Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

Photo by PoPville flickr user guy_incognito

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks. I’ll open this thread every morning at 10am.

57 Comment

  • me

    Rant: Managers, who have had my drafts since the middle of last week, just now emailing me to tell me to restructure a whole bunch of stuff, when of course, it is all due this evening.

    Rave: I’m taking tomorrow off.

    Rant: Taking tomorrow off for a small procedure, which isn’t a huge deal, but big enough for me to not be able to enjoy my day off.

  • rant: the tiredness today is almost completely overwhelming. my eyes burn, my body aches and feels weak, i feel like i a hangover even though i haven’t even had a drink in over 5 years.

    rave: i have sweet sweet thoughts about quitting my job 3 months from now. if everything works out according to plan……..

  • claire

    Rave: Fun dinner at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace yesterday. Can’t believe the wait was nearly an hour at 8pm on a Monday, but the food was truly delicious and I was glad to be able to treat my friend for her birthday!

    Rant: So tired. I wish 6 – 7 hours of sleep was sufficient for me as it seems to be for others. I’m just not even close to 100% without 8 (or, even better, 9) hours of sleep.

    Rant: Sick of working with computer scientists who don’t pay attention to what their scripts are actually doing and don’t even look at the input or output to make sure it’s right!

  • Rant: The wind this past weekend caused one of the already-sketchy windows in my apartment to finally fall apart (one of the pieces of wood is pretty rotted under a million layers of paint, and the screws that connect another piece of wood to that one pulled out completely, causing the glass to slide down a bit, and the whole thing is jammed and rickety and I’m afraid to even touch it for fear of making it worse). I let my landlord know on Sunday, and he said he’d have it checked on. I hoped to see that something had been done when I got home from work yesterday, but there was no sign of any progress. I’m going to give it until I get home tonight, and if there’s still no progress, I’m bugging my landlord again.

    Related Rant: I happened to stumble upon a nice looking apartment on Craig’s List yesterday, and since I’m frustrated with the window thing in my current place, plus I’m month to month, so I only have to give 30 days notice to be out, I emailed the real estate agent who’s handling it. And he’s being horribly unresponsive. It sounds like the place will only allow one pet (I have two cats), but it’s like pulling nails to get him to just tell me that! I’ve had bad experiences dealing with real estate agents and rental properties in the past (I get it–they make way more money off a property that’s for sale, but come on!), so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Revel: I keep becoming more and more thrilled that a mutual friend introduced me to a girl who moved here to DC last fall–she’s become one of my best friends here in DC; we have *so much* in common, she’s such an amazing person, we both have the crazy dream of some day opening a coffee shop, and we both love to geek out over old buildings! Chatting with her always makes my day better! 🙂

  • Rant: I’ve never posted a rant or rave, but was driving to work yesterday and swore I would post next time this came up. So… Drivers that drive down the center of a two lane side street when there are cars coming the other direction! You don’t need a 4 foot clearance between you and the parked cars, so move the hell over!

  • Rant: Hating my job more and more by the day. 300+ job applications over the past 2 years and nothing has panned out. People at my current job saying “this is a great place to work, you can do anything after this” doesn’t help matters at all. I’m sick and tired of it.
    Anyone got any advice on how to transition out of being a paralegal?

    • Nothing besides go to law school, which will take more time out of your life, which you will hate more, yet may eventually lead you to a job where you will make more money, but hate even more than being a paralegal and being in law school. Soldier it out, make some personal professional relationships that will help you transition out to something that will make you happier. The world that we knew is over.

    • After 8+ years I was only able to get out when an attorney I was working for took a job at a bank and offered me a job working for him. I’d say consider project manager gigs at vendors, legal recruiting, or getting a PMP. Good luck! It may be a lot harder to take vacations when you’re on a fixed income, but I don’t regret leaving the paralegal field for better hours and the joy of being treated like a human being by my successors for a second.

    • Been there and it is not fun. Consider going to back to school in a different field and doing a complete career change. I did this and have not looked back in the almost two years since I left. If school is not in the future, work your network. You will be surprised who knows who and what.

  • Rave: I channeled my grumpiness yesterday into a 4 mile run- my previous distance personal record had been 2.8 miles…I hit my target of 3 miles and just kept going! I’m really stoked to progress so far and feel like my fitness is really getting there.

    Rave: Took a proactive step at my job that will hopefully lead to upward mobility, or at the very least more professional experience. It’s a more exciting area than my administrative one, and I will continue to be proactive in pursuing it with that director.

    Rave: Initiating new leads with my volunteer project…two weeks into my leadership position, and I feel like I’m contributing to the organization quite a bit.

  • Rave: Got a job offer for a new job! This is an exciting opportunity, seems like it will be fairly interesting, challenging work, and I get out of my current job, which is making me miserable! Win all around!

    Not-really-a-rant: I now have to start salary negotiations… I’ve never done this before (I always just took what was offered), but there’s a chance that they’ll just offer me my current salary. I’d really like a raise, at the very least to buffer against the likelihood of pay freezes and reduction of step increases. I’m excited about this job, so I don’t want to botch the discussion. I hope that as long as I’m friendly and firm, and reiterate how interested I am in the job, they won’t take offence… Any advice on salary negotiations?

    • Congrats, that’s wonderful!

      Private, NGO, government or other sector?

      Don’t settle for a lateral move, even if it’s a slight increase. Stay firm and don’t worry about offending anyone (assuming your request is realistic). Know what your audience can afford before requesting and/or counter-offering. Don’t forget about how an improved schedule, benefits, travel subsidy, or other stipends can be considered an improvement from your current job.

      I realize I’m probably telling you things you already know and it’s all generic, but there are a lot of factors to consider (hence the generalities). Worst case scenario: you say you’ll only work for ‘X’ amount, they say no, you try again, they say no, and you still get out of job that’s making you miserable. Chances are they’ll respect your assertiveness. I think it’s fair that most level-headed hiring official would understand that whoever they high wants, at the very least, a slight increase from their previous job. If it’s government though then you’ve got OPM regulations that might keep you from getting any increase. Good luck!!

      • Sorry about the typos…

        ‘I think it’s fair to say that most level-headed hiring officials would understand that whoever they hire wants…’

      • Thanks! OPM definitely does have a say in this, so I suspect that my negotiating power may be fairly limited, but it never hurts to try. Even a slight increase would be a good thing!

        • I see, well, there are pros with that, too. At least you know what to expect, you’ve got job security, and step/grade increases (and a possibly COLA, dep on what the feds say). 🙂

        • Be aware that agencies have much more flexibility if you are an outside hire, so if you are, now is the time to ask. You won’t get another chance.

          And be creative. Money comes in many forms, not just straight-up salary, and some are easier for them to come up with than others.

          In my case, I received a promotion in-house last summer. I tried to ask for more than what was offered but they couldn’t do it because of OPM’s guidelines. I was told–and confirmed for myself via OPM regulations–that once you’re in the system, so to speak, you’ve got no wiggle room.

    • It sounds like they already know what you make, however next time when a company asks (which they all do), simply give them a number 4-5% above what you actually do make. That way, even if they offer you the “same” salary, you are actually still getting a raise.

      4-5% is enough to make it worth your while (worst case) and small enough to be completely believable.

      Giving them salary requirements is so highly specialized to each field, it is nearly imposible for anyone to give you advice without knowing your position and current experience. Many fields like law, engineering, finance have pretty clear associations with salary and years of experience. Other fields like consulting, marketing etc, not so much. I am assuming you know generally what your position is worth in the market via websites like salary.com and glassdoor, so ask for slightly above that.

      Final word of advice, don’t go hog wild with your requested salary. Trying to get a 20-30% bump is usually pretty obvious, and in this economy when they have 10 people with your qualifications lined up behind you to interview, not a good way to go.

    • claire

      Take this with a grain of salt as I am by no means an expert salary negotiator, but here are my main tips (which helped me to get a substantial raise recently):

      1) Don’t think of the situation as you vs. them. Think of the situation as you and the company working together to come up with a compromise that makes both of you happy (you because you’re getting properly valued and them because they get you working for them and doing a really good job since you feel properly valued).
      2) They’re already offering you the job. Their original offer is not going to be rescinded so at the worst, you try for more, they say it isn’t possible, and you are back to the original offer. At the best, you try for more and get it.
      3) Research. If you can find average salary ranges for people with the same amount of experience as you in the same field, that can be great leverage. Or if they’re trying to offer you the same salary as your current job, mention that you’d soon be considered for a raise at that job if you stayed (since that usually happens once a year), so it would be better if they match what you would be getting after that expected raise.
      4) Be open to negotiating pieces other than salary. Okay, maybe they can’t give you 5k more a year, but sometimes they can give you a signing bonus (happened to a friend of mine recently – the bonus was coming out of a different budget so they could make that happen even though the salary bump couldn’t). Or maybe they can consider you for a raise after a couple months. Or offer you more vacation hours. Or give you the option of telecommuting a couple days a week.
      5) Compliment sandwich. Just a good general life tip but especially applicable here. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to start working with [your company]; I think it’s a perfect fit for me. However, given my experience with [xyz], I think a salary of $xx would be more appropriate. I would love to get this sorted out because I can’t wait to start working for you as soon as possible.”

    • If you’re moving from one government job to another, I’m not sure the HR people have the authority to give you anything other than whatever grade and step you’re currently in.

      I could be wrong, but my sense is that you usually only have leeway to negotiate if you’re coming in from the outside.

      I did a lateral move from one government agency to another a few years ago. I was hired at the same grade and step I had just left. (However, I qualified for a step increase on the anniversary date from the previous job.)

      It didn’t occur to me to try to negotiate, since I really disliked the one job and was very keen to get out of it, but I don’t think the HR people would’ve been able to bump me from Step 2 to, say, Step 3 (or beyond) without the time in grade.

      • Yeah, it’s starting to look that way… if they tell me for sure that it’ll be a lateral move, I’ll still happily take it. The new opportunity seems to be well worth it.

      • I think it’s hard to negotiate a higher salary when you’re moving form government to private sector, as well. When I made the move I was originally asking for the same salary, and nearly every potential employer thought that was too high.

        I did end up being hired at a higher salary, but this was after months of searching, and hundreds of applications, and dozens of interviews. After a while I’d started asking for less.

  • Rave: My stolen car has been found — and with very little damage!
    Rave: I can’t think of anything to rant about right now!!

  • Rant: 0 for 2 on my latest round of federal job applications…

  • Emmaleigh504

    Rant: Headachey

    Rave: Advil

  • Rant: All of the idle speculation on the previous thread re: the struck cyclist and how the accident happened. Hope the cyclist is okay.

    Rant: Totally exhausted today, I can hardly keep my eyes open at my desk (which feels pretty lame to say given the bike accident I just read about but it’s true).

    Rant: Feeling overwhelmed personally and professionally. I wish I could curl up in bed and take a nap.

    Sorry to be debbie-downer…

  • Rant: How the DC City Council manages to make Boehner, Issa and Cantor look like Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams.

    Rant part duex: How Vincent Gray manages to make Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan look like Lincoln and Roosevelt (either Frank or Teddy).

    Rant part trois: why I am obsessed with historical political figures today

    Rave: Real Spring, not the faux Spring we’ve been having since Christmas, is around the corner. And that means Os and Nats, whether they suck or not.

  • Rant: This site feels like it’s getting slower by the day, and I’m getting a whole lot of “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down” messages lately, even when I’m not posting quickly at all. I thought these problems went away when the site was redesigned. Guess not 🙁

  • Rave: I’ve been making these no-bake peanut butter things that are basically crack. Not only because they are delicious, but also because when I eat a couple I FEEL REALLY REALLY GOOD about the world. Yum.

    Rant: I want a cat. I think if I had a cat I would just be happy all the time. I sometimes fantasize about moving to a new apartment just so I can live somewhere that allows cats. I should stop looking at the pet section on craigslist…

    • holy cow. if you would please please please share this recipe, I’ll be forever grateful… and then we’ll basically be the same person because I’m cat crazy.

      • 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup coconut flakes, 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup honey, a bit of vanilla and salt. Mix all together. Chill for a bit and then roll in to balls. Store in the freezer.

        AND THEN EAT THEM ALL THE TIME. Or not quite all the time, because they probably have a million calories. But they will wake you up! 🙂

        • thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 🙂

        • claire

          I’ll probably be stealing this recipe too – sounds really good! I assume old-fashioned oats would be the best kind to use. Only ingredient I don’t currently have on hand is the flaxseed (probably a long shot to try putting chia seed in there instead)…

          • Oh, you can substitute whatever, as long as you keep the same ratio of sticky things and non-sticky things. 🙂 I’ve used other kinds of nut butter, raisins, nuts, whatever I have around. Both old fashioned and quick oats work, as would chia seeds, I’m sure.

            This is like when I discovered how easy it is to make your own salad dressing. I’m never buying things like granola bars or Clif bars again!

  • Rave: I have successfully weaned myself off of my anxiety meds, and I am feeling good. Glad ptsd is/can be a temporary condition.

  • RANT: Here’s a real motherfucking rant. My aunt has cancer and has 6-18 months to live. FUCK YOU CANCER.

  • Rave: Last month I enrolled in Progressive’s Snapshot program, which uses a device to monitor your mileage, travel times, and hard brakings to determine if you’re eligible for a discount. My policy just renewed and it went down significantly– from $733 to $384! And that’s with a 300+ mile trip I took over President’s weekend.

    I know this sounds like a bad advertisement, but I wanted to share my success since I imagine a lot of readers have similar driving habits. I’ve always found it frustrating that the majority of drivers in the DC area– those who commute hundreds of miles a week and/or drive like maniacs– increase the rates for those of us who only drive occasionally and are non-agressive when we do. Now there is a way to prove we are less of a risk, and pay a more reasonable rate for it.

  • Rant: I’m sitting on the bus yesterday when this lady’s adorable kid gives me a huge smile — and then sneezes a huge wad of snot on my face. I’m now getting majorly sick … but I’m saving up my congestion for revenge.

    Rave: Most likely a huge job transfer coming up into dream job. Overcame insane academic and personal obstacles to get it.

  • Rave: More sunny weather!

    Rant: EXHAUSTED. Thirty minutes of exercise/stretching in my dance class last night just kicked my a$$!

    Rave: Little Debbie Fudge Brownie. I swear, they’re good for the soul.
    Speaking of souls, overheard during lunch: “I’ll give YOU the tryptic when you give ME your soul.”

    Rant: This will be one looooong and boooooooring work week!

  • Rave: I’m getting my first foster kitty today!

  • thebear

    Rant: The plastic knob handle on the lid of the Dutch oven I bought before Thanksgiving is cracking. No more putting it in the oven unless I can replace the knob with something more durable (or bite the bullet and wait until I can get a new Le Creuset).

    Rant: BJ’s for almost surely knowing the knob cracks after a while from putting it in the oven and still selling the thing.

    Rant: People who just live with poor-quality products instead of complaining to the store/manufacturer about them. It isn’t just the cheap stuff from China: I’ve had plenty of issues with the quality of premium brand names in recent years.

    Rave: Complaining about unsatisfactory purchases gets refunds, coupons or freebies if you approach a store or manufacturer politely about it (and are persistent when you have to be).

    • claire

      That was actually a big motivation in getting a Lodge dutch oven (I have the 6 quart L-series which has treated me very well so far) over Le Creuset… part of having a dutch oven is putting it in the oven! It really doesn’t make sense for the standard Le Creuset to come with a plastic handle. You can actually buy a metal replacement so that should help you save your current Le Creuset. But it sucks to have to buy an extra accessory to make a rather expensive piece of kitchen equipment be fully functional!

      • I was just wondering why my Dutch oven has a plastic handle, since they’re supposed to be able to go in the oven. I haven’t felt the need to bake anything in it yet so I haven’t tested to see if it would melt.

        • thebear

          The plastic handles and lid knobs on my 20-year-old Revereware stainless are good up to 350. Other than a bit of dulling from all the years, those are all in good shape. Some of the newer stuff I have seen around is supposedly good to 400 or 450. The stuff I put a Dutch oven in the oven for is 250-350 for 1 to 3 hours a few times over the course of a month…no way should the knob already be cracked.

      • thebear

        I could have worded it a bit better. What I bought *wasn’t* a Le Creuset…made in China for $25, marked down from $50. I don’t expect it to necessarily wear like a famous brand, but sometimes bargain stuff can actually be as good or even better. This one obviously doesn’t fall in that category, already needing the handle fixed after just 3 months. I thought I would give it a shot, seeing that America’s Test Kitchen was oohing and aahing over a $50 one from Walmart. (I have never shopped there, nor will I give Walmart a cent of my money for any reason.)

    • “Rant: People who just live with poor-quality products instead of complaining to the store/manufacturer about them.”

      Can the same be said about my crappy house? We don’t even say anything to the landlord about all of the problems because we know he’s too cheap to fix it. Either that, or he’ll try to fix it himself and that will make things even worse.

    • Not sure anyone will read this but…
      They are phasing out the old Le Creuset for the “signature” line which has the black knob that can go in the oven. But I agree – why didn’t they make it like that to start with??

  • Revel: avoided a speeding ticket on my way home tonight (16th Street coming off Georgia) thanks to the anonymous gentleman with the makeshift “cops ahead” sign about 100′ before a speed trap!

  • Rant: Raven Grill (Still dead to me)
    Rave: Pharmacy Bar (Replacement)

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