember when kids got educated?

School is kids’ work—she points out. Giving a teen an office sends the message that this is serious and the teen’s efforts are valued.

Too often, parents want to keep an eye on the kids during homework—but letting them have a closed office is fine.

Cue the d├ęcor to the child’s learning style. If the kid is organized, have bulletin boards, drawers. If the child is more free-wheeling, have comfy chairs.

Feature a large paper calendar with all important school dates and deadlines noted.

It also doesn’t hurt to put up some affirmations—I BELIEVE IN MYSELF, EVERYTHING I DO DESERVES MY BEST EFFORT.

The kid may think these are corny as a field in Kansas, but the brain will take them in subconsciously.

As for music--lose the rap and get the teen to try some baroque, Bach, Handel...This stimulates the rhythm of the heart, DePorter says, making the listener relaxed and alert.

Get the kid involved in the design, furnishings, colors—people like what they help create.

The pix is from Pottery Barn Teen...Lots of ideas there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby steps in renovation


Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press, writes that in this “fragile” economy (I would use a diff F-word), homeowners are making small fixes rather than gutting their kitchens and bathrooms.

I need a stove. Whose stove breaks? Mine did. The $300 fix of five yrs ago is inoperative—I am down to one burner. But I digress.

The idea, she says, is to do little things until you can reach the ultimate kitchen or bath? Ultimate? Four burners?

What projects are good if they are to be undone in a few years?

Target the biggest surfaces—make it look the most different. Paint old counter tops. Ever think of that one? You can get a kit that makes it look like granite.

Tackle the floors. Another big surface. Use grout stain—give it a face lift.

Add a tile back splash. You can even put on those little tiles in a mesh matrix yourself.

Try a faux finish—I have a sponged family room I like.

Do some under cabinet lighting—makes everything look different.

Phase in new appliances one at a time (stove, stove). You can also paint appliances.

Or update the cabinet and drawer pulls.

In the bathroom, take out the tired shower doors and get a curtain or vice-versa.

Replace the old mirror with one in a frame—make the frame of trim.

This is making the old “reno” warhorse in me neigh a little. I will lie down until he shuts up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

House appraisals very important now


Ellen James Martin, Universal Syndicate, says when you refinance in these days of upsidedown houses and falling values—appraisals are all-important.

Refinancers really sweat them.

If the appraisal comes in low and you have no equity, the bank will say no. In almost all cases.

Even if you have equity, the appraisal can help or hurt. If you have too high a loan-to-value ratio, you will have to pay PMI.

To get the best appraisal (highest), spruce up the property. To refinance, don’t replace the kitchen, but make the house look good.

Look at the comparables in your neighborhood. The appraiser also will do this. Sometimes, you can point out other comps—like Zillow.com.

In truth, there is not too much you can do besides keeping the dog from biting the appraiser and maybe putting some flowers on the table.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ever work for a screamer?


I have. After those four-Gibson lunches, the big boss would fume. He would wander the office, cruising to do some bruisin’. People knew enough to shut their doors in the afternoon and bring up important stuff in the morning.

He would fire people, then forget, so they just come to work and no one would say anything.

Later, after he tried to drive under a semi- with the company Mercedes, he quit drinking. And now he has passed away. And I am still here! So there is that.

Anyhow, Anita Bruzzese of Gannett, says there are ways to deal with bullies at work (besides basically hiding).

She says as many as 70% of adults say they have been bullied at work. Most do not report it.

Bullying is not illegal unless it crosses into discrimination or harassment.

But it can cost the company in absenteeism, turnover and stress-related illnesses.

So companies provide anti-bullying training. In some cases, if the supervisor has taken the course and lets the bullying continue, that person may be liable.

Contact your HR department, the employee assistance program. Will the bully find out? Maybe, sure.

You could tell the bully to knock it off. You don’t need a long list of examples. Keep your dignity. Say: "When you talk to me like that, it makes me lose my train of thought."

If it’s gone that far, maybe the company can bring in a trainer—this way the bully isn’t singled out.

That might make him or her unpleasant, you know.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Want to be the boss? Be sure


Brittany Watts writes about interviewing Dale Kalika, senior lecturer at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business (AZ Republic, Sept 4, 2011).

What does it take to be a great manager?

Planning and managing people, Kalika said.

Working with people is the hardest—boy howdy, do I agree! When I had employees, I never could walk the line—friend, mean boss, accommodator, etc. I never could decide. I think that made me a bad boss. Maybe not the worst, but not the best.

Often supervisors come out of the pool of employees and get no training or mentoring. Maybe a support group of new supervisors could be formed so people could bounce off each other.

How do you excel as a supervisor? Exceeding goals, Kalika says. Working effectively with other managers.

What should you avoid? Dipping down—doing what subordinates should be handling.

Final advice: Be sure this is you, what you want.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Calm down--it's only a job


CareerBuilder says you need to collect yourself before an interview. Maybe it’s been a while since you got that far, but don’t be nervous.

Remember, the interviewer wants you to be the one…They need to hire and move on. Also, the interviewer once sat where you are sitting.

You need to prepare ahead of time. Yes, beating a dead horse with a broken record. Role play with a friend. What are your best traits? Your worst? Why do you want to work there? Be sure you know what the company does—at very least.

Plan your day around the interview. Don’t rush.

While waiting, close your eyes and do some deep breathing (it may look like you are praying, though).

Listen and think before answering.

Have some questions of your own.

Send a paper thank you note. Maybe bring up something you forgot to mention—something good about you. There are plenty of good things about you. Remember that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One big family


I have always joked (I thought it was joking) that the US is becoming Water World without the water—a feral, underdeveloped mess.

Well, you know how in some so-called third-world countries, all the generations live together? That is starting here—or developing faster.

Supposedly, Asian and Hispanic immigrants are pushing the trend, but I think it’s the economy.

Multigenerational households are up 30% since 2000!

Most of this is in the burbs—in single-family homes, not tenements or farms.

The kids stay home or move back, the grandparents can’t afford assisted care or culturally would tend to be cared for at home—voila!

We have two gens here—not counting the four-leggers.

It’s not all bad—people can look after each other. Just so Mom doesn’t have to do it all.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Glory grabbers


By glory—I mean taking credit for things at work.

Don’t you have it when someone grabs the glory—and you did the work?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, tackles this common workplace situation. Basically, she says, you can be 2 or 52 and getting reamed will bug you.

The bad economy merely makes this worse—people are vying for top dog.

If someone aces you out, try to figure out what they did that you didn’t. And I don’t mean a casting couch type of deal.

Try to play the bigger game next time—the way they did.

Try to get some control.

This, of course, does not mean appropriating credit YOU did not earn from someone else.

But the envy and jealousy—those gnaw away at you.

I try so hard not to compare…and to learn rather than burn.

Sometimes I even succeed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reader snagged in stupid test and freaks


A friend of mine has a fabulous health resume—she has worked at most of the heavy hitters in health care—household word places—has had her own business—knows health and insurance marketing, the whole niner.

She was applying for a job at the Cleveland Clinic—and got hit not only with being asked to submit a res and then barf it all back into a form, but to take a timed “pre-assessment test.” “Pre”?

This turned out to be a nightmare of math word-problem-like questions, interspersed with popups of emails she would supposedly be breaking into her work to read—and then popup questions thrown at her about the contents of these emails, all while she was working the other problems, or trying to.

“It was ridiculous!” she moaned to me. “I am organized—I would never throw everything together like this on a job.”

She says she ended up feeling like she was horrible.

And the worst part—She was completely qualified for the job.

Like that matters anymore.

If this was PRE-assessment, which is the real assessment? Sensory deprivation? Calculus? Plasma physics?