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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ask Prodigal Dad: The difference between an office ham... and a pig.

 Article Tone:  Humorous, Wife Doesn't Find Funny, Informative-Borderline All-knowing, Preachy, Medium, Medium Rare, Sorta Serious, Death Related

Prodigal Dad,

I don't think that people in my office like me very much. I probably shouldn't care but I do. -- Cooler at the cooler

Dear Cooler cooler,

I have been in the same boat.  I walked into work a little late the other day. OK, a whole lotta late. I was met by a chorus of "So you decided to show up today, huh?", and "Gracing us with your presence are ya?", and a few "You are just in time to go home for the day"'.

So much for sneaking in without notice.

Sometimes the work environment is one big happy-ish family and a little chiding is not a problem. However, until you have found your niche in the office social structure and can claim any exemptions (or have become the boss), you may wish to follow a few guidelines to keep from becoming "that co-worker".

In no particular order:

• Don't mooch food off of your cubical mate. When someone brings in their lunch fresh from the new French Polynesian-Tex-Mex Burger Fusion up the street, don't ask "Where is my food?", or say something like. "Oh, thank you for bringing me dinner. What are you going to eat?". It was funny the first time we heard that -- 32 years ago. It has not been funny since.

• Procrastination is for dummies. I'll tell you why later.

• Don't broadcast your personal issues. don't put your personal grievances on the proverbial office bulletin board and don't make that call from your desk to the phone company about your overdue bill and then spend the next forty-five minutes threatening to sue unless you get an extension or a discount. Your co-workers may look supportive, but inside they are hoping that someone will ask you to take it outside or put a hit on you.

• Before we get too far, remember my experience being late and having it announced to everyone in the office including the branch in Pocatello? Would you want that done to you? No? Then you might want to stuff a mens professional black nylon sock in it. (Note to self: Or, you could stop being late.)

• Don't take credit for someone else's work - if for no other reason than "what goes around comes around". Your desk partner may not say something when you email their idea to the boss, but you can be sure that they won't talk to you about anything important for the rest of the year. And you may get left out - literally.

• Please and thank you, and the acknowledgement of positive are never out of business style. Even in this social media I don't have to speak to anyone face to face world, manners still distinguish between men and mice.

• Regardless of the feel of the office, unless you are working in a locker room, personal hygiene should never be neglected. Let me be frank. Belching and its equally disturbing alternative is not for the office. I'm not kidding.

• Bending the truth or misleading outright is a whole different class. There is no place for it in the office.

• Updating your Facebook from work isn't the smartest thing to do when office mates and even your boss are your social media friends. And having your co-workers see you on the computer posting or updating your status doesn't give everyone that "you are team player" kinda feeling.

• Remember procrastination? Putting a task off until someone feels they have to do a job for you or risk it not getting done and reflecting badly on them or the company will set you up as a professional flake.

• Don't be Eeyore. Remember Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. He was a sweet blue donkey thing, but everything he had to say was sad or negative. Real Eeyores are not cute or sweet. And they usually sit alone because no-one wants to be brought down - except for other Eeyores.

"That will never work because (fill in the blank)" gets old. After awhile, people will quit thinking outside the box, or at least involving you in their ground-breaking ideas.

•Answer your e-mails in a timely fashion. Once a day may have been the standard ten years ago, but you will want to double that. And make sure that communications are labeled in a helpful and descriptive manner that is geared toward the recipient. Your e-mail communication represents what you are as a professional.

An extra hint: Remember to forgive as much as you can professionally, and to be graceful. Don't hold a mistake above others heads for years just as you would like to be given another chance if you were -- by some outrageous imaginative stretch -- to have made a mistake. What goes around will, indeed, come around.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2015 Miss America rundown -- for Dads.

It's been many years since Heather Whitestone became the first disabled Miss America and the last queen to have a major impact. Winners since have gone by in a blur of low ratings. Could Miss America have the last laugh by becoming relevant again?

Yes, I sat through the Miss America pageant this year and I am still in possession of my man card. This may be due to the fact that there were no men in the vicinity to challenge it.
With nine sisters (I still like a few of them), three mothers, a wife and two daughters, watching Miss America has become standard practice. Here is the guy's/dad's run-down.

Miss Idaho was the people's choice having won the on-line voting. She bounced onto the stage in her pinkish-purple bikini with her insulin injector attached at the hip. It looked like a pager.

The dad in me cringed a little at the bikini and heels -- once for the bikini, and once for the heels. I am a little old school, I suppose, where heels are for hammering nails.

The inner Idahoan in me was proud because the gem state hasn't made much of an impact on Miss America since Karen Herd was first runner-up in, what 1972? Good for Idaho, and good for ladies that come right out and say "handicaps-schmandicaps. You wanna be a beauty queen! Nothing stopping ya".

Miss New York was not on anybody's radar this year, including mine. I had crossed her off the list. Even her winning the state title had an inconsequential air as the last two national title holders were former Miss New Yorks. There was little chance for a three-peat. It had never happened before, though Oklahoma had tried.

Miss New York seemed to be aware of her predicament. Whether she threw caution to the wind because of the Vegas line, simply wanted to have a good time, or was feeling a bit liberated from any pressure, the tri-lingual queen appeared to be completely comfortable in her own skin. In her swimsuit and heels (there that is again), she threw her arms into the air to wave to the convention center when her name was called as a semifinalist.

For her talent she sat on the ground in her lovely blue pantsuit and played... a red cup. She used the cup and the floor to establish the rhythm while she sang a joyful rendition of the song "Happy".

Twitter was all a buzz with insults. I myself giggled and the performance was half over before I realized that this was her talent presentation. And then I smiled. Why not do want she wanted to do. Three-times-a-lady was just not going to happen.

And then Kira Kazantsev answered the question asked by former Miss America, Lee "Barnaby Jones" Meriwether. It became apparent that Miss New York was more than simply "happy to be there". She answered the question with aplomb, linked it to her platform, complemented ladies in the legislature, and, at the same time, rocked egg plant colored lace.

No, I am not embarrassed to know that.

Earlier in the week she told America, politely, to back off of abusive victim Janay Palme Rice, saying the there were layers involved in dealing with abuse that others not in Rice's shoes didn't realize.

So, Miss New York says "back off America". Like it mattered, I thought. She won't even see the tiara from the penalty bench off-stage right.

When the finalists were announced, there she was, showing no cleavage -- gown up to her chin. She latched onto the queens on either side of her as if she meant it as fellow contestants were peeled off one by one. Then she almost bucked over when the three-peat was announced.

Ladies and gentleman, your new Miss America is smart, joyful and genuine. And I predict she will have more influence this year that anyone since Heather Whitestone in 1995 -- another fact I am not embarrassed to know.

Miss America may end up being relevant again -- for all the right reasons.

Davison Cheney attended BYU where he became proficient in music and theater, preparing him to be unemployed and to over-react. See his other writings at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com -- and be sure to Ask Prodigal Dad.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Joan Rivers effect

I liked Joan Rivers. 

I liked her from the first moment I saw her as a replacement for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.  At the time I didn't understand that she was the first woman this, and the first woman that.  I just thought she was funny and I was tickled that she would say things out loud that others were thinking.

I remember a set she did where she focused on women and the silliness of them getting an education because, as she so delicately put it, their success depended on being good looking and being good at sex not onbeing smart.

So many people around me were offended and they turned the channel. I turned it back and said "see ya in an hour".  Through her humor -- that often clashed with my conservative Mormon upbringing -- was I the only one that saw something deeper than what everybody was laughing about?  The idea that women should drop an education to learn the art of pursuing rich men.  And yet, that was exactly the life she had come from.
The Joan Rivers Effect
Joan Rivers was her own woman.  She didn't owe her success to anyone.  She was the hardest working lady in the entertainment business and earned her success due to, not to her ever changing looks, but her mind, her skill, her talent and her sense of humor.
Though Joan herself would say otherwise, she made it OK for woman to succeed on their own terms. With a presentation often seen as crass, especially in the culture I am part of, Joan Rivers put societies practices and procedures on trial, and many of us laughed while she went to the bank.

So what does this have to do with me? I applaud her for bringing attention to serious subjects through humor and a laugh at subjects that society wasn't taking seriously -- slipping into the collective consciousness through the back door. The Joan Rivers effect.

Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.