Shared posts

16 Jan 14:59

saying the Pledge of Allegiance at work, asking a coworker to chew with their mouth closed, and more

by Ask a Manager
Kate

Ahem:

Buffalo clap is clap WNY clap not clap upstate clap

This has been your petty minute.

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

1. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance at work

I have a long-standing issue at work and am at a loss over whether I should raise this, and if so, how. I am a full-time permanent federal employee. At my agency we honor monthly presidential declarations (think Hispanic Heritage month, Black History month, etc.) by holding a one- or two-hour event, which I fully support and attend. However, as part of our performance evaluations, to receive Fully Successful, we MUST attend at a minimum of two of these events per year. If you want to receive Outstanding or Superior, you attend more.

My issue is that at the beginning of each of these events, an employee performs the national anthem (totally fine!), and then we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which I feel is not only unnecessary because we are the federal government, but also alienating to certain groups. If these weren’t required as part of my performance evaluations, I would seriously consider not attending because of this.

I don’t know how to address this. There is a feedback submission system, but it is not anonymous. I am willing to raise my voice, but am worried about retaliation and being marked for the rest of my career, and I have a significant amount of time left before retirement.

I think expecting people to ritually pledge allegiance to their country during the course of their normal workday is bizarre, even for the government, but because this is government I doubt very much that you’re going to get it changed. I suspect, though, that you’re not actually required to recite the pledge — you can probably stand and say nothing while it’s occurring. (If you don’t want to stand at all — and the Supreme Court has supported your right to remain silently seated during the pledge — you’d need to decide if you’re willing to spend the capital that would probably be involved.)

2. My company won’t order meals I can eat at upcoming meetings

I have a week’s worth of company meetings coming up where we will be staying in a hotel. Lunch will be pre-planned by the meeting organizer. I asked her to accommodate my dietary restrictions (health issues). She forwarded my request to upper management and I received an email response back that he suggests that I pre-buy lunches for myself and bring them with me or call the hotel to see if I can order special lunches while there. Is this acceptable for meetings that I am required to attend? I felt like my company should try to accommodate my needs. I can’t very well bring lunches as the hotel doesn’t offer rooms with refrigerators.

Yeah, this is BS. They should absolutely be attempting to accommodate your dietary needs. I’d respond this way: “I can’t bring my own lunches since we won’t have fridges in our rooms. Typically in the past, meeting organizers have ordered me a dairy-free (or whatever) meal because it’s easier for it to be part of the overall catering so it shows up at the same time as everything else. It’s usually easy for caterers to adjust what they’re serving; they get these requests all the time. Is there a reason we can’t just wrap this into the meals you’re already ordering?”

But if she pushes back, ask them to reimburse you for delivered meals that you’ll order yourself (and know that this is crap).

3. Asking a coworker to chew with their mouth closed

Is it ever okay to ask someone to chew with their mouth closed at work?

It depends so much on the relationships involved. If it’s someone who you have good rapport with or who you know wouldn’t take offense, or if they’re junior to you, in many cases you could indeed say, “Bob, would you mind chewing with your mouth shut?” And definitely if you’re their manager, there’s more room for it. But in a lot of other cases, it’s going to come across as not your business (you’re not their parent, and in general you shouldn’t scold other adults about their manners), in which case you’re better off just trying to position yourself so you’re not getting a full frontal view while they’re doing it.

4. Which address should I use on job applications in a new city?

My boyfriend moved upstate for a job and I’m going to join him up there because there are better opportunities for me as well. He’s settled into the apartment we’ll be living in together (so I could get mail there).

Which address should I use on my applications for jobs in the new city, my current address or my future one?

I’d prefer to have a job before moving just to keep my health insurance coverage. My fear is being eliminated from consideration for not being local.

Some people in this situation will use the future address. That can be helpful since some employers favor local candidates (often with good reason), but it can also be tricky if they assume it means you can appear for an interview very quickly. If you actually can appear for an interview as soon as someone local could, it’s fine to go ahead and do that. That will, after all, be your address soon — and since it’s the apartment you’ll both be sharing, it’s not too far of a stretch.

But the other option if that weren’t the case is to do this:

Clarissa Warbucks
(Relocating in March to Buffalo)

5. My call with a recruiter disconnected and I couldn’t call back right away

I applied for a job that was a reach for my skill set. A few days later I received an email from a recruiter saying I might be a good match for the position, but to please fill out the skills section of their website so that they can be sure. I filled it out and less than an hour later the recruiter called to let me know that one year of experience was a hard minimum, so that position wasn’t a good fit for me.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking the call in the car and it disconnected. I was unable to call back because Driving, and I was also unable to call back when I reached my destination because I was driving to work. Instead I emailed the recruiter this when I got to work: “I apologize about the disconnection earlier, I was using Bluetooth in my car to answer the call and couldn’t call back because I was driving. Can I schedule a time with you to finish the conversation?”

It’s been a day and the recruiter, who previously responded to emails within an hour of receiving them, has yet to respond. I’m wondering if he thought I hung up out of anger and blocked my email and blacklisted me before I had a chance to explain what happened. But I also wonder if maybe he was only responding so quickly before because I was a potential candidate, and now that I’m not I should expect slower responses.

I thought about calling him if I don’t receive a reply back in a week, but that also seems to be overkill? What is the proper thing to do if I get disconnected from a potential employer or recruiter in the future and can’t call back?

You did exactly the right thing — emailed him to explain what had happened. It’s pretty likely that he hasn’t responded to you because he’d already relayed the crux of his message: that the position wasn’t a match for you. There isn’t a conversation to finish, because to him that closed it out.

It’s super common for people involved in hiring to communicate only when they have a new message to deliver to you (which already happened here) or when they have a question for you. If you’re already out of the running, it’s not surprising that he’s not getting back to you. In a more social setting, it would be a nicety for him to respond to the email you sent, but in a hiring setting there’s nothing more he needs to say.

So it’s not that he thinks you hung up in anger. It’s just that he already told you the position isn’t a match and now he’s moved on (and assumes you will too).

saying the Pledge of Allegiance at work, asking a coworker to chew with their mouth closed, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

15 Jan 01:12

AAFU: How do I date after divorce?

My new relationship seems great, but I keep thinking I will make the same mistakes again.
14 Jan 21:34

Holiday Neapolitan Cookies with a Twist!

by Joy
Kate

Fellow baking-lovers... have you seen this kitchenaid attachment?! I'm very very tempted.

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I'm SO ready for the holidays to arrive! Aside from being able to slow down and spend time with family, my favorite part of the holidays is all of the delicious treats...like Neapolitan cookies! I love how they mix in THREE different flavors. So today, we're sharing a twist on the classic recipe for a festive version perfect for the holidays. The recipe calls for matcha instead of chocolate, making them a bright pink, white, and green! They're so colorful, tasty, and keep well so you can gift them for the holidays, too.

In partnership with KitchenAid, I'll show you how to whip up these Matcha Neapolitan Cookies with the KitchenAid Artisan® Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer and Sifter+Scale Attachment. My Stand Mixer has been a key player in all of my baking over the last several years, and the Sifter+Scale Attachment is a total game changer. All I have to do is attach the Sifter+Scale Attachment to the power hub of my Stand Mixer, and voilà! HANDS-FREE sifting. The attachment also has an easy-to-use digital scale for a level of precision way beyond me. Come see how...

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

You'll need...

For the Base Dough
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

Strawberry Dough
- 1-1/2 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
- optional: pink food coloring

Matcha Dough
- 1 tsp matcha powder

Topping
- white melting chocolate
- shredded coconut

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

Here's how...
1. With the KitchenAid® Sifter+Scale Attachment attachment, sift flour, salt, and baking powder into stand mixer. Gently transfer dry ingredients to a medium bowl, set aside.
2. With paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until creamed. Add in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
3. Divide dough evenly into thirds.
4. To make the strawberry dough, add one portion of dough back into the mixing bowl, add flour, jam, and food coloring (if desired), and mix until fully combined.
5. Make sure to clean out the mixing bowl before beginning to make the matcha dough, to ensure that none of the doughs mix. Place another portion of the dough into the mixer and add matcha powder. Mix until fully combined.
6. Line a 5x9" loaf pan with parchment, using enough so that the paper comes up over the edges of the pan. Begin layering dough, starting with the strawberry layer, followed by vanilla, and then matcha. Using your hands, try to make each layer as even and level as possible. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour.

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
8. Remove dough from pan and peel off parchment paper. Trim the edges of the dough to get cleaner sides and then cut the dough in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1/2" slices (about 16 per side).
9. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and place dough squares about 2" apart. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are just slightly turning golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before moving cookies to a cooling rack
10. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Dip the cookies and top with coconut.

This recipe makes about 32 cookies. If you're going to prepare the dough for more than an hour in advance, place them in the refrigerator (rather than in the freezer!) to harden. Dough can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. 

holiday Neapolitan cookie recipe... / via oh joy!

Ta-dah! They're so colorful, fun, and make great gifts. Giving (and receiving!) treats for the holidays has always been one of my favorites, and these cookies are perfect for that because they don't crumble easily and bring that extra dose of holiday flair that I love. Enjoy! And, let me know if you make them this holiday season!

{Photos by Lily Glass, Concept/Production/Styling by Julia Wester, Production Assistance by Jess Hong. Written by Traci Michael and Joy Cho.}

09 Jan 23:25

my coworker is trying to manage me so she’ll get promoted, reporting my husband’s coworker, and more

by Ask a Manager
Kate

#2... oh boy...

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

1. My coworker is trying to manage me so she’ll get promoted

At my workplace, like at many workplaces, in order to be promoted one needs to demonstrate that they are already doing the work of the level they wish to be promoted to. A colleague with the same job title and level as me has recently made it known that she would like to be promoted. Without warning from her or from our manager, she emailed me an invite for a recurring monthly meeting for us to “discuss” my performance goals for the year and for her to “make sure I am supporting you in any way that I can.”

Am I right in thinking this is patronizing and obnoxious? I don’t have the kind of working relationship with her where we normally talk about work tasks, much less discuss individual performance goals. Is there a way I can get out of being her stepping stone to a promotion?

Yes, this is patronizing and obnoxious — and very much an overstep.

I don’t much agree with the “you need to already being doing the higher level work before we promote you” philosophy, but you’re right that it’s a common practice. But it definitely doesn’t work when you don’t have the authority or standing to take on that higher level work, as is the case with your coworker. She can’t just decide to “manage” you on her own, just like she also can’t decide to write company checks or fire the receptionist without being given the authority to do it.

I’d respond this way to her meeting invitation: “I’ve already got this covered with (manager) so am declining this invitation.” And if she pushes beyond that, say, “I’m confused. Jane is my manager. Why are you asking for this?”

And if you have a good manager who won’t mishandle it, you might also give her a heads-up about what’s happening, so your coworker doesn’t report that you’re welcoming her help or anything like that.

2. Can I report my husband’s coworker to their HR department?

My husband was friends with a coworker who became obsessed with him. While we were separated, she showed up unannounced where he was living because she needed “water” while out on a run, made numerous social media posts insinuating they were in a relationship, told people they were dating, made a Pinterest board labeled with his (unique) name with pins about love and boyfriends and such, and other alarming incidents. He has to work with this person on numerous projects and hates conflict so he wanted to just ignore everything so as not to cause problems at work.

When I asked her about her behavior, she made false claims that he had picked her up from the airport and they discussed my concerns, then used sexual innuendos to suggest they had sex numerous times. She also told me that I needed to “move on” and “let him live his life” even though we are together. She seems unbalanced and brazen. Can I anonymously report her for behavior that is stalking/harassment to their HR department? My husband would not want that, but when he once asked her “what the hell?” she claimed that she had to rush off to a meeting and has never apologized.

No, you cannot report someone to HR at a company you don’t work with. It would be wildly out of line, and it wouldn’t get you the outcome you want anyway. An anonymous report from a non-employee isn’t likely to be taken seriously, but to the extent they act on it at all, the first thing they’ll do is speak to your husband.

Your husband is the only one who has standing to address this — and you definitely don’t have standing to override his decisions about how to best manage his own work life. You can talk to him about he’ll handle it, but it’s his to deal with (both at work and with this woman directly), not yours. (I’m assuming you’ve considered the possibility that the coworker isn’t actually lying, but if not … you do need to.)

3. Can I ask someone to stop tagging me on LinkedIn?

Almost a year ago, I interviewed someone for a position and ultimately decided to hire someone else. I let this person know, kindly, and figured that would be that. However, she’s been tagging me and others in these weird public LinkedIn posts about her skillset and experiences ever since. Is there an acceptable way of asking her to stop including me?

LinkedIn does let you turn off the feature that lets people tag you, but you can only do it site-wide, not for one person, and you may not want that. You could try blocking her on the platform; I haven’t been able to find anything indicating whether that’ll stop her from tagging you or not, but you could give it a try.

But you can also just ask her to stop. I’d say it this way: “Jane, I enjoyed meeting you last year, but could I ask you to stop tagging me in your posts on LinkedIn? I get a notification every time, and it’s a lot in my already crowded in-box. Thanks for understanding.”

4. Does everyone get fired at some point in their career?

I’m a long-time reader, in my 30s, great job, no issues at work. But the more I read AAM, the more I think about something I was told when I was younger. My mother’s twin sister had just been let go from a job and told me, “Everyone gets fired at least once in their life.” This hasn’t happened to me, but I’m wondering if you agree?

Nope. Lots of people have never been fired. But what is true is that being fired is very common, lots of successful people have been fired at some point in their careers, and it doesn’t indicate that you’re a failure or that you’ll be marked by it forever. I suspect that was more of what she was getting at — and, having just been fired herself, it might have been a bit of a self-pep-talk too, or even an attempt to put it in context for you.

5. My former employer says I quit, but they really laid me off

Earlier this year, I went through the hiring process at a new employer, which included a background check. As part of that background check, my former employers were contacted and my reason for leaving was verified against my application — standard stuff. I’ve gone through a similar check before, as recently as two years prior, without issue. This time, though, was different.

A couple of days into the check, a team member from my future employer called to tell me they had gotten ahold of Past Employer X and their records show I quit on Y date in 2017. But I didn’t quit; I was asked to leave and was given a payout upon leaving. My position was eliminated as a result of a merger that resulted in a full house cleaning of management six months post-merger.

I explained and all proceeded smoothly. I have now been with Current Employer for nearly 90 days. I wonder, though, if having the “quit” vs. “position eliminated” designation on my record at Past Employer X may cause issues in the future. If it is going to cause issues, do I need to just start saying that I quit? It feels disingenuous.

Don’t start saying you quit when that’s not true! Get in touch with the past employer and ask them to correct their records. This could be as simple as someone making one wrong keystroke when your departure was recorded, and it might be something you can get fixed with a single phone call.

If for some reason you’re not able to get it fixed, you can proactively explain the situation to reference checkers in the future (and I’d hold on to your separation paperwork for that reason): “I was laid out as part of a mass layout after a merger. I learned from a past background check that for some reason their records say I resigned, but I’d be happy to show you the layoff paperwork if you need it.”

my coworker is trying to manage me so she’ll get promoted, reporting my husband’s coworker, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

09 Jan 20:59

How to Shop for Affordable Vintage Art

by Joanna
Kate

I love collecting vintage art - mainly from estate sales. But Poshmark is a great idea, browsing now and there's some good stuff.

About a month ago, I revealed our most recent makeover… our living room! While that post had a decidedly holiday spin to the overall aesthetics, there are still so many details to discuss about the space. Details that I’ve been dying to share with you since the reveal! In particular, I am really excited to talk more about this tiny gallery wall that I created because I have SUCH a good tip for how to find vintage art. Seriously, it’s a good one. So let’s just dig right in.

Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart

Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art

Let’s just get my vintage painting and art shopping tip out of the way first, shall we? Ok, here goes: shop for artwork on Poshmark! I’ve talked a ton about this site in the past for clothing and accessories, but during one of my deep dives, I realized there is a home decor section of the site. From there, I typed in ‘oil painting’ and was blown away by all the listings that turned up. I was able to score a framed vintage oil painting for as little as $4!

And here’s my best tip for shopping for vintage art on Poshmark (or anything on there, to be honest): like the item you’re interested in because usually the seller will off you a private discount and decreased shipping. From there you can accept it… or counter! The counter offer feature is my jam because I love haggling and getting a good deal.

I would not have been able to pull off this gallery wall look without this shopping trick!

p.s. I also shopped on Chairish, eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Depop, The Real Real, and OfferUp… but I had the best results on Poshmark — and was the most surprised to find good stuff there.

Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart

The Details of Our Gallery Wall

Ever since buying #mytinybungalow, I’ve wanted to hang loads and loads of vintage art. I’ve forever loved those homes with barely any wall showing, where the frames are practically all touching. The “problem” is that we have so many windows! Ok, that’s not really a problem, but when it comes to hanging art, it is.

With the living room refresh, I decided to curate groupings of oil paintings, photography, prints, and 3-dimensional ephemera to give our home more of a collected vibe. Personally, I don’t love when everything in a space feels super-new. So vintage art is a really easy way to combat that.

Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart
Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart

I started in the corner behind the new sofa because it’s usually where most people look when they first come in the front door. All of the art was chosen based on the pillow colors and grouped so that there is a good balance of color, texture, and scale.

When it comes to pulling together a grouping of artwork, I always suggest over-buying. After all, you can always turn around and sell whatever piece doesn’t work! And if you find a piece that needs to be framed, my go-to source is always IKEA. They have the most affordable frames until you feel ready to commit to professional framing.

Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart
In the spirit of total transparency, here’s the breakdown of where each piece of art came from + what I paid for each one:
  • tiny painting of flowers – Poshmark, $16
  • field of hay rolls – Poshmark, $22
  • large mountain painting – Goodwill, $35
  • large metal anchor – I’ve had this forever and can’t remember how much I paid for it… maybe $10?
  • sailboat painting – by Miriam James, gifted
  • mini white and gold cow skull – Evoke the Spirit, maybe 20 pesos?
  • flowers and stein still life painting – Poshmark, $25
  • old man portrait – Etsy, $135 (I really needed to possess this painting! Just look at the colors!)
Our Tiny Gallery Wall & My #1 Tip for Finding the BEST Vintage Art! Plus, a  breakdown of what I paid for each oil painting, print, photo, and more. Gallery wall ideas fo small spaces, how to shop for affordable artwork #oilpainting #gallerywall #artwork #vintageart #vintageartwork #smallspaces #tinyhouse #livingroom #howtohangart #howtobuyart
  • mountain painting – eBay, $29
  • painting of Lucy by Sara Purr – this was the first Christmas gift I ever gave Sean!
  • pastoral landscape – Etsy, $49
  • humming bird print, one of a set of 3 – Poshmark, $70
  • gold heart found in Sayulita, maybe 30 pesos?

What do you think of our tiny art collection? Now that our Christmas tree is down and the shelf moved to the other wall, I need to curate another grouping for the wall behind the lounge chair!

Photography & styling by Jojotastic.
08 Jan 20:01

Dog With Sign

by swissmiss

I previously posted about the Dude with Sign account, now here comes the Dog With Sign. I like the dog better.

02 Jan 21:20

Chef Jean-Louis Palladin, in “Washington Star...

Kate

I won't be told that is not Fred Armisen.



Chef Jean-Louis Palladin, in “Washington Star Jean-Louis,” Bon Appétit, October 1990. #tbt #throwbackthursday


(Photograph by Fred J. Maroon)

17 Dec 21:41

Day 7 … Savory Shortbread Thumbprints

by stresscake
Kate

daaaaamn these look good

What’s a holiday party with a thumbprint cookie of some sort? Jewel like jam in the center of a buttery cookie? Ok, hold that thought. Turn it around, add some crunchy cornmeal to that buttery dough and fill the center with some sort of savory jam. Say, a cranberry or mango chutney or a tomato or fig jam. Before you know it, you have a delightful cocktail snack. I can attest that these are delicious with an ice cold martini. Oh my.

Like everything in the series, this one is incredibly easy. But what to add to the center you ask? Has some kind soul gifted you with some homemade bacon jam and you’re not too sure what to do with it? Use it here! Have you bought a jar of some interesting thing – roasted onion jam or red pepper jelly – for that one recipe or a vacation souvenir and the half empty jar has been languishing in your fridge door all year? Use it here! Do you have multiple jars of tomato chile jam lining your pantry shelves from an ambitious late summer project? Use it here! Don’t have any of these things but want to make this anyway? Take some jam from the fridge, apricot or raspberry or orange marmalade perhaps, and add some things to make it interesting: a clove of finely minced garlic, a bit of Dijon mustard or horseradish, some finely chopped rosemary, a little pepper. Taste it. Is it good? Use it here!

For the base, I much prefer cutting pretty little rounds and putting a dollop of the jam in the center. I tried the traditional method, i.e. rolling a ball and making an indent in the center, and it didn’t work as well. They didn’t form prettily, were too big and the dough-to-jam ratio was off. A delicate round was much better. So gather up your stuff and add this one to the repertoire.

To start: base cracker doughs
Day 1: Cheddar Old Bay Crackers
Day 2: Blue Cheese & Fig Crackers
Day 3: Goat Cheese & Chive Crackers
Day 4: Parmesan & Rosemary Crackers
Day 5: Mediterranean Olive Shortbread
Day 6: Apricot & Tarragon Shortbread

SAVORY SHORTBREAD THUMBPRINTS
Makes about 3-4 dozen depending upon the size of your cutter. I do like a round for this one but other shapes work too.

¼ savory shortbread base dough, room temperature
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons fine cornmeal
1/3 cup savory jam or chutney, such as tomato jam or mango chutney

  1. Into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, break the base dough into several small pieces.
  2. Add the cornmeal and salt and mix on low until everything starts to work in – maybe 30-60 seconds or so. Do not over mix.
  3. Between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper or plastic wrap, roll 1/3 of the dough to about 1/8” thick. Repeat with the remaining dough. If the dough sticks to the pin, add a bit of flour.
  4. Slide the dough sheets onto a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days, tightly wrapped.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
  6. Remove one dough sheet from the fridge, remove the top sheet of parchment/plastic wrap and cut shapes with a 1 ½” round cutter (or any cutter /shape you like). Gently press the scraps together, reroll and cut as needed.
  7. Transfer shapes to a parchment lined sheet pan, ¼” apart.
  8. Place ½ teaspoon or so of savory jam or chutney into the center of each round.
  9. Bake for 11-12 minutes until golden brown and firm, rotating the pans front-to-back and top-to-bottom halfway through baking.
  10. Slide the parchment from the sheet pan and let the crackers cool on a wire rack.
  11. Crackers will keep, tightly wrapped, for 5 days
  12. Do ahead: you have a bunch of options. Remember the holidays are stressful enough. Don’t add to it if you can help it.
  • Base dough: refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months
  • Flavored dough: refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months
  • Rolled dough sheets: refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month (the thinner sheets are a little tougher to wrap tightly and have a tendency to dry out faster.)
  • Cut dough rounds: layer between sheets of parchment and refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month. Let defrost on the sheet pans for a few minutes before baking.
17 Dec 17:00

update: my office has a burn book we all have to read and sign

by Ask a Manager
Kate

I honestly live for these updates. Even when they don't really have a very satisfactory resolution, I just NEED the next chapter of the saga.

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.

Remember the letter-writer whose manager wrote down everyone’s minor mistakes in a notebook and made everyone else read and sign it? Here’s the update.

On the evening you posted my letter, I went into work and Jane had written two full pages in the burn book blaming me for something she screwed up that morning, when I wasn’t working. I hadn’t worked the two days prior either, so it was impossible for me to be to blame. I was so furious at the time that I don’t even remember what she was accusing me of.

I used your advice and the advice from people in the comments. I wrote a response in the burn book saying I will no longer be reading any of these notes as they are inappropriate, and that the schedule shows I was not working at the time she said I was. I took photos on my cell phone of the worst pages of the book. Jane’s boss was out the office at the time so I sent her an email explaining the many problems Jane’s behaviour would raise for management including breaching employee privacy laws, workplace harrassment, etc. I’m Canadian and we have very clear employment laws here, so I copy and pasted some points directly from the government’s website which could apply.

The next morning I received an email from Jane’s boss apologizing for her behaviour and saying it will be addressed. She offered to take over as my direct supervisor and speak to me directly about any issue which would arise. I accepted her offer, but nothing was ever brought up, presumably because so much of Jane’s problems with me were untrue or exaggerated. When I went into work that evening, the burn book had many pages torn out of it, but I don’t know if Jane did that to hide her behaviour or if her boss made her take them out. Good thing I took photos!

Anyway, Jane was scratched off the schedule for a week (whether she was suspended or took sick leave I don’t know) then spent the next month or so avoiding me by calling in sick or leaving early on the days we were scheduled to work together. She dropped her attitude and she became much easier for everyone to work with. In addition to that good news, I just finished going back to school and started an amazing new job! I’m so glad to be out of there!

update: my office has a burn book we all have to read and sign was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

16 Dec 23:35

everythingfox: “This cat saying “well hi!” in a southern...

Kate

#catcontent autoshare



everythingfox:

“This cat saying “well hi!” in a southern accent”

(Source)

06 Dec 21:40

a new twist this year … Three Doughs, Twelve Crackers (+ three base doughs)

by stresscake
Kate

bless Kathy and her insanely organized christmas prep. For the past few years she's rolled out (pun intended) "12 days of cookies" with 12 variations on one base dough. This year she's switched it up and gone savory with crackers, which I LOVE.

Will be using her base dough method to make a few batches of her cookies this year! I'm thinking thumbprints, tea cakes, and maybe pinwheels?

It’s that time of year again, my friends. Time to bake cookies until ingredient lists invade your dreams and you mumble recipes in your sleep. Or is it? For the last three years I’ve tried to ease the burden of cooking, baking and gifting by using a favorite trick of mine – take one basic butter cookie dough, add various ingredients and turn it into a bunch of different types of cookies. Great, right? You turn out amazing cookie platters, no one is the wiser and you maintain a semblance of sanity. Twelve varieties each year has yielded 36 different cookies, of all flavors, colors, and textures from just one basic dough. This year, I find myself burnt out on cookies, even a year later. I’m just not feeling it and any new ideas I came up with were not sparking joy. I’m taped out this year. Instead I came up with something that excited me, something similar but different. Why not savory?  What if I came up with 12 savory crackers from one dough?

So that’s what we’re going to do this year. Mixing it up a little by taking the same favorite idea and making it savory with cheese, herbs and spices to hit the start of the meal rather than the end. I tweaked it a little though; instead of twelve crackers from one dough, I have three base doughs with four variations for each. The same type of cracker twelve times wasn’t doing it for me but 3 x 4 certainly did. I like variety.

The first is a cheese cracker base, a sort of pie dough, rolled thin and cut to any shape you like. The second is a slice-and-bake savory shortbread with all types of interesting flavors. The last one is a thin, crisp olive oil based dough seasoned a few different ways for a completely different texture and experience. This one can be rolled thin with a pin but if you have a pasta machine, it’s a good time to dust it off. All three doughs can be made ahead and frozen, flavored or not, for some easy holiday snacks.

All three base recipes are below, if you want to get a jump on things, and every other day I’ll post a new recipe turning those three bases into twelve different crackers. We’ll start with the neutral base for the cheese crackers, do four cheese variations (cheddar, blue, parmesan and goat!) and various complimentary flavor additions. Next up will be the four shortbreads then finally, the four olive oil crackers. Each base dough is divided into four even pieces and flavored differently but if you’d like to make smaller batches, the recipes reduce just fine. Buckle up!

And if you’d like to do cookies, thirty-six of those one dough recipes are waiting for you too in the archives, just click the links below:
Base Cookie Dough
Almond Raspberry Strips
Apricot Rosemary Shortbread
Banana Walnut Bars
Blueberry Lime Buttons
Bourbon Glazed Fruitcake Buttons
Brown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze
Candied Ginger Spice Buttons
Cardamom Rose Coins
Chocolate Cocoa Nib Wafers
Chocolate Drops
Chocolate Hazelnut Buttons
Cinnamon Sugar Pinwheels
Classic Molasses Cookies
Coconut Lime Sticks
Cranberry Pistachio Coins
Cream Cheese Wreaths
Dark Mocha Sandwich Cookies
Date Swirls
Espresso Crinkles
Jam Streusel Tarts
Jam Thumbprints
Lemon Cornmeal Biscotti
Lemon Poppyseed Buttons
Maple Black Walnut Cookies
Mexican Chocolate Crinkles
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Orange Sandwich Cookies
Orange Sesame Crisps
PB&J Sandwich Cookies
Pecan Tassies
Pecan Triangles
Peppermint Brownie Bars
Peppermint Candy Canes
Raspberry Linzer Squares
Rum Butter Bars
Russian Tea Cakes

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SNACK MASTER. You’ve got the cookies down, why not master some savory snacks? They are great on their own but really shine when part of a larger appetizer spread, a perfect additional to a charcuterie/cheese board and are just lovely with a glass of wine.

CHEESE CRACKER BASE DOUGH
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
24 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ¼” cubes (3 sticks/12 ounces)
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 Tablespoons whole milk

  1. Toss the flour, butter and salt together in the bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. With the paddle attachment on low, add the milk and mix just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix; you want to see small chunks of butter.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (use a scale if you have one), wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Dough must be slightly chilled to flavor so if not using right away, refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.

SAVOURY SHORTBREAD BASE DOUGH
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 large egg yolks

  1. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add egg yolks and mix to combine, scraping sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. On medium-low, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Turn out mixture on to a lightly floured surface and pat dough to bring it together.
  6. Divide the base dough into 4 equal pieces. Dough must be room temperature to flavor so if not using right away, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.

OLIVE OIL CRACKER BASE DOUGH
4 cups unbleached, all-purposed flour (500g)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup water
3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
  2. Add water, and olive oil.
  3. Mix with a fork first and your hands then, to form a soft dough. It needs to have a firm consistency, but add more water if too dry, a few drops at a time.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (use a scale if you have one), wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Dough must be room temperature to flavor so if not using right away, refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.
05 Dec 20:11

Not The Moon

by swissmiss
Kate

love this

NOT THE MOON is a pancake, digitized as a high-res, film quality scan, its texture applied to a true-to-scale sphere representation and virtually photographed with a 600 mm telescopic lens using minimal shutter and small aperture. Post-production (brightness & contrast, positive/negative) has intentionally been kept to an absolute minimum. Each variant is available as a limited edition of 100 silkscreen prints, signed, numbered and coded in reference to how minor planets are formally designated: e.g. 129 PNCK, while “1” indicates the variant/edition and “29” describes the amount of pancakes it took for that perfect one to make it all the way through and into the final edition.

Made me smile.

(I asked the internet which small shops/makers I should support. This was one of the suggestions.)

05 Dec 15:46

#1237: “What to do about deliberately bad gifts?” A post about letting go of some etiquette rules when they no longer serve you.

by JenniferP
Kate

I love the bit about Emily Post and valuing kindness over correction etc... and recognizing when that's not always the best tactic.

Side note: what the hell with the deliberately bad gifts?! only for white elephants/yankee swaps!

Hi!

I am 28, she/her. My sister in law (“A”) is also 28 and my brother (“D”) is 31.

I have a question about gift etiquette.

Last year on my birthday, A and D gave me a bunch of used DVDs. They got me slightly damaged copies of a couple movies and every season of a TV show my parents liked in the 90’s that I have never expressed any interest in. They wrapped each one individually so they could watch me unwrap them and giggle. I got the joke – this is a terrible gift! Hahaha – but I wasn’t included in the joke. With each one I opened, I got more confused, which seemed to make it even more funny for them.

That Christmas, they did it again, and this time they did it to my parents as well. They got me individual seasons of a TV show that is available in its entirety on Netflix and that I have had conversations about with them in the past where I said I did not like the show. They got my parents copies of DVDs they already owned. All of these were slightly beat up from being previously owned. They giggled and said things like “That’s an important one” and “Better get on watching that soon” the whole time.

My parents pretended to like them the whole time, but as A and D had already done this on my birthday, I finally got frustrated and refused to open more presents from them, because they just kept coming. We all take turns opening gifts and every time it was my turn, it was another used DVD.

Meanwhile, I work very hard on gifts. Last year I got A, a notorious anglophile, a certificate to a years subscription to a service that gets a ton of different British TV shows she had been wanting to watch but hadn’t been able to get access to. I nestled the certificate in a box of fortune cookie fortunes I had collected throughout the year (she collects these and plans to cover a table with them someday). For D I spent months searching for a sweater that had the Coca Cola logo on it. (He loves Coke. He once wrote an essay on its history for a college history class.) These were in addition to other things – games they didn’t have (they love board games) and nice teas (they enjoy tea). I spent ages trying to find thoughtful gifts and then I wrapped each one in nice paper that’s in their favorite colors.

The Christmas before last they didn’t get me a joke gift. They got me a “gummy candy maker.” It was essentially brightly colored silicone molds and unbranded Jello to put in them. It was obviously a children’s toy, and when I opened it, it was sticky from being previously owned. I pretended to be interested and thanked them, which made them smirk at each other. They also gave me a wine-scented candle. It was branded as being from a winery A’s parents had gone to a month or two prior. (Meaning I think they regifted it.)

So they have always given gifts like this, last year was just kind of a new level.

After they left last Christmas, my mom pulled me aside and was like, “Do you know what was going on with all the used DVDs?”

I said, “I think they just thought it was funny.” She seemed a bit crestfallen. She gives gifts similar to mine. She had gotten A a rare kind of tea set.

Furthermore, I don’t think A used the gift certificate and I know D got rid of the sweater because this year Mom said we should take a family photo wearing goofy sweaters and D said he didn’t have one. I said, “What about the one I gave you last Christmas?” He said “Oh, right. I might still have that.”

This is not a money thing – they both make more money than I do and buy nice, new things for themselves regularly. They’re just giving me joke gifts and doubling down when my feelings are hurt. I guess they just don’t like the gifts I give them.

I don’t mean to seem like I’m bragging about being super great at giving gifts or I’m entitled to lots of cool presents. I only meant that I try to put a lot of thought into their gifts and save up for them for a long time. They take a long time to think of and pull off. And A and D get cheap gifts at the last second. I would rather they didn’t get me anything at all.

My question is, what is the etiquette for receiving gifts that hurt my feelings? Do I have to keep pretending they don’t? What should I feel about trying really hard to get them things they like and having them openly dislike them? I want to just get them Amazon gift cards this year, but if they decide to get me non-joke presents this year I’ll just look like an asshole. I don’t know what to do or say.

Sorry this is so long. Thank you in advance.

Hello, thank you for the extremely timely seasonal question that is also an example of when rules that we’re taught about good manners as a child stop working around certain adults.

A Rule Most Of Us Were Taught: “It’s rude to interrupt.”

Sometimes it is, but when you’re dealing with someone who never lets you talk, or who says upsetting things (shame spirals on an unceasing loop, un-constructive criticisms, various bigotries, answering questions you didn’t ask by explaining shit you already know, and yes – even well-meaning, enthusiastic conversational overflow from ADHD kids like me!), it really, really pays to interrupt them, and you’ll be much happier if you do. People who tend to dominate conversations won’t shrivel and die of interruption. (Truthfully, we might not even notice.)

A Rule Most Of Us Were Taught: “It’s ruder to criticize someone’s etiquette mistake than it is to make the etiquette mistake in the first place.” This is a rule about culture and fitting in.

Emily Post, one of the best-known proponents of this approach, saw her advice as a way to a) help both new immigrants to the United States and the suddenly proliferating middle and new-money classes understand social mores so they could better assimilate (with assumed advantages to them for employment and upward mobility) and b) remind her own snobby, crusty, filthy-rich peers to value kindness and making an effort over polish. She was hardly a revolutionary, but for every “don’t swing your arms please it’s unladylike” tip she ever wrote there is definitely a delicious aspect of “If a guest doesn’t know what a finger-bowl is and you, the host, try to embarrass them, call attention to their difference, or make fun of them for not knowing, YOU are the asshole in this situation and next time we run into each other in the lane be careful I don’t issue the Cut Direct in the form of a kid-gloved fist to your puckered little jerkface, you absolute failure of a human being”* running through her work. Good, right?

Sadly, somehow people have translated and handed this down as “When someone is being rude, it’s even ruder to speak up about it” even when the failure on display isn’t one of form but of kindness. Worse, they’ve taught some of us that what’s “most polite” is our silence and compliance and “civility” at all costs. The costs are adding up, to the point that thanks to old-fashioned white supremacy and widespread Fox News poisoning, next Thursday in these United States I doubt a single minute of daylight will pass without someone’s relative saying something downright genocidal without a peep from anybody (because: politeness!), but the second someone does challenge Uncle I-Put-The-Eugene-In-Eugenics, that person will be told  “Shhhh! No arguing politics at the holiday table!”** and get treated like the originator of the problem.

Is it an exaggeration to say that every word of this blog for the past nine years is meant to be a deliberate rebellion against this expectation and conditioning?

A Rule We Were Taught: GIFTING EDITION

“I don’t care if it’s a dog turd in a cereal box! When someone gives you a gift, you say ‘thank you’ and act like you love it ’til we get home.” – My Dad, Christmas, 1982, when my aunt gave me an E.T. figurine she’d crafted in a paint-your-own-ceramics workshop and I cried both because I’d wanted something Star Wars or Barbie-related and because, well, look at it. (The rest of the story, including, why is it in the top rack of a dishwasher, at Patreon).

875613253_d1219e3ac5_c

Image: A hideous though no-doubt lovingly crafted ceramic E.T. figurine, in the top rack of a dishwasher.

Dad was absolutely right, my aunt had worked hard on something she hoped I’d love, and she deserved a polite thank you. She didn’t know about the nightmares! But this doesn’t apply when it’s a repeat offender giving deliberately bad gifts. My big brother and I gave each other matching $35 Borders gift cards wrapped in increasingly elaborate packages for a solid decade as a way of saying, “I have no idea who you are and what you like as an adult, we can still beat a joke into submission and resurrect it, kill the joke again, and laugh hysterically at the zombie joke lurching through the room just like we did when we were kids!” It infuriated my mom that we weren’t giving “real presents,” but for us it was 100% a way of expressing love. Pranks where everyone isn’t in on the joke, pranks where everyone isn’t actively participating, pranks that fall flat every year? Are just being mean. 

Letter Writer, your parents’ confusion at the idea of joke gifts and pretense that this was in any way enjoyable tells me that you were taught something similar: Gifts are exercises in care and thoughtfulness; the worst thing in the world is to be visibly ungrateful for a gift.

Unfortunately your brother and his wife are being jerks and they need to be TOLD.  Either they genuinely think it’s funny and that you’re in on the joke, or they get off on bullying you, either way, they will not get hints. They will never ‘read the room.’ You gotta tell them.

Possible script:

“[Brother], I know you and [Spouse] love the joke gift thing, but I really hate it. This year can we either do real gifts – I’m happy to send you a list of a couple affordable things I could use and you can do the same, I’d love to get you and A. something you would definitely use – or, otherwise, can we agree to skip the whole thing? I’d rather just do nothing than have to unwrap a bunch of damaged crap again and pretend it’s fun.” 

Your parents are responsible for their own approach to this but maybe you could also ask your brother to give you money to purchase a group gift for your parents. You like picking out gifts! Volunteer to do the work and pick out something actually nice from all of you. If he offers any resistance, know that this is more trouble than its worth, get a nice gift for your parents from yourself and let your parents handle him.

If they agree to a cool gift and try to prank you with a shitty gift again, when you open the first scratched DVD of Two-And-A-Half Men or whatever utter garbage they chose this time I give you permission to say, “Oh, are we doing this again? Here, you open them, then since this is really a present for you.” DON’T PARTICIPATE IN OBVIOUS BULLSHIT. You may feel intense discomfort and pressure not to react this way (because of the “it’s ruder to acknowledge rudeness than to be the rudeness” conditioning you’ve received and because you are a good, thoughtful person) but like, enough already, Brother and Sister-in-Law! If they insist on making it weird, then let it be as fucking weird and unpleasant as they make it at least once.

As far as what to give them, may I suggest:

  • Nothing. “Oh, I didn’t bother this year – you like joke gifts and I don’t have the energy for all that. Who wants more eggnog?” I mixed a few joke suggestions in below but I am incredibly serious about trying out “Nothing” this year. They felt comfortable giving you nothing in the past, so…?
  • A single pair of white unisex gym socks each. (Socks are useful.)
  • Who couldn’t use an AA battery? You had this one in the junk drawer. It’s probably still good.
  • Donate to a charity you like in their name.
  • Your suggestion of gift cards is perfect, they never go out of style and you probably aren’t a person who can be comfortable coming empty-handed, but honestly, they don’t deserve you.
  • Seriously, save your money and your thoughtful, careful gift choices for people who appreciate them, these two are never gonna really get on your wavelength about this.

Additionally, readers have shared stories of deliberately mean, crappy, “I got everyone a nice gift and you an obviously ill-suited afterthought gift to show how much I don’t actually care about you” incidents from family members with me and asked what I suggest they do next time with repeat offenders, so may I offer up a flat “Oh thanks I would never have thought of this for myself” response and then leaving whatever it is behind under the tree, neatly tucked in a hall closet, or under a bed somewhere when you go. They’ll find it or they won’t, once it’s given to you it’s yours to do with as you please, and they can draw their own conclusions.

Yes, of course you coooooooooooooooooooooould quietly take it and throw it away or try to donate it or regift it once you get home but there’s something symbolic leaving this obviously hostile turd of a present behind for them to figure out how to store or dispose of. Of course this opens the door to the gifter trying to chase you down and get you to accept it (any excuse to bully you, right), so in that case try, “Oh, I didn’t forget, I had no desire for a [child-sized jumpsuit the color of dog doodoo][some dusty crap from the basement you’re trying to pawn off on me][a broken ice-scraper][a food thing I’m 100% allergic to, and oh goody, it’s expired][“Look I thought we covered this when I married your son and every one of the twelve years since, but I’M JEWISH, MISS ME WITH THE LIGHT UP MANGER SCENE AND THE ‘IRONIC’ CHRISTMAS SWEATERS], so hopefully you can use it? Thanks for the thought!”

Also, see above, and consider giving these people the gift of NOTHING from now on. They can try to play their game but you don’t have to participate.

*Obviously I’m paraphrasing  but if Emily Post were alive today she would 100% haunt the Am I The Asshole Reddit in her free time exhorting people to come correct even if they are tragically reduced to wearing last season’s gloves and keeping only one manservant. Believe it. P.S. Laura Claridge has written an excellent biography.

**“Don’t talk politics at the table.” Okay, I’ve been guilty of hoping  that one would work in the past, in the sense of giving hosts tools to shut down the loudmouths, but it needs an update. Most “politics” “arguments” afoot, especially among my fellow white people, currently aren’t “zoning laws should be slightly different, let’s discuss that and find the best solution,” they are more like:

Our Worst Relatives: “THOSE people with certain identities deserve to DIE and THEY are the ones VICTIMIZING ME by EXISTING LIKE THAT and YOU are being RUDE if you don’t agree, in silence.”

Us: “The opposite of all of that, actually? Also, I am somewhat Those People?”

Missing Stair Enabling Squad: “Why are you antagonizing them when you know they’re ‘just like that’? There’s no need to be uncivil!”

These lopsided calls for civility are bullshit, this isn’t about MANNERS, it’s about ETHICS and the SURVIVAL of our fellow humans, so let’s get fucking real and start Returning. Awkwardness. To. Sender. 

 

25 Nov 21:17

Thanksgiving Question: What’s Your Glark?

by Jenny Rosenstrach
Kate

My family's glark is rosa marina salad. It's essentially dessert pasta salad: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/233943/rosa-marina-fruit-salad/

Don't knock it til ya try it :)

Thanksgiving Question: What's Your Glark

Every family has one…

In our family, my mom served Orange Glark, a molded Jell-O side dish that appeared on the Thanksgiving table right alongside the turkey and stuffing.… Read more

The post Thanksgiving Question: What’s Your Glark? appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

23 Nov 17:14

two of my employees won’t speak to each other

by Ask a Manager
Kate

oh this is juicy. i need to know the details of what caused the rift!

Also, it's almost the most wonderful time of the year: update season!

A reader writes:

I’m managing a department of eight people and two of them won’t speak to each other. I’m new to my position and it took me a couple of months to figure out that they weren’t talking.

They literally won’t speak to each other. If we have a meeting, they won’t participate if the other person is in the room, unless I address a question directly to one of them.

I’ve been managing them for three months, but from what I can gather it’s been like this for at least two years. There seem to be a couple of other people in the department who are on one person’s side or the other and it is affecting the department’s work.

Everyone who has been with the company for a while shrugs it off with a that’s just how it is. However, it is affecting their work (and the department’s), so I need to address it. I’m just not sure how. How do I address two adults who won’t speak to each other?

You tell them it’s unacceptable and needs to stop.

Meet with each of them individually and ask what’s going on. You want to start there because knowing what’s at the root of this might make you realize you shouldn’t be assigning equal blame. If it turns out that Jane doesn’t speak to Lucinda because Lucinda bullied her for years and Jane finds it easier to pretend Lucinda doesn’t exist, your approach with Jane should be different than if they just had a spat years ago about a communal candy dish.

Assuming there isn’t something like that, though, then you should say, ” “Having civil, cooperative relationships with coworkers is as much a part of your job expectations as any work I assign you. The situation with you and Jane is causing tension on our team and getting in the way of work conversations that need to happen. You cannot continue freezing her out. Your personal feelings about her are your own to determine, but when it comes to your behavior at work, you need to speak to each other, participate in meetings even if she’s there, and generally be civil and professional with each other. This is a requirement of your job, with any colleague. Is there any reason you can’t do that?”

I can’t imagine any answer to that that would change that stance, but it’s worth asking because it’s more respectful make this a conversation than to just swoop in, issue a ruling, and leave. (To some extent, at least. Having a conversation about it doesn’t mean it’s a debate. Your ruling is final.) That’ll also allow you to respond to any objections and make it clear that “I don’t like her” doesn’t exempt anyone from standards of professional behavior.

You should also make it clear that it won’t be acceptable to treat the other with an exaggerated and coldly pointed form of politeness, since that’s likely to continue making everyone around them uncomfortable. They need to truly be civil.

If it does turn out that one is much more the instigator in this situation than the other, your conversations with each should reflect that. While you’d still tell them each that you expect them to behave pleasantly and professionally to the other, it’s especially important to tell the non-instigator something like, “I’ve made it clear to Jane that she needs to treat you pleasantly and professionally. Please let me know if that’s not happening and I will address it.” (Actually, it’s worth saying that to both regardless.)

But from there, you hold them to that just like you would any other performance expectation. It really is a requirement of their job to get along with coworkers and not be a source of toxicity on your team, in the same way it’s a requirement of their job to show up at work or not yell at clients, and you can make it non-negotiable just like you would with those things. That means that if you see the problem continuing, you have an even more serious “we discussed this — I’m deeply concerned that it’s still happening” conversation, and be willing to remove them from your team it continues on.

If you’re thinking “well, they do good work aside from this” — that’s like “they do good work aside from cussing out clients.” This is toxic, it’s impacting the rest of your team, and it’s unacceptable. Treat it as non-negotiable.

two of my employees won’t speak to each other was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

22 Nov 19:29

Purr-fect Cat Lady Gift Ideas

by Joanna
Kate

#consumercatcontent

As I write this post, Georgette is on my lap whining about being on my lap. But sometimes I just require some force-cuddling! When I post about her to Instagram, I always get a comment or two saying they didn’t realize we had a cat. I guess the dogs tend to get more love? But I am definitely a cat lady at heart. Also this just happens to be one of the funnest gift guides that I share every year.

Photography by Ashley Lynn Fry.

The Best Gift Ideas for The Cat Lady in Your Life

Admittedly, there a few gag gifts on this list. There are so many funny cat lady gifts this year! But I also tried to include options that were more serious, too. Pretty much every single one of these presents will put a grin on the recipients face though. Happy shopping!

The Best Gift Ideas for The Cat Lady in Your Life! Cat Person Gift Ideas, Gift Guide for Christmas & Holidays 2019 via jojotastic.com #giftguide #giftidea #giftgiving #gifts #presents #christmaspresents #christmasgiftideas #christmasgift #catlady #cats #cat

Cat Lady Gift Ideas, Under $25

Cat Incense Holder, $16

This cute incense holder is a really adorable stocking stuffer. Or combine it with a packet of incense sticks and you’ve got a nice gift!

Kitten Planters, $14-$24

If there’s one gift idea on this list that I absolutely love, it would be these planters! The whimsical artwork and touches of gold make them luxe and just so darn cute. I suggest planting a cat-friendly plant or some catnip in it as a thoughtful gift!

Lazy Cat Catch-All Dish, $14

This catch-all dish is a really cute gift for a co-worker to keep on their desk. It’s so funny, right??

Friendly Cat Salt + Pepper Shaker Set, $24

This charming set of S&P shakers is soooo cute — I mean just look at the little fish! I love this as a hostess gift.

Cat Tarot Card & Guidebook, $19.95

These tarot cards are an awesome gift for the feline lover with a sense of humor!

The Best Gift Ideas for The Cat Lady in Your Life! Cat Person Gift Ideas, Gift Guide for Christmas & Holidays 2019 via jojotastic.com #giftguide #giftidea #giftgiving #gifts #presents #christmaspresents #christmasgiftideas #christmasgift #catlady #cats #cat

Cat Lady Gift Ideas, Under $50

Calico Tote Bag, $32

I grew up with a calico kitty and have some major feelings about how darling this tote bag is! Made of knitted cotton, this is a gift that is useful all year long.

Cat Shower Caddy, $49

Even though the kitty might hate water, your feline-loving friend will love this shower caddy. It’s fab that this gift is functional, cute, and (quite frankly) hilarious.

Cat Multi-Hook Wall Shelf, $49

This wall shelf will help your friend or family member pay tribute to their kitty AND stay organized!

Cat Tissue Box Cover, $49

I feel like this is sort of expensive for such a random, funny gift… but it’s also SO GOOD. I bet this tissue box cover gets a laugh as soon as it’s unwrapped.

Cat Bookend Set, $39

I actually really love these modern bookends. They are subtle enough to fit in pretty much any home and perfect for that friend who is a homebody and just loves to stay in and read while snuggling with the cat.

The Best Gift Ideas for The Cat Lady in Your Life! Cat Person Gift Ideas, Gift Guide for Christmas & Holidays 2019 via jojotastic.com #giftguide #giftidea #giftgiving #gifts #presents #christmaspresents #christmasgiftideas #christmasgift #catlady #cats #cat

Cat Lady Gift Ideas, Under $100

Kate Spade Pajamas, $78

Pajamas are always a great gift idea and these are especially cute with the fun print!

Sweater, $110

Ok, so technically this sweater is slightly over $100, but it is SO GOOD and I just HAD to include it. Let your feline-lover sing it loud and sing it proud!

Bedtime Nightshirt, $75

Treat your resident cat person to sweet dreams with this cozy nightshirt. I love how subtle the pattern is, too.

Owl Cat House, $88

Any cat lover will adore this cozy cat house made of felted wool. It’s so fun that it’s shaped like an owl!

What do you think of these cat person gift ideas?? Stay tuned for even MORE gift guides, Reader Appreciation Week giveaways, & more! Also, leave a comment if there is a specific person you need a gift idea for — I’m always happy to help.

Check out the rest of my 2019 Gift Guides:
22 Nov 16:40

Dog At Drive-Through Starbucks Can Barely Wait For His Order

by Caitlin Jill Anders
Kate

#dogcontent for a change of pace

Stefanie Papasoff was next in line at a Starbucks drive-through, getting ready to grab her drink — when she noticed someone in the car ahead of her who was VERY excited to be there. 

A little dog had stuck his head out the car window and was anxiously waiting. He seemed to know exactly what was about to happen, as if he’d done it many times before, and he simply couldn’t hide his excitement. 

Credit: Stefanie Papasoff

“He had his head out the window the entire time, watching intently at what was to happen next from the drive-through window,” Papasoff told The Dodo. 

Finally, the drive-through window opened and a barista appeared with a Puppuccino

… and the little dog had never been happier. 

“He lapped it all up, he just went nuts for it,” Papasoff said. 

The lucky barista seemed just as excited as the pup as she watched him devour his well-earned treat. 

Credit: Stefanie Papasoff

“The best part was, the Puppuccino was the only thing the entire car ordered, it seemed,” Papasoff said. “I saw them get no other drinks/food — just the Puppuccino.” 

It seemed that the dog’s family had waited in line at the drive-through for the sole reason of getting him a Puppuccino — and there’s no doubt that they made the right decision. 

Credit: Stefanie Papasoff

When the dog was finally finished with his treat, Papasoff pulled ahead to get her drink, still smiling.

“The barista was just overwhelmed with joy,” Papasoff said. “I asked them about it afterward, and they said that it was the best part of their job.” 

22 Nov 03:32

Photo

Kate

i have finally played the goose game but now i maybe don't want to anymore



19 Nov 18:58

Airbnb Promises to Verify All 7 Million Listings After VICE Report Exposes Scam

by Maxwell Strachan
Kate

woooow!

That vice piece is crazy.

Airbnb is instituting a series of significant changes to its platform and operation in an effort to reclaim its users’ trust following a VICE report that uncovered a nationwide web of deception and led to questions about the company’s broader verification and refund process.

Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in an email to employees Wednesday that the company would undertake a year-long project to ensure that every home listed on the platform is accurately advertised. As a stopgap measure, the company will completely refund or “rebook the guest a new listing of equal or greater value” starting next month should the rental they booked not meet the company’s accuracy standards.

“Starting now, verification of all seven million listings on Airbnb will commence,” Chesky said. “People need to feel like they can trust our community, and that they can trust Airbnb when something does go wrong. Today, we are making the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008.”

This is a breaking news post. Check back for additional updates.

09 Nov 18:19

Reporter Can't Stop Laughing After Cat Interrupts News Segment

by Stephen Messenger
Kate

#INTERNATIONALCATCONTENT

worth a click through for sweet video

This just in — this cat, to be precise.

Credit: Artur Lira

The other day, Brazilian journalist Artur Lira was filming a news segment outside a police station when, much to his surprise, a far more adorable story broke right before his eyes.

Smack-dab in the middle of Lira’s report, a cat appeared at his feet — demanding both his and the camera’s attention.

As you’ll see, Lira couldn’t help but laugh at the unexpected interruption (especially when the kitty surprised him for a second time): 

"He was so cute, you can't feel angry," Lira wrote. "I think this cat wanted to be famous."

And that's exactly what happened — though this sweet story is actually still unfolding.

According to Globo News, the cat is a stray who's being fed and watched over by police at the station — but, if all goes according to plan, Lira intends to adopt the cat himself. After all, the kitty had already chosen him.

07 Nov 20:38

ruinedchildhood: Big Hero 6 (2014) dir. Don Hall, Chris...

Kate

me, with stevie or bert, upon arriving home after a long day at work.





ruinedchildhood:

Big Hero 6 (2014) dir. Don Hall, Chris Williams

06 Nov 20:04

Woman Out For A Stroll Runs Into The World's Saddest-Looking Cat

by Stephen Messenger
Kate

#catcontent

He’s got it good — maybe even better than good.

But you might not be able to tell it by looking at this sweet kitty's face.

Credit: Floriane Lavellan

The other day, Floriane Lavellan was out for a stroll through a quiet, well-to-do neighborhood in Belgium with her mom when someone caught her eye. There, in a cozy private garden all to himself, was a chubby orange cat she’d never seen before.

Lavellan had to do a double-take.

Credit: Floriane Lavellan

“At first I thought I hadn't seen right,” Lavellan told The Dodo.

There was something peculiar about this cat’s face.

He looked super bummed out.

Credit: Floriane Lavellan

“I had never seen a cat who looked THAT sad before,” Lavellan said. “He just stood there, looking at us.”

Lavellan tried to lure him closer to pet him, but after a few moments, the kitty turned and strutted out of sight — but not before she snapped photos of his dear, dour mug.

Credit: Floriane Lavellan

Lavellan understood that the cat wasn’t actually sad, of course; that sad-seeming expression was clearly just the face he was born with. But, nevertheless, it tugged at her heartstrings. Lavellan hopes to encounter him again.

“The cat looked well-fed and very fine there. I have a weak spot for ginger cats, so I'm definitely keeping an eye out for this one. I’ll definitely try to see if he’s in the mood to be petted,” Lavellan said, adding: 

“I guess I wouldn't be able to keep from saying an, ‘It's gonna be OK’ (or two) if I see that expression up close, though!”

04 Nov 21:11

Hidden Camera Captures Cat And Baby Having The Cutest Conversation

by Lily Feinn
From the moment Lindsey Needham brought her son Brody home, she could tell that he and her cat Zora were going to be friends.
 
“The first time [Zora] met Brody, I was holding him in my arms after we got home from the hospital and she jumped up on the chair and started sniffing Brody’s head,” Needham told The Dodo. “She was purring immediately.”

Credit: Lindsey Needham

The two friends have never needed words to communicate — they just understand each other somehow. “She has always been so patient with him and never showed aggression toward him,” Needham said. “It’s almost like she understood that Brody was a baby, learning the world around him.”
 
But recently, Brody and Zora have become more talkative. They still don’t need words to talk to each other, since they have a language all their own. “Zora has always been a talkative cat and usually meows at me when she enters a room or jumps on my lap so I do it right back to her,” Needham said. “So now whenever [Zora] walks in the room Brody starts meowing immediately and Zora happily responds with a ‘hello.’”

Credit: Lindsey Needham

Last month, Needham got even more proof of Brody and Zora’s special bond when she caught the two secretly chatting after lights out. 
 
Needham and her husband were watching TV after putting Brody down for the night when they heard meowing coming from upstairs. Somehow Zora had broken into Brody’s room — but that wasn’t all.
 
“We open the baby monitor app on our phone and, sure enough, we see Zora sitting on the chair meowing next to the crib and Brody is standing up meowing right back at her, looking like they were having an actual conversation,” Needham said. “My husband and I couldn’t help but just watch and laugh hysterically.”

You can watch the adorable video here:

Eventually, Needham and her husband had to break up the party. But it hasn't stopped the best friends from getting closer every day.  

“Zora hasn’t snuck back into the room since we caught it on camera but that’s only because we keep his door shut,” Needham said. “But given the chance, I’m sure she would be in there saying 'goodnight' to her bestie.”

02 Nov 22:59

The Chronicle of My Inability to Emotionally Connect with the Ghost in My Haunted Manor

by Kathleen O'Mara

We’re very excited about the move to our own dilapidated house!

September 22: We’re all very excited about the big move to our very own dilapidated Victorian Manor. It’s true, it’s a fixer upper, but we think it has a lot of potential! The realtor did warn us that the house is haunted and the ghost desperately needs the help of the house’s living residents to help it move on, but we think the place just needs a good airing out. We definitely can’t have spend any extra emotional labor on the tortured spirit of a murdered woman right now.

September 30: Just got in tonight! Jennie, our youngest, says she can’t sleep because her room “smells how her nightmares sound.” Such a vivid imagination, I’m sure she’ll grow out of it! As for the long, low moans of the dead, we’re pretty sure it’s just something wrong with the windows.

October 1: I spent an hour frozen to my bed, overwhelmed with an unknown grief. The visage of a woman stands at the end of my bed. She exudes sadness and loneliness. She should try watching old episodes of The Office on Netflix. That always cheers me up! I leave the TV on for her, just in case.

October 9: The woman continues to appear at my bedside. Every night she stands over me. Tonight, though, I had had enough, so I put my arms up like, “What?” and she looks at me very exasperated and gestures with her arms like, “Come on!” and leaves the room in a big huff.

October 10: Jennie and I were playing outside today when she suggested that we play monkey in the middle. I said there were only two of us and that you need three people to play monkey in the middle. She replied, “The Lady wants to play, too.” I told her it sounds like The Lady is coming on a bit strong.

October 12: We have started to hear a high pitched screech throughout the halls of the house each night at 12:16am. The old groundskeeper says that is the exact time the body of his mistress’s mistress was once found hanging in the foyer. This was troubling at first, but luckily we all have headphones and we don’t really hear it anymore.

October 17: Jennie, that sensitive little brat, was crying alone in the nursery. “What now?” I asked and she said, “The Lady cries all day and all night and it makes her cry, too.” I can’t help but feel this is getting a bit embarrassing for The Lady. She is expecting so much from us without any thought to how stressed out we are trying to flip her disgusting old manor.

October 21: The walls begin dripping blood. They spell out, “Geez, try having a little empathy, you frigid bitch.” To which I said, “Oh, so I’m a frigid bitch? I guess we’ll ignore the fact that you were so frigid that your husband had to hang you in the foyer to get you to feel something.”

The blood replies, “So I guess we’re not even going to talk about how Rick has not touched you since you’ve moved in.” Then I yelled, “Fine.” The blood wrote back, “FINE,” and I said, “FINE,” one more time. Then a great gust of wind blew through the house, slamming the windows and the doors shut. Which I think we can all agree was overly dramatic and JUST like her.

October 30: Just when we thought the kitchen was almost set, we discovered writing that had been scorched into the wood. It reads, “I’m finally ready to get some real help. Driving the occupants of this house to madness doesn’t fill the void like it used to. Here is the number of Tasha, my therapist, in case you are looking to work through anything: 973–223–9873.”

November 2: I’m fine. We’re fine. Everyone is SO fine. In fact, I’m doing great and the house is really coming along now that we do not have to make an emotional connection to the ghost in our manor. Who has the time for that kind of commitment? Who does she think she is?

Anyway, we have a new ghost now who is very chill. She agrees that we don’t need therapy.

Kathleen O’Mara is a comedian and taste maker. Validate her on Twitter @omaraules.


The Chronicle of My Inability to Emotionally Connect with the Ghost in My Haunted Manor was originally published in The Belladonna Comedy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

01 Nov 22:02

boss refuses to wear hearing aids, putting strengths in your email signature, and more

by Ask a Manager
Kate

Oh come on I felt #4 carries a lot of judgement!!! There are plenty of workplace traditions/behaviors that I have not witnessed directly, doesn't mean I dismiss them entirely.

Also today I am dressed as Wednesday Addams, so...

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

1. Putting strengths in your email signature

I work at a relatively small private university. Like many universities, we have a transition-to-college one-credit course for first-semester undergraduate students. I am an instructor for one section of this course, but this is in addition to my actual job.

This year, the university has decided to have first-semester students do StrengthsFinder as part of the course. Since I wanted to know what my students were doing, I asked for a code and took the assessment as well. Now the university has printed up a placard with my name and strengths on it, and someone (not my boss) has asked us to display them on or near our office door. I’ve noticed some employees, mostly who work with first-year programs, have started using their strengths in their email signatures. A few students are also doing this. I wasn’t able to attend the training for employees about how we’re using this assessment, but the powerpoint from the training mentions including your strengths in your email signature.

It might just be that I’m a private person, but I don’t want to post my strengths on my office door. I definitely don’t want to include them in my email signature, especially when I’m sending emails to people outside our university. And I don’t want to encourage my students to use them in their email signatures. (Out of context, the strengths just look like a bunch of random words and aren’t useful. I cringe when I think about students emailing about potential internships or jobs with those signatures.)

Is this as weird as I think it is? Should I push back on it, or just quietly not do it? I don’t think anyone will notice or care if I don’t change my email signature and destroy my placard, and no one has told me to tell my students to change their email signatures. However, it’s pretty likely I will eventually be instructed to encourage my students on this. I feel like I would doing my students a disservice if I don’t tell them I think the strengths email signature is a bad idea.

First, for readers who aren’t familiar with StrengthsFinder, the strengths have names like woo, maximizer, relator, etc.

And yes, putting them in an email signature would be odd, and it’s going to strike a lot of email recipients as out-of-place and cheesy. And people who don’t know StrengthsFinder (and many people don’t!) are going to find it especially strange.

For yourself, I’d just quietly not do it. But you’re right that pushing students to do it would be a disservice to them, and if you see that happening, it’s worth pushing back on it. (And why oh why do schools persist in coming up with new and creative things for students to do that employers Do Not Want?)

2. Our boss refuses to wear hearing aids

Our boss has declining hearing issues and does have hearing aids; however refuses to use them. Her voice and music volume is distracting to the point that it’s hard for people to do their jobs. We’ve gently mentioned it to her before but she refuses to wear them because she can “hear us just fine.” It’s becoming an increasing problem.

We know that she won’t take the information well. That makes those of us on the management team anxious but we feel it’s our responsibility on behalf of the rest of the staff. Can you help give us a framework for a conversation about how to handle this?

Who on the management team has the best rapport with her? That’s probably the person who should do this. I’m interested to hear from readers with hearing loss, but my thought is to just be straightforward and matter-of-fact: “I know you’ve said you don’t wear your hearing aids because you can hear fine without them. But over the last year, you’ve been speaking more and more loudly and turning up your music higher, to the point that it’s making it tough for the staff to focus on their own work. Can you think of anything we can try that would help?”

3. I’m having networking regret

I have been working at a company for a few years. It’s basically a dream job; I get to do work I love, I genuinely like most of my coworkers, and the company culture is largely relaxed. However, due to new management, morale is very low, my hiring managers seem inept at doing their jobs currently do to limited resources, and I suspect most of my coworkers are looking to leave.

I’ve been looking casually for jobs for the past few months, but nothing seems as good as what I have despite my company’s problems. I have been reaching out to my network and past work contacts. Recently, I reached out to a manager at a company I might want to work at, but frankly think is beneath me. I’m not 100% sure I’d love doing work there on a daily basis, but I wanted to cover my bases in my job search.

This manager seems excited I reached out and wants to connect, but I can’t help feeling like working there is not right for me. I wanted to do my due diligence and keep my options open by reaching out to everyone I could think of for future work opportunities, but now I feel like I’ve made a serious misstep. I will surely take the meeting, but is it wrong to reach out to potential contacts about jobs when I’m not 100% sure I’d want to work at their company? If I take the meeting, learn more about the company, and still think I’d dislike working there, have I wasted their time/seem like a terrible person/burn a bridge for reaching out in the first place? When is it appropriate to reach out to a past work contact to inquire about open jobs at their company and how sure should you be about the company?

Reaching out to a contact doesn’t imply “I’ll definitely take a job if you offer me one.” It just says, “I’m interested in exploring opportunites with you because maybe this could be a good match.” You’re still allowed to turn any offer that results, whether it’s because of the salary, the work, the company culture, or any other factor.

That said, you should assume that anyone you contact could respond by wanting to set up a meeting, and if you wouldn’t be enthusiastic about taking that next step, it doesn’t make sense to send out the feeler. It’s fine not to be 100% sure, but if you feel like the company is beneath you and you wouldn’t like working there, it makes more sense to keep those for much later on, rather than putting them in the first tier of people you’re contacting in a casual search. Otherwise it’s not a super respectful use of their time (even though they may never know that).

4. Do people really wear Halloween costumes to work?

Before I found your blog, I thought dressing up for Halloween to go to work was something only done on TV sitcoms, or maybe by elementary school teachers or other populations primarily working with small children. Maybe people in retail or restaurant work as well. But every year you seem to get multiple questions centered around wearing costumes to work.

I am flummoxed that this is actually happening at workplaces. I’d be so interested to hear from your readers who have worked somewhere where people regularly dress up for Halloween. What kind of workplace is it, what city and country is it located in, etc.? I have spent my working life in legal and policy-oriented workplaces in Massachusetts and New York State, and I have truly never seen one coworker dress up for Halloween, beyond maybe bat earrings or a pumpkin pin on a sweater, or something along those lines. Who and where are these costume-wearing colleagues?

I’m not sure either! It hasn’t been a thing anywhere I’ve worked either, but yeah, judging by my mail, there are plenty of workplaces where it is. Readers?

5. Coworker keeps asking me to do physical labor

I am in a fairly new job where I work across multiple sites. I am happy to jump in and help in areas that are “other duties as assigned.” A coworker at a site where they’re understaffed has a physical job and is currently unable to do some of this very physical work assigned to them, with no end to this in sight. This person has started to expect that I have the time, energy, and physical ability to consistently help with this. I didn’t mind helping a few times, but I’m getting really tired of doing it regularly.

It’s not just that it’s annoying and an interruption to my workflow, but I recently aggravated an old injury. I also didn’t sign up for or take a regular physical labor job because I frankly don’t like to do it. I’m okay with some interruptions or physical work occasionally, e.g. a very occasional delivery arrives and it’s all hands on deck to get it where it needs to go or carrying things to set up for a once a year event. But this work is becoming at least a twice weekly occurrence. I don’t dress for work to do physical labor, my own job duties are picking up quite a bit, and it’s become increasingly frustrating to manage. This is especially true when they call for my help right when it needs to be done and seem aggravated that I need an additional 10-15 minutes to wrap up what I’m working on. Sometimes it’s taken the time that I would otherwise spend on eating my lunch and taking a break.

It’s not that I can’t help sometimes, but I really don’t want to do this all the time. I have asked that they give me warnings when they need my help and an approximate time early in the day so I can plan for it or give them my availability. Success has been so-so. I’ve tried saying I am not available on particularly busy days, but I get pushback, “well, what am I supposed to do?” I don’t want to, especially in a newer role, seem unhelpful , but I can’t keep up with doing this work that isn’t mine to begin with.

You recently aggravated an old injury! That in itself is all you need to explain — “I recently aggravated an old injury so I won’t be able to help with this anymore.” Period. If your coworker asks what they’re supposed to do, say, “You should talk with (manager) about who can help with this. I’m not physically able to do it going forward.”

That’s such an easy and clear explanation for why you’re not helping more that you should use it. But if you didn’t have that, it would still be reasonable to say, “I can help out on occasion when you’re in a pinch, like maybe once every few weeks, but I can’t do this regularly. Can you talk with (manager) about how to handle it from here?” Also, when they ask for your help, it’s okay to just say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help with that today because of other work I need to take care of.”

I get that you don’t want to seem unhelpful, but it’s actually unhelpful to your employer if you keep doing this and grow increasingly frustrated and enable them in not finding a real solution to the problem (which they can certainly find — they’d find one if you weren’t stepping in).

boss refuses to wear hearing aids, putting strengths in your email signature, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

01 Nov 22:01

buy-skulls: ***IMPORTANT ELEPHANT VIDEO!!*** My child as an...

Kate

lol



buy-skulls:

***IMPORTANT ELEPHANT VIDEO!!***

My child as an elephant

01 Nov 18:17

What’s Your ‘Sliding Doors’ Moment?

by Caroline Donofrio
Kate

I have a few, mostly around A. choosing schools and B. choosing jobs

I wonder what my life would have been like had I taken a job as an editor's assistant at Houghton Mifflin right after graduation. But I turned it down to work at the Gardner. Had I not taken that museum job, I wouldn't be at THIS museum job... and my entire post-college social network would be radically different.

Sliding Doors

Last week, I walked down a street I had almost lived on…

…with another person, in another time, and I wondered, “What if…?”

In the movie Sliding Doors, Gwyneth Paltrow plays Helen, a woman whose life goes in two wildly different directions based on whether she does or doesn’t catch a train.… Read more

The post What’s Your ‘Sliding Doors’ Moment? appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

30 Oct 16:15

Heavyweight’s Jonathan Goldstein in the Hot Seat

by Skye Pillsbury
Kate

any other Heavyweight listeners? These are great, consistently funny but also really touching, too.

The host of Gimlet Media’s hit podcast talks career choices, those phone calls with Jackie, and why he still gets hung up on stuff.

It’s 2017 and I’m sitting in my car, listening to the Heavyweight season two finale. In its final moments, the host mentions that the show is looking for stories. If I’m being honest, I’ve been waiting for this moment. I have a story. And most motivating of all, my kids want me to pursue it. In seemingly slow motion, I take out my laptop and pound out a pitch, hit the “send” button. I feel sure I won’t hear back, and the receipt of an auto-reply seems to confirm my hunch. I feel secretly relieved— but not for long. Within 24 hours I’m on the phone with Heavyweight producer Kalila Holt and a beautiful and terrifying journey has begun.

That’s the origin story of episode #17, “Skye.” The premise of Heavyweight is simple: host Jonathan Goldstein eases friends and listeners, and sometimes himself, into revisiting and redeeming regrets. In its most well-known installment, Goldstein attempts to get a friend’s CD set back from electronica musician Moby; in another he brokers a meeting between a permanently disabled man and the driver who caused his injuries. In every scenario, Goldstein’s able to strike the perfect emotional tone while imbuing each story with humor and whimsy.

Earlier this year, I sat down with Jonathan to ask him all the questions I had stored away while he (and his team of producers) created “Skye.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How did you develop the idea for Heavyweight?

We tried all kinds of things. Alex [Blumberg, founder of Gimlet Media] thought it could be about anything — like we could call it Jonathan Goldstein Walks into Buildings, where I wander into interesting buildings to see what’s going on inside. That probably wouldn’t have been that great of a show. Another idea was to call it Jonathan Goldstein, Medicine Woman where I try to cure the ills of people. At one point we bandied about the idea of sending me to the airport with a sealed envelope containing my destination and mission.

That sounds glamorous.

No — not glamorous — Alex wanted to put me in uncomfortable situations. That’s where he thinks I flourish. If he could, I think Alex would parachute me naked into a jungle, wearing nothing but recording equipment.

In the end, it was like one of those Hasidic tales where you try all kinds of different things, and they end up leading back to the simplest thing that was there all along. I had this one story in my head about how my father and his brother hadn’t spoken in forty years. And from that one story, the show started to take shape. After season one the trick was to see if I could transfer the premise and make it work with people I didn’t know.

And was that because you felt like you had exhausted your own stories?

That was part of it. I didn’t have high hopes for it working because the best episodes of the show tended to be personal — almost hyper-personal. But then it ended up being really rewarding and allowed me to be surprised and form new connections and care about other people. Like in your case, the mention of your son caught my eye. There was something instantly relatable about the idea that you had to do this thing for your child.

[In my pitch to Heavyweight I explained that when I was twelve, four girlfriends had come to my house in the middle of the night and written “F**K YOU” on our garage doors. I never spoke to those girls again. My eleven-year-old son Clark had encouraged me to find out why they did it. “I’ll never have the courage to do this on my own. Perhaps Jonathan can help,” read my note.]

When did you know that my story would become an episode?

The decisive thing was that you and Clark had a really nice rapport. All our stories up until that point were about one person who wanted to do something. Your story was made richer and more complex by the connection to your son. The listener hears the story through your ears — but they also hear it through Clark’s ears; they hear how Clark interprets it. That gave the story stakes.

We also loved talking to your mom. We were charmed by so much of what she said. We asked her how she became a poet and what her relationship was like with her mom. She read us this poem that she wrote about watching you sleep, when you were a baby — it was beautiful. We really liked being able to incorporate all three generations.

There was also something about the atmosphere of your episode that we all fell in love with. [Producer Jorge Just] became very protective of carving out a space in the midst of it that had this dreamy, late-at-night feeling.

Did anything surprise you during the making of the episode?

Before I set out to California, Alex said I should find a studio where Clark and I could watch you talking to your old friend Tessa. I thought that that would be insanity — a formula for complete weirdness. But it worked out. It’s still hard to believe that it worked out as well as it did.

And then — when I left the hatchback door open! I felt bad — but also like, this is great! That’s the safety net of always recording your experience. It’s like, I’m embarrassing myself, but for a purpose.

People asked me if you did that deliberately.

I’m not that much of an evil genius.

Has there ever been a story that you thought would be perfect for the show but didn’t work out?

Many of them. One was about this woman who had never met her father. She’d been told by her mother that he was no good. She went to his funeral as a child and the one thing that she remembered was that there was this guy who was missing two fingers, standing over the casket, crying inconsolably.

So she grows up and has kids and she wants to tell them something good about their grandfather. Her family says don’t bother. But she remembers how this one guy cared enough about her father to cry at his funeral. He must know something that they don’t.

It’s so cinematic — this guy with two fingers, why was he crying?

Somehow we tracked down the guest list to the funeral. And then [producer Kalila Holt] started googling names and finds an insurance claim regarding the wrongful loss of two fingers. It was part of a lawsuit or something. And we’re like — this is our guy!

It was exciting. We’re thinking, all we have to do is call this guy up on the telephone. He’ll say something nice about this woman’s father and — bingo bango, play the theme song — we’re out! But I call him up and he wanted nothing to do with me. And so I call him up again with the woman on the phone — I figured he couldn’t refuse with her on the call. But he just would not play ball — he actually said, “don’t call here again.” We poured a lot of energy into that one.

In the episode “Jeremy” from season one, you mention that at one point you considered becoming a rabbi. Does that same impulse animate Heavyweight?

I’m flattered by that question. Perhaps. The Jews’ relationship with God is one of wrestling. We don’t take things at face value — our questioning is a part of the wrestling. And there’s this idea of showing vulnerability, of letting people live vicariously through your stumbling.

I was just re-listening to S-Town. And I was struck by how much [creator Brian Reed] shows his own vulnerability; it humanizes him. He doesn’t always say the right thing — but he keeps it in the tape, because people relate to that. You can have good writing and clever jokes. But the thing that is the most lasting, the thing that people connect with most is vulnerability.

Are you always pondering these things outside of work — like in your day-to-day life?

Oh yes. With the most personal episodes, the focus is usually about something I can’t get over. It’s a quest for some kind of understanding. I’m at an age where I can now have decades piled up between myself and a troubling experience. If something has stuck around for twenty or thirty years, it says to me that there’s something meaningful to explore there.

We’re taught to look forward or “be in the moment.” But I’ve always felt more comfortable in the past. I remember, as a kid, I was with a friend and I was talking about what a great time we’d had the previous summer. And he said something like, “Jonathan you live in the past.” I was ten years old.

Has the dynamic with people who approach the show with a story idea changed now that you are more known?

When I talk to people, I try to put it out of my head. Like when you and I talked for the first time — maybe it was weird for the first couple of minutes, but it probably gave way pretty quickly, right?

It did. On our first call, I remember saying that I felt a little intimidated. It was just so weird to hear your voice coming out of my phone. But you said something like, “oh don’t worry, that feeling will wear off in five minutes.” It broke the ice.

That’s good to hear. I think I’m more concerned about my own nervousness. Once I’m comfortable, then things are okay.

How did the idea of calling your friend Jackie at the beginning of every episode happen?

It was kind of a last-minute decision to do that. Initially each episode was going to start with me on the Brooklyn G train. I’m kind of dozing off and the recorded voice that usually says, “stand clear of the closing doors” was going to start talking to me about that week’s episode. We produced one intro — but it was almost like producing a whole episode. It was a lot of work. We realized it wasn’t sustainable. So then I just had this thought — let’s call Jackie. It was a last-ditch effort. I played the first one for Alex and he liked it.

People love those calls.

She was in New York a few weeks ago and I went to see her. We were hanging out in the lobby of a hotel and I showed her all the tweets about how much people really enjoy her and think she’s hilarious and find her laugh so infectious — but it really doesn’t mean that much to her. Or so she claims. Maybe she’s just hostile and withholding.

Is there anything you want your listeners to take away from those calls?

I guess that people shouldn’t see me as a voice of authority. I’m just a schmuck who gets hung up on stuff.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the Heavyweight podcast, get started with “Gregor,” “Jeremy” or “Skye.”

Editor’s Note: “Skye” just received a nomination for Best Audio Documentary from the International Documentary Association (IDA).

The Bello Collective is a publication + newsletter about podcasts and the audio industry. Our goal is to bring together writers, journalists, and other voices who share a passion for the world of audio storytelling.

Subscribe to the Bello Collective fortnightly newsletter for more stories, podcast recommendations, audio industry news, and more. Support our work and join our community by becoming a member.


Heavyweight’s Jonathan Goldstein in the Hot Seat was originally published in Bello Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

28 Oct 18:59

weekend free-for-all – October 26-27, 2019

by Ask a Manager
Kate

sharing for #catbuttcontent

3 cats climbing in an enormous cat treeThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA, by Amaryllis Fox. This is a memoir about her time undercover for the CIA, and OMG it is fascinating, especially the details around how she was trained, how her cover was created (and costumed), and how she did her job.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

weekend free-for-all – October 26-27, 2019 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

24 Oct 19:49

Smashed Potatoes Recipe

by Kate
Kate

Versions of this recipe (boil small potatoes then smash and bake) are so easy and basically fool proof. Good brunch dish for a crowd.

I highly recommend this because smashing each potato individually is therapeutic, as is laying another sheet pan atop all the potatoes and banging down on that too for a similar effect.

I did a quick pan with my camera over the mound of smashed potatoes that I made for my family a few months ago and am still getting requests for my recipe.

It’s perhaps the most simple recipe on the planet, but there is a certain process you need to follow to yield the best result!

First, choose your potatoes wisely. I chose Yukon Gold for this batch, but I’ve also used new potatoes and have really enjoyed those too. Basically, stay away from russet potatoes for this recipe, and make sure whatever you choose isn’t much bigger than a golf ball in size.

Smashed Potatoes

yields: however many potatoes you have, I generally have about 8-10 in my recipe

Ingredients:

new potatoes or Yukon Gold

butter

cooking spray

salt

optional toppings: fresh rosemary, grated parmesan, fresh parsley, cheddar, garlic

  1. Boil potatoes until fork-tender.
  2. Place potatoes on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray
  3. With a fork, press against the top of each potato, smashing it about 3/4 of the way down.
  4. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle a generous amount of salt on top, and top with your choice of additional toppings. These are also fantastic just with butter and salt so if you don’t have any of the additional toppings on hand, don’t worry. I also save the herbs for sprinkling after I broil/bake the potatoes for the last step.
  5. Place in oven under broiler until browned on top and crispy. Alternatively, you can roast in a 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes, watching closely to make sure they don’t burn.

Enjoy!