Service of Why Now? Does Today’s Indignation & Punishment of Sexual Harassment & Assault Have Legs?

October 19th, 2017

Categories: Sexual Harassment, Timing, Workplace Disputes

    Photo: dailybeast.com

 

The namesake furniture for which Jay Wellingdon Couch is known was invented in 1895 but the proverbial casting couch had been around for many years before. So why, after some well publicized, [and millions of sub-rosa], sexual harassment and assault instances that caused momentary ripples of disdain for years, are corporations and organizations jumping on board the “do-the-right-thing” train now?

Anita Hill’s accusations of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, when he was being vetted for his job, had little resonance in workplaces nationwide. Yet suddenly we see mass firings: of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, many at Uber and Amazon’s head of its entertainment studio, Roy Price.

Roy Price, left, & Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Photo: adweek.com

According to Ben Fritz and Joe Flint in “Amazon Suspends Head of Its Studio,” in The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Price’s suspension comes soon after a female producer went public about a 2015 sexual-harassment complaint she made against him and after actress Rose McGowan unleashed a storm of criticism at the company for being in business with Mr. Weinstein, the former Weinstein Co. co-chairman who was ousted over the weekend amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment.” So what did Amazon do about the female producer’s complaint between 2015 and now?

The king of sexual harassment appears to be Harvey Weinstein who was allegedly busy casting his movies and for his enjoyment for some 30 years. I can’t put my finger on why it took so long for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Producers Guild of America to recognize something its board members must have known about for eons, waiting until just now to eject Mr. W. from its memberships. Surely word about the reputation of a fellow such as Mr. W gets around.

Photo: sacsconsulting.com

There’s a “Me too” initiative on Facebook where women are posting the following: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I wonder: While the objective may be honorable, is there a twinge of a boast associated with this initiative? Is the implication that a woman isn’t/wasn’t attractive if she doesn’t join in or admit to having been harassed or assaulted?

The injury, pain, and anxiety for the harassed and assaulted women is no more or less today than before. So it has to be something about today that’s different.

Is the indignation a flash in the pan or does it have legs? Will it blow over just as fury over gun violence does after mass murders of innocent victims? Huffing and puffing galore with “hearts and prayers,” for victims and their families and yet nothing is done to close down machine gun sales. Do you think that the entertainment industry and marketers of products and services finally recognize the economic power of women? Or is something else afoot?

Photo: bigthink.com

Service of Listening to Your Gut

October 16th, 2017

Categories: Instinct, Listen, Listen to your Gut

Photo: masterheartmagazine.com

I believe in listening to my gut. When I don’t I’m sorry almost 9.9 times out of 10. It doesn’t always speak to me however, which might be the subject of a different post.

Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal article dug into the subject. In “Does Your Gut Always Steer You Right? Weighing a big decision? Here’s what experts say about when to go with your gut or your rational brain—or some combination of both,” one expert warned about the pitfalls of asking too many people for advice. After a while “stop and be quiet so you can hear your own gut,” she wrote.

Your instinct is affected by mood extremes: Best not make decisions during periods of great stress and anger, happiness or being totally relaxed–all of which might distort your decision. When on a high, I’ve accepted invitations that I’ve later regretted–though Bernstein had far more earthshaking decisions in mind in her article.

Photo: reference.com

What you eat, wrote Bernstein, can harm “the gut’s connection to the brain.” Avoid refined foods, chemicals, and eating too much too fast. On the other hand vegetables and fermented foods “promote healthy bacteria,” and consequently, mental clarity. I can’t attest to this.

“Using unconscious and conscious thought to make a decision is often best.” Make a list of pros and cons and set it aside. Sometimes, she wrote, the answer will be staring back at you.

Photo: discoverwalking.com

If not, “do something that absorbs your conscious mind.” Hike, run, walk on the beach, play a musical instrument but don’t watch TV. Author of “The Mind-Gut Connection,” Emeran Mayer, said “Go into yourself without distractions from the outside, and your unconscious will keep working on the problem.” Mayer is also a gastroenterologist and neuroscientist.

I’ve found that the right answers/decisions come to me in the middle of the night, when water beats on my head in a shower, on my walk to and from work or while riding the subway.

Has your gut stood by you? Have there been times it’s led you astray and have you figured out why? When you’ve ignored it, have you paid the price?

Photo: waggingtonpost.com

Service of Reporting a Major Scam to the USPS: Little Help to Stamp Out Crime

October 12th, 2017

Categories: Lazy, Post Office, Scams

Photo: flickr.com

Reporting a scam to the proper authorities, with the goal of punishing and putting the nasty people out of business, wasn’t simple. It impacted me in time and anxiety and I have no idea if anything will come of my efforts.

I made a big mistake: I responded to an offer on Facebook that appeared to have come from a “friend,” to be a secret shopper. “What fun!” I thought, to check out businesses in my neighborhood: I do this anyway and it would be worth a post, at least.

I got a Priority mail letter this week sent from Philadelphia with a check inside from a Vacaville, Calif company, the TBWS Group, for $3,450, and a sheet of convoluted instructions [photo below right]. I was to deposit the check immediately; report my activity at an online address to confirm receipt of the check and instructions and promptly visit the nearest Walmart to buy $3,000 worth of gift cards.

If the awkward word choice in the headline—“Secret Surveyor Evaluation,” and errors in the copy didn’t catch my eye, the useless information they wanted to know about the gift card buying process blew an orchestra’s worth of whistles. In addition, the promised “stores in your neighborhood” was bunk as there are no Walmart stores in NYC—the closest being in NJ.

My colleague, David Reich, confirmed my impression as a few years ago he’d been approached with a similar con involving money and his checking out the services of Western Union. Google also helped verify that this is a scam.

I had proof—the envelope with return address, the check, an email from Sandra Wayne from a gmail account urging me to proceed with the project–so I wanted to share it with the postal authorities. These were the steps I ended up having to take:

  • I went to the Grand Central post office near my office. The policeman stationed there said he hears about these scams every few days, and to either rip up the evidence or go to window 24 if I wanted to report it. I did the latter.
  • The lady at window 24 gave me the phone number of the postal inspector. It wasn’t correct—the area code turned out to be wrong–so I had to look up the number.
  • I spoke with two people—the first thanked me for my interest in helping get the perpetrators and the second, in the criminal investigator’s department, was bored, didn’t want to hear about it and wouldn’t give me the link to the online form to fill out. Instead, she said I should find it on Google!
  • As I don’t trust such links taken from Google in today’s climate–there were several listed—I fished around the official USPS website until I found it and filled it out. My case didn’t quite fit the questions and there were no opportunities to fine tune responses.

There must be thousands of people who knock on the USPS’s door and I’m not the only one bent on reporting a potential wrong, but there should be an efficient way for people to communicate details of a scam to the postal service. To start, the woman at window 24 should have handed me a printed page with the link to the form and the correct phone number.

Would you have bothered to report this or would you have predicted it would be a waste of time? Have you been frustrated in reporting a scam to any large entity? Do you think that capturing the scofflaws is hopeless?

Service of Pretentious Behavior in Restaurants, in Business & at Home

October 9th, 2017

Categories: Courtesy, Food, Pretentious, Snob, Waste, Work

Photo: hssaz.org

Who is taken in by pretentious behavior? Such conduct has always turned me off.

Foodie Foolishness

Photo: myhumblekitchen.com

Number 10 of “The 19 Types of Food Snobs, Ranked by Obnoxiousness,” by Andy Kryza and Matt Lynch, stuck out to me. They wrote in Thrillist,com: “It’s been two years since The Repatriated Expat moved back to the US after a magical six months residing in Spain. And yet, the backhanded comments about how ‘it’s so weird to be eating dinner before 10 pm,’ the observations that the gin and tonics ‘just aren’t the same,’ and the refusal to consume any red wine that isn’t Rioja have not lessened in the slightest.” This was my favorite–fun post.

Office Folderol
I started working just as executive secretaries no longer placed calls for bosses. They went like this:

  • Secretary No. 1: “Hello, Mr. Jones calling to speak with Mr. Snodgrass.”
  • Secretary No. 2: “Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Jones calling.” Snodgrass would get on the line and wait until Jones’ secretary got hold of him—unless Jones had left the office by then and it all started again.

The practice never made sense to me: Why waste four people’s time to accomplish one task?

A similar dynamic happens today sometimes. If I expect a response, I need either to copy—or email—the person’s assistant–even if he/she knows me. It’s pretentious. Why? Many other women and men juggling as many as three busy lives—demanding jobs, onerous family responsibilities and often time-sucking pro bono obligations—get back to me directly and without the fanfare.

Expensive Fashion Accessory

Photo: pinterest.com

In a book review about Meryl Gordon’s “Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend,” I read about Bunny’s sending a private jet to pick up a scarf that was in another of her homes to coordinate with an outfit she was planning to wear. Was Bunny [photo left] spoiled or pretentious? Maybe someone tattled on Mrs. Mellon: Is a person being pretentious if nobody is supposed to know what they do?

Do food snobs drive you nuts? Can you name superfluous, affected business behavior? Are pretentious people aware of the impact of their behavior? Do some not realize that they are?

Photo: redbubble.com

Service of Crowds: What do Guns Have to Do With It?

October 5th, 2017

Categories: Government, Guns, Laws, Restrictions

Photo: pinterest.com

I avoid crowds. I don’t like being one among hordes whether in a stadium or an indoor or outdoor venue. I learned, in writing this post, that I attributed to my dislike something else about mobs relating to gun violence that turns out isn’t true. Please read on.

When I saw the fans on “60 Minutes” last Sunday cheering feverishly for American star soccer player Christian Pulsic—the 19 year old is on the professional German Dortmund team [photo above]—I shuddered while I think I was supposed to admire. Thousands dressed largely in team yellow and black colors stood and cheered, then jumped up and down while squeezed shoulder to shoulder. [Pulsic was remarkable, but I digress.]

I loved the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall last year but even that gave me pause. The capacity is 6,000+. Ticketholders are scrutinized by security airport style–wand and all–but still.

I see countless images and mentions on Facebook of folks either at or returning from a glorious rock concert or exhilarating game. [I love concerts–in moderately sized halls.] In supersized stadiums or open spaces I fear stampedes and not being able to get out of a packed place.

Now, after the latest massacre by guns–in Las Vegas–I thought I had another reason to question whether it’s safe to produce/attend events at venti-sized stadiums or heavily subscribed gatherings in smaller spaces until we have a better way of vetting venues for nasty perpetrators.

Photo: drawception.com

Turns out that where being fish in a barrel for gun-toting killers is concerned I’m wrong to worry about humongous  venues–statistically anyway. The Washington Post reported “People killed in mass shootings make up less than half of 1 percent of the people shot to death in the United States. More than half of gun deaths every year are suicides. In 2015, more than 12,000 people have been killed by guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive.” [I highlighted part of the quote.]

Put another way, that means that two years ago, almost 6,000 people died from gunshot wounds that weren’t due to suicide and mostly didn’t happen in stadiums and outdoor music festivals. “Twenty-seven percent of the mass shootings occurred in workplaces, and 1 in 8 took place at schools. Others took place in religious, military, retail and restaurant or other locations.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.com

So I was wrong about massive crowds being targets, but guns are not off the hook. The government protects us from unsafe prescription drugs, cigarettes, and from harm by having passengers remove their shoes at airports—so why not from citizens with guns?

A Vox.com article subhead is “In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem.” Shouldn’t Congress mount a program to correct misinformation and misplaced anxiety and simultaneously put in place ways to verify the sanity and objectives of people who buy guns in future? Shouldn’t there be a gauge to determine the appropriate type of guns a citizen should own for non military/police-related purposes? Common sense tells us that there must be a suitable number of guns for sportsmen and women to own. Why not do for guns what we do for cars–register them so that homeland security in every community is aware of citizens with an excessive number? Everyone appears shocked to learn that the latest murderer had so many rifles. We should never be surprised. Nothing’s perfect–car fatalities are caused by people whose licenses have been revoked–but does that mean we shouldn’t address the problem?

Photo: slate.com

Service of Patching Up a Bad First Impression

October 2nd, 2017

Categories: First Impressions, Forgiveness, Words, Work

 

Photo: nz.pinterest.com

I once thought I had an infallible instinct where first impressions are concerned but I’ve been wrong too many times in both directions—thinking that someone’s great or creepy when they’re not. Regardless, first impressions are a fact of life.

Photo: thegrindstone.com

Some can’t be salvaged. There was the college freshman dressed for the beach at an interview for a scholarship where the judges and all other candidates wore business attire. Her mother tried to rescue the faux pas by claiming the wardrobe choice had been hers. It didn’t work: Competition for the generous scholarships was too keen.

In this regard, Sue Shellenbarger, who wrote “The Next Step After a Bad First Impression at Work,” in The Wall Street Journal, shared an opposite situation from which there was also no return. A job candidate wore a tailored black suit and heels to a job interview at a fashion house where all the employees dressed in casual hippie-style attire. [My opinion: She was vying for a job requiring digital skills and should have taken 10 seconds to look at the company’s website before the interview which might have given her a tip.]

Photo: thebalance.com

Nevertheless, wrote Shellenbarger, “It’s possible to recover from a bad first impression. But it takes time, effort and some nuanced skills.”

According to the reporter, quoting the author of “No One Understands You and What To Do About it,” Heidi Grant Halvorson, there’s a “tendency for the first few things people notice about someone to influence how they interpret information later.” Grant Halvorson also mentioned confirmation bias that “causes people to notice only details that confirm what they already believe. ‘People see what they expect to see,’ she says.”

If you learn that someone who has a bad impression of you is to be your new boss Grant Halvorson suggests you try to “build familiarity with a casual greeting or wave” at the gym or cafeteria—be seen frequently, but don’t stalk.

Photo: cartoonstock.com

Other suggestions from experts Shellenbarger quoted follow. I don’t agree with them all:

  • Be early for meetings for a long time if you were late to one
  • Subtly inform a senior executive of your experience, if their impression is that you have little, by emailing the person via LinkedIn and weaving in examples that prove otherwise the next time you speak with them
  • Root for the same sports team to “dispel bias”
  • Make fun of your blunder to ease tension
  • Follow up a job interview where coverage of your accomplishments was weak, by sending strong work samples to dispel the notion
  • A job applicant who admitted to prison time for dealing meth came to the interview with a list of “self-improvement efforts” illustrating that he was no longer a criminal and the names of solid references, “prepared to answer the tough questions.” He was hired and became one of the best employees.

Have you salvaged a bad first impression or helped a colleague or friend do so? Do you think it’s an impossible, useless task and you’d best lick your wounds and move on? Do any of the tips translate to personal relationships?

Photo: prestonroad.org

Service of Saying What You Mean—Or Not

September 28th, 2017

Categories: Communications, Families, Listen

Photo: Oneweekjob.com

I tend to say what I mean. I’m baffled when people who know me well consistently think I really want to do or buy or eat something other than what I’ve identified. That’s why Deborah Tannen’s op ed piece in The New York Times caught my eye. But her personal findings, described in her piece, surprised me given her conclusions in her life’s work as a linguistics professor, now at Georgetown.

She described a dinner party in which she asked her friend Tamara not to help clear the table and Tamara kept on doing so. In “My Mother Speaks Through Me,” she explained that the way she and her friend communicated—spoke and heard–was impacted by their “families’ styles.”

Photo: makeameme.org

Turns out that Tamara’s mother would often protest that she didn’t want any help but once Tamara had completed a chore, her mother was always extremely grateful. So when Tannen said “No” Tamara heard “Yes.” In the household in which she grew up, Tannen’s mother meant what she said.

Tannen wrote that in her first paper—she’s been researching “how people speak differently across cultures” for 40 years—that confusion occurs “when one speaker means words literally and the other thinks they are hinting at something else.” She noted that a person with a direct approach hearing a fuzzy response might think the other person is “being manipulative, or even passive-aggressive.”

Photo: pexels.com

That’s why I was puzzled by Tannen’s surprise: “We both felt as if a light had been turned on. It never occurred to me that Tamara might think I didn’t mean it when I said I didn’t want her to help. And it had never occurred to her that I did.”

“Though my mother died in 2004,” wrote Tannen, “she is the one whose voice comes out when I speak, and whose speaking style shapes how I hear others’ words. The same is true for Tamara as I learned when our styles clashed.” She attributed the differences to the fact that her mother was born in Russia and Tamara’s in Germany. Tannen found it “deeply satisfying” to know that during the clearing of the dinner table she was speaking and Tamara was listening as their mothers would have.

When Tannen and her husband made Thanksgiving dinner at her parents’ home, her mom would ask “did you leave any food on the shelf?” and who did they think would eat all that food? Her mother speaks through her today, she wrote. She parodies those words when her husband brings home far too many groceries.

I don’t think it is that simple or cut and dried. My mother’s hinting was closer to the way my husband communicates than the way I do. They might ask “Is there any Ketchup?” instead of “Please bring in the Ketchup.” I think my style is a closer match to my father’s. If he told me to bring his glass to the kitchen and I responded “in a minute dad,” my hesitation didn’t go over well. There was no doubt what he wanted and when—no silly sallying around. I, too, am impatient.

Does your mother speak through you? Do you hear your parents’ voices when you speak? Do you listen and hear the way they do or did?

Photo: bublbe.com

Service of Noses Out of Joint: Are Online Reviews by Patients on the Line?

September 25th, 2017

Categories: Blame, Defamation of Character, Lawyers, Medical Care, Unintended Consequences

 

Photo: youtube.com

Plastic surgeon Dr. Bahman Guyoron’s patient wasn’t pleased with the job he did on her nose to “alleviate nasal congestion,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Palazzolo, and while at it, he was to cosmetically tweak her beak. So she shared her thoughts about the outcome on a range of online review sites from RealSelf, Yelp to RateMDs.com, and Dr. Guyoron sued her.

The patient said she now must sleep with a breathing aid because her nostril collapses and that her nose is wider than it was before surgery. A second surgery by the same doctor didn’t fix the problems.

Photo: earth.com

Her lawyer said “her reviews were ‘substantially true or were her opinion,’” and that they didn’t harm the doctor’s reputation.

Palazzolo explained that the doctor would have to prove they were false and that he was damaged. “If the jury deemed him a public figure, he would have to show that [the patient] knew the information was false or showed reckless disregard for the truth.”

In email correspondence with the newspaper the patient wrote that her purpose was to inform others and that she didn’t expect to face financial ruin as a result. According to lawyers who handle such cases, wrote Palazzolo, “a negative comment can diminish a doctor’s business in short order.” And because doctors’ hands are tied due to privacy laws to discuss details of procedures, to get patients to erase such reviews some opt to sue.

Photo: petwave.com

“‘Given how few defamation cases go to trial—and cases involving doctors are even more rare—any trial would be an important signpost for future litigation,’ said Sara Kropf, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who provides legal advice to doctors regarding patient reviews.” This trial is scheduled for February.

Photo: catster.com

At first Dr. Guyoron wanted the patient to remove the reviews and pay him $700,000, which she said she didn’t have. He now wants $1.8 million.

Knowing the risk to your wallet, would you think many times before posting online a negative review about any doctor? Doctors aren’t infallible: they make mistakes as we all do. Should review sites investigate/vet patient complaints before posting them? What are other effective ways to warn other patients about a doctor you’ve found faulty?

Photo: haririlaw.com

Service of Medical Impact When Loneliness is not Solitude

September 21st, 2017

Categories: Loneliness, Medical Care, Mental Health, Social Media, Social Skills

Photo: npr.org

There are plenty of self-help books with titles like “Married…But Lonely.” And loneliness doesn’t just happen to the elderly, although seniors over 80 represent the largest percentage for understandable reasons: Lost hearing, sight, mobility, family and friends and many are isolated because they lack funds to socialize.

I didn’t realize the crucial impact of loneliness made clear in the lead to Emily Holland’s Wall Street Journal article: “Loneliness is hazardous to your health—and more psychologists and doctors are calling for a public-health campaign to fight it.”

In the article, “The Government’s Role in Combating Loneliness –Medical experts say social isolation needs to be seen as a public-health issue,” Holland quotes Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lundstad: “cumulative data over hundreds of studies with millions of participants provides robust evidence of the importance of social connections for physical health and risk for premature mortality.”

Photo: womansday.com

Studies have shown that “the risk is equal to or greater than major health problems such as obesity.” Dr. Holt-Lundstad presented analyses of data from multiple studies at this summer’s American Psychological Association convention that “found that having greater social connections is associated with a 50% reduced risk of premature death.”

Photo: pinterest.com

According to Holland, an AARP study estimated 44 million adults 45 and up experience chronic loneliness. “In the survey, 35% of respondents said they were chronically lonely, up from 20% in a similar survey a decade ago.” Why? “An increase in single-person households, higher divorce rates and too much focus on social media over in-person communication,” may be some reasons.

Holland reported that loneliness doesn’t get the attention of smoking or obesity but that it is beginning to, noting the AARP public education initiative Connect2Affect. In addition, she mentioned a toll free number seniors can call to get rides via Uber and Lyft in some areas; a 24 hour, free Friendship Line–800-971-0016–sponsored by the Institute on Aging for those 60+ who feel lonely, depressed–even suicidal and programs at some senior living facilities that encourage socializing between generations.

Early detection and encouraging people to seek help are key to turning around the situation. Physicians must learn to question patients and patients must feel comfortable admitting their feelings of involuntary isolation and seclusion.

What is the difference between loneliness and solitude? Do you know people who are surrounded by humans and yet they feel lonely or others who prefer to be alone and say they are happiest that way? Have you heard of effective ways that infirm or financially strapped people of any age can remain involved?

Photo: mysocialstate.com

Service of Skilled Trades—the Noble Professions

September 18th, 2017

Categories: College, Skilled Labor, Work

Photo: oldbroadabroad.com

Erica Martell refinished a handsome wood chest, sanding, priming and painting it [photo below, center]. My friend’s research, patience, diligence, and results impressed me.

I envy the skills of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, builders, auto mechanics, landscapers, tree surgeons, bricklayers and stone masons who create and fix things. These professions need a great deal more admiration and respect than they get.

Mike Rowe Photo: mikerowe.com

In spite of diligent work by people such as Mike Rowe, I wonder if recognition of people who make a living via skilled manual labor has changed significantly. Chuck Todd interviewed Rowe on his MSNBC show on Labor Day. The actor, TV host, producer, narrator and writer’s passion was no doubt inspired, in part, by the 39 episodes of “Dirty Jobs,” a show on Discovery where he completed 300 different ones, according to his website. The show was his concept. He founded mikeroweWORKS on Labor Day nine years ago. He calls the program “A PR campaign designed to reinvigorate the skilled trades.”

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Fewer Americans Value a College Degree, Poll Finds,” Josh Mitchell and Douglas Belkin reported that the “wage premium of getting a degree has flattened in recent years,” according to Federal Reserve research. “Some Americans believe that learning a trade offers more security than going to college.” The survey of 1,200 took place in August.

Photo: 123rf.com

Respondents who were most skeptical about the value of a degree were those who didn’t have one. “Four years ago, men by a 12 point margin saw college as worth the cost. Now they say it is not worth it, by a 10 point margin.” Americans 18-34 who don’t believe outnumber those who do 57 to 39 percent—a figure that hasn’t much changed.

They reported that 63 percent of college grads said college is worth the expense—about the same now as in 2013. Nevertheless, there’s the matter of student debt, that Mitchell and Belkin quoted as $1.3 trillion—with $millions of payments in arrears. Yet, according to the reporters, unemployment is 2.7 percent vs. 5.1 percent among college grads and those who never attended college respectively, “But the wage premium of getting a degree has flattened in recent years,”

I think the prestige relating to physical work can and should change—do you? In countries such as France waiting on tables is a noble profession so why not skilled trades here? When it comes to making a living, do you see the value of a college degree? Has the significance of such a degree changed in your mind? Do you wish that you were skilled at a manual trade?

Erica Martell’s refinished chest

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