Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that you should go see West Side Story at the Lyric Opera. It’s a terrific musical and there are discount codes to get tickets for a good price.

I made dinner for Mother’s Day for my parents and two brothers’ families. I’m most proud of my key lime pie and the angel food cake that I decorated with Trader Joe’s small chocolate mousse tea cakes in the shape of flowers. Those were great and don’t think you must add them to a cake. On their own they’re addictive.

On Friday, my nephew broke his arm quite badly. He was in gym class and decided to jump over a volleyball, but instead he fell on the ball and went sailing. He was in surgery for 4 hours. By Saturday, he was smiling though very tired.

I finished reading Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove, a French writer whom I discovered by using Literature-Map.com. Try Literature-Map and let me know if you find any new favorite writers.

I’m getting more active about applying for jobs. I look and look, but in ESL there aren’t many possibilities. In EFL (i.e. teaching English as a Foreign Language) the main employers are China and the Middle East. I’m done with China. Or I do hope I am. I spent many years there and liked my students, but China is cracking down on religious expression in a way I can’t overlook. (See this article as well.) Also, the PRC’s government needs to negotiate in good faith with its foreign trading partners. For decades they’ve gotten such sweet deals and they’ve stolen IP left and right. None of the computers I worked on at school or in a hotel had purchased Microsoft software. It was all pirated. That’s one example. I don’t want to help a country that’s not going to protect religious freedom. That same reason makes the Middle East a problem. I am trying to find work as an Instructional Designer here in the US. So far finding nearby opportunities and convincing an employer that I have the needed skills is difficult via a form on the internet. In conversation, I can make the case.

I’ve loved my library work, but the field is on a downward trend of just offering part time work.

 

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the water color program I went to at the library on Tuesday. We followed the teacher step by step to create a small water color painting of two spring blossoming trees. We learned about a couple techniques of water colors and painted to Mozart. The teacher was super well organized and down to earth. Sometimes her classes are free style but this wasn’t but that was fine with me. She planned and paced the course so well and everyone left with a decent spring painting with matted with the color paper of their choice.

On Tuesday I went to a brunch to honor volunteers at my local library. The event was catered and there was something for everyone. I got to meet other volunteers whom I rarely see and met a few library staff members for the first time. Lots of good conversation and at the end we were given a small box of fine chocolates and a $20 gift certificate for a local restaurant.

On Friday I went to a conference for library staff. It was a fairly small affair with an array of small presentations. I saw some on Readers’ Advisory, i.e. how to interview patrons and figure out what sort of books they’d enjoy and some on makerspaces. The makerspace presentations were actually best for libraries that don’t have makerspaces. The information was very basic. One highlight was a session on motivation by the director of the LaCrosse Public Library. She knows how to give a speech as she was upbeat and had great body language. She structured her speech well and had ideas you could immediately put into practice if you were a manager at a library.

Yesterday I attended my nephew’s confirmation. His church is rather small, but the level of community engagement was high. I liked that people knew each other and were truly connected. There were 5 young people confirmed and one was also baptized. They prepared for years and the pastor and youth pastor seemed to know each person well.

How was your week?

 

Word of the Week

Ghosting (n.) the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Perhaps you’ve learned that people are ending personal relationships by just disappearing, but I was surprised by a BBC article on a new trend of people leaving their job without communicating to their employer. I understand it can be tough to talk with a overbearing boss, but it’s something a mature person recognizes it’s necessary and actually good for him or her to do as it builds courage.

Again, Japan is featured, but I understand that because until now, in Japan you stayed in a job for life so they aren’t used to having to quit and as a vertical society bosses do have a power that they don’t in the West.

I am more surprised by ghosting in the West. Here’s a passage from the article:

Chris Yoko, who runs a web design company in the US state of Virginia, had a bizarre experience with a contractor who was meant to be completing a digital project from home.

“This guy had just started with us – he seemed like a good fit, seemed like a genuinely good guy. We get him started with a pretty simple project by our standards. He agreed, [but] Thursday comes along – there’s nothing there.”

Multiple emails and phone messages got no response. The man missed another meeting on the project. In the end, amid total silence from the contractor, the work was given to someone else.

A short while later, a man purporting to be a friend of the contractor got in touch via email. He said the man had died in a car accident and requested some tax files that the family needed. But something felt off, so Yoko checked the contractor’s Twitter account.

On social media, it appeared the contractor was very much alive. In fact, he’d just responded to a tweet from a cousin about attending a family gathering.

“He replied to this person with a picture of himself with a handle of whiskey in his hand saying: ‘Not only am I coming but I’m bringing this’,” says Yoko. “I screenshotted that and forwarded it to the guy and said: ‘Hey some good news, looks like he’s just fine!’.”

What do you think of ghosting?

Dear Retailers

Dear Retailers,

When you hire staff, remember the following:

  • You can’t expect workers, to do you favors by working extra, and then never reciprocate and allow people time off that’s requested weeks in advance. You need to show some respect and appreciation.
  • When employees ask you a question, realize that they should get a reasonable reply and can schuss out a bogus one easily. If someone asks, “How’s the shopping center doing; I see that two neighboring stores and a busy restaurant have left?” Understand that saying “We’re up 101%,” is an obvious side-step and people realize that 101% isn’t good if the previous year was disappointing. Also, note that the data on falling sales is available with a few keystrokes. Some of us even know that the US government collects this data through their Business Census.
  • Realize that whispers and gossip is not a good way to manage. “Sunshine is the best antiseptic.”
  • It’s not a good idea to leave a new worker on their own to do everything on a Saturday before Chanukah and Christmas. Don’t run people ragged. If your recruiting efforts aren’t getting applicants, you should raise the pay.
  • Know that people won’t buy that you can’t do XYZ, because of the computer. Nonsense. Management can’t hide behind a computer program. We all know there’s a override option. Always.
  • Understand that it’s a tight labor market and people will move on to find a better job. Stagnant wages won’t be endured.

Sincerely,

A Good Worker Who’s About to Quit

Agile for Families

I’m taking a Project Management course for my library degree. We’ve learned about the agile project management approach called “scrum,” which is featured in the video above. Scrum is a very quick and dirty way of fostering accountability and addressing change within a group.

On Saturday I was surprised to hear about this Ted Talk where Bruce Feiler describes how by using scrum through short family meetings, empowering children and sharing family stories (the latter isn’t scrum) can make families healthier.

Learning from Ben

After watching Thomas Frank’s wonderful video on doing your homework faster, I saw this video on Ben Franklin’s daily plans. I’m definitely going to start clearing my desk each night and choosing an intention for each day.

What do you think of using Ben Franklin’s ideas in your life? Are they helpful? How would you tweak this for the 21st Century?