Service of Trust and Risks

April 15th, 2021

Categories: Food Safety, Investment, Risk, Trust

Photo: foodsafetynews.com

We each have different tolerances of trust as well as for risk. The death of uber Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff reminds us of the potential hazards of the financial investment kind.

Photo: amazon.com

We continue to eat fresh food in spite of reports of E. coli. Romaine lettuce, a favorite of mine, was on the carpet at one point. On March 10 the Center for Disease Control reported that 22 people in seven states were sickened by this bacteria but they couldn’t identify the causes. The FDA even looks out for pets. As of April 12 Meow Mix has been recalled for potential salmonella contamination.

I’m not known as a risk taker, but I fought to get a vaccine appointment even though vaccines for Covid-19 hadn’t yet been approved by the FDA–nor have they yet. I’m not alone. Our World Data reports that 95 million have been vaccinated in the U.S.–76.7 million fully vaccinated, or 23.4 percent of the population.

Anti-vaxxers must rejoice at the pause that federal health officials have put on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine until researchers can determine the cause of rare and severe blood clots in six women aged 18 to 48–one died–of the 6.8 million doses in arms in this country. I couldn’t find out how many of the almost seven million vaccinated were women. Nevertheless this was the prudent thing to do.

We recall lettuce and cat food that make fellow citizens and pets sick and few blink. The J & J recall shows how vigilant federal health officials are being in the interest of public safety. It underscores my trust. Do you agree? Are there risks you were happy you took and some that didn’t turn out as well?

E. coli Photo: fda.gov

Service of Abusive Bosses

April 12th, 2021

Categories: Boss, Bully

Photo: biospace.com

I mentioned an abusive boss in “Service of Similar Reaction to Temper and Humor” last October but he was mild mannered in comparison to one man who seems to take pride in his mistreatment of his staff. His behavior reminded me of what I’d heard about the fate of Marines in boot camp in the day or victims of fraternity hazing.

Tatiana Siegel’s article in The Hollywood Reporter, “‘Everyone Just Knows He’s an Absolute Monster’: Scott Rudin’s Ex-Staffers Speak Out on Abusive Behavior,” is an eye-opener if you aren’t familiar with his reputation. Siegel’s subhead provides an excellent summary: “Even as other Hollywood bullies are being sidelined, the uber-producer behind ‘The Social Network’ and Broadway’s ‘To  Kill a Mockingbird’ has been given a pass for his volcanic temper. Now, former employees open up about a boss who left many traumatized: ‘It was a new level of unhinged.'”

Scott Rudin. Photo: yahoo.com

Siegel recounted the incident of the computer monitor that Rudin, 62, had smashed on an assistant’s hand sending him to the hospital to stop the bleeding. Why the outburst? The man had failed to get the producer a seat on a sold-out flight. His behavior over 40 years has been widely covered.

Rudin said that between 2000 and 2005 he’d burned through 119 assistants. His prey: people 25 years old and under. One told Siegel: “‘When you feel his spit on your face as he’s screaming at you, saying, ‘You’re worth nothing,’ it obviously makes an impact, and we’re young. Over his long career, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who have suffered. And some have given up their dreams because he made them feel and believe that they can’t do whatever it is they’re trying to do.'”

The reporter described him as “one of the industry’s most decorated producers, whose films have earned 151 Oscar nominations and 23 wins.” She reported “He’s even more successful on the theater front, having nabbed 17 individual Tony Awards.” He attained “EGOT status in 2012 — becoming one of only 16 people living or dead ever to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.”

She reported: “Even as others have been canceled or have dialed back their aggression, Rudin’s behavior has continued unabated, leaving a trail of splintered objects and traumatized employees in his path.” After smashing a glass bowl against the wall one employee was sent to the hospital with a panic attack. The person never returned to Rudin’s office.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo: deadline.com

Angry because an assistant left him to work for another high profile producer he called the new boss to claim she’d stolen from him–which was a lie. [The other producer didn’t listen and the former assistant still works in the industry.]

“Per a knowledgeable legal source, bullying claims against Rudin never see the light of day and are settled quietly. Fear of reprisals has kept many from speaking out. Employees typically sign a non-disparagement agreement. And several sources for this piece consulted with an attorney before proceeding, even off the record,” Siegel wrote.

“‘When they ultimately quit — which they always do at some point — he vindictively goes on IMDb and takes away any credits they may have amassed while working for him,’ says one producer who hired a traumatized assistant following a Rudin stint and saw the practice play out.” [IMDb refers to the Internet Movie Database website.]

Given his phenomenal success does Rudin get a pass as many people do because they bring in big money and the best prizes? Even though there are other celebrated producers like Ron Howard with reputations for running a calm and respectful operation, do you think about Rudin, “Oh, it’s Hollywood, get over it?” Will he ever cross the wrong person and be forced to control himself? Have you worked in a toxic environment?

Social Network. Photo: Photo: theverge.com

 

Service of Big Mistakes

April 8th, 2021

Categories: Admissions, Errors, Medical, Mistakes, Typos

Photo: careerbuilder.ca

When I make a mistake in my work I want to hide under a piece of furniture. When I realize what I’ve done it takes away my breath. At first I can’t admit it to a soul. I’m so lucky my mistakes don’t kill, usually haven’t been expensive to repair, few people know about them and most can be fixed followed by profound apologies. I remain disgusted with myself for quite a while.

I empathize with others who make mistakes and if news gets out on top of it–oh my.

I wrote about “heart-stopping goofs” back in 2011. One described a royal mug mishap where the image of bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, was paired on porcelain with her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, instead of her intended, Prince William. Put yourself in the place of the marketer who opened the shipment and first saw Kate and Harry.

How would you tell your boss if you’d discovered the recent mishap at the Baltimore plant? Somebody mixed the ingredients for two vaccines resulting in the contamination and tossing of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s. Thank goodness those involved admitted the error. I hope they were not fired. Kudos also belong to the boss for creating an atmosphere in which staff feel they can come clean about their mistakes.

What mistakes–yours or others–have given you goose bumps? How has your client or boss reacted? If your error, you don’t have to admit it: post anonymously or attribute the blunder to a friend.

Photo: akc.org

Service of Book Clubs: Tips From a Pro

April 5th, 2021

Categories: Book Club, Books, Reading

Deb Wright

I asked Deb Wright to share what’s happening with book clubs in her Chicago suburb. You’ll soon see why she is qualified to cover the subject.

Deb leads two and is active in an additional two. She heads Shakespeare Readers Theater and co-directs a Great Books group while participating in Louse Penny and woman’s book clubs. Deb’s secret to keeping up with all those books: She speed reads while retaining what she reads.

She says eight is the ideal number of participants so there’s time for each to chime in. With Deb–and another retired teacher who is in three of the groups–a wandering or diverted discussion doesn’t have a chance. They are there to discuss books. Men and women participate equally in Shakespeare Readers Theater and Great Books.

As with most things, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on club activities. “In some odd way I feel on vacation! I don’t have quite so many to-do lists,” Deb said. Nevertheless, “everyone I’ve spoken to has been reading political, fiction and non-fiction on subjects they’ve wanted to explore.”

Photo: Shakespeare.org.uk

All four of her groups passed on Zoom meet ups although she says that the public library in her town continues its discussions via this cloud-based video communications app.

The women’s book club, made up largely of League of Women Voters members, normally meets in a bookstore. Members have stayed in touch through email. “This group always chooses a non-fiction book or sometimes a biography. We don’t meet in July and August.” There’s a list of some of the books the club read last year after the last photo of this post.

The Great Books group–that should meet monthly in the town’s Chamber of Commerce–is on hold. This 37 year old club, that Deb founded with her co-leader, hopes to resume in fall with a new anthology. There is one Poetry Night a year.

Because most of the members of the Shakespeare Reader’s Theater are seniors hesitant to meet in person during the pandemic, it, too, is on hold. Deb is one of three planners, one of whom is a retired teacher and a Shakespeare scholar, theater director and actor. Deb said: “We choose part of a play and volunteers read the selections. I do the explaining, kind of ‘in the meantime, Richard murdered…’ So I give the what’s happening between the scenes.” There’s also a great actor with a wonderful voice in the group who, with his wife, started a summer theater in town.

The Louise Penny group will meet again in August when Penny’s next book is released moving on then–back to once a month–to another well-written mystery series by Charles Todd whose main character is Ian Rutledge. They gather in the banquet-size heated garage of a member. It boasts superlative ventilation and quantities of space for participants to distance six+ feet apart. Penny is the author of mystery novels set in Quebec. The Canadian author’s main character is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.

Deb taught language arts [English] to all grades in a Chicago school but mostly 8th–adding American History from 1865 to the present the last five years. She’s also an artist and avid gardener. In addition to her garden and grounds, she cares for almost 100 indoor plants, four cats, an old house and her young grandchildren for weekly play dates. This summer she volunteered to tutor three first graders who didn’t cotton to remote and hybrid learning.

Have you belonged to a book club? Do you have questions for Deb?

Photo: amazon.com

Following are some of the books the woman’s book club read last year:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; Beloved** by Toni Morison; The Land of Sea Women by Lisa See; Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan; Before We were Yours by Lisa Wingate; Born A Crime by Trevor Noah; The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict and The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee. Deb added: “There were a couple of others but they were not worth reading.”

Deb said “**Beloved was almost too difficult to read; I would not read it at this point in time. We also read Educated by Tara Westover at the end of the previous year. Worth reading but intense–one of those triumphs of the human spirit.”

 

Service of Unusual Names: Fun to be Different?

April 1st, 2021

Categories: Flowers, Name, Nature, Plants

Anise plant Photo: insteading.com

My husband’s name was Homer and mine is Jeanne-Marie—atypical in the day–so it didn’t take long, in first grade, for me to become Jeannie, now Jeanne–JM to the family. I relish being different now; I didn’t as a child.

Rowan Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Caroline Bologna reported in the Huffington Post that these days parents are naming babies after herbs and spices from Anise to Yarrow. In 2019 most popular were Jasmine and Juniper, the former given to 2,092 girls and the latter to 22 boys and 1,526 girls. Sage did well coming in at 666 boys and 1,164 girls.

Sophie Kihm wrote about botanical baby names on nameberry.com. She identified Aspen, Briar, Nash, Rowan, Sylvie, and Zaria, Acacias, Juniper, Magnolia, Laramie, Indigo and Oak to name a few. We’re used to Lilly, Daisy and Oliver but the others?

Mary [the only name on the post] on wehavekids.com listed 38 earthy boys names some of which are Alder, Ash, Aspen, Aster, Birk, Elm, Jonquil, Spruce and I knew someone who named her daughter–Lake.

I imagine that having a traditional name that is spelled unusually can be a lifelong burden as people would always get it wrong. Jeanne is a challenge.  I wonder if children mind having these unusual names. What about adults? What’s the most unconventional name you’ve heard?

Aspen trees Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Service of Unanswered Questions or None of Your Business

March 29th, 2021

Categories: Health, Health Screening, Job Hunt, Questions

Photo: theschoolrun.com

I hate to admit how old I was before I could parry an unwelcome question. Before you could find out real estate sale prices online a friend asked me what we got for our co-op apartment. My answer: “We got what we asked.”  These days I reply bluntly to intrusive questions. I’ll say: “I don’t want to talk about it,” or I change the subject.

“Going on an interview?” you’d hear in the workplace if a colleague who usually wore casual clothes was dressed to the nines.

Photo: nicolabartlett.de

And then there’s the nag who starts every conversation with “Did you get that job yet?” It’s especially grating when you’ve told the person you’ll let them know and to please stay off the subject.

There’s a health question on some job applications: “Did you ever have cancer, epilepsy, mental health problems?” to name just a few of the listed diseases. The applicant’s choice of responses are “Yes,” “No,” and “I don’t want to answer.”

Photo: womensweb.in

When a state adds to its list of vaccine-eligible citizens those at risk of Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions the nosy get to work. “Medical privacy has become the latest casualty of vaccination efforts, as friends, co-workers and even total strangers ask intrusive questions about personal health conditions,” Tara Parker-Pope wrote in a New York Times article, “‘How Did You Qualify?’ For the Young and Vaccinated, Rude Questions and Raised Eyebrows.”

If you check “I don’t want to answer ” to health questions on job applications will the reader assume that the answer is “Yes,” you have had one of the listed diseases? When you’re asked an intrusive question, do you feel obliged to answer? If not, what wording works best for you? What are other examples of questions you’d rather not answer?

Photo: boldomatic.com

Service of a $200,000 Watch and Nowhere to Go

March 25th, 2021

Categories: Art, Automobiles, Charity, Jewelry, Luxury, Pandemic

Patek Philippe sports watch Photo: Luxury of Watches

Excess at a time when so many citizens suffer strikes a wrong note.

The pandemic opened eyes to hunger and financial distress in this country exacerbated by furloughs and firings. Sigal Samuel on vox.com wrote: “56 percent of US households gave to charity or volunteered in response to the pandemic, and the first half of 2020 saw a 12.6 percent increase in the number of new donors to charity compared to one year ago.”

Nevertheless spending on luxuries goes on more than usual. The capitalist in me says “That’s good–people are employed and businesses thrive” followed by a but….

Photo: bestbridalshop.com

A few days after I heard about a bride from a hardworking middle class family paying $6,000 for a wedding dress I saw Jacob Bernstein’s New York Times article “Here’s How Bored Rich People Are Spending Their Extra Cash.” I wondered if for every luxury buy the purchasers sent an equivalent amount to a charity. I did a hasty Google search to find articles about individual charitable donations in the $200,000 to $6 million range equal to some of the items identified below. I didn’t find any– which doesn’t mean none were given.

About the $6,000 wedding dress, a contemporary of mine said that the price tag is expected and only a starting point, though other friends knew of brides who looked heavenly and recently spent in the $1,500 range.

Bernstein reported that big spenders once called themselves collectors but now refer to themselves as investors. He wrote: “Rather than elbowing past each other for reservations at the latest restaurants from Marcus Samuelsson and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or getting into bidding wars for apartments at 740 Park Avenue, they are one-upping each other in online auctions for jewelry, watches, furniture, sports cards, vintage cars, limited-edition Nikes and crypto art.”

740 Park Avenue. Photo: streeteasy.com

Retailers are sensitive to the situation. Some wouldn’t speak with him on the record about sales. One admitted almost selling out $90,000 earrings. A Patek Philippe sports watch that retails at $85,000 “can seldom be found on 47th Street for much less than $200,000.” [47th Street is the jewelry district in Manhattan.] An expert told Bernstein that demand for these watches remained as Switzerland closed down due to the pandemic. He said that the money spent on travel is directed to collectibles–uh, investments.

Bernstein reported a 1973 Porsche sold for $1.2 million last year when before the pandemic the same make and model sold for $560,000.

“In February, a digital artwork of Donald Trump facedown in the grass, covered in words like ‘loser,’ sold for $6.6 million, a record for a nonfungible token, or NFT, so called because there’s no physical piece for the buyer to take possession of.”

You get the gist. Bernstein shares many more examples.

Have you heard of record-breaking charitable donations during the pandemic?  As for collectors of pricey items calling themselves investors: Does paying outrageous prices during extraordinary circumstances sound like the makings of a very good investment to you? But what do I know? I think paying $6,000 for a wedding dress is over the top. And you?

Porsche 1973 Photo: opumo.com

 

Service of Don’t Be Silly & Social Media

March 22nd, 2021

Categories: Anxiety, Fear, Medical Tests

Photo: healthline.com

When a friend confides they fear or are anxious about something a “don’t be silly” bromide response is of no help. Brushing off someone’s worry whether it’s about checkups, tax prep, test taking, debt, a medical procedure or coming down with Covid-19 is easy especially when the situation doesn’t bother you. But it’s of no help to them.

Photo: score.org

Remembering some of the concerns and stresses your friends and family members have shared might help you in other communications efforts such as in social media outreach. This echo chamber amplifies and potentially mocks or irritates many at once. I suspect even the normally empathetic are thinking of themselves when they post on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They don’t consider the potential negative impact of their images and words on some others.

When Covid-19 vaccines first appeared, eligibility expanded as quickly as attempts to snag a vaccine appointment evaporated. Postings celebrating a scheduling success made some envious, sad and more frustrated than the process already caused them to feel, a friend confided. Who knew a boast like that could inflict additional anxiety?

Photo: edutopia.org

Do those on tight budgets angling for a job or project experience pangs when they see postings of nonessential purchases such as pricey fashion accessories as they determine, each month, whether to pay rent, phone, electric or credit card bills? What do parents think of photos pals post of elaborate meals when their days are crammed with remote teaching and working leaving little time for sleep much less a 10-step recipe for shepherd’s pie?

It’s so easy and quick to text–why not share retail and other victories with the friends who would welcome the news? Before posting a triumph on social media, it might be a good idea to first question “would all my social media ‘friends’ be OK with this information?” Are you thinking “don’t be silly” at my over-sensitivity about what to post on social media because the point is to generate reaction and most social media followers aren’t really friends anyway?

Photo: fourandtwentyblackbirds.me

Service of Discounts III

March 18th, 2021

Categories: Communications, Retail, Sales, Scams

Photo: hisugarplum.com

It’s just been two months since I wrote about discounts from legitimate businesses that edged towards scam. I recently came across two instances involving price cuts that I thought illustrated clumsy marketing or poor communications more than attempts at fleecing.

Don’t misread the customer’s willingness to overpay for postage

Photo: shop.nypl.org

The NY Public Library gift store promoted a discounted price if you bought two tote bags. The sayings printed on a few were perfect for friends. In the last window of the ordering process they charged me $8.95 for postage/handling. There was no curbside pickup option. The feather-light textiles could be stuffed into poly mailers in seconds, no other packing necessary.

In addition, during the ordering process, I gave them my email address and mobile number to enrich their database so they could send me store updates. For this I was to get a 10% discount [which would have covered the tax]. The 10 percent code was refused. The bounce back message said I had already received a discount and was ineligible for a second.

That did it. I cancelled the order. With the extra $12 the new total came to more than I wanted to pay for tote bags.

The retail department at the library may need to rethink its strategy. Overcharging on postage is not a good way to make more money if it causes you to lose sales. Offering a discount without a warning that it might not apply does not inspire customer confidence. The operation is sophisticated enough that twice I was reminded I hadn’t completed my order. [Missing was my credit card information.]

Greetings from dotted i’s and crossed t’s

Photo: heb.com

In a second instance a text from a favorite greeting card company announced a sale: $3 instead of $4.50/card. When I linked from the text in my phone all the prices were $4.50. I thought maybe there were only a few of the cards on sale and tried to find them. No-go.

I sent an email to customer service. I learned 1) the discount would appear during checkout and 2) all cards were subject to the discount. There was no mention of either in the text or on the individual online sale sheets. After I heard from customer service I placed an order from my laptop. There, on the home page, was a notice that the sale price would appear at checkout.

Just a few more words of clarification in the text would have solved misunderstandings and confusion and saved time. I wonder if the company lost sales from others who didn’t take time to clarify the sales information.

Have you been misled or confused by online or traditional purchases involving sales? Have you cancelled an order because of exorbitant postage/handling charges?

Photo: id.pinterest.com

Service of Replacing Words: Deep-Six Mom and Dad

March 15th, 2021

Categories: Political Correctness, School, Words

Photo: schoolsweek.co.uk

At risk of sounding like a broken record, having recently written “Service of What’s Next in Whitewashing the Past?” I couldn’t let this story go by without piping up.

A NYC private school for children in junior kindergarten through 12th grade–Grace Church School–published in September a language guide/glossary of acceptable words. News only recently spilled beyond the school community.

Here are some of the guide’s recommendations:

  • Rather than mom and dad use grown-ups, folks, family or guardians and caregiver, not nanny/babysitter.
  • Say people, folks or friends instead of boys and girls or ladies and gentlemen.
  • Replace “What are you? Where are you from?” with “What is your cultural/ethnic background? Where are your ancestors/is your family from?”
  • Don’t ask a classmate where they’ve been on vacation because they may not have gone anywhere and don’t say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
  • Use physically disabled, not handicapped.

Photo: artfulparent.com

 

I read several sources and I post quotes and the word suggestions above from all. So as not to weigh down the copy with each attribution, I here credit nbcnews.com, cbslocal.com, foxnews.com, dailymail.co.uk and nypost.com for the compilation. The NY Post published a longer list of preferred words from the 12-page “Grace Inclusive Language Guide,” developed to reflect the school’s mission. (Tuition at the school is $57,330 a year.)

According to the guide, “families are formed and structured in many ways. At Grace Church School, we use inclusive language that reflects this diversity. It’s important to refrain from making assumptions about who kids live with, who cares for them, whether they sleep in the same place every night, whether they see their parents, etc.

Photo: verywellmind.com

“While we recognize hateful language that promotes racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination are already addressed in our school handbooks, we also recognize that we can do more than ban hateful language; we can use language to create welcoming and inclusive spaces.”

School head George P. Davison wrote: “We understand the power of language both to include and to cause alienation. We also know that it is our job to give community members resources to allow them to make informed and generous choices. If the boorish ‘cancel culture’ press wants to condemn us a newly dubbed ‘Woke Noho’ school of politeness, dignity and respect, then I embrace it, and I hope you will too.”

And he said: “We’re not telling people not to call their parents mom and dad. That’s the silliest thing anybody ever came up with. And its not even a word police. It is rather a guide to inclusive language, if you want to use it.”

Which of the recommendations do you agree with? Have you changed your word choices to be more sensitive to others? Should other schools publish similar guidelines? Is specificity lost with these word change suggestions?

Photo: health.wyo.gov

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics