Archive | September, 2012

The perfect work environment

28 Sep

Do you know why the corporate world invented Saturdays? Because they discovered that five days is the scientific maximum the average person can put up with the standard office environment. The correlation between comfort of the office and productivity after 3:00 PM (1:30 PM Fridays) is a well-documented fact.*

With only a few minute adjustments, proposed here, I conjecture that productivity could increase by as much as 1/3 (1/4 on Fridays).

Consider:

Foisting off unwanted caramel popcorn gift bags and half eaten boxes of Zebra cakes in the break room only makes people sluggish. How about a plate of cut fruit, including kiwi with no peel, available at all times? And some squares of dark chocolate, just in case.

 dogBring-your-dog-to-work day.

Want people to stop sneaking out early? Hold raffles at 5:30. Prize suggestions: movie tickets, Starbucks gift cards, trips to Barbados.

Replace the standard office-rimmed cubicle layout for scattered groupings of sofas and armchairs. Case in point: coffee shops have sofas, and everyone’s always busy in a coffee shop, amirite? Besides, ergonomic office chairs are a myth.CW67_10_96_1

A medicine cabinet with an assortment of pain-mitigating drugs. Over the counter of course! People with headaches are not productive.

Provide lightly scented lotion in addition to the ubiquitous foam soap. Hotel quality hand towels would be a bonus. So would a bathroom attendant.

Might I suggest…?

The fluorescent lights have gahttago. The warm glow of table lamps make people calmer, prettier, and less thirsty—all conducive to getting things done.

Switch to Charmin ultra soft TP. Need I say more?

*By “fact” I mean Loetell fact, and by Loetell fact I mean an exaggerated, imaginary, or patently false statement asserted confidently, thereby making it sound like a fact.

LOLz for Mamas

27 Sep

You have to check out this awesome article at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency by Taylor Harris, I See Fit People. It was the Grand Prize Column Contest Winner this year, and for good reason. I wish I had written it, and actually I feel like I did write it…even though I wear shorts and enjoy cardio pole.

An excerpt:

At my four-week check up, I finally had to look my postpartum flab in the face, thanks to my OB:

HIM: You’re just going to feel my finger here. How much did you weigh today?

ME: [I told him the real number. I couldn’t lie because the nurse was still in the room.]

HIM: And how much did you weigh before you got pregnant?

ME: [Please make this stop. I’d rather have back-to-back pap smears with a chilled speculum.]

HIM: WHOOPSIES!

That word. A terrible word to say to an adult. I say “Whoopsies!” when Tophs lets one rip in his sleep—because it’s not his fault. I would love to pretend that gaining extra pregnancy weight is like sleep farting. Really it’s like throwing back whole rotisserie chickens and keeping a spit on your dashboard during rush hour.

NAMB: Reading Hour Faceoff

26 Sep

We’ve been diligently reading to baby T since he was born (we even brought books to the hospital) but it wasn’t until about a month ago that it finally paid off–the goob will now actually sit and listen to a story. In fact, he’s kind of obsessed.

My sole parental mission is to make this child a bookworm (keeping him healthfully fed is turning out to be too lofty a goal), so I’m feeling pretty gratified. He wants to read not only at bedtime, but first thing in the morning, as soon as we walk in the door, in the middle of meals, while mommy’s trying to use the bathroom…all the time. But when I see him toddling to me holding out the same tattered book again, my pride is tempered by nostalgia for the time when he ignored us and we could read him the books that we liked.

So without further ado, the members of the Young family would like to make their opening arguments in the case of Baby v. Parents: reading time.

In the first corner, we have the T:

My very very very very very most favorite book EVER! This story has it all: trains, mud, dogs, sound effects, obstacles, a winner…and all in rhyme. The only thing I don’t understand is why this book hasn’t won a Pulitzer.

Five pages. Ten sentences. One lost shoe. The suspense kills me every time.

So here’s this frog: eating bugs, eating bugs, eating bugs, when BAM. He gets ate! By a big fish! HAHHAHA SUCKA.

Wait a minute–you have a cat? I have a cat too! You don’t clean its litter box? Neither do I!! I obviously should’ve been born in a different era. The Jurassic era.

You know what’s hilarious? My mom trying teaching me to be patient by reading this book about waiting for cookies to bake, and me flipping the page before she’s done reading it! How’s THAT for patience Ma?!

There are holes in this book! The pages are different sizes! I love it so much that I’ve been trying to make all my other books match.

And in this corner, Maw and Paw:

BimwiliThat this book is so difficult to find is one of the world’s great tragedies. My mom used to do an Oscar-worthy reading of this wacky story about a shape-shifting African zombie who imprisons a little girl inside his drum and makes her sing. Not only is this one of my favorite kids’ books, it’s one my favorite books of all time.

Mr DogToeing the line of whimsical-weird is the tale of Crispin’s Crispian, the dog who belonged to himself. The only context in which a bright green vegetable has been or ever will be appealing.

Owl and PussycatThis poem was quoted in It’s a Wonderful Life (and also in the program at our wedding), so it’s obviously awesome. The illustrations in this particular edition are mesmerizing. Also, I’d like to nominate Piggy-wig as one of the best nouns in the English language.

MiMThis haunting origin story with steampunkish illustrations reminds us that not all of childhood is saccharine sweet.

20101126-Goodnight%20Goodnight%20Construction%20SiteI always suspected cement mixers had a mind of their own.

GrowltigerThese three poems come from the T.S. Eliot collection that the Musical CATS is based upon. Sure, one day we’ll have to explain why we can’t say “Chink” anymore, but the pictures enthrall and the rhymes charm—and make some pretty advanced vocabulary digestible. This is another one that’s out of print and hard to find.

Verdict: It is the opinion of this household that you can never have too many books, and every book shall have his day. Sentence: Aw heck, just buy ’em all! If you get really tired of doing the cookie monster voice on the 12th read, you can always hide it in the laundry hamper.

P.S. Don’t hate on my mixed metaphors.

Fashion Week Highlights

25 Sep

My brain has been feeling kind of drained lately; due, I suspect, to atrophy rather than exhaustion. The only thing on my mind lately has been shopping.

So instead of swimming against the tide, let’s just go with it (and with my tirade against the season last week). Here’s what I’m adding to my imaginary wardrobe from the Spring 2013 NYC Fashion Week, which was the week before last. Pretty pictures for your Tuesday!

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Meanwhile, back on earth, I picked up a few additions to my fall wardrobe, including the luxe-looking oxblood peplum dress I’m sporting today. Any other fashion fans out there? What’s happening in your closet?

Enter my domain

24 Sep

Look up. There, in your browser bar. Horayay! I have a little corner of the web to call my own. You can now view this page by visiting janielyoung.com, and soon you’ll be able to email me through my domain as well (still trying to figure that out–stay tuned).

Tell your friends!

The one person who doesn’t like fall

21 Sep

“All day at school, all I hear is boots. Boots, boots, boots, boots, boots, boots, boots! Whatever happened to sneakers?”

I am about to bust out laughing at Lily, one of my dance kids, and her sad tale. It is so close to my own. I may or may not have a pair of fall boots en route to my home as I write, but I would much prefer they were flip flops. Autumn has crept up on us, and even though the afternoons are still lovely and warm, I’ve had to fish out a hoodie for T in the morning.

Everyone I know has been heralding this time of year like it was Jesus arriving instead of cold weather. The reasons people give for loving autumn are all the same, and in my opinion, all dubious:

Boots (of course)
Sweaters
Hot drinks, i.e. cider, hot chocolate, Pumpkin Spice Latte
Leaves
Fires
Christmas is around the corner (???!?!?!)

I may lose friends over this, but I’ll say it. Fall is the worst. I would happily move to an equator locale, where it never dips below 72 and you can wear a bathing suit all year. Reasons to dislike fall (all much more compelling than the above, I dare say):

Allergies. I get them way worse now than in the spring.
I have to actually put shoes on T, which means I have to find shoes that fit him.
It’s cold enough for flannel PJs when you get into bed, but during the night it gets too hot and they end up on the floor. Then you have to search for them in the dark when your baby cries/cat meows at 6:30 AM.
It’s hurricane season.
It’s cold getting out of the shower.
Dresses and skirts now have to be worn with stockings or tights. Ugh and ick.
Iced coffee is way better than hot coffee.
My hair gets frizzy.
Less daylight. Unless you’re a vampire or allergic to sunlight, how is that ever a good thing?
Static shock every time you get in and out of the car.
Fall is rainy season in Georgia. We never get nice leaves anyway.
Layers are annoying. You always forget your jacket at work because it’s freezing in the morning, and 900 degrees in your car in the afternoon.
Speaking of that, it’s impossible to find a comfortable temperature in your car. Windows down is a nice option—if you don’t have hair.
My feet won’t be warm again till May.
Halloween offers two choices for females: stay warm and look frumpy, or be cute and suffer.

A bien tot, summer. Your faithful lover will be waiting for you next year.

Political Comments on Social Media – desirable or disasterous?

20 Sep

As November looms ever closer, the rash of political-themed asides on our favorite social media platforms is hardly shocking. There’s certainly no shortage of material for commentary (this latest 47% gaffe caused quite a stir, no?).

But even more prevalent than the comments about politics are the comments about comments about politics. Know what I’m talking about? They run the gamut from:

…the whiny (“I’m SO tired of hearing the political talk!”)

…to the practical (“how do you block certain comments from popping up in your feed?”)

…to the pacifist (“we all just need to learn to respect each other’s opinions”)

…to the sarcastic (“yeah—FB should only be restricted to comments about puppies and lunch”).

I’ve even seen people throwing in the towel, swearing off social media (riiight) until November or refusing to engage (often announcing the intent, which I would argue is in and of itself a comment). Friendships are even ending over the hullabaloo, and not just the online kind.

It begs the question, what is the place of social media in politics, and vice versa? Should the two mix at all? Is it really possible to stay out of the fray, and honestly, should we?

Politicians already consider social media a powerful campaign tool. Studies have actually been following the effect of certain online actions (such as Liking) on voting, and the influence is not insignificant. Our voice is a force that can be used for good or evil.

Unfortunately, evil is easier than good. One of the common arguments I hear, and one of the most sound, is that the anonymity of the internet allows people to be rude. Can’t really argue with that. It’s a lot easier to sass back in type than it is to someone’s face, and if your buttons really get pushed the temptation is almost irresistible.

A somewhat related point is that the speed and brevity of web-style posting doesn’t lend itself to thoughtful—and therefore meaningful—debate. Also true. They call that bumper sticker talk: bite sized bits of truth that, like cotton candy, melt in your mouth but ultimately fail to satisfy.

Another debating point (one I champion) is the quality of commentary. When it comes to hot topics like politics and religion, I’m with Thumper: if you can’t say something intelligent, don’t say nuthin’ at all. That maxim has prevented me from entering many a discussion, both online and off, in my lifetime. Even if I have a strong gut opinion, I won’t voice it without knowledge to back it. In fact, I skipped the July referendum on the Atlanta traffic SPLOST because I didn’t feel fully informed.

The very large peace-loving, people-pleasing, non-confrontational part of me would love to answer the call for a moratorium on political commentary. But I have to believe that civic engagement—any civic engagement—is better than none at all.

We’ve all at one time or another held erroneous beliefs, and probably even spouted a few of those. It blows having to admit wrongness or defeat (perhaps it’s why so few people ever do it). That’s a risk we have to shoulder, because disengagement is fatal. Think about it—do you really want to put your future in the hands of some joker you know absolutely nothing about? Or worse, leave it to the lobbyists? Shudder.

Our opinion is a powerful thing, and it’s our responsibility as citizens of the world to make that opinion as informed as possible. Social media is certainly not the most reliable tool for formulation of opinions—the depth of idiocy on both sides of the political spectrum can be downright astonishing—but declining to speak your mind only encourages disengagement. (If you don’t know what your mind is, no shame: sites like isidewith.com  help match your inherent beliefs to a candidate).

Even if one does decide to pull a Rhode Island and “abstain–courteously” from the discussion (what? everybody loves a musical theatre reference) the most important thing is that you get some beliefs and vote on them. (Register online at rockthevote.org. Tell your friends!) In the end, the only comments I find truly cringe-inducing are “I’m not going to vote. I just don’t follow that stuff.”