Word of Advice

Note: Since first publishing this blog article back in March of 2016, I’ve found myself back in the job market. Today I was looking at my own advice for job interviewees, and found it needed some updates that I had missed, probably because applying for jobs and interviewing has changed a lot over the years.  I’ve also done more with Craig’s List/Ebay etc, and am updating those sections as well.

Job Interviewee – Take a shower, groom yourself for Pete’s sake. Put on professional clothes and shine your shoes, lose the gum and brush your teeth. It really IS true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This advice applies whether your interview is in person, or is a video interview. What’s that, you say? A video interview? Yes, Virginia, a video interview. Today’s businesses are beginning to use video interviews as initial screening interviews. The HR representative can record themselves asking a series of questions, and then the interviewee has a predetermined amount of time to respond. It saves the HR rep a lot of time, by not having to schedule the calls or bring people into their offices. You do, however, need to treat it as if it’s a true face-to-face interview. Test your system first, make sure your lighting is good, that you don’t have a distracting background behind you. I invested in an inexpensive photography backdrop that I hang up behind me, and put that up. If you set yourself up facing a window you’ll get nice, diffuse light that is flattering, but if that’s not available make sure you at least have enough light that your face can be seen.

For in person interviews, learn how to shake hands. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve shaken hands with that don’t know how? If you aren’t sure how to, then you probably don’t do it well. Go ask someone you know that is a confident business person to evaluate yours and help you improve because a limp handshake is horrible, and look people in the eye when you shake their hand.

Drive the route to the interview BEFORE you need to do it so that you know how long it takes. Don’t be late. If you’re going to be late, call. If possible, send a handwritten, yes, I said handwritten thank you note, and if your handwriting is illegible (you know who you are) then print. If you only had a phone interview or video screening, you may only be able to send a thank you via e-mail, and then you should do it that way, but that’s only if you don’t know an address for your interviewer. If you have an actual address, a handwritten note is always better etiquette.

Craig’s List/Ebay Buyers – Have you ever sold anything on Craig’s List or Ebay? If you have, then you know what an adventure it can be, but it can just as easily be a pointless exercise in futility. We’ve been cleaning out our crawl space, trying to get rid of a few things, make a little money, you know the drill. I’ve learned a few phrases that are rather helpful. “Cash is king” and “cash talks, bullshit walks” are my two favorites that my husband is continually beating into my brain. Now I started out being a Craig’s List softie…”oh, you need a day or two, sure, get back to me, I’ll hold it for you…”, or negotiating simultaneously with one buyer who then couldn’t deliver on time, going with a second who could then feeling bad when the first wanted more time because “I promised him he could buy the item, even though he didn’t have the money right then” or feeling like I needed to answer every email, and telling people that I had other buyers and what the conditions were. However, after being taken advantage of a few times, I’ve changed, become a radical hardliner. Gavel down, BAM! “SOLD to the first one at the neutral (and safe) meeting place with paper money that passes the counterfeit test wins the prize.”  For all you potential buyers on Craig’s List out there, here are some helpful tips.

1.Don’t email me to tell me “I’m interested.” I’m tempted to reply “that’s nice, so what?” Because I don’t care if you’re merely interested, I only really care if you want to BUY IT.  So if you really want to buy my item, tell me you want to buy it and when you want to meet, otherwise stop wasting my time.

2. Read the dang ad AND look at the pictures. I took the time to take photos, at different angles, to show you lots of information. I also said in the ad that the item a) works, b) does or does not have scratches c) is new or is used, etc. Now if you want more information about it that I didn’t put in the ad, that’s a different story, please go ahead and ask for it.  But don’t waste my time asking about what’s already there.

3. Don’t contact me unless you’re interested and plan to follow through. This week I had someone tell me she wanted something, we exchanged messages about connecting, then she dropped off the face of the earth. Meanwhile I had another person waiting to see if the item was still available.  I mean really, did you want it or not? If you changed your mind, I don’t care, you’re not hurting my feelings, just say so. Stop wasting my time for the love of…(are you seeing the theme?)

4. If you ask me to ship you the item because you’ve decided you don’t want to drive to me, realize it’s an inconvenience for me, act accordingly. Don’t dictate terms of this to me, I’ll choose my shipping agent, thanks.

5. And here is the kicker. If you ask me to accept money through PayPal, then you pay the fees to transfer! You came to me knobhead. I’m not taking a loss in my profit as a convenience to you.

Ebay Buyers – There isn’t as much to say here, probably because it’s an online bidding process and Ebay has already taken a lot of the guesswork out of it for you. The best advice I can give is to just pay promptly, because I won’t ship anything until your payment has come through. So any delays on your part will result in a delay in receiving your item.

Grocery shoppers – it’s just like driving (assuming you’re in a country that drives on the right side of the road). Carts on the right please, although I’d love to know if it’s opposite across the pond, where they drive on the wrong side of the road.  Do they move grocery carts on the left side of the aisles as well? : ) But how hard is it really, to get your cart out of the middle of the aisle. When you stop to get something off the shelf, just move to the side. Don’t stop in the middle. Look around. The aisles aren’t 3 carts wide. If you’re in the middle, ain’t nobody getting around. My parents brought me up to be polite, Minnesota nice, to say a gentle “please”, and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, and to cover my mouth when I burped in public. I am SO over that in the grocery store now (The Minnesota nice part. I’ll still cover my mouth when I burp in public, I promise Mom), it’s a firm and vocal “Excuse Me” that’s a whole lot closer to East Coast than the Midwest.

Anyone under the age of 35 – chronologically or mentally. Remove the phrase “I deserve” and “entitled” from your vocabulary and attitude. You don’t, you aren’t. Period. The world owes you NOTHING, you have to earn it. When you act like they do, you not only show your immaturity, but I really want to swat you off my shoulder like a gnat. Scat, go away!

Just sayin’.

 

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Things Mom Never Told You, Vol 1

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the inaugural edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered…

…What to do with old toothbrushes?

Bet you always wondered what to do with a) your old nasty squished toothbrush or b) the free toothbrush you get from the dentist that you don’t like/use because you have an electric one. Well stash em all over your house, because they’re amazing cleaning tools. They’ll get the dust out of little crevices on your appliances, in grout and corners, in windows, in your car. Firm bristles scrub well too, and aren’t just for getting light cleaning done. We have them everywhere! I’ll even wrap a sanitizing wipe around one for some of the cleaning, like when I’m cleaning the caulk around the sink to get into the tiny crevices.

…New use for old flannel sheets

I cut mine up into small pieces, and I’ve used some as dusting rags or glasses cleaners as they don’t give off lint, others for wrapping up delicate items before packing away like china or other breakables. If you cut off the edges that have the elastic on the bottom sheets you can use those too. They also work well for staining and painting rags.

…Breathe new life into old plastic flower pots (or other plastic stuff)

Get a large bucket that you don’t mind ruining. I use a Homer bucket – you know the ones I’m talking about, from Home Depot, the big orange project buckets. You’ll also want plastic or latex gloves you can wreck, just get a cheap pair of the dishwashing kind. Next select 2 (or more) colors of spray paint that you like and want to have together on an object. Finally, choose the item you want to work with for this project. For this project I picked a plastic flower pot.

IMG_1287I’m doing this one with the color it is, which is the mock terra cotta, but I’ve also done it by first spray painting it with white primer so that my base was white. IMG_1288

You can also see this pot wasn’t new to start with, and was pretty sun bleached and dirty. I did scrub it up with some simple green but you don’t need a new one, just a well cleaned object.

 

 

Step 1. Fill up your bucket with cold water, deep enough to fully submerge the item. Take the bucket outside and put it on the ground, either in the grass, or on something that protects the area underneath it.

Step 2: Set up some method for drying the item you’re going to cover. You may want to hang it to drip dry, if possible. I have several large “S” shaped hangers that were originally used to suspend birdhouses or birdfeeders from trees, and I now use them as hangers from trees to spraypaint items or as my dryers. If you don’t have a way to suspend outside, you can hang the item from a garage track with something underneath, or even inside as long as you have something underneath to catch drips.

Step 3: Take your spray paint and spray on the surface of the water, alternating colors. You can spray in concentric circles, or vary it up. Do a bunch of concentric circles, then start a new set next to that. You’ll need quite a bit on the water’s surface though. (I know, in your mind you’re thinking “that much?” Sorry I can’t be more specific. It’s a learning process.) After you spray on what you think you need (add more for good measure), take a popsicle stick or tooth pick and with the tip lightly pull a bit through the paint, so you’re creating a bit of a pattern on the surface. You don’t need to do much, and if you try to do too much you’ll get paint sticking to the stick and start pulling it out of the water.

Step 4: Put on your gloves, then pick up your item and SLOWLY immerse it into the water. I recommend starting with the top of your item, so if you run out of paint, and have to respray and resubmerge it will be toward the bottom of it, not the top. For the first time, however, dunk the item all the way under water and hold it there for about 30 seconds, which helps the paint to start setting up and harden.

Step 5: Remove it from the water, hang it up and let it drip dry. Voila! You have a crazy new painted pot!IMG_1745

IMG_1245Here are a couple of other things that I’ve done as well. The table was originally black, we then spray painted it a light blue. I decided to try the two colors but it was too big for the bucket.

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In a flash of inspiration (and sheer stubbornness because my husband didn’t think I would be able to find anything large enough to dunk it in), I lined our wheelbarrow with plastic and then filled that with water, and took the table apart into two pieces, dipping those separately.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1259The shell was a plain white/cream. I did that in a magenta/pale pink to accent in our bathroom. In hindsight the pale pink barely shows through, it almost looks like it’s the white, so I could have selected a different color for more of an accent. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, and can tell the difference between the pink and the white, it’s just subtle.

 

…Remove Old Stain

OK I admit this one isn’t something most of us run across too often, but the need we had and product we found for the job was such a revelation that I have to show it to you. We had an old aluminum canoe that was under a deck when the deck was restained, so the canoe had oil-based stain that dripped onto it. We didn’t notice it right away…or even later…we saw it probably a year later. Ugh. Fast forward to about 18 months later when some friends asked if they could borrow the canoe. Now it’s not a new canoe, it’s probably 30-40 years old, and has gotten banged around on rocks a fair bit, so it’s scratched, dinged etc. But stain? So I did a little research and found on something called Motsenbacher’s Lift-Off #4, Spray Paint and Graffitti Remover. It doesn’t dissolve the paint, it breaks the chemical bonds between the paint and the surface it’s on. Here are some initial before and after shots:

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In the top photo I had already started to remove stain when I realized I’d better get a posterity photo so I quick shot one, hence the little gap on that middle spike. On the bottom photo you can see the left spike of stain is gone. I literally sprayed on the Lift-Off, waited 2 minutes, then used a plastic scraper (like the ones you get from Pampered Chef) and just a tiny bit of elbow grease to get it started. Once it started to come off, it truly peeled off. Once my husband saw how well it worked he said he’d finish it up, then decided he would also give the canoe a good overall scrubbing. Here is how it looks now:IMG_1424.JPG

Crazy, aint it? I linked to a YouTube video on the product name above so you can learn more about it if you would like.

 

I hope you found this fun, informative and/or helpful. Volume 2  is already underway, packed full of more great tidbits!    

The (Lack of )Trouble with Harry

Now I’m not one to go all gaga over the British royals, acting all starstruck and speechless if I were to see them – in fact I rather think I’d keep a good poker face on. Even though their grandmother is the Queen, I’d be a normalish, like it was just another day, anything goes kind of person. Because let’s face it, you have to feel a little sorry for those poor princes, Harry and William. Dealing with the paparazzi all the time has got to be a nightmare, and they sure didn’t ask for it, they were just born that way. Honestly, they aren’t bad kids, and would you and I handle all the fame and nonsense as well as they have? Probably not.

(Anyone figure out the theme of the first paragraph yet? If not, here’s a clue:)Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 7.42.59 AM.png

More seriously, I’m often struck with how extraordinary Princes William and Harry have become. Growing up under a microscope had to be absolutely unbearable, and many of us saw some of the ways that played out for Prince Harry thanks to the Internet. Over the past 5 years however, he’s worked hard to clean up his image, and demonstrate that he’s grown up. Most recently he and his brother, Prince William, accompanied by Princess Kate, have become strong vocal supporters for mental health advocacy. Prince Harry has been openly discussing his struggles with depression and how the death of his mother, Princess Diana, affected him. They seem to be determined to break old stereotypes and blaze new trails for royals. Can you even imagine 25 years ago, when Princess Diana was still married to Prince Charles, if she had openly discussed her struggles with depression or bulimia? How different things might have been if she could have, but at that time there was such a stigma about it all. Even now, we struggle to talk about mental health comfortably; we still want to treat it like it’s weird, or defective. Perhaps their openness on the subject will be what we need to begin breaking through for everyone.

I’ve run across a couple of stories I wanted to share about Prince Harry that for me at least made me think “what an amazing individual” he is, how real and genuine he seems. The first is from a trip that he made to Australia last year. Here is the link to a video on NBC news.com on the trip, it’s very short, but worth watching and is delightful, particularly in these harshly partisan times.

The conditions aren’t the best, it’s raining out and he’s doing a fan ‘meet and greet’. As he walks the line he sees a familiar face. Watch his face – you can clearly see the delight when he recognizes this fan, and see when he mouths her name as he bends down in the rain, gives her a hug and kisses her cheek. They chat for a few moments before he moves on. What really struck me is that she is 97 and they are in Australia. He’d apparently met her the previous year when he visited there, and according to her, greeted her then and “he kissed the other cheek”. Think about this for a moment…how many people do you suppose he meets in a week…a month…a year? Yet he remembered her name – Daphne – you can see him say it, and clearly with pleasure from the smile.

I think that’s what the story from Australia was really about, Prince Harry being absolutely real and present, in the moment. In that video is a still photo of him capturing a moment of pure happiness in the moment, with his old friend Daphne. How many of us honestly are in the moment with the people we’re with, whether old friends, new friends, casual acquaintances or even someone you just met? If Prince Harry can do it, so can every single one of us.

Be In The Moment

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I challenge everyone reading this to just stop at least once this week, and pause to reflect. Are you in the moment? Not thinking about all of the distractions around you, the pressures and stresses, the kids, the bills, who made you mad or sad, but right now, in the moment. Go somewhere you can do this if you need to. Find a park, go to a zoo, or the animal shelter and hold a puppy or a kitten. Just take in that moment and hold it, realize its preciousness.

I also found an adorable story about him from when he was recently at the Invictus Games in Canada. (For those of you who are asking “Invictus Games, what the heck are those?” here is what it says about them in Wikipedia:

“They are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event, created by advisors of Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports. Named after Invictus, Latin for “unconquered” or “undefeated”, the event was inspired by the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the United States. (The first Invictus Games took place in March 2014, and Harry attends each time they are held.)

Prince Harry was watching the volleyball finals, sitting next to friends, and their daughter started sneaking some of his popcorn. After he caught her at it, he started to make the most adorable faces at her, some of which were caught on camera. There is also a short video clip of it as well which can be found in the article in People Magazine online. If this doesn’t make you smile, nothing will!

Lightening it back up a bit, so are you still stumped on the first paragraph? I did my best to ‘turn it up to 11’ but no, it’s not about Spinal Tap. That first paragraph had 11 Lady Gaga songs in it – well, 10.5 since I changed one word slightly in one of her biggest hits, so with all due respect and appropriate apologies to Lady Gaga, it’s still her hit, and there are no copyright infringements. Here you go:

Now I’m not one to go all gaga over the British royals, acting all starstruck and speechless if I were to see them – in fact I rather think I’d keep a good poker face on. Even though their grandmother is the Queen, I’d be a normalish, like it was just another day, anything goes kind of person. Because let’s face it, you have to feel a little sorry for those poor princes, Harry and William. Dealing with the paparazzi all the time has got to be a nightmare, and they sure didn’t ask for it, they were just born that way. Honestly, they aren’t bad kids, and would you and I handle all the fame and nonsense as well as they have? Probably not.

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