Shared posts

09 Apr 18:43

Cape Thick-Knee Hatches at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

by Chris Eastland
Anne Griffin

What an absurd creature with an absurd name. It sounds like a Victorian era insult: “ye thick kneed hatch!”

1_Cape Thick-Knee chick at Omaha's Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium hatched a Cape Thick-knee Chick on March 14. The chick, which is the first since 2015, can be seen in the Desert Dome with its parents.

Although the species is free ranging, they spend most of their time in the Australian section of the zoo’s Desert Dome. This is the first chick for the adult pair who arrived at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in 2017.

2_Cape Thick-Knee chick with parents at Omaha's Zoo and Aquarium

3_Cape Thick-Knee chick with parent at Omaha's Zoo and Aquarium

4_Cape Thick-Knee chick at Omaha's Zoo and Aquarium 2Photo Credits: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Cape Thick-knee breeding pairs typically raise one to two chicks at a time. They are very protective parents who will go to great lengths to protect their young. The birds will sometimes perform dramatic “injury displays” to lure predators away from their nest. Both parents take an active role in feeding their chicks.

The Cape Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis) is native to southwestern and southern Africa within savannas, dry grasslands and thorn scrub areas. The species primarily feed on insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms, but will also eat small mammals and lizards.

06 Apr 21:24

Lessons from the Brilliant Screenplay for Groundhog Day

by Jason Kottke
Anne Griffin

guys how have i never put together that groundhog day was clearly a major inspiration for the good place? /mind blown/

Using screenwriter Danny Rubin’s book How To Write Groundhog Day as a guide, Lessons from the Screenplay examines how the protagonist in the Bill Murray comedy classic is forced by his circumstances to undergo the hero’s journey and emerging at the end having changed. This passage from Rubin’s book sets the stage:

The conversation I was having with myself about immortality was naturally rephrased in my mind as a movie idea: “Okay, there’s this guy that lives forever…” Movie stories are by nature about change, and if I were to test the change of this character against an infinity of time, I’d want him to begin as somebody who seemed unable to change.

We’ve all seen movies where the change the protagonist undergoes does not seem earned and it makes the whole movie seem phony and hollow. One of the things that makes Groundhog Day so great is that a person who starts out genuinely horrible at the beginning transforms into a really good person by the end and the audience completely buys it. At any point along the way, the story could very easily jump off the rails of credulity, but it never does. A nearly perfect little movie.

Tags: Danny Rubin   film school   Groundhog Day   video
05 Apr 12:26

Cuddly Toy to the Rescue at Edinburgh Zoo

by Chris Eastland
Anne Griffin

Oh my goodness guys, look at her noooose I can’t take it she’s so cute


An eight-month-old Koala joey at the Royal Zoological Society’s Edinburgh Zoo was weighed with the special assistance of a cuddly toy last week.

Kalari, whose Aboriginal-inspired name means ‘daughter’, is one of the UK’s only Queensland Koalas. She is also the first female of her kind to be born at the Zoo.



4_Kalari_3_Lorna_HughesPhoto Credits: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) /Images 1,2,6: Kirsty McFaul /Images 3-5: Lorna Hughes

Like all young joeys, she spends most of her time clinging to mum, Alinga, so keepers use a soft toy to give her something to hold on to during health checks.

As well as being members of a worldwide Koala breeding programme, RZSS also supports conservation projects in Australia that help to rehabilitate sick and injured Koalas and release them back into the wild.



04 Apr 16:57

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the New “Game of Thrones” Oreos

by Naomi Tomky
Anne Griffin

I'll go ahead and say it: they are really overdoing it with the random product placement this season. Oreos? Rly? (though i will admit I cracked up at the Bud Light Super Bowl commercial)

Release the Mother of Snackin’s!!!!
02 Apr 19:42

San Francisco Summers

by Grace Farris
Anne Griffin

ha I agree with this wholeheartedly. I also think "summers in offices" are sometimes even colder bc the AC is on FULL BLAST ALL THE TIME

Grace Farris comic

Every Friday, we feature comics by illustrators we love. Here’s today’s, by Grace Farris

Grace Farris comic

P.S. Seasonal dressing and weekend plans. … Read more

The post San Francisco Summers appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

29 Mar 20:04

First Sloth Bear Born at Cleveland Zoo in 30 Years

by Andrew Bleiman
Anne Griffin

ha, if you google image search 'sloth bear' even the adults make this really silly O with their mouth :D


Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently announced the birth of a Sloth Bear cub to 4-year-old mom, Shiva, and 13-year-old dad, Balawat. The cub is the first Sloth Bear born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 30 years.

The cub was born on January 14 and is the first offspring for both mom and dad. The cub currently weighs approximately six pounds and is learning how to walk. Both mom and cub are doing well but will den for several weeks before they will be visible to the public.

The cub’s gender has not yet been determined, but Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will continue to provide updates on the Sloth Bear family and details on the public’s chance to help name the cub.

54432826_10161620701760002_3579150759205273600_oPhoto Credits: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus) can weigh up to 300 pounds when fully grown. The species has several distinctive features and behaviors. Their unique flexible snouts act as a vacuum cleaner in sucking up termites or grubs from trees. Aside from insects, Sloth Bears also eat fruits, flowers, sugar cane and honey. Young Sloth Bears will ride on their mother’s back, by clinging to their long fur, till up to six months of age.

Sloth Bears are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is currently supporting a project to protect Sloth Bears in Nepal, where populations have declined dramatically in recent decades due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and poaching.

19 Mar 16:55

my boorish coworker dominates all our Slack channels

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

Ha I love the detail about the pork recipe request

A reader writes:

I work for a small-ish fully remote tech company. We spend all day in Slack, in various channels that are both work-centric and social-centric. There is a man, “Derek,” who annoys the hell out of me in social channels.

Derek does everything from innocuous poor chat room social etiquette (e.g., someone asked in a cooking channel with ~70 people in it if anyone knew any good pork recipes, Derek replied that he is a vegan) down to posting borderline inappropriate messages (eg: once in the channel for discussing video games, he posted a photo of himself in only his underwear). He constantly re-centers the conversation around himself. He constantly complains about people nearby him in public spaces making noise, such as chewing loudly or tapping their feet. He is extremely talkative in every social channel. Slack shows you the top three people in each channel who contribute the most – so it doesn’t just feel like he talks too much; there’s data to back it up.

I regret not bringing the underwear photo up with HR at the time (this was now months ago) but mostly his behavior feels just shy of being reportable. Recently he was complaining in a company wide social channel (~200 people) that he couldn’t wait for his wife to get a job, because she was always vacuuming and the sound bothered him. This comment felt misogynistic and made me really uncomfortable! It was also not the first time he’s complained about his wife. But “complaining about wife” doesn’t feel like a bad enough offense to bring to HR.

My tactic for dealing with this so far has been to mute or leave channels that he participates in. So, nearly all social channels. To use an in-person metaphor, it feels like I have chosen to just avoid company social spaces like a watercooler or a kitchen and instead eat lunch at my desk. In a way, it feels like defeat. I am not the only person who he has annoyed out of digital spaces. Also, I’m sad that this choice has led me to have less bonding time with my other coworkers.

My question is: what can I do? Our HR team is small and historically haven’t handled personal disputes that I’m aware of. A few folks have suggested the company establish community guidelines for our chat room, which I could offer to help write, but it’s not like I can make rules like “don’t talk too much” or “please don’t repeatedly remind everyone how young your wife is.” Would community guidelines even help? Do the examples I gave seem worth going to HR about in general? If not, do you have any suggestions for ways I could politely but firmly shut him down? Or is this just…how life is sometimes?

Mostly, yeah, you’re going to have annoying coworkers.

Some of this is HR-able (the underwear photo)  but really, his manager should be addressing a lot of this (“use less air time” should definitely come from his manager). But some of this just the reality of working with a bunch of other people — some of them are going to be lovely, some of them are going to be boors (and some of them are going to be lovely but still annoying in one way or another).

In theory, you could talk to his manager and say something like, “Derek uses up such a disproportionate amount of air time on our social channels that I hardly go in there anymore, and I hate that that’s happened. Would you consider talking with him about not dominating conversations in those channnels and leaving more space for others?”  But a lot of managers are going to think this falls under the umbrella of “people are different and part of work is getting along with people who you wouldn’t choose to hang out with in your personal life.” (Personally, I think there’s room here for his manager to talk to him, framing it as something that’s affecting how he’s perceived and how much good will his colleagues will have toward him. But a lot of managers would stay out of it.)

You’re right that another option is community guidelines,  and you’re also right that it would be hard to write them in a way that gets at exactly what he’s doing. But you could certainly address things like sharing conversational space and even chronic complaining.

Another option: Are you able to set up a social channel that’s specifically for a group that Derek happens not to be part of, like your team, or cyclists, or home cooks, or Deep Space Nine fans, or anything else that he wouldn’t naturally sign up for? It might give you a Derek-free place to talk without obviously intending to exclude him.

my boorish coworker dominates all our Slack channels was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

21 Feb 15:32

Meet the Cincinnati Zoo’s Little ‘Peanut’

by Andrew Bleiman
Anne Griffin

oh my goodness it's so cute! i'm purposefully looking at this instead of reading about the state of the union


The baby Tamandua born December 20, 2018 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden now has a name! Although the pup’s sex is yet-to-be-determined, the Zoo announced that it would be called “Mani”.

“We wanted to give the pup a Spanish name, since Tamanduas are primarily from Spanish speaking countries, and both of its parents have Spanish names. We chose the name Mani, which means “peanut,” because we were able to watch Mani grow from the size of a peanut via weekly ultrasounds on mom, Isla,” said Cincinnati Zoo Interpretive Animal Keeper Colleen Lawrence. “We fell in love with the pup when it was only a blip on a screen.”



4_45938338095_aaeb0e2c25_bPhoto Credits: Lisa Hubbard (Images 1,3,4)/ DJJAM Photo (Images 2, 5-12)

Five-year-old Isla, a first-time mom, has taken care of the pup exactly the way she should, so it is healthy and growing fast. Care team members think the baby is a boy, but it’s difficult to be 100% certain of the sex of Tamanduas when they’re this young.

Keepers report that little Mani can be seen through the windows of the Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Center (AAC), clinging to Isla.

Also called the “lesser anteater”, the Tamandua uses its long snout to sniff out ant, termite and bee colonies. Long claws enable it to dig into nests, and a long sticky tongue licks up the insects. A single Tamandua can eat up to 9,000 ants in a single day!

(More great pics below the fold!)









06 Feb 21:37

my coworker doesn’t want me to have a communal candy dish because of temptation

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

I so agree with Alison that this is SUCH an interesting issue!

A reader writes:

I keep a candy dish on my desk – have done so for years. It’s communal. I often fill it. Others contribute. It sits alongside some Aleeve and Tums that are also communal. Lots of people express happiness that it is there. Many people say they enjoy the candy. It can go long stretches being empty. The last few weeks it’s been filled with chocolate kisses.

Twice in the last week I have come in to find the candy dish removed from my desk and placed in one of my desk drawers. Last time it was placed in there empty. This time it still had a few remaining pieces of candy in it.

Annoyed, I removed it from the drawer and placed it back on my desk where others can access it. I said, out loud (it’s an open floor plan, you can easily be heard), that people needed to stop removing things from my desk and hiding them in my drawer.

One coworker then turned and joked, “That’s for fat people like me.” And I responded, being sure to remove any hint of jest from my voice, “Seriously, it’s not okay to keep removing things from my desk.”

At that point, another coworker who sits two desks over, walks over and says, “I moved it because you weren’t here and I’m trying to not eat unhealthy things and I can’t when I can see it.” To which I responded that it wasn’t okay to keep removing things off of someone else’s desk — that they’re not just there for me, that they’re for the community and I would appreciate if she stopped removing my candy dish from my desk.

She then said that she couldn’t refrain from eating unhealthy things and that seeing them made her want to eat them and therefore she needed to hide them. And that if they were out while I was at my desk, she would leave them because I may want to eat them, but if I wasn’t at my desk (and I do go stretches without being at my desk for a few days) that she needed them hidden and would continue to remove them.

I said that was unacceptable, and that it just wasn’t okay to go moving things around on someone else’s desk. And furthermore, you can’t remove all temptation. She can’t just move the vending machine or the snack store in the building. To which she responded, “Well, if they’re for the community, how about I just throw them all away instead when you leave them out.” To which I said, “I think you should reconsider going onto someone else’s desk and removing items intended for the community, including throwing them away.” And she said, “I think you should reconsider keeping them out.” Then she sat back down.

I will concede that perhaps I was quick to get annoyed that someone kept removing/moving things on my desk. But it’s my desk and it felt like a bit of an invasion to have someone moving items around — it’s the opening the desk drawer part that I think actually bothered me (even though there is nothing secret or of value inside).

Second, given some extenuating circumstances, I would be willing to be cooperative about displaying food items. For example, if you just developed a peanut allergy, I would refrain from including peanut M&Ms anymore since they would be a temptation for someone dealing with a serious health issue.

In a previous complaint about the candy, she brought nuts and filled the dish with nuts. I — a person who doesn’t like nuts — was happy to have the dish to host nuts for a period of time.

But it just strikes me — and this where I might be wrong so please tell me if so — that one person’s inability to deal with temptation doesn’t justify denying everyone access to my candy dish or that someone should feel free to move things on my desk as they please. They’re not presenting any harm. They don’t smell (which is a problem with another coworkers desk). This strikes me as a not my problem, your problem, situation that I shouldn’t be expected to accommodate. And escalating to threaten to throw my candy away seems childish and petty, and makes me want to make clear to her that such action would be out of line.

Am I being unreasonable by demanding that my candy dish be left alone on my desk? Or am I being unreasonable by insisting my coworker continue to work two desks over from a bowl of candy of which she could partake? Should I say something to her making clear it’s not okay to throw my candy away? Would I just escalate further if go buy more candy and ensure it’s never empty?

Some people might think this is a lot of words to devote to a small problem, but I think it touches on big issues in interesting ways: how we coexist in a shared space where we’re captive audiences to other people and their stuff, what we can and can’t ask of people sharing that space with us, and what battles are worth fighting with colleagues, even when we’re right.

And to be clear, you are in the right. It’s perfectly okay for you to put communal candy out on your desk, just like it would be okay to leave baked goods in the kitchen with a “please help yourself” note or, as you noted, for your company to stock vending machines with snacks for whoever wants them. Not everyone will want your candy, or those baked goods, or the offerings in the vending machine, and the solution is for them to pass those items by, not to insist on removing them from their sight and depriving others of them.

That said, I suspect you might have responded to your coworker’s request if she had made it in a different way. What if she had come to you and said, “I’m sorry to ask this because I know a lot of people enjoy the communal candy, but I’m really trying to avoid temptation right now and for some reason that candy dish breaks my will power like nothing else. Would you be open to keeping it in your drawer instead, and letting people know they can go in there to get candy if they want it? Or moving it to the kitchen, so it’s not right in my line of sight all day?” You still might have been a little annoyed, and it’s still a bit high-maintenance, but I bet you would have been way more sympathetic to her — and more inclined to work with her to come up with a solution.

So your coworker is in the wrong in two ways here: first, in thinking she can insist you not have a communal candy dish and second, in the way she’s handling it.

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that because she’s wrong and you’re right, you should dig in your heels. This is work and you need to get along with people, and entering a battle with her over candy may not be the wisest course — and in particular, may look like a questionable way to spend energy to other people who happen to witness it.

One different option is to say to your coworker, “I’m sorry it’s tough to see it! But so many other people enjoy it that I don’t want to get rid of it entirely. How about I block it from your view by putting it behind these hanging folders in the corner of my desk instead, so you’d have to go out of your way to see it?”

If that doesn’t work … well, you don’t have to do anything more to accommodate her. But it sounds like she’s going to keep putting it in your desk, or possibly outright throw away the candy, so the smartest move (that avoids you getting sucked into a massive battle over candy) might be to just start keeping it in your drawer instead, and let people know that’s where it is. (And I know you said you felt weird about her opening your drawer, but you’ll probably feel differently if you establish that as the candy drawer.) Or you can stop bringing in candy and when people ask, you can let them know that you had to stop because of Jane.

But don’t escalate by increasing how much candy you’re buying — that’s entering into a battle you don’t want to be in at work. You want people to see you as “our awesome graphic designer” (or whatever), not as “the person so invested in providing candy at work that she went to war with a coworker over it.”

You can be right, and still not be in a situation where it’s worth fighting.

my coworker doesn’t want me to have a communal candy dish because of temptation was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

05 Feb 07:35

Ellsworth Kelly US Stamps

by Jason Kottke
Anne Griffin

love these!!!

The USPS will release a set of stamps in 2019 honoring the artist Ellsworth Kelly. Some art works better on stamps than others…Kelly’s stripped down abstracts look like they were specifically designed for postage:

Ellsworth Kelly stamps

You can check out more of Kelly’s art at MoMA and The Whitney.

Tags: art   Ellsworth Kelly   stamps   USPS
22 Jan 20:16

Ancient Greek Vase Shaped Like a Lobster Claw

by Jason Kottke
Anne Griffin

a) this is so cool looking! How did they make something like this in 460 BC?!
b) "the boy is fair", eh?

Greek Claw Vase

Greek Claw Vase

Terracotta vase in the form of a lobster claw from the collection at the Met. Circa 460 BC.

Because so many aspects of Greek life depended on the sea, a vase in the shape of a lobster claw is not surprising. It is, however, exceptional and may be a variant of the askos — a bag-shaped oil container provided with a vertical mouth and strap handle. The Dionysiac iconography of the lobster claw suggests that it was a novelty item used at symposia (drinking parties).

The vase bears an inscription that reads “the boy is fair”.

Tags: art   Greece
18 Jan 12:45

US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers

by Joanna Goddard
Anne Griffin

this post is so interesting!!!

Ben Marcus

What book covers have caught your eye recently? When the same book is published in the U.S. and U.K., the covers can be completely different. Yesterday I came across a Literary Hub post comparing the covers in 2018, and it’s fascinating to see (the U.S.… Read more

The post US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

17 Jan 00:28

Visualizing Dubious Spelling with Flow Diagrams

by Jason Kottke
Anne Griffin

ha this is really funny, also i like this type of diagram a lot!

related: everyone spells Griffin wrong (as "Griffen" even though NO ONE SPELLS IT THAT WAY)

Colin Morris recently analyzed a corpus of comments from Reddit for misspellings by searching for words near uncertainty indicators like “(sp?)”. Among the words that provoked the most doubt were Kaepernick, comradery, adderall, Minaj, seizure, Galifianakis, loogie, and Gyllenhaal. Morris then used a Sankey diagram to visualize how people misspelled “Gyllenhaal” in different ways (with the arrow thickness denoting the frequency of each spelling):

Sankey Chart Gyllenhaal

Tag yourself! (I’m probably on the yellow “LL” arrow.) Sankey diagrams are typically used in science and engineering to visualize flows of energy in and out of a system, but this is a clever adaptation to linguistics (sp?). I’d to see one of these for rhythm. (via @kellianderson)

Tags: Colin Morris   infoviz   Jake Gyllenhaal   language   Maggie Gyllenhaal
12 Jan 23:55

am I doing dog-friendly wrong, do I still need printed copies of my resume, and more

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

omg #2... what did Steve say once? "Humanity contains multitudes!"

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Am I doing dog-friendly wrong?

I recently started a job at a dog-friendly office and I love the option to bring my dog to work with me sometimes. While I don’t bring him every day, I do it more than I anticipated because it’s just such a nice perk. Most of the dogs at work are old and very relaxed — they don’t stray too far from their owners and they don’t really have much energy. A coworker mentioned she would bring a baby gate for her slightly more active dog, and so that is what I’ve been doing. That said, everyone seems to want to let my dog out to hold and play with because he’s cute. He’s well-behaved, if active, but I just don’t feel comfortable letting him wander to places I can’t see him — I like to monitor his behavior and, if he does seem to be bothering someone or playing too noisily with another dog, to cut that off.

Most of the day, while I have the gate up, he sleeps or plays quietly. When folks let him out to play, though, he wanders and occasionally barks or gets into things, which I know is distracting even though people insist they don’t mind. I’m getting a lot of pushback about the gate. (“But he looks so sad!” “Let him out; he’ll be fine!” “I think you should let him play more.”) I want to keep using it and stop justifying it, and I’m not comfortable without it even though others are. Do I need to stop bringing him if I want to use the gate most of the day? Is there a way to cut off the conversation about it?

Some options:
* “He does better with the gate, thanks!”
* “The gate is a must for me to feel comfortable bringing him.”
* “He’s happier with the gate.”

If you get someone who keeps pushing the issue after you use these responses a couple of times, it’s worth saying to that person, “Hey, you’ve mentioned this a few times, and I need you to trust me that he really does do better with the gate.” If you want, you could add, “It’s really distracting when you keep saying that! Could we consider it settled?” or “It makes me feel weirdly guilty when you say that, so could you stop?”

You could even try putting a sign on the gate that says “I like my gate!” Also, if you’re up for it with particular people, you could have a slightly bigger-picture conversation about your thinking, noting that you’re aware that not everyone wants to be bothered by a dog during the day, some of them won’t feel comfortable speaking up about it, and you want to. be considerate to those people. It’s a good message to spread, if you don’t think it’ll just invite push-back.

2. My coworker only drinks things out of caps and lids

I work in a large agency of the federal government. The office I’m in is also fairly large, as is my specific department. In my department, there’s this one coworker (let’s call him Glenn). Generally speaking, he’s a nice, a hard worker, and easy to work with and get along with. There’s just one issue: he drinks most (if not all) liquids out of the cap/lid of the bottle/cup that they’re for. For example, is he has a bottle of coke, he’ll take a few sips out of the bottle, and then start pouring it into the lid and sipping from that instead until the bottle is empty. If he has a cup of coffee instead, he’ll do the same thing using the cup’s lid (which sometimes ends up spilling because of the hole). This is something Glenn seems to do regardless of who he‘s around (i.e., during internal and external meetings, business lunches/dinners, etc.). I think it’s odd and generally looks very unprofessional, but is it as big of a deal as I think it is? Should I address this with him or ask our manager to do so? I should mention that our manger has seen him do this countless times, but I don’t know if he’s talked to Glenn yet.

It’s certainly odd. Those bottle caps are tiny and, as you note, those coffee lids have holes! I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal, just awfully weird. If I were his boss, I’d probably ask what was up with it and that he not do it around clients (largely because having him slurp coffee out of a cup lid while liquid spills through the hole is not really an image I want to put in front of clients). But your boss knows he does it, and if it’s something he wants to address, he will. It’s not something you need to worry about or address personally.

3. Should I still bring printed copies of my resume to interviews?

I’m wondering if it’s still considered a best practice to bring printed copies of your resume to interviews, or if that’s old advice that has become irrelevant.

When I’m the interviewer, I always bring a copy of the interviewee’s resume, often annotated with questions I plan to ask, and copies provided by the interviewee just become excess paper on the table. Now that I’m interviewing for a new job, I’m wondering if would make me look unprepared to skip the printed resume, or to only offer it if the interviewer doesn’t have one already.

You should still bring printed copies of your resume to interviews. Lots of interviewers do ask for them (and sometimes you get an interviewer who was pulled in at the last minute and was never given their own copy, didn’t have time to print it out, etc.).

Note, though, that you can print it on regular printer paper. You do not need fancy “resume paper” and it’s weird that that’s still being labeled that way.

4. Would this networking move be creepy or useful?

I’ve recently joined an international hospitality company and I’m loving it! I’m in the communications sector and my location doesn’t have anyone else in a similar field. One of the perks of my role is that I get to travel a lot and can do so for a reduced rate. I wondered if it would be considered strange if I reached out to those in my role in other locations (we’re talking different countries/cities) to see if they were free to have coffee while I’m in town so that we can share notes. What do you think: creepy or useful?

Not creepy at all. Totally normal to do.

5. When should I tell my coworkers I’m leaving?

When is the right time to tell your coworkers you are leaving? I intend to hand in my notice within the next few months (no bad blood, it’s just time for me to move on) and because I work on a small team of three, training in someone new is inevitably going to disrupt our workflow.

Should I give the team a heads-up before I talk with my manager? Or leave it until after? How soon before/after should I talk to them about it?

No, definitely tell your manager first! Otherwise there’s too much chance it could get back to your manager before you tell her, and for better or worse, the etiquette of the situation is that you tell your manager first. Once you do tell your manager, you can typically tell your coworkers as soon as you want after that, unless your manager asks you to hold off for some reason. (If that happens, it’s reasonable to agree to hold off for a few days, but I’d be skeptical about waiting longer than that since it risks making you look to them like you left without sufficient notice, prevents you from starting to transition your work, and so forth.)

am I doing dog-friendly wrong, do I still need printed copies of my resume, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

11 Jan 13:26

coworkers only ask me about ducks, adult facts in a work presentation, and more

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin


It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. People only ask me about the ducks I work with

I’m in the lower-middle level of food service establishment with a couple hundred employees. Last year, I started a side project where I got us a small flock of ducks for fresh eggs and general merriment.

Ever since, folks only ask me about the ducks. I have brief interactions with at least a dozen people a day and 90% of the conversations start with, or completely consist of, “how are the ducks?”

The ducks are darling and entertaining and I love working with them, but they are a small part of my job and not the only interesting thing about my role or personality. I’m getting increasingly cranky and desperate for more diverse conversations. The ducks are always fine. If anything big happened with them, I’d let folks know. They are literally out the back door and anybody could go look at them if they wanted.

Is there any way I can get out of having this same insubstantial conversation 10 times a day for the foreseeable future? Especially since any one person probably won’t ask me about them more than twice a week, so it seems unreasonable to ask an individual to stop? I want to be friendly and gracious but seriously enough with the ducks for one second.

I feel guilty because I really want to ask you for a picture of the ducks.

This is going to be tough because lots of people are going to find it amazing to have ducks at work, and they are going to think of it every time they see you and feel jealous that you work with the ducks and will want to ask about it. It’s easily the biggest conversation starter that people who don’t know you well will remember. (In fact, I bet that the people who know you really well / work with you most closely don’t do this nearly as much, right?) They’re also probably not accounting for the fact that everyone else is asking about the same thing all day long.

You could put up a sign that says, “The ducks are great! They are right out that door if you want to see them” with an arrow and a picture of the ducks … and that will probably cut down on some of the inquiries, although not all.

You could also cheerfully respond to inquiries with, “Everyone asks me about the ducks!” As long as you say it cheerfully and not resentfully, that’s a polite way to nudge more perceptive people into realizing that it’s probably too much.

But that might be the best you can do, unfortunately. You have ducks at work! It’s going to be a thing. (Although it will probably become less of a thing in time, when the novelty has worn off a little.)

2. Is sex a bad example in a work presentation?

I sometimes present internal “an intro to statistics” seminars at my company. Previously I have based the seminar on the fact that men say they have sex with women much more often than woman say they have sex with men, which is by far the clearest example I have of many obvious and not-so-obvious statistical issues.

No clients attend and the seminars were well received, but I am now less young (and I have read your blog more) and I think this was a bad idea. My question is how bad? Can I never mention the example at all?

Yeah, I’d steer clear of that example (unless, of course, it’s directly relevant to the organization’s work, in which case that’s entirely different). It wasn’t the worst thing in the world and you don’t need to feel mortified or anything like that, but using an example about sex in a work context risks (a) coming across as gratuitous — like you had other good examples but chose this one because Sex! or (b) making people a little uncomfortable. We’re all adults and know people have sex, obviously, but it can feel a little jarring to have it come up in a work presentation. (Plus if you have anyone creepy there, they’ll be all too happy to use it as a lead-in for inappropriate remarks to others, either in the moment or later.)

3. Another org’s volunteer went on transphobic rant in a shared space — and their staff did nothing

My nonprofit organization shares office space with bigger health care organization.

One of the other organization’s volunteers was standing in a common (but not public) area, talking loudly and at length to one of their staff, and saying a litany of transphobic and anti-LGBTQIA2S things. I could hear this person ranting from my office a good distance down the hall. The staff member didn’t say anything to shut it down or challenge their bigotry. Their only response was to say things like, “mmhmm” and laugh (uncomfortably?) along.

Both organizations work with many trans and queer people, including me — I also happen to be a client of this other organization.

I’m shaken up by having to listen to this at work, and I’m horrified at the possibility that other LGBTQIA2S clients may have heard this go unchallenged.

I’m going to talk to my boss about this, but is there a way I could have responded in the moment? What’s the best way for my boss to approach this? Since I heard this while I was at work rather than accessing services as a client would it be inappropriate to file a complaint as a client?

I think you had standing to interrupt the conversation and say, “We’d rather not hear things like that in this space — could you take this somewhere else?” Or more explicitly, “We support the people you’re speaking about. It’s not okay to say things like that here.” Or, “What you’re saying is really offensive. Could you please stop having this conversation here?”

You could indeed file a complaint as a client. But another option is to approach someone with some power in that organization and frame it as “as a client and as someone sharing workspace here, I was alarmed that your staff didn’t shut this down.” And you’re someone with the standing to push the other organization on this (which may or may not be your boss) can make it clear to them that it’s not okay for bigotry to flow in your shared halls, and that their staff needs better training and supervision in what to do when a client is spewing bigotry (at least that’s the charitable interpretation, and you might as well start there when talking to them).

4. When your college changes its name

My undergraduate school has changed its name in the time since I graduated. When I put my education on a resume, should I use the name the school is known by now, or the name that appears on my diploma? I’m not sure which one is technically correct.

Both! Do it like this:

Old Name (now New Name)

5. I don’t want to have LinkedIn because of an abusive ex

I escaped an abusive relationship about three years ago. My ex’s sister thinks I lied to “try and ruin his life” and is the kind of person who would email false complaints about me to an employer to try and get me fired to “ruin my life as revenge.” So I never ever post on the internet where I work.

But I keep getting pressured to have a LinkedIn and I am worried it looks like I have something to hide career-wise. Is it sufficient enough to say “I have concerns about putting personal information online” when asked about this, or is there another approach I should take?

Who’s pressuring you? If it’s just random people, you can cheerfully say, “I’m not a fan of having personal info online, and I’ve never found that I need it.”

But if it’s your boss, I’d be more explicit. It should be enough to say something like the above, but if you’re getting continuing pressure (in some roles, some companies do like people to have a LinkedIn presence), it’s very likely that she’ll stop if you say, “I had a situation in my past that means for safety reasons I can’t put information online about where I live or work.” If you think it’ll carry more weight, reword that to “Because of a situation in my past, I’ve been advised that for safety reasons I shouldn’t put information online about where I live or work.” (I’ve just advised you of that, so it’s true.)

coworkers only ask me about ducks, adult facts in a work presentation, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

11 Jan 11:16

the weird world of writing an advice column

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

omg all my favorite people in one place

Over at Buzzfeed today, I joined Daniel Ortberg of Dear Prudence, Jolie Kerr of Ask a Clean Person, Jennifer Peepas of Captain Awkward, Nicole Cliffe of Care and Feeding, and Harris O’Malley of Dr. Nerdlove in a roundtable about writing advice columns.

We talked about weird letters, whether we give advice to family/friends, how to get your letter answered, the letters that stay with us, and more. You can read it here. (Be warned that it contains adult language and topics.)

the weird world of writing an advice column was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

04 Jan 21:25

updates: we’re supposed to be hugged to check for fragrances, and more

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

Oh my god, #1!!!

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. Our group member has a fragrance sensitivity – and we’re supposed to be hugged to check for any scents

As I’m sure you and your readers can imagine, there was an awful lot of pushback amongst the group on the “hug tests” and the telling people how to conduct their body care. After an initial round of unpleasant emails to the leader and a lot of chitchat, the issue kind of died down; we were breaking for the summer, but I also expect the leader retreated on the issue a bit due to the strong reaction she got from the way it was handled.

Since reconvening in the fall, there have been no more major communications or intrusive solutions, just he standard reminders.

I have since learned the secret identify of the scent sensitive person, and of particular interest is that she was not a part of the solution of hugs and shopping for new products, and was mortified by it all. An important learning to communicate and engage people in problem solving! Thanks to you and all your readers for your input and overwhelming support on this weird circumstance!

2. Should I admit my nose job to coworkers? (#2 at the link)

I’m happy to report… that there’s nothing to report! My usually nosy (no pun intended) coworkers, if they notice a difference at all, have chalked up my appearance change to me wearing contacts rather than glasses, which my surgeon has mandated for now to not disfigure my new nose. I had only one coworker push when I said I was out for a surgical procedure but backed off quickly when I said a version of the “I had a medical procedure but I’m fine now!” script. I’m relieved to have flown under the radar and am so happy with the function and aesthetics of my nose.

3. My coworker has terrible imposter syndrome

I wanted to send in a quick update, although I’m afraid it’s not the most interesting one in the world! I’m the letter writer whose colleague, Sonja, constantly apologised and talked herself down when we worked together.

Our joint project ended up being pushed back a few months, so we have only spoken a few times since I wrote to you. I have tried to address the over-apologising in the moment by saying “you have nothing to apologise for” but this just leads to “I know, but…” followed by explanations of her feeling like a burden/feeling stupid/asking too many questions/being generally useless, and we’re back at square one! It honestly makes me feel equal parts exhausted and sympathetic. I wish I knew the right words to say to help her.

One interesting interaction happened when we ran into a software issue that neither of us have the skills to fix, which means we’re unavoidably going to be slightly behind at our next progress meeting. It’s not ideal, but it’s also nothing that we could have foreseen, and nor was it in any way our fault. Sonja’s emails became quite agitated and anxious when this issue arose, and after it was clear that we could go no further I signed off for the day (it was already after hours) with a promise that I would contact our software developers and update her the following day. The next morning I find that Sonja sent half a dozen more emails during the night, some just to me and some that included my boss and the project leader, all expressing her anxiety about the delay and her frustration that we couldn’t fix the problem ourselves. This led to my (slightly confused) boss wanting to know why I “didn’t help” Sonja, and expressing concern about the status of the project. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!

4. I’m on a PIP — can I get off it and ask about a promotion? (#3 at the link)

On the same day that my question was published, I came into the office to find our director and HR present. I was ready to graciously be let go but *plot twist* they actually let my manager go. While I have never been given a reason why, I have seen a huge shift in team dynamics like increased trust and support since her departure. Also since that time, I’ve worked hard to close out the PIP with my new manager. During our last check-in (about 8 months after the issuing of the PIP), we started a discussion about promotions where she identified how hard it is to turn around a PIP but that I have successfully re-branded myself. She recommended a 5% increase to acknowledge my efforts which can into effect this week.

Your advice was some helpful truth under my old manager but I think, while my situation is uncommon, it’s a good reminder that not all managers have your best interests in mind.

5. Talking about my future goals when I lack ambition (#3 at the link)

I just wanted to thank you and the commenters for your advice and give you a quick update. Firstly, thank you for replying to my question and for putting my mind at ease about feeling like I am not ambitious enough. You and the commenters really made me see that interviewers aren’t trying to filter people out based on not being ambitious enough but are genuinely trying to get a sense of your overall career goals and where this job fits in with them.

Secondly, my situation has changed a bit and I am no longer going to be leaving my school in the near future. In fact, I now plan on staying for another 2 – 3 years! A lot of the commenters who have had experience in international education pointed out that schools often look for people who are going to stick around and that it might look better on my resume to stay at this job longer at such an early stage in my career. That is not the only thing that made me decide to stay at this school but it was a factor that I hadn’t considered before. Additionally, my responsibilities have grown over the course of the year and I am much more excited about staying where I am long term. I didn’t mention it in my initial letter, but the school is a boarding school and so has a lot of pastoral support in place for students. As well as my teaching duties, I am doing a pastoral role with additional responsibilities and salary. The school is also planning to change the structure of our pastoral leadership which could provide some more opportunities for career advancement and increasing my responsibilities even further. So even though I don’t have the desire to rise through the ranks and enter management any time soon, I have actually found out that I’m more ambitious than I thought and am very excited to develop in the roles I have and take on additional duties.

Thanks again for answering my question and for all the great advice you publish!

updates: we’re supposed to be hugged to check for fragrances, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

23 Dec 18:24

vote for the worst boss of 2018

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

oooh, what does everyone think?

It’s time to vote on the worst boss of the year!

We’ll crown the worst boss of the year later this week, based on your votes … so please vote below. (Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EST Wednesday night.)

Who was the worst boss of 2018?

vote for the worst boss of 2018 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

20 Dec 18:43

Costco Is Selling a $500 Leg of Ham and It's Glorious — Grocery News

by Joseph Lamour
Anne Griffin

Steve, can we have this at the New Year's Party this year?

Costco is a reliable go-to for just about everything in life, including fabulous things like Wagyu beef, diamonds, and caviar. In fact, for a little while now Costco has been stocking serrano ham (prosciutto's Spanish cousin), and based on how quickly it flies off the shelf, it would be the jewel of any holiday table.


09 Dec 18:40

what do I say to call in for a mental health day, I’ve never worked in an office, and more

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

Oooh, curious about people's takes on #4. I actually disagree with Alison here (rare!). I don't think it was unethical but it's a huge oversight and speaks to someone's responsibility and attention to detail, so I would have major qualms in hiring.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. What do I say when I’m calling in sick for a mental health day?

I am a firm believer in (occasionally) using a sick day as a mental health day, when I know I’m not leaving my coworkers hanging. What do I say when I’m calling in sick, but I’m not actually sick? Am I supposed to lie and say that I’m sick? I am a part of a fairly small, close-knit team, so I hate coming back to people asking if I’m feeling better, out of genuine concern. On the other hand, I don’t want my coworkers to think I’m taking advantage of our generous policy just because I felt like taking a day to stay in my pajamas and watch Netflix.

With “mental health days” — meaning a day that you take off to relieve stress/avoid burnout or when you just can’t face the world — say that you’re “under the weather” or “ a bit ill.” You can’t really call up and say, “I can’t bear the thought of coming into work today,” but you also shouldn’t make up a hacking cough. It fine to just be vague. (In fact, it’s fine to be vague even when you have an actual sickness like the flu or horrific diarrhea or whatever. Decent managers will accept “I’m sick today and won’t be in” rather than expecting or even wanting a detailed list of your symptoms.)

2. Will it be a problem that I’ve never worked in an office?

I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ve been working freelance ever since I graduated, in the arts and media sector. The jobs I do are typically now freelance positions, but 5-10 years ago they were always entry-level in-house positions (and some lucky orgs still have in-house workers for these jobs). I’ve actually gotten pretty good at what I do, my income isn’t so bad, and I’m satisfied with how things are progressing.

However, it’s ultimately my aim to get an office job in this industry, even if it’s not the specific role that I’m in now, and I’m wondering whether I’ll be at a disadvantage by the time the opportunity rolls around. I’m young, but I’m not a recent graduate, and I haven’t ever worked in an office (my previous jobs were retail and cleaning work). I’m getting decent experience in my field, but it’s definitely very different to freelance than to work in office as part of a team, and I understand that.

Will people look unfavorably on the fact that I’ve only ever worked from home, and have no experience working in an office? Is it unwise to only have a freelance background so early on in my career?

Possibly. If your work is excellent, it’s unlikely to keep you from getting hired, but it’s true that never having worked in an office before may giving some hiring managers pause. There’s actually a fairly steep learning curve in your first year or two in an office job, where you’re figuring out … just how to be in an office, and how to get things done in that context. You’re not going to come in like a inexperienced intern who’s learning everything for the first time, but there’s likely to be a learning curve and adjustment period. Not a huge one, and not one that would stand in the way of hiring you if your work is great … but if you’re competing against candidates whose work is equally great and have been working in an office environment, then yeah, it could put you at a disadvantage. Not a significant one, just a small one. But someone who really wants to hire you isn’t likely to be deterred.

The bigger question for you, I think, is whether you’re losing out on things that will later be valuable to you by staying fully freelance now. Are you losing out on the kind of mentoring and feedback you’d get from a decent manager? Are you losing out on collaboration with colleagues? Are you missing out by not having coworkers at all? What about benefits, like paid vacation and retirement contributions? What about the specific type of professional growth that comes from learning to work effectively in an office — will you feel at a disadvantage later if you’re starting from scratch there? You may calculate that the benefits you get from freelancing outweigh all of those things — and they may because there are a lot of them! — but ensure that you’re factoring them into your calculus.

3. People keep asking the origin of my name

I am a white woman with an African-sounding name. Most people assume that I am black before they meet me in person. I love my name. I couldn’t imagine for even a second being called anything else, and I think my name has given me a very unique perspective on race relations in my everyday life (including watching how a LOT of white people will try to ask why I have a black name without actually saying it, as if it’s a bad thing). However, I am very white. My parents have been here for generations, so far back that no one is entirely sure where in Europe we are from.

I am a clinician in my field, and it is a very customer-centered field. I work almost entirely with seniors, and I am very comfortable talking to my clients in a professional but warm and friendly way. But my name is always something that comes up, and I still don’t know how to get around the inevitable “Oh, interesting name, where does it come from?” question.

Here’s the thing. I don’t actually know the answer. I come from an abusive and racist household, so every time I asked my parents, I was given a jokey non-answer. This is obviously not something I want to talk about.

I have tried EVERYTHING to get out of answering the question. I’ve been doing it my whole life. I’ve tried the “Oh, it’s really personal/private/special to me” — which tells the client too much already, and they always try to get more. The “It’s a long and boring story” — which results in something like “I’ve got time.” I went by a nickname for a long time, but now that my diploma and licence to practice have my full name, and that just results in them asking who the person on the wall is. Everyone expects this long story about where my name comes from and what my name means, and I just don’t know how to get out of this conversation while still giving a satisfactory answer to my clients, that won’t harm the rapport I am trying to build with them. I’ll be their clinician for a full three years, we need to have a good relationship.

I’m with each client for an entire hour, and it comes up with Every. Single. Client. Multiple times. They’re coming from good — albeit ignorant — places. Do you have any suggestions of how to navigate this?

How about a bland “Oh, there’s no story behind it, it’s just my name”? Or “I guess my parents just liked it”?

Because of the history with your parents, I think this is feeling more fraught to you than it needs to. The answers you’ve been using suggest that there is a story but not one you want to share, which is reinforcing their belief that there’s something to hear. But you don’t have to indulge people in the idea that there must be a story at all (and it’s a problematic assumption for them to make in the first place). You’re not obligated to come up with an answer that will satisfy them. “There’s no story!” is perfectly fine, just like you’d say about any name where there was no story. And then follow it up with an immediate subject change to signal that there’s nothing else to discuss about it.

4. A graduation mix-up and a pulled job offer

My stepdaughter, who is not the most responsible person in the world, recently graduated from college. She has been job hunting for several months and has finally gotten an offer. When her new employer (a multi-thousand employee, multi-location corporation) did a background check, they discovered that she had indeed not graduated. It turns out she had a financial hold on her account (less than $100) and, as she did not pay it, the university did not graduate her. She has taken care of the financial hold and the registrar’s office provided a letter saying that her coursework has been completed, that she is qualified to graduate, and she will receive her diploma at the end of the next semester, which is December. Her new employer, though, has pulled her offer and blacklisted her.

As someone who is involved in the hiring process for our new candidates, I have never encountered a situation precisely like this. You say you have your diploma, but in reality you don’t, but it’s due to an oversight. I would have indeed pulled the offer. (How could you not have your act together enough to know whether you’ve graduated or not? The fact that your diploma never arrived in the mail didn’t cause you concern? Huge read flags there.) I’m not sure on the blacklisting though. So I wanted to ask your opinion on this. Would you consider this just an oversight? As a hiring manager with no knowledge of all of the circumstances, would you just see it as lying on your resume? This employer decided it qualified as lying on an application. How would you have handled this? Since I know the circumstances around my stepdaughter, my view is clouded. I’m am trying to view this as an outsider would and determine what I would do if ever in this situation.

I wouldn’t have even pulled the offer if she’d explained the situation. Pulling an offer makes sense when a candidate knowingly lied or was so reckless with the truth that it amounts to the same thing. But someone who understandably assumed she’d graduated and didn’t realize a $100 charge was holding up the paperwork, and then took care of it once she found out? That stuff happens, and it doesn’t sound like she was deliberately representing the situation on her resume — presenting herself as a graduate while knowing she wasn’t. Pulling the offer seems more punitive than anything else; they’re saying this is something about her integrity when it’s really not. (Unless it’s a situation where she cannot start the job until she formally has her diploma, but I’m skeptical that it’s that, given the timeline.)

And the blacklisting is absurd, although I suppose if they see this as enough of an ethical violation to pull the offer, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be open to hiring her in the future either.

5. A company responded to my application by suggesting I follow them on social media

I recently applied for a role within a social media business. I received the standard “Thanks for your application; we will be in contact soon” email, but the last paragraph stood out to me: “In the meantime, you can build your digital skills by reading our expert articles published on our blog, following us on Twitter, or joining in the discussion on LinkedIn.”

Do you think following them on these sites would help my chances? Are they just looking for more followers? Or is this becoming a normal way to end this kind of email?

Nope, it sounds like they’re just marketing to job candidates, which is pretty tacky. It’s very unlikely that following them on social media will increase your chances (and indeed, they’re not suggesting that; they’re just suggesting it’s a way to build your skills).

what do I say to call in for a mental health day, I’ve never worked in an office, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

08 Dec 20:12

Transportation-less Transportation

by Jason Kottke
Anne Griffin

aaaah i can't fucking wait for self driving cars!!!

Google finally announced a consumer service around the self-driving car technology they’ve been developing for almost a decade. Waymo One is basically a taxi hailing service backed by a fleet of automated cars. The promotional video for the service is an upbeat but ho-hum reminder of the convenience of app-hailed transportation:

But there’s a voiceover line about halfway through that gets at the heart of why self-driving cars seem so compelling to people:

What if getting there felt like being there?

Sure, it’s not so much the destination that matters, it’s the journey…but commuting isn’t a journey. People in cities spend a lot of their time in rooms: working, reading, drinking, chatting, etc. Waymo’s cars aren’t quite rooms, but that’s where they’re headed: private rooms for hire that also get you from one place to another. It’s WeWork on wheels, a mobile Starbucks, a portable third place. Along the way, you could have a beer or coffee, do karaoke, make some work calls, watch a movie, chat with friends, make out, or answer some emails. C-suite executives with dedicated chauffeured transportion are already doing this with custom vans. Private jets are essentially vacation homes that can travel anywhere in the world. (Cruises offer this experience too.) If Waymo (or someone else) can make this happen for a much larger segment of the population, that’s a compelling service: transportation-less transportation.

Tags: advertising   driverless cars   Google   video   Waymo
07 Dec 03:43

I Tried Starbucks' Juniper Latte and It Really Surprised Me — Food News

by Elisabeth Sherman
Anne Griffin

Ooh I have to get this in honor of my dog right!?

In the realm of drink flavors, Starbucks isn't known for its subtlety. Think back to the green and purple Witch's Brew Frappuccino the company unleashed for Halloween to get an idea of what I mean. Even the Peppermint Mocha, my favorite among the Starbucks' holiday drink lineup, is a bit heavy-handed on the peppermint syrup.

So when Starbucks announced that the juniper latte would be available nationwide this year, I had my reservations. Would it taste like a handful of pine needles blended up with some steamed milk? After trying it for myself, I can honestly say that Starbucks nailed the Christmas-flavored coffee drink this time.


05 Dec 15:44

Gift Guide #6: Your Adoring Wife Who Never Met a Cheese She Didn’t Love.

by Joanna Goddard
Anne Griffin

Click through - the PRISM GLASSES! AMAZING

young frankk hoop earrings

Pretty earrings to wear all year, $88. (Or these cuties for $20.)

massage candle by get maude

Massage candle, $25, made with skin-softening jojoba oil, which can be poured on skin once melted.… Read more

The post Gift Guide #6: Your Adoring Wife Who Never Met a Cheese She Didn’t Love. appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

04 Dec 14:56

the backless shirt, the person who frosted cupcakes at her desk, and more of your cringeworthy work moments

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

for Cherv re: backless sweaters

Last month I asked people to share things they did at work in the past that they now cringe over. In lieu of any more posts today since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some of my favorites.

1.  “I was executive assistant to the president of a local college. She left for a business trip, after sternly telling me that I needed to be more proactive ‘managing’ the things in her office (like Christmas cards, etc.). So while she was gone, I rearranged the items in her desk drawers. I don’t think she ever got over the shock of finding that I had straightened out her entire desk, and I sure wish I hadn’t done it. I believe my time was limited after that. But on the other hand – it was a good job but she was a terrible boss, and in retrospect maybe it was, after all, not a bad idea. Never mind! :)”

2. “I wore a backless shirt to an internship at a political consulting firm in college. What was I thinking? I was generally fairly savvy about such things, even!”

3. “Internship… I was upset that I had to hotdesk while all other employees had permanent desks/offices/whatever. We had an available office that wasn’t being used and didn’t have any furniture in it, so I decided that would be my permanent home. I spent the morning moving furniture into the office and ‘customizing’ my space, including extra chairs for when people came into the office to meet with me (WTF was wrong with me?!). I was setting up the computer when the CEO (my direct supervisor) came in and was like no….

Thankfully he and I knew each other from a previous internship I did, and he had a pretty good sense of humor about it so I completed my internship and got a great recommendation. But good Lord that was bad…”

4. “Oh the shame. One time when I was a fresh and new manager, I asked a job candidate to give me a ride after we had an interview. I had been in a car accident a couple weeks prior, and my rental car coverage time was maxed out. I needed to take the car back that day before they closed or I’d have to personally pay for it (I was so broke at the time, I would not have been able to pay). Immediately after the interview, I asked her if she’d give me a ride. She was gracious, though I’m sure she felt extremely pressured to do it. Needless to say, she didn’t take the job. I saw her at a street fair a few weeks later and gave her a hug. Why or why did I do these things? I’m going to go hide for a bit.”

5. “Back when I worked in food service, my manager kept getting on my butt for me to do delivery instead of just working in the store. I point blank refused, but he kept nagging me about it. Finally I just decided, ‘Well, he can’t make me use my car if I don’t have one.’ I lived in the next town over and I walked five and a half miles to go to my store. When I showed up, my manager told me that he really needed me to delivery that day because some people had called in. I told him I didn’t have a car. He asked where it was, I told him at home. He stared at me and said ‘don’t you live in the next town over?’ and I said I did.

I was an uppity little shit but he never asked me again and never brought it up. I don’t think that was very professional but it proved my point.”

Note from Alison: This is not cringe-worthy; this is awesome.

6. “Just out of college, I was working a very boring job at a law firm where I was supposed to manage files for one of the lawyers but often had very little to do. I was also DEEPLY disliked by his secretary, Agatha Trunchbull (she was very possessive of the dude and was proud of the fact that she had run off three young women before me), who tortured me daily. At this job every bit of billable time had to be accounted for in the company software system, and I had been told that for people in my position the descriptions were never read and we just had to put down SOMETHING. So, whenever I had time blocks where I literally had nothing to do I would (very, very stupidly) put down things like ‘Thinking of puppies’ and ‘Imagining Agatha Trunchbull being eaten by a Canadian Trap Door Alligator.’ Ultimately, this did not work out well.”

7. “As a first year grad student, I asked my grad advisor (a tenured professor) to remind me of my project deadlines because I worked better with a little pressure from authority. He gently told me that managing my own deadlines was my own responsibility. Yup.”

8. “My first job would send out a peer feedback form every 6 months. The first time it came out, I wrote long, obnoxious diatribes about the supposed shortcoming of all of my peers. We had some really inexperienced managers who then forwarded the feedback, verbatim, to the people it was about. Everyone spent weeks speculating about who wrote which comments, while I tried to keep my head down.”

9. “I once got some very much-deserved criticism that I was taking too long (1-3 weeks) to resolve invoice issues that should have, at most, taken a couple of days to work out. The actual problem was that I was prioritizing other work that I found more interesting and only tackling the invoices when someone yelled about them.

My suggestion was to have Accounts Payable print the problem invoices for me on color-coded paper, with a different color for each day of the week, so I could see at a glance when my GIANT PILE of invoices contained too many older ones, so I’d know I needed to tackle them. My boss somehow refrained from slapping me upside the head Gibbs-style, and actually discussed the suggestion with our A/P manager – at the time, I thought she took it to him as an actual possibility and he said no, but now I think they probably had a mutual ‘this is what she said, omg wtf?!??!!’ conversation about it before telling me to consider actually getting my work done as a solution.”

10. “I took a year off from college and my aunt got me a job at a place called ‘the onion factory’ one winter before going back to college. It was a processing plant for onions and they had big trucks come in full of onions that were weighed and then would dump their load into the hopper for processing. Part of my job was to do data entry of the weight of the onions that had come in. They had pre-printed slips of paper that said gross/tare/net. Sometimes they only filled in two of the three sections (but it wasn’t consistent which ones were filled in). I didn’t actually know what those words meant, so I wasn’t sure what to do when only two of the three sections were filled in. This was in the late 90s, before the internet, so I couldn’t just google it. And at that time I was mortified of ‘being a bother’ and ‘asking too many questions’ so I decided to just split the difference: sometimes I put the numbers in one column and sometimes in another.

My boss didn’t even check my work until the end of the season. When she finally asked me what was going on with the data I meekly explained what had happened. This usually verbose woman was speechless. I think she was in awe of my incompetence? An entire season’s worth of data was useless.”

11. “I used to come to my first internship at a magazine with hickies all over my neck. I was newly in a relationship with my then-girlfriend, and I guess we liked each other a little too intensely. It got to the point where my supervisor wrote me an email to tell me to make sure they’re not showing when I go to interview people. To this day that is the single most embarrassing email I’ve received.”

12. “In an interview I said I admired the ingenuity of a guy that had gotten fired from my previous employer for embezzling money. Srsly ???”

13. “I used to wear knee-high stockings and if my feet got too sweaty (yes, gross), I would take them off in my cube, wash them in the office restroom, and hang them to dry on my cubicle wall. My manager at the time even came by and saw them hanging on the wall, looked at me, looked at them, looked back at me, and said ‘Hmm!’ with a perplexed look. But no one ever said anything to me about it, so I kept doing it.

My reasoning was, no one ever told me it *wasn’t* okay to wash, hang, and dry stockings on your cubicle wall at work.”

14. “I once asked my manager if I could take the afternoon off because I was feeling hateful. Yes, those are the exact words I used.”

15. “My first job after college was a very straightforward clerical job, 8 am – 5 pm. Many of friends had jobs that were structured differently, with later hours or less predictable hours.

So, at 5:01 pm when I was “off the clock,” I would hang around at work, because I was waiting for my friends to get out of their jobs, and it seemed pointless to go home just to go out again later. AT MY DESK, which was IN THE C-SUITE, I would put my make-up on, do my hair, call all my friends (loudly) to ask important questions like “do you know if the hottie bartender is working tonight?” or “I was going to wear my black boots but do you know if Tami is wearing her black books because in that case I would wear my silver pumps but tell me if you think they look slutty because if so then I could wear my red sandals unless it rains in which case maybe my Mary Janes etc etc etc etc.” I would bring projects to keep myself occupied, like plugging in a hot glue gun to work on a Halloween costume, or (this is real) frosting cupcakes that I was bringing to a party later on that night. Even though I was finished at 5 pm, there were still plenty of people still working, or wrapping up for the day, including senior leadership. I am dying thinking about it now.

Finally, the office manager started hinting that if I wasn’t actually working, I didn’t need to be at work. And I was so clueless, I earnestly wanted to know if there was a policy against it, because sometimes I saw Reginald reading a magazine at his desk while he was waiting for his ride to pick him up, or a lady who was taking an evening class one night a week would sometimes do her reading in the break room between work and class. It was a friendly, casual office and all sorts of people sometimes spent some non-work time at their desks doing some QUIET and LOW-KEY personal business, but I could not see how there was any difference between someone occasionally reading a magazine while waiting for carpool, and me turning my desk into my Own Personal Rec Room several times a week. What was I thinking?”

the backless shirt, the person who frosted cupcakes at her desk, and more of your cringeworthy work moments was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

27 Nov 21:13

Dogs Catching Treats

by Jason Kottke

Dogs Catching Treats

Dogs Catching Treats

This is pretty straightforward and hilarious: using a high-speed setup, Christian Vieler photographs dogs catching treats. The photographs also come in book form and as a 2019 wall calendar.

Tags: Christian Vieler   photography
06 Nov 03:27

Gricia Is the Silky, Porky Roman Pasta Everyone Should Know

by Sasha Marx
Anne Griffin

Guys we made this on Sunday and it is un fucking real, make it now

Porky pasta perfection with a minimalist bent: It's time for gricia to re-take its rightful place in the pantheon of Roman pasta. Read More
25 Oct 12:28

my boss took away the tools I need for my job, coworkers on speakerphone, and more

by Ask a Manager
Anne Griffin

I’m so curious about this: what is the “typical toxic environment of a vet clinic”?! Are they known for being toxic?!?

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss punished me by removing the tools I need to do my job

I have started in a new position. We are getting a new management system here at work, and our boss made up a survey/test (not required by the organization) to be completed over the weekend. I had a family emergency where a family member has a week left to live, so the assignment completely slipped my mind. Upon my return to the office on Monday, my boss removed my and my coworker’s access to the system as punishment. However, the system makes up 98% of our day-to-day work and she does not “know” when she’ll return our access. I am trying to be calm, but this affects every single project that I have and she is known to write harsh comments on performance reviews for incomplete work. Is there a way I can handle the situation so that I can still get my work done?

Your boss decided to remove your ability to do 98% of your work? (Ridiculous thing #1.) As “punishment”? (Ridiculous thing #2.) Because you have a dying family member? (Ridiculous thing #3.)

Your boss is a terrible manager, and a terrible human.

Managing isn’t about “punishing” people (!) and it’s definitely not about preventing people from doing their work. Please know this is outrageous and not normal and not okay.

As for what to do, you could say to her, “I’m not able to do the vast majority of my work without access to the system. What would you like me to focus on meanwhile, unless I have access back?”

But you’ve just learned that you’re working for a nightmare, and you’ll have to plan accordingly. (That sounds vague, but it could mean anything from “start job searching immediately” to “know she’s horrid and expect more outrages,” depending on your situation and what options you feel you have.)

2. A coworker’s says he won’t read any of his emails once he’s back from leave

Curious about your thoughts on something I came across. A male coworker is out on paternity leave for three weeks. This is great and he has his out-of-office set-up appropriately. However, I noticed in his out-of-office, he specifically said, “I have no plans to follow up directly for anything that I receive during this time. If you still need my input on the matter after I return, I ask that you please send me a follow-up email at that time.”

Is this normal for extended leaves? I understand possibly not reading through everything in detail, but setting the expectation that you won’t follow up at all irks me. Maybe it’s because I was out on maternity earlier this year for four months. Yes, I did mass delete a bunch of emails, but I also did a quick glance at most of them. Maybe I shouldn’t have? Would love you or your reader’s thoughts on conventions on this topic.

For just three weeks? In most offices, that would be overly demanding. That’s not an extended leave; that’s more like a slightly longer-than-average vacation, and it’s generally wouldn’t be reasonable to tell one’s colleagues (or clients, etc.) that they need to shoulder the burden of telling him twice what they need from him (and remembering a few weeks from now to do that) just because he doesn’t want to read accumulated emails when he’s back after such a short time away.

If he were going to be out for four months, then yes, this approach can be reasonable. But for most people, in most jobs, in most offices, this is going to look odd.

That said, who knows, maybe he has a job where this makes sense — like one where the emails he receives are all going to be things that need to be handled in the next 48 hours, and so it won’t make sense for him to deal with any when he’s back. Without knowing more, it’s hard to say that it definitely doesn’t make sense in his context.

3. Dealing with a run in your pantyhose at a business meeting

At an out-of-town business meeting, my black pantyhose developed a large run (think banana-sized!). As an attendee I wasn’t quite sure the most professional thing to do and would like your opinion.

I decided due to the cold climate to keep the hose on and sit and walk in ways that would visually shied most attendees from seeing the run which was on my right calf. I debated removing the hose but worried one might question my decision-making skills if I walked around bare-legged at a business formal event. But, is it more unprofessional to keep the hose on with a large hole visible? Should I have kept the pantyhose on or removed them in the restroom?

Take them off. Bare legs are not scandalous anymore, and it is really common and normal for professional women to have bare legs. There are still some particularly conservative fields and regions where that’s not the case, but they’re shrinking — and even then I’d argue most people will be happier — and look more polished — if they’re bare-legged than with a banana-sized run in their stockings.

It’s not a huge deal that you didn’t though (although I hate the idea of you having to be so self-conscious about how you were walking!).

4. My coworkers call each other on speakerphone

What can I do about colleagues who work in an open office space, sit in cubes next to one another, but call each other on the desk phone and one of them puts it on speakerphone?

It is a mystery to all of us who sit nearby these two folks. It is fine to make a quick call to get a question answered vs. walking over to the person’s desk, but speakerphone? Really? It is an almost daily occurrence and pretty obnoxious and distracting.

Speak up! It’s completely reasonable and normal to say, “Hey, it’s really distracting when you have those calls on speakerphone. Would you mind not using the speaker?” That’s it.

I imagine you haven’t done that yet because you feel weird about saying something, but you have to be able to have these conversations when you’re in a shared space, and it’s really, really normal. Right now you’re aggravated and stewing, and you can fix that with a 30-second conversation.

5. Should I leave the low-paying job I love for one that will make me less happy but pay more?

I have a dilemma that I know most people would kill for. I work as a veterinary nurse, and I love my clinic. I’m respected there and have developed close friendships with my coworkers and some of the doctors. There’s advancement opportunities and education, and my boss is wonderful. I’m highly skilled and am still learning so much. This clinic has worked hard to remove the typical toxic environment of a vet clinic. It’s an exhausting and stressful job that’s hard on my body and heart, but that’s true of the entire veterinary industry.

The problem is that this clinic pays terribly. It’s causing tension in my marriage! I work 45-50 hours a week and make next to nothing. When I graduated college, I was hired at another clinic (with no experience!) and made $2.60/ hour more than I do now, and worked at another awful and toxic hospital for $3.50/hour more. This is true for every employee here. The highest paid nurse has been there for five years and earns $2/hour less than the living wage for our state. My schedule is irregular and I never see my spouse as it is, so getting a second job that will allow for this is tough. My reduced income is putting strain on my family. Should I leave for a job that will make me significantly less happy but pay me better?

Only you can decide that! It comes down to how much you value the good things about working there versus how much of a problem the pay is. Some people would be genuinely fine with the lower pay in exchange for the benefits you’re getting by working there. Other people wouldn’t.

That said, when it’s at the point that it’s causing (understandable) tension in your marriage and putting strain on your family, then yeah, I do think you’ve got a responsibility to at least look around at what other options are available to you. That doesn’t mean you have to take another job — but I do think you need to at least look at options and then include your spouse in your thinking about how to proceed.

my boss took away the tools I need for my job, coworkers on speakerphone, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

13 Sep 16:43

Naked Mole Rats Born at Bioparc Valencia

by Andrew Bleiman
Anne Griffin

New reader meme for Steve & Chris to imitate!

BIOPARC Valencia - Nace una camada de ratas topo - verano 2018

A litter of Naked Mole Rats was born last week at Bioparc Valencia, highlighting this unusual and unique species.

Native to the dry grasslands of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, Naked Mole Rats excavate extensive underground burrows. They are well adapted to their underground life, with tiny eyes and large teeth for digging. As the name suggests, Naked Mole Rats have very little hair and lack a fat layer under the skin.

BIOPARC Valencia - Ratas topo y crías recién nacidas - verano 2018
BIOPARC Valencia - Ratas topo y crías recién nacidas - verano 2018Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia

Naked Mole Rats are unusual among mammals in that they exhibit eusociality, a social structure similar to that of ants, termites and bees. The life of the colony is governed by chemical mechanisms, where there is only one breeding female (the queen), and one to three breeding males (the drones). The rest of the individuals in the colony are workers, which are sterile and are charged with maintaining the nest and gathering food.

Scientists are greatly interested in Naked Mole Rats because they are believed to be resistant to cancer, likely due to their genetic makeup. They are insensitive to pain because they lack a specific neurotransmitter. Naked Mole Rats are able to thrive in a low-oxygen environment (only about 2-9%, compared to 21% above ground). In addition, their relatively long lifespan of 32 years – unlike many rodents that live just a few years – is of great interest to scientists who study the aging process.

One of the objectives of BIOPARC Valencia is to make known the rich biodiversity of the planet and the need to conserve it, where all species are essential.

13 Aug 16:58

Zen and the Art of the Maryland Crab Feast

by Daniel Gritzer
Anne Griffin


A Maryland crab feast, in which blue crabs are steamed with Old Bay seasoning, is a culinary tradition worth learning how to prepare—and eat. This guide takes you through steaming the crabs and picking them apart, one step at a time. Read More
02 Aug 16:43

Summer Like a Spaniard With Watermelon Gazpacho

by Sohla El-Waylly
Anne Griffin

Guys yet another killer recipe from Sohla El-Waylly! Made this on Monday while rest of dinner was in the oven, chilled overnight, and ate Tuesday & Wednesday for dinner with some crusty bread and it is DELICIOUS. The Calabrian chile topper is excellent.

A lightly fruity twist on the traditional chilled soup to see you through the hottest days of summer. Read More