Archive for September, 2013

How To Survive a Sociopath Boss

I once had a boss who is described in this article. But the crazy thing was, I really liked and respected him. I even defended him when coworkers would vent. Have you ever had a boss that everyone else in the office hated?


10 Things You Should Know About Goals

Excellent article that I may just have to make into a sign to hang over my desk.

Affecting the Passage of Time

Posted: September 27, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
Tags: , , ,

1302896127_1c17156215When I was a child, there were few things that could wake me before sunrise and the rest of the family. Christmas morning. A trip to Disneyland. The first day of school. It seemed I had to wait, not for the event, but for other people. Gifts could be unwrapped, the road trip begun, the breakfast eaten and preparations done as soon as other people were ready to participate. Time passed ever so slowly.

As an adult, I discovered joy in fishing. Not the constant activity of fly fishing or deep-sea fishing, but the languid stillness of lake fishing. For those who haven’t done this, it requires two things: patience and stubbornness. Waiting. Waiting for the telltale bend of the tip of the rod, waiting for a sign that a fish had taken the bait. Living on a lake, I fished often and there were many days when the fervently sought movement never came. The sun would be well up before I conceded the fish had been smarter than me that day. Time passed much too quickly.

Perhaps it is an unwritten universal law: If you are waiting to do something, whether it is work or play or going home at the end of the week, time passes slowly. If you are doing something, the clock races and you find yourself wanting (or needing) more time for the activity.

Perhaps the secret to waiting is busyness. Stop sitting and staring at the clock. Do something. Time will fly by and the waiting is past.

The hours and days run together.
I would not know time except for
The light and the dark and
The numbers on the wall.

Submitted to The Daily Post:

Employers redefine educational requirements

Excellent article about online learning resources, many of which are FREE. And employers are rethinking the need for a diploma as knowledge takes priority. You now have no excuse for not learning something new today.

Hurricanes. Wild fires. Earthquakes. Floods. An exploding gas pipeline in the neighborhood. For years, emergency preparedness has been advocated and advised by emergency responders, government agencies, and insurance companies. So are you ready? I’m not.

Excuses for not being prepared for an emergency:

  • The supply list seems so long and funds seem so short. Why spend money on something you don’t intend to use?
  • Where to store it all. As someone who moved from 1400 sq ft to 900 sq ft, this issue is very real.
  • Isn’t that what the Red Cross is for?
  • Lifestyle. Why should a single apartment dweller be worried about such a thing? Why not just get in your car and leave the stricken area?


While this seems like a strange topic for a personal blog, it has long been on my mind. And since September is National Preparedness Month, I just had to jump in to the fray.

As someone who has prepared emergency response plans for businesses, I have often thought that employers should get involved in helping workers prepare for emergencies. Why? Because when it comes to a business resuming operations after a disaster, their most valuable asset is their employees. Moreover, they can buy supplies in bulk and reduce the cost to each household.

Solution to acquiring the items on the supply list:

Break the big list down into smaller shopping lists. Get storage containers first, then stow items in them as they are purchased (Big Lots has big, clear plastic containers for about $9 each). Make a 12-week plan. Why 12 weeks? Because 3 months is a good length of time. Most of us break our income into monthly periods, so it’s easier to budget these purchases this way. Take 6 months if you absolutely need to do so, but 6 months makes it a long-term project, more likely to be abandoned before completion.

Depending on where you live, some of the things you need may be big-ticket items. Safe rooms in tornado alley, impact-resistant roofing in areas assaulted by hail and wind, and so on. Those may, in fact, require some longer-term projects and planning. But check with your insurer and your accountant. You may be eligible for tax and premium credits/discounts or even grants for purchasing these important building improvements.

Where to store it all:

Despite my own lack of space, I know I can find room in a closet or in the single-car garage for two or three large plastic containers. So can you. It’s important. Make room.

What the Red Cross can and cannot do:

The Red Cross does an excellent job of responding to disasters. They offer food and temporary shelter when possible. But don’t expect them to be knocking on your door within two hours after the earthquake or the river overflows its banks. In fact, the Red Cross says that it may be two to three days before assistance is near enough to help you. You need to be prepared to be self-sustaining in the interim.

Driving away from a disaster may not be possible:

Having survived many earthquakes in California (Sylmar, 1971; Whittier Narrows, 1986; Northridge, 1994 – my favorite – I had surgery scheduled that morning), I can tell you that gas stations may be shut down, ATMs may not be operating (do you keep emergency cash on hand?), or roads may be impassable. Your car may be in 4 feet of water, crushed under a garage roof, or sitting on top of a roof across town. If you live in an area where evacuation in advance is possible and probable, this may not be as much of an issue. But keep in mind that the worst non-subduction zone earthquakes in U.S. history occurred in New Madrid, Missouri (1811-1812).

If the most likely event is one that will require evacuation, begin disaster season in your region with a bag packed for each person in the household. You need to be able to fly out the door. Wouldn’t it be a good thing to have a clean change of clothes or two?

So let’s get started. Get your home ready. Get your business ready. Talk to your employer about getting the entire staff prepared, especially if your company is one that people will need after the disaster. Break the tasks into manageable pieces, but keep moving forward.

Here are some resources to help us get started:

A good list of tax credits, insurance discounts, grant programs available for specific states:

This is a one-stop site for households and businesses. Hosted by FEMA, you’ll find a lot of good information here, including the supply kit shopping list and ways to prepare children and people with special needs for emergencies.

If you’d rather buy than build your disaster survival kit:

Of course, the American Red Cross provides information about disaster preparedness. And after you think you’re ready, you can sign up for a first-aid class or to volunteer to help others:

ADD this site to your phone’s browser favorites. You’ll get information after a disaster, including their twitter feed and phone numbers you’ll need if you require disaster assistance. They also have your kit shopping list so you have no excuse for not having it with you.

Now make a commitment to yourself. Buy stuff you hope you’ll never need, but need to have anyway. Let’s get this done!

“He tried to hit me with a forklift!” (for today’s Daily Post)

Submitted to Daily Post:



I Don’t Want to Learn, I Want to Do

Posted: September 22, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
Tags: , , , , ,

When I was 8 years old, I told my mom I wanted to play the piano. She would say she was never an accomplished pianist, but to me, she had an amazing talent. I’d watch her fingers fly across the keyboard and hear music, wonderful music. I wanted to be able to do that.

Mom immediately signed me up for piano lessons. Since she worked, I had to walk to the piano teacher’s house. It seemed like a very long distance, but was probably only 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile away. Back then, parents didn’t worry about children being snatched off the street by strangers.

I kept up the lessons for a few weeks, but was frustrated. The finger positioning drills, the basic scales, learning music notation… that wasn’t what I had in mind. I wanted to make music like my mother did. Some years later, I realized the problem was that I wanted to play the piano, not learn to play the piano.

There are many talents which I wish I possessed without the baby steps needed to improve. I wish I could draw and paint. I even took drawing class in college, but the result did not reveal any innate talent. It’s something I should have continued to struggle through.

Both Nerdy Girl and I are perfectionists. We have a picture in our mind’s eye of how something should be. When our efforts are less than perfect, there is frustration and disappointment.

And yet… I sew. I can make beautiful things with fabric. When someone admires the skill (remember skill is learned, talent is a gift), I tell them they can do it, but must decide from the start that the first five garments they make will never be worn in public. They are practice pieces. Ill-fitting and imperfect.

In the end, we should all do what we love. I wouldn’t call myself a talented writer, but I love to write. Does my writing improve with practice? Maybe. Maybe not. I love to sing. That I know is not one my talents, but I do it for myself. And perhaps that is the best reason to do anything, perfect or not.

Submitted to: The Daily Post

To Be a Teacher

Posted: September 21, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
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readlistThe word teacher may evoke fond memories or make you shudder in horror. The best teachers are people with great curiosity, interested in learning new things for themselves, and able to encourage the same in other people.

A great teacher must have imagination, able to translate the most complex information into something that makes sense to the learner. To do that, they must understand learning styles because not every learner assimilates information in the same way.

A great teacher is resourceful. Whether it’s using the internet or applying for grants or taking advantage of a cloudy sky to teach about cloud types and weather, teaching requires using every tool available to spark enthusiasm and encourage curiosity.

I remember every one of my elementary school teachers. Only one could be said to be a nightmare, the kind that would be a caricature in a teen angst movie. Sixth grade. She gave me my first F grade. Penmanship. Why? Because I’m left-handed but didn’t write with a backslant. My penmanship was perfect for a right-handed person. I was devastated.

Nerdy Girl’s third-grade teacher is a great teacher. She teaches gifted education in a public school district where money goes to those with learning disabilities, not those who are above-average learners. She recognizes individuality in her students. During quiet study time, Nerdy Girl was disruptive and talkative. The solution? Allow Nerdy Girl to have an MP3 player. Why? Because if Nerdy Girl was listening, she wasn’t talking.

I think Bill Gates would be an excellent teacher. In his book, The Road Ahead (1995), he explained binary numbers in such a way that, for the first time, it was easy for me to understand. He takes complex information and translates it into a simple idea.

I think I’m a good teacher although Nerdy Girl is sometimes amazed at the things I find interesting and worth learning about. I remember encouraging her to read. I did what my fourth-grade teacher did… I read the first chapter of a good book and then set it aside. Nerdy Girl was 6 years old and finished Charlotte’s Web in less than a day. From that day forward, she couldn’t get books fast enough.

A great teacher doesn’t have to know everything about a subject to have credibility. Sometimes, it’s okay to be willing to learn with the student. Bring the resources, the curiosity, the ability to restate concepts in other ways, and the genuine desire to know all that is worth knowing.

Submitted to: Daily Posts