Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Hail to the Victors

I don’t watch much football (really, just the annual Michigan-Michigan State game) and really don’t follow any other college sports. However, I’m well aware that the University of Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State University. And since we won the football game on Saturday, I can’t resist posting this fun video. It makes me laugh every time  I see it. (We showed it at the beginning of our all-staff meeting at work today, to enthusiastic laughter and applause.)


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Off to Seattle!

I’m off to Seattle for a few days, to attend a communication-related conference for work. I enjoy traveling for work once in a while, and this time there’s even a bonus – I get to meet two car seat friends! We’ve been part of car-seat.org for a long time (I’m even a moderator with one of the other women I’m meeting) and I’m really excited about meeting them in person. So excited that I’m willing to get up at 4:30 to take the first flight from Detroit to Seattle (via Phoenix – ?!) so that we can have most of the afternoon/evening together tomorrow.
See you in a few days!

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Today’s happiness is having  a boss who understands the morale-boosting benefits of sending his employees home a little early on Fridays. Not every single week, but a half hour here and there is really nice.

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My workplace recently started a new employee recognition program. One part of the program is what we call the “kudos card,” which any employee can give to any other employee in appreciation. It can be for something big or small, something “above and beyond” or just a regular task done well. I’ve gotten a handful – 9, I think – since the program started in March. Not too shabby.

When I got to work yesterday, after being gone just two days, I had three kudos cards sitting on my desk! And one of them was from our second-in-command. Sure made me feel good. 🙂

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Today’s happiness: At our annual work picnic, I won second place in our “What’s the Big Idea?” employee idea contest! Not only did I win $250, but the company will fund and support my idea. I can’t wait to get started.

(More on my actual idea when I’m not posting from my phone.)

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Today’s happiness: Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers. With work, paid for by work, transported to/from by work, and counted as work hours. This was my first time at Comerica Park, and it was a blast. (I wasn’t so keen on the west-facing seats, but a ball cap, some ice cream and an ice-cold drink helped.)

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I’ve commented before how nice it is to live in SE Michigan, as a child passenger safety technician. I have the pleasure and benefit of working with experts from GM, Ford (never Chrysler, I think), Recaro, Takata, and more.

On the other hand, I’m also lucky to live near and work at one of the top research universities in the country. In fact, the institute that I’m part of actually exists to support researchers. Health research is important, and the kids and I have talked about the possibility of participating in research studies at some point.

Who knew the two would come together?

The transportation research department is doing a study of kids ages 4-11, to observe and evaluate their fit in various seating and restraint situations. As soon as I heard about it, I mentioned it to Allie and Adam, who were eager to participate. (The $36 payment didn’t hurt, of course, and I let them keep that money for themselves.) I contacted the research assistant right away to set up an appointment.

Once we got there, the kids had to put on special blue bathing suits, and the researchers painted motion capture dots on them. Then they used a Faro arm to precisely measure each child’s body dimensions in three seating positions. After that was completed, they moved to a special curtained area that was equipped with four lasers (one in each corner of the “room”).  Once the kid was situated precisely, the lasers moved down on their tracks. They made a 3D image each time, like so:

(That’s Adam, of course. Not a good pic, but in real life you could even look at the face and tell it was him.) They did this for each of the various measurement scenarios, so they probably made five or six 3D models of each kid. It was pretty darn cool.

The researchers told me that the findings will be published by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and then used by auto and child restraint manufacturers to improve the design of vehicle seats, child restraints, and crash test dummies. The kids enjoyed joking that they were going to become crash test dummies. I, on the other hand, like to think that by the time Jenny is ready for a booster, the seats on the market then will have been informed by the research that Adam and Allie participated in. It was definitely worthwhile, and we’re going to keep our eyes open for other appropriate studies.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone else ever participated in any sort of health or medical research study? I’d love to hear about it!

(Nephew Nick actually took part in a study when he was recovering from open heart surgery last year, and it turns out that the principle investigator for the study is the recently hired big cheese in my department. Neat coincidence.)

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I said goodbye to an old friend last night. We’ve had a long and sometimes rocky relationship and even broke it off a couple of years ago, but I’ve remained loyal to the end. Sadly, this dear friend is meeting its demise, and the kids and I said our goodbyes last night.

I’m referring to Borders, of course. After about five years of struggling sales, etc. the company has gone bankrupt and will be closing all stores within weeks. Liquidation sales – complete with garish signs – started at all stores this moring.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (I know at least a couple of you have), you know that I worked for Borders for a long time. More than 11 years, in fact – one year at a store and more than 10 years at the home office in Ann Arbor. (And in the years between Borders store and home office, I worked at a Borders “customer store” – Schuler Books – for four years, just for good measure.)

You may also remember that I was laid off from Borders two years ago. So why the loyalty, you may ask? Simple: the people. Oh sure, you always hear, “It’s the people that make working at X company so special.”

But Borders was the real deal. From my very first day as a 23-year-old bookseller to my very last day as a seasoned corporate communicator, I was surrounded by smart, witty, often sarcastic (in a good way), dedicated people who made it easy to go to work every day. From the lowest-paid booksellers and customer service staff at the home office all the way up to the execs, we worked hard and had fun. In fact, Borders employees feel such a connection to each other that more than 4,000 have joined a Facebook that was created TWO DAYS ago for former and soon-to-be former employees. (And there are 2,225 posts already.)

And then there are the actual stores. Adam and I used to go on “dates” to Borders. We’d share a slice of lemon pound cake and a triple-chocolate hot chocolate in the cafe, then we’d browse to our heart’s content. I usually ended up buying him more books than I had planned, but it’s hard to say no when your kid’s begging you for the latest in a favorite book series or some unexpected book that he just has to have. Allie joined us once she got a little bigger (and easier to corral while in the store). I’ve read her many a story while sitting on the chairs in the children’s section. Jenny has been too, but she won’t remember.

If you’ve ever had “your” Borders store, you know how special they were. There’s a reason that whenever I told someone that I worked at Borders, I always heard replies like, “Oh, I just LOVE Borders!” or “My mom has me take her there every time she’s in town.” etc. It was just that kind of a place.

The big kids and I went to our favorite Borders for one last shopping trip last night. (The stores will be open for at least a few weeks more, but I can’t bear to be in them once the “going out of business” signs are posted everywhere.) We had a snack in the cafe – had to make do with a snickerdoodle and juice – stayed longer than we meant to, browsed to our hearts’ content, bought more than we intended, and had a nice but bittersweet time. Adam even found books three and four of a series that he’s been searching for. I found myself reluctant to leave, and was a weepy mess before we got back out to the car, but it was a perfect last visit.

We’ll move on. I’ve got another job (working for my Borders boss, I’m happy to say), we’ll find somewhere else to buy books. But Borders will always have a special place in our hearts.

One last snack (they were out of lemon pound cake, sadly).

Please can I get this one, Mom?

Allie admiring the American girl books. She’ll take one of each, please.

Ah, there’s our Book Boy in true form.

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Just What I Needed

The HelpI don’t get out much.

Oh, I leave the house. I do work full-time outside the home, have lots of errands to run, shop regularly (read: grocery shop and shop for things for the house and the kids), and participate in car seat check events every month or so in the summer. But I don’t often go anywhere just for me.

About six weeks ago, I got an email from an acquaintance from my old job at Borders’ HQ (she’s also a “friend” on Facebook). She invited me to join her already-established book group. I debated for a few days (anyone who knows me in person knows that I’m shy and insecure) but finally decided to join. Tim and the kids were all for it.

We read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which is an excellent book. I actually read it a couple of months before joining the book group, so there was no pressure to read it in a short time span. It lends itself really well to discussion, too.

My first meeting with the group was last night. It was terrific. There were three people I knew at least slightly from my old job (plus one more who couldn’t make it), so right off the bat I felt at home and knew there would be some good discussion. We stayed on topic for a bit, strayed far off topic, back and forth. It was a lively discussion, and I can’t wait until next month’s meeting.

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Tim and I have hired a nanny.

No, we can’t really afford a nanny. But we CAN afford one for the summer, sort of – hiring someone to care for the kids at home is less expensive than sending them to child care. And if we did send them to child care, they’d be in three different places – and the thought of that drives me batty. I’m truly looking forward to it – the kids won’t have to get up early and can stay up late because they won’t have to get up early, no morning routine (and the accompanying fussing), home within 20 minutes of getting off work instead of an hour of picking kids up. It’s going to be a nice break for me and Tim. And I love the idea of the kids being together for the summer – they really are crazy about each other.

We hit a few speedbumps in our nanny search (nearly hired someone that we’ve since decided would be all wrong for us – fortunately, they asked for more money and few hours, so we told them nevermind) but we found a college nanny who I think will be just right for us. She’s been to the house twice to get to know the kids, and they are just crazy about her. I sure hope it works out as well as I think it will.

Anyone else have experience with a summer nanny? What DO you do with your kids in the summer when you work?

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