Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Secrets for college freshmen

American University is trying to clue in the incoming class. A prof there, Jon Gould, wrote a book called How to Succeed in College (While Really Trying).

Gould explains all the skinny—the difference between seminar and lecture, tenured and untenured, and the meaning of credit hour.

Gould tells students what THEY must do to ace college (half drop out).

First find the best class and professor. He also advises going to office hours—getting individual help.

Showing up at all classes is a huge part of success.

No one will ask if you did the work—this isn’t HS. You did or didn't. It’s up to you!

Just living on your own can be stressful. No one to tell you to go to bed, much less grab drugs or drinks out of your hand.

Know what to expect, anyway.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Coping post-hospital

I hate to cross this site with my health site but sometimes they parallel. As I said, we took Mom to the hospital Thurs morning and got her out Sun afternoon.

Me being me, I had "observations," which I communicated to the hospital...In shortened form:

...Regrettably, there were many things about my 94-yr-old mother's three-day stay that did not impress us and even alarmed us.

Thurs AM, Mom was uncommunicative and vomited. She also could not speak--garbled. She lives in a group home five mins from us--we decided to let them call the EMTs. We wanted her at a hosp in her plan. They insisted they were not allowed to take her there because there was no "neuro facility." We ended up out of network.

They said she had irregular heartbeat. They made no mention of her speech in triage (the neuro part). I was the one who asked about (the stroke medicine) TPa--the doctor sort of blew it off--must be within 4 hrs, who knows how long ago this started, etc.

Although she had heart issues, they put no leads on her--I had to ask. They let her drink water, then many hours later, would not give her any jello or pudding--it was way past lunch. They told us the ER had no food--which we know is not true. The CT scan showed normal aging. They wanted to admit her--out of network--this was a hassle, which I hope was settled that her plan would cover it.

Upstairs (many hrs later), we spoke to a cardiologist, went over the DNR options, and we never saw him again. We did have confidence in him, tho--at least he spoke with us.

We repeatedly asked to speak to the hospitalist ("her" doctor, hah!)--we saw him strutting around the nurses ordering MRIs for everyone, he saw us outside her room, never came over. We never saw "her" supposed neurologist, either.

There were issues over her swallowing--they did a bedside test and the therapist could not recommend soft foods without a modified barium swallow--which we reluctantly agreed to, and she passed and then could spoon up her own food soon after. Basically she had an expensive test to eat Jello.

She is home now--talking much better, wobbly, ate her own dinner last nite.

I would like to praise two people...her nurse who kept in touch with my sister and me and when she said she would call, she did. We appreciated that. A man in the ER named B watched me all day hanging on the walls to walk and when it was time to go to the upstairs room, he turned up with a wheelchair and insisted I ride. That was great.

Otherwise, your treatment of us oldies--I would give it a C.

I am also getting a copy of her chart--I recommend this.

I hope you don't need to COPE with this, but if you do...keep your eyes open and exercise commonsense, if you can get anyone to listen.

Otherwise try to get some Jello for yourself.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coping--sort of

Bear with me—emergencies.

We had to go to the ER with my 94-yr-old mother Thurs—the usual wait of hours. Old ladies, my sister and I at the bedside are old, too, get last priority. I bitched—but I am muted from having some weird problem or reaction—very dizzy. I thought I would end up in the next bed.


Not good.

Why are people in ERs so hard to deal with? One orderly who had seen me all day clinging to the wall to walk, brought a wheelchair and insisted on pushing me to Mom’s room when she finally got one. I resisted but it helped. So I take back my mean comments.

Oh--and my daughter blew out a knee and we are taking her to the ER since we are going to the hospital. And the dog is sick.

Have a nice weekend now!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't stop networking

This darn mess has straggled on so long people are sick of talking to each other.

The other day, I asked about a relative who is unemployed—has she been networking. My source said nah, probably not, she didn’t want to return to the govt, so why bother.

But people you talk to know about more than just jobs in their own offices!

Yes, you can put resumes on Monster, but you need to keep up the face to face, go to professional meetings, and so on.

Come on, now, we can do this!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cash mobs help local business

Stephanie Russo, Arizona Republic, July 4, 2012, brings up a new social media critter—the cash mob.

Instead of breaking into synchronized dance, the mob brings money and spends it in a business.

These started in the US late last year—a blogger (of course) wrote about the first one in Cleveland and they started to multiply.

American Public Media’s Marketplace Money program sent the idea national.

Here in Arizona, a local chamber exec picked up on the idea for his member businesses, including one that sells alcohol-infused ice cream.

For every $100 spent at a local business, $73 stays in the state—versus $43 for a non-locally owned business.

Best for this are local businesses with items under $20. Items should be for both men and women. Inform the business. And spread the word for a week ahead of time.

Go to cashmobs.com for more info.

This is enough to give a mob a good name.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Apps-ly put

My sister-in-law was here some months ago and was constantly on her tiny little phone looking up things we were already looking at. Looking at—with our eyes.

Dawn Gilbertson, AZ Republic, July 22, 2012, talks about travel apps. She was in San Francisco and asked the hotel concierge to go through all her apps on her phone and find a restaurant.

Concierges need to know this stuff—it’s their job. In this case, the concierge did not like what was on Dawn’s apps but did see that a place around the corner had a good special for her, the concierge!

Come on. This has gone too far.

Are you going to spend your whole vacation looking for one-day deals on Groupon, Living Social, Google Offers, Daily Candy, Bite Hunter, and Goldstar?

I list these because I am told that some people do the opposite of what I say. Some people not even in my family, if you can believe that.

Anyhow, this babe did find a bunch of unheralded (hole in the wall) places with great java and unique burgers.

So who am I to knock it?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Still want to buy a home?

I can’t sell mine and probably never will be able to. Soooo….homeownership for me is renting with full responsibility for buying new appliances, fixing things, getting someone to cut palm leaves, and so on.

Worst of all worlds.

But interest rates are low—so you may want to get into this.

They call it a starter house—but count on “starting” for five years at least.

So look for extra bedrooms for when Little Junior comes along.

Get the best neighborhood you can afford.

Pay attention to schools—research it. Check out schoolmatch.com.

You will need a pretty large percentage for a down payment. An FHA loan may cut that somewhat. Go to hud.gov.

Don’t forget those trees, that grass you need to cut, the fridge that may need replacing.

Oh, I am a grump. Don't listen to me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Addiction can follow you around

Sad but true—past is prologue. Sometimes, in this society, you cannot outrun your past. Ninety percent of US employers do background checks.


The Americans with Disabilities Act, however, forbids discrimination because of past drug addiction—it the applicant is no longer using.

However, they have a loophole and can still deny you if there is a safety issue, which covers a lot of ground.

This is taken on a case-by-case basis. Best to be honest and play it out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pipe up if you are in doubt

Say you do get a decent job—should you hunker down and shut up and try to figure things out on your own?

CareerBuilder says it’s OK to ask for help—everyone is new sometime.

Be humble about it. Yes, you are qualified for the job, you got the job, but you don’t know everything!

Ask questions—ask them at an opportune time, don’t interrupt something else, be sure you need to know the answers and listen to the answers.

Make suggestions—then ask if these ideas are on target.

I made a career out of asking people things—usually they are glad to expound.

One thing new hires need to ask for is priorities…A boss may be so glad to have an assistant, he or she will says, “OK, you need to read through the last year of cases, call so and so and so and so, set up a meeting with blank, do you know how this phone system works, do something about this file system, blah blah."

That is when you need to say, “Do you think you could put those in order of importance for me?”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't overdo the warpaint

Mature skin…do you like that word?

I hate senior, mature, codger, biddy, etc. Maybe experienced is OK.

I digress. Most old people I know are not mature at all—they whine, write rants like this, and so on.


Cara Hedgepath, USA Today Weekend, writes about how to apply makeup to what’s left of our faces.

She quotes Sandy Litner and Lois Joy Johnson, authors of The Makeup Wakeup, on how to maximize what we have.

Move your blush to the top of your cheekbones from the apples of your cheeks.

Trade in your base for one that’s lighter in texture and tone.

Bag the metallic shadows—stick with a peach or honey.

Stick with dark eyeliner if you use it—black, brown. Forget green, blue and purple.

I use lipstick for blush—I should probably be shot.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vets--maybe you can retrain for a year

There may not be much call for IED disarmament, but there is for team-players, strategic thinkers, methodical planners, and other skills.

There is a now a special GI bill called the VRAP—Veterans Retraining Assistance Program.

The goal is to get 10,000 vets who lost jobs during the recession and may lack modern-day skills.

You can get almost $1500 a month for one year to cover costs of an associate degree or technical school if you pursueone of 211 high-demand fields. These include nurses and truck drivers, to name two.

Unemployed vets from 35 to 60 are eligible if they are not in other programs.

The two-year program will accept 45,000 apps through Sept 30 and more between Oct and March.

Go to http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm.

This is urgent because some vets are becoming homeless.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is your house seniorized?

Maybe you are young and don’t care. OK. But Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, July 15, 2012, says ”senioring” a house can help it sell.

Many people (news flash!) have bad knees, hips, and ailments. They don’t want two-story houses.

Some also do not want condos—they tend to go back to houses.

A lot of one-story houses were built last century. So that’s good. But now with the cost of land rising, more multi-story houses are being built.

Senior friendly can mean a first floor master suite—but only if you want it—not for resale purposes (because it will cost).

Cheaper fixes are replacing carpet with wheelchair friendly laminate or tile.

Maybe low kitchen counters or cabinets.

You can put grab bars in the bathroom and elsewhere.

I have a step to get outside in front—you should hear me whine about that step. I am a baby.

You know the best senior deal of all--a tall toilet! I crave one. I dream about one. My daughter kids around about the present one--"I am falling down, down," she wails, "save me, I am in the well."

Friday, July 13, 2012

It won't kill ya

Now, you know I am not a gooey positive thinker type. I don’t even think there is a glass—much less that’s it’s half full, unless it's half-full of poison or something really expensive.

But I have been known to do little things for people—but these only count if you don’t tell people. Ooops.

Good Housekeeping had a few such ideas. One was take a bouquet to the hospital—the nurses can give it to someone without flowers.

Know someone who’s broke—buy them a summer pool pass.

Let cars merge ahead of you for one month, then another month.

Put a sticky note in a public bathroom reading: You Look Gorgeous!

See a soldier dining alone—pay the check.

Become an organ donor on your license.

Fill out comment cards—praise employees. (My kid did this once about a nurse in the ER and they gave the nurse an award for it!)

Talk to a wallflower at a party.

A friend of mine from college is sending me back little notes I sent him 40 yrs ago. I am touched he saved them. And it’s fun to see what I was up to.

Hint: Children like these little niceness runs, too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I said no recently

I had a new client—I thought—but then she loaded on special conditions, this, that, would not compromise. So I backed out.

CareerBuilder says sometimes you do have to say no. Maybe—they said—something is a bad idea or a waste of time.

According to Dianna Booher, author of Communicate with Confidence, you can say no without being a creep.

Listen to the new idea. Mull it over.

Then say how the idea would work—offer suggestions for tweaks (I did this).

Explain your take of what is involved, sometimes people don’t know.

With the other person’s goal in mind, offer alternatives.

Keep it open, pleasant.

I am not always great on that last—I feel like a bad outtake of the Godfather—I am not getting respect.

In my defense, this last person countered with I have plenty of writers--my way or the highway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't look too hot in the heat

Tonya Garcia had a story on what to wear at the office in summer—and what not to. The tips came from Kate Powell at Style for Hire, a network of personal stylists including Stacy London of “What Not to Wear” fame.

You know those gals on TV (The Glades, Covert Affairs, CSI Miami) who wear basically swimsuits to work? Don’t.

Wear a suit, but pick lightweight cloth with a subtle pattern.

Express your personality with color. Add some fun bold pieces. I recently got a little chiffon scarf for my neck from eBay—it was marked “vintage.” I guess I missed the look. I am vintage.

Plum and burgundy are now neutrals—remember that.

Stick with natural fabrics—cotton, linen, silk—they don’t stink up and make you hot.

Shoes can pop—they are making better-colored laceups and deck shoes for men, even. For women, maybe an animal print shoe.

Above all—your body may be hot, but that doesn’t mean you should bare it at work in a sundress.

Judgment, people, judgment!

Pix from Banana Republic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wake up--get a non-boring job

Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder, has some ideas if you are drowsy in your present situation.

Some people like challenges every day—an unpredictable environment. Some hate that.

They recently did a survey in England and a fourth of people were downright bored with their jobs.

You can lose concentration, make mistakes, and be a bad worker if badly matched excitement-wise.

Some more unpredictable options include:

Hairdresser. You will be in business for yourself, have to deal with difficult people.

Bartender. Again, this is social, lots of chitchat. Tips make up much of the income—you have different finances to deal with. On your feet a lot.

Hotel concierge. Some new challenge every minute—you need to keep up with the events, the shows, the ticket prices, special requests.

Publicists go-go-go all day getting celebs ink and juggling their issues.

Law enforcement. You never know on this one!

Landscape architect. You need to plan, deal with weather, crews, the unexpected.

Food critic. You need to know food and have an iron stomach. I used to do food reviews—it isn’t all gravy.

I ate goat once.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Scientists hurting for work

Math and science, math and science…Even at the White House level, or especially at it, these are the mantras. Everyone should be a scientist.

Brian Vastag, WashPost, recently questioned all this call for scientists. Computer science and petroleum engineering seem to be hot, but other fields are bobbing along the bottom like much of the rest of the economy.

Don’t expect anyone to clamor for you, said the editor of the online Science Careers site.

Only 14% of those with a PhD in biology or the life sciences can find an academic post within 5 yrs.

Pharmcos also have been consolidated and jobs slashed—a 300,000 job “bloodbath,” as described by one expert.

Just 38% of new PhD chemists are employed.

Soooo…..Maybe everyone should not be a scientist.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Break before grad school

The experts say grad school can benefit you so much more if you take a two-year break before starting.

Some grad programs even require you have experience first.

That would be real-world experience. Reality. School is not reality and it’s not just a crippling expensive place to hang out hiding from reality.

Working can let you try a specialty on for size.

If you do work—try to find something that feeds into your narrative—is in your area.

Working can also help with expenses.

Mostly, though, working can give you a dose of reality—the day to day, the people interactions (you think school is petty!), the personal integrity it takes to do things you may not want to. Assuming you can find a job! The numbers were crappy again this AM.

Oh--one more thing. Taking a two year break may mean you don't go to grad school. You may like the job--you may learn about refreshers and certification programs to help you advance short of a formal degree--you may be glad to be out of school.

You just never know in this world.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tips on tipping

Alex Veiga, AP, says many people are not sure how to tip while overseas or even in the US.

No matter what you hear about "greasing the palms" abroad, tipping is not as common there. In NY and LA, patrons may leave 20% on the amount minus the sales tax. In France and Japan, tipping is not expected—it may have been added as a 15% service fee, with another 5% expected in some countries.

Some places write in a “suggested tip.” You can do whatever you want.

Many people add a buck a drink—this is not expected abroad in most cases.

Taxis tips are to the nearest Euro or pound.

Tour guides in Europe get as much as 3 Euros.

The US custom of tipping hotel staff for making up the room and carrying your luggage is spreading to Europe. In Japan, this is not expected unless a special service is rendered—then put up to $40 in an envelope and hand it discreetly.

Massages—10 to 15%.

Tipping is not allowed in China—but for tour guides, especially, it’s catching on. You can give candy, t-shirts, and other small gifts.

Sounds like fun, people—wish I were going.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


When I was a kid, we had guns around and my family loved explosives. Some people are just like that.

One of my brothers became a park ranger with many police duties. We all went to the gun range.

And fireworks! Well—that was the best day of the year. My dad had an old cannon his dad brought back from the Spanish-American War—he anchored it with sandbags and fired it on the Fourth. Of course, the police showed up instantly—and then started helping him!

The first sound you used to hear on the morning of the Fourth was pop…poppopopop—kids setting off firecrackers. Now—we are all so civilized, you don’t hear that. Yes, even in Arizona.

But if you are still an outlaw or have a streak of bad, you must be a little cautious. Never let young children hold even the littlest fireworks.

Don’t get them if they are illegal where you live.

If the device is in brown paper—it may be made for professionals—pass it by.

Even a sparkler is 2,000 degrees. Ouch!

Don’t bend over the firework while lighting it. Scatter fast!

If it fizzles, don’t touch it.

Keep a bucket of water or hose handy.

Humans will be humans—the more they say not to, the more you want to.

Monday, July 2, 2012

You don't have to be a "writer"

But you do have to be able to communicate in this world. Dianna Booher wrote Communicate with Confidence.

Good communicators, she sez, are creative, listen, are positive, and are comfy socially.

Jobs that require good communication include human resources specialists, teachers, nurses, trainers, administratrive assistants, and meeting planners.

And many more. Almost any occupation that is not recluse requires the ability to share ideas—meaning state them and get them from others.

Even recluses are often good writers—at least putting ideas out there.

I see so many basically incomprehensible comments on blogs and websites. Unclear! You can be wrong, but at least say what you mean.