When I Wrote It

Feb. 21st, 2019 06:08 am
[syndicated profile] walterjonwilliams_feed

Posted by wjw

Some days I’m glancing at my Amazon sales numbers and can’t avoid reading the reviews.

There was one review of This Is Not a Game and the whole Dagmar series that said they were excellent books, but warned the reader that they weren’t in any way science fiction.

To which I can only respond: They were science fiction when I wrote them, baby!

[syndicated profile] daily_illuminator_feed
Reviewing our monthly sales report (end of year always slows us down a little, so this is a few months old now), we find that eight of the top ten sellers by volume in November 2018 were Munchkin. And, more surprisingly, only one of the top ten was a new release: the Munchkin Party Pack (which, based on the numbers we're seeing, may be completely sold out before the first quarter comes to a close).

Zombie Dice keeps on doing an incredible job at retail, and check out Super Kitty Bug Slap on the list!
  1. Munchin Deluxe
  2. Super Kitty Bug Slap
  3. Munchkin
  4. Munchkin 2 - Unnatural Axe
  5. Munchkin Party Pack
  6. Munchkin 6 - Demented Dungeons
  7. Munchkin 3 - Clerical Errors
  8. Zombie Dice
  9. Munchkin 4 - The Need For Steed
  10. Munchkin Crazy Cooks
Phil Reed

Warehouse 23 News: Welcome To . . . Jurassic Snark!

Munchkin 9 – Jurassic Snark takes munchkins to a long-gone era to fight dangers they've never before encountered. (We were so preoccupied with whether we could, we didn't stop to think if we should . . . but that's never stopped us before!) Order now on Warehouse 23!
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I got in trouble for saying “bite me” in a meeting

I recently attended an intense work group meeting with my boss and a coworker. The coworker responded to one of my questions with a joke, to which I responded jokingly back with “bite me.” Everyone laughed it off at the time, but in a recent routine meeting with the boss I was reprimanded. The boss said she looked up the term and it means “F off.” I am mortified because I do not think of that term in such a vulgar way. It was simply an quick response said in a joking manner, in private, in what I thought was a safe space. Am I wrong to feel a bit singled out?

I don’t think it means “F off” exactly, although it means something in the same neighborhood — and either way, it’s a fairly vulgar and aggressive term to use at work. There are some offices where it would be completely fine, and others where it would be jarringly out of place. Your boss has just let you know this one is the latter, at least in her view. That’s a reasonable call for her to make.

I doubt she’s going to hold a grudge over this, but if your sense is that it’s colored the way she sees you, you could always say, “I wanted to apologize again for my language the other day. I hear that term so often that I wasn’t thinking of it as vulgar, but I appreciate you flagging it for me and I won’t use it again.”

And keep in mind that work meetings aren’t a safe space — you very much will be judged on what you say in them, and even when you’re quite comfortable with a particular set of colleagues, you can still be expected to speak reasonably professionally.

2. How do I turn down working with friends and family?

Is there a way to turn down working with friends and family without it being awkward? I have an entrepreneurial group of friends/family that approach me and others with their projects or business ideas every once in a while. I know there are businesses built this way that go well, but the experiences I’ve had with it have lead to relationship rifts.

The times I’ve tried to turn down partnerships (while giving my reason why), I’ve been met with sayings such as, “We’ll just talk it out like adults,” or, “it won’t change our relationship.” Sometimes it’s assumed I’ll join in a business venture simply because I’m job searching and have complimented someone’s work before. In one case, a friend has gone ahead and done work towards a project, which puts pressure on me to reciprocate.

I’m guessing it simply will be awkward, but do you have any ideas for wording in these cases? Also, am I being too limited in my thinking by deciding beforehand that it won’t be a good idea to work with people I’m close to?

Stay strong! You’re absolutely right to be wary of doing business with friends and family. Sometimes it goes fine and other times it doesn’t, and what those times all have in common is that everyone thought at the outset “we’ll just talk it out like adults” and “it won’t change our relationship.”

And remember that you don’t have to find the perfect wording in order to be allowed to opt out — you get to turn down the offers regardless. But you can try saying, “I appreciate that, but I value my relationship with you too much to risk it.” And then when you get pushback, you can say, “Nope! I feel really strongly about this, but if you go forward with it, I’m excited to watch as your friend (sister/cousin/etc.).”

And if someone goes ahead and does work on the assumption that you’re in, you can say, “I’m sorry you thought that! I have a policy about not going into business with friends or family and I feel really strongly about it. But I hope you can either pursue it on your own or find someone else who wants to be part of it.”

3. What’s the best day and time to apply for jobs?

When would you say is the best day of the week and time of the day to apply for jobs?

I’ve always heard Friday and Saturday are the worst days but a lot of companies will post new position on Friday. Then they tell you to put your application/resume in early. I hear 9 am – 2 pm are the best time of the day because this is when employers do their posting.

Also, have you heard of mangers paying attention to the time of day you send in your resume? I had a friend that wanted me to send my resume to her boss for a job her company was hiring for. At the time, I was working two jobs and sometimes I got off work from my second job after 1 am, and that’s the only time during the week I had to send it. So I forwarded my resume to my friend’s boss at about 2 am before heading to bed to be up at 6:30 am for my first job. My friend said she mentioned it to her and seemed a little weird about it before we had a phone interview. I just wonder do you think that is a concern for a lot of mangers? What’s the deal?

There’s no way to game the system around the best day of the week or the best time of day to apply for jobs. Different employers post at different times, and they look at applications at different times too. Some employers post a job and don’t look at any applications that come in until several weeks later. Others look at them daily, or a few times a week, or whenever time happens to be available. There’s just no way to know, and there’s too much variation. (And whoever told you that employers post jobs between 9 am and 2 pm should not be listened to. Who knows, maybe there’s data showing that’s when the majority of postings are submitted — but that doesn’t have anything to do with when responses to those postings are reviewed.)

The best way to time job applications is to apply when it’s convenient for you, but as quickly as you can without causing yourself hardship (because otherwise you risk the posting being removed, or the employer already having moved forward with candidates they like).

As for your friend’s boss who didn’t like that you applied at 2 am … she’s being silly (people have different schedules) but there are indeed silly managers out there who will care. They’re in the minority, but they exist, so if you want to avoid all chance of running into one of them, you could take that into account in the future. (Personally, though, I’d be happy screening out managers who think that sort of thing is any way relevant.)

4. Can I expense a parking ticket?

Is it appropriate/allowable/realistic to be able to expense a parking ticket? Like after a client dinner that ran long.

It depends on the office. If you incurred the ticket through no fault of your own (made a reasonable parking choice and were delayed for work reasons outside your control), a reasonable office will let you expense that. But if you got ticketed because of your own choices — for example, parked in a 30-minute zone before a dinner expected to be much longer — generally it’s not going to look great to submit that. On the other hand, some offices may cover that kind of thing in certain circumstances, figuring that they want you to do what’s needed to get where you need to be for client meetings — and they’d rather have you arrive on time than walk in 20 minutes late after circling the block for ages. So you’ve got to know your office. (Also, I bet if you work in government, you can’t do this.)

5. What to say when an employer asks if they can have more time for a hiring decision

If I’ve made it to the final interview, and a company asks if they can have more time deciding on who to hire, should I take their question at face value? Are they trying to learn if I have other offers, or are they hoping for more information from me that would help them decide? Do I simply say, “Yes, of course”? I’m used to not getting any updates or even notice of a rejection, so I’m surprised to be asked this.

Typically they’re checking to see if you have timeline constraints on your side — like that you’re expecting another offer very soon, or in final talks with another employer. They want to make sure that if they take more time, they’re not going to lose the option of hiring you. Assuming you don’t have timeline constraints like that, you can just say, “Sure! I’ll let you know if I develop any timing constraints on my side.”

I got in trouble for saying “bite me” in a meeting, the best day to apply for jobs, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hey Cap,

My mother in law has been out of work for some time and really needs a job, she’s applied to a lot of places and not gotten any calls. She has very specific work experience, work in this field has dried up significantly and is sporadic at best, she still has a mortgage etc. and needs to be working full time, so now she’s applying for jobs that are outside her area of expertise and is struggling to find work as a result. This has been going on for some time and is really weighing on my boyfriend, so to try to help her out he spoke to the manager at his job about hiring her and it’s looking like she’s going to get a job, great news….except I also work there and I’m not happy about it, and I don’t know if I’m being a horrible raging bitch or if I’m justified in this, or maybe it’s a bit of both.

For some background I don’t particularly like my mother in law, she’s a “very nice lady” on the surface but underneath not so nice, she says everything in a sweet voice with a smile but there can be ice in the words, she is very manipulative and plays the victim when she’s called out, she plays woe is me when she doesn’t get her way, she’s just a difficult person, we’ve had some issues over the years, but she doesn’t push me too far anymore as I’ve been quite good at setting my boundaries and sticking to them and boyfriend has gotten and is still getting better at seeing her behavior for what it is.

We get along fine, but I just don’t really like her, never will, I don’t trust her.

My concern about working with her is that she’s very needy and not very good at mixing with people so I worry that she’s going to expect me to be her work friend and to take my breaks with her and that she’s going to be popping into my office for chats etc and I’m not cool with any of that, I don’t want to be her friend and I don’t want my working life changing because she got a job there.

I know that she’s going to play the victim and tell my boyfriend I’m a horrible person because I don’t want to be her friend and I fear that this could cause serious issues for us as a couple.

Am I being really unreasonable?

I need scripts for how to deal with this, I’m blunt by nature and I don’t think bluntness is the best option here, or maybe it is.

I need to know how to tell her no and I also need to know how to explain it to my boyfriend.

Please help!!

Hello there! I do have a few suggestions to help you manage this situation with maximum professionalism and boundary maintenance.

Normally you and your boyfriend would be somewhat a united front, right? You set boundaries with his mom, he backs you up. He sets boundaries with his mom, you back him up. When you both spend time with her, you act as a buffer against her more irritating tendencies, you give each other cover and excuses for leaving early or declining an invitation, etc., right?

Have you tried a direct discussion with your boyfriend re: “Hey, it’s very sweet of you to help your mom with the job, but the idea of it is making my shoulders go up around my ears. I’m going to hope for the best, and hopefully it will go well, but we can agree that you’re taking point on Mom Duty, right? I’ll do my best to be professional and welcoming, but if she gets needy about wanting to always chitchat or take all our breaks together, I am going to send her right to you.”

You could start with questions, like, “Are you nervous about having your mom work with us? How do you want to handle it if she’s needy or passive-aggressive?”

However you talk about it, talk about it. He knows that you and your mother-in-law (MIL hereafter) don’t get along that well. If you can get his agreement to take the lead on helping her transition into your workplace, if you can decide how you’ll both handle it if things get weird, you can keep on being a united front.

That way if she is cool, great! You were worried for nothing, you can tell your boyfriend, “Hey, I was worried for nothing, but I really appreciate you hearing me out about that and making a plan with me.” 

If she is not cool and she decides to become your problem, I give you permission to immediately and routinely make her his problem. “Oh, thanks, I don’t have time to chat/eat lunch with/take my break with you today, but your son is probably free! Have the best time!”  If you usually take breaks with him sometimes at work or eat lunch with him, suspend that for a while. It’s time for quiet reading in your car, solo lunches, eating at your desk, running all your errands, whatever it takes.“Oh, boyfriend and I see each other at home all the time, don’t worry about me, go have some great mother-son bonding time!” Never compete with her for the Lunch With Boyfriend Time Slot, not ever. Let her win that one, every time.

And look, you might need to get ruthless and use the speakerphone. “Hey honey, how’s your day going? I’ve got you on speaker, [Mom]’s with me, and I told her I couldn’t go to lunch today but that you’re probably free! Sound good? I’m sending her your way right now, maybe y’all can try that new Thai place.” This is especially useful if she tries the gambit of “Oh, I don’t want to bother him at work, he’s so busy” in order to get you to fill in instead. Nonsense! NOBODY’S TOO BUSY FOR THEIR MOTHER, RIGHT? You’ll call him right now on that speakerphone and put him on the spot.

You say that your MIL’s chosen weapon is “niceness.” Your first choice is “bluntness” (I like that one a lot, too!) but remember that “niceness” is mounted on the communal Wall of Blades, free for anyone to use.

Your sword is “niceness.” Your shield is “professionalism.” Your helmet is “kindness.” If you can dress your boundaries up in those three things? You’re golden.

Professionalism is why you simply can’t discuss personal/family stuff at work! And professionalism is why you don’t like to bring work home! And you express all that as kindly and pleasantly as possible! For example:

“Oh, MIL, the only way [Boyfriend] and I manage this job is to agree to never take work home with us or home stuff to work, it really helps to keep those things separate. Now that you’re here, let’s keep that going! That way we can be psyched to see our great new coworker, [MIL-Name] at work and just hang out with our lovely family member [Mom-version of MIL-Name] when we’re off the clock.” 

Professionalism is how you hopefully keep her out of your chain of command, if you need to talk with your manager about that. “Oh, I wouldn’t feel comfortable supervising a family member.” “I’m happy to show her the parts of my job that directly affect her, but I think we’ll both do better if she has a trainer who isn’t a family member. Boundaries are everyone’s friend!” 

Professionalism is recognizing that the best outcome for everyone is that your MIL thrives at this job, that she regains her confidence, learns new skills, and fits in with the rest of the team. So, how would you (a professional) treat a new coworker who was a stranger if you wanted them to do well in your workplace?

  • You’d want them to feel welcome.
  • You’d want them to know their way around.
  • You’d want them to know where to find information, resources, people they need.
  • You’d want to stay pretty neutral, avoid assumptions about what they are like, and give them a chance to impress you.
  • You’d greet them pleasantly, make polite chitchat like “how was your weekend,” etc. and strive to keep things pleasant and light.
  • You’d mind your Ps and Qs – you wouldn’t immediately spill office gossip [important since you don’t trust your MIL] or talk about personal topics with them, you’d be on your best behavior until you knew them better.
  • You also wouldn’t spill gossip about them, right? Let your coworkers form their own impressions and relationships with your MIL, don’t tell everyone how annoying she is and poison the well for her.

Now imagine that new coworker were someone else in your life, someone you like. You’d do all of the above, right? But you might try a little harder to help them fit in. For example:

  • Look, unless the company does some kind of formal welcome lunch, you and your boyfriend are GOING to take her out to a welcome lunch on her first day. If the company or her direct manager does do a formal welcome thing, y’all are taking her to dinner. I don’t make the rules, but this is a rule, when a family member starts a job where you work, you make sure their first day is nice in some way. You can do it with a big “this is a special occasion for your first day, yaaaaaaaay for you!” flourish to mark it as different from other days, but you’re doing it. “I don’t have time for any of that” starts tomorrow.
  • When you started working there, what are some useful, low-stakes things that the existing staff told you? What are some things that you wish someone had told you? Make a list of those things. Could be “where the good bathroom is,” could be “the training manual says email the TPS report, but Gerard likes to look at a hard copy first.” Make a list of these for your MIL. Keep it low stakes (again, avoid office gossip or sore spots, you’re giving her info, not ammunition).
  • For someone with her job function, who are the most important people she should meet and know? Are you someone who can introduce her and smooth the way a bit? She’ll be less needy if she has other people to go to for work questions, and you’ll feel less stressed out by her neediness if you can redirect it to someone besides you who can actually help. It’s the difference between “I’M NOT YOUR NEW WORK FRIEND, GOT IT?” and “Great question, [MIL Name], let me connect you with the best person to walk you through that!” and walk her over and make the introduction. If it does become a boundary issue down the road, you can just repeat the process, like,“Oh, remember, Millicent is the Database Queen! Need me to walk you over or do you remember where she sits?”  (P.S. Everyone is “needy” when they start a new job, in this case you can probably mitigate and solve a ton of that by relentlessly, pleasantly introducing your MIL around and consistently redirecting her to the right people.)

Let’s end with some specific suggestions based on your relationship with this specific MIL and your boyfriend.

  • As stated before, SHARE NO GOSSIP WITH HER. You can’t trust her not to repeat it.
  • As stated before, SHARE NO GOSSIP ABOUT HER. Assume it will get back to her. It’s also the wrong thing to do. Remember when you were a sullen teenager, formed mostly of avoidance, sarcasm, and grievances, and your parents would run into other adults who knew you, and those adults would be like “Letter Writer is the most delightful person, you must be so proud of her!” and your parents would be like “Right! We are!” but also be wondering “Who the heck are they talking about? They can’t mean the Human Thumbs Down Review we have to live with?”  People have different modes – her parental mode and/or mother-in-law mode may be very different from her work mode. Let’s hope!
  • INSTEAD, SHARE PRAISE. With her: “Dalton in Accounting told me your expense reports were the easiest to follow he’d ever seen, nice work [MIL!]”  About her: “Yeah, lol, working with my mother-in-law, not awkward at all, the dream! But you know what? She’s so excited to be here, and she is really great at [organizing thorny schedules][keeping track of the details][look just find something nice that is somewhat job related and say it, “she folds napkins the best” or “she’s always reliably on time.”]. Human beings need praise, employees need praise, the best managers motivate with praise and recognition. Look for reasons to praise her.
  • Don’t let anyone triangulate. Your MIL’s supervisor should give her feedback directly, not through you or your boyfriend. Your fellow employees should ask her questions directly. Something’s unclear? She should talk to her manager directly. She tries to pass on feedback or gossip to you? “Oh, thanks for letting me know, but I’ll just wait until So & So asks me directly.” Model the boundaries you want to see. I love my sweet MIL to pieces, but she is a KNOWN Shit Disturber who is terrified of conflict so will tell you things she wants you to know in the form of telling you what someone else said about you. That way if you don’t like it, you’ll direct the conflict at the other person. It’s masterful, really. I respect it! But I try not to fall for it.
  • Consider also, your MIL had a whole career before this where she had to get along with people and develop skills and knowledge, isn’t it better to assume that your company hired her for a reason that isn’t just a personal favor to your boyfriend, that they see something valuable in what she brings to the table?
  • Tighten up your game, generally. Your MIL will likely notice and comment on everything you do (it’s her way), so like, deploy the lint brush, sort any desk piles into smaller, more identifiable piles, refresh your memory about the rules and follow them, delete anything questionable from the Slack channel, etc.
  • If your office has a guest chair, can it be temporarily hidden in a closet or be covered in a hard-to-quickly-move pile of important documents? I’m not joking. There’s also the “The Sorkin,” as demonstrated by this hero boss back in Question 11.
  • Find a few harmless scripts that de-escalate conflict that you can repeat as necessary:
    • I always love “Thanks, I’ll think about it” for unsolicited advice (you’ll think about it and not do it, this phrasing gives the other person nothing to latch onto for an argument).
    • See also, agreeing with people if they accuse you of something. MIL: “Every time I try to talk to you, you foist me off on someone else.” You:”Yes, I guess I am doing that? I just want to make sure you have lots of professional connections here, so you don’t feel like you only have me and [son/boyfriend] to depend on!” 
    • Maybe throw out some “Crossing the streams with work and family is always a little awkward, I know we’re all doing our best to be patient with each other” if something starts to get heated.
    • To make her articulate specific requests and complaints (vs. fostering a constant vague sense of grievance) go with “Everybody wants you to do well and feel comfortable here, is there something specific I could do that would help with that?” Make her spell it out. If she won’t? You’re cleared to ignore it.
    • Is there something low stakes that  you could reasonably ask her advice about? “Now that you’re here, with all the experience you have, how do YOU handle situations like XYZ?” If she’s feeling vulnerable and anxious, reminding her that she does know things is a kind thing to do. If the advice sucks? “Thanks so much, I’ll definitely think about it!”
    • The past can bring safer conversational ground, right? “What was your first day at your very first job like?” “Did you ever think you’d be working with [Son/Boyfriend?]” “What’s the best/worst job advice anyone’s ever given you?” 
  • Your resume is up to date, right? You’re searched around a little bit for other jobs in your field? Also not a joke. If you needed to pull the ripcord professionally, could you? Think of it as insurance.

Two last points:

Remember the “let’s not bring work home/let’s not bring home to work” boundary with your boyfriend I wrote about a bunch of paragraphs back? If it’s not already your practice, consider adopting it now. If you need to vent about your MIL, talk to friends who don’t work with you or make a throwaway Reddit login like civilized people, don’t get in the habit of downloading it all on your boyfriend at night (Remember, if she’s bugging the hell out of you at work, you can solve that at work by making sure she bugs him instead.)

Finally, you will not be able to avoid your MIL entirely at work, nor should you. I realize she’s irritating, but you haven’t described behavior from her where freezing her out completely wouldn’t make you the asshole in the story. There is a minimum amount of engagement you’re gonna have to do to keep the peace professionally and in your family, so figure out what that is and find a way to do it consistently and proactively. Do you stop by her desk for a quick daily “how’s it going?” check-in around the same time every day? Do you have lunch with her & your boyfriend on payday once a month? (And redirect all lunch invitations to then, “a special treat?”)

I can tell you with some certainty that if she constantly seeks you out and you constantly avoid her, she will chase you. She will notice and comment on your avoidance, she will create friction with you, your boyfriend, and your coworkers, she will make it A Thing and bring about all the annoying stuff that you wrote to me about. In contrast, if you actively seek her out briefly at predictable times each day, you will instantly get more control over those interactions because you can walk away when you’re done vs. having to keep coming up with ways to “politely” kick her out of your office or send her to your boyfriend’s desk. If you’re consistent about it, she might feel more relaxed (You don’t HATE her, you’re just at work and you’re busy, you DO check in when you can!) and, if she does try to go all “woe is me!!!!” about it, you can know for sure that you’re doing your best with an awkward situation.

If you do your best, and she insists on being terrible, that’s on her. Your boyfriend is doing a kind thing for someone he loves. Hopefully she’ll adapt well to it. Hopefully we have armed you as well as we can against the unintended consequences.


Feb. 20th, 2019 05:01 am
[syndicated profile] robot_hugs_feed

Posted by Robot Hugs

New comic!

Note: This comic includes short non-graphic musings on hypothetical ways a person may be murdered.

So I do have a LawFriend and I do spend a lot of time with him just sort of parsing out some… scenarios, and I was genuinely surprised to find out that I was the only person who did this! Huh!


[syndicated profile] raptitude_feed

Posted by David Cain

Post image for A Simple Trick For Becoming A Calmer Person

In his one of his many excellent columns, Oliver Burkeman offers a counter-intuitive strategy for those who have trouble sleeping: tell yourself it’s not a big deal. You’ll fall asleep when you fall asleep.

The point is that telling ourselves we must get to sleep right away—and that grave problems will arise if we don’t—is probably the number one reason we can’t sleep. That doesn’t mean sleep isn’t important, or that sleep problems are never serious, only that the more vehemently we insist we must already be sleeping, the less sleep we will ultimately get.

This strategy acknowledges a subtle but important reality about the problem: we can’t directly control when we fall asleep. We really want that control, however, and we can make the problem much worse by grasping too stridently at it. And whether we do that is something we can control.

With practice, anyway.

We can make use of a similarly counter-intuitive approach for becoming generally calmer people in waking life.

We all want to be more calm. We want to spend more time feeling peace and ease, and less time feeling anger or agitation. Naturally, we try to experience more of the thing we like, and less of what we don’t like.

So, when calm is present, we try to keep it around, and when emotions like anger and agitation appear, we reflexively try to get rid of them. We try to fight them and push them away.

This pushing-away impulse is another instance of nature’s crude approach-avoid programming leading us astray. As you know by now if you read this blog, many of our reflexive responses to pain and adversity are tuned for survival rather than happiness, and lawless savannahs rather than modern life. By trying to steamroll our tough emotions rather than let them naturally arise and dissipate, we’re actually ensuring that they cause us more distress and stick around longer.

This habitual pushing-away tends to take the form of rumination. We try to neutralize the uncomfortable emotion with a firehose-blast of reactive thinking—mentally reliving the inciting event, rehearsing indignant speeches we’d like to make to certain parties, or otherwise trying to argue our way back to peace and calm.

But this habit only fuels the fire. Just like a self-flagellating insomniac, we’re trying to assume a kind of direct control over our experience that simply isn’t available, and that makes us feel even more out of control. The emotion snowballs. The mental scenarios proliferate.

There’s a counterintuitive approach that works much better, as taught by some therapists, and every single meditation teacher:

When you feel an unpleasant emotion, like anger or agitation, instead of trying to get rid of it, try becoming aware of it.

But aren’t we already aware of it? I wouldn’t be upset if I was unaware of my anger, right?

Well, no. When something sets us off, we might become briefly aware of the anger, for a second or so. But anger is unpleasant, and we don’t want to experience it. So our attention rebounds off it like a bullet into our thoughts, where we feel we have some control over what’s happening.

Once we’re preoccupied by the situation around the emotion, we’re no longer directly aware of the emotion. In an effort to immediately resolve the trouble, we madly rehearse imagined confrontations, fantasize about the cavalry coming, or explain to ourselves—or perhaps to some unfortunate person nearby—why we shouldn’t have to experience this.

But what if, once we recognized that anger (or any other strong emotion) is present, we refrained from engaging with those fantasies and narratives, at least for a few minutes, and instead just observed the emotional experience itself, in as matter-of-fact a way as possible?

By “the emotional experience itself” I’m referring to the embodied, physical part: the actual pit-in-stomach feeling, the heat, the raised heartrate, the various clenching and contracting that tends to happen. Although we often conflate them, the rumination and argumentation around the emotion are not the emotion. They’re reactions to the emotion. But they can fuel the emotion indefinitely, sustaining and deepening it.

If you simply did your best to observe and allow* the emotional experience itself, returning to it each time you got caught up in the surrounding story, how long do you think that emotional intensity would last?

The answer is: the least possible amount of time.

You’d think that refraining from fighting the emotion would lead to it ballooning uncontrollably until it took us over. But the opposite happens. The initial heat and noise is intense, but without the fuel source of rumination and rehearsal, the peak comes—and goes—relatively quickly.

Rumination, on the other hand, does tend to billow out until it consumes our entire experience. The inner arguing and rehashing provide a limitless fuel supply for the fire.

Don’t take my word for it, but doing this practice can help a person recognize that most emotional sensations themselves aren’t nearly as painful, or as long-lived, as the struggle to avoid feeling them. Once you take up that struggle, then you’re caught in a form of the insomniac’s paradox: inadvertently keeping the emotion wide awake by insisting that it must “sleep” immediately.

At its heart this is a simple trick, arising from a simple insight. Knowing that you can’t force unpleasant emotions away, try being aware of them instead of fighting with them. That’s it. Try it and see how the outcomes differ.

This practice, if you take it seriously, will make you a calmer person over time, guaranteed. That doesn’t mean you’ll never experience anger, or shame, or sadness, or any fewer than every single one of the emotions that make us human. But you’ll get caught in them for hours or days much less often. Rumination will still happen, of course, but you can come to see it as reminder that there’s an alternative.

Like many simple tricks—shuffling cards, poaching an egg—you can learn this to an effective level just by trying it a few times, while mastery might remain a lifetime away. Years into my mindfulness practice I keep discovering new layers to my reactivity and emotional habit chains, and as time goes on I can observe increasingly intense emotions in this way. (Of course I still get overwhelmed sometimes.)

It’s not an instant magic bullet, of course, it’s just the most sensible thing to do. It can be learned, and there will be as many chances to practice as you could ever ask for.


*I feel the need to point out that accepting the presence of anger (or any other reactive emotion) is not the same as accepting the situation that triggered the emotion. You still may want to take some sort of sensible action, which invariably does not require anger, nor is anger any help in deciding what’s sensible. In fact, in my experience, most emotional reactions are simply reactions to the possibility that there is a problem. Only a minority of the time is there a real problem that requires intervention.

A New Thing I’m Doing

Hey Raptitude readers.

I’ve made something new.

As you know I’m a huge mindfulness geek. My goal is to make it at least as popular as physical exercise. And it should be – it’s at least as beneficial, it takes less time from your day, and it’s less work.

In 2019 almost everyone wants to learn it anyway, and there are tons of ways to learn. But we’re a very distractible culture, and many people tend to bounce off their first attempts at mindfulness. They get the apps and the books, and try them for a while, but get derailed before they really get going.

So, with the idea of knocking the barrier to entry waaaay down, as low as possible, I created a tiny mindfulness course for anyone who wants it.  

It’s completely free, barely takes any time, and is meant to be easy and fun enough that people might actually do it.

It’s called 3-Minute Mindfulness. (3MM for short.) It comes through your email: five quick lessons in five days.

Your homework is literally one minute a day.

It will teach you:

  • What mindfulness actually is
  • Three ways you can practice it anytime, anywhere
  • Why you might want to do that

After the course ends, I’ll encourage you to develop your mindfulness further, either through Camp Calm (my 30-day meditation course) or by any other means that appeals to you, along with some tips and insights that have helped me.

(If you just want to do the mini-course and leave it at that—no worries, and no hard feelings.)

It’s available to everyone: Raptitude readers, total strangers, beginners, veterans, Camp Calm alumni, friends, family, pets.

Sign up and it will come straight to your inbox. You don’t need to do anything else.

Go here to sign up


Photo by Faye Cornish

[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg*:

Later this year, Apple plans to let developers port their iPad apps to Mac computers via a new software development kit that the company will release as early as June at its annual developer conference. Developers will still need to submit separate versions of the app to Apple’s iOS and Mac App Stores, but the new kit will mean they don’t have to write the underlying software code twice, said the people familiar with the plan.

In 2020, Apple plans to expand the kit so iPhone applications can be converted into Mac apps in the same way. Apple engineers have found this challenging because iPhone screens are so much smaller than Mac computer displays.

In some ways this makes sense — iPad apps are closer in scope to Mac apps. But for iPhone apps that don’t have iPad counterparts, why would developers target the Mac if they haven’t even bothered with iPad yet? And as Steven Troughton-Smith observed, in some ways the Mac is better-suited to iPhone apps than iPad is, because you can just run the app in a small window on the Mac, whereas iPad apps need to be full-screen, which leads iPhone-only apps running on iPad to look dreadful.

The only upside I can see to this entire endeavor is that some media consumption apps (Netflix, HBO, Hulu) might come to the Mac and be better than what we have now (using their websites, which have no offline access). Anything else I dread. I honestly can’t think of one productivity app on iPad where I’ve ever thought I’d like to use that app on the Mac. The best iPad productivity apps I know of — Things, Omni’s apps, Tweetbot — already have real Mac app counterparts.

Tucked away as the final sentence in the report:

The company has also internally weighed previewing a new version of the high-end Mac Pro, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Given that rumors suggest a late March event focused on subscription services (news and original video content), I would say WWDC has to be the unveiling of the new Mac Pros. Even if they don’t announce a ship date I’d be shocked if they don’t show it — they started working on it two years ago.

* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.

[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Samsung introduced five new phones today at a big show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco (in addition to the gimmicky Galaxy Fold): the S10 (6.1"), S10 Plus (6.4"), S10E (5.8"), and S10 5G (a whopping 6.7") — and the Galaxy Fold. Some quick thoughts:

  • The Galaxy Fold looks like a prototype, not a shipping product. I think flexible, foldable displays have a good future, but this isn’t it.

  • The S10 5G, likewise, seems not ready for prime time. Which makes sense, because 5G networks aren’t really a thing yet. I know I’m less enamored with big-ass phones than many people, but a 6.7-inch display just seems ridiculous. What’s the pitch here? Get yourself a too-big phone for a network that doesn’t yet exist?

  • I know a lot of people who wish Apple would make a smaller flagship than the 5.8-inch iPhone XS, but at least the XS is a full-fledged peer spec-wise to the larger XS Max. Samsung’s 5.8-inch S10E is more like the iPhone XR, with a starting price of $750 and quite a few technical compromises: fewer cameras and a fingerprint sensor in the side button rather than embedded in the display like on the bigger S10 and S10 Plus.

  • Speaking of that fingerprint sensor, Samsung is sticking to its guns on a couple of fronts: fingerprints instead of facial recognition, and good old-fashioned headphone jacks on every model. And while they didn’t spend much time showing the system software, it looked to me like their interaction model is still home button-based, rather than gesture-based. (Apparently Samsung’s new One UI allows you to replace the standard navigation buttons with gestures as an option.) There’s a definite philosophical split from Apple here. I think Apple made the right decision by making a clean break with the iPhone X experience, but I remain convinced that at least some segment of the iPhone user base is reluctant to upgrade into the new no-home-button / no-headphone-jack / Face-ID-instead-of-Touch-ID world of the iPhone X-class phones. Familiarity has a strong appeal, but stick with it too long and you risk stagnation.

    (I also think part of this is technical, not philosophical. A big reason why Samsung is sticking with fingerprints rather than facial recognition is that I don’t think they have the software chops to do facial recognition well — reliable, quickly, securely. If they could do a Face ID copycat I think I they would. Also: patents.)

  • The hole-punch design for the front-facing cameras looks better than a notch. But part of what makes this possible that is that the S10 phones only have cameras on the front — the iPhone X/XS/XR notch houses an entire sensor array that makes Face ID possible.

  • Samsung is sticking with the dedicated hardware button for Bixby. This is one of the dumbest ideas in the industry — although with the S10 you can finally reassign the button to launch something else, like, say, the Camera app.

  • The S10 sides are made from aluminum, but they’re all highly polished, so in marketing photos at least, they look a lot like the stainless steel of the iPhone XS and XS Max.

  • I’m not sure about the S10E, but the bigger S10 models not only support wireless charging for input, but they also can serve as charging pads for other devices, like wireless headphones, a Samsung watch, or even another phone. That sounds crazy at first, but it fits with my theory that phones are the primary computing devices for a growing number of people. Used to be you’d plan on charging your phone from your laptop midday; today it makes sense in the same way to be able to charge your headphone case or watch from your phone.

  • Samsung’s $130 wireless earbuds don’t look anything at all like AirPods. The case is smaller but pretty AirPod-like, and the pairing experience is pretty much the same: open the case next to the device and you get a little window picturing the earbuds and case and their respective battery levels. The biggest difference from AirPods: pre-order an S10 or S10 Plus before March 7 and Samsung will give you a pair for free.

  • Samsung introduced two new watches: a big clunky round one called the Galaxy Watch Active and a Fitbit-esque bracelet-y looking watch called the Galaxy Fit (not to be confused with this crappy old phone they also call the Galaxy Fit). I can’t say I care about either of these at all. The new S10 phones seem like interesting competition to Apple, but these watches don’t.

  • They have a new tablet — the Galaxy S5e — that looks shamelessly like an iPad Pro. Not sure anyone cares about it, though, including Samsung — it didn’t even get any stage time.

  • Why the hell does Samsung brand all these things “Galaxy” anyway? Why not just the Samsung S10, Samsung Watch Active, Samsung Fit, Samsung Buds, etc? I guess I can see why they stick with “Galaxy” for the phones, but when introducing new products like wireless earbuds, why?

  • The event itself featured some interesting staging. The display wrapped around to including the ceiling and the floor of the stage itself. I think you have to watch a bit of the video of the event to get it. Technically impressive, and very flashy in a way that feels appropriate for Samsung.

  • Two interesting partnerships on software. First, they’re partnering with Adobe for a bespoke “Galaxy” edition of Premiere Rush, Adobe’s new prosumer video editing app. It’s coming “later this year”, so who knows when it’ll actually ship. I assumed at first it was going to be free for S10 users, but now that I’ve watched the video again they don’t say that. (Premiere Rush is normally $10/month, and today the only mobile version is for iOS.) I don’t know how many serious content creators want to or need to edit video directly on their phones, but I’m sure that number is growing. I repeat myself, I know, but phones are taking over more and more tasks that used to require laptops. Having just one pocket-sized device that serves as both your 4K camera and your editing workstation is just amazing. Ten years ago, the then-current iPhone 3G didn’t even shoot video.

    Second, Samsung has built Instagram into the system Camera app as its own shooting mode. This seems inexplicable to me. The world is growing ever more wary of the privacy invasiveness of Facebook, and Samsung decides 2019 is the right time to bake Facebook’s Instagram right into the system Camera app? Who thinks using the Instagram app is inconvenient? At best this needlessly complicates the Camera app.

[syndicated profile] 512pixels_feed

Posted by Stephen Hackett

This week on Connected:

The boys dive into a sea of rumors after Federico explores San Jose’s municipal websites, Myke gives everyone a gift and Stephen returns from a journey.

So. Many. Rumors.

My thanks to our sponsors:

  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your websites and servers today. Use offer code CONNECTED to get 30% off.
  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code CONNECTED at checkout for 10% off.
  • Care/Of: Personalized supplements delivered to your door.

Automation evolution

Feb. 20th, 2019 10:05 pm
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Posted by Dr. Drang

In my experience, scripts and macros almost never end up the way they start. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Just as spending time performing a particular task makes you realize it should be automated, spending time working with the automation makes you realize how it can be improved. Contra XKCD, this doesn’t mean the decision to automate a task puts you on an endless treadmill of tweaking that’s never worth the time you invest. It means you’re continuing to think about how you do things and how your methods can be improved. I have an example that I’ve been working on for years.

Two of the essential but dull parts of my job involve sending out invoices to clients and following up when those invoices aren’t paid on time. I’ve gradually built up a system to handle both of these interrelated duties. I’ve written about certain details before, but here I want to talk about how and why the system has evolved.

It started with TextExpander snippets. One was for the text of the email that accompanied the invoice when it was first sent, and it looked like this (albeit less terse):

Attached is invoice A for $B on project C. Payment is due on D.

where the A, B, C, and D were fill-in fields. Similarly, there was a snippet for the followup emails.

The attached invoice, X for $Y on project Z, is still outstanding
and is now E days old. Pay up.

While these snippets was certainly better than typing this boilerplate out again and again, they weren’t using the computer for what it’s good at: looking things up and calculating. The invoices are PDFs that came out of my company’s accounting system and contain the information for X, Y, Z, and D. The age of the invoice, E, can be calculated from D and the current date.

So after a month or two of using the snippets, I wrote an invoicing script in Python that read the invoice PDF and created an email message with all of the parts filled in. It also added a subject line and used a project database to look up the client’s email address to put in the To field. A similar script created a dunning email message. Both of these scripts could be run from the Terminal and took the invoice PDF as their argument, e.g.,

invoice 12345.pdf


dun 12345.pdf

I should mention that these scripts created the email messages, but they didn’t send them. Sometimes I need to add an extra sentence or two to handle particular situations, and these scripts stopped short of sending so I could do that.

It didn’t take very long for me to realize that opening a Terminal window just to run a single command was itself a waste of time. I used Automator to add Quick Action workflows that run the invoice and dun scripts to the Services menu. That allowed me to run the scripts by right-clicking on an invoice PDF file in the Finder.

This system lasted quite a while. Eventually, though, I decided it was foolish to rely on my memory (or periodic checking of my outstanding invoices) to decide when to send out the followup emails on unpaid bills. I added a section to the invoice script that created a reminder along with the invoicing email. The reminder went in the Invoices list of the Reminders app and was given a due date of the first Tuesday at least 45 days after the invoice date. My invoices are net 30, so 45 days seemed like a good starting time for followups. And rather than having the reminder pop up on any day of the week, I set it to Tuesday—early in the week but unlikely to be on a holiday.1

Changing the invoice script changed the behavior of the Services menu item that called it; I didn’t have to make any changes in Automator.

This system was the state of the art until it hit me that I could write a script that checked Reminders for every invoice that was past due and run the dun script on all of them, creating a series of followup emails in one fell swoop. I wrote this script as a combination of Python and AppleScript and embedded it in a Keyboard Maestro macro. With this macro in place, I no longer had to hunt for the invoices to right-click on.

A couple of weeks ago, after reading Federico Viticci’s article on using a Mac from iOS, I began thinking about the hole in my followup system: I have to be at my Mac to run Keyboard Maestro. What if I’m traveling on Tuesday and want to send out followup emails from my iPhone or iPad? OK, sure, I could use Screens to connect to the Mac and run the Keyboard Maestro macro that way, but that’s very slow and clumsy over a cellular network connection, especially when trying to manipulate windows on a 27″ iMac screen as viewed through an iPhone-sized keyhole.

The obvious solution, which wasn’t obvious to me until I’d thought of and rejected a few other ideas, was to change the dun script to create and save the followup email. Saving the email puts it in the Drafts folder, which I can get at from all of my devices. I also changed the Keyboard Maestro macro that executes the dun script on every overdue invoice to run every Tuesday morning at 5:00 am. When the reminders pop up later in the day, the emails are already written and waiting for me in the Drafts folder.

Yesterday was the first “live” test of the new system. I was in an airport restaurant—nothing but the best cuisine for me—when my watch buzzed with reminders for two overdue invoices. I pulled out my phone, opened Mail, and there were the emails, waiting to be sent. In this case, I didn’t have to edit the messages before sending, but it wouldn’t have been a big deal if I had—no more difficult than writing any other email from my phone.

Am I done with this? History suggests I’m not, and I’m OK with that. By getting rid of more scutwork, I’ve made myself better at following up on old invoices, and my average time-to-collection has improved. Even XKCD would think that’s worth the effort.

  1. Unfortunately, the Reminders AppleScript dictionary doesn’t provide for setting the recurrence interval of a reminder. I have to set that by hand (typically two weeks, but sometimes three) when the reminder is created. 

[If the formatting looks odd in your feed reader, visit the original article]

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:55 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Samsung’s foldable now has a name, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and the company is revealing more about what this unique smartphone can do. Samsung is planning to launch the Galaxy Fold on April 26th, starting at $1,980. There will be both an LTE and 5G version of the Galaxy Fold, and Samsung is even planning on launching the device in Europe on May 3rd, starting at 2,000 euros.

Samsung is using a new 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display that allows the phone itself to have a tablet-sized screen that can be folded to fit into a pocket. The main display is QXGA+ resolution (4.2:3), and when it’s folded, a smaller 4.6-inch HD+ (12:9) display is used for the phone mode.

I remember when I got a hard time for suggesting it would be a good thing for an iPhone model to start at $1,500. A starting price of $1,980 is eye catching, for sure, but as I’ve been arguing for years, we accept the fact that pro laptops costs $2,000 or more, so why not $2,000 phones, when for so many people, the phone is by far their most-used and most important computing device? (Not to mention their primary camera.)

But I look at the Galaxy Fold and I still see a prototype. It looks terrible when folded — a thick device with a tiny display with huge forehead and chin. Clearly the two modes are not equals — the primary mode is open, and folded is an afterthought. And even in tablet mode, there’s a weird off-center notch in the corner. It just seems clunky.

[syndicated profile] kottke_org_feed

Posted by Jason Kottke

Popping bubble wrap, sharpening a new pencil, catching a falling glass in the knick of time, waking up before your alarm. Some things are just really, really satisfying. If you’re of a certain age, you’ve probably spent more time than you’d care to admit staring at a TV for an extremely gratifying event to occur: when the bouncing DVD logo hits perfectly in the corner of the screen. Watch this bar crowd go absolutely bonkers celebrating this thrilling occurence:

I watched this at least 5 times and am still chuckling about it 20 minutes later. I don’t even care that it’s fake…that was beautiful. (via @StephMBuck)

Tags: video

what’s the deal with write-ups?

Feb. 20th, 2019 06:59 pm
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Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

Frequently in your questions, people will mention getting written-up as a negative consequence for something at work. This reminds me of the “this will go in your permanent record” threat from junior high and movies. Really, what is supposed to be the result of getting written up?

It’s basically a formal warning, framed in a punitive, infantilizing way.

Most employers do use formal warnings of some kind, but employers that call them “write-ups” tend to be the ones that infantilize their employees.

So let’s talk about written warnings in general, and then we’ll talk about “write-ups” specifically.

First, as a manager, there will be times when you need to issue a written warning. In general, when someone is having performance or conduct problems, you want to start with a relatively informal conversation about what’s going on, where you ask about their perspective and explain what you need them to differently. If that doesn’t work and you’re seeing a problematic pattern, then you move to a more serious conversation, where you say things like “I’m concerned that I’m still seeing this after we talked about it” and “it’s really important that you do X.” Depending on the seriousness of the issue, at that point you might document that you had that conversation. But that doesn’t need to mean issuing the employee a formal memo. You can document the conversation by writing a memo to yourself or your own manager or HR about what was covered, or you can send the person a quick email summary of the conversation, framing it as “I wanted to summarize what we talked about, so we both have it to reference.”

However, if things reach a point where they’re quite serious, where you’re considering letting the person go if changes aren’t made, it’s smart at that point to ensure they have something in writing too — which is usually thought of as a formal warning. The idea is to lay out in writing what needs to change (and ideally, by when), to make sure that the person is clear about what needs to happen and about the seriousness of the situation. (Sometimes this might be replaced by a formal, written performance improvement plan, depending on the circumstances.)

None of that is about “writing someone up.” It’s about coaching someone on how to meet the expectations of their role, explaining when that’s not happening. There’s nothing punitive about it when you get to the written warning stage — it’s about ensuring you’re communicating clearly and the employee is clear on the seriousness of the situation. It’s also about ensuring that you’ve documented the situation, because occasionally legal situations arise where you need that documentation. (For example, if someone says you fired them because of the church they attend, you need to be able to show that, no, you fired them after repeated conversations and warnings about missing deadlines.)

That’s all good management. Write-ups, on the other hand, tend to be used more often in customer service type jobs and other jobs that tend not to trust employees and don’t default to treating them as responsible adults, and they’re often used as “punishment.” Some of those employers have a system where if you get X number of write-ups over X months (or ever), you’ll be fired. And some of those companies “write people up” for relatively minor occurrences, like being slightly late.

(And to be thorough, there are also companies that operate the way I advocated above and just happen to call that written warning stage a write-up. But we’re talking here about companies that make write-ups a punitive thing, and where it gets talked about as a regular feature of working there.)

It’s notable that write-ups tend to take authority away from the manager and move it to the write-up itself. Competent managers don’t need to lean on the concept of a write-up; they know that they have the authority to have a serious conversation with you and hold you accountable, all on their own.

If you’re managing adults and treating them like responsible professionals, you shouldn’t ever need to “write someone up” or threaten to write someone up. You should just be managing — setting clear expectations, giving clear feedback, and addressing it when someone’s not meeting the bar you need.

what’s the deal with write-ups? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

[syndicated profile] beyondthebundle_feed

Posted by Bundle Operator

Through this Friday, February 22 — for just two days! — we present the 2019 Birthday Bundle, a charity offer for the Bundle of Holding’s sixth anniversary. And we’re celebrating with an audacious request: We want you to pay money for free roleplaying games — for a good cause.

The Bundle of Holding launched 20 February 2013. We mark the site’s anniversary with this benefit offer featuring high-quality free RPGs we wouldn’t otherwise be able to present in the Bundle format — terrific games like Lady Blackbird, Ironsworn, and Forgotten Futures. Again, you can download all these RPGs free elsewhere around the web (links below). But, for just a small donation, you get convenient access to them on your Wizard’s Cabinet download page on the Bundle site — and your entire donation (after gateway fees) goes to this offer’s designated charity, the RPG Creators Relief Fund. The RCRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity founded to provide financial assistance to tabletop roleplaying creators suffering hardship due to medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic situations.

Donate just US$1 to get all four free RPGs in our Starter Collection as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Lasers & Feelings: The elegant one-page Star-Trekkian system by John Harper (Blades in the Dark), plus assorted L&F hacks that adapt the rules to superheroics, magical-girl adventure, Mythos horror, cyberpunk, Silicon Valley, and more.
  • Engine Heart Deluxe (Viral Games): Little service robots try to survive in a post-organic world.
  • ViewScream 2E (Neoplastic Press): Rafael Chandler’s live-action game designed for video chat.
  • Poking the Emperor (Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan): Courtiers vie for the favor of a senile (yet still dangerous) monarch. Parallels to contemporary politics are left as an exercise.
If you instead donate $2, you’ll get all those games and also get our entire Bonus Collection with seven more games:
  • The Lady Blackbird series: Lady Blackbird, Magister Lor, and Lord Scurlock — three beautiful sandbox-style steampunk games by John Harper.
  • Mythender: Ryan Macklin’s full-length heavy-metal fantasy RPG of powerful humans who hunt down gods and End them.
  • Ironsworn (Shawn Tomkin): Dark fantasy and desperate battles in an untracked land — vow-driven quests Powered by the Apocalypse.
  • Atomic Highway (Gallant Knight Games): Post-apocalypse survival action for your inner road warrior.
  • Forgotten Futures (Marcus Rowland): The original shareware (now freeware) tabletop RPG of Victorian and Edwardian sf/fantasy.
Why pay less? Help the RCRF with a couple of bucks, and get some of the best free RPGs the field has ever seen, before this 2019 Birthday Bundle disappears this Friday night.

[syndicated profile] kottke_org_feed

Posted by Jason Kottke

Amanda Mull on How to Stop Hating Your Least Favorite Food:

I’ve never had a traumatic barf experience with cucumbers, so my aversion is probably just an innate dislike. And the culprit behind my long-term cuke hatred might be in the vegetable’s smell, more specifically than its taste. “What we call ‘taste’ is really ‘flavor,’ which is a mixture of taste, smell, and texture,” Sclafani says. People lose olfactory sensitivity as they age, which is a big reason that many people seem to outgrow childhood aversions: A food that might have been overwhelming to a kid will read as more mellow to an adult. I’m in my 30s, so there’s a decent chance that, were I to give cucumbers a fair shake, I’d hate them a lot less than my childhood memories have led me to believe.

In recent years, I’ve come to the grudging conclusion that I am somewhat of a picky eater (with a couple of caveats that I’ll get into below). I grew up in the Midwest in the 80s, which meant I mostly ate meat & potatoes, pizza, and various things on white bread when I was a kid. Campbell soups were wielded by Midwestern parents to super-charge supper casseroles like Escoffier used béchamel or hollandaise. Vegetables were shunned and feared.

In my 20s and out of the Midwest, I started eating a wider variety of foods and some of my least favorite things — broccoli, mushrooms, beets, onions — are now among my favorites. The flavors of Japanese food (sushi, ramen) took a long time to get used to, but now I love them. Other foods — mustard, raw oysters, eggplant — I have repeatedly tried and failed to appreciate as others clearly do. Part of my problem, as I found out around that time, is that I’m a supertaster. That sounds cool, like I’m Spider-Man or something, but it really means that I’m an oversensitive taster, with a proclivity for bland food and sensitivity to bitter tastes (helloooo vegetables).

I’ve also realized that a lot of the food I ate as a kid wasn’t particularly fresh or well-prepared. Tacos were hard-shelled and flavor-packet-based, fish was in stick form, and Chinese food came out of a can. Canned mushrooms aren’t that great in comparison to fresh ones, and there’s a wonderland of flavorful mushroom varieties beyond the button. In the winter in rural Wisconsin, you couldn’t even buy fresh out-of-season vegetables like tomatoes in the grocery store in the 80s.

The weird thing is that I’m actually a pretty adventurous eater. If something is well-prepared and fresh, I will eat it. I never order anything “on the side” at a restaurant or ask them to skip an ingredient I don’t care for.1 My answer to a server’s “do you have any allergies or dietary restrictions?” is always “no”. I eat a lot of things that many other people won’t: tongue, liver, brains, tripe, sweetbreads, etc. When I am drinking alcohol,1 I will consume just about any kind of bitter digestif you can throw at me. The key for me, as Mull notes in the article, is that “gentle, steady exposure” can overcome many food aversions. Eventually, the adventurousness wins out over my picky palate. Except for raw oysters…I don’t know that I’ll ever eat them and enjoy the taste of low tide in my mouth.

  1. The only real exception to this is mustard because if there’s a smear of mustard on, for example, a Katz’s pastrami sandwich, it completely overwhelms the taste of the pastrami and rye bread for me. The “no mustard” thing has brought me a lot of ridicule over the years from hot dog and hot sandwich purists, but it can’t be helped.

  2. Which I am currently not, a topic that probably deserves its own post sometime.

Tags: Amanda Mull   food

Winter City Walkable Bingo for Kids

Feb. 20th, 2019 06:00 pm
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Posted by Sandy James Planner



From the Saskatchewan in Motion program coaching children to walk to school and be more active in their communities is this “Bingo” card designed for children to take out on their winter walks.

And as Wildernook Fresh Air Training enthuses “This weekend we’re taking a break from our regular neighbourhood walking game of I Spy to try out Saskatchewan in Motion’s Winter Walking Bingo Card.

It is perfect for his age and up, and encourages us to notice the little wintery details in our neighbourhood we may have walked right by! I appreciate the way it communicates through both pictures and word forms, so that he can be involved in looking up what we can search for next. “

You can find the download of the winter walking bingo card for free here.





jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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