Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipes from the Family Archives

Several tweeps asked me about recipes for Thanksgiving. I've found two that usually complete the dinner table around here (when I cook) Each of these recipes have been passed down at least 2 generations. The corn pudding recipe was originally written in my great-grandmother's handwriting, and now resides in a sealed baggie.

Corn Pudding (serves 4-6)

2 cups corn (i use canned)
1 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter (melted)

Combine ingredients in ORDER. Pour into a 1 QT baking dish. Place in a larger pan of water. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 mins. can be mixed a day ahead and bake later.

No Bake Cookies

2 c. sugar
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 c. milk
1 c. peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 c. oatmeal
waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls. Let sit until cool and hardened.

I hope you enjoy!
Bon appetite.

Monday, October 19, 2009


One of my ingenious peers summed things up just right this morning.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pizza by @the_buglet

My genius chef-child is a competition winning pizza maker. This is how she does it.

Okay, so I don't like onions at all! but this pizza is the best ever!

All you have to do is saute 1 to 2 onions of your choice with any herbs you like. Id use a little more butter or Olive oil than normal- makes it so much better.

Then dice tomatoes or use canned, both are good. Mozzarella cheese, shredded, lots of it if you like a cheesy pizza like I do.

You make the pizza dough or have a pre-made one (home-made is the way to go personally)

After baking the pizza dough for a little bit, put the mozzarella on the pizza dough, top with sauteed onions and place diced tomatoes on-top, The tomatoes cook down to create the sauce.

Bake for about 20-30 mins, at the temp recommended for your crust, and enjoy.

No additional sauce required and its a easy and delicious dinner.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

But I don't want to be the Policy Police - practical application

There have been extensive and lively conversations about HR not being the Policy Police and changing the way HR views itself. There has also been commentary in the blogosphere about the evils of lawyers telling us to not use social media for backgrounds on candidates because it will get us sued. The esteemed thought leaders Laurie Rueittmann, Kris Dunn and Mike VanDervort and many others have weighed in with there own thoughts on these topics.

Combining HR and technology – the next dilemma comes down the pike, wrapping all of these topics into one. North Carolina and 13 other states have banned texting and email while driving. President Obama has signed an executive order banning federal employees from the same practices. The North Carolina law goes into effect December 1, 2009.

So, the HR Professional gut instinct kicks in when I hear this and says “Lovely, another policy to write.” But the progressive, strategic and altogether libertarian and technology friendly idealist in me says “Wait – can we simply make an announcement that the law has been passed, and trust our adult employees to follow the law?”

The trick is the legal concept of respondeat superior – in that an employer may be held liable for injuries to a third person caused by the employee’s negligence.

So my employee is making sales calls, and he receives a text from a client. He responds while driving and in the course of his texting, is involved in an injury causing crash. His texting is found to be the cause of the accident under the new North Carolina law, and suddenly we are liable for the injuries to the person he hit.

How would you advise your senior management in regard to policy stance in this instance? Do you treat your employees as the adults they are, and expect them to follow the rules of the road? Or do you write the policy to include our beloved phrase “violation may result in discipline up to and including termination”?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Las Acciones Hablan Mas Que Palabras

From ISRI Safety this morning....
Working safely in a multicultural environment, actions really do speak louder than words.

From John Gilstrap, Director of Safety at ISRI

Anecdotal evidence shows that in the recycling industry, Hispanic workers suffer a disproportionate share of injuries. I’ve written in this space before about the importance of communicating safety in a way that is understood by all workers, but in the past, I’ve concentrated on written and oral communication. More recently, I’ve come to realize that cultural differences play a huge role in this communication

And when I say huge, I mean huge. Unless and until we get a handle on these differences, meaningful change is going to be slow in coming. “You have to understand Latino culture in order to train them effectively,” said Bob Ramirez, principal consultant for Ramirez Associates, a firm that specializes in helping incorporate Hispanic culture into American corporations.“If you want them to take it seriously, you need to present it seriously. In Hispanic culture, what you say means less than what you show. In Spanish, we call it ‘the big wink’.” And workers are very sensitive to it.

Born in Mexico and raised in the United States before heading back to Mexico to manage manufacturing plants, Ramirez says that the cultural differences between the two countries are startling. And it starts in childhood.

“American kids are born to be independent,” Ramirez said. “They are raised to question authority, to think on their own. In Latino cultures, we depend on our parents to take care of us, for priests to tell us what is right and wrong, and for the police to tell us what is legal and illegal.”

This cultural deference, he says, extends to the workplace as well. “A Hispanic’s worth as a man is based on how we’re perceived as workers,” Ramirez explained. “And
we’re very respectful of authority. So if the boss tells a Hispanic worker to do something, he’ll assume that it’s a safe thing to do.” Even when it’s not.
“We don’t like to say no,” Ramirez says of Latino culture. “It’s considered disrespectful. So when an American boss tells a Latino worker, ‘I need you to X, Y, and Z before you go home tonight,’ the worker is likely to agree, even when he knows that there’s a family commitment that will keep him from fulfilling his promise. He’ll consider it more respectful to tell a ‘little white lie’ than to say no.”

This is a common source of conflict between Latino workers and American managers. “In the United States, people see things in black and white,” Ramirez explains, “with a tiny area in between called the gray area.” Americans quickly lose
patience with people who dwell on the gray area. (Remember wondering what the definition of “is” was?) In Latino cultures, Ramirez explains, the perception is entirely different. “In Mexico, for example, it’s well understood that there’s yes,
no, then a wide freeway called the gray area. Everyone understands this.” What they don’t understand is why their bosses don’t understand. The white lie, they believe, is better than the insult of refusal.

Consider the all-too-common half-hearted safety training class, in which lip service is given to safety, while the real emphasis remains on production. Ramirez explains that a Latino audience culturally prewired for “the big wink.” They expect the nonverbal communication to convey the “real” meaning of what people say and weigh those cues at least as heavily as they weigh the word that are spoken. When safety equipment is provided, but there’s no emphasis on wearing it, everyone understands
that they’re expected not to use it. Come to think of it, that response is
common to all cultures. Still, there is a Latino cultural barrier to wearing safety equipment.

“In general, Hispanics believe that everything has been preordained,” Ramirez said. “If God wants you to die, you’re going to die. Therefore, what’s the use of taking steps that make you appear to be a bad worker?” Add to that the fact that the
Hispanic workforce in the United States is overall quite young, complete with the sense of indestructibility that comes with youth, and it’s easy to see why there might be resistance to hard hats and safety glasses.

In Hispanic culture, it seems that directions are in large measure negotiations. “You need to ask the question the right way,” Ramirez explained. “A fellow Hispanic supervisor might say, ‘We have this job to do, can you stay?’ and then he’ll watch for the [nonverbal] signs. The worker still might not say no,
but if he can’t stay, he’ll hem and haw, and this is the signal. The supervisor will then give him a graceful way out.” Or, if the job is really essential, the supervisor will explain the importance of staying.

I’ve said it before, folks: at the root of every unsafe act is a worker’s self-perceived best interest. When it comes to a multicultural workforce, the title of this column says it all: Actions speak louder than words.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Motivating Employees

From www.isri.org this morning - How to motivate employees in a slow economy.
Our people are our most important asset. No, they really can't be replaced by cleaper, less experienced labor in the downturn and then brought back in the upturn.

Even when times are tough financially and incentive bonuses are out of the question, we still need to find ways to encourage employees to maintain a safe and healthful workplace. Sometimes, simple recognition for a job well done is all that is needed. Here are some low-cost motivators to help keep workers in the game:

• Write a letter of commendation
• Ask employees for input/advice
• Give verbal praise
• Pass along compliments you received from others
• Write an email to a superior and copy the employee
• Put positive information in the employee’s productivity file
• Provide quick follow up on problems/hazards when recognized
• Post positive achievements on a safety bulletin board or in an employee newsletter
• Say thank you — And MEAN IT
• Allow flexible work scheduling (flextime)
• Designate special parking places
• Give out awards — e.g., plaques, trophies, certificates
• Feature an employee of the month
• Recognize peers who have helped you
• Have a coffee/juice morning to acknowledge accomplishments
• Create group awards to recognize teamwork
• Thank somebody who contributes ideas — regardless of whether you use the idea
• Always give others credit where credit is due
• ASK the employees how they want to be recognized
• Post complimentary letters on a safety bulletin board
• Send employees to special seminars and workshops that may interest them

When workers feel better about themselves, they tend to take an interest in their work and their company. This loyalty leads to longevity. Longevity leads to experience. Experience is an important element in working . . .

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thoughts on a Rainy Thursday

when I really should be contemplating work... but its making me crazy.

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.
- Bob Thaves

Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.
- Robert Orben

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.
- Sophocles

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Dumbest Generation

The Carolina Journal did an interview with an Emory professor on his new book titled "The Dumbest Generation"...

read entire interview here

And my response is... spot on.
Education in the US is supposed to be the "best" - except as I have walked this path known as my life, I have encountered far many more well-educated people from places outside the United States.

I play trivia on a semi-regular basis. 10 years ago, the questions were arts and humanities, science and technology and the occasional 'strain your brain' sports trivia question. These contests have morphed into battles of who remembers the lyrics to the last Coldplay CD, track 6. WTF?

Our technological advancements have made us a society of "information now" - with a smattering of "short attention span theater". My daughter has gone through more cell phones, CD players, MP3 players, computers and other gadgets than I've ever owned in my entire life.

Bauerlein comments "If you really want to punish a 17-year-old, all you have to do is say, “Go outside and play, and leave your cell phone and Blackberry at home.” That is exile. That is banishment for them. That underscores the power of these tools. "

I can attest to this fact when raising my own child.

And the sad fact is that I have been given similar chidings from my own less "wired in" friends. I can google an answer to a question no matter where I am (including my favorite secluded hiking spots) I get email and texts on the trail. But the thing I have learned to do is to TURN IT OFF. There is nothing in my world that says I need to be accessible 24/7. None of us do.

So, how do we reintroduce our next generation to the non-technological world? The world of the outdoors, the world of books, the world where Twitter following doesn't exist. The world where we are educated beyond our computers. So much knowledge is being lost in the digital age, where the latest blog opines are taken as fact. Where undocumented sources are gods... (an undocumented source used to be called conjecture or opinion)

Don't get me wrong, I am wired in... more than I want to be, and as much as I need to be.
But I think the EMF has begun to melt my brain.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random thoughts for Today

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you're a consultant.
- Scott Adams
In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.
- Fran Lebowitz

stewing on the more mundane things this evening....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is why we should Stop and Listen

Joshua Bell played his $3.5 million dollar violin (the 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius) in the metro station in Washington DC. Very few people stopped to listen, and he pocketed $32 from his violin case during his 45 minute performance. This was a Washington Post experiment in 2007.

A world renowned violinist played for the people of DC, for free... and no one payed attention, because there was no media hype about who, and where, and why. We did not simply stop and listen to beautiful music.

And we wonder why our country seems to be going to hell in a handbasket.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Enhancement in an Overachieving World

I watched A-Rod yesterday, (Alex Rodriguez, the baseball player, for readers currently emerging from rocks) and he admitted to trying something that might have been a performance enhancing drug, if he used it properly, which he's not sure he did, sometime in 2001-2003. There has been a swirl of controversy about the issue of performance enhancers in general, including a book written by an old friend, Will Carroll. (shameless plug)

And the controversy continues into our schools and workplaces. We medicate our children with a class 2 controlled substance to get them to focus and behave in school. Those kids will readily admit it enhances their ability to concentrate, and when they are not on the drug, their performance suffers. So we are enhancing the children's ability to absorb information and pass tests. At what point did an entire generation of American children lose the inability to focus? We now diagnose adults with ADD and ADHD and give them Ritalin and Adderall. So they can focus and concentrate and perform at a higher level. And we now have an entire segment of the population that is on performance enhancing chemicals. Shall we get started on the anti-depressants?

But what society are we creating? It started out that all the ADD/ADHD kids were considered "possessing a disability", and schools were given federal funds based on that. However, I could probably walk into my local elementary/middle/high school to find that the vast majority of kids were on Ritilin, Adderall or some variation. So who has the disability now? I'm guessing the kids who don't have the performance enhancing drugs at their disposal.

Because these drugs do in fact work, there is now a large a black market for them. College campuses are rampant with the stuff. What I wouldn't have done in college to have the ability to take a pill and remain alert through an important lecture after pulling an all nighter to finish a paper.... Everybody wants an edge, don't they??!

Our workplace is suffering the same fate with performance enhancers and mood stabilizers. Use of these drugs by adults in the workplace is opening up some interesting issues. Will I be held accountable because I'm not on a performance enhancing or mood altering drug like everyone else? In other words, because I don't think 10 steps ahead, or I happen to be sad over a breakup? Is that the path we are on? A world where to compete means you must medicate?

They say Better Living through Chemistry. But is it? Is it that important to think so quickly that you miss seeing the world around you? Are we forgetting how to live in the process of moving from milestone to milestone?

So if we want to get the most out of our achievements, we are going to use every competitive advantage we've got. And for many in our society, that means Ritalin, Adderall, or Provigil (a drug used to treat narcolepsy and sleep apnea) or mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. It seems we are going to lose the ability to stabilize our own moods or focus out minds on a task if we rely on chemicals to do it for us. (And why, perhaps, are we losing the ability to do that as a society?)

And to get back to our performance enhancing friends in MLB, and other sports....
If its acceptable to use drugs to compete with our brains, why isn't it acceptable to use them to compete with our bodies? And if its NOT acceptable, what should we do about it?