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3 posts from September 2010

September 24, 2010

Big day at Iowa State

Another football Saturday at Iowa State is coming up and this one is huge.

It has nothing to do with the opponent (Northern Iowa) or the date (September 25) or the type of game we can expect (entertaining and competitive).

No, this game is big for a much more important reason.

It's Taco Day!

Iowa State serves up a pretty good spread in its pressbox on game days. Maybe not always the healthiest fare, but the menu changes with each game and the food is nicely prepared and tasty. And there's plenty of it.

They never put out a bad meal, either. But ISU pressbox veterans -- and I'm among the most veteran of all -- will tell you the tacos are the best of the lot. You can get beef or chicken (or both), hard shell or soft shell (or both), lettuce, tomatoes (not on my plate) and chips that you can drown with a thick, gooey cheese sauce.

As I said, we're not talking healthy eating here. But hey, once in a while you've got to stop to smell the nachos.

This year, though, there's a complication that will make things a bit more challenging.

Used to be, you could go up and down the food line as often as you wanted. Then, at halftime, out came dessert. Sometimes it was cookies, sometimes it was cupcakes, other times it was brownies or lemon bars. Whatever the item, few managed the discipline to resist them.

Now, to cut costs -- which is entirely understandable in these times -- the food folks limit you to one trip through the line. And the dessert is out there, too, so you have to work that onto your plate as well. You can pile on as much as you want, but only once.

So what's a taco-holic to do? Two huge soft shells? Three or four smaller hard shells? Stack the nachos and cheese sauce on top of everything else?

Hmm, this is going to require some strategy. Good thing the game doesn't start until 6 p.m. Gives me more time to plot.

Lest you think that's the only reason I'm going to Iowa State on Saturday, I just want to note that when kickoff approaches, I'll have my game face on (hopefully free of dried cheese sauce), eager and ready to pay attention and work.

Will I remember to wave at my friends Jim and Joyce at the end of the first quarter?

Probably not.

But it won't be because I have another plate of nachos beside me.

 

September 23, 2010

Sit, Pam, but not too much

I've spent endless hours at the computer the past five days. My project has been fact checking about 20 pages of existing health-related editorial. I do online searches to find out if the experts quoted in the articles are still in the same professional positions and if recently published research calls for an editorial update.

Bombarded by information about healthy lifestyles and the woes of being sedentary, I started doing twists, stretches and even lifting weights every time I pushed the "search" button. I had but seconds to sit and wait for results, but I got my mini muscle workout. If my work environment was a cubicle in a big company I'd probably be in HR right now being questioned about my strange gyrations. But all the info I'd been reading made me feel that every second of being still was putting a nail in my coffin.

And that's pretty accurate (fellow couch potatoes). Today I learn that the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is about to publish a study (September 28) that women who were moderately active at work were 20 percent less likely to develop heart failure (men on-the-go were 10 percent less likely). Those who also incorporated physical activity into their leisure time—or walked or biked to work—saw added benefit.

Jobs described as moderately active were ones requiring a lot of walking and standing. That's not me. Moderate leisure activity was defined as more than four hours per week of walking, biking or gardening. I'm not doing bad at being moderately active in my non-work hours. But these hours at the desk are going to require much more creativity. 

Time to figure out how to read and type at the computer while standing and doing side lunges.

September 08, 2010

Paycheck vs. Unemployment Check?

Imagine that you're an employer interviewing for positions requiring educated, experienced workers. New hires have a 90-day probation period. Get this: four skilled, unemployed candidates turn down your job offer. They don't want to lose their unemployment checks that will cover them until at least March.

Business owner Evelyn Reis Perry, Carolina Sound, shared this situation and expressed her frustration on August 6 in a post on the blog site of the Institute for Economic Empowerment for Women. "So we have in place, in DC, a counter motivator for getting the workforce back to work!  How can we fight entitlements that leave us without employees?" 

"I don't understand the attraction to dependency," commented Kay Carrico, owner of In-Compasse International, Inc. in New Mexico. Kay says she's heard the same hiring-dilemma story from business owners and straight from the mouths of would-be employees, too.

It made me wonder about all the things that can happen over time to people who lose their jobs. Do they lose confidence in their own abilities (so much so that they don't think they can show their potential and prove their value in 90 days)? What causes them to "take a pass" on a job that fits their skill set? When they say "no" to an employer that has confidence in them have they also said "no" to themselves? 

I don't know the stories of the four who turned down jobs with Carolina Sound. I have no idea what each believes he or she needs to break the cycle of unemployment.  All I know is that I have a strong need to feel like a contributor on the planet. Maybe it's my irrepressible Iowa work ethic. But if I'm healthy and able to work, I'd rather have the opportunity to stock shelves in the dead of night or work three jobs to keep a roof over my head than to wait at home for my next check from Uncle Sam. If I didn't TRY to get my life back on track, embrace an opportunity, and say goodbye—and thank you—to government dollars that held things together when I was my most desperate, well, I would have trouble looking at my own face in the mirror every morning.