Category Archives: work

Keeping Them Happy

I used to be part of a psychology department  at my agency with four other psychologists. We had our own secretary who scheduled our appointments, administered the paper and pencil tests to our clients, scored our tests, and typed our reports.

I am now the only full time psychologist at our agency.   We lost our secretary position, and my departmental support staff duties have been divvied up between the remaining support staff.  I rely on one person to schedule my evaluations, one to type my letters, one to score my tests,  and two others who take turns typing my evaluations. I administer all my own tests now.  They all do a great job and I am grateful for each one.

It is Administrative Assistants Day on April 25.  That means that I need to do something special for all five of the people who take such good care of me. If there is one thing I have learned in the nineteen years I have worked at my agency, it is that it is really important to keep the support staff happy and let them know how much they are appreciated.  They work hard and keep things going.  I complained to our assistant regional director that it really isn’t fair that I have so many administrative assistants  to keep happy when some people only have one. She just laughed at me. I have decided to bake four kinds of shortbread for them.  Husband decided that he had people on the reservation to thank for the administrative work they do for him, so he decided it would be just the thing if I made a chocolate cheesecake that he could take up with him, along with any of the shortbread that I don’t bring to work.  It is a good thing I like to bake.  I know he appreciates it.

How do you show people you appreciate them? How have people let you know they appreciate you?  When haven’t you been appreciated?


Day Brighteners

I had to go to work an hour early yesterday, well before the agency opened.  My agency is housed in a six story former college dorm. It is surrounded by tall spruce and pine  trees.  I noticed a small hawk in the top of one of the spruces as I approached the front door. It was making a real racket, screeching and flapping its wings.  I heard its cry all day as it harassed the flock of crows that also hang out in the tall trees.  It zoomed past my window a couple of times. I  am not sure if it was a Kestrel or a Merlin. We have both of them here.  Work has been pretty stressful, and that little hawk was a real day brightener for me. I hope it is nesting nearby and I get to see it all spring.

What has been a day brightener for you lately?

There Ought To Be A Law

In 1950, one out of every twenty people needed a license to engage in their profession or occupation.  Today, one out of every three people need  such a license.  Folks with a libertarian mind set see this as government overreach. They may be correct. Others see this as a natural result of the development of technology and/or the result of increasing instances of harm to the public by unscrupulous practitioners. They may be correct, too.

Regulation of any profession requiring a license is a balancing act. Regulatory boards are most often comprised of  of individuals who are active practitioners of the professions they regulate.  As a member of such a board, you have to balance the need to protect the public interest without restricting trade.  Sometimes boards fail at this. Recently, a Board of Dentistry in  a southern US state sent cease and desist letters to businesses in malls that were offering teeth whitening services.  The teeth whiteners protested, and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. The Court agreed with the teeth whiteners, and stated that the dentists were only concerned with profit for dentists, not with the public interest.  This has spurred an anti-regulatory movement, which complicates things for we who are really concerned with the public interest as well as with economic growth.

The problem with regulation is that no one wants it until they want it. If you recall, there were some hot air ballooning accidents last summer, and the immediate reaction was “Why weren’t these balloon companies regulated?!”  I attended a conference of regulatory boards for my own profession last week  I learned that, in Washington State, boxing announcers must be licensed.  That struck me as one of the funniest things I had heard in a long time. I have no idea  why that type of license is necessary. Government is the great equalizer, as 45 has yet to understand.  No one is above the law. The tension for regulation is uncomfortable, but necessary, in my opinion.

What laws would you pass if you could? What laws would you strike down? Why do you think boxing announcers need to be licensed?


Positive Lifestyle Changes

The month of March was pretty difficult for our daughter.  Early in the month she rear ended a large pickup with her Subaru Forester.  She was only driving about 30 mph at the time when the pickup in front of her stopped suddenly. She was cited for following too close.  The pickup sustained no damage. There was only $3000 damage to the front end of her car, but, since all eight of the air bags deployed, the insurance company wrote her car off.  It would cost $16,000 to repair them.  This, then, entailed her getting a rental vehicle, waiting for the damage estimate and the insurance cheque to get deposited in her account, and the purchase of a new vehicle.  There were tons of phone calls to me, with her in anxious agony when adjusters didn’t get back to her when they said they would or when the  cheque wasn’t deposited when it was promised.  (The local car dealership  was having a great sale on new Subarus, and she wanted to get in on the deal. They told her to just write them a cheque and they wouldn’t cash it until the insurance payment arrived.  Since the insurance payment was late, there was angst and heartburn that the cheque to the car dealership was going to bounce.)  This is the second car she has totaled in three years. Thank goodness the insurance company isn’t going to cancel her policy.  She lives in an area noted for horrible traffic and lots of accidents, and she isn’t even considered high risk.

March’s next blow was a doozy.  Daughter lives in a one bedroom apartment with her cat, a cat that never goes outside.  Last week daughter noted that her cat was particularly droopy and was avoiding eating and was hesitant to walk on the carpeted floor.  A closer look revealed that the cat and the carpets were infested with fleas. There were even fleas in her rental car.  Daughter surmises she brought fleas home with her from work.  She does intensive family therapy in people’s homes, and probably picked the fleas up in one of the homes. The same thing happened to her supervisor last year.  Daughter had no previous experience with fleas, so this meant multiple, distressed phone calls to me, trips to the vet, constant laundry and vacuuming, and setting off flea bombs in the apartment.  We are now flea free.

Daughter said that March’s events have prompted her to make positive lifestyle changes. She wants to slow down,  simplify her spaces, and get rid of unnecessary things and be more orderly. She said that when she cleaned her Forester out preparatory to  the insurance adjusters looking at it, she was appalled at all the junk she had there. “Mom! It looked like the Box Car Children were living in my vehicle!”  She stripped down to socks and underwear outside her front door after work the other night and put her clothes directly in the washing machine. I told her she could probably strip in the bath tub for the same results and less alarm for the neighbors.

It does no good to scold someone  when they are distressed, so my internal, unspoken monologue to Daughter during March has been a very constant and rapid “YOU NEED TO START  TAKING YOUR G** D***** ADHD MEDICATION AGAIN!!!  YOU ALWAYS DRIVE TOO FAST! SLOW DOWN! PAY ATTENTION!!  THERE IS NOTHING I CAN SAY THAT IS GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER RIGHT NOW.  DEAL WITH IT!!  HERE, TALK TO YOUR FATHER!!

It is no surprise my dentist told me yesterday that it looks like I have been grinding my teeth in the daytime. This is a recent development since my last checkup six months ago.  I imagine it really increased in March. I paid attention today and noticed just how much teeth grinding I am doing. I hope that as long as Daughter sticks with her positive lifestyle changes, I can make my positive lifestyle changes and save my tooth enamel.

What has prompted, or could prompt, you to make positive lifestyle changes?

Legislative Grammar

I am a member of a state board that licenses and regulates a mental health profession. We are bound by an administrative code that spells out everything having to do with the profession as practiced in our state, such as qualifications for licensure, rules and regulations for practice, fees, fines, and procedures for handling consumer complaints.  Every two years, we are mandated to have a meeting to take comments from the public regarding our functioning and issues with our administrative code. We then consider the comments, make any changes that are necessary, and then forward the changes to a legislative  committee that will approve (or not) the changes we suggest. Usually, public comments have to do with unclear language in the administrative code.

During a recent meeting, our Board attorney proposed the following clarification of an unclear section of the code:

(4) Provide endorsements of application from behavioral health professionals that possess a current license, certification, registration, or other written authorization to practice from a state or provincial regulatory body, as approved by the Board

I and another Board member commented that the statement was fine, except for the word “that” in the second line. We thought it should be “who”. The attorney agreed, and said we could change it if we wished, but that the Legislators would probably change it back to “that”.  He explained that the Legislators don’t like to use “who” or “whom” because they are never certain which to use, and use “that” as a safer alternative. I thought that was pretty funny, as well as a sad commentary on the lack of grammatical knowledge of the people who are writing state laws.

What aspects of writing or speaking are you fussy about?  What sort of reputation would you have if you were a member of a state legislature?


Little Rebellions

My Uncle Wink (his real name is Arthur but he’s an Arthur Junior, so he’s always been known as Wink) is a dentist. As you can imagine, this means that dental health and hygiene was a huge deal in my house when I was growing up.  Brushing, flossing, two check-ups a year – the whole shebang.

And Crest toothpaste was the ONLY toothpaste allowed, decreed by Uncle Wink. And when I was younger, there weren’t any variations… no special flavors, no gels, no nothing.  This wasn’t too big a deal until I was in high school and different kind of toothpaste began to show up on grocery store shelves and the ads for fancy formulas that made your teeth shine and sparkle began to proliferate on tv and in magazines. But it didn’t matter to my Uncle Wink (and therefore to my mother).  Crest was the only sanctified toothpaste for us.

So when I moved into my first apartment in Northfield, one of the first things I bought for myself was a tube of Aquafresh. It came out of the tube in three stripes of white, red and aqua – an unheard of thing back then.  Every night when I brushed my teeth, I felt a little thrill of rebellion run down my spine!


These days I buy toothpaste by price or coupon, but if there isn’t much difference between pricing the day I’m standing in the toothpaste aisle, I always reach for Aquafresh. And I still feel that little thrill each night!

When have you rebelled?

Feed My Starving Children

One of the great things I like about my job is that the management believes in giving back. There are lots of ways during the year to contribute to various programs but one of my favorites is Feed My Starving Children.

FMSC packs food and sends it around the world to places where children are at risk due to malnutrition. But the best part is that this isn’t just an organization to give money to; volunteers actually do the packing of the food.  Vitamin mix, veggies, soy and rice make up the “manna pack” that gets reconstituted in places like Haiti, Mali, Pakistan, Cambodia, Guatamala and many more.

Normally we go as a group every other month to one of the Twin Cities’ FMSC locations but today, they came to us. They had all the packing stations set up, surrounded by palates of bales of rice and soy.  After all the instructions, we split up among the stations to get going.  Today I did the “get the bag onto the funnel” job.  After I do that, then other team members put in the ingredients.  Then I weigh each filled bag and pass it along to the folks who seal the bag and the packer, who gets the packs into boxes.  6 meals per bag, 36 bags per box, 32 boxes for my station in 90 minutes.  If I’m doing the math correctly, that’s 6,912 meals from just my group’s station.

Tonight I’m sore from bending over and my feet are a little achy from standing in the same spot for the whole session, but having done the work is like a salve – I feel like I’ve done a little bit of good in a world that seriously needs it right now.

What’s your favorite rice dish?