Service of Second Chances for People and Pets

April 18th, 2019

Categories: Age, Dogs, Pets, Politicians, Politics, Second Chance, Sports

Photo: toolshero.com

It’s Easter, Passover and spring, a good time to celebrate second chances.

Photo: youtube.com

I saw two Chihuahuas get one. They were on the Furry Friend Finder segment on CBS 2 Weekend, a local NYC metro news show. The dogs were 14 and 15 years old and needed a home–a difficult ask.  They’d been in a previous weekly segment in which the hosts introduce the audience to dogs in search of a forever family. A New Jersey family adopted the two elderly pups—they had a 14 year old pooch to welcome the others.

I’ve written previously about my sister and a friend each of whom adopted ancient orphaned cats, giving the felines a second chance at loving homes.

Photo: golfdigest

The odds that Tiger Woods, 43, would ever again win a major golf tournament seemed slim due to a series of back operations and psychological issues that appeared to send him off his game. Yet last weekend he walked off with yet another green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament and he was no spring chicken–three years younger than Jack Nicklaus, the oldest player to don the trademark jacket.

Photo: facebook.com

And then there’s Bill Weld, 73, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is running for president on the Republican ticket taking on a 72 year old incumbent. There was a time when septuagenarians would not be fighting over one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on the planet.

And what about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris? It is slated for another chance.

I’ve been blessed by second chances, have you? Please share examples.

Blog Service of Firing Employees: Is There a Good Way?

April 15th, 2019

Categories: Fire, Firing, Jobs, Kindness

Photo: caravandaily.com

There’s no perfect way to pull the plug on any relationship–personal or professional. Chip Cutter wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the impetus these days to find the best way to fire employees is to avoid “the potential for a conflict—or even violence.” He referenced the five killed by a crazed ex-employee in an Aurora, Ill. factory two months ago.

I like to think that kindness and empathy may help–figuring out the humane way to behave is best. It also reflects well on a company that, in turn, impacts the remaining employees, unless company culture is to keep employees on tenterhooks. I don’t do well in that environment.

Photo: firedbread.com

I’ve always heard that Friday is the worst day to fire someone because the person is left in the lurch with a weekend to stew and stress and yet Cutter reported that conventional wisdom has chosen it these days because it often coincided with the end of a pay period. This strategy clearly reflects a focus on the employer, not on the people losing their path to survival.

“Letting a person go on a Wednesday gives them time to contact other employers and look for work during business hours the following days,” Bubba Fatula, a former law-enforcement official who is director of threat preparedness at Gittings Protective Security Inc. told Cutter.

Photo: thebalancecareers.com

Tuesdays through Thursdays “allow terminated employees to follow up during business hours with questions about benefits after the job loss and give remaining staffers who may be worried about their own roles time to ask questions and get reassurance” said Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at recruiting software company Jobvite Inc.

“Unless someone is fired for egregious conduct, Suzanne Gleason, division director of staffing firm Global Employment Solutions, said she asks employees how she can assist them in finding another job.”

And “In contentious situations, [Beth] Steinberg will give her phone number to employees and encourage them to call or text with questions. If she fears there may be mental health or anger issues, she uses language such as ‘I can imagine this might be difficult for you,’ and refers them to resources still covered by their health benefits, such as an employee assistance program.’ She’s chief people officer at Zenefits.

Several HR execs recommended extending benefits like health insurance.

“Team Fireball Inc., in the Chicago area, offers training on how to keep firings from going awry. It coaches companies to conduct terminations near an exit and in a quieter part of the office to prevent a ‘walk of shame’ by the worker who has been let go, said Debbie Pickus, chief executive. The training also teaches HR staffers in basic self-defense and how to move their body to create a barrier between them and the employee, if needed.”

For those who are fired, executive coach Roberta Matuson suggests the ex employee learn details about why they are fired; take their time before signing anything; negotiate severance pay, health insurance etc.; never fume on social media and focus on the job search.

Is it better to be downsized than fired? Have you heard of a humane way to be fired or is there no such thing? If an employer takes the blame for hiring someone that wasn’t fit for the job would this help the morale of the person let go? Do you feel that a corporate environment based on fear of being fired has the best results? Do you know successful people like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Steve Jobs who were once famously fired?

Photo: deviantart.com

Service of Cats

April 11th, 2019

Categories: Animals, Cats

Caramelli Cat

I’m no cat expert. Only two have lived with me–I was a dog only person for years–and while adored and spoiled, my felines hardly amounted to a significant case study. However, I’ve lived next door to, observed and cat sat for indoor/outdoor cats and have had countess cat nieces, nephews, step children and friends.

Which is why I am chiming in on the findings Brianna Abbott reported in her Wall Street Journal article, “There Is Now Scientific Proof Your Cat Is Ignoring You –New study finds felines can distinguish their names, even if they don’t come when called; twitching ears.

Josette

Abbott wrote: “At the risk of dashing the hopes of owners who put their hearts into coming up with the perfect name, it is unlikely cats associate the call with a sense of self, researchers say. More likely, cats associate that specific sound with some sort of reward, like food or petting or playing, and come to learn that the reward will follow the sound. That is how most species, like dogs, learn how to assign meaning to specific sounds.”

The researches in the “Scientific Reports” journal study Abbott highlighted hadn’t met Cibier the cat, who lives in Millbrook, N.Y. When he was my neighbor and out and about on our 10 acres, only once when called did he not come bounding over to his housemate, Gerald. That was when he was sick and hiding in the woods. Cats often hide when they don’t feel well. Otherwise no matter what rodent he was stalking or scent he was following, he’d race back home when summoned.

Cibier

“Past research has shown dogs can recognize humans’ emotional states, and the pitch of a human voice can affect dog behavior and how they follow commands. Highly trained dogs can even distinguish between over 1,000 different words or symbols, according to one 2011 study.”

I maintain that cats can as well. A friend rescued a mature cat when its human had died and nobody in the family could take it home due to allergies. My friend was warned that the cat didn’t cuddle and never sat on laps but otherwise was good company. Not long after the cat joined her household she broke a limb and was forced to stay home with leg propped up on pillows for weeks. One day, early in her convalescence, who jumped on the bed and into her lap? This cat.

“ ‘Cats are just as good at learning,’” says John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist at the University of Bristol, who wasn’t involved in the study. ‘They’re just not as keen to show their owners what they’ve learned.’”

Georgie, a friend’s cat, shook paws with his humans every time they asked him to–in front of me at least.

Abbott also wrote: “There is also research showing that when given the choice between food, toys and human interaction, the majority of cats actually choose human interaction.” They hadn’t studied my Caramelli Cat. Cara was hungry 24/7 and if you put the right food in her bowl, the best toy or softest lap would come in second or third every time.

How did this dog enthusiast become a cat fan? We bought a house that came with a cat who purred and hugged her way into our hearts and the rest is history. This once feral cat turned out to be the Perle Mesta of felines. Mesta, 1889-1975, a socialite and ambassador, was known as a great hostess. I had a houseful of friends one weekend when my husband was abroad. After dinner one night Cat–his name–made it his business to sit on the lap of each friend. I am convinced that as a host, he wanted them to feel at home.

Have you known a cat that displayed atypical cat behavior? Do cats get bad publicity for the most part? Are you a dog person who couldn’t contemplate loving a cat or vice versa?

Oliver

Service of Storage: Good or Bad Idea?

April 8th, 2019

Categories: Moving, Storage

Photo: movinginsider.com

I heard David Levine interview author Gretchen Rubin about her new book, “Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness,” at a Science Writers in New York event. Levine is co-chair. During the Q and A, the topic of storage–that I mentioned in passing in a recent post on moving–came up.

Photo: everettdowntownstorage.com

As I wrote, I’ve moved from substantial to small spaces. To counter my groaning about giving away, selling or tossing yet more stuff friends and family have suggested storage. Figuring that it’s doubtful that I’ll be moving to larger apartments or homes anytime soon, I resisted tucking away things in a storage unit. It didn’t make sense, unless the bin was in the basement of the apartment as at times it has been.

I’m either in the minority or folks conducting the storage industry’s forecasts are off. SpareFoot, reporting on the self storage industry, calculates that the US has 50,000+ self storage facilities or 2.322 billion square feet of rentable space.

As I’ve written previously, I believe in storing winter or summer clothes at a dry cleaner’s to address miniscule closet space. Some dry cleaners store suitcases. That makes sense if you own a large one and live in a diminutive studio.

Do you store things? What? Is it expensive? How often do you visit your belongings? What do you expect to do with them eventually?

Photo: 140mini.com

Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?

April 4th, 2019

Categories: Automobiles, Congestion Pricing, Traffic

NYC traffic Photo: nyc.gov

Michael Riedel declared on the radio yesterday morning that he doesn’t care about the impending congestion pricing initiative slated for high traffic zones in Manhattan because he won’t be impacted by it as his colleagues might. He lives in the Village and often rides his bicycle to work. He’s half the WOR Radio 710 morning team. Len Berman, the other half, drives in from Long Island and the other key players are news director Joe Bartlett and executive producer Natalie Batos-Vacca. They hail from New Jersey. The latter three are currently less enthusiastic.

London traffic Photo standard.co.uk

The system that state legislators approved in concept on Monday might start as early as the end of 2020. A network of license plate readers would bill vehicles south of Central Park. The money would supplement the tolls on seven bridges and tunnels around the city that charge between $9.50 and $15.

According to an Associated Press [AP] article that appeared in USA Today, some 717,000 vehicles daily enter the high traffic zone in question. With a toll of say $11.52, [which is being considered] proponents estimate a 13 percent reduction in traffic and $1.1 billion/year in revenues. After expenses, the money would go to trains and buses. Pollution should also be less.

Stockholm rush hour Photo: thelocal.se

The scheme has been in place in London [since 2003], Stockholm [since 2007] and Singapore [since the 1070s]. At first the effect was positively felt in London but congestion has increased lately because of businesses like Uber that were exempt from the toll. That changes on April 8.

The AP asked, as do I, if there is sufficient alternate transportation for those who give up their cars. What happens to taxis, delivery trucks, and ride-hail cars that might go in and out of the zone multiple times a day? Will excessive exemptions weaken the effect of the initiative? One pundit predicted that people “aren’t going to abandon their cars to get into the subway.”

“Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, [Kate] Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.” Slevin is with an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

Singapore traffic Photo: technocracy.news

How come we hear nothing about measures taken to belt-tighten at the MTA? Anyone review the budget for pork and ways for efficiency to lower the cost of doing business? The organization might find more than enough money for repairs were these steps taken.

Is Riedel right: That because he doesn’t live or work in the high traffic zone congestion pricing won’t impact him in any way? Do you think New York City’s limping transportation system can withstand an increased passenger load until the money kicks in to improve things? Aren’t the exorbitant fees in high traffic zones that are already added to the cost of yellow taxi rides—onerous for citizens and a death knell for the taxi owners–enough? Might the new tolls impact the value of residential real estate in the boroughs and NY Metro area?

NYC traffic Photo: nypost.com

Service of Billboards in the Right Places

April 1st, 2019

Categories: Billboard, Marketing

Photo: neogaf.com

I first heard about a ban on billboards when driving through Vermont decades ago. According to vnrc.org, “Vermont was the first of four states, along with Maine, Hawaii and Alaska to ban billboards. In their place, Vermont uses travel information signs along state highway corridors to guide residents and visitors to destinations that are located off those highways. Typically these smaller, standard format signs are clustered together to further reduce their visual effect. Businesses with frontage on state roads and highways may install signs that conform to local sign regulations.”

Now New York City is fighting digital billboards on barges on Hudson and East Rivers. According to Katie Honan in The Wall Street Journal, “Zoning regulations prohibit advertising on waterways throughout most of the city, including along residential and commercial zones and in view of highways and bridges, according to city officials.”

Photo: billboardinsider.com

She reported “‘Our waterways aren’t Times Square,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. ‘These floating eyesores have no place on them.'”

A Ballyhoo Media boat “carries 20-foot-tall and 60-foot-long TV screens displaying digital ads. It usually begins its routes on the Hudson River in Midtown, then heads south around Battery Park, continuing north up the East River to Roosevelt Island. The ads are visible to motorists driving on two waterfront roadways in Manhattan, the FDR Drive and the West Side Highway.”

If the judge favors the plaintiffs, each violation would be subject to a $25,000 a day fine. Two councilmen want the fee to be $100,000/day and are introducing a bill according to Honan.

What do you think about billboards: Should municipalities be even more particular about where they go? Do you find the information on them useful or distracting when you drive? Do you object to seeing floating billboards on New York City’s waterways?

Photo: timesquarenyc.org

Service of Untrained Staff and Insufficient Inventory Messing Up Food Orders

March 28th, 2019

Categories: Customer Service, E-Commerce, E-tailing, Food, Retail

Photo: medium.com

When you order food and don’t get what you want it can be hard to tell if it’s due to a lack of staff training or insufficient inventory. This is nothing new even though the millions who order all sorts of food online these days may think it is.

I ran into untrained staff causing stress when buying a bunch of sandwiches for office colleagues at a then novel Au Bon Pain years ago. It was so bad I eventually no longer asked “Can I get someone anything at Au Bon Pain?” when leaving the office to pick up lunch for myself. The takeout offered a choice of bread, meat and cheese for freshly made sandwiches. Inevitably I’d return with ham and brie on a roll when my colleague wanted ham and Swiss on a baguette as one example. Of some five orders three would be wrong. Drove me nuts. It happened because the staff didn’t know the difference between cheeses and breads and clearly the choices weren’t well marked and/or the staff wasn’t trained to ID the options.

Heather Haddon’s Wall Street Journal article rang bells. “Amazon to Whole Foods Online Delivery Customers: We’re Out of Celery, How’s Kale? Companies offering online grocery ordering and delivery struggle with services’ logistics” described customer experience with the online grocery and delivery system for select Amazon Prime members.

Photo: LLamasoft.com

She wrote about what happened to Kelly Hills. The Massachusetts-based bioethicist  “ordered a sourdough loaf from Whole Foods recently but was offered a jalapeño cheese bread instead. Her so-called ‘shopper’—either a contract worker employed by Amazon or a Whole Foods staff member tasked with compiling delivery orders—had opted to put decaf coffee in her bag instead of whole roasted coffee beans, celery instead of celery root and a single seltzer flavor rather than a variety. ‘The substitutions are downright bizarre. It’s frustrating,'” Think of all the time wasted to return this stuff or the money lost to accept what you won’t use.

Haddon added that problems “are often amplified because daily operations at the two companies are still largely separate. Whole Foods employees said Amazon workers routinely ask for help finding items on shelves or elsewhere, distracting them from their own duties. Technology that tracks Whole Foods’s inventory is old, and officials have discussed updating it for years.”

Have you been impacted by poorly trained staff, insufficient inventory or other issues when buying food–or anything else–either in person or online? Why do you think the glitches happen? Do you usually accept the mistakes or do you take time to return or report them?

Photo en.wikipedia.com

Service of Celebrating the Worst of the Past: What’s with Lloyd’s of London?

March 25th, 2019

Categories: Harassment, Insurance, Tradition

 

Lloyd’s of London Photo: en.wikipedia.com

I was surprised that this behavior survives in a civilized country.

I first heard this story on Bloomberg Radio over the weekend during a review of Bloomberg Businessweek stories. For more I linked to Gavin Finch’s story, “The Old Daytime-Drinking, Sexual-Harassing Ways Are Thriving at Lloyd’s.”

During the radio interview he emphasized the rampant drinking during business hours even more than in the article. It seems that after each insurance deal those involved retire to the local pub to celebrate, often many times a day. Sounded like “Mad Men” and the advertising industry in the 1960s though drinking in the latter took place at lunch while in London the practice seems to happen 9 to 5.

Appalling behavior outweighs the old world traditions that Finch described. He covered the unchecked “deep-seated culture of sexual harassment” for the majority of the article. The drinking makes it a dangerous place for women to work, he wrote.

For almost five years Inga Beale, as CEO, did her best to address “modernization of technology, attitudes, and behaviors—and met resistance at every step.” Currently, women in the industry “fear that Lloyd’s, already a deeply backward-looking institution, might actually be on the verge of regressing.” Finch added: “When she took over, everything was being done on paper, much as it had been for the past three centuries. By the time she stepped down, about 16.5 percent of the market’s business was being placed online.”

Lloyd’s coffee house Photo: en.wikipedia.com

The drinking isn’t the only thing that harkens to the past and some is charming if anachronistic. Finch wrote: “Beyond the quaint nature of the trading, other rites date to the first exchange Edward Lloyd opened in a 1680s London coffee shop. When a ship is lost at sea, the event is recorded with a quill pen in a leather-bound ledger kept near the center of the main trading floor, which Lloyd’s calls the underwriting room. To mark major disasters that yield billions of dollars in claims, such as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, a man in a red tunic and white gloves rings a golden bell.”

And According to Finch “the underwriters and brokers of Lloyd’s mostly do business the old-fashioned way: face-to-face, using rubber stamps, pens, and sheaves of paper. Well-tailored dark blue and gray suits are the norm, often with bold chalk stripes. One does not wear brown shoes. A code mandating suits was lifted last year, but it was clear on several recent tours of the trading floors that almost everyone still adheres to it. Some of the older underwriters wear brightly colored suspenders, or braces. Even by the standards of London’s financial district, the vibe is sartorially conservative.”

Was this news to you as it was for me? How come such behavior is accepted in the global marketplace? Isn’t the contemporary look of the Lloyd’s building in striking contrast to the culture of this company and what goes on inside? Do you think working under the influence impacts the insurance industry?

Lloyd’s lost ship ledger. Photo: reddit.com

Service of Paying for the Company You Keep: Are Your Clients Worth It?

March 21st, 2019

Categories: Greed, Lawsuit, Lawyers, Wealthy

Perry Mason, left. Photo: perrymasontvseries.com

Life is expensive and most student debt sinfully high so it’s important to select a career that if not lucrative, will pay the bills. That said, setting yourself up for a miserable existence because of the client company you keep seems an awfully high price to pay.

“If I was mentoring a young lawyer, I’d direct him to the trust and estate litigation practice.” Reporter Paul Sullivan was quoting Jeffrey P. Geida in his New York Times article “The Wealthy Family Squabble.” Geida heads the tax and estate planning department at LA law firm Weinstock Mansion.

Sullivan’s article describes law suits between multi millionaire relatives slamming one another over money. In one example, Belinda Neumann-Donnelly blamed her father for causing a picture to sell at auction for only $30.7 million when she thought it should have brought much more. She sued dad.

Can you imagine spending your life around these people and having to feign sympathy for their complaints?

I knew a family in which a son sued his once well-to-do father–who had lost all his money and could barely pay the rent–because he felt his father owed him the tuition for graduate school. What happened to the son trying to help his father?

Do you think who your customers and clients are will impact the quality of your work life? Are there industries you would avoid for that reason? Is any amount of compensation worth dealing with people you consider, in general, unsavory?

Photo: careermatch.com

 

Service of Condolences

March 18th, 2019

Categories: Condolences, Loss

Photo: chartcons.com

A friend told me that when he was in college another student’s mother died and he didn’t say a word. When his father died and anyone said “I am sorry,” nothing more, it soothed him and he never again ducked from reaching out to a bereaved acquaintance.

Some are afraid or feel awkward about approaching a person who is grieving. This is natural. Try to remember it’s not about you but about them. If they don’t have time to speak with you when you call or if they don’t immediately respond to your email or text or if they don’t acknowledge the card you sent within a reasonable amount of time, you’ve done nothing wrong. Remember: they are adjusting to a life without a loved one. There may be all sorts of pressures on their time in addition to routine obligations at work and at home. And all along the loss and sadness fight for attention.

I don’t know if they still do it but in France mourners wore a black band around their sleeve or a black button in a lapel. I always thought that this was a good idea so that a grouchy salesperson or bus driver might be kind to a customer who holds them up by taking too much time to find a credit card or carfare.

Do you dodge expressing condolences? I hope you don’t have experience relating to death but if so, did you appreciate the slightest acknowledgement of your loss?

 

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics