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Posted by Megan Riesz

As a pediatric dentist, Jay Schwab had a clear-cut enemy: dental disease in children and adolescents, and the apprehensions they faced in the dental environment. Cavities could neither hide from his drill nor fool his X-ray machine, and plaque could easily be scraped away. Generations of patients went away smiling […]

The Seichi Journals: Hitting a Wall

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:26 am
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Posted by Deborah J. Ross

Seichi at the dog park

Sometimes we embark upon a new adventure with all the good will and skill in the world, and it just doesn’t work out. The time may be wrong, or the clash of personalities may be overwhelming, or unforeseen, insurmountable problems may arise. This is as true for adopting a pet as for marriage, employment, or any of a host of other life changes.

When last I wrote, we had adopted Seichi, a 4 year old German Shepherd Dog, likely purebred, from a local shelter. She was young and bouncy, but intelligent and eager to please. She’d just been spayed, too. For the first few days, Seichi was subdued. Then both the delightful and exasperating aspects of her personality began to emerge. Playfulness, yes. Smarts by the bushel. House manners… not so much.

Very shortly, we realized she wasn’t potty trained. Three accidents (all on carpets that now must be professionally cleaned) later, we embarked upon a puppy protocol. Seichi, to her credit, got with the program very fast and had no more accidents. Meanwhile, it was bare floors and gates all around.

The real deal-breaker came when we had to admit she was not only not cat-safe, she wasn’t cat-workable (the difference is whether the dog can learn to leave indoor cats alone). We set up our usual procedures for introducing her to the house and the cats (initially behind closed doors, then her in crate/cats loose, then baby gate barricades so they could gradually smell and see one another, then supervised cat-on-tree approaches. At first, all seemed to be going well. The various species sniffed where the other had been and regarded each other curiously from a distance. We put Shakir up on the cat tree, out of reach, and let Seichi approach. A little hissing ensued. Seichi’s response — to continue to stare, which is threatening in both cat-speak and dog-speak — clued us that she had not had previous experience living with cats. We kept an eye on them to see if they’d work it out. Several things emerged: one was that Seichi continued predatory behavior even when Shakir was giving very clear “back-off” signals (growling, yowling, hissing, pupils dilated, ears flattened). If he swiped at her with claws extended, she’d jump away, but then come right back. Worse yet was that any movement on his part would engage her prey drive. 

Most German Shepherd dogs have high prey drive. It’s been bred into them. Something moves, especially something small and fast, and the need to chase it hijacks their brains. It’s also one of the things that makes throwing a ball for them or many dog sports so much fun. But it also makes living with cats problematic. We’d been lucky in having a series of cat-workable GSDs. Okay had high prey drive but he’d grown up with cats. Strange cats encountered outdoors were at risk, as were squirrels and the like. (He once caught a skunk, but that’s another story.) Tajji, on the other hand, had been bred to have a low prey drive; you don’t want a seeing eye dog taking off after a squirrel. She had also likely been exposed to cats as part of her puppy fosterage, and she sailed through our cat introduction so successfully it wasn’t long before she and Shakir were cuddling.

In the case of Seichi, however, it soon became clear that unless we wanted to keep the cats behind closed doors all the time, we were risking a mauled or dead cat. Deal-breaker.

Seichi also had worrisome attention-seeking behaviors. We noticed her tendency to nip at clothing. This escalated into mouthing hands, arms, even attempting to chew on a thigh. When given gentle correction or being pushed gently away, she’d become frantic and escalate the behavior alarmingly. Sometimes simply turning our back on her would be enough, but not always. She also needed to be watched every minute or she’d engage in destructive behavior (like pulling the meditation cushions off the sofa and trying to remove their stuffing — this only took a couple of minutes’ inattention).

Our experience with her was a parade of might-have-beens. If we had been younger and had more time to devote to socializing her (she was really a puppy in a 4 year old’s body). It there had not been the serious risk to the cats, we might have been more willing to work on the other issues. And a big one for me was realizing that I have recovered from my PTSD as well as I have by structuring my daily schedule and environment to support my stability. For example, it’s important that I exercise every morning and meditate every night, both of which were interrupted by the need to supervise Seichi (or crate her multiple times a day plus all night).

So, as lovely and loving as she was, we came to the conclusion she wasn’t the right dog for us. Or we, as older adults, weren’t the right people for her. The local GSD rescue organization couldn’t take her due to overload, but we talked to the folks at the (no-kill) shelter and decided it was best to return her there with a report on her personality and our observations of her problems and wonderful aspects.

Our cats are slowly coming back into their own after being shut away (or terrorized on the cat tree), remarkably affectionate. I’m letting myself settle and really take the time before contemplating whether I can handle another dog. I hope so, but I’m wary of pressuring myself to agree to something without being sure it is the right thing for me. This was the second dog that disrupted my self-care to the point I felt destabilized and concerned about my mental health, so I need to pay attention to how I got there. And that will take time.

Life is full of experiments, some of which work out beyond our wildest hopes. And others don’t.

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Munich Film Festival II

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28 am
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended

Nota bene: Sutliff fest opportunity!

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:25 pm
chantefable: ([eagle] gladiator esca)
[personal profile] chantefable posting in [community profile] sutcliff_space
Sign-ups for [community profile] rarepairfest are open through tomorrow, June 28. Assignments (1000 words minimum for stories) will be due on August 19 and pinch-hits on August 25. But Treats (stories/art created for someone that you are not assigned) are welcome and encouraged, and you don't have to sign up to create treats. Treats may be any length/medium.

If you are hesitant about signing up, Rare Pair Fest's treats are a great Sutcliff creative opportunity! :) And signing up enables us to request any of the following confirmed nominated categories:

- Frontier Wolf: Alexios Flavius Aquila/Connla, Alexios Flavius Aquila/Cunorix, Alexios Flavius Aquila/Hilarion, Cunorix/Connla (Frontier Wolf), Cunorix/Shula (Frontier Wolf), Hilarion/Lucius (Frontier Wolf)

- Outcast: Beric/Justinius (Outcast), Beric/Jason (Outcast)

- Sword at Sunset: Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset), Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Gault (Sword at Sunset)/Levin (Sword at Sunset)

Carpe diem!
[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed
Google answers to what people think about each state in the US

Google Autocomplete tool, that offers to autocomplete your questions with the most popular options, is probably the best way to do polls. A company named Mental Floss decided to take another look at what people were scratching their heads over, regarding each state. They wanted to find out what is the first thing that comes to mind when people are thinking about each state and what is it that they wonder about. They did it by letting Google autocomplete two simple questions: 

a. Why is [state] so...

b. What does [state] 

To stay on topic, they disregarded questions that referred to the state's sports team instead of the state itself (except for Alabama, because apparently that's all they search for).







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(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coalescent!

Oh, God will save her, fear you not

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:42 am
sovay: (I Claudius)
[personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed this review of a new biography of A.E. Housman, but I got to the last paragraph and disagreed so violently that I spent my shower fuming about it:

But that sweetness, verging on sentimentality, is also Housman's limitation: the lads and lasses slumbering under the grass, never growing old or sick or worrying about how to find a job. Sadness in Housman is a one-size-fits-all emotion, not one rooted in particulars. It puddles up automatically. And reading "A Shropshire Lad" you can find yourself becoming narcotized against feelings that are deeper and more complicated. That may be the real secret of the book's enduring popularity, the way it substitutes for a feeling of genuine loss the almost pleasant pain of nostalgia.

The reviewer claims earlier that "one reason 'A Shropshire Lad' has been so successful is that readers find there what they want to find," so perhaps I am merely following this well-worn tack, but I don't see how you can read Housman and miss the irony, the wryness, the sometimes bitterness and often ambiguity that never prevents the pleasure of a line that turns perfectly on itself. Some of his best poems seem to take themselves apart as they go. Some of them are hair-raising. Some of them are really funny. (It is impossible for me to take "When I was one-and-twenty" as a serious lament. In the same vein, it wasn't until tonight in the shower that I finally noticed that "Is my team ploughing" owes a cynical debt to "The Twa Corbies.") That is much more complicated than a haze of romantic angst and the vague sweet pain of lost content, especially seeing how much of Housman's language is vividly, specifically physical for all its doomed youth and fleeting time, not dreamy at all. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale. I am not sure why the reviewer knocks Housman's Shropshire for not being "particular," either. Of course it's not actual Shropshire, where the poet himself acknowledged he never even spent much time. It's Housman's Arcadia, et ego and all. I finished the review and found myself thinking of Catullus—again, I had to have my hair full of soap before I realized why. I don't understand why anyone looks for the undiluted Housman in A Shropshire Lad any more than the Lesbia poems should be assumed to contain the authentic Catullus. Pieces of both of them, sure. But my grandmother didn't need the identity of the addressee of "Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over" pinned down in order to copy out the poem and save it after a college relationship broke up badly. (I thought it was hers for years.) Who cares if its second person was Moses Jackson or fictional? It spoke to a real loss. I don't think there is anything anesthetizing in that. I doubt Housman would have wanted the particulars known, anyway. I have to figure out a way to stop fuming and start being asleep.

Daily Happiness

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:54 am
torachan: ryu from kimi ni todoke eating ramen (ramen)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I had a nice, relaxing birthday. I really didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, so I didn't!

2. It was pretty hot and muggy today, but if the forecast is to be believed (and I would like to believe it), today was the worst and it should be getting cooler for the next ten days or so. (It's definitely cooled off a lot tonight.)

3. We ordered Indian food for dinner and it was super tasty. The place we got from was new to us, but I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future. Among other things, we got mango chicken masala, which was amazing. Also cheese naan.

4. I happened to see a really cute Darth Maul Funko Pop the other day and ordered it from Amazon as a birthday present for myself and it actually came right on my birthday. :D

5. Chloe is such a pretty kitty!

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Posted by News Editor

No Perfect Magic by Patricia RiceNo Perfect Magic
Unexpected Magic Book 6
by Patricia Rice

Will Ives, the bastard son of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing.

The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately, afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants nothing more than to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture?

When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one.

With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak–or a love against all reason.

The Unexpected Magic series:

Magic in the Stars
Whisper of Magic
Theory of Magic
Aura of Magic
Chemistry of Magic
No Perfect Magic

Download an Ebook Sample:

EPUB MOBI

 

Buy No Perfect Magic at BVC Ebookstore

 

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toothpicks and glue

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:30 pm
runpunkrun: combat boot, pizza, camo pants = punk  (Default)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
One of my closet doors has been messed up for a long time, and after years of it grinding along horribly and throwing metal shavings all over the place I finally got tired of it. So today my dad and I fixed it with—I swear to god—some glue and a couple of toothpicks. It's just such a dad move, as well as completely in character for him. Apparently it's a trick he learned from my mother's father. So I'm having a moment of belated father's day reflection.

And now my closet door actually slides in the track and I can reach the clothes on that side of my closet again! Thanks, Dad.

decide for me

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I am supposed to go to rounds every Tuesday from 6 to 7 at the raptor rehab where I volunteer. It's good to be up-to-date on protocols, and to get the news about the cases. On the other hand, there is always a lot of information I don't need, and there are other ways to get the information I do need.

Tomorrow night there is a storytelling event at a coffee house from 7 to 9. "The event will showcase a selection of community storytellers sharing stories on the theme of food and farm. We’ve invited six storytellers — writers, poets, performers, journalists, speakers — to prepare true, personal stories and share them in front of a live audience." I'd like to go. I am always interested in anything that could help me become a better storyteller.

I could skip rounds.
I could leave rounds 10 minutes early and go to both, but I hate getting up when everyone else is still sitting patiently, and also that would be a very long evening for me.
I could just stay home. Staying home is always good.

two books, neither alike in dignity

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:42 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
It's book talking time!

Coincidentally, I have recently read two separate books about French spy-courtesans in the 1920s. One was Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night. The other - well, I call it a book, but it is an incomplete series, by Jo Graham, beginning with The General's Mistress and continuing in The Emperor's Agent and The Marshal's Lover.

Alexander Chee, award-winning author, is interviewed about TQOTN in Vogue and reviewed in the New York Times. Jo Graham is interviewed about her books in Amazing Stories and reviewed on, well, Goodreads. There is a great difference in the height at which your brow is meant to sit while reading these books.

Which just goes to show why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

The Queen of the Night is rapey-er than Game of Thrones, and you will not collect that from reading any of those interviews or reviews, but holy shit, it's grim and unrelenting. There is a lot of sex in this book - never let anyone tell you that Serious Authors don't write sex. What Serious Authors don't write is enjoyable sex, because that has the filthy female whiff of romance about it, and Chee will have nothing to do with that trap: enjoy 561 pages of bleak fucking, at best survival sex, at worst violent rape. But it's described like opera! So, you know: it's Art.

Whereas if on the other hand you like slumming, you could read a page-turner of a picaresque sex-and-war-and mysticism perspective on the Napoleonic Wars that is super, super interesting for someone who has tended to read about it from the English perspective! It reminds me very much of that Roger Ebert quote that's been floating around Twitter:
There's a learning process that moviegoers go through. They begin in childhood without sophistication or much taste, and for example, like "Gamera'' more than "Air Force One" because flying turtles are obviously more entertaining than United States presidents. Then they grow older and develop "taste,'' and prefer "Air Force One," which is better made and has big stars and a more plausible plot. (Isn't it more believable, after all, that a president could single-handedly wipe out a planeload of terrorists than that a giant turtle could spit gobs of flame?) Then, if they continue to grow older and wiser, they complete the circle and return to "Gamera'' again, realizing that while both movies are preposterous, the turtle movie has the charm of utter goofiness--and, in an age of flawless special effects, it is somehow more fun to watch flawed ones.
Both books are preposterous. But Jo Graham's books are cheerfully preposterous, with love at first sight being based on mystical reincarnation through the ages and a vow between Cleopatra's handmaidens or some such thing; and Alexander Chee's characters blankly drift through the ludicrous motions of a musicless opera plot because, as The Worst Bestsellers likes to say about characters in books like these, they are lizard people. Human motivations and actions are foreign to them! They hatched from eggs and now they are wearing human skin suits and that's why the author acts like their entirely, artificially plot-motivated behavior is normal and requires no explanation. It is normal, for lizards!

Whereas Jo Graham's books involve people having difficult but ultimately productive conversations about ambition and infidelity and polyamory - they don't have that vocabulary, but the ideas are definitely there - and people who aren't entirely good or bad, and an enby protagonist, and conflicted feelings about children, and the fear of aging and death, and politics that are rooted in the deep personal urge for freedom, and yes - magic, and sex, and fun! I got the third one as part of a StoryBundle, which was annoying as it spoiled the first two, obviously! But the moment I finished it I bought the other two anyway. Spoilers don't matter that much - they're not mystery novels, if you're writing about the Napoleonic Wars the interest of your story had better not depend on the reader not knowing how things turn out. The Queen of the Night I got from the library, and I tried to finish it, I really did. It just wasn't giving me anything to work with. It is the kind of book where spoilers matter - my loan of it ran out before I made it to the end, and I placed a hold on it to check it out again just because I did, honestly, want to know the answer to the mystery. But when my hold on it came due, I admitted that I did not want to know enough to drag myself through to the end of a very, very, very boring book, and I never checked it out the second time.

And, incidentally, between the grim, boring, rapey book, and the picaresque, sexy, fun book? The fun book is the one that's based on a real historical person. Maria Versfelt was a Dutch adventure star, as she is delightfully described in that Dutch website (thanks Google Translate), and her published memoirs are the basis for Graham's books. I think the reincarnation thing is invention, though.
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Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My manager doesn’t like my maternity clothes

I am 30 weeks pregnant with my first child and having some difficulty with my boss over maternity clothes. I work in finance and my office has a particularly conservative dress. Pre-pregnancy, I generally wore a sheath dress, blazer, and string of pearls. I haven’t really been able to wear anything like that for the past few months. Finding conservative maternity clothes has been difficult but I managed to find a few suits and some plain, sleeveless tops to go underneath. I’ve also found some black dresses that worked well with a blazer. (Similar to one pictured here.) I thought everything was fine.

Last week, my manager pulled me into his office and told me that my current wardrobe was unacceptable. I apologized and explained that I thought I was following the dress code. I asked what specifically I needed to change. He said that if I was going to wear a pant suit, the shirt needed to be tucked in and belted. Also that he did not like the look of side ruching or an empire waist on shirts and felt it was unprofessional. I told him that I would try to find maternity clothes that met his discerption but that it would be difficult. He wasn’t convinced and said that my job depends on me being dressed according to his standards. (There are a few other women but none of them have had any children while I’ve been at this job so I can’t look to what they’ve worn.)

Do I have any pushback here? I spent the weekend looking for clothes that met his requirements but haven’t been able to. He’s out on vacation this week and I’m out next week so I have a little bit of time to figure something out. I’m nervous that my job could be on the line.

Wha…?! What you’re describing is totally standard maternity wear (as is that dress you linked to).

I don’t recommend HR a ton, but this is a case where you should talk to HR. Your manager sounds like he has no idea what typical maternity wear is, and he’s getting way too involved in the details of what you’re wearing. (He “doesn’t like the look of” side ruching? I mean, I don’t like the look of the color yellow, but it never occurred to me to forbid people from wearing it.)

Go to HR ASAP and explain what happened and ask for guidance. They should intervene. Make sure that as part of this conversation, you ask them to ensure that you don’t face retaliation from your boss for involving them.

2. My manager tells me about her concerns with my coworker

I’ve been at my latest job for 8 months now (and had a 2 month maternity leave right in the middle). It’s a very small university office and I’m essentially the main admin. When I got here, I was back-filling a position left vacant by “Victoria” who was promoted within the office. A few months after I arrived here, my manager, “Mary,” who is the direct manager of everyone in our office, began quietly voicing her disapproval of Victoria and telling me that Victoria has complained about her job a lot recently and will probably be leaving soon.

In the beginning, it seemed like she just wanted to make me aware just in case I had to take on any extra workload, but most recently, she seems to roll her eyes and comment quietly about it every time she sees me. She’s even started asking me where Victoria is, asks me to check Victoria’s calendar, etc. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable because I feel like Mary is looking for reasons to fire Victoria and she’s asking me to be on the look out for these reasons (without saying as much).

I feel obliged to be secretive about this (not let Victoria know) because it’s a directive from my manager (literally – “this doesn’t leave this room”), but I also feel uncomfortable being her lookout and the sounding board for her frustration with my peers. I don’t want to be unreliable to my manager and I really love my job otherwise, but I also don’t want to betray my coworkers by somehow playing a part in getting them fired. What should I do? Is this kind of thing within the normal scope of duties for admins?

Sometimes it is, yeah. Mary shouldn’t be rolling her eyes when she talks to you about Victoria or complain about her to you or otherwise use you as a sounding board, but it’s reasonable for her to ask you if you know where Victoria is (knowing that kind of thing is often part of the admin job) and to ask you to alert her if you notice X or Y (especially if you’re better positioned to notice those things than she is).

I’d just stay studiously neutral when Mary is complaining about Victoria, but it’s not unusual for it to be part of the job that she’d expect you to work with her to track problems she’s seeing with Victoria’s work that you might see too. This can feel really awkward to do, but it’s not uncommon that a manager would need to gather information from other people rather than relying exclusively on what she’s able to witness firsthand.

3. My employee wears a blanket for sun protection when we go off-site

Should I say something to my new employee? I’m a manager. My newest employee has been working here for just over a month. She is a new graduate and this is her first full-time job out of school. There are times when we go to other offices or sites for meetings and we carpool to them in a company car or van. Unless it is really cloudy or raining out, my employee uses an umbrella when heading out to the vehicle, and inside the vehicle she covers herself with a blanket or cover and wears a scarf or hat on her head.

Naturally other employees questioned her, and she said she has had skin cancer twice and has to be careful of the sun. My concern is that her showing up at a meeting with external people with an umbrella, huge hat, and blanket will make people question her professionalism and affect the perception of all of us. It does look strange in comparison to everyone else, and people do comment. How can I bring this up to her? Most of our meetings are less than 30 minutes away and she would not have to be exposed to sun for long when she goes.

You shouldn’t tell her not to take the health precautions she feels she needs to take; for all we know, she’s been advised by her doctor to do this. So I wouldn’t get at all into what she does when she’s outside or in a car. But if she’s walking into clients’ offices still dressed that way, you could say something like, “I don’t know exactly what the precautions are that you need to take, but are you able to remove the hat and blanket before entering a client’s office? My concern is that it’s unusual enough that it will put the focus on those items rather than on the work we’re there to do. Or if you do need to keep them on, a scarf would look more professional than a blanket.”

4. Avoiding job search confusion if I change my nickname

I have a name with several common nicknames. I’m thinking that I want to start going by a different nickname professionally than I have for most of my life, since the one I’ve used was picked by my parents and rubs me the wrong way a bit. I find one of the alternatives to feel more professional and to be a better fit for my personality (and sadly, in my male dominated and often sexist field, a more gender-neutral nickname at the top of the resume could help me get in the door for interviews).

I can see confusion arising if prospective employers call my references and ask about me with my new nickname. How should I let them know what my references know me as? And is it seen as weird to use a different nickname at work than in your personal life?

I’d handle this the same way that people who change their names after marriage do. On your reference list, make a note like this:

Valentina Warbleworth, past manager at Llamagrams Inc. (knew me as Christy Livermore)

Now, first name changes aren’t as common as last name changes, but if you’re switching from Christy to Chris, most people are going to know those are both nicknames for Christina or Christine. On the other hand, if you’re switching from Christy to Cressida, it might require more explanation (to assure them you’re truly the same person). In that case, I might include a note like this:

* I began going by Cressida in 2016.

5. Can I write “see resume” in my cover letter?

I know that hiring managers take 10 seconds to read a resume. I work with film and editing equipment and I want to put something like “please refer to my resume for specific equipment and software I am familiar with.” Would that help me or is it a waste of time? Would they actually see the resume once I write that?

They’re going to look at your resume regardless, unless your cover letter is a horror show. There’s no need to write “see resume.” There’s also no need to repeat in your cover letter things that are addressed in your resume; that would be squandering this extra page you get. Your cover letter should focus on things that aren’t on your resume.

my boss doesn’t like my maternity clothes, employee wears a blanket for sun protection, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

elf: Petalwing, singing (Petalwing Singing)
[personal profile] elf
Ok, we're back to lists. Not that I have a lot of options here; I don't listen to a bunch of loud music, and most of the songs I like aren't loud. But there are a few. I'm including songs that I don't think need to be loud all the way through, but have a section that I prefer to be at top volume so I can scream along with it and not year my own voice.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go | Ballroom Blitz | Shut Up and Dance | It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) | Cum On Feel The Noize | We're Not Gonna Take It | I Wanna Be Sedated | Immigrant Song | Fat Bottomed Girls

...okay, maybe I do have a lot of options. Not as many as some of the others, but I'm not running out.

I have no idea what show or movie this was made from, but it's awesome )

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