Thursday, July 31, 2014

World zipping along

Tom Wheeler is chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (bet you didn't know that, I didn't).

Anyhow, he points out that Chicago became the second city because the railroads convened there. New York was the media hub because the telegraph started from there.

Now, those things are meaningless--artifacts.

Moore's Law dictates that because of microchips, the power of devices doubles every two years.

In 20 yrs, microchips will be 1000x as powerful as today. Great, maybe they can rock the baby and empty the dishwasher.

Wireless connects billions--pretty soon, all devices will be connected to each other, too.

Maybe all the devices can just talk and figure things out.

Wait--they already are!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Did the 1989 dreams come true?

You know those columns where eggheads predict the future? Does anyone ever look back and see how they did? Yes--sometimes.

George Anders, WSJ, July 8, 2014, looks back 25 years to the Journal's predictions.

Well, no one knew about social media.

The space planes whipping people from NY to LA did not come to pass.

Healthy eating then was to be based on Olestra, a synthetic fat--which turned out to have bad consequences, like many dietary fads. It's since been declared safe, but no one wants to eat it.

Bangladesh is not a powerhouse. Same for Zimbabwe.

In 1989, they predicted data-infused glasses. Sure enough, Google Glass.

Cellphones would multiply--they did far beyond 1989 estimates. Maybe they did not predict no one would talk on them--just type.

Schools were going to morph into community centers--instead they sort of contracted into the basics.

And on it goes.

I want my Jet Pak! Oh, well, I would probably crash anyhow.

As Edith Bunker once said of astrology--"It's fun to know what's going to happen, even if it doesn't happen."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Learn to grovel like a champ

This is the age of being sorry. Get used to it. You can be racist if you want, an idiot, a chauvinist, a bully, an incompetent--but with free speech now comes the requirement to apologize for your sins.

Scott McCartney, WSJ, July 10, 2014, writes about how airlines are sort of not good in the apologizing department. And they have to do it a lot!

First--and this might not be good--Southwest has a computer sort complaints into Feelers, Drivers, Entertainers, and Thinkers. Then it crafts an apology for each.

Actually airlines have to respond in 30 days--so they get with it.

One letter from Delta said, "I'm really sorry about the injury you suffered on our flight. (Critiqued by an Eng prof, this sounded childish.) Unfortunately, you were hurt by a seat marker. (This was supposed to be personalized, of course the passenger remembered the incident.)

The letter goes on: "That truly sounds unpleasant. You should have had a nicer experience on our plane." (Me--darn right, can it.)

It goes on in this syrupy and simplified tone. One paragraph reminded the passenger she got ice for her injury.

Why not write? "I am so sorry you whacked our head on a seat marker on ____ date. This should never have happened. We are buying a different brand of airplane next time--don't hate us. And here is a free ticket to Bali. The MRIs are on us. Is there any other way we can make up for this? Maybe put your child through college or something?"

I can dream.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't be too quick to say you're sorry

I have a relative who always apologizes at the fast food window--too slow to put her change away, sorry, someone behind her toots the horn, sorry, the guy on the mic can't hear her order, sorry.

I keep asking why are you sorry--it's your turn and the mic should work!

Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, July 15, 2014, says when you actually have an argument, saying you're sorry too fast can just paper things over.

Conflict is normal. Saying "sorry" too fast may be a way to avoid it.

So wait to resume or talk--don't do it while one person is still "hot."

Focus on feelings--not the details of the fight.

Never use the word "but" in your apology. "I am sorry...but..."

Realize it may take time to wear off, until both people feel better.

And--this is from me--don't keep on and on apologizing. I am so, so, sorry...Give it up at some point.

Don't worry, another disagreement will come along.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Good money habits for kids

My daughter is not a kid--and she has bad money habits. She spends it. I am sure, like everything else about her, this is all my fault.

So I read a piece in the WSJ by Anne Marie Chaker (July 10, 2014) with interest and some remorse.

In the story, the parents give their two kids 14 and 11 ten bucks a month allowance. In exchange they did chores.

But this--as radically organized as it was--was not enough. So now the kids get $20 bucks at the end of the month and have more chores and must save ten bucks. They also must save half of the money they earn around the neighborhood. They walk pets, babysit, mow lawns.

Mow lawns--you can't find a kid out here in AZ to mow a lawn if you paid a hundred bucks.

Well, the little capitalists have amassed tidy little nest eggs--the girl is saving for a trip to Switzerland.

Maybe she can open a secret account, if they still have those. Her mom has enrolled her in financial boot camp, after all.

I am not saying this is bad. It is just so creepily atypical.

When I was a kid we got 25 cents a week and bought candy. Yummm, rootbeer barrels.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Invisibles

Adam Rubenfire, WSJ, July 10, 2014, talks about a new book out called The Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, by David Zweig.

The Invisibles are highly skilled workers who go unnoticed by the public.

The author had been a magazine fact checker--he was invisible unless he made a mistake. The better he did his job, the less he was recognized.

Most Invisibles like it that way. They may make a lot of money and supervise many people, but don't crave the limelight.

Invisibles work for the work itself.

Sort of like this blog, I guess. Year in, year out, I get a thousand hits a day, rarely any comments, sniff...I just do it to do it.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

STEM STEM STEM--Maybe not the whole answer

Science Technology Engineering Math--this is now dubbed STEM. All the pols and pundits say we need more STEM grads.

According to the Census Bureau, though, three-quarters of those with a Bachelor's in a STEM field are not working in that field.

Yet, unemployment for STEM grads is lower that for the general population of workers--3.6% of those between 25 and 64 are out of a job, compared with 6.1% for the rest.

Yet--these are not necessarily working a STEM job. Engineers are most likely to be, but the supply of those is 50% more than the demand.

So what to do with this information? If you are gifted in a STEM area, pursue your passion. If it does not appeal, don't force it.

What do you think?

I still think it beats gender studies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't be like fish

Be welcomed back...
Like fish, houseguests, the say goes, begin to stink in three days.

Lizzie Post. WSJ, July 17, 2014, has some tips for being a good and welcome guest.

People often go to the beach in summer--and their friends also want to go to the beach. So the guest thing jumps off.

First, don't bring steamer trunks of stuff--just the minimum. Ask ahead what activities might be planned.

If the hosts want to spend time with you, don't make a lot of other plans and run off every day.

If you have special foods, bring those. Bring your own toiletries.

If the host has kids, offer to babysit one evening.

Bring an appropriate gift--if they don't drink much, don't bring wine and guzzle it down yourself. Maybe a coffee table book on a interest the host has. Or some soaps.

Offer to help--but some people don't want help, so catch the drift.

Also--tidy up and don't snoop!

Follow up with a thank you note. A note, not an email or text. Text--very gauche.

Once we stayed in a condo on the beach and somehow some sugar was on the table when we left--ants marched in. The condo owner was not amused. Good-bye condo!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Some more equal than others?

There has been buzz recently about women in Silicon Valley getting crude treatment from the little boy geniuses.

This is about perks, though. Rachel Feintzeig (WSJ, July 16, 2014), says the tech industry is famous for snacks, booze and free dry cleaning--but these perks are now being scaled back and not offered as often to sales people and non-developers.

Redfin, for instance, has both developers and real estate agents. The agents, used to commissions, love the perks such as big monitors and sushi lunches.

But now they are getting entitled--asking for gym memberships and the like.

If it were me, I would not expect the grape-peeling to last forever or to be for everyone.

In other words, code writers will be sushi biters and the rest will bring tuna from home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why we hoard

I hate fussing with the TV remote and happening on those sickening hoarder shows--tunnels cut through debris stacked high, roaches and rats.

But you can still hold on too long--short of that. I am a tosser--my daughter is a "might needer."

Melinda Beck, WSJ, July 8, 2014, helps us categorize our neuroses hoarding-wise.

First, there are those who want to hang onto the way things were. Old trophies and triumphs, pictures of old pets (but not the bodies).

Sizes you might wear again sometime.

Stuff you bought to feel better and never wore.

ADHD leftovers--half-done hobbies, anything resulting from lack of focus.

Stuff you know you may need again even if you never will.

Weird stuff that might be valuable again as an antique--say, 8 Track.

For may people clutter distresses--but so does getting rid of things.

Hoarding in the extreme sense is now a psychiatric disorder.

How about people who are too lazy to cart things to the dumpter--or lack upper body strength--or their knees hurt?

Think about how much someone else would love and could use the item.

One woman said she didn't need a professional organizer--she had already separated everything into bins--just not trash bins.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peace Corps cutting

Maybe these Millennials have the right idea. They are impatient with paperwork.

Applying for the Peace Corps used to require a 60-page form--it took eight hours and tons of research.

Even completing it gave people mythical status--you did?

Now the darn form has been shortened and streamlined.

Participants may be more choice of countries to which they will go.

You will no longer wait a year to find out where you will be stationed.

One volunteer said it you could not wait a year, you probably weren't patient enough to be in the Peace Corps.

So inefficiency is a test?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The future of your looks

Sorry--come back when you are more unique.
I was going to write about the job market, but decided on that great guru Tyra Banks instead. In the July 8, 2014, WSJ, she speculates on the future of personal appearance..

In the future, she says, there will be changes in beauty and how people attain it. Beauty will be less coveted and uniqueness more desired.

Plastic surgery will be like going to the drugstore for Tylenol. The emphasis will be on looking unique--well, I see some unique looks on that E! show called BOTCHED, about plastic surgery in need of correction.

Hourglass figures will be the body type people want--indicating wealth.

You will pick your baby's features. Blue and green will be so common, dark brown will be coveted.

Skin color and features will blend into a Rihanna look. Alabaster white and ebony black will be the unique choice.

Oh--this blending will also eliminate prejudice. Whew.

Models will be obsolete--unique looking avatars will show clothes.

Women will also be in charge and live until they are 120.

Tyra--you go girl!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

HS students try out being a doctor or EMT

Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Ill, has a branch here in the Valley of the Sun.

They offer an eight-day Health Careers Institute for HS students.

From 9:00-4:00, students get intense workshops in anatomy, physiology, and introductory skills for a number of health professions.

Covered are emergency medicine, sports medicine, drug abuse, and others.

There is a trip to a hospital and mock rescue exercises.

Emphasis is on what courses you need to take to get your dream health job.

The program is free.

Beats camp if you are considering a health career. If you don't like it--this is the time to find that out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Incubating gadgets

Ideas, ideas--"creative" ideas are easy, which ones are worth developing is hard. But therein lie the profits.

Ruth Simon, WSJ July 3, 2014, writes about a company called Quirky, which gives ideas a look-see for possibilities.

Quirky is based in NY and has been around for five years. It tries to get "winning" ideas to market in 120 days--calling on its 500,000 members for input.

Check out for 111 products that have been developed.

It gets about 3,000 ideas each week. This gets whittled to a dozen or so. Of that, 3-5 are pursued.

Have an idea? Well, you stand to get 4% of the profits if it gets manufactured. Also--community members used to get a check if a product they voted positively on made it. Now that is not the case.

They are quirky all right.

They say they are inventing their procedures, too.

Friday, July 11, 2014

To get in biz school, amp up the jabber

I keep writing about getting into business school--you want to? I sure don't. Anyhow, the latest is from Adam Rubenfire, WSJ, July 3, 2014.

The trend seems to be more biz schools, including the la-de-dahs like Harvard, are asking for videos and other quirky submissions rather than transcripts. Or in addition to. Even those recommendation letters are not as beloved anymore, one might do it.

Essays may be short.

This is a form of business casual.

Even the instructions are bubbly--"Read This First" etc.

Why be stuffy, one admissions officer said.

Of course--another said--you wouldn't want to overdo this.

Your first judgment call! How cool.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Are any of these in your wheelhouse?

In his you know what
What is this wheelhouse stuff? Who are we, Steamboat Willie? (dated reference).

Have you noticed the endless jargon used in business? It's beyond cliche. It's incomprehensible babble!

The other day, I read the expression "pulling porkies." This is not delicious BBQ--porkies is from Cockney rhyming slang--pork pies--rhymes with lies. Just say LIES!

Recently CareerBuilder, which has a larky sense of fun, asked people their most hated corporate expressions.

Think outside the box--we have a winnah! I would like to STUFF that box! Yes, where there is no sun.

Ducks in a row--this applies only at the carnival.

Let's take this offline. What? Bandwidth--geeks only. Utilize--say use. Silos--farming only. Lean in. Takeaway.

I am pulling no porkies--let's lose some of these.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Can you pack a "go" bag?

No, silly puppy--this is not his
Some jewelry designer dude named Alexis Bittar was profiled in the WSJ June 19, 2014, by Heidi Mitchell.

Topic? Packing his suitcase.

He claims he's good to go in THREE MINUTES.

He scurries around hitting three cities a week--he packs light so he won't throw out his back.

He carries a bag that is itself light.

He puts in a pair of Brunello Cucinelli shoes (beats me). Then he adds APC jeans (ditto). The latter can be dressed up or down, he insists.

Then he adds two thin shirts that show his tatts underneath.

Nike Dri-Fit shorts, a top, and a sweater top it off.

No laptop. No notebook.

He veges on the plane or does a Rubik's cube.

He also has some other balms and goos, but uses hotel toothpaste.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Control your brand

Don't you hate that you are your own brand stuff? Soooo...trendy.

There is something to getting a handle on what you put out there, though. According to CareerBuilder, 43% of employers check social networks about potential employees.

Half of those said they have found things that killed an application. Forty-six percent said off color or inapproriate photos or info doomed candidates. Forty-one percent said drunk or druggy info was bad.

If you are job hunting, pump up your privacy setting--maybe only friends or followers should have access.

Also make sure others can't post awful things on your site..

Think beyond networking sites. Some employers just "google."

Try to put things out there that are good, too. All your work with the poor, food banks, Peace Corps.

Don't we know all this? Back when I hired people, they didn't have this. You only had to gross me out face to face to get shown the door.

Monday, July 7, 2014

You are your child's librarian

Summer! Long drowsy days...when I was a kid, in between the inevitable bee stings on bare feet and weird orange juice popcicles Mom made in an ice cube tray and handed to us swathed in a linty paper towel, there were books!

Books. Reading. Trips to the library--walking distance and nicely air conditioned against the St Louis humidity.

I don't remember Mom even glancing at the books--we were on our own. When we went to the lake in Wisconsin, there were many tattered paperbacks and Readers Digest Condensed Books in the lodge--no one scanned those, either--and some contained ... sex.

Now I don't even know if kids read for fun--or only for those dratted book reports. They can download books to their phones, if they do.

Also, according to the WSJ (June 25, 2104), publishers try to indicate appropriate reading levels.

Trouble is, each publisher does it differently. A parent may have to flip through the book to see if it's too hard or way too easy.

Seems to be kids have jumped to "chapter books" (remember that term?) pretty fast with Harry Potter.

Just be glad they are reading. Reading makes life itself bearable.

Once my brother raked a pile of leaves, sat in it, and was reading.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Yay--job numbers--sigh

New job numbers out from our esteemed leaders. Usually these get racheted down later in "corrections". But these seem to be on an upward trajectory. Not keeping up with those leaving the workforce, but not as dismal as usual.

How's that for a ringing endorsement?

Most as in the service area--hospitality, health--not hard manufacturing. Those decent $35 an hour jobs requiring only HS seem to have vanished. You can't find one even with a college degree.

Good news--Starbucks intends to pay for its baristas to go to college. Seriously, this college cost thing has skyrocketed to the moon. It's ridiculous.

Bad news--the baristas will have to stay in their latte-constructing jobs for a while. And glad to have them, I imagine.

I am Debbie Downer today, aren't I? Just to keep from getting bored many years into this blog, I wish I could report something spectacular.

OK--how's this? We are alive, have friends, many of us are not in pain, we laugh at the darnedest things, the Sun is out (well, in AZ, it always is), and this is the only life we have.

Cue the Fireworks!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Associate degree grads make more at first

Mark Peters and Douglas Belkin, WSJ, June 25, 2014,  join in the now-popular theme that not everyone needs a four-year degree with findings that paychecks for grads with a two-yr technical degree can outstrip the paychecks of four-year grads.

At first, anyway. Early in the careers of both.

Overall, the four-yr degree is worth it, but this isn't always gospel.

The return on investment of a four-yr degree over a lifetime is 15%. More than made in most stocks.

But this is also true of a 2-yr technical degree.

The best 2-yr fields? Construction, IT, high tech manufacturing, or health.

Parents and students are taking a tougher look at all this.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some work GOALS!

What is up with this soccer deal? People are going nuts. Some of the players are kinda cute in a gangsta sense.

Anyhow, Anthony Balderama, CareerBuidler, June 27, 2014, says soccer can teach us some biz lessons.

You need to learn that just because you are near the goal, this may not be the time to take the shot--see how they pass the ball back and forth, judging the best moment.

Don't headbutt. Red card (whatever that is) and not worth it. Plus at work you could get fired or charged. Also--no biting.

In the big picture of work and soccer, you can lose and still advance.

You need to trust your team. Yes, the goal keeper is the last line of defense--but the ball had to get past 10 other people to get to the goalkeeper.

Don't switch shirts to show camaraderie. In the office, this can result in a lawsuit.