When you’re a mother of all boys, there are some topics and items you don’t shop for much. One of those items would be sewing machines for beginners. There’s not really a whole lot of sewing going on at my house. There used to be, though. I took home ec in high school. I’ve made my share of pillows. I think I even made a dress once. (Pretty sure I never actually WORE it, however.)
Now, there SHOULD be some sewing taking place at my house. I’m a bit, well, short. Pants aren’t easy to find. I have rolls of that stitch witchery tape so I can hem them with an iron. However, I’m always catching my heels in my hems and ripping out that darn ironing tape so actually altering the pants with a sewing machine is probably not a bad idea. In fact, I suspect that’s one of the reasons most people have a sewing machine – for alterations. What a novel concept!
Somewhere along the line I had read that being a manager means having to choose between a set of of alternatives, often with limited information. Yes sometimes that happens, but good management practice would suggest the best become experienced at creating additional alternatives and gaining additional information. That is truly a skill of the most successful managers.
They are either adept through experience at seeing alternatives that subordinates and other do not see or creative at developing additional alternatives. Additional alternatives are sometimes the alternative answer to a problem, or the leverage to move the original problem to a more acceptable position.
I know of a not for profit organization that leased a dormitory styled building for training temporary special needs residence, over the years the organization that owned the building and the organization which ran the program had become two separate organizations where as they had previously been one organization. Because of the long standing relationship there had never been a lease, just an understanding. As management of the organizations changed and they became more removed from one another the organization owning the property decided to one year, on short notice, double the lease on the property and transfer utility and maintenance responsibility to the group leasing the property, this was an egregious and punitive increase. The alternatives to choose between seemed to be to pay the increase and then look for alternatives, or close the facilities. Building another facility would have taken too long and other traditional dormitory or similar facilities were either too large or not available.
As Tax time rolls around we get the same advice every year.”If you get a large refund you are not managing your money well”. You know what? Tax advisers can be wrong, too.
The mathematicians, the anally focused financial advisers, the tax accountants who are so proud that they can calculate the amount of their taxes to the nearest decimal point all rush to tell the rest of how to manage our money, how to maximize the return on our investment to the nearest nano of a percentage point. Technically, theoretically, as mathematicians they are right, and if you have excess disposable income and are not struggling paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet this argument may apply to you, but this position does not allow for the fact that we are people, we are not all the same and we are not perfect and we react to all the variables of our lives as needed at the moment.
If you are the bread winner for a growing family and are lucky enough to occasionally earn a small bonus or a commission you will soon learn not to plan on spending that bonus or commission before you receive it, for most of my life every time I earned a bonus or commission on which I had designs, the unexpected occurred, braces for the kids, school books, back to school clothes, a school trip, a broken washing machine or oven, or a need to replace the family car. It was always as if a supreme being were giving me the money because he knew I would need it, and usually it had little to do with what I had planned.
Here’s the story of how I ended up buying a Motorola Droid even though I hung up on a sales person who tried to sell me one a few months ago and told the salesperson in the Verizon store last week that I thought it was highly unattractive. Now, I wouldn’t trade it for any other phone.
We got my oldest son (let’s call him son #1) a cell phone the Christmas he was 13 years old. The age of cell phone achievement in our household was then set. Reach 13, get a cell phone. Our youngest (son #3), who is 6, is pretty sure that’s the stupidest rule he’s ever heard. He’d like a cell phone NOW. Fortunately for him, we didn’t stick to it long. Instead of waiting until 13, we got son #2 a cell phone this past Christmas at the age of 12. At this rate, son #3 will have one by the time he’s 8. And so go the rules at our house.
In either case, in December of this past year, I tried to order the phone for son #2 as a Christmas present through our carrier’s website (let’s leave out their name, shall we?). I love to shop online – especially at Christmas time – and I was a bit overly pleased with myself for getting my online shopping started in time to get the presents to my parents’ house where we’d be spending the holiday.
I ventured onto my carrier’s website to order the phone and add a phone line. How hard could that be, right? There’s even a little button that says “Add a Phone Line”. Yup. That’s what I want to do! Click.
Click….click…select….click….backup….click….what the *(#&$)(*&#!
So much for making things simple. For the life of me, I could not add the phone line, much less order a phone.
Oh, but there’s a cute little live-chat option. I’ll just ask someone to walk me through it. (I’ll save you the long description of that fiasco. Let’s just say that didn’t go well either.)
Next, I call my carrier and tell them what I want to do. Sure, no problem, he says (evilly – I swear!) “The reason you’re having trouble adding the phone line is that you are up for a free upgrade on your main phone and you’ll have to use the upgrade before you can add a new line.”
As the final day with my employer approaches, there has been a lot of reminiscing at work. I’ve been with the same group of people for more than 10 years. Today, we got into a discussion about hugging and business and why I think the two don’t mix.
I know, you’re saying, “Well, it seems kind of obvious why the two shouldn’t go together. Don’t they teach you that in workplace harrassment classes?
Yes, but I work in an unusual, tightly knit industry. Sometimes too tightly knit. When the group of us involved in this particular business congregate at a conference, there’s an awful lot of hugging – as if it’s a family reunion.
When I attended my first conference, I noticed it right off the bat. Why are all of these people hugging each other? This is supposed to be a professional atmosphere. Not being the huggy type, it really struck me as a bit bizarre.
And then, I saw one coming my way. A business acquaintance I’d met maybe once or twice before. He had the look of a hugger and he was walking towards me. His arms started to outstretch. I’m sure my eyes were the size of saucers and I did the only thing I could think of to escape the oncoming squeeze. I stuck my hand straight out in front of me in traditional hand shake position. He faltered for a moment, recovered, grinned and shook my hand. “Not a hugger, huh?”, he asked. I smiled back and shook my head.
I’m saying goodbye to the corporate life. Maybe it will turn out to be a mistake. Maybe not. I really hope not, anyway. No matter what, though, I believe my work life quality is about to change significantly for the better.
I quit my job – a very nice, corporate job at a well-recognized and ages old organization with benefits and a corner office.
Some will think me crazy for doing so and the intent of this post is not to ask whether or not I should have done so. It’s to explain why I did so.
I’ve played the game. I’ve crawled my way through corporate politics. I’ve sandwiched my share of constructive criticism in between bits of positive reinforcement. I’ve been the mouse whose cheese was moved and I’ve moved my share of cheese. I know how to manage in a minute, remotely, and in the middle of the night. I know being in the red is bad. I’ve worked with empire-builders, lazy suck-ups and those who did all the work but never got enough credit. I’ve been through more corporate fire-drills than a volunteer fireman.
While attempting to enter a freeway from the service lane, a friend of mine experienced a most surprising incident of road rage.
Only after he told me his story did I realize that I am probably guilty of gauging the possibility of irritating the drivers near me to the point of danger purely by age. The younger they are, the less likely I am to honk my horn or wave my hands in the air wildly as a sign that I think they just pulled a really, stupid move.
Apparently, my thinking is a bit naive.
The service lane my friend was on merges with the entrance ramp to the freeway. He made all the right moves to signal his intent to merge but could see a minivan coming up behind him. It was obvious the minivan had no intention of letting my friend merge – at least not easily. He kept the nose of his bumper just at the tail end of my friend’s car. (I won’t say where, exactly, this incident occurred but suffice it to say that drivers there are not known for passive and friendly driving.)
In a split-second decision, my friend chose to merge anyway, stepping on the gas to gain that extra foot or so needed to clear the nose of the minivan. He must have misjudged because he ended up clipping the minivan’s front head-light.
I can hear my friend now. “Crap.” (my parents read this blog)
Not wanting to block the on ramp, he continued to enter the freeway and then pulled over on the shoulder expecting Minivan Man to pull up behind him.
Meet my robot mop. She’s short and round and cleans my floors for free – 24/7, if asked. She never complains, has completely freed my back from having to sweep, vacuum and mop large amounts of tile floor, and sits quietly in the corner when not in use.
My parents have used an iRobot vacuum for over a year now and have raved about it since they brought “her” home. She’s been dubbed “Bridget” by my niece and they love to watch her roam the floors sucking up any dirt she might find.
So, while visiting my parents over the holidays, Dad and I got into a discussion about the one he has in his garage, too, to keep his workshop area clean. This led to quite some time investigating the iRobot site and my “oohing” and “ahhing” over all of the cool products – especially the robot floor washer.
You see, when you live in Arizona, tile floors are a pretty big deal. They help keep your house cool and are easier to keep clean with all of the dust that floats through our air and, well, I think they’re just part of our normal desert decor. They look really cool – until you have to clean them. And, of course, I had to get a nice, light beige floor tile. It can take me well over three hours a week just to do the tile floors, between sweeping or vacuuming and then mopping.
Shipping container houses. Unbelievable. What a neat concept, though, with tremendous environmental benefit! I had never heard of these before but apparently the glut of shipping containers that have built up over time have presented a new building material and folks are making some incredible, modern, living and office spaces out of those old, used shipping containers.
I saw a few videos about these at a blog about shipping container homes. The benefits seem pretty amazing. You use used shipping containers so less wood is involved in the actual home construction (saving money) plus you’re doing something good for the environment. The containers are also incredibly strong since they were originally built to withstand the harsh environment during transport, and are resistant to many of the problems that plague traditional homes: insects, mold, fire.
You know those reloadable credit cards that act almost like a real credit card with some minor differences? What if that becomes how we manage our finances in the future?
I was cleaning out my purse the other day – something I do regularly before I go on the road. My friends know I am not a fan of large purses. I like to travel light. That means that there is no room for fluff in my small, little purse. However, I came across a slip of paper folded in half and jammed down low in the money fold of my wallet. It was a spare, blank check from my account that I put in there quite some time ago for emergencies.
Quite some time ago means…over two years ago. I have not needed it. I haven’t written a single check in that time. All of my money is handled electronically. The checking account is just the place my money is held and from which I direct my bank to send bill payments. I use the onine service to move money around as needed. But – I never write checks. See the irony? The name of the entire deposit product has to do with checks and I never use them.
I can’t be the only one who has a checking account and does not write checks. Considering the number of places that take debit and credit card transactions and that I can send money straight out of my account without having to write a check or address an envelope, it is highly possible my children will never write a check in their lives.