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23 posts from June 2008

Saturday Morning Pancake Breakfast: Return of the Pancake


This picture of Pancake and Kelly at the dog park was taken over a week ago, and we haven't been able to go back since.  Pancake came down with a mild case of kennel cough, which is basically the doggie version of the common cold.  I quarantined the little fella in the interest of not infecting his whole dog park posse, but I think it's finally safe to go back.  Hurray!

I Guess I Am Highlighting Work Topics This Week

I read a online discussion about workplace behavior today, and I have to say, this is definitely the grossest work-related question I have ever seen in my life:

I work in an enclosed office with several others. A new person was recently hired who has what can be described as a festering wound on her foot. She is a very nice person but the problem is she cleans it in the office and it often causes a nauseating smell to permeate the room that bothers all of us. We have no HR people on site.

We are at a loss as how to politely ask this individual to clean the wound in the restroom, not in the office. But we of course don't want to offend or embarrass her. She clearly has an infected would that she is trying to get to heal, but cleaning it out in an enclosed office space while the smell from the infection permeates the room is proving to be hard for us to tolerate much longer. This has been going on for about a month and is not improving. Thanks.


Please Give This Post 110% of Your Attention, If You Have the Bandwidth

This list of the "50 office-speak phrases you love to hate" is a great compilation of BBC readers just bitching about the dumb-ass business lingo they hate.  It includes some of my biggest pet peeves, but comment #31 was my favorite:

"The expression that drives me nuts is 110%, usually said to express passion/commitment/support by people who are not very good at maths. This has created something of a cliche-inflation, where people are now saying 120%, 200%, or if you are really REALLY committed, 500%. I remember once the then-chancellor Gordon Brown saying he was 101% behind Tony Blair, to which people reacted 'What? Only 101?'"

Kelly and I were totally talking about this last Monday during American Gladiators, because one of the contenders mentioned that she was giving 110% and we were all, no you're not, sorry.  (The whole thing reminds me of the arms race that is the razor industry right now: first they were bragging that razors had three blades, then four; now, I think we're up to five.  By the time I have a daughter who's old enough to shave her legs, razors will probably have a minimum of 1100 blades and I will have to teach her how to go slowly enough to avoid accidental amputation.)

Anyway, I decided then to start saying "I'm going to give it 128%" whenever I feel like providing a ludicrous demonstration of my intended level of effort on something.   I have since used it twice: once to describe my efforts at our softball game, and once at karaoke to characterize my dedication to singing B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" adequately. Both times everyone stared at me and tried to figure out if I was mocking the "110%" people, or if I was actually one of them, but a really, really precise one.

Saturday Morning Pancake Breakfast: Best Toy Ever!

I bought this toy at Petco, and even though it's just a bouncy ball on an elastic cord it has quickly taken the coveted position of BEST TOY IN THE HOUSE AND POSSIBLY THE ENTIRE WORLD.  We have spent hours--seriously, hours--playing with it this week, with Pancake skittering around the room trying to catch the ball before it sproings back into my hand.


Thanks for the good times, yellow ball on a string.

This Week In Internet: It's Ba-ack!

First, I loved your comments on yesterday's post.  They were fantastic.  You all have earned my BEST WISHES and WARMEST REGARDS. 

Now, onto the excitement!  My Internet-browsing schedule has finally stabilized (God, it was a rough couple of months there) and the bookmarks are starting to pile up again, just like in the good old days of 2007 and early 2008.  I think it's officially time to reinstate This Week In Internet as a recurring Friday feature.  Rejoice!  Here are this week's links:

Group One: Words are Funny

Group Two: The Internet Is Good for You

Group Three: Cute Animals Are Also Good for You

Group Four: Art (Kinda)

Group Five: Science (Kinda)

Group Six: Some People Are Smart.  Some People Are Dumb.

Group Seven: This One Link About Balloon Animals That Doesn't Fit in the Other Groups

Dissertation to Follow

One afternoon last month (when I was still at my old company), a co-worker was having trouble finishing an e-mail to the client.  "You see, I need his report updates, so I'm telling him to send them to me, but I have to phrase it like I'm asking because he's the client," she explained.  "Should I say, 'this is just a gentle reminder?'  Or is it 'friendly reminder?'  Or neither?" 

Naturally, a vigorous debate about the complexities of subtle passive-aggressive nudging ensued.  What amazed me was the diversity of opinion on the subject; of the nine people in the room, three were passionate "gentle reminder" proponents, two others were vehemently pro-"friendly reminder," one was leaning toward "gentle" but not sure, one said they were the same, and two had no idea.  Eventually we came to the consensus that she might as well flip a coin, because clearly there was no consistent rule to be applied, so we had no idea of predicting how it would be perceived by the client either way.

I always run into this same issue as it relates to signing e-mails at work, particularly when I am dealing with a new client or someone who is important.  I mean, I know I shouldn't sign something at work with "Love, Lauren," and I'm pretty sure my mom would think it was weird if I started writing "Sincerely yours" at the end of all my notes to her--but everything in between is a crapshoot.  I decide to try and make a little diagram to help me sort through my problem.


After careful consideration, I decided the best approach was to plot some typical goodbye-type expressions against axes of affectation (X) and closeness (Y).  I felt these axes gave me the best basis for evaluating the connotation of various phrases, and now that the graph is complete I think it presents a good visual idea of how I characterize certain things.

Looking at the graph, I can say for sure that I avoid all phrases in the "smug/detached" quadrant like the plague.  I never use them, and I kind of roll my eyes when someone uses them with me.  "Detached" isn't necessarily bad by itself, though, because the phrases in the detached/unaffected quadrant are good for more formal situations. However, I can't really explain why I have such different perceptions of some similar-sounding things--"Best" and "Best Wishes," for example--so I have to concede that I may be way off here in my groupings.  Maybe I have no sense for this kind of thing.

Regardless, I'd clearly like to hear what ones you agree/disagree with, and what words I forgot to throw on there.



P.S. I made this chart in PowerPoint, so it's not very cute.