Just kidding! We had a busy Gen Con full of Munchkin announcements, and we know some of you missed out – so here's the rundown!
- We announced a new game: Munchkin Magical Mess! Fans of Moop's Monster Mashup and/or terrible jokes do not want to miss this Deluxe set! Written by Andrew Hackard and illustrated by Ian McGinty, this game ships in January . . . but fans got to play a mockup set at Gen Con.
- The Munchkin Collectible Card Game has an official release date! The three starter sets and the first wave of boosters will be in stores in February.
- All the goodies for our Munchkin Shakespeare Kickstarter backers are on boats, heading for the warehouse. We were showing off an early sample of Munchkin Shakespeare Deluxe at Gen Con, too.
- Our partners at USAopoly were showing off Munchkin: Rick and Morty, and it wasn't squanchy at all!
I'm back in the office for a bit, to work on some reprints and new items for 2018, and then off to Toronto to be a guest and panelist at Fan Expo Canada. I'm looking forward to returning to this show; I had a blast here a couple of years ago and I'm very pleased to have been invited back. When I'm not on panels, expect me to be in the open-gaming area running demos and playtests. Plus, real poutine!
That's it for this month. Next month, look for more news about Shakespeare and maybe even some more hints about our 2018 calendar.
– Andrew Hackard
Warehouse 23 News: Get Personal With Your Spacecraft
Hop behind the yoke of an interstellar starfighter or personal mech . . . then keep them housed and prepared for action aboard a friendly carrier. The options come to life with GURPS Spaceships 4: Fighters, Carriers, and Mecha, with design options, lots of sample vessels, and expanded rules for cinematic space dogfights. A trip to the stars is just a download away, exclusively at Warehouse 23!
It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should I let my ex-boss know he’s driving away new assistants?
In February, I started working part-time at a custom furniture company as an secretary/personal assistant. I had a lot to catch up on because the previous assistant had to leave to take care of a sick family member. It was rough adjusting at first, especially since my boss’ business is very small but busy. He was often in the shop working on projects and I would be in the office handling the administrative side. It was a trial by fire, but I quickly got the hang of things and my boss praised me for my efficiency and professionalism, even calling me the best assistant he’s ever had. I ended up getting a full-time job in my field but when I left, I found my replacement and he wished me luck on my next job. He said (jokingly) that one day he’ll expand his business to where he can hire me back.
A month later, he called me to tell me the new assistant was not a good fit after all. His complaints were the person wasn’t proactive enough and was making too many mistakes with clients and bill payments. He asked if I could find another replacement and offered to reimburse me for my time. I said yes because I could have used some extra cash. Again, I found some good candidates, he interviewed them, and he hired one. He paid me like we discussed and in my thank-you email to his new assistant (whom I was communicating with regarding payment details), I told her to feel free to email me for advice about the job.
Today, the new assistant emailed me that she intends to quit and complained my boss was too chaotic and demanding (he frequently gets angry at her for not knowing details that she is still trying to learn, doesn’t take the time to explain proper procedures, and ignores her when she tries to ask questions or clarify issues). I don’t blame her for leaving over this, but I didn’t have these issues when I started with him. This would be his second assistant in two months, and I’m betting he’ll reach out to me again to find a new replacement. I’m not going to, but I feel like I should point out that he is driving assistants away with this overly demanding behavior and impatience. Could I do that or should I just keep my mouth shut and let him have a rotating door of assistants until he figures out it’s not them, it’s him?
You could ask the person who emailed you if it’s okay for you to share her feedback, in general terms, with your old boss, explaining that you think it would help to understand where he’s going wrong. If she says yes, then it’s okay for you to point this stuff out to him. Otherwise, though, I don’t think it’s really yours to share — especially since your experience with him was different. In that case, though, you could still ask whether he might need to spend more time training people and answering questions and generally be more patient with them, given that he’s lost two assistants in two months. If you know first-hand that his standards are unusually high and his patience unusually low, and if you can see that it would be difficult for most people to work with him well even though you were able to, that’s fair game too — you could say something like, “You and I worked well together, but to be candid, I think someone would need to have a thick skin to do it — you can be pretty tough on someone who’s still learning, and (insert more details here). I don’t think it’s realistic to expect most people to thrive with that management style.”
But also — be sure that’s really the case before you say it. If you didn’t see the behavior that the second assistant reported to you, it’s possible that this really was about her being the wrong fit for the job, and that your boss would be fine if he hired someone more like you (resourceful and sharp, it sounds like). If that’s the case, he needs to reflect on who will and won’t succeed in the role, and figure out how to screen for that when hiring — but that’s a different issue.
Of course, none of this is your fight anymore, and you don’t need to get involved at all if you don’t want to. But it sounds like you have good will toward him and want to help him out, so those are all possible things you could point out to him.
2. The guy who insists on saying “good morning” individually to everyone
This is a question of very little importance, just annoyance. For context, I am a millennial woman who works in a male-dominated field and the majority of my coworkers are older than me. In general, everyone gets along great.
I have a coworker who is a contractor who is probably 15-20 years older than me. He’s nice. But every morning he has to individually say “good morning” to everyone. I even have headphones in and he’ll wave his hand in front of me to say good morning. I appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes I am in the middle of something and don’t want to be interrupted. Others, I just haven’t had my coffee and am just not that cheery. I know I should probably just suck it up, but is this normal for some people to say hi to everyone individually?
I feel like nearly every office has one of these — the really aggressive “good morning” greeter who will insist on being heard, even if you’re clearly in the middle of something else.
It’s mildly weird behavior, but there’s really nothing you can do about it without looking like a huge grump.
3. Can I renegotiate salary once I see the benefits?
I received a call from a hiring manager a few days ago offering me a job at a really exciting company in an exciting role. I was asked what my salary expectation was, and in my excitement, and unpreparedness, I said, “I’ve expected to go down slightly in salary for this position, so it’s $40K.” I basically low-balled myself big time. He said that he’d check with his manager and get back to me.
He got back to me the week after and said they accepted the offer. I screwed up, but I told him my salary expectation and have to accept that — I’m a man of my word. I have no intention of renegotiating the base salary. However, I had not at the time seen the benefit package, and have yet not seen it. I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity here for me to renegotiate slightly and add a bit more to my salary?
I currently make $45K at my current job, but it also comes with a bunch of different benefits. What’s your take on this? If I receive the benefits, could I respond with something like, “I currently make $45K, and also have these benefits. Is there any way you can match the benefits?”
It’s really tough to renegotiate salary once you’ve agreed on it; it usually comes across like negotiating in bad faith. But you’re right that the benefits provide a different road in. If they turn out to be significantly lower than what you’re getting now, you could say, “I hadn’t expected the benefits to differ so significantly from my current job. I’m currently getting twice as much vacation and my health insurance paid for. Factoring that in, the salary we discussed would be much larger cut than I’d anticipated. Would you be able to match the benefits I’m getting currently, or adjust the salary to compensate?” (You can really only do this with the big items like paid time off and health care. It doesn’t work if it’s about a paid gym membership or smaller stuff like that.)
Just make sure you get that benefits write-up soon, because the longer you wait the more this will seem like going back on your word. Contact them today about it.
4. Company wants me to pay my own expenses on a business trip
I’m exempt at a small but growing business. This year we were asked to go to a two-week training in another state during our vacation. The company paid for the training, but we were expected to pay housing, food, and all other expenses. I explained this was a serious financial hardship and they offered to loan the money up-front and then deduct it over the next months. I ended up going as it was that or lose my job. I’m certain this will happen again next year. How can I handle this better? I truly can’t afford it.
That’s ridiculous. These are normal business expenses, and your company should cover them. They’re asking you to pay part of their operating costs, and that’s not okay. It would be like them expecting you to chip in to cover the receptionist’s salary.
Try saying this: “I can’t afford those expenses, so how should we handle this trip?” If they offer to loan you the money again, say, “No, I really can’t afford to take on that expense at all.” And then stick to that — don’t budge.
You’ll have even more sway if your coworkers say the same thing as you. Ideally you’d all point out that these are business expenses that other companies cover as a matter of course; in a “small but growing business,” your manager genuinely may not realize that.
5. Can I ask my boss to set up a social Slack channel?
70% of the people I work with work remotely. There is a home office that the rest of our team officially works out of, but those folks are often on the road and working remotely as well. We get together once a year in person, but otherwise we don’t see each other in person. We use Slack a ton, and hop into phone calls and screen sharing at the drop of a hat. This is a highly collaborative workplace. People get along well and work hard to be positive in all of our interactions, but it can be kind of weird to work intensely with someone without knowing what they even look like!
I think it would be helpful for us to have a Slack channel that would function as a sort of breakroom or water cooler. I would love to know if someone wanted to share a great recipe or if anyone had a recommendation for a toaster oven, that kind of thing. How can I ask my boss to create this without sounding like I’m looking for a literal channel to goof off? (My boss and I get along fine and I don’t have a reputation for goofing off at work and I’d like to maintain that.) I think it would help humanize our workplace and make it easier to cultivate positive relationships.
Is this a reasonable request? Our team works together really well right now as it is, but we are growing and have some new folks here who are still a bit shy about jumping into calls and Slacks because they don’t want to bother anyone. I also sometimes get a little cagey at home and I want to interact a little more casually with the people I work with for 50 hours a week! What do you think? Should I ask for a channel? If so, how should I phrase the request?
Sure, that should be fine to do (assuming you have a decent manager who doesn’t jump to negative conclusions about people). You could just say it this way: “Since so many of us work remotely and it can be hard to connect personally the way we would if we were all in the same place, what do you think about creating a Slack channel as a sort of water cooler to do things like share personal news, get a toaster recommendation, or so forth? I don’t think people would over-use it and it could be a nice way to help people feel more connected and engaged with our team.”
should I tell my ex-boss he’s driving away assistants, aggressive good-morning greeters, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:
Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.
ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.
The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.
Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying
We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:
I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.
I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.
Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!
I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)
Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Ellen Pao, in an excerpt at The Cut from her new book Reset:
In my own interview, when I mentioned that my colleagues had talked about a porn star when we were on a plane together, the investigator asked if it was Sasha Grey. I said no. He pressed the point, saying that Sasha Grey was crossing over into legitimate acting. At another point, the investigator asked, in a “gotcha” tone, “Well, if they look down on women so much, if they block you from opportunities, they don’t include you at their events, why do they even keep you around in the first place?”
I hadn’t thought about it before. I replied slowly as the answer crystallized in my mind: If you had the opportunity to have workers who were overeducated, underpaid, and highly experienced, whom you could dump all the menial tasks you didn’t want to do on, whom you could get to clean up all the problems, and whom you could create a second class out of, wouldn’t you want them to stay?
It is remarkable and admirable what Pao chose to go through rather than accept a multi-million-dollar buyout and sign a non-disclosure agreement, simply so she could tell her story.
Update: One niggle: the headline on this piece ought to be “This Is How Sexism Works in the VC Industry”, not “in Silicon Valley”.
It went well! We had intermittent clouds in the run-up, but for the first half (closing up to the maximum) we had very good views much of the time, and the clouds weren’t so heavy we couldn’t see. I made a box, but then Krissy’s work handed out eclipse glasses, so we used those instead, and I also used a makeshift filter on my camera to get some pretty good shots. This particular shot came just after maximum, when all of a sudden a lot of clouds rolled in and I could snap a naked shot of the sun without frying my camera. We got 88% of coverage, which is enough for a show. In all, a very fine eclipse, from the deck of my house.
The next eclipse for North America is in 2024, and as it happens, that one will have totality directly over my house. Which is convenient! And before you ask, we’re already booked up. Sorry.
Updated to add: Also, I think I may never get a better eclipse shot than this one. Thank you and good night.
I think this would be an interesting one for readers to weigh in on: How many hours are you expected to work in your field?
Here’s the letter that inspired it:
I’m asking this question semi for my husband, but more as a general inquiry. I’m curious about how many hours salaried employees are reasonably expected to work, and when those hours are. (I’ve always been an hourly employee.)
My husband, “Cory,” is salaried and works for a manufacturing company. He has fairly flexible hours and can take time off last minute if need be. In return, he often works late, goes in early, works from home/is available for phone calls with clients in the evenings – he basically does whatever he needs to do to get the job done.
But sometimes he stays later than I think is normal or will work odd hours — for example, recently, there was a miscommunication with a delivery driver who was running late. Cory came home, went back to work for an hour or so to meet the guy and he didn’t show up. Cory came back home, went back to work for another hour or so again waiting around, and again came home. The delivery driver ended up calling at 9:45ish saying he was there and Cory at that point decided he wasn’t going back in.
He wasn’t penalized or anything for not going back the last time. And we happen to live five minutes from his work so it wasn’t horrible, but what if he didn’t? Would an employee be expected to go back and forth like that, or just stay at work until 9:45 at night?
On a related note, his boss sometimes comes in later in the day. Cory will go in around 8, his boss might not come in until well into the afternoon, and then Cory feels he can’t leave when they’re in the middle of something together so he’ll stay past 6 when he was really planning on leaving at 5.
I understand that salaried employees are basically trusted to manage their own time as long as they get the job done. But does that mean possibly working until close to 10 at night? How is the line defined between work life and home life in this case? Would it be reasonable to say, “I have commitments this evening and must leave at 5?” or “I can’t meet with a delivery driver or client past X time?”
I honestly don’t know what the norm is and was curious how other salaried employees typically manage their time.
My quick answer is that it really varies by field. There are some jobs where everyone knows going in that they’re going to be working incredibly long hours (for example, big law or political campaigns) and some where the field itself doesn’t require long hours but your particular employer does. And there are some jobs where you’re rarely going to work more than 40 hours a week, some where it’s unusual to work fewer than 45-50, and some where it’s all over the map. So it really depends on the job, your field, and your employer.
In the situation with your husband and the delivery driver, that sounds pretty normal for an exempt position: your husband made reasonable efforts to meet the guy but ultimately made a judgment call that he wasn’t going to go back that late at night. (And that’s a core thing for exempt jobs; you’re supposed to be able to make calls like that yourself, as long as you’re not always putting the business’s interests below your own.)
And yes, sometimes that can mean working until 10 at night. If it’s happening regularly in a job where it shouldn’t, that’s a problem — but there are some jobs where that’s part of the deal (and ideally one of the trade-offs is that you have more flexibility in your schedule than others might). In a healthy workplace, you should also be able to say “I have an unbreakable commitment tonight and need to leave at 5.” Of course, it depends on the circumstances. It shouldn’t be a big deal to say that if a routine meeting is running over. But if you’re the PR director and there’s a crisis, you’re going to be expected to cancel your plans and deal with it.
So, readers: What hours do you typically work? Are those typical for your field or just your particular office?
Quartz did a profile on Ask a Manager over the weekend, which you can read here.
Second, I was on public radio’s Marketplace this weekend, talking about whether it’s okay to bring your kids to work and how to minimize the impact if you do. We also talked a bit about bringing dogs to work, and that letter about norovirus from last year even came up too.
You can listen here:
me talking about bringing kids to work (and dogs too) was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
We watched the crescent, came back in, and people on TV in Oregon were watching the sun shadow retreat. I came up to get back to work, reflecting that it was so very nice to pass through the kitchen and tv area and not be hearing the words "terrorists" "Nazis" "Republicans" or "Trump." So very nice.
Terrific interview by Om Malik with Wired magazine co-founder Louis Rossetto. Rossetto:
Life is funny, because you’re supposed to — well, at least when I was growing up — you were supposed to have this clear idea of the trajectory of your life, a career that you could envision how it’s going to turn out, and the steps that you would take along the way to make that dream real. My life has been about serial obsessions, which I compare to love affairs. You can’t will yourself to fall in love, but suddenly you find yourself in love, and then it becomes something amazing.
I think people do their best work when they’re obsessed by something they have to work out. That’s been the story of my life. It certainly hasn’t been linear. It’s been about following passions along the way. Sometimes it’s been about being a journalist, or an editor, or an entrepreneur, and other times it’s been about being a father, or a chocolate company guy. Now it’s about being a writer. Each of these have had their own moment; they’ve each absorbed my full being in order to work out whatever it was I had to deal with.
Rosetto has a new book, a novel titled Change Is Good, that is being designed and printed by Erik Spiekermann. The first edition is available exclusively through Kickstarter.
Those early years of Wired were just incredibly inspiring to me. I loved everything about the early Wired — what they wrote about, how they wrote about it, the typography and design of the magazine itself, and even the quality of the inks and papers they used. It was so good, and so perfectly captured a hard-to-capture revolution.
Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:
It won’t be long now before we take edge-to-edge screens like the one on the Essential Phone for granted, but for the moment it’s still something special. There’s a cutout at the top for the selfie camera (and a couple of sensors) shaped like a little U, splitting the status bar in half between notifications and your radio status icons.
That cyclops eye seems like the sort of thing that would be distracting, but in my experience it becomes invisible almost immediately. Ninety-five percent of the time Android doesn’t put anything of value in that particular part of the screen anyway, and the phone is adept at keeping apps that go truly full screen (like video) letterboxed in. Every now and then you will have something like an image that will be full screen and cut off by the camera, but it’s rare. […]
Even though we’ve seen the no-bezel trick on phones like the Galaxy S8, it still feels remarkable to have such a large display on such a small phone. The 5.7-inch screen on the Essential Phone is bigger than what you’ll get on an iPhone 7 Plus or a Pixel XL, yet the phone itself is much smaller. It’s much closer in size to the smaller counterparts of those phones, the iPhone 7 and Pixel, and their significantly smaller displays.
It does look like a beautiful device. And it deserves kudos for lacking a camera bump. But: the camera is, in The Verge’s terms, “somewhat disappointing”. There’s one and only one reason why recent iPhones have camera bumps: to improve the quality of the images and videos shot by the camera. I hate the bump, but I’d rather have the bump and better image quality than no bump and worse image quality. Wake me up when someone figures out how to make a best-of-breed phone camera with no bump.
Update: Google’s Pixel phones don’t have a bump, and are top-tier cameras. Neglecting to mention them is an inexplicable brain fart on my behalf, given that I own a Pixel and like it far more than any other Android phone I’ve ever seen. But it’s not like the Pixel achieve a no-bump design without a significant compromise: the entire form factor of the phone is wedge-shaped — the top (the camera end) is noticeably thicker than the bottom. In some ways that’s better, and in others it’s worse. But what I want is what the iPhone SE has: no bump, no wedge — just a perfect slab with a flush camera lens. I fear the bump is here to stay, though.